Community Dividend

Federal development funding lower in rural areas, study finds

Published November 1, 2004  | November 2004 issue

During the late 1990s, the federal government spent more than twice as much per capita on metropolitan community development as it did on rural community development, according to a W.K. Kellogg Foundation report titled Federal Investment in Rural America Falls Behind.

The report is based on data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the period 1994-2002. The USDA used information from the U.S. Census Bureau to track all federal funding that fell into six broad categories, such as agriculture and natural resources, community resources and income security.

According to the report, overall funding for both urban and rural areas increased in 1994-2001, but in each year the federal government spent more dollars per capita in metropolitan areas than it did in rural areas. Only one-tenth of 1 percent of federal funding during that period went to rural community development, and the per capita urban-rural spending gap related to community resources like business assistance, transportation and housing widened from $15 to $286. The gap in overall funding narrowed between 1996 and 2001, but the narrowing was largely due to increased Social Security payments, farm supports, and other spending that was not directed toward community development projects.

To access the report, visit the "Knowledgebase" section of the foundation's Web site at