The Shrinking Middle Class of Physical Activity

September 17, 2014 3:13 PM

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Income inequality in the United States has been increasing at a rampant rate over the last 40 years. A recent report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors shows that from 1975 to 2012, the top quintile of earners gained significantly more income than the bottom quintile. In 1975, the top 20 percent of U.S. households accounted for 43.6 percent of the nation's income and the bottom 20 percent accounted for 4.3 percent. By 2012, the gap had widened to 51 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. And although the bottom 20 percent of earners experienced the largest relative decline, all income brackets outside of the top 20 percent saw their share of wealth decrease from 1975 to 2012. In other words, the vast majority of the country's economic growth is going to those who are already wealthy, the middle class is shrinking, and the gap between rich and poor is widening.

The correlation between wealth and physical activity is not surprising, and likely results from a confluence of factors. For instance, lower incomes neighborhoods are more likely to have safety concerns that make outdoor activity a risky venture and often lack green space and well-kept recreation ce...

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