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尴尬:美国贫富差距超过俄罗斯和伊朗

Lisa Fu 2017年08月06日

美国社会的贫富差距正在扩大,教育划片和大城市里的分区居住限制强化了不公平的体制,统计数据支持这一观点。

《纽约时报》专栏作家大卫·布鲁克斯认为,社会经济阶层隔离将对美国造成巨大破坏。

“通过住房和建筑政策限制,穷人和受教育程度低的人基本无法进入好学校,也找不到好工作……这对全国经济增长有破坏性影响。”布鲁克斯7月11日的专栏文章中写道,后来遭到猛烈抨击。(文章被炮轰的原因倒不是其中表达的焦虑情绪,而是列出的种种证据,例如文中称配搭意式冷切是美国中上阶层的文化符号。)

布鲁克斯有几分道理。美国社会的贫富差距正在扩大。他指出,教育划片和大城市里的分区居住限制强化了不公平的体制,统计数据支持这一观点。

但这种论断的真实性有多大? 我们请城市规划专家、作家、多伦多大学教授理查德·佛罗里达来衡量。(佛罗里达因提出“创意阶层”这一概念而闻名。)以下是他的回答,内容经过缩编。

贫富差距问题起源于何时?

基本上说从上世纪80年代起,贫富差距就在迅速扩大,当然过去十年、十五年分化更快。

美国的贫富不均有多严重?

基尼系数显示,美国的贫富收入差距约为0.45,比伊朗的差距水平还大。(基尼系数是衡量收入分配公平成都的指标,最平等情况下系数值为零,分配最不平等时系数值为1)

具体到各个城市情况怎样?

按城市看贫富差距甚至更大。我写的《新型城市危机》(Basic Books出版,售价28美元)里有个图表就能证明。纽约市的贫富差距可以比肩斯威士兰。迈阿密贫富差距类似赞比亚。洛杉矶与斯里兰卡的贫富差距不相上下。我认真观察了大城市里收入排在前5%的富有市民,以及收入排在末尾20%的贫民。在纽约市区,收入排前5%的年收入28.2万美元,倒数20%的年收入为2.3万美元。美国各地的贫富收入差距都很大,在城市情况更糟。

“知识型经济”这个概念是什么意思?

这个概念诞生于上世纪50年代到60年代,由弗里兹·马克卢普和彼得·德鲁克首创。他们认为,与资源型和工业型经济不一样,知识型经济发展的动力为知识、创意和人才。

要帮助贫困阶层摆脱经济困境,不是应该给不同阶层的人同样的教育机会并避免隔离彼此相通吗?

其他经济学家的研究的确显示,在向社会上层流动方面,和住在广大散乱的郊区相比,在纽约、旧金山或者波士顿等城市居住往往机会更多。然而现在情况也在恶化,因为中产阶级社区正逐渐消失,这也是新型城市危机的主题。过去,不管是在城市还是在城郊,大部分美国国民都住在中产阶级社区。上世纪70年代,中产阶级社区聚集了约七成的美国人,现在已经降至不到四成。猜猜哪里的中产阶级社区群少得最多?就是面积最大、人口最密集、知识型经济的大都市区。

中产阶级社区为什么会消失?

收入和财富差距扩大是一方面,隔离倒未必是根据种族和民族,那是另外一个问题,根本原因是社会经济阶层差距加大。富人搬到财富集中度更高的地区,周围是弱势群体集中的地区。于是富人和受过良好教育的人通过独立社区与外界隔离开来。其实过去十年经济隔离现象一直在增长。在美国,城市越大,中产阶级减少越严重。贫富差距不单单出现在总体财富水平上,还表现为富人和受教育程度更高的人住在哪,弱势群体又住得如何。

分区法律或者个人会不会维持经济隔离?

我认为两方面都会倾向维持。过去,郊区实际上的作用是把穷人和不够富有的人排除在外。而现在,我认为关键在于富人希望搬回城里。不仅富人,当充满创造力、小有资产和有趣的人聚集在城市里之后,所有人效率都会提高,创意也会迸发。

城市对高科技公司、创新型公司和有开创精神的组织开始更有吸引力。因此,有限空间内的竞争会更激烈。随着竞争增加,土地就会升值。逐渐地,要想在城市里有立足之地就得有钱。我觉得,分区法律起了推动作用,但我发现有意思的是,纽约、洛杉矶和旧金山的贫富差距、隔离程度和住房负担压力最大很正常,而在休斯顿——一个基本没有分区法律和建筑限制的城市,贫富差距之类指标也在美国名列前茅。

几周前,大卫·布鲁克斯为《纽约时报》写了一篇专栏文章,谈到都市人的文化及与贫富差距和社区隔离有什么关系。布鲁克斯谈到社会精英如何打造阻碍社会经济流动性的文化壁垒,有没有道理呢?

