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Appalachian Legacy

Appalachian Legacy: Economic Opportunity after the War on Poverty

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Appalachian Legacy
    Book Description:

    In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson traveled to Kentucky's Martin County to declare war on poverty. The following year he signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act, creating a state-federal partnership to improve the region's economic prospects through better job opportunities, improved human capital, and enhanced transportation. As the focal point of domestic antipoverty efforts, Appalachia took on special symbolic as well as economic importance. Nearly half a century later, what are the results? Appalachian Legacy provides the answers.

    Led by James P. Ziliak, prominent economists and demographers map out the region's current status. They explore important questions, including how has Appalachia fared since the signing of ARDA in 1965? How does it now compare to the nation as a whole in key categories such as education, employment, and health? Was ARDA an effective place-based policy for ameliorating hardship in a troubled region, or is Appalachia still mired in a poverty trap? And what lessons can we draw from the Appalachian experience?

    In addition to providing the reports of important research to help analysts, policymakers, scholars, and regional experts discern what works in fighting poverty, Appalachian Legacy is an important contribution to the economic history of the eastern United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2215-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction: Progress and Prospects for Appalachia
    (pp. 1-16)

    In april 1964 president Lyndon Johnson traveled to Martin County, Kentucky, in the heart of Appalachia to launch the nation’s War on Poverty. Within a year—with passage of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 (ARDA)—Appalachia was designated as a special economic zone. The act created a federal and state partnership known as the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), whose mission is to expand the economic opportunities of the area’s residents by increasing job opportunities, human capital, and transportation. The ARC-designated region is depicted by its 1967 boundaries and associated subregions in figure 1-1. The ARC region covers the...

  5. Part I. Progress against Poverty

    • 2 The Appalachian Regional Development Act and Economic Change
      (pp. 19-44)

      More than forty-five years ago—on March 9, 1965—President Lyndon Johnson signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act (ARDA), solidifying Appalachia’s place as a galvanizing force in the nation’s War on Poverty. The ARDA created a unique federal and state partnership known as the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), whose mission was to expand the economic opportunities of the Appalachians by increasing job opportunities, human capital, and transportation. Through fiscal year 2009 about $23.5 billion had been spent on ARDA programs, around $12.7 billion coming from federal funds and $10.8 billion from state and local funds.¹ Of the total, roughly half...

    • 3 Inequality and Human Capital in Appalachia: 1960–2000
      (pp. 45-80)

      When president lyndon b. johnson signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act in 1965 (which created the Appalachian Regional Commission), analysts could indeed classify Appalachia as economically distressed—particularly when compared to the rest of the United States. Per capita income in the region was $1,267 in 1960, 77 percent of the national average. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of Appalachians lived below the federal poverty line, compared to just over one-fifth (22 percent) of all Americans.¹ Labor force and employment levels in Appalachia also compared unfavorably with those in the rest of the United States.

      The results of the 2000 decennial...

    • 4 Family Change and Poverty in Appalachia
      (pp. 81-106)

      On April 24, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Inez, Kentucky, where he announced the War on Poverty from the front porch of Tommy Fletcher, a father of eight children, who epitomized the squalid conditions of rural Appalachia. Appalachia has become an iconic symbol of America’s struggle against persistent poverty and economic hardship in rural areas. Although poverty rates in Appalachia have plummeted at a faster rate than in the nation as a whole over the past several decades, chronic poverty nevertheless persists in many parts of Appalachia, especially its geographically remote rural areas. Nearly two-thirds of Appalachian counties have...

  6. Part II. Future Challenges for Appalachia

    • 5 Socioeconomic Status, Child Health, and Future Outcomes: Lessons for Appalachia
      (pp. 109-148)

      While there are clearly many things about a person’s background that might matter for future outcomes, research increasingly implicates health as a major factor. Given the importance of “health capital” for education and earnings, poor health in childhood may be an important mechanism for intergenerational transmission of education and economic status.¹

      This link is disturbing in light of the poor health of Appalachians, both relative to national samples and in relation to other residents of Appalachian states. Figure 5-1 shows age-adjusted mortality rates from all causes for the whole population and by race for four geographical groups: Central Appalachian counties,...

    • 6 Cities, Economic Development, and the Role of Place-Based Policies: Prospects for Appalachia
      (pp. 149-168)

      Cities are the key engine of economic growth because they economize on the transportation cost of goods, workers, and ideas. Cities facilitate learning and accelerate the diffusion of new ideas. Through encouraging specialization and trade, cities raise per capita income.¹

      In a similar spirit as that of the enormous cross-country empirical growth literature, urban economists estimate countless cross-city growth regressions to uncover the correlates of urban growth. While legitimate concerns can and should be raised about such regressions, this research identifies a series of robust facts. A second-generation urban econometrics literature uses more sophisticated econometric strategies, ranging from credible instrumental...

    • 7 Poverty Traps and Appalachia
      (pp. 169-206)

      In this chapter I provide some general ideas on how to conceptualize poverty traps and speculate on their applicability to understanding Appalachian poverty. My goal is to stimulate thinking on Appalachia that exploits contemporary perspectives in economics on the sources of persistent poverty and inequality. To do this I focus on both the theory of poverty traps as well as issues in the econometric assessment of their empirical salience. Although I describe different definitions of poverty traps below, all of these definitions have the common feature that poverty—be it for a family, a community, or a larger aggregate—is...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 207-208)
  8. Index
    (pp. 209-216)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 217-218)