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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Income segregation increases over the last 30 years

The Pew Research Center has a new report out on the increasing segregation of American cities by income.

There are interactive maps here for some large cities: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/income-segregation/chicago/ 

There are no huge surprises for areas I’m familiar with, although the operational definition of “high income” seems very high.

The analysis finds that 28% of lower-income households in 2010 were located in a majority lower-income census tract, up from 23% in 1980, and that 18% of upper- income households were located in a majority upper-income census tract, up from 9% in 1980.3

These increases are related to the long-term rise in income inequality, which has led to a shrinkage in the share of neighborhoods across the United States that are predominantly middle class or mixed income—to 76% in 2010, down from 85% in 1980—and a rise in the shares that are majority lower income (18% in 2010, up from 12% in 1980) and majority upper income (6% in 2010, up from 3% in 1980).

Of the ten largest cities, Chicago is the 9th most income segregated – odd because the racial segregation of Chicago is relatively high. 

Chicago also has pretty strong zoning laws; but the most income-segregated area – Houston – is famous for having weak zoning. I don’t quite follow that, but presumably some sociologists could explain that.

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