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Income inequality and economic residential segregation
  1. I Kawachi
  1. Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA
  1. Correspondence:
 Dr I Kawachi; 
 Ichiro.Kawachi{at}channing.harvard.edu

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The relation between income inequality and economic residential segregation is undoubtedly causal

It is now widely acknowledged that the surge in income inequality in the United States since the mid-1970s was accompanied by a sharp increase in the spatial concentration of poverty. Between 1970 and 1990, the percentage of urban poor Americans living in non-poor neighbourhoods (where less than 20% of households live below the official poverty threshold) declined from 45% to 31%, while the percentage living in poor neighbourhoods (poverty rates between 20% and 40%) increased from 38% to 41%.1 At the opposite end of the income distribution, the pattern of residential concentration is even more striking. In 1970, the typical affluent American family—defined as having an income level at least four times the poverty rate—lived in a neighbourhood that was 39% affluent. By 1990, this had increased to 52%—that is, the typical affluent person lived in a neighbourhood where more than half the residents were also rich.1

The connection between income inequality and economic residential segregation is undoubtedly causal. As the rich pull away from the rest of …

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