Weighing the universal service obligation: Introducing rural well-being as a consideration in the viability of the United States Postal Service

Michael W.P. Fortunato, Theodore Roberts Alter, Jeffrey Cash Bridger, Kathleen A. Schramm, Lina A. Montopoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Due to the rise in web-based communication, such as e-mail and declining surface mail volume over the past decade, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been forced to reconsider its universal service obligation (USO). The USO ensures that all American citizens, regardless of geographic location, receive postal service six days a week. Considerations of postal service reductions have largely been couched in analyses that examine the financial efficiency from a public service provision perspective, like maximizing postal delivery while reducing cost. However, little consideration has been given to the impact of postal service cutbacks, reductions in delivery dates, limitations on routes, and post office closures, on the well-being of rural citizens. Since most postal service reductions are occurring, or will occur, in rural areas, rural citizens are likely to be most profoundly affected by the diminution of the USPS. The USPS is an iconic institution with historical and social importance in many rural communities, and may have disproportional importance in places with few other communications and shipping alternatives. This article examines the history of the USO, and discusses some of the likely impacts of postal service cutbacks on rural areas, and how this may affect the well-being of rural citizens, businesses, and communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-221
Number of pages22
JournalCommunity Development
Volume44
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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