Study: rural Americans are optimistic despite challenges

A new study says although rural Americans identify opioid abuse and the economy as two of the biggest problems facing their communities, there is a lot optimism in the future of rural America.

Katrina Badger is the program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“So I really think there’s a balance,” she says. “Particularly drug addiction and local economies are big challenges but I think the values and things that people really cherish about living in rural places is a strength.”

According to the study by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, nearly 60 percent of respondents say opioid addiction is a problem in their community and another 50 percent say they personally know someone who has struggled with addiction.

Badger tells Brownfield there are a lot of positive feelings about life in rural America.

“People living in rural places share a strong sense of community and are largely optimistic about new job opportunities,” she says.

She says rural Americans are also optimistic problems facing their communities can be solved within the next five years.

About 1,300 adults living in rural America participated in the survey.

Some of the other results include:

  • 70 percent of rural residents say their health is good or excellent
  •  85 percent say their mental health is good or excellent.
  • 64 percent say better long-term job creation would help their local economy and 51 percent say job training or skills would help.
  • 52 percent say they are active in solving problems in their community.
  • 81 percent say they are attached to their community and nearly 70 percent say neighbors have helped them in times of need.

Audio: Katrina Badger, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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