Inside The Great Divide

Fairfield County has the greatest gap between rich and poor of any region in America

Special Report: Inside the Great Divide


THE NUMBERS ARE STARK: Fairfield County has the greatest gap between rich and poor of any region in America. Over the past year, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers followed four people of different income levels to see how they experience “The Great Divide” in their daily lives. Their profiles will appear on four consecutive Sundays.

Part 1: Single mother faces unrelenting family struggles in affluent Greenwich
art 2: Despite economic setbacks, immigrant remains confident in future
art 3: Urban school’s best runner tries to step it up for chance at better life
Part 4: In the shadow of Stamford’s skyline, a small business is born

The top 10 U.S. metro areas ranked by inequality

Below, America’s top 10 metro regions in terms of income inequality, based on what economists call the Gini coefficient.

2- Naples-Marco Island, Fla.
3- College Station-Bryan, Texas
4- Gainesville, Fla.
5-  Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla.
6- Athens-Clarke County, Ga.
7- Midland, Texas
8- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.
9- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.
10- Morgantown, W.Va.

Do you think the wealth gap is cause for concern? Take the poll and tell us what you think in the comment section below.


Overall, how are things going economically for you and your family?

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Which of the following best describes your current economic situation?

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Which, if any, of the following concern you a lot?

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Have you or a member of your family had any of the following happen to you in the past few years?

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Which of the following do you feel best describes the current state of the US economy?

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There has been increasing debate about the income gap between the richest 1% and the other 99%. Do you feel this income gap is, or is not, a serious problem in the US?

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Do you feel that education plays a role in either widening or narrowing the wealth gap?

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Do you feel you have been climbing the income ladder, staying in about the same place, or slipping down the income ladder?

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Do you feel you have the ability to increase your income and wealth?

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Which of the following do you feel has more to do with the income gap between those with the highest incomes and others?

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Do you feel the wealth gap is mostly just a political issue, or do you feel it is something that impacts people like yourself?

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As you may know, Conn., and in particular Fairfield County, has one of the highest income, or wealth, gaps in the nation. Do you feel this gap is very apparent, somewhat apparent, or not apparent

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Which of the following best describes your attitude toward those who have the highest incomes in Connecticut?

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Do you feel sometimes that people are resentful because you have a higher income?

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Do you sometimes take steps so that you don’t appear to be flaunting your relative wealth to others?

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Categories: General
Jeff Bustraan

32 Responses

  1. Tori says:

    I left the state of CT back in 1997 and have never looked back! I was a single parent when I transfered to the south with a Fortune 500 company who’s HQ is in Fairfield and I was making CT money when I relocated. I can tell you while I was not thrilled living in the south at first, I managed to get married, raise two children who are both college graduates and afford a lifestyle that I could not have afforded if I stayed in CT. Taxes are lower, utilities are lower and the weather is better and while I miss family and friends up north, you couldn’t pay me to move back to CT for fear I’d end up poor and destitute!

  2. Chris J says:

    Get an education, work hard and stop whining… this generation has too many slackers with little work ethic and no self respect, wanting to live off the work of others. Pathetic !

  3. Ellen O says:

    There will be no narrowing of the gap when our very own president is encouraging people (even illegals) to register for food stamps. Every food stamp is a vote for a Democrat. If you try to get off welfare they threaten to take away the assistance. It’s become nothing more than a bribe. Pitting the wealthy against the poor is an old communist trick to encourage peer envy. There wouldn’t be any jobs if it wasn’t for the wealthy investing their own money.

  4. M says:

    Why create a public forum and screen out comments?

  5. Whatever says:

    As long as all the “wealthy” use their money to get their kids the mental health that they need instead of trying to hide their mental health issues. In some cases they use their money to buy weapons to keep the “poor” from stealing their assets. Buying their psyco kids semi automatic weapons to keep in their bedroom and to ruin the lives of 26 middle income people forever won’t work either. Buy solutions with your money for your kids. Stop unleashing your sick armed kids into society!

