A new Issue Brief published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI] titled “Understanding the financial differences between rural and urban Americans,” found that people living in rural areas were more likely to have lower income and wealth than people living in urban areas.
However, when comparing Americans with the same income level, rural residents had higher net worth than urban residents, except for those in the highest income bracket.
“Rural Americans’ attitudes towards their finances and access to financial institutions and tools may differ due to lower population densities, differences in infrastructure such as lower availability of broadband internet services, and their experience with or handling of different types of assets from those who live in urban areas.” Craig Copeland, director of wealth benefits research at EBRI, wrote in a press release.
“Consequently, the types and levels of assets that rural Americans have vary, with homeownership and business wealth outnumbering the higher retirement account and ownership of stocks and mutual funds among city dwellers,” Copeland wrote.
According to the publication, the EBRI Issue Brief examined the financial situation of Americans living in both urban and rural areas by 2020 United States Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.
“Disparities in retirement account ownership, stock ownership and mutual fund ownership persist among workers at larger employers and unincorporated self-employed businesses,” Copeland said. “The bottom line is that rural people seem to be missing out on certain financial assets that have yielded much higher returns over the long term than many other investments. Other means of accessing financial markets may be required.”
Additionally, Copeland concluded that rural business owners appear to have heavily concentrated their wealth within their businesses, which may be unnecessary for running their businesses.
“But better asset diversification could help protect those people’s retirement prospects should something lead to the closure of the business,” he said.
Portia Woods and her mother, Robin Woods, an intergenerational wealth planning attorney, claimed that black and brown communities are in a financial state of emergency and probably don’t even know it. However, the lawyers said in an email that their goal remains to help families effectively protect and pass on more of their hard-earned wealth.
“America’s racial wealth gap is huge and getting worse‘ the duo stressed in the email.
They noted that one study warned that the average net worth of black Americans is left out fall to zero until 2053.
“We are focused on intergenerational planning with an emphasis on closing the racial wealth gap in our communities,” said Portia Wood.
She said Wood Legal Group, LLP has always had a passionate focus on teaching Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ communities to “protect, use and pass on their wealth using probate and trust law.”
Max Benz, founder and CEO of BankingGeek, added some key financial differences between rural and urban Americans.
“For one thing, rural Americans are more likely to live in poverty than urban Americans,” Benz said.
He cited the latest data from the US Census Bureau that 17.3 percent of rural residents live in poverty, compared to 14.2 percent of urban residents.
“Rural Americans also tend to have less access to financial resources and opportunities,” Benz said. “For example, they are less likely to have a bank account or credit history and are more likely to rely on alternative financial services like payday loans. This lack of access can make it difficult for rural Americans to build wealth or move out of poverty.”
dr Robert R. Johnson, professor of finance at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business and co-author of “The Tools and Techniques of Investment Planning, Strategic Value Investing and Investment Banking for Dummies,” said what urban Americans have is higher concentration of financial assets.
In contrast, Johnson said, rural Americans have a higher concentration of physical assets.
“The net worth difference between rural and urban Americans at the same income level can be explained by the fact that the cost of living is much higher in urban areas — particularly in housing,” Johnson said. “That means in urban areas, a larger income is needed to support a given standard of living.”
“Americans in cities are more likely to be investors than savers, while the opposite is true for rural Americans. Furthermore, much of the wealth in urban America is inherited wealth – particularly land – which can result in higher net worth but lower incomes, all else being equal.”
“Also, the distribution of wealth between urban and rural Americans is dramatically different. That said, the median wealth of urban and rural Americans may differ, but I have to believe the medians aren’t much different.”
“That’s because the wealth of urban Americans is severely skewed by the fabulously rich. Put simply, there are more high net worth individuals in cities, and some with extremely high net worth, than high net worth individuals in rural areas,” Johnson said.