我认为,很多人努力工作,认真选择伴侣并努力维持美满婚姻,为孩子投资,指责他们是不对的。美国梦不就应该是那样的吗?我想,这种壁垒不是随随便便设立的,是比较正式的而且是体制上的。

是贫富差距导致不同地区美国人社会经济状况存在差别,还是各地社会经济状况不同导致贫富差距不断扩大?

两者相互强化的。

创新活动集中在少数城市和州,其他没那么依赖知识型经济的地方会不会处于不利地位?

不注重创新的州会落后,会越来越愤怒。我称之为美国资本主义的政治矛盾,即我们需要发展知识型经济,然而美国越来越多地方并不想为之投资。

贫富差距对美国民众有什么影响?

贫富差距使社会出现强烈的反建制派情绪,正是这种环境下唐纳德·特朗普才能当上总统。美国不仅因为政治和阶层而分裂,还因为不同生活的地区割裂。纽约、波士顿、旧金山湾区和洛杉矶之类沿海地区是民主党的阵营,其他地方则越来越倾向共和党。美国之所以出现反建制派兴起,幕后推手就是日益扩大的贫富差距。

大城市和乡村出现的贫富差距能扭转吗?

我称之为空间地域不平等,这种不平等是知识型经济根深蒂固的特色,因为知识型经济的增长的根本动力就是在小范围地区集中多样化的人才。所以,聚集在纽约、旧金山或者其他任何城市的人越多,推动经济增长的作用力就越大。创新越多,对空间的争夺就越激烈,房价就越高。金融、传媒、音乐之类产业都在这类地方扎堆。我认为,地域不平等问题很难解决。

怎样才能解决问题?

我们必须承认,虽然都是美国人,但生活的地域并不相同。有些人想住在人口密集的知识型经济地区。还有人希望住在郊区或者乡村,纳税更少,教育支出也没那么多。不同地方的美国人向往的东西各不相同。我们得改变高度中央化的联邦体制,允许城市、郊区和大都会区充分利用本地的税收制度打造理想的社区。通过政府地方化,各地可以充分发挥自己的优势。那样一来,割裂的状况会开始改善。

小结一下?

我认为,不平等会成为当代的大问题,阶级和财富层面差距只是一部分,更严重的是地域不平等。(财富中文网)

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

According to New York Times columnist David Brooks, socioeconomic segregation is ruining America.

"Housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities...have a devastating effect on economic growth nationwide," Brooks wrote in a much-derided July 11 column. (Derided not for the sentiment outlined above so much as the evidence, which involved Italian cold cuts as a restrictive cultural signifier for the American upper middle class.)

Salami aside, Brooks has a point. There's an widening gulf in the United States between the haves and the have-nots. The columnist points to education and metropolitan zoning restrictions as reinforcement for this unequal system, with statistics to support the argument.

But how true is it? We asked urbanist, author, and University of Toronto professor Richard Florida to weigh in. (Florida is best-known for his concept of the "creative class.") Here's what he said, edited and condensed for clarity.

When did this wealth gap problem start?

Basically, this wealth gap that we see today is something that has really skyrocketed since about the 1980s and certainly in the past decade, decade and a half.

How bad is the wealth inequality we’re seeing in the United States?

The income inequality in the United States, according to the Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality where 0 is perfectly equal and 1 is perfectly unequal) is about 0.45, which is awful—worse than Iran.

How about in cities specifically?

In cities that inequality is even greater. There's a table in my book (The New Urban Crisis, Basic Books, $28) showing this. Inequality in New York City is like Swaziland. Miami’s is like Zimbabwe. Los Angeles is equivalent to Sri Lanka. I actually look at the difference between the 95th percentile of income earners in big cities and the lower 20%. In the New York metro area, the 95th percentile makes $282,000 and the 20th percentile makes $23,000. These gaps between the rich and the poor in income and wealth are vast across the country and even worse in our cities.

What is this idea of a “knowledge-based economy”?

First introduced in the 1950s and 1960s by Fritz Malchup and Peter Drucker, the idea is that the economy is powered by knowledge, ideas and talent as opposed to resources and industry.

