US cities are more unequal than Mexico, in which both poor and rich live together
Whatever your location, it is difficult to measure inequality because of the rate and degree of change across different areas in the metropolis.
Yes, some wealthy areas and neighborhoods are not: households with low and high incomes divide themselves into cities according to preferences (for local public goods as well as the composition of their neighborhoods) and their needs (according to the location of their jobs, budget and prices for housing).
However, not every neighborhood is populated by households who earn the same amount. The distribution of income across spaces is typically “imperfect,” meaning that wealthy and low-income families may be in the same area and have a common bond with each other as well as local facilities.
In the end, an extremely specific and local type of inequality is seen within neighborhoods. The phenomenon is evident in US metropolitan areas, Census Bureau data illustrates. Not only are households with different incomes located close to one another and in close proximity, but they also form tiny communities in which local inequality, in general, is correlated with prevalent urban disparities.
For instance, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles all have neighborhood income inequalities at or near 20% greater than Washington’s. This is similar to the disparity among the metropolitan areas’ GINI indices. We also found that the inequality in particular neighborhoods has seen a dramatic increase in the last 35 years (even within very small communities), which indicates an increase in the degree of income inequality on a community-wide level.
This unexpected result is likely connected to the revival in North American cities over the recent decade, also known as the big inversion. All across the Americas, companies and jobs are returning to major cities, which are attracting more qualified workers who tend to be younger, earn higher salaries, and would rather settle where their work is.
When young couples with high incomes purchase homes in historically poor neighborhoods that were filled with the renting and working class, it makes them more gentrifying and increases income inequality in these places. This is taking place in cities all over the Americas.
Gentrification is a frequent occurrence in North American cities, increasing inequality of income and, in certain cases, tensions. Michael Premo/Flickr, CC BY-ND
Staying on top of the Joneses
We were looking to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon. What is the reason local income inequality is growing? What can we do to quantify it? What trends do we see in the uber-localized inequality? What does this mean for urban residents?
That was the motivation behind our research, So close and Yet Inequal: Rethinking the Spatial Disparity in US Cities. The study focused on US cities. Our findings from our preliminary study were published in a Catholic University of Milan Working Paper.
In contrast to traditional measures of inequality that rely on the administrative divisions of cities as the basis of analysis and assess the level of income inequality in those neighborhoods, We focus on the disparity between neighbors, placing people at the heart of our research.
The basic idea is asking people to assess their earnings against those of neighbors who live within a specific distance (from small blocks to whole census areas) and thus calculate the income disparity in a particular area of a person’s.
When doing this, for every person living in a city – every city – one should be able to measure two dimensions of spatial inequality in the form of average income inequality within each neighborhood (is my neighbor more wealthy than me? ) and the difference between the incomes of every area (is the area more prosperous than mine? ).
We discovered that these two indicators are a typology of cities that reflects the urban planners’ findings at the level of cities. Some cities have been classified as “even cities.” Similar to Washington DC, they display fairly low levels of inequality in income everywhere.