What Are Some Major Problems in Appalachia?

Question by Bryce: What are some major problems in Appalachia?
Is there still a big drug abuse problem? How is poverty in the region? Thanks!

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Answer by Account V
Inbreeding is the biggest problem.

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One Response to What Are Some Major Problems in Appalachia?

  • Winston Chau says:

    Though industry and business did exist in Appalachia prior to the 20th century, the major modern industries of agriculture, large-scale coal mining, timber, and other outside corporate entries into the region did not truly take root until this time. Many Appalachianites sold their rights to land and minerals to such corporations, to the extent that 99 percent of the residents control less than half of the land. Thus, though the area has a wealth of natural resources, natives are often poor.[1] Since at least the 1960s, Appalachia has a higher poverty rate and a higher percentage of working poor than the rest of the nation. Wages, employment rates, and education also lag. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was created in 1965 to address some of the region’s problems, and though there have been improvements, serious issues still exist. Communities that are not considered to be “growth centers” are bypassed for investment, and fall further behind. In 1999, roughly a quarter of the counties in the region qualified as “distressed,” the ARC’s worst status ranking. Fifty-seven percent of adults in central Appalachia did not graduate high school (as opposed to less than 20 percent in the general U.S ), roughly 20 percent of homes have no telephone, and the population is still declining

    One of the factors at the root of Appalachian economic struggles is the poor infrastructure. Though the region is crisscrossed by many U.S. and Interstate highways, those routes primarily serve cross-country traffic rather than the locals themselves. Towns closer to the major highways and nearer to the many larger cities fringing the region (Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Columbus, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., etc.) are disproportionately better-off than rural regions in the mountainous interior. Instead of being tied to the land, jobs in the towns tend to emphasize industry and services—important signs of a more diversified economy. However, aside from the major urban centers along its perimeter, the entire Appalachian region still suffers from population decline and the loss of younger residents to the cities.

    Another factor affecting development has been sheer inequality in power between the classes. Historically, elites interested in satisfying personal goals have controlled Appalachian politics to the expense of the region’s poorer residents.[1] Seeing no personal benefit to establishing infrastructure, they generally eschewed developments that would have been difficult and expensive to establish in the mountainous areas.[1] Instead, they allowed the region to rely on industry—using barges to send natural resources to market, requiring that workers have only minimal education, etc.–and created no infrastructure for business.[5] Now, with roughly 100,000 jobs left for miners, Appalachianites are unable to access jobs or the resources and opportunities necessary to lift themselves out of poverty.[6] Some academics contend that the situation of Appalachianites amounts to one similar to that in third world countries: Residents live on land that cannot be traded outside of trusted circles or used as collateral because, due to the history of unincorporated businesses with unidentified liabilities, there are not adequate records of ownership rights.[7] This “dead” capital is a factor that contributes to the historical poverty of the region, limiting Appalachianites’ abilities to use their investments in home and other land-related capital.[7]

    A greater proportion of people in Appalachia abuse prescription drugs and report mental health problems than in the nation as a whole, according to a report released this week by the federal Appalachian Regional Commission

    The incidence of drug addiction and mental troubles is not uniform in the region, and this is the most interesting part of the report. In the poorer counties in the region, reports of drug abuse and general mental health problems are significantly higher than in the rest of Appalachia.

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