America is a rich country, continued

Below are population-weighted, census tract-level histograms (taken from the 2014 ACS) showing the percentage of each tract living in poverty, the percentage on public assistance, and the percentage of those 25 or older without a high school degree.  On average, Americans live in neighborhoods with only about 12% of households below the poverty line, 9% on cash public assistance, and 14% of those over 25 without a high school diploma. Not only are American household incomes very high, but on average their neighborhoods are affluent as well.

Poverty PercentagePercent on Public AssistancePercentAge25WithNoHS

The medians suggest still more affluence: the median American lives in a neighborhood with 9 percent below the poverty line, 6 percent on public assistance, and 11 percent of adults without a high school degree.

Often, statistics like these are discussed in terms of white or middle class privilege, and it is true that urban areas and the make-up of public schools are both very different from the nation as a whole. That, in many ways, is the key political and social tension of early 21st century America: a very wealthy, predominantly white country with less wealthy and predominantly non-white youth.

But in the rush to spy out conflict, the basic fact should not be overlooked: America, imperfect today as it was yesterday, has given a great bounty of wealth to more of its citizenry than perhaps anywhere else has ever done.

One thought on “America is a rich country, continued

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