Penn State University researchers have examined the incidence of poverty in the US and its relation to social and political factors that are not usually included in studies. They have come up with some interesting findings, notably: ‘Counties with more self-employed workers or entrepreneurs, more immigrants and more community leadership and participation, known as social capital, have lower poverty rates’. They also find that those areas that have greater competition between two political parties tend to have lower levels of poverty.
A brief synopsis can be read here. The research is published in the Journal of Socio-Economics, by Anil Rupasingha and Stephan J. Goetz in their article ‘Social and political forces as determinants of poverty: A spatial analysis’.