Urban Sprawl Is Literally Stranding the Poor

Paul Krugman thinks social mobility is suffering, poor stay poor

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 29, 2013 1:10 PM CDT | Updated Jul 29, 2013 1:41 PM CDT

(Newser) – Detroit spent the last decade spiraling into bankruptcy, while Atlanta spent it growing like mad. But the two cities have something in common: "Both are places where the American dream seems to be dying," writes Paul Krugman at the New York Times. Social mobility is low in both cities—meaning the poor are staying poor. Why? Well, a new study suggests that it might be because they're just too spread out. "Sprawl may be killing Horatio Alger."

The study found that social mobility was correlated with how far apart various classes lived from each other. "In Atlanta, poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl," Krugman writes. "Disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can't get there." We need to build smarter, more compact population centers that let families get by without multiple cars. Click for Krugman's full column.

This Oct. 24, 2012, photo shows an empty field north of Detroit's downtown.
This Oct. 24, 2012, photo shows an empty field north of Detroit's downtown.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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You should also see this in the larger context of a nation that has lost its way, that preaches equality of opportunity while offering less and less opportunity to those who need it most. - Paul Krugman

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