Yale-led study, with USU’s Tom Mueller, suggests rural western attitudes changing during pandemic

LOGAN – A recent Yale-led study, with contributions from Utah State University faculty member and researcher Dr. Tom Mueller, indicates the pandemic has dramatically changed rural attitudes toward government.

He said as the research team moved through the month-long project in June some of the attitudes of those living in rural counties toward government relief were not as they expected.

“People tend to think of rural areas and the rural west, in particular, as being fiercely self-reliant and not wanting government handouts and not wanting relief from the federal government,” Dr. Mueller explained. “And that really isn’t what we found. We found there was pretty wide, bipartisan support for a lot of more direct forms of relief.

“So, more government spending on health care and more government spending in direct relief to individuals, lots more spending was desired for small businesses.”

He said they found a consensus against more spending for oil and gas companies and large businesses.

Dr. Mueller said unemployment has spiked in the rural west during the pandemic, with women and Latinos affected the most.

“We found that women were more likely to be unemployed and on unemployment insurance,” he added. “But we found that while Latinos were just as likely to become unemployed, they were far less likely to be using unemployment insurance. So that speaks to issues of access and the type of work that can obtain that unemployment insurance.”

Justin Farrell of Yale’s School of the Environment, and lead researcher for the project, said their research suggests a realignment of political preferences is taking place.

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  • Deedee August 29, 2020 at 12:20 pm Reply

    You need to take into consideration that what once was rural is no longer the culture of rural. Lots of well off people from out of state moved there building big homes and changing the culture.

  • Deedee August 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm Reply

    You have to take into consideration that rural communities are no longer rural. Lots of out of State people moving to rural areas building big homes and changing the culture of rural Utah.

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