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Housing inequality: The tale of two communities

February 28, 2014: 6:00 AM ET

Nowhere is the divide between rich and poor more apparent than in the backyard.

Home values in the top 10% wealthiest communities are worth more than six times that in the bottom 40%, a new survey has found.

Put another way, these rich communities hold nearly 52% of housing wealth, compared to only 8% owned by the lower rungs, according to The Demand Institute, which assessed 2,200 largest communities across the nation. The institute, which is operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen, looked at total market value of owner-occupied housing in these cities, towns and villages, which are home to half of the nation's residents.


Institute researchers were surprised by the depth of the divide that exists among communities in the U.S.

"You see a real concentration of wealth in a few places," said Louise Keely, the institute's chief research officer.

Wealthier communities have also weathered the housing collapse better. The total home value of this group rose 73% between 2000 and 2012, compared to 59% for the bottom rungs.


The institute identified what it called Affluent Metroburbs, which are established, wealthy communities near big cities. These include Pinecrest, Fla., Madison, N.J. and Laguna Hills, Calif.

It also designated other locales as Endangered Communities, which are truly distressed areas with weak housing markets and severe socioeconomic problems. These include Decatur, Ill., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and Gainesville, Texas.

For more information on the nine different community profiles and specific information on the cities within them, check out the institute's report.

  • America's disappearing middle class

    Fewer and fewer people are feeling middle class these days.

    The share of Americans who describe themselves as middle class has taken a tumble, while the percentage who identify as lower class has soared over the past six years, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center/USA Today. The share of Americans who consider themselves upper class has also shrunk.

    This downward shift is likely due to falling wages and MORE

    - Jan 28, 2014 6:00 AM ET
  • Wealth: A few control almost all of it

    The richest people in the world are very, very rich.

    The fat cats at the top control nearly all the world's wealth, according a report from Oxfam, an anti-poverty group.

    The bottom two-thirds, meanwhile, own just a tiny sliver.

    Oxfam released the report ahead of the World Economic Forum, which called widening income inequality one of the greatest worldwide risks in the next 12 to 18 months.

    Pope Francis called on global leaders gathering MORE

    - Jan 22, 2014 9:47 AM ET
  • Just how wide is New York City's income gap?

    Closing New York City's income gap is at the top of new Mayor Bill de Blasio's agenda.

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    - Jan 9, 2014 10:05 AM ET
  • Readers rage about the rich and taxes

    CNNMoney's story about how the top 10% of taxpayers paid 70% of the nation's federal income taxes, even though they received just 45% of the income, took off like wildfire in the social media world.

    Nearly 4,000 people commented on the piece. It also generated tons of tweets and was recommended more than 8,000 times on Facebook . Some people liked it:

    There is no room for complaint...The rich pay majority of MORE

    - Mar 13, 2013 11:32 AM ET
  • Viral video shows how wealth is really distributed

    Think you know how wealth is distributed in America? Think again.

    A YouTube video that's gone viral recently shows that our perceptions of who has money and how much they have is quite skewed. The poor and middle class have a lot less than most people think, while the rich have a lot more. And the Top 1% are off the charts.

    The video, which has been viewed more than 3.8 million MORE

    - Mar 8, 2013 8:06 AM ET
  • Union membership down, income inequality up

    The decline of union membership has been a key driver of income inequality in recent decades, a new report found.

    The drop in unionization accounts for roughly a third of the growth in wage inequality among men and a fifth among women between 1973 and 2007, according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

    The share of the workforce represented by unions declined from 26.7% in 1973 to 13.1% in 2011. This contributed MORE

    - Aug 30, 2012 9:22 AM ET
  • The poor more likely to live with the poor

    More and more Americans are living in neighborhoods surrounded by people who earn about as much as them ... whether they are rich or poor.

    Segregation by income is growing, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released Wednesday.

    Some 28% of low-income households lived in low-income neighborhoods in 2010, up from 23% three decades earlier. And the number of upper-income households living in upper-income neighborhoods doubled to 18% over that period.

    Pew MORE

    - Aug 1, 2012 12:01 PM ET
  • OECD warns U.S. on income inequality

    The United States should aim to fix its income inequality problem by improving education for disadvantaged students and raising taxes on the wealthy, according to a new report from a consortium of developed countries.

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    "The US education system is less effective than MORE

    - Jun 27, 2012 4:50 PM ET
  • Leisure inequality: Who's bumming around more?

    Sure, the wealthy earn more money...but they work a lot harder for it.

    So says a new study that found that while the income gap between the rich and poor has grown since the 1980s, the leisure divide has widened too.

    Highly educated men, who generally have higher incomes, had only 33.2 hours of leisure time a week by 2007, down 1.2 hours from 1985, according to the three National Bureau of Economic MORE

    - May 2, 2012 9:23 AM ET
  • The poor stay poor

    The poor are finding it even tougher to escape from the lowest income ranks these days.

    Most of those in the poorest income quintile spent all or nearly all of the period between 1996 and 2006 stuck in place, according to a new report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Those who did advance didn't move far.

    The research, conducted by senior economist Katharine Bradbury, shows that economic mobility has MORE

    - Apr 26, 2012 6:00 AM ET
  • Obama stresses his "middle class experience"

    After being accused of being "out of touch" by his leading Republican rival last week, President Obama trotted out his "middle class experiences" for journalists.

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    - Apr 9, 2012 6:00 AM ET
  • Inequality gap widens in home ownership

    The collapse of the housing bubble has further widened the home ownership inequality gap.

    Black households, as well as the poorest households and those headed by high school dropouts, did not benefit much from the housing boom, but got hit hard by the subsequent bust, a new analysis of Census data by Fordham University Professor Emily Rosenbaum has found.

    During the 1990s, blacks and Hispanics made gains that narrowed the home ownership MORE

    - Mar 22, 2012 10:58 AM ET
  • Rich voters love Romney

    The 2012 Republican primary contest has been defined by a series of roller-coaster lead changes. At various points, 11 different contenders have led national polls.

    But one demographic group -- the wealthy -- seems to have settled on a candidate.

    And their man is Mitt Romney.

    On Tuesday, Romney lost to Rick Santorum in both Alabama and Mississippi. But among individuals making more than $100,000, he received more votes than his competitors.

    In Alabama, MORE

    - Mar 14, 2012 12:20 PM ET
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