Regional Economic Disparities Result from Rising National Income Inequality

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The economic fortunes of different regions of the United States have diverged markedly over the last 40 years. While these growing disparities are typically discussed as a regional problem, this research shows that more than half of the total divergence is attributable to rising income inequality at the national level. Growing regional disparities should be understood primarily as the spatially uneven consequences of national and global economic trends. Consequently, local attempts to promote economic development or to help economically struggling regions catch up are unlikely to substantially reduce the problem on their own. In addition to local efforts, economic policy at the national level should be designed with the explicit goal of promoting economic convergence among regions.