from David Ruccio
Income inequality is increasing between counties across America. Income gains in richer counties are outpacing gains in poorer places. Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that inequality has a number of ill effects on all of society.
Those are the conclusions of a recent study [ht: db] by Roberto Gallardo and Bo Beaulieu of the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University.
They show, first, that income inequality dramatically increased between 1980 and 2008 (when measured as the growing differences between the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent counties, in terms of per capita market income, which does not include government transfer receipts). Thus, for example, the per capita market income of the top 10 percent wealthiest counties in the nation increased 63.8 percent between 1980 and 2008 compared to a 38.3 percent increase in the 10 percent poorest counties. In 1980, the per capita income in the richest counties was 2.6 times that of the poorest group of counties; by 2008, the 10 percent wealthiest counties in the nation had a per capita market income that was 3.5 times higher than the 10 percent poorest counties in the nation.
They also show that urban counties have undergone a more unequalizing trend than rural counties.
Finally, they show that rising inequality is correlated with negative social effects, such as crime and poverty.
In other words, rising inequality is a disaster not only for those left behind but also for everyone who is forced to live in a society in which the distribution of income has become dramatically more unequal over time.