Everyone thinks they know that poor communities harbour more social problems than rich ones. Well, almost everyone; in academic as well as popular literature, you can also find uplifting accounts of how poverty and adversity foster a spirit of mutual aid: “we may not have much, but whatever we’ve got we share.” Whilst there are studies that find greater social solidarity in poor than in rich communities, the burden of the evidence points decidedly the other way: deprived communities generate more crime, more fights, more littering, less volunteering and lower trust than their more affluent neighbours. If we can all agree that this is the general pattern, then the interesting question becomes how to think about its causes. Continue reading
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