Rural areas have low population densities. On the one hand, this develops social capital and entrepreneurship and permits agriculture. On the other hand, it increases the costs of transactions and providing public services. This makes asset-building more difficult in rural areas. For example, it costs more per capita to provide schools, roads, and hospitals, people are more likely to work in small firms that do not offer access to asset-building institutions such as group health insurance or 401(k) plans, and rural homes are less likely to appreciate in value. From a policy perspective, access to asset-building institutions could be decoupled from employment at a large firm. Policy could also enhance existing rural assets by improving the staples of any socioeconomic system: schools, roads, safety, parks, and the environment.
Schreiner, M. (2005). Asset-building in rural areas (CSD Working Paper No. 05-55). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.