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The rural-urban poverty gap in England after the 2008 financial crisis: Exploring the effects of budgetary cuts and welfare reforms

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Rural areas of England have lower poverty rates than urban areas, in contrast to many other countries. To understand why, and how this has changed under austerity policies, we use logistic regression to examine the effects of rural-urban residence type, individual socio-economic and demographic characteristics, and changes in government policies on the likelihood of being poor in England. We group Understanding Society Survey (USS) respondents into three residence types (Predominantly Rural; Significant Rural; and Predominantly Urban), and link these USS data with local authority district (LA) level information on changes in councils' spending power, in service spending and in per capita income lost from cuts to welfare benefits since 2010. Our results Demonstrate that rural residence provides a buffer against poverty, a so-called "rural advantage effect", but that this is reduced or becomes non-significant by controlling for these other variables. The rural advantage effect is especially strong in Significant Rural areas, usually rural areas with good access to urban opportunities. Furthermore, working age poverty has increased more rapidly in rural areas than urban between 2010-18, Hence, people derive less protection from poverty by virtue of living in rural areas, especially in Predominantly Rural areas, than was the case pre-2010. Our analysis also reveals how national policies have differential spatial impacts on local populations according to their diverse characteristics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vera-Toscano E, Shucksmith M, Brown D, Brown H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Regional Studies

Year: 2023

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 11/08/2023

Acceptance date: 07/07/2023

Date deposited: 03/10/2023

ISSN (print): 0034-3404

ISSN (electronic): 1360-0591

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2023.2235374


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