Gloria Ortiz Blog #3


Los Angeles among cities with high levels of income inequality.

A study shows how stark geographical divides separate the rich and the poor. According to the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, most of the country’s rich tend to live in cities, while people living below the poverty line concentrate in the countryside and some inner-city enclaves. The analysis also found that the middle class creates buffer zones between the rich and the poor. In the map above, you can see the income inequality by zip code.

Johannes Moenius, the director of the Institute for Spatial Analysis, states “such divides between the rich and the poor can cement regional structures, and make it more difficult for people to reach a higher income level. If people are not able to move from the region where they live, and that region just consists of the poor, they will be hard-pressed to find economic opportunities.”


The map above, shows the concentration of the 10% highest income earners, and below poverty line households by zip code.

In California, the analysis concluded that the rich are clustered around Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento. While the poor are concentrates in cities in the central Valley and in inland areas. The analysis also found that four of Los Angles ZIP codes were among the 20 of the nations most unequal. These area codes are in the downtown area: 90014, 90013, 90015, and 90021.

“Other U.S. areas with high inequality include Tacoma, Wash. (98402); Syracuse, N.Y. (13202); Oklahoma City (73102); and Pittsburgh (15222).  Outside of the cities, though, rural areas in the South have inequality similar to that in Brazil, while rural areas in the Midwest are more similar to Belgium.”

“In terms of income inequality, there are geographic areas in the U.S. where the data looks more like a developing country than like the richest country in the world,” Moenius said.

It is surprising how much geographical differences there are between the rich and the poor. However, in order to understand these differences we also have to put into consideration many other factors. One factor is that a large share of the population consists of illegal immigrants who for the most part are working low wage paying jobs. There is also a large demand for employment, many people settle for low paying jobs, making it difficult to reach higher income levels.  Also, since people are not able to move out of their poor neighborhoods, it makes it  difficult to not only find economic opportunities but any opportunities at all. The disparity from income inequality in the U.S. is surprising, as it places it among developing countries. This certainly support the idea of the top 1%, how can anyone succeed economically when they can’t get opportunities in their own neighborhoods?,0,4331255.story


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