Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural America

Paul Berne Burow , Justin Farrell and 4 other contributors

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    Despite considerable social scientific attention to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on urbanized areas, very little research has examined its impact on rural populations. Yet rural communities-which make up tens of millions of people from diverse backgrounds in the United States-are among the nation's most vulnerable populations and may be less resilient to the effects of such a large-scale exogenous shock. We address this critical knowledge gap with data from a new survey designed to assess the impacts of the pandemic on health-related and economic dimensions of rural well-being in the North American West. Notably, we find that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural populations have been severe, with significant negative impacts on unemployment, overall life satisfaction, mental health, and economic outlook. Further, we find that these impacts have been generally consistent across age, ethnicity, education, and sex. We discuss how these findings constitute the beginning of a much larger interdisciplinary COVID-19 research effort that integrates rural areas and pushes beyond the predominant focus on cities and nation-states.