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Poverty in Oklahoma

Written by Dick Pryor on Friday June 11, 2010

PovertyOklahoma is one of the poorest states in the nation.  Forty of the state's 77 counties have average income at or below the federal poverty level.  Poverty is a contributing factor to a host of social ills, including high incarceration rates, high teen pregnancy rates, lower education levels and high divorce rates.  The problems tend to be more acute in rural areas, and much of Oklahoma is rural.  Only two of Oklahoma's counties have less than 10% of its citizens living in poverty; the percentage goes up in the other 75 counties.

This week on Oklahoma Forum we talk about the reasons for poverty in Oklahoma, the effects and we begin the discussion of what can be done to change the poverty spiral.  Our guests are:  Dr. Susan Sharp, Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma; Dr. Deana Hildebrand, Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist for the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Oklahoma State University; and J Hall, Research Fellow at the Oklahoma Population Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

About 700,000 Oklahomans are on Medicaid, which is approximately 20% of the state's population.  Many of those are considered poor, and poor people are more susceptible to health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.   They are more likely to have issues with nutrition and general wellness, and that has an impact on each of us, as it increases the cost of healthcare and certain goods and services for everyone.  And, poor people tend to be politically powerless. 

On the Oklahoma Forum web site we have provided several locations where you can find more information about poverty and its effects.  We hope you take a serious look at the program and discuss how you and your community can address some of the causes of poverty and how to mitigate its damaging impact.   Thanks for reading, and watching Oklahoma Forum.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor 


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