Mixed-method Study on Information, Communications, and Access to Government Benefit among Rural Populations

Published: 2023
Project ID: UM23-Q2


Federal and state benefits provide essential assistance to reduce urban-rural inequities and indirectly contribute to the rural economy. Yet, while participation in benefits programs is higher among rural than urban residents, gaps remain in benefit access in rural areas. Little is known about how barriers to enrolling in benefits and communication preferences vary among rural populations. While the Social Security Administration and other government agencies provide direct information to the general population through their website, offices, and other channels, these efforts could be further bolstered by a better understanding of how best to reach rural populations. We propose to conduct a mixed-methods study to examine the barriers faced by rural populations when seeking government benefits and their preferred methods of communication for outreach and education efforts to increase enrollment. The study will include a literature review, qualitative interviews with individuals in rural areas (n = 50), and an analysis of survey data from the Understanding America Study online panel.