Useful Databases and Websites: Economic Research Service


What is the Economic Research Service?

ERS Website:

The Economic Research Service (ERS) is a primary source of economic information and research in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The ERS conducts a research program to inform public and private decision making on economic and policy issues involving food, farming, natural resources, and rural development.

A number of data products that may be helpful can be found under the subject area of Diet, Health and Safety

A very useful part of this site provides information and data on rural definitions. The ERS has selected a representative set of nine alternative rural definitions and compares social and economic indicators from the 2000 decennial census across the nine definitions. They chose socioeconomic indicators (population, education, poverty, etc.) that are commonly used to highlight differences between urban and rural areas. The section below on Data and Maps is taken from the ERS website and details what you can access there with regard to rural definitions.

Data and Maps

The ERS presents nine rural definitions and selected indicators through three display options. The options allow users to make comparisons of rural definitions between/across indicators and States:


National and State Indicator Tables — Selected socioeconomic indicators (such as population, education, poverty, etc.) for each definition of rural. Each spreadsheet allows the user to easily compare a particular indicator across the different definitions of rural. By selecting different States from the pull down menu, the user can make quick comparisons of indicators across States.

image2State-Level Maps — A set of maps show the nine rural definitions. These maps allow the user to compare the geographic coverage provided by different definitions for each State. The PDF file also contains the same indicators available in the Excel tables for the selected State as reference.


image3Rural Definition Mapping Utility —An interactive mapping utility for comparing the rural definitions.

Data Documentation and Methods

Get details about the nine rural definitions and how the socioeconomic indicators were computed.

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