Places, Poverty and The Local State: Local Governments and Community Well-Being Across the United States

January 25, 2014  • Posted in Member Projects  •  0 Comments

Linda Lobao – The Ohio State University – School of Environment and Natural Resources 

Linda Lobao is a Professor of Rural Sociology, Sociology, and Geography at Ohio State University. Her research centers on state and market shifts and their impacts on populations. Thematically, she studies economic and political/governmental changes and how these affect poverty and prosperity across regions, communities, and households. Her current project in collaboration with Gregory Hooks, Washington State University and Mark Partridge, The Ohio State University examines the degree to which local governments contribute to reducing poverty and improving socioeconomic wellbeing across the United States. This project, recently funded by the National Science Foundation, has broad application to America’s communities and families which have faced cuts to their local governments in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Our working hypothesis is that the capacity (fiscal, administrative, and policy interventions) of local governments is positively related to their populations’ wellbeing. Hence, where local governments are stronger and more pro-active in terms of community interventions, we expect future socioeconomic well-being to be higher. Conceptually, the project bridges research on the state from political sociology with research on poverty-and-place, an interdisciplinary tradition addressing subnational disparities which spans sociology, geography, economics, and regional science. The study will inform policies aimed at post-recession recovery by assessing whether local public sector employment and programs that might increase it (such as the Obama stimulus-package) and place-based (locally-centered) policy helps in poverty alleviation.

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