The End Of Middle Class Neighborhoods?

The middle class is shrinking. So are middle class neighborhoods.  We’ll look at the archetypal American neighborhood, in retreat.

Suburban areas are changing as the economy continues to struggle. (marueen_sill/Flickr)

Suburban areas are changing as the economy continues to struggle. (marueen_sill/Flickr)

All the talk about income inequality these days can sound esoteric. The stuff of number crunchers and statistics. It’s not. A big new report shows how income inequality is changing the very face of American life. Changing neighborhoods and neighbors. Who we see and who we don’t.

Above all, it’s changing the middle class neighborhood. Changing, as in taking it away. The archetypal American neighborhood, with baseball gloves and tricycles and families doing just okay… slipping away.

This hour, On Point: the middle class neighborhood, seedbed of the American dream, in steep retreat.

-Tom Ashbrook


Sean Reardon, Director, Stanford Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program in Quantitative Education Policy Analysis. Co-author of a recent study, Growth in Residential Segregation of Families by Income, 1970-2009.

Ira Goldstein, director of policy solutions at the Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit community development organization.

William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Much of the shift is the result of changing income structure in the United States. Part of the country’s middle class has slipped to the lower rungs of the income ladder as manufacturing and other middle-class jobs have dwindled, while the wealthy receive a bigger portion of the income pie. Put simply, there are fewer people in the middle.”

The Atlantic “The Great Recession has accelerated the hollowing-out of the American middle class. And it has illuminated the widening divide between most of America and the super-rich. Both developments herald grave consequences. Here is how we can bridge the gap between us.”

Brookings “The State of Metropolitan America is a signature effort of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program that portrays the demographic and social trends shaping the nation’s essential economic and societal units—its large metropolitan areas—and discusses what they imply for public policies to secure prosperity for these places and their populations.”


(Joining us from ???)

Director of policy solutions at the Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit community development organization which began in Philadelphia and has expanded across the Mid-Atlantic region

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