The Residences of the Super-Affluent: A Test of the Residential Attainment Model among America's Elite

Chris Prather, Pennsylvania State University

There is a recent emphasis in the United States towards investigating the growing inequality between the highest income earners and the rest of the country. This study constructs a new definition of the super-affluent as the top 2% of the income distribution, and analyzes stratification not only in relation to the other 98%, but within the top 2% as well. This serves as a conservative test of the Residential Attainment Model, which posits that individuals of certain demographic characteristics are better able to leverage their income in order to translate it into residences and neighborhoods of higher quality. Testing this theory within the top 2% will be a very effective test of its accuracy, because if it happens to be true that within this group that demographic characteristics are still important in determining quality of residence, it will reinforce the importance of these characteristics in residential outcomes.

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Presented in Session 53: Processes of Residential Attainment