- A recent study revealed that the key to reducing poverty involves friendships between rich and poor.
- The research was conducted by researchers at Harvard University, New York University, and Stanford University.
In the last decade, experts and social scientists have increasingly raised alarm at the increasing gap between rich and poor. While factors like school quality, family structure, job availability, or a community’s racial composition are considered to have a strong impact on reducing wealth inequality—the researchers of the present study went beyond the confirmed approach to look for novel ways to reduce poverty.
The study, published in the journal Nature, surveyed data on 21 billion friendships from Facebook to study the association between social capital (namely friendships between rich and poor) and reduced poverty.
The results revealed that the networks of people’s relationships have a life-long impact. Cross-class relationships motivate the lesser educated or lesser wealthy people to work harder and attain certain socioeconomic standards. These relationships shape:
- Career paths
- Financial soundness
- Standing on the social ladder
In fact, people of lower income or education who reside in more affluent neighborhoods or who go to school with richer peers are more likely to experience better incomes and quality of life by 20%.
Their economic connectedness strongly influences their chances of upward income mobility, reduced racial segregation and poverty rates, and lesser economic inequality.
Consequences Of The Findings
The rich and poor have inequality in terms of social status, wealth, and opportunities. Relationship networks between the rich and the poor, however, serve to bridge this gap. Such relationships motivate people to work for better lives, as they are driven by anxiety about falling down the income ladder in an age of growing inequality.
One of the lead researchers, Raj Chetty, explained: “[This is the reason why] growing up in a community connected across class lines improves kids’ outcomes and gives them a better shot at rising out of poverty.”