  6. Bassick 75 says:

    I left Connecticut in 85 because I knew despite the money I earned that it would be a struggle to survive and raise a family without dealing with a whole lot of crime and finding a nice size home which wouldn’t break your wallet. Connecticut may have the highest per cap income, but it’s not being distribute equally, even if you have an education. It could be a great State, but it lacks in fairness and equal treatment, especially in cities like Bridgeport, Norwalk, New Haven, and Stamford. You have to be lucky to land a position in Greenwich and see if you can afford to reside there off your income. Your money and education will stretch further in places like Atlanta, Charlotte, Phoenix, Florida, Vegas and Raleigh Durham just to name a few. It’s home, but I’m glad I left when I did.

  7. kristen says:

    Ct Post sucks d.t. editing what people think!

  8. Deedle Dum says:

    First off, welfare has time limits, the days of more kids more money endless checks are long gone history There are supposed training programs but childcare remains the conundrum as it is despicable at best. It is not available to all at a fair price. Yes they are your kids but if you only make 25k you cannot afford a decent daycare at $125 2eekly can you. Big catch 22 going on! I have never heard of anybody getting 625 for food a month. My best friend is social worker who with an MA only makes 27K a year! Yes, I was plenty shocked, she also has 4 kids and managed to get a house paid for only because she bought in the 80’s. Today, forget it, she’d be homeless and she knows it. Connecticut has gotten far too greedy and with that greed came people with no need to open shop here. No commitment to the state or investment in it either. Most who live here work and own businesses in NYC. Unless your willing to commute your paycheck will be small and you had better learn to become a savvy negotiator. Connecticut quite frankly isn’t worth all the effort it takes to live here which is why I got out years ago and did much better than if I had stayed. Electric rates are the highest n the nation, etc. etc. Education is unbelievably expensive here when Alabama had the best high school in the nation. Its gotten very weird and over inflated and in some places extremely dangerous to live there. The state needs to lure some serious business there or the result will be like something from a horror flick come to life. In my humble opinion it has already started. Hopefully Bill Gates will bail out thee education system. As for the North Fleece wear or whatever, they have a “back to school” kit from United Way solicited by private donations. Chances are those fancy clothes were donated. Don’t make the kids feel bad about it they already feel it. Actually almost every kid my friend works with plans on attending college.

  9. John Szczesiul says:

    Democrat Connecticut will eventually be composed of only millionaires and people living off government checks.
    Responsible hard working middle class families and industry have been fleeing Democrat Connecticut for many years. Connecticut is ranked last or near last on financial respossibility, job growth, business friendly etc ..on and on. Democrats ” have met the enemy and its themselves’ ..Pogo.

  10. Mayor McCheese says:

    Another consequence of the cost of living in Lower Fairfield County is that even if your family makes $250K, you are not exactly swimming in cash. Perhaps in upstate New York or Oklahoma City, but not in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or New Canaan, etc.

    Since they don’t index things like student financial aid and income tax deductions, people in this area who make what in other areas would be considered a large income, are just barely getting by in a middle class style. Not wealthy at all.

  11. Mark says:

    “Which of the following do you feel has more to do with the income gap between those with the highest incomes and others?”

    The multiple choice options for this question to not include the correct answer. The income gap is created by family wealth. People born into a family with wealth already have access to better education and better contacts with people, which leads to better jobs and better options. They don’t have to start working at a part time job while they are in high school to help pay for bills and therefore they can spend more time studying and getting into better universities that they are able to pay for because their parents can afford to send them. Then they can afford to spend summers doing unpaid internships that people without money could not afford to do for a summer. The fact that people who come from wealthy families do not have the same burdens of everyday survival as others, they automatically have more opportunies that better position them for a more priviledged future.

  12. RIC says:



  13. Pearl says:

    We sold our home of many years in a suburb of Fairfield County — we had hoped it would provide us some security in our retirement years and a hedge against inflation. Retirement is fast approaching, and with bank savings rates at virtually nil, we realized that the value of the property would not recover in time for us to recoup its value, so we sold when the breadwinner unexpectedly lost their job. We received hundreds of thousands LESS than what we paid for it fifteen years ago. We lost all the down payment and equity that had built up over those years. We had never re-financed to take equity funds out of the home and never made one late payment I do not understand why reports of the housing market say prices are recovering — I found out that the value of our sold home is not any better than when the new owner purchased it last year, and the list of foreclosures in our town went up dramatically in the last twelve months. Jobs numbers are not recovering, a necessity for home ownership. A near-by neighbor is desperate to sell his home but is so underwater, the family has no hope. One ex-work colleague has a small rental home and has accepted lower payments from its tenants when they had financial difficulties. I don’t see how property taxes will provide the revenue for municipality budgets without being raised when homes are valued at less than they were in the past decade. We know that we are the not only ones in this predicament, and there are homes in our area that are severely delinquent that I would never have dreamt would be in financial trouble.

