U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Rural and Urban Women

In 2008, an estimated 35.1 million women and girls, representing 22.7 percent of the female population, lived in rural areas. Residents of rural areas tend to have completed fewer years of education, have public insurance or no health insurance, and live farther from health care resources than their urban counterparts. Rural areas also have fewer physicians and dentists per capita than urban areas.1

In 2008, a greater proportion of urban females were aged 18–34 years than in rural areas, while the proportion of rural females was greater among 35- to 64-year-olds. More than 10 percent of females in urban areas were 18–24 years of age, compared to 7.5 percent of those in rural areas. Similarly, 13.1 percent of females in urban areas were 25–34 years of age, compared to 11.9 percent of females in rural areas. Among females in rural areas, 12.5 percent were 55–64 years of age and 15.6 percent were aged 45–54 years; this was slightly higher than in urban areas where 11.0 percent of females were 55–64 years and 14.4 percent were 45–54 years of age.

The percentage of women living with household incomes below 100 percent of poverty varies by rural/urban residence and age. Women in urban areas were more likely to be living in poverty than their rural counterparts (13.9 versus 11.5 percent, respectively); this was true for most age groups. Among women in both urban and rural areas, those aged 18–34 years were most likely to have incomes below 100 percent of poverty: 20.7 percent of women aged 18–34 years in urban areas and 16.3 percent of those in rural areas did so. Women aged 45–64 years in both urban and rural areas were least likely to be living below the poverty level (9.8 and 8.6 percent, respectively).

1. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment characteristics of families in 2008 (USDL 09-0568). Washington, DC: the Department, 2009 May


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