Rural Health Research Gateway

Date: March 8, 2022

Since 1990, Rural Hospital Closures Have Increasingly Occurred in Counties that Are More Urbanized, Diverse, and Economically Unequal

Between 1990 and 2020, there were 334 documented rural hospital closures in 44 states. Closures were more likely to occur in a county with more non‐white residents between 1990 and 2020; and conversely, the share of white residents decreased in rural closure counties. It was also found that between 1990 and 2020, rural closure counties became more economically unequal, with higher unemployment, lower per capita income, and lower median household incomes compared with rural counties overall. Finally, it was found that between 1990 and 2020, rural closure counties were increasingly likely to be primary care and dental health service professional shortage areas prior to the closure of a hospital within their borders.

Contact Information:

Arrianna Marie Planey, PhD, MA
North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center

Additional Resources of Interest:

More information from the Rural Health Information Hub’s topic guides: Healthcare Access in Rural Communities, Rural Hospitals, Rural Health Disparities, Rural Health Policy

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