Shouldn’t having access to the same schools and being in close proximity to different socioeconomic classes make it easier to move out of your financial situation?

The research of other economists do show that in terms of upward mobility, living in cities like New York or San Francisco or Boston tends to be better for upward mobility than living in sprawling, more suburban areas. That said, what makes it harder —and this is the core theme of The New Urban Crisis—is that middle class neighborhoods are disappearing. In the past, most Americans lived in middle class neighborhoods, whether that was in the city or the suburbs. In the 1970s about 70% Americans lived in middle class neighborhoods. Now less than 40% of us do. And guess where middle class neighborhoods declined the most? In our largest, the most densest, knowledge-based metropolitan areas.

Why have these middle class neighborhoods disappeared?

Not only has income inequality and wealth inequality grown, the segregation of people not necessarily by race or by ethnicity—that’s a separate question—but by socioeconomic class has grown. The wealthy have moved to much more concentrated areas of wealth. And those areas are surrounded by areas with much more concentrated disadvantage. The wealthy and the well educated and the more affluent have walled themselves off in separate neighborhoods. The growth in economic segregation really occurred in the last decade. In our biggest cities we see the biggest loss of the middle class. We see the biggest gaps not only between wealth in general, but where rich people and more educated knowledge workers live and where less advantaged people live.

Is the economic segregation perpetuated by zoning laws or individuals?

I think it’s both. In the past, exclusionary zoning in the suburbs really functioned to keep poor people, less affluent people out. Today, I think the key factor is simply that wealthy, affluent people wanted to move back to cities. That’s what happens not only when wealthy people but creative people, affluent people, interesting people live in cities—they become more productive and more innovative.

Cities become more attractive to high tech firms, innovative companies and creative organizations. So you have more competition for limited space. When you have more competition for limited space, the land value goes up. Then increasingly, you’ve got to be rich to afford space in a city. I think the zoning laws have contributed to it, but one thing I found interesting was that the biggest inequality, segregation and housing unaffordability occurred in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—but Houston, a place that mostly doesn’t have zoning laws and building restrictions, is high on the list as well.

David Brooks wrote a column for The New York Times a few weeks ago touching on the culture of urbanites and how that relates to the wealth gap and segregated neighborhoods. Are Brooks’ assertions about how the elites have created cultural barriers to socioeconomic mobility valid?

I think it is a mistake to blame people who work hard, put work into selecting their partners and making sure their marriages work, and invest in their kids. Isn’t that what the American Dream is supposed to be about? I think the barriers are much more formal and institutional than informal.

Is the geographic divide of the American people based on socioeconomic status a result of the wealth gap or is it an underlying cause perpetuating the widening wealth gap?

They reinforce one another.

Doesn’t the clustering of innovation in a select few cities and states put places that depend less on knowledge-based economies at a disadvantage?

Well those states are going to get left behind and they’re going to grow angrier and angrier. This is what I like to call the political contradiction of American capitalism, where the things we need to grow in our economy, increasingly larger portions of the country don’t want to invest in.

How has the wealth gap affected the American people?

This gap between the rich and poor, the haves and the have-nots, is what produced the backlash that brought Donald Trump to power. Our country isn’t just divided by politics or class, it’s divided by where you live. The advantaged urban parts of the country by the coast—New York, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles—they’re the blue areas, but the rest of America is increasingly red. The wealth gap that’s occurring in places is behind the political backlash we’re seeing in our country.

Can we reverse this divide that’s happening between large cities and rural areas?

I think this, what I call spatial geographic inequality, is a deep fundamental characteristic of knowledge-based economies because what drives economic growth is a clustering of diverse, talented people in small areas. That’s where the basic force of economic growth comes from, so the more we cluster in New York or San Francisco or wherever, the more we drive economic growth. The more innovation we create, the more we compete for space and those housing values. The finance industry, the media industry, the music industry all cluster in certain places. I think it’s going to be very hard to counter this geographic inequality.

How do we fix this?

We’re going to have to recognize that as Americans, we live in different places. Some want to live in dense, knowledge-based areas. Others will want to live in more suburban or rural parts of the country and pay less in taxes and spend less on schools. Across the country, people are going to want different things. We’re going to have to move from a highly centralized federal system to a system where our cities, suburbs and metropolitan areas can use their tax dollars to build the kinds of communities they want. By localizing governments, you can allow places to make the most of what they have. That way, we can begin to heal the divide in our country.

Any last words?

I think this inequality, not just between classes and wealth, but between locations is going to be the big issue of our time.

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