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Appalachian Teaching Project

Center of Appalachian Studies & Services

Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Poverty Traps and Sustainable Solutions: Using Mixed Methods to Understand the Economic Barriers to Living-Wage Jobs in Indiana, Pennsylvania

The central focus of the 2015 ATP project is to assist the Center for Community Growth-Indiana, PA (CCGI) and other community partners in better understanding the nature of poverty traps in the local area: estimating the typical expenses, debt, and budgets of families; the pay from their jobs or the reasons they cannot find/keep jobs; the rate of this economic hardship; the gaps between pay and expenses; and the reasons and stories about why some families are not escaping poverty. Students will seek to accomplish these goals by focusing on specific research areas identified in conjunction with CCGI.

One project may be a quantitative analysis of occupations in the county that pay a living wage, estimating the percentage of jobs that do not and how far these jobs fall under the typical budget one needs to pay debt and expenses. Another project may consist of interviews with people who lost their jobs due to unreliable transportation, health, elder-care, or child-care issues; their economic situations; and their perspectives on the types of programs that might have kept them employed. Students will contribute to a number of poverty-related resources for the CCGI, to be communicated to the wider community. These resources include: 1) Economic briefs on the different aspects of poverty that provide a description of the problem, analyze the local situations (either quantitative, qualitative, or a mixed approach), and recommend local policy focuses; 2) Multimedia materials used to communicate findings, potentially including video, podcasts, and blog posts highlighted on the CCGI website.

2015 ATP Proposal

IUP Live Presentation in Washington, D.C.

2015 Final Report


Contact Information:

Dr. Brandon Vick
Assistant Professor of Economics
Indiana University of Pennsylvania 
213 McElhaney Hall
441 North Walk 
Indiana, PA 15705-1085 
Telephone: (724) 910-0753



Previous Conference Participation:
2014    2013    2012    2010    2009


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