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Economic Segregation Reduces Concern About Economic Inequality
Five studies find robust and consistent evidence that economic segregation—the geographical separation of people with different economic means—reduces concerns about inequality. Combining archival and experimental methods, we show that when the rich and the poor are segregated from each other, people are less likely to engage in social comparisons and are therefore less likely to notice and be concerned by economic inequality. Both when examining the attitudes of people living in economically segregated regions and when measuring reactions to various potential levels of segregation, we find that as the segregation between the rich and the poor increases, people are less prone to notice and to care about inequality. Importantly, we find that this is true even when people are exposed to the same levels of inequality, poverty, and wealth, suggesting that segregation in and of itself affects attitudes about inequality. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of economic segregation for organizations and society.