Income inequality may be “the defining challenge of our time,” as President Barack Obama told the Center for American Progress this week, but according to one Rutgers University researcher, it doesn’t pose much of a problem in South Jersey. Speaking at what could be coined a “State of South Jersey” forum held at Cumberland County College Wednesday, assistant public policy professor Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn revealed that New Jersey’s eight southernmost counties score an average of 40 out of 100 points on the Gini Coefficient, the most common inequality scale used by social scientists.
The score, which would assign a zero to areas with evenly distributed income and a 100 to a theoretical place where one person held all of the wealth, compares with 46 for New Jersey and the nation. What’s more, said Okulicz-Kozaryn, the counties’ scores also keep pace with one another despite the social and economic differences between them.
What does it mean? In part, that South Jersey residents -- those living in Cumberland, Salem, Cape May, Atlantic, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington, and Ocean counties -- report higher-than-average levels of happiness.
“South Jersey is quite equal in its inequality,” Okulicz-Kozaryn quipped. “(And) much of the research points to a weak negative association -- that is, the more inequality, the less happiness.”
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