Through the growth in global media, people around the world are becoming more aware of and more vocal about the gap between the rich and the poor. Policy makers, researchers and academics are also increasingly recognizing the links between inequality and other social and economic phenomena. Contrary to popular opinion, high levels of inequality persist in many high income countries today. Even within the United States, there are pockets of both extreme poverty and wealth. Inequality is often studied as part of broader analyses covering poverty, although these concepts are distinct. Inequality is a broader concept than poverty in that it is defined over the whole distribution, not only the censored distribution of individuals or households below a certain poverty line. Incomes at the top and in the middle of the distribution may be just as important to us in perceiving and measuring inequality as those at the bottom, and indeed some measures of inequality are driven largely by incomes in the upper tail. Although both of these capture the whole distribution of a given indicator, inequality is independent of the mean of the distribution and instead is solely concerned with the dispersion of the distribution.
The degree of income inequality across Missouri was measured by the Gini coefficient using 2000 Census data at the tract-level. Household income data for this analysis was extracted from the 2000 U.S. Census Summary File 3, which consists of 813 detailed tables of social, economic and housing characteristics compiled from a sample of approximately 1 in 6 Missouri households that received the Census 2000 long-form questionnaire.
Inequality poverty centers were defined as those areas having inequality/Gini scores that were 1.0 or more standard deviations above the mean and having 50% or more of all households with incomes of $25,000 or less. This indicates a concentration of lower income households in the area.
Poverty centers in south central Missouri were centered around Oregon, Ripley, Shannon and Wayne counties. In addition to being persistently poor, these areas include large tracts of federal land such as Mark Twain National Forest and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
Poverty centers in the Missouri Bootheel were centered around Dunklin, Mississippi and Stoddard counties. In addition to being persistently poor, these areas are engaged in large-scale intensive agriculture of cash crops.
Poverty centers in the west central area were centered around the lake recreation counties of Benton, Hickory and St. Clair. These areas are dependent on the amusement and recreation industry associated with Truman Reservoir, Pomme de Terre Lake and the western fork of the Lake of the Ozarks.
Poverty centers in northern Missouri were concentrated in Adair County north of Kirksville, Macon County south of Macon and south central Putnam County surrounding Unionville.
Poverty centers in the major metropolitan areas were located in the central city areas of Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield; and to areas to the west and southwest of Columbia.
Inequality wealth centers were defined as those areas having inequality/Gini scores that were 1.0 or more standard deviations above the mean and having 50% or more of all households with incomes of $100,000 or more. This indicates a concentration of higher income households in the area.
Wealth centers in the Kansas City metro were centered around areas of Lee's Summit and Kansas City adjacent to Longview Lake; and in an area of Kansas City directly east of Mission Hills, Kansas.
Wealth centers in St. Louis metro were centered in western St. Louis County, including sections of Wildwood, Chesterfield, Clarkson Valley, Town and Country, Country Life Acres, Westwood, northern Frontenac, Ladue and Warson Woods.
Equality centers were defined as areas having inequality/Gini scores that were 1.0 or more standard deviations below the mean. This low inequality, or income equality, indicates that there is little concentration of income in any one category - it is more evenly distributed across categories.
Equality centers in the Kansas City metropolitan area were located in the suburban areas of Clinton, northwest Jackson, Platte and western Ray counties.
Equality centers in the St. Louis metropolitan area were located in suburban areas of eastern and western Franklin, Lincoln, northern and northwestern St. Charles and Warren counties.
Equality centers in the smaller metropolitan areas were located in the outlying areas of the Columbia metro in Boone County; in suburban Springfield in northern and southeastern Greene and northern Christian counties; and in outlying areas of the St. Joseph metro in southern Andrew and south central Buchanan counties.
Equality centers in central Missouri were located in Cole County around Jefferson City, southwestern Callaway County, the northern half of Johnson County around Warrensville, Pulaski County at Fort Leonard Wood and Phelps County southeast of Rolla.
Equality centers in southeastern Missouri along the Mississippi River were located in central Ste. Genevieve County and in an area north of Cape Girardeau.
Income Inequality in Missouri by Census Tract 2000
Income Inequality in the Kansas City Metro Area by Census Tract 2000
Income Inequality in the St. Louis Metro Area by Census Tract 2000