Definitions of rural assessed through a child-focused, equity-focused lens

Working towards a more equitable and inclusive definition

Photo: Ellery Lamm - Save the Children

A barn and discarded child's toy in a field in Kentucky. Save the Children works in rural counties in the state of Kentucky to provide literacy tools and programs at home and in school for children from birth through sixth grade.

There exists no universally accepted definition of ‘rural’ in the United States.

This brief examines how some of the more commonly used definitions differ, summarizes the history behind those differences, and proposes a smaller set of more equitable definitions of ‘rural’ that include more children living in poverty and more children of color, particularly in large counties in the West.

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By: Beth Eagleton

Last updated: 2024-05-14

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