Rural Health Disparities: The Political Economy

  • Monica M. Taylor
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Public Health book series (BRIEFSPUBLIC)


Disparate health outcomes among persons who reside in rural areas, irrespective of culture, religion or racial and ethnic composition, has been reported elsewhere, and rather abundantly in the scientific literature (Hartley 2004; Crosby, 2012). Geographical variations instigate excess morbidity and mortality in rural areas and is a phenomenality salient in both international and national settings. Hence, the need to conjure up a theoretical foundation is imminent, to identify underlying causes for persistent health disparities in this region.

This book will not echo existing research or provide a review on the plight of rural health, but rather, attempts to describe this issue from a different school of thought – the political economy. The political economy is concerned with relations between the polity, economic events and its influence on social conditions. The ideologies that manifest from this relationship precludes the economic decision-making of the polity and any subsequent policies that may permit any form of resource allocation to citizens. The relationship between both structures affects an unspoken economic arrangement, including the degree in which resources are available based on such arrangements. Given this theoretical stance, this chapter describes rural health disparities in the context of the political economy perspective.


Political economy Rural health disparities Marxism Capitalism Redistribution Profit maximization Capital accumulation Laissez faire Spatial inequality Multinationals 


  1. Clark, B. (2016). Political economy: A comparative approach (3rd ed.). Praeger: Santa Barbara.Google Scholar
  2. Crosby, R., Wendel, M., Vanderpool, R., & Case, B. (2012). Rural populations and health: determinants, disparities and solutions. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  3. Doyal, L. (1995). What makes women sick: Gender and the political economy of health. Rutgers University Press. New Brunswick, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  4. Duffy, F. (2015). Marx’s political economy. Research starters: Sociology (Online Edition).Google Scholar
  5. Ehrenreich, N., & Lyon, B. (2011). The global politics of food: A critical overview, 43 U. Miami Inter-Am. L. Rev. Retrieved from:
  6. Feldacker, C., Ennett, S., & Speizer, I. (2011). It’s not just who you are but where you live: An exploration of community influences on individual HIV status in rural Malawi. Social Science and Medicine, 72(5), 717–725.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Frey, B., & Steiner, L. (2012). Political economy: Success or failure? Contemporary Economics, 6(3), 10–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. General Accounting Office. (2000). PESTICIDES improvements needed to ensure the safety of farmworkers and their children. Retrieved from:
  9. Hartley, D. (2004). Rural health disparities, population health, and rural culture. American Journal of Public Health, 94(10), 1675–1678.Google Scholar
  10. Humphrys, E., & Collerson, J. (2012). Capital against capitalism: New research in marxist political economy. Journal Of Australian Political Economy, 69, 5–10.Google Scholar
  11. MacKinnon, D., Cumbers, A., Pike, A., Birch, K., & McMaster, R. (2009). Evolution in economic geography: Institutions, political economy, and adaptation. Economic Geography, 85(2), 129–150. Retrieved from Scholar
  12. Masters, S., Burstein, R., Amofah, G., Abaogyec, P., Santosh, K., & Hanlon, M. (2013). Travel time to maternity care and its effect on utilization in rural Ghana: A multilevel analysis. Social Science Medicine, 93, 147–154.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Meng, Q., & Xu, K. (2014). Progress and challenges of the rural cooperative medical scheme in China. Bulletin of World Health Organization, 92, 447–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nowatzki, N. (2012). Wealth inequality and health: A political economy perspective. International Journal of Health Services, 42(3), 403–424.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Okuonzi, S. A. (n.d.). Political economy of health with reference to primary health care. Retrieved from:
  16. Sackrey, C., Schneider, G., & Knoedler, J. (2013). Introduction to the political economy (7th ed.). Boston: Economics Affairs Bureau.Google Scholar
  17. Slade, C., O’Toole, L., & Rho, E. (2012). State primary stroke center policies in the United States: Rural health issues. Telemedicine & E-Health, 18(3), 225–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Streeck, W. (2011). Taking capitalism seriously: Towards an institutionalist approach to contemporary political economy. Socio-Economic Review, 9, 137–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Vujicic, M., Shengelia, B., Alfano, M., & Thu, H. (2011). Physician shortages in rural Vietnam using a labor market approach to inform policy. Social Science and Medicine, 73(7), 970–977.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. West, E. (1969). The political economy of alienation: Karl Marx and Adam Smith. Oxford Economic Papers, 21(1), new series, 1–23. Retrieved from
  21. Wills, J. (2000). Political economy II: The politics and geography of capitalism. Progress in Human Geography, 24(4), 641–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Winterton, R., Chambers, A. H., Farmer, J., & Munoz, S. (2014). Considering the implications of place-based approaches for improving rural community wellbeing: The value of a relational lens. Rural Society, 23(3), 283–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica M. Taylor
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Colorado State University – Global CampusFaculty-Healthcare Administration and BusinessGreenwood VillageUSA
  2. 2.University of Maryland-University CollegeAdjunct Full Professor-Health Services ManagementAdelphiUSA

Personalised recommendations