A couple folks at the Martin Prosperity Institute measured poverty distributions across the United States’ more than 350 metro areas using 2010 census data to rank those areas according to how segregated their poor are. It may not shock you to hear that Baltimore makes it into the top 10 (if anything, it’s surprising that, at no. 9, we came in behind areas like New York and Buffalo), but the data revealed that there is only a very small correlation between segregation of poverty and income inequality.
In his Atlantic Cities article, Richard Florida explains why segregation of poverty deserves to be a metric unto itself:
“Poverty is not just the absence of money. It is geographically concentrated and it brings with it a host of troubling ‘neighborhood effects.’ The Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson notes that ‘the stigmatization heaped on poor neighborhoods and the grinding poverty of its residents are corrosive, leading to … “moral cynicism” and alienation from key institutions, setting up a cycle of decline.’ NYU’s Patrick Sharkey has similarly found that ‘neighborhood inequality is multigenerational, something that is passed down from parents to children in the same way that genetic background and financial wealth are transmitted across generations.'”
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