Introducing Wednesday Wildcard

Most of the posts on this blog are at least loosely related to the topics of literature, books, and reading. But every now and then I come across some issue, incident, or anecdote that’s just too good to pass up passing on. To indulge my desire to pontificate, I’m creating a new post category: Wednesday Wildcard. This will be an occasional category–I probably won’t be posting a wildcard every Wednesday–but it’s a nice category to have when I want it.

And here’s the first Wednesday Wildcard news:

Middle-Class Areas Shrink as Income Gap Grows, New Report Finds

The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent.

The study, conducted by Stanford University and scheduled for release on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, uses census data to examine family income at the neighborhood level in the country’s 117 biggest metropolitan areas.

The findings show a changed map of prosperity in the United States over the past four decades, with larger patches of affluence and poverty and a shrinking middle.

And why is this growing income gap important?

there is evidence that income differences are having an effect, beyond the context of neighborhood. One example, Professor Reardon said, is a growing gap in standardized test scores between rich and poor children, now 40 percent bigger than it was in 1970. That is double the testing gap between black and white children, he said.

And the gap between rich and poor in college completion — one of the single most important predictors of economic success — has grown by more than 50 percent since the 1990s, said Martha J. Bailey, an economist at the University of Michigan. More than half of children from high-income families finish college, up from about a third 20 years ago. Fewer than 10 percent of low-income children finish, up from 5 percent.


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