As overall income inequality has grown since 1970, high- and low-income families have become less likely to live near each other, according to a new study from Brown University. The study, "Growth in Residential Segregation of Families by Income, 1970-2009," reviewed Census data over the last four decades and found that families are more than twice as likely to live in either poor or affluent neighborhoods now than in 1970, while at the same time the percentage of Americans living in middle-class neighborhoods has fallen from 65% in 1970 to 44% in 2007.
The study also finds that:
- Between 2000 and 2007, family income segregation grew in almost all metropolitan areas in the United States, extending the trend that began in 1970, when just 15% of families lived in neighborhoods classified as either poor or affluent. In 2007, 31% of families lived in such neighborhoods.
- The affluent are more segregated than the poor. The affluent are less likely to live in neighborhoods with middle- and low-income families than low-income families are to live in neighborhoods with middle- and higher-income families.
- Income segregation among blacks and Hispanic families increased more than among white families from 1970-2007. It grew sharply among black and Hispanic families from 2000 to 2007. Income segregation is now much higher among black and Hispanic families than among white families.
The most segregated metropolitan area in the country is the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area, followed closely by three other metro areas that surround New York City. In Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, 44.4% of residents live in either poor or affluent neighborhoods.
In addition, two of Connecticut’s metro areas were among the top 20 in the country for largest change in income segregation between 2000 and 2007, with Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk ranked seventh and New Haven-Milford ranked eighteenth.
Three of Connecticut’s metro areas were among the top 20 in the country for the largest increase in income segregation between 1970 and 2007. New Haven-Milford ranked sixth; Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk ranked sixteenth; and Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford ranked nineteenth.
In Connecticut, these findings of high segregation can be explained largely by the state’s high housing costs keeping families from moving to neighborhoods they prefer, as well as local zoning and other regulations that discourage development of affordable housing in towns outside the poorer urban areas.
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Read the study