University of California

The new rural poverty: Central Valley evolving into patchwork of poverty and prosperity


J. Edward Taylor
Philip L. Martin

Authors Affiliations

J.E. Taylor is Professor, is Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis; Philip L. Martin is Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 54(1):26-32. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n01p26. January 2000.

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From Redding to Bakersfield, the Central Valley is evolving into a patchwork of poverty and prosperity. Despite being part of the world's most prosperous agricultural economy, more than 25% of Fresno County's 800,000 residents were eligible for Medi-Cal in 1998. A study of 65 rural California towns indicates that labor-intensive agriculture contributes to poverty and welfare demands in rural communities by attracting large numbers of unskilled foreign workers and offering most of them poverty-level wages. In the 65 towns, 28% of the residents live in households with below-poverty incomes. Major policy choices for ameliorating this situation include modifying immigration and labor laws that affect farming to help farmworkers earn higher wages.


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Taylor J, Martin P. 2000. The new rural poverty: Central Valley evolving into patchwork of poverty and prosperity. Hilgardia 54(1):26-32. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n01p26
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