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Smart Talk: The urban and rural divide; how wide is the gap?

How Pennsylvanians vote, work and live depends on their zip code


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Airdate: January 6, 2021

Pennsylvania boundaries have changed very little since the state was admitted into the union in 1787. Within the boundaries, however, a lot has changed over the last 233 years.

The state still boasts ample forested and agricultural lands in the most of it’s six geographical regions, but as the fifth most populous state, cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia bear little resemblance to other more rural communities.

Urban and rural areas here are quite different in ways other than population density and composition. Access to healthcare and economic opportunities and the availability of certain services, like broadband, further divide how Pennsylvanians live and work.

It is clear that rural and urban residents vote differently, as well. In the most recent Presidential election, the state’s electoral votes went to President elect Joe Biden after claiming just 13 of the states 67 counties.

So, how can rural and urban Pennsylvania bridge the divide?

Appearing on Smart Talk Wednesday to share data and analysis of rural and urban Pennsylvania are Kyle C. Kopko, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania with the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Daniel J. Mallinson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration, School of Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg.

Also on the program are Cheri Rinehart, CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers and Eric Kiehl, Director of Policy and Partnerships for PACHC, who will look at healthcare access and the impact of the pandemic to the different communities. Finally, Pennsylvania State Senator Democrat Wayne Fontana of Allegheny county will appear on Smart Talk to discuss how to balance policies that represent both urban and rural areas.

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