Sep 2, 2022 - News

Cross-class friendships aren't so easy to come by in Miami

Illustration of a woman on a small stack of money next to a woman on a much larger stack of money
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Miami stinks at facilitating friendships between low-income and high-income people.

  • That's our takeaway from a recent study published in science journal Nature.

Why it matters: Cross-class friendships are among the strongest predictors of upward income mobility, the study suggests.

  • If a kid from a poor family grew up in a neighborhood in which 70% of their friends were