  14. Pam Davies says:

    I grew up in Fairfield County (actually in Fairfield) and knew when I was young that it was unaffordable…It has since risen OFF the charts and now there is such a difference between the “HAVES”and “HAVE NOTS”…You are either wealthy of work for someone who is!!!! Capitalism at its extreme!

  15. Paul says:

    Even though lower Fairfield County is top-heavy with wealthier people, those on the lower end of the income spectrum have the clout politically as Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford vote heavily for candidates that give them bureaucratic handouts. This eventually will drive the wealthy out and leave only the moochers.

  16. Under Paid says:

    PA I have been saying the same thing for at least 20 years. I even reported people who were falsely filing for benefits and nothing was done to them. My husband and I struggle every month to pay our bills also. When I was unemployed they told me I did not qualify for any heating assistance. There are people I know who have new cars, lg screen tv’s, cell phones, free medical and collecting every form of assistance they can get. Meanwhile the middle class pay for it and most of them are at poverty level.

  17. para says:

    I don’t think most people resent hard-earned wealth. However, most people would have problems with it if they have a strong perception that the ultra-wealthy amassed their wealth unscrupulously and are getting away with it. Also there is strong perception that the more money you have, you can get away from things that you normally wouldn’t be able to…time and time again, you see and hear in the news people seemingly getting away by settlements that props up such perception. Mind you perception does not mean truth, but most people operate under their perception of truth.

  18. Pologuy says:

    Gypsy…… really should do some research. More people not with ” caramel colored skin” are on some form of government assistance. I’m not ashamed of my success nor do I feel I owe those who aren’t as lucky anything. I would be naive to believe I didnt catch a few breaks along the way. I personally feel if those of my people in the inner cities realized the huge educational gaps between, for comparison reasons, Bridgeport with Fairfield, Easton, and actively did something about it, this financial gap would decrease. Stop looking for “the man” to give you something. Demand your children have equal educational opportunities. Even if you are uneducated, demand more for your children. The cycle has to stop. Look at the news, minorities are viewed in a negative light. Let’s face it, looking at Ray Ray on the news not able to speak doesn’t do us any justice. I guess all I’m trying to say is I was born in the projects with a brother and sister. We are all doing extremely well and it’s all due to my uneducated parents expecting and demanding “A’s”. And yes we caught it bad if we didn’t. We ultimately were awarded scholarships and now are pretty successful. We did it with our brains not a mic or a ball. EDUCATION IS OUR WAY OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. alex says:

    gypsy don’t say caramel colored skin bc only black people get welfare. I’m a college student who doesn’t have a job but is working at an internship and i couldn’t get food stamps.

  20. alex says:

    All of you who say its communist BS probably were all born with a silver spoon shoved up your butts. It doesn’t matter who is living in poverty, who is hungry. Like it doesn’t matter if your daughter watching when some one puts a gun to your face and takes everything in your pocket. That’s the life of an animal, of capitalism eat or be eaten. when a little more pressure is put on the less affluent member’s of society that’s when the jooks start. I’m saying there will be a point of no rationality

  21. realistic says:

    Its fascinating how quickly people in my OWN TOWN lose perspective when they make some money. The purpose wasnt to garner the ridiculous responses of the ultra wealthy, it was to allow the reader to get the perspective from a low-income demographic. So save your anecdotal, “I earned it!” garbage for the country club. No one wants to hear you pat yourself on the back when in reality a big portion of your success was due SOLELY to circumstance. And if your so sick of the “welfare state”, Id encourage your republican comrades to start paying attention to wealth gap… because it is directly correlated to education.

  22. jayjay1 says:

    Why would someone unmarried have so many kids, have the kids and someone else can pay for them.

  23. atkoa says:

    Karl Marx would approve of this survey.

  24. atkoa says:

    This is the most communistic survey I have seen in years. Is this what is being taught in journelism school. If your neighbor owns a home, through hard work, you expect them to let you move in or buy you a home. The Soviet Union collapsed under a communist government. Karl Marx could have written this survey. Is this the New Democratic Party. The reporter who came up with this BS should give 90% of their income to the government.

  25. Gypsy says:

    I would really love to know how this woman could get “up to $650 a month in food stamps” when I couldn’t even get heating assistance to help pay my electric bill when I was sick with breast cancer in 2009. I had to give up my home phone line, my internet connection and my cell phone because I couldn’t afford to pay for them.

    Maybe it’s because *I* don’t have “caramel-colored skin”?

    And she drives a CADILLAC (talk about stereotype!) I drive a 21-year-old Jeep with 180,000 miles on it. Which needs a brake job costing approx. $850, which is about $750 more than I can afford to pay now. If I save for it I might be able to afford the brake repair by October….meantime I still have to drive up and down I84 every damn day to work and back, wondering which day will be the one when my brakes give out.

    BTW, I actually WORK, but I make only $25,000 – and I’m a single mother too.

  26. David says:

    Well, of course we’re to have one of the greatest disparities in the country – that’s not as much because of the low income areas (there’s poorer than us elsewhere in America) as it is the high wealth the finance industry brings to the area.

    If you want to narrow the gap from the bottom up, focus on education, and not just what happens IN the school room, but enrichment outside of it.

  27. RealityCheck72 says:

    Wow, I wonder if Karl Marx wrote this question from beyond the grave: “Do you sometimes take steps so that you don’t appear to be flaunting your relative wealth to others?” If you’re jealous of someone’s wealth, then you’re a moron. Work harder, no one is guaranteed success.

  28. PA says:

    What is interesting how some are able to use this system so easily. I work full-time, (I paid for my college tuition myself, went to grad school while working), pay a mortgage and have 2 kids. I can’t drop off my kids at school, because I work too early. When my wife drops them off at school, there are people with much nicer cars, much nicer clothing, receive free or reduced lunch at school, along with the other government subsidized programs. I have no problem with people receiving that are in need, but there is a difference between want and need. While I am struggling to pay for my necessities, I can not purchase the North Face gear that these people dress in.
    The big problem is not that these people take advantage of it, but that the government doesn’t have a good plan of dissolving the need for the assistance. It does NOT give anyone good enough motivation to stop being a leach. There should be a plan for these people. Some think they are too good for working a job at McD’s or a gas station. There is nothing wrong with those jobs. If you need to support your family, you will do it any way you can. If most of these people received a letter stating their REWARDS will be taken away, that will motivate them to apply to the jobs they once thought were beneath them.
    One more addition to this:
    A lot of this behavior is LEARNED.
    Parents teach their children this way. Then, it multiplies when they have children BECAUSE more children = more money.
    The children are taught to know the system and use it.
    I am tired of working like a dog, and seeing the lazy be rewarded by my hard work.
    If assistance is needed, by all means give it to them.
    Help them plan to get out of it.
    Staying at home and collecting the whole time is not a plan.

    If nothing else, I bet many taxpayers can use the assistance of putting up a rock wall, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc.
    How about having able people clean our streets, sidewalks, parks during their time off? There is always a need for street crossing guards for school walkers. A lot of options they have not come close to trying, except for saying, “Here is your W Debit Card! See you next month for your next one!”

  29. Joim Gapper says:

    We will fix the wealth GAP right after we fix the education GAP which will be fixed before the height GAP and the weight GAP. This does depend a bit on our ability to narrow the basketball ability GAP and turnaround the baby production GAP both of which are impacted by the truth in news reporting GAP.

  30. Compos says:

    To Uwe: That would be theft. Just because someone made a lot of money doesnt mean its yours for the taking. America is a country of rich, poor and everything in between. Most people come here poor. Success is there if you word hard.

  31. Uwe says:

    Why not just take more money from the rich people in Connecticut and give it to those that are struggling and not working?

  32. flaviap says:

    Interesting that the survey seems to assume that wealthier people are the ones taking it. How about “Do you feel like you’re struggling when everyone else around you is clearly much wealthier?”