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More American soldiers died in Iraq in 2007 than in any other year of the war — and rural America continues to pay a disproportionate share of the cost of the conflict there and in Afghanistan.
Yonder statisticians Robert Cushing and William O’Hare report that through October 30th an outsized share of the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to come from hometowns in rural counties. Young men and women from rural communities are disproportionately represented in the military, most likely because of higher unemployment in rural areas and lower levels of education. The military has reported that young people with few economic or educational options are more likely to enlist.
As a result, the more rural the state, the higher the rates of death in the two Middle East conflicts. The death rate for rural counties is 51 percent higher than for urban ones.
Nineteen percent of the country’s people live in rural America, but these places account for 26 percent of the casualties.
O’Hare and Cushing divided the number of casualties from rural and urban areas by the total military age population (people 18 to 59 years old) to derive a “death rate” for each state, and for urban and rural portions of each state. Eight out of the ten states with the highest overall death rate had more casualties who hailed from rural counties than urban ones.
The ten states with the lowest death rates all had more urban casualties than rural ones.
The states with the highest death rates are little changed from when the Yonder last checked in May. Vermont, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Maine, Idaho and Arkansas have the highest death rates. (All but North Dakota, Wyoming and Arkansas had more rural residents than urban killed in the conflicts.) In May, Delaware was in this group and Arkansas wasn’t.
Below is a listing of all the states and their death rates. The states are ranked from the highest death rate (Vermont) to the lowest (New Jersey). The death rate is the number of casualties per million residents between the ages of 18 and 59. Rural is defined as all counties outside metropolitan statistical areas, as defined by the federal government.
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