Map by MPI's Zara Matheson
The Gini coefficient for the United States as a whole is .450, about the same as Iran and the Philippines. For comparison's sake, the Gini coefficient for Sweden, the world's most-equal country, is .230. Denmark's is .248, Germany's is .270 and Canada's is .321. The most unequal countries in the world have Gini coefficients between .60 to roughly .70. Though none of America's metros score that high, the picture is still not a pretty one. Most large metros (with over one million people) have inequality levels that are equal to or above the U.S. average.
- The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (.537) metro — which includes not just the gritty factory town that gives it its name, but stately Westport and über-affluent Greenwich — shares a Gini ranking with Thailand (.536). "The richest Thais earn 14.7 times more than the poorest," said Gwi-Yeop Son, an United Nations Development Programme representative, a few years ago. "The bottom 60 percent of the population's share of the income is only 25 percent."
- The disparity between New York's (.504) richest and poorest is comparable to what you'd find in Swaziland (.504), a place not generally noted for its economic dynamism or quality of life (its average life expectancy is the lowest in the world).
- Los Angeles's inequality (.485) is the equivalent of the Dominican Republic (.484).
- Chicago (.468) is like El Salvador (.469).
- Detroit (.457) matches up with the Philippines (.458).
- San Francisco's (.475) inequality is similar to Madagascar's (.475).
- Dallas (.463) is like Malaysia (.462).
- Inequality in Denver (.455) is comparable to Jamaica's (.455).
- Seattle's Gini (.439) is similar to Nigeria (.437).
On the flip side, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis St. Paul (.436), Greater Washington, D.C. (.435), Las Vegas (.429), Honolulu (.421), Salt Lake City (.417), and several others stand out as having among the lowest levels of inequality, though these levels are in line with China (.415) and Russia (.422).
Just five U.S. metros have inequality levels below .4 — Fairbanks, Alaska (.399); Monroe, Michigan (.398); Appleton (.395) and Sheboygan (.393), Wisconsin; and Ogden-Clearfield, Utah (.389) — values which are still greater than the level of inequality found in India (.368).
Richard Florida is Co-Founder and Editor at Large at The Atlantic Cities. He's also a Senior Editor atThe Atlantic, Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, and Global Research Professor at New York University. He is a frequent speaker to communities, business and professional organizations, and founder of the Creative Class Group, whose current client list can be found here. All posts »
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