Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)


Jaelyn Phillips

Publication Date



Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of


Political Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Nathan Griffith

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


The largest issue facing the modern Appalachian region is poverty. Though the region as a whole is impoverished, the Central subregion runs far ahead in poverty statistics. Social scientists and economists have examined what causes this issue, and many of them had similar findings: poor education, limited access to healthcare, poor institutionalization, and other general rural issues. However, in this study, I show that these issues are not the root causes of poverty; rather, they are effects of the root cause—mountaintop mining. My hypothesis is that mountaintop mining, also known as surface mining, is the root cause of Central Appalachian poverty, causing these other issues, such as poor education, to be brought to the forefront. I test my hypothesis using data from the Energy Information Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission.