These Two Neighborhoods Exemplify The Growing Divide In White America

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The growing divide between rich and poor white Americans is studied in a new book called Coming Apart by Charles Murray.

The breakdown is less about income inequality and has more to do with two drastically different cultures that both call themselves American.

Looking at data from 1960 to 2010, Murray compares a sample of upper-middle class white people living in Belmont, Mass. to working-class white people living in Fishtown, Penn.

Note: “Belmont” and “Fishtown” are based on but do not perfectly represent real neighborhoods.

Fishtown (the working class neighbourhood) saw a steady rise in men not making a living. Belmont (the upper-middle class neighbourhood) did not

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

The percentage of Fishtowners working fewer than 40 hours a week doubled during this period

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

The percentage of males who worked more than 48 hours a week in Belmont rose to almost 50 per cent by the 1980s, before dipping slightly in the next century

The percentage of males who worked more than 48 hours a week in Fishtown did not increase at all in that same time span.

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

The labour participation rate rose among Belmont women from less than 50 per cent to over 60 per cent. Meanwhile Fishtown women declined from 64 per cent to under 60 per cent

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

Starting in the 1970s, marriage rates in Fishtown plummeted, resulting in a 35 point separation between the two towns by 2010

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

Similarly, divorce rates for Fishtown skyrocketed, with a near 35 per cent rate by 2010, compared to just over 5 per cent in Belmont

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

As a result of ballooning divorce rates, 22 per cent of Fishtown children lives with just one parent, compared to three per cent in Belmont

This trend will greatly affect the next generation, as the family structure that provides the best outcome for children is two biological parents who remain married.

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

80 per cent of Fishtowners disapprove of extramarital sex. 70 per cent of Belmonters agree

There used to be a 30-point difference between the towns.

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

Regular religious service attendance dropped for both groups, but Fishtown citizens are still even less likely to pray in public, at around 40 per cent, compared to 53 per cent in Belmont

Belmont and Fishtown have comparable percentages of non-believers, but Fishtown residents have been losing their religion at a faster rate.

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

White people in Fishtown tend to be more disconnected from their community, are more likely to be in prison, and are less likely to vote

People in Fishtown tend to be isolated from community life, with almost 40 per cent of Fishtowners having no involvement in any secular or religious organisation. That compares to an all-time low of 3 per cent in Belmont.

In the least surprising statistic of in the book, there were nearly 1,000 prisoners per 100,000 population in Fishtown, compared to virtually zero in Belmont. More surprising: here were just 200 Fishtown residents per 100,000 in the beginning of the 1970s.

Civic life in Fishtown is also faltering: voting turnout in Fishtown has dropped from 70 per cent in 1970 to 50 per cent today, while in Belmont it never dipped below 86 per cent.

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

Both neighborhoods have become less trusting of people around them. This feeling is declining more precipitously in Fishtown than Belmont

Whites' estimation of the trustworthiness of others and their perception of how helpful other people are declined for both groups over the decades.

In Fishtown, white people trusted others about 40 per cent of the time in 1970, and less than 20 per cent in 2010. In Belmont, they trusted people over 75 per cent of the time in 1970 and around 55 per cent of the time in 2010.

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

Happiness is on the decline in both neighborhoods (but upper class white people are still the happiest of all)

White people in either town are better off than the general population: violent crime rates, divorce rates and and unemployment were all lower, on average, for the white communities.

But whites in Fishtown are unhappier than the rest of their neighbourhood. And whites in Belmont are the happiest of all the demographics analysed.

Belmont and Fishtown are based on real towns in MA and PA, respectively. Analysis comes from the book Coming Apart.

Inequality can be seen everywhere...

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