Global Poverty and Development

Student Research

Tromila Wheat
April 9, 2008
Poverty, Welfare, Inequality

(Click on graphs to view at full size)

Percent of Population without Health Insurance

County All Ages Under 18
Albermarle 9.9 9.3
Augusta 9.8 8.2
Bath 8 3.5
Highland 14.2 10.6
Nelson 10.5 7.9
Rockbridge 8.4 4.3
Rockingham 10.3 8.8

An encouraging fact about this graph is that in every county, the percentage of children without health insurance is lower than the percentage in the general population without health insurance. Bath County has done a particularly good job insuring their children. Highland County, while keeping with the trend of lower rates of uninsured children in comparison to the general population, has the highest rates of uninsured people, including children. It is also important to note that Highland County also has the lowest median income. However, Albemarle County, with the largest median income, does not have the lowest rates of uninsured. If these counties make it a priority to lower the number of uninsured, especially children, teams should research the method used in Bath County to see if a similar plan would work in their own.

graph 2

Augusta County has lower poverty rates than any of the named cities or Virginia as a whole. This information aligns with other graphs as well. Staunton’s poverty rate is higher than the whole state, but Harrisonburg and Charlottesville have the highest poverty rates of the named locations. The poverty rate spiked in 2005, and that should be further investigated to see what changed in order to produce the largest single year jump in poverty rate since 1997.

graph 3

One measure of poverty in an area is the proportion of students who receive either reduced or free lunch. There is also evidence that poverty in concentrated in areas with large minority populations. This graph looks at the possible connections between the proportion of students who receive subsidized meals and the proportion of minority students in the school. It appears that there is a correlation between the two. The schools with higher minority populations also have a higher proportion of children with subsidized meals. Riverheads, an elementary school that is only 2% minority students, has the lowest proportion of students with subsidized meals. Bessie Weller appears to be a school in a very poor neighborhood since more than 80% of the students receive subsidized meals.

graph 4

As would be expected, poverty rates correlate with median income. Augusta County again has the lowest poverty rates, although Virginia’s median income is higher. This graph also shows that in most locations, children are at a greater risk of being in poverty than the general population, except in Harrisonburg. It also makes sense that Staunton and Waynesboro have very similar profiles, considering their proximity to one another and similar characteristics like size. While Harrisonburg and Charlottesville do not have profiles as similar as Staunton and Waynesboro, it does show that poverty in these areas is likely to be higher in larger cities than in small towns or more rural areas. However, poverty among children is higher in both Staunton and Waynesboro than poverty among children is in Harrisonburg.

At first glance, this graph appears to say that unemployment in the Harrisonburg Metropolitan Area was very high between the beginning of 2002 and the middle of 2005. While it is clearly true that the unemployment rate did rise during 2001, it is important to look at the actual numbers as well. In the last decade, the unemployment rate in Harrisonburg barely went over 4%. It fell again in 2006 but appears to again be on the rise.

graph 6
Less than High School
High School Only
Some College
College Degree

According to this graph and table, August County has succeeded in increasing the percent of people who graduate high school. That is undoubtedly the most striking line on the graph as it plunges from over 60% of people in the county who had not finished high school in 1970 to just over 20% in 2000. This is not to say that 1 in 5 students did not finish high school in 2000, only that 1 in 5 people who lived in Augusta County in 2000 had not finished high school. This information included all ages. The percent of people who were able to earn a college degree also steadily rose through the decades.