Shared Prosperity in America's Communities

Shared Prosperity in America's Communities

Shared Prosperity in America's Communities

Shared Prosperity in America's Communities

Synopsis

While the nation's GDP has doubled in the last thirty years, significant increases in family income have been restricted to a small subset of the American population. This disjunct between national economic growth and stagnating incomes in all but the very top tier of the population corresponds with increasing economic inequality and a lack of social and economic mobility. As a consequence, neighborhoods and metropolitan areas have become more polarized. Stark geographic differences in levels of poverty, income, health outcomes, job opportunities, lifetime earning potential, and educational attainment highlight the degree to which place matters in terms of social and economic opportunity.

Shared Prosperity in America's Communities examines this place-based disparity of opportunity and suggests what can be done to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are widely shared. Contributors' essays explore social and economic mobility throughout the country to illuminate the changing geography of inequality, offer a portfolio of strategies to address the challenges of place-based inequality, and show how communities across the nation are implementing change and building a future of shared prosperity. Approaching the problem from the vantage point of economics, sociology, and public policy, Shared Prosperity in America's Communities offers a timely analysis of the country's growing socioeconomic and geographic division and shows how communities can respond to the challenge of economic inequality to build a nation of opportunity for all.

Excerpt

The rise in income inequality in the United States in recent decades has heightened the degree to which place matters in the geography of economic opportunity. By almost every measure imaginable, we are a nation divided, and the geography of opportunity matters more than ever for the propagation and persistence of poverty.

Despite the nation’s GDP doubling in the past thirty years, median family income and wages trail far behind. And income inequality is increasingly aligned with place. Neighborhoods and metropolitan areas have become more polarized, creating stark differences in levels of poverty, income, health outcomes, job opportunities, lifetime earning potential, as well as educational attainment.

This is a book about the place-based disparity of opportunity and what communities can do to build shared prosperity. Part I of the book lays out the issues of social and economic mobility, showing the challenges of the changing geography of inequality. Part II offers a portfolio of strategies to address the challenges of place-based inequality. Part III shows how communities across the nation are implementing change and building a future of shared prosperity.

Chetty, in the first chapter of this volume, demonstrates that social mobility varies substantially across the nation. While there are areas in the United States where mobility is higher than in most other countries, in other areas the chance of a child moving from the bottom to the top quintile of income is lower than 5 percent, less than in any other developed nation on record. Why does social mobility vary? Chetty identifies location-based factors associated with regional differences in mobility: segregation by race and ethnicity, income inequality, school quality, social capital, and family structure.

As the chapters by Jargowsky and Kneebone show, geographic stratification in income inequality and segregation by race and ethnicity have grown over time. Gains of the 1990s have been reversed, as segregation by income and race—particularly for children—has increased. Jargowsky points to . . .

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