Over the last 30 years in America, more of the rich are living among the rich, and more of the poor are living among the poor.
Earlier this month the Pew Research Center released a report called “The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income.” This report concludes that the share of lower-income and upper-income households who live mainly among other households of their income class increased significantly from the 1980 census to the 2010 one. The percentage of upper-income households who live in majority upper-income census tracks doubled, from 9% to 18%, while the percentage of lower-income households who live in majority lower-income household increased significantly, from 23% to 28%.
Here’s what’s worth taking away from this report:
Consider the significance of these results. At this point you may be figuring that, well of course, people live in neighborhoods they can afford, so well-off people will live in expensive neighborhoods and the less well-off will live in more modest ones. What is meaningful is the trend towards greater residential segregation, and particularly the sharpness of the trend. We’ve seen a widening income gap between the rich and the poor, and now understand that this has come with fewer of us living in mixed-income neighborhoods, and more of us living among people like us economically. Seems that this fast-increasing isolation of the economic classes from each other can have profound consequences for the nation’s social and political cohesiveness. Our national motto—“E Pluribus Unum,” “out of many, one”—is being sorely tried by our deep and seemingly increasing political divides. Adding a deepening economic divide only increases the challenge of working together constructively.