A Forty Year Trend Leading to Lower Economic Growth – Except for You Know Who
The segregation of American society by race has been substantially reduced since the end of World War II, a great accomplishment for Americans and a positive development in human relations. But since 1970 a
Stanford study funded by University and the Russell Sage Foundation found that neighborhoods are becoming more segregated by income. And that is not a positive development. Brown University
Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
In 2007, the last year captured by the data, 44 percent of families lived in neighborhoods the study defined as middle-income, down from 65 percent of families in 1970. At the same time, a third of American families lived in areas of either affluence or poverty, up from just 15 percent of families in 1970.
This is not just an individual tragedy, it is a major obstacle for sustained economic prosperity and growth. The basic economics of growth, that somehow have continually escaped both the wealthy and those in policy making positions is that a strong and growing middle class is an absolute necessity for a strong and growing economy.
Sean F. Reardon, an author of the study and a sociologist at Stanford, argued that the shifts had far-reaching implications for the next generation. Children in mostly poor neighborhoods tend to have less access to high-quality schools, child care and preschool, as well as to support networks or educated and economically stable neighbors who might serve as role models.
All of this means that rising income inequality feeds upon itself, that in the absence of government policy to promote economic growth in the lower and middle income groups the problems will continue.
there is evidence that income differences are having an effect, beyond the context of neighborhood. One example, Professor Reardon said, is a growing gap in standardized test scores between rich and poor children, now 40 percent bigger than it was in 1970. That is double the testing gap between black and white children, he said.
And the gap between rich and poor in college completion — one of the single most important predictors of economic success — has grown by more than 50 percent since the 1990s, said Martha J. Bailey, an economist at the University of Michigan. More than half of children from high-income families finish college, up from about a third 20 years ago. Fewer than 10 percent of low-income children finish, up from 5 percent.
But of course the trend in policy is not good. Government at all levels is moving to reduce rather than increase policies and programs designed to move lower income families and individuals into the middle class. And the future of
will be like the America area of Germantown Philadelphia
neighborhood, once solidly middle class, is now mostly low income. Chelten Avenue, one of its main thoroughfares, is a hard-luck strip of check-cashing stores and takeout restaurants. The stone homes on side streets speak to a more affluent past, one that William Wilson, 95, a longtime resident, remembers fondly. Germantown
“It was real nice,” he said . . . Theaters thrived on the avenue, he said, as did a fancy department store. Now a Walgreens stands in its place. “Everything started going down in the dumps,” he said.
This is the future that Conservative economic policy is generating and that progressive in both parties have been unable to stop. And this future is not a concern of the Deficit Reduction Super Committee of the Congress.