Inequality, neighbourhoods and welfare of the poor
This paper investigates how neighbourhood effects interacting with income inequality affect poor people's ability to access basic facilities like health care services, schooling and so on. We model this interaction by integrating consumers' income distribution with the spatial distribution of their location and explore the consequences of an increase in income inequality on the welfare of the poor in general, and their access to market in particular. We find inverted-U shape relationships between income inequality and market access and welfare of the poor: if we compare a cross-section of societies, the poor community as a whole is initially better-off living in relatively richer societies, but, beyond a point, the aggregate market access and consumer surplus of the poor starts declining as the society becomes richer. There exist multiple equilibria: a bad equilibrium where all the poor are excluded exists simultaneously with a good equilibrium where at least some poor (if not all of them) get served by the market. We have identi?ed the higher income gap between rich and poor as the key factor that exposes the poor to this complete exclusion possibility. Finally comparing a mixed-income neighbourhood where rich and poor live side by side with a single-income homogeneous neighbourhood we find that the poor are better-off living in the mixed neighbourhood as long as the poor income is below a certain feasibility threshold.
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