The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development produces a host of data directly useful for assessing social conditions. Do we need a supercomputer to connect rising inequality and the stacked economic gains of the rich with suburban poverty and downward mobility?
Notes for individual countries are found on the OECD site (.pdf files):
Better than many for a long time but no reason to be smug: Canada
Faltering after some improvement: United Kingdom
Forget it, only Turkey & Mexico are worse for income inequality: United States
Some improvement but could do better: Australia
Brookings Institution has followed its earlier papers on suburban poverty with several worthy efforts.
Below is a link for downloading their October 2010 paper about the difficulties facing social services in suburbia after the economic crash of 2008. Tough times in America for the working poor: with implications for understanding experiences in other countries including Canada and the UK. The paper includes statistical evidence on reported incomes and includes ‘on-the-ground’ impressions from three major urban-suburban agglomerations. Part of the ‘Metropolitan Opportunity’ series.
Suburban safety nets rely on relatively few social services organizations, and tend to stretch operations across much larger service delivery areas than their urban counterparts.
This second link, to a University of Chicago page, includes video from one of the authors and some links to mainstream media coverage.
Poverty grows in suburbs, but social services don’t keep up
Guess where the survey found an increase in homelessness? If you answered ‘the suburbs’ you are correct. Homelessness on the Left Coast can’t just be about the weather and the scenery.
Homeless numbers rise in Metro Vancouver suburbs
Children’s Aid Society of Toronto released a report at the end of 2008 that makes for alarming reading. Really, child poverty is the worst kind. It would seem that Canada is not exactly like some small Scandinavian country with zillions of Krona to spend on sensitively applied, boutique social programs. Too bad if you live in suburban poverty, huh?
In areas such as Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill and Oakville, child poverty rates have soared since 1990, closing in on levels once isolated to downtown Toronto, says the report, which used census data from 2006.
Downtown East Side normally leaps to mind when considering poverty in Vancouver, Canada’s Pacific Rim big city. If you’ve ever seen that neighbourhood for yourself anytime in the last few decades then the reference is all too understandable. Unfortunately, Vancouver is now seeing some of the movement of poverty that Toronto is. In January, 2011 the Globe and Mail published a map detailing this change using Statistics Canada census data for 1971 and 2006.
Pockets of poverty are arising in the suburbs of Vancouver while prosperity is popping up in the DES
The United Way takes a look at ‘vertical poverty’ in ageing inner suburbs. ‘Moving up in the world’ doesn’t really mean what it used to.
Vertical Poverty Press Conference
YouTube 16:47 (highly recommended)
Where to start? Well, a lot of this business began with things we felt intuitively, observed, experienced, read about, and talked about but had difficulty fully articulating. When the economy crashed in 2008 this process of puzzling over what is around us became all the more vexing. Coming across two major papers from the Brookings Institution led to a bit of a ‘Eureka’ moment, made things ‘official’, as it were. Statistical evidence that suburban poverty is increasing in the United States (with implications for Canada and elsewhere) is on the table now, apparently for good. Evidence in Canada is available, worrisome, growing in detail and getting harder to ignore. Proof that a major change is under way in social conditions on this continent.
The Brookings Institution is a major, centre-of-spectrum think tank in Washington, DC. It was established in 1916 and addresses a wide variety of public-interest topics.
This link takes you to a download location for the report:
By 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country.