The Divide Between America’s Prosperous Cities and Struggling Small Towns—in 20 Charts – By Paul Overberg | Graphics by Angela Calderon Dec. 29, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET


About 1 in 7 Americans lives in rural parts of the country—1,800 counties that sit outside any metropolitan area. A generation ago, most of these places had working economies, a strong social fabric and a way of life that drew a steady stream of urban migrants. Today, many are in crisis. Populations are aging, more working-age adults collect disability, and trends in teen pregnancy and divorce are diverging for the worse from metro areas. Deaths by suicide and in maternity are on the rise. Bank lending and business startups are falling behind. Here is the data that tells the story.

For decades, as migration to America’s small towns rose and fell, they barely managed to keep growing. Rural families formed and had just enough children to offset losses from those who left and those who died.

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