The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Economic Restructuring and Family Well-Being in Rural America

Economic Restructuring and Family Well-Being in Rural America

Edited by Kristin E. Smith and Ann R. Tickamyer
  • Copyright: 2011
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 416 pages
  • Illustrations: 3 b&w illustrations/
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-04861-1
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-04862-8
  • Series Name: Rural Studies
“This is a timely and important book on a very underresearched and misunderstood topic. As numerous others point out, ‘rural’ America is not just farms and rural areas, and its problems are not all that different in some fundamental ways from urban ones. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in better understanding how global economic changes have affected not only jobs but, crucially, the people who hold them, the places they live, the people they live with. The book will be of interest to academics and nonacademics alike. Policy makers would be particularly well advised to learn from its rich empirical analysis and thoughtful discussion.”
“This volume is a benchmark on responses to economic change in the United States. The editors have done a masterful job in showcasing a breadth of scholarship, reflected collectively in the contributing authors’ interdisciplinary approaches, attention to an array of family, demographic, and economic outcomes, and concern with theoretical as well as policy-related issues. The chapters combine rigorous analysis and detailed implications for public policy in a lucid manner that will be accessible to a variety of audiences. In confronting and comparing rural responses with those documented in urban settings, the chapters provide an innovative corrective to conventional work in sociology, family studies, demography, economics, and policy studies.”
“While the troubles facing the banking and housing sectors have served as the focal points of our nation’s economic woes, it’s around the kitchen tables of many rural American families where the pain and strain have been profoundly felt. Regrettably, efforts to examine the multifaceted consequences of economic restructuring on family well-being have been virtually absent—until now. Assembling a veritable ‘who’s who’ among social and behavioral scientists, Smith and Tickamyer have guided the development of an impressive research volume that offers important insights into the array of family-related challenges playing in rural America today as a product of national and global economic forces. The value-added aspect of this volume is the attention that it devotes to policy—to the mix of investments and refinements that policy makers must pursue in order to promote the stability and the long-term vitality of families in rural America.”

Rural areas have been hit hard by economic restructuring. Traditionally male jobs with good pay and benefits (such as in manufacturing) have declined dramatically, only to be replaced with low-paying service-oriented jobs—jobs that do not offer benefits or wages sufficient to raise a family. Concurrently, rural areas have experienced changes in family life, namely an increase in women’s labor force participation, a decline in married-couple families, and a rise in cohabitation and single-parent families. How have rural families coped with these social and economic changes? Economic Restructuring and Family Well-Being in Rural America documents the intertwined changes in employment and family and explores the outcomes for family well-being in rural America. Here a multidisciplinary group of scholars examines the impacts of economic restructuring on rural Americans and provides policy recommendations for addressing the challenges they face.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Cynthia D. Anderson, Guangqing Chi, Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Katherine Jewsbury Conger, Nicole D. Forry, Deborah Roempke Graefe, Steven Michael Grice, Andrew Hahn, Debra Henderson, Eric B. Jensen, Leif Jensen, Marlene Lee, Daniel T. Lichter, Elaine McCrate, Diane K. McLaughlin, Margaret K. Nelson, Domenico Parisi, Liliokanaio Peaslee, Jed Pressgrove, Jennifer Sherman, Anastasia Snyder, Susan K. Walker, and Chih-Yuan Weng.

Kristin E. Smith is a family demographer at the Carsey Institute and Research Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire.

Ann R. Tickamyer is Professor and Head, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University.


List of Figures

List of Maps

List of Tables


Cynthia “Mil” Duncan



Kristin E. Smith and Ann Tickamyer

Section 1: Changing Economic Opportunities and Changing Roles

1 Rural Economic Restructuring: Implications for Children, Youth, and Families

Daniel T. Lichter and Deborah Roempke Graefe

2 Employment Hardship Among Rural Men

Leif Jensen and Eric B. Jensen

3 Changing Roles: Women and Work in Rural America

Kristin E. Smith

4 Men Without Sawmills: Job Loss and Gender Identity in Rural America

Jennifer Sherman

Section 2: Family Change, Economic Hardship, and Family Adaptive Strategies

5 Economic Restructuring and Family Structure Change, 1980 to 2000: A Focus on Female-Headed Families with Children

Diane K. McLaughlin and Alisha J. Coleman-Jensen

6 Patterns of Family Formation and Dissolution in Rural America and Implications for Well-Being

Anastasia Snyder

7 Job Characteristics and Economic Survival Strategies: The Effect of Economic Restructuring and Marital Status in a Rural County

Margaret K. Nelson

8 Economic Hardship, Parenting, and Family Stability in a Cohort of Rural Adolescents

Katherine Jewsbury Conger

Section 3: Low-Wage Employment

9 Parents’ Work Time in Rural America: The Growth of Irregular Schedules

Elaine McCrate

10 Low-Wage Employment Among Minority Women in Nonmetropolitan Areas: A Decomposition Analysis

Marlene Lee

11 Regional Variation of Women in Low-Wage Work Across Rural Communities

Cynthia D. Anderson and Chih-Yuan Weng

Section 4: Work and Family Policy

12 Strengthening Rural Communities Through Investment in Youth Education, Employment, and Training

Liliokanaio Peaslee and Andrew Hahn

13 Child Care in Rural America

Nicole D. Forry and Susan K. Walker

14 Health Insurance in Rural America

Deborah Roempke Graefe

15 Livelihood Practices in the Shadow of Welfare Reform

Ann Tickamyer and Debra Henderson

16 Poverty, Work, and the Local Environment: TANF and EITC

Domenico Parisi, Steven Michael Grice, Guangqing Chi, and Jed Pressgrove


Ann Tickamyer and Kristin E. Smith


List of Contributors


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