Why New York's Inequality Is a Good Thing

Though he may not find a lot of agreement among the 750,000 residents who voted for Bill de Blasio, Ed Glaeser argues that New York City's extreme inequality is a sign of its economic diversity and success, and is nothing to be ashamed about.

"New York’s inequality is extreme," admits Glaeser. "Manhattan is the most unequal big county in the U.S., and the New York area is the country’s seventh most unequal metropolitan area."

"But this extreme inequality reflects other extraordinary aspects of New York: the massive global financial markets based here, America’s most accessible public transit system, hyper-dense immigrant communities and broad social services, like public housing. These forces attract both rich and poor to New York, and New York should not be ashamed of that economic diversity."

"The bigger question, the more important one, is not how much inequality exists — but whether there is mobility for people on the lower rungs of the economic ladder," he argues. And by that measure, the city has been successful for centuries. 

Where New York fails, he continues, is in serving middle-income residents. By improving education and easing land use restrictions, the next mayor can "make the city more welcoming to middle income Americans."



Full Story: A happy tale of two cities

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