The Spatial Dimensions of Inequality and Wealth: An Analysis of U.S. Metropolitan Areas
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper aims to explore the spatial relationship between inequality and the distribution of wealth across U.S metro areas. There has been much attention afforded to the issue of inequality in general, and an ongoing debate exists on the magnitude and scope of inequality impacts on various societal conditions. Much of the attention has traditionaly been placed on the link between concentrated poverty and economic inequality, particularly in social science research. This paper recognizes a gap in the research in the way of looking at the effect of concentrated wealth on the processes of furthering inequality through economic isolation and increasing marginalization of distressed urban population groups. The author analyzes MSA-level gini coefficients and household income and wealth measures for standardized metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across the United States for the decennial censuses 1970 to 2000, and 2005 to 2013 data equivalents from the American Community Survey. The second component to the analysis rellies on spatial regression (spatial autocorrelation) and the Global Moran's I index to identify and quantify hot spots of wealth (at the census tract level) across MSAs, as well as identify trends and changes over the time period of the analysis. Preliminary results show a relatively strong, persistent, and significant association between metro-level economic inequality and the level of wealth concentration for a given MSA. As an added level of breadth, this research could in future iterations incorporate effects on individual level wellbeing and health status/outcomes in U.S. metropolitan regions as they relate to the broader concept of inequality. Finally, the paper concludes with conclusions and recommendations for policy.