Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Seong-Hoon Cho

Committee Members

Dan L. McLemore, Roland K. Roberts, Dayton M. Lambert


This thesis deals with two related topics under the theme of ―Analyzing Poverty in the Southern United States‖. The first part explores the role of government healthcare and education expenditure for poverty reduction, focusing particularly on how these relationships change over space and time in the Southern United States. It is found that healthcare expenditure is a significant contributor to poverty alleviation in both 1990 and 2000. The healthcare expenditure has a relatively high poverty-reducing effect in the Texas cluster and in the west part of the Mississippi Delta cluster in both years, while the poverty-reducing effect of healthcare expenditures disappears in 2000 in the Central Appalachia cluster. The effect of government expenditures on education decreased over time in the west part of the Mississippi Delta cluster but the education expenditure began to have a poverty-reducing effect in the Central Appalachia cluster in 2000. The second part focuses on disentangling the relationship between urban sprawl and poverty in the Southern United States. Results show that an increase in urban sprawl, as measured by wildland-urban interface (WUI), is associated with an increase in the urban poverty rate. The positive interrelationship between urban poverty and area of sprawl in metro counties supports the theoretical framework that urban poverty is both cause and effect of urban sprawl. With no other direct or indirect association between the poverty rate and urban sprawl, the positive interrelationship is explained by the movement of business centers to the suburban areas by sprawl development and immobility of the poor and the middle and upper class households‘ preference for the neighborhoods with lower poverty rates.

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