Middle-Class Neighborhoods Dying Off Stanford study says numbers have dropped sharply since 1970 By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Nov 16, 2011 5:53 PM CST 54 comments Comments Neighborhoods defined as "middle class" are shrinking, a new study says. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – A major new study from Stanford finds that America's middle class is shrinking in a big way, reports the New York Times. The researchers looked at 117 of the nation's biggest metropolitan areas and discovered that 44% of families live in areas defined as middle class, down from 65% in 1970. Meanwhile, the number of families living in affluent neighborhoods doubled to 14%, while those in poor neighborhoods rose from 8% to 17%, notes Reuters. In short, the income gap appears to be widening. "Given that in 2008 the top 10% of earners controlled approximately 48% of all income in the United States, the increasing isolation of the affluent from the low and moderate-income families means that a significant portion of society's resources are concentrated in a smaller and smaller portion of neighborhoods," says the study.