There are inequalities in all urban places. Inequality refers to extreme disparities between poverty and wealth, as well as disparities in people's well-being and access to resources such as work, housing, and education. Inequalities in housing provision are possible. Urban areas contain a variety of housing types, some of which may be exclusive (such as apartments or townhouses) while others may be inclusive (such as row houses or terraces). In cities around the world, poor people tend to live in crowded conditions with limited opportunity for escape. They may have no access to safe drinking water or sanitation facilities, and may have to travel long distances for basic services.
In cities across the globe, wealthy residents often have access to amenities that may not be available to those who cannot afford rent or house prices. These can include private schools, health clinics, and libraries. Wealthy cities also tend to have better public transportation systems than poorer ones. Traveling by bus or train is usually cheaper than driving a car, and there are typically more routes available during off-peak hours.
In cities where land is scarce, it can be difficult or impossible to expand infrastructure such as roads or transit systems into less affluent neighborhoods. This is particularly true for cities that were developed before modern zoning laws were adopted, such as many large American cities. It may be necessary to increase taxes or reduce funding for existing services to pay for new investments in urban centers of growth.
Spatial inequality can be seen in the urban-rural split, across states or nations, or within the same geographical unit between more and less disadvantaged areas. Spatial inequalities are linked to health and socioeconomic disparities, and they have an impact on population health. For example, people living in rural areas tend to be older and face barriers to good health care that those living in urban areas do not.
Rural areas are defined as parts of a country with low population density and high proportion of land area. This is in contrast to urban areas which are characterized by high population density and small fraction of land area. There are differences between countries with respect to the definition of these terms but some common examples include: counties, parishes, municipalities, and communities. Counties are large geographic units used by many countries for administrative purposes. Parishes are the smallest administrative unit in France; each parish has its own elected officials who manage local affairs. In India, municipalities are the lowest level of government; there are approximately 5,000 to 6,000 municipalities in the country. Communities in the United States are often described as being like neighborhoods or towns where everyone knows each other and helps out when needed.
In general, rural areas have fewer resources than urban areas including better healthcare facilities, higher-paying jobs, and improved education opportunities. These differences in infrastructure and opportunity lead to disparities in health and wellbeing between rural and urban residents at national levels and within cities themselves.
Urban inequality shows both unequal talent distribution and unequal skill rewards. Inequality is linked to crime, weak growth, and unhappiness. Cities with more equal opportunities will have more balanced populations with better skills, less crime, and stronger economies.
Urban inequality results from many factors including education, employment, income, health, and housing. Education and employment are the keys to reducing inequality. If children are not educated well enough to take advantage of available jobs then there will be a high rate of unemployment and poverty. If people cannot find work that pays a living wage then they will need to live in neighborhoods with few opportunities where crime is common and depression is frequent.
Cities are becoming increasingly unequal. The top one percent of cities now own almost as much wealth as the bottom ninety-nine percent combined. This is a major cause for concern because economic mobility between groups is critical for a healthy society. It's also bad for morale if the most successful people are doing extremely well while most others are struggling just to get by.
In addition to job availability, income equality is affected by factors such as wages, benefits, and occupational safety and health protections. High levels of inequality can limit a city's ability to grow economically and lead to decreased productivity.