Will broadband stimulus help end persistent poverty?

Rural Utilities Service, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC, 20250, United States

[Commentary] The Rural Utilities Service's broadband stimulus report included this: “These projects overlap with . . . 124 persistent poverty counties.” (a county that has a poverty level of 20% or more over a period of several decades) Broadband stimulus programs are intended to make a difference over a period of decades by giving people in remote areas better access to educational resources and by helping to create an environment where long-term jobs can be created. Based on what Prof Mark Partridge has observed from similar programs, he predicted that 20 years from now, we will be able to see that there were a few counties where the broadband stimulus program clearly made a difference in helping to lift the counties out of persistent poverty. Partridge added, though, that you can't gauge the impact that a program such as broadband stimulus has on a county simply by studying the same county again at a later date. The reason is that we have a mobile society. Some people in a persistent poverty county are likely to gain a higher level of education as a result of the broadband stimulus program and simply move out of the county to pursue better opportunities, Partridge said.



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