chapter  1
The Rural Economic Gap: Fact or Fiction?
WithMark S. Henry
Pages 20

This chapter presents evidence that suggests the existence of a metro-nonmetro gap in earnings and employment, as well as income. It reviews the conceptual issues in the convergence-divergence process with a focus on implications for growth in rural America. The chapter discusses the divergence in per capita incomes between rural and urban America since the mid-1970s has been documented. The increased strength of international forces in product and factor markets has put some of rural America’s economic bases in jeopardy. The economies of rural America are more diverse than usually recognized. Manufacturing forms its economic backbone, contrary to the popular notion that rural counties depend mostly on farming. To assess the overall vitality of the rural economy, however, other measures of economic activity are needed. The convergence process between rural and urban places predicted by neoclassical equilibrium models of regional growth was more rural to rural convergence than rural to urban.