This week’s severe smog enveloping the Chinese capital of Beijing made international headlines and likely reminded some of us in Los Angeles of the days when LA was known for its notoriously smoggy skies. But the comparison between these two metropolises doesn’t end with air quality.
An ambitious report spearheaded by the news site, Global Post called The Great Divide, explores income inequality in the United States by comparing US cities to cities in other poor nations – namely comparing Washington DC with Moscow, Kansas with Kenya, and Los Angeles with Beijing.
Using a measure of income inequality called the Gini Coefficient, the report’s various authors demonstrate disparities in a number of arenas such as health, education, and immigration. A Gini coefficient of 0 translates into perfect equality between all people, while 1 translates into perfect inequality, that is 1 person having all the income in a society. For example, Sweden has a Gini Coefficient of 0.23, compared to the overall US Coefficient of 0.45 – this means the US is nearly twice as unequal a society on income compared to Sweden.
Focusing on the comparison between LA and Beijing is journalist Kevin Grant – those two cities on opposite ends of the globe, have very similar income inequality measures, however Beijing has 3% fewer people living in poverty compared to Los Angeles.
GUEST: Kevin Grant, Deputy Editor of Special Reports at GlobalPost, wrote the piece on LA as part of the Great Divide Report and lived in LA for many years.
Visit www.globalpost.com for more information about the report.