As gateways for immigrants and opportunity seekers, cities represent the best chance at the economic participation, education, and social services necessary for upward mobility.
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Whether, in other words, inexorable inequality in global cities is harmful depends on whether it is short-lived for individual people and part of a general pattern of upward social mobility. Cities may not make people poor, but bad policy and neglect can keep them that way. In many global cities, for instance, the technological and financial service industries in which growth has been concentrated have substantial educational barriers for entry.
They also rely on a globally sourced workforce for the diminishing number of technical experts they require. Thus, a corporate headquarters moving to Chicago does not imply that Chicagoans necessarily have a better chance at employment. The highly structured promotion chains that middle-skill service and manufacturing jobs once offered have not been replaced with anything. This puts a lot of pressure on lower-income residents to get an excellent education.
Unfortunately, education no longer functions as a reliable mechanism for social mobility. Poor quality public education and the high cost of higher education credentialing reinforce inequality rather than correct it. Cities are generally failing to invest in especially early educational resources for low-income students or find ways to create stable mixed-income schools. Moreover, it is not clear that the traditional mechanisms have ever worked especially well for historically marginalized groups.
The isolation of poor communities along demographic and income lines makes it more difficult for the urban poor to build equity in their homes or businesses which might raise quality of life within their communities. Improving school attendance may help bring excluded populations into the fold in places like Shanghai, for example. But as Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels, argued, this will not be adequate in places where low-income schools themselves are not safe, vibrant, and do not offer a viable path into higher education.
Where inequality is persistent we need to develop entirely new mechanisms of mobility. The alternative is increasingly isolated islands of urban degradation. The weakening of traditional social mobility mechanisms belies the conclusion that inequality in global cities should be celebrated.
We ought to turn, then, to the idea that there are indeed pernicious forms of inequality in global cities but that they can be overcome by the right sorts of investment and policy. Tessa Jowell, former UK Secretary for Culture, Media, and Sport, cites lack of affordable housing as the single greatest obstacle to social mobility in many global cities. London is building less than half of the affordable housing it needs simply to keep pace with the increasing urban population.
Mixed-income housing, Jowell claims, should be required in all new development. Unequal cities are, however, unequal in their own ways. This is changing, however, and it suggests that cities do have some power to shift toward policies of inclusion. Rising income inequality has been linked to political polarization.
Any policy that benefits lower- and middle-income Americans at the expense of the elite — like health reform, which guarantees insurance to all and pays for that guarantee in part with taxes on higher incomes — will face bitter Republican opposition. As income inequality increased, the degree of House of Representatives polarization measured by voting record followed.
Inequality increased influence by the rich on the regulatory, legislative and electoral processes. Polarization thus completed a feedback loop, worsening inequality. The IMF warned in that rising income inequality within Western nations, in particular the United States, could result in further political polarization. Several economists and political scientists argued that income inequality translates into political inequality, as when politicians have financial incentives to accommodate special interest groups.
Researchers such as Larry Bartels found that politicians are significantly more responsive to the political opinions of the wealthy, even when controlling for a range of variables including educational attainment and political knowledge. A class system is a society organized around the division of the population into groups having a permanent status that determines their relation to other groups.
Investor Warren Buffett said in , "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning. George Packer wrote, "Inequality hardens society into a class system Inequality divides us from one another in schools, in neighborhoods, at work, on airplanes, in hospitals, in what we eat, in the condition of our bodies, in what we think, in our children's futures, in how we die.
Inequality makes it harder to imagine the lives of others. The movement spread to communities in Increasing inequality is both a cause and effect of political change , according to journalist Hedrick Smith.
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The result was a political landscape dominated in the s and s by business groups, specifically "political insiders" — former members of Congress and government officials with an inside track — working for "Wall Street banks, the oil, defense, and pharmaceutical industries; and business trade associations.
World trade significantly expanded in the s and thereafter, with the creation of the World Trade Organization and the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. These agreements and related policies were widely supported by business groups and economists such as Krugman  and Stiglitz . One outcome was greatly expanded foreign outsourcing, which has been argued to have hollowed out the middle class.
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Stiglitz later argued that inequality may explain political questions — such as why America's infrastructure and other public investments are deteriorating,  : 92 or the country's recent relative lack of reluctance to engage in military conflicts such as the Iraq war. Top-earning families have the money to buy their own education, medical care, personal security, and parks.
They showed little interest in helping pay for such things for the rest of society, and have the political influence to make sure they don't have to.
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The relatively few children of the wealthy who joined the military may have reduced their concern about going to war. Milanovic argued that globalization and immigration caused US middle-class wages to stagnate, fueling the rise of populist political candidates. The US has relatively high rates of health problems and social problems, obesity , mental illness , homicides , suicides , teenage births , incarceration , child conflict, drug use and lower rates of social goods life expectancy , educational performance , trust among strangers , women's status and social mobility compared to other developed countries.
Using statistics from 23 developed countries and the 50 states of the US, British researchers Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett found a correlation that remains after accounting for ethnicity,  national culture  and occupational classes or education levels. A study attributed one in three deaths in the United States to high levels of inequality. A study by Angus Deaton and Anne Case found that income inequality could be a driving factor in a marked increase in deaths among white males between the ages of 45 to 54 in the period to According to the Health Inequality Project, the wealthiest American men live 15 years longer than the poorest.
Brooklyn's Income Inequality: Global Causes, Local Effects
For American women the life expectancy gap is 10 years. Krugman argues that the long-term funding problems of Social Security and Medicare can be blamed in part on the growth in inequality as well as changes such as longer life expectancy. The source of funding for these programs is payroll taxes , which are traditionally levied as a percent of salary up to a cap. Payroll taxes do not capture income from capital or income above the cap. Higher inequality thereby reduces the taxable pool. Classical liberal economists such as Friedrich Hayek maintained that because individuals are diverse and different, state intervention to redistribute income is inevitably arbitrary and incompatible with the rule of law, and that "what is called 'social' or distributive' justice is indeed meaningless within a spontaneous order".
Those who would use the state to redistribute, "take freedom for granted and ignore the preconditions necessary for its survival". Americans are not generally aware of the extent of inequality or recent trends.
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A December Gallup poll found a decline in the number of Americans who rated reducing the gap in income and wealth between the rich and the poor as extremely or very important 21 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents, and 72 percent of Democrats. In , surveys found the issue ranked below issues such as growth and equality of opportunity, and ranked relatively low in affecting voters "personally".
Surveys found that Americans matched citizens of other nations about what equality was acceptable, but more accepting of what they thought the level was. The household income Gini index for the United States was 0. Income inequality as measured by the Gini index is not uniform among the states: after-tax income inequality in was greatest in Texas and lowest in Maine.
At the county and municipality levels, the market income Gini index ranged from 0. Actual income inequality and public views about the need to address the issue are directly related in most developed countries, but not in the US, where income inequality is larger but the concern is lower. These comparisons indicate Americans shift from reliance on market income to reliance on income transfers later in life and less fully than in other developed countries.
Mapping America's Growing Economic Inequality - CityLab
International comparisons vary. In Credit Suisse ranked the US 6th from the last among countries 4th percentile on income equality measured by the Gini index. The European Union measured The US Gini rating after taxes and transfers  puts it among those of less developed countries.
One study indicated that US market income inequality was comparable to other developed countries, but was the highest among 22 developed countries after taxes and transfers.
This implies that public policy choices, rather than market factors, drive U. Inequality may be higher than official statistics indicate in some countries because of unreported income. Europeans hold higher amounts of wealth offshore than Americans. Leonhardt and Quealy in described three key reasons for other industrialized countries improving real median income relative to the US over the period.
In the US: . As of the U.