Rich Americans and poor Americans are increasingly segregating themselves into separate neighborhoods, as the gap between America's haves and have-nots widens, a Pew study of recent census data reveals. From 1980 to 2010, the number of high-income households located in affluent neighborhoods doubled to 18%, the Washington Post reports, while the number of low-income households located in poor areas rose from 23% to 28%. Mixed or middle-class neighborhoods are still the most common, but their ranks are diminishing.
"The country has increasingly sorted itself into areas where people are surrounded by more of their own kind, if you will," a Pew official said. Researchers see rising income inequality as the force driving the trend. An earlier Stanford study found that over a 40-year span the percentage of families living in middle-class neighborhoods declined from almost two-thirds to less than half. Another demographer adds that generational factors are at work, because baby boomers largely bought homes in neighborhoods their kids can't afford. (Read more income gap stories.)