Tuesday, March 18, 2014

America's Wealthiest Neighbourhoods

Dr. Stephen Higley (he likes to be called Steve), a Professor Emeritus in the Geography Department at the University of Montevallo in Alabama has released his list of the 1000 richest neighbourhoods in the United States.  While many of us would suspect that the richest of these neighbourhoods would be located in California or New York, such is not always the case.

Rather than using zip codes, Dr. Higley has tabulated data from the 2010 Census down to the city block using the American Community Survey 2006 to 2010.  The United States is divided into Census tracts, each consisting of about 5000 residents and about 5 block groups of about 1000 individuals each.  The boundaries of each block are drawn to group together people of similar socio-economic status.  He aggregates contiguous city blocks that form parts of Census tracts with a mean income over $200,000.  

In the Higley 1000, there are a total of 2,048,131 individuals, consisting of 0.6 percent of the total population of the United States.  Here is a look at the ethnic breakdown in 2000 and again in 2010:

The highest mean income neighbourhoods in the U.S. had a substantial increase in the number of Asians and Latinos at the expense of Whites whereas, while the number of wealthy African-Americans grew, they still form a very small fraction of their total representation in their population group.

Now that we have that background, let's get to the interesting part, America's top ten wealthiest neighbourhoods:

The highest 100 income neighbourhoods tend to be Whiter (85.6 percent) with 19 of the 100 having more than 10 percent Asians.  All of the neighbourhoods in the top 100 that have over 10 percent of their population listed as Latino are in Florida, although, some of these are live-in caretakers for large seasonal homes.  It is also interesting to note the substantial over-representation of Asians in most of the top ten wealthiest neighbourhoods when measured in terms of their representation in the population as a a whole. 

In this most recent iteration of the Higley 1000, New York City's metropolitan area dominates with 234 of the 1000 wealthiest neighbourhoods or a total of 664,771 individuals, nearly one-third of the U.S. total, coming from Long Island and the states of New Jersey and Connecticut.  A total of 91 of the 1000 wealthiest neighbourhoods or a total of 199,386 individuals come from the Los Angeles area followed by Washington, DC with 102 of the 1000 wealthiest neighbourhoods or a total of 192,480 individuals.

Over the ten year period between 2000 and 2010, Dr. Higley has noted the following changes in the block groups that make up the list of America's 1000 most wealthy neighbourhoods.

1.) There has been a substantial increase in the number of wealthy block groups that are found in central cities as many inner urban neighbourhoods undergo the process of gentrification.  This trend was particularly notable in Manhattan but was present in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston which all saw new inner city areas join the 1000 richest neighbourhoods in the nation.

2.) Many of the older suburbs are undergoing rejuvenation with wholesale demolition of older houses that are being replaced with much larger mansions.  Neighbourhoods that were already considered "elite" are finding their already large houses replaced by houses that are far larger.

3.) Block groups that were formerly considered second home communities (i.e. seasonal dwellings) have now become the location of primary homes, pushing these communities up in ranking.  This is particularly noticeable in Florida.

4.) Some areas that are completely rural and not connected to any nearby urban centre are now joining the list of the most wealthy neighbourhoods in the United States. 

If you want more information on this subject or to see where the wealthy live in your area, I would highly recommend reading through Dr. Higley's entire listing where you will find a breakdown of the one percenters by city.

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