Rich Getting Richer, Poor Getting Poorer: Growing Inequality & Poverty - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1288 Words
Date:  2023-02-07


The phrase "the richer are getting richer and poorer are getting poorer" is common throughout the world. The inequality rates have been growing steadily over the years due to stagnated household incomes. The phenomenon affects both developed and developing nations. Growing inequality is evidenced by people sinking into poverty as well as experiencing difficulty securing basic needs. To measure the extent of poverty dimensions of deprivation are used. The dimensions of deprivation are items use to classify households based on unemployment, education, health, and housing. This essay seeks to use dimensions of deprivation to expound why Detroit is a poor city.

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Though there exist regions in the world poor than Detroit, the city is interesting since it is located in the US, a country considered developed. The city is also worth examining as it once hosted the Ford Motor Company. Moreover, thanks to the growth of the city as a manufacturing hub with companies such as General Motors present, the city had a population of 1.85 million in the 1950s (Guzman, 2019). However, the city is a shadow of its former self having been hit hard by the 2008 global financial meltdown. The city population fell to 713,777 in 2011, Chrysler and GM exited the city and the situation culminated with the city filing for bankruptcy in 2013 (Abbey-Lambertz, 2018). With most white resident having left the city, the black population faces the brunt of the poverty that has clouded it.

Detroit performs poorly on health and disability. Health and disability as a dimension of deprivation seeks to identify areas with a relatively high rate of people who die prematurely, infant mortality as well as rate of people whose quality of life is low or are disabled. Hospitals and clinics are crucially missing with 65 percent of the population in Detroit living in medically underserved areas (Guzman, 2019). There are only four hospitals exist to serve the current population of 670,000 (Guzman, 2019). Moreover, Detroit is the leading city with the highest rate of premature births, which is the leading cause of black infant death. Black infant babies die from premature birth at a rate higher than twice that of the national average. Considering that, 83 percent of Detroit residents are African American, the figure follow the trend even if the birth is a success (Guzman, 2019). The city has a higher risk, losing 15 babies for every 1000 babies born. Additionally, 18 percent of people in Detroit reported poor mental health (Guzman, 2019). Poor health statistics are an indicator of the growing poverty in the area.

The city reported high levels of dropout cases and poor performance in national examination indicating poverty could be high in the area. Education as a dimension of deprivation captures the extent of deprivation in education, skills, and training. While a third of teenagers in the US drop out of school without earning a diploma, Detroit had the worst rate, with less than 25 percent of freshmen proceeding to graduate (Williams, 2018). Williams (2018) cites a report by the Department of Education indicating Detroit schools ranked worst on the national exam. Students in the city scored the lowest among big cities in math and reading. Another persistent problem is that public schools in the city have lost two-thirds of its enrollment between 2005 and 2012 which translates to roughly 84,000 students (Williams, 2018). The private schools in the region have closed down and the few that have left actively compete for the students a factor that has eroded the overall quality of education in the city. Enough literature agrees that low levels of education are directly connected to poverty. The difficulty in educating and training available in Detroit is responsible for the wealth gap it is experiencing (Van Zon et al, 2017). Detroit poor performance on education can be considered to be a sign of poverty.

The unemployment rate is high in Detroit. The employment dimension measures employment deprivation by considering people of working age who are involuntarily excluded from work through unemployment. According to the US Department of Labor (DOL) (2018) unemployment rate in the city was double the national average standing at 8.4 percent in 2017. The report also notes that Detroit has the lowest workforce participation in the US at 53.4 percent which is a symptom of poverty and poor education attainment (DOL, 2018). Ryan and Campo (2013) who documented the rise and fall of Detroit, trace the unemployment to the overreliance by the city on the automobile industry. Deindustrialization in the area began after the 1967 racial riots leading to thousands of small business to close permanently while others relocated to safer neighborhoods. The downward trajectory was heightened by the 2008 financial meltdown that saw automobile companies exit the city. This move sparked a huge unemployment rate as high as 29 percent and plummeting house prices that never recovered (DOL, 2018). The exodus of people from the city meant that neighborhood businesses that catered for auto workers shut down increasing unemployment. The abandoned auto plants and increasingly empty spaces in Detroit, labeled "Brownfields", are unattractive to potential replacement of business. The consequence of new investors shying away from region means that unemployment rates will remain high. Unemployment is related to poverty in that it causes a financial crisis in households, hunger, and indebtedness. Detroit can thus be considered to be poor.

The housing crisis in Detroit is the hallmark of how poor the city has sunk. The housing dimension indicates the barriers to the housing such as affordability. According to Abbey-Lambertz (2018), 60 percent of Detroiters are rent-burdened. That is, they pay as much as 30 percent of their income towards housing. The author notes that there has been an increase in families squatting in abandoned homes. Abbey-Lambertz observes that squatting in Detroit is attributed to the 43,000 vacant homes as well as a high number of people living in poverty. The author further notes that squatting in the city constitutes survival squatters, a form of precarious housing related to street sleeping or doubling up in an apartment. Detroit city officials in 2018, noted that 10,000 affordable housing units could be lost as their low-income housing credits expire. This will likely lead to a massive displacement of renters (Abbey-Lambertz, 2018). According to HRA Advisors (2016) the homeownership among African American who constitute 80 percent of the Detroit population, has dropped by half since 2000 further stalling racial housing divide in the Michigan state. The burden of paying rent among Detroiters coupled with decreasing homeownership and squatting shows that Detroit city is poor.

The essay has examined the dimensions of deprivation in Detroit and concludes that the area is poor. The high levels of unemployment, school dropout, and infant mortality are indicators of poverty present in the area. Turning around these factors will be key to eliminating poverty in the area.


Abbey-Lambertz, K. (2018, November 14). This City's Housing Crisis Forces Families To Squat In Abandoned Homes. Retrieved from

Guzman, M. (2019, February 6). Welcome to Detroit, where black babies are at higher risk of death. Retrieved from

HRA Advisors. (2016). Detroit Inclusionary Housing Plan & Market Study. Retrieved from

Ryan, B. D., & Campo, D. (2013). Autopia's End: The Decline and Fall of Detroit's Automotive Manufacturing Landscape. Journal of Planning History, 12(2), 95-132. doi:10.1177/1538513212471166

US Department of Labor. (2018, September 10). Detroit : Midwest Information Office : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from

Van Zon, S. K., Reijneveld, S. A., Mendes de Leon, C. F., & Bultmann, U. (2017). The impact of low education and poor health on unemployment varies by work life stage. International Journal of Public Health, 62(9), 997-1006. doi:10.1007/s00038-017-0972-7

Williams, C. (2018, December 10). Detroit officials brace for affordable housing losses. Retrieved from

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Rich Getting Richer, Poor Getting Poorer: Growing Inequality & Poverty - Research Paper. (2023, Feb 07). Retrieved from

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