A new report from the Pew Research Center documents that it’s not just income inequality that’s increasing. Residential segregation by income is, too.
“Growing income inequality does not automatically lead to growing residential segregation by income. Conceivably, we could still have a middle class hollowing out but people still living in mixed neighborhoods,” says Paul Taylor, one of the report’s authors. Turns out this is not, however, what is happening. As Americans are growing farther apart on the income scale, we are also effectively moving apart from each other within cities, into our own economic enclaves. So why is that? The answer, Taylor says, may lie more in human behavior than economic data.
“We know over the whole entirety of human history that people have a tremendous tendency to cluster among themselves, whether in tribes, whether in nations,” Taylor says. “Like attracts like. That’s not always the case for some people who value diversity. But it’s sort of hardwired into human nature.”