Rich Cities, Poor Countryside? Social Structure of the Poor and Poverty Risks in Urban and Rural Parts of Switzerland

Hümbelin, Oliver; Hobi, Lukas Christian; Farys, Rudolf (23 April 2022). Rich Cities, Poor Countryside? Social Structure of the Poor and Poverty Risks in Urban and Rural Parts of Switzerland In: RC28 Spring Meeting. London. April 21-23, 2022.

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In many countries, it is difficult to study subnational poverty patterns, as official statistics often rely on surveys with limited ability to disaggregate regionally. To address poverty, it is however important to understand urban/rural differences. This paper contributes to the field of spatial poverty studies by using linked tax data to examine poverty in a large political district in Switzerland with 1 million inhabitants and large rural and urban parts. We measure poverty based on income and asset and examine poverty in urban and rural areas and are able to describe the social structure of the poor in detail. We then use random forest based variable importance analysis to see whether the importance of poverty risks factors differs in urban and rural parts. We can show that poor people in rural areas are more likely to be of retirement age compared to the urban parts. Among the workforce, the share of poor is larger for those who work in agriculture compared to those working in industry or the service sector. In urban areas, the poor are more often freelancers and people of foreign origin. Despite on where they live, people with no or little education, single parents, and people working in gastronomy/tourism are disproportionately often poor. With respect to risk factors, we find that the general opportunity structure like density of workplaces or aggravated access in mountain areas seem to be of minor importance compared to risk factors that relate to the immediate social situation. Low attachment to the labor market is by far the most important characteristic predicting poverty on the household level. However, the sector of occupation is of great importance too. Since the possibilities to engage in a specific occupation is linked to the regional opportunity structure, this result fosters the argument that territorial opportunities matter.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


School of Social Work > Institute for Social Security and Social Policy
School of Social Work


Hümbelin, Oliver0000-0002-8983-9958;
Hobi, Lukas Christian and
Farys, Rudolf


G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics




Oliver Hümbelin

Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2022 10:49

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2022 21:46




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