Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The nineties have witnessed broad economic growth and prosperity throughout the nation, with improvements in all major indicators of economic well-being. Yet, many rural and urban regions continued to experience economic distress during this period. At the same time, investments in infrastructure, human capital and poverty relief continue to be targeted to these failing areas. This work examines trends in demographic indicators, economic growth and federal funding experienced between 1990 and 2000 in the federally designated Mississippi Delta region in order to answer the following questions. What impact does federal funding have on poverty in the Mississippi Delta region overall? What factors influence poverty levels, and is that influence exhibited throughout the region uniform or variable? The methods used to answer these questions include traditional and spatial exploratory or descriptive analysis, and traditional regression analysis coupled with geographically weighted regression (GWR) modeling. Results revealed that reductions in poverty were not equally felt throughout the region. Moreover, metropolitan status also had a major impact on performance along certain indicators. Lastly, the causal factors of poverty were uneven across the entire region, with clear clusters of opposite effects evidenced in some cases. A key finding was the positive impact of human resources spending on poverty in the Delta region and in the local models generated by GWR analysis. Programs important to rural areas such as agricultural supports also had a similar positive effect on poverty in most of the models. Again, the importance of local context and local institutions that are responsible for implementing federal policies is a major explanation of these results. Local results that differ substantially from the averages represented by the global regression models strengthen the case for policies and programs that are more sensitive to local differences. Of particular concern are the disparities in local and state capacity and willingness to implement programs that were previously the primary responsibility of federal institutions. For programs that remain largely the responsibility of the federal government, the findings suggest that resources must be targeted and adapted to respond to the distinctiveness of certain local areas.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michael Leitner