The most- and least-unequal counties

Source: Economist, June 7, 2014
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The places in America that are as equal as Norway or as unequal as South Africa …

When asked about income inequality, Judge Skeet Jones of Loving County was, at first, quizzical. The topic, it seemed, had never come up before. But on hearing how the Gini index is calculated and how this dusty corner of west Texas scores, the judge (county chief executive) became intrigued. Loving County (pictured) is the most equal county in America. Its Gini score, at 0.21 (where zero is perfect equality and 1 means one fellow has all the income) beats Norway’s (see chart). That makes sense, agreed Mr Jones. Many of Loving County’s workers have the same employer—the county itself. The poverty rate is far lower than the statewide or national figures, and by the judge’s count, only four residents are unemployed….

…At the other extreme is Louisiana’s East Carroll Parish, which is about 800 miles away from Loving County, although the states border one another. East Carroll Parish is America’s least-equal county. It is about as unequal as South Africa, with a Gini score of 0.65. This is largely because nearly half of its 7,500 residents are poor.

Before the civil war, black slaves toiled in cotton plantations in the area. Today, agriculture is still the main industry, but the parish also has a small hospital and a handful of lawyers and other professionals. White people make up about a third of the population, and they do well enough. African-Americans in East Carroll are poorer, less educated and less likely to be employed. There are very few immigrants in the area. De jure segregation ended two generations ago, but the county’s only public high school is still 99% black. White families prefer a private school, which has the Rebel as its mascot….