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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Coming Apart, Continued

Many posts have discussed economic inequality and the increasing social and physical separation of classes.

The accompanying chart, taken from “The Continuing Increase in Income Segregation,” a March 2016 paper by Sean F. Reardon, a professor of education at Stanford, and Kendra Bischoff, a professor of sociology at Cornell, demonstrates the accelerating geographic isolation of the well-to-do — the upper middle and upper classes (a pattern of isolation that also applies to the poor, with devastating effect).
Timothy Smeeding, a professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin, has explored how the top quintile is pulling away from the rest of society. In an essay published earlier this year, “Gates, Gaps, and Intergenerational Mobility: The Importance of an Even Start,” Smeeding finds that the gap between the average income of households with children in the top quintile and households with children in the middle quintile has grown, in inflation-adjusted dollars, from $68,600 to $169,300 — that’s 147 percent.

In a September 2015 essay, “The Dangerous Separation of the American Upper Middle Class,” Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at Brookings, writes:
The top fifth have been prospering while the majority lags behind. But the separation is not just economic. Gaps are growing on a whole range of dimensions, including family structure, education, lifestyle, and geography. Indeed, these dimensions of advantage appear to be clustering more tightly together, each thereby amplifying the effect of the other.
 The same pattern emerges in the case of education. Reeves cites data showing that 56 percent of heads of households in the top quintile have college or advanced degrees, compared with 34 percent in the third and fourth quintiles and 17 percent in the bottom two quintiles.