Poverty and Health Insurance in Appalachia

The Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) Program and the Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) Program are two of my favorite ‘go-to’ sources for small-area estimates. Both are easily grabbed via tidycensus so the first thing I’d like to do is explore county-level trends going as far back as is possible – 2008-2016 for SAHIE, 2006-2017 for all SAIPE estimates except for school-age (5 to 17 in families) poverty rate estimates that allow for longer comparisons (2005-2017).

Let us ask the obvious question: What is the distribution of poverty over time? First up, an animated map of all counties in the nation, depicting the percent of the total population living in poverty in a given county in a given year. These are followed by SAHIE maps for selected population groups.

None of these animations give us a clear idea of Appalachian/Non-Appalachian differences. So one alternative would be to rely on the American Community Survey series to generate aggregated estimates for Appalachia versus Non-Appalachia, and then compare across available time periods. The one constraint here will be the need to rely on non-overlapping ACS 5-year series since the ACS 1-year will not pick up counties with small populations. I could also restrict my focus to Ohio per se and that might allow for a closer inspection of regional differences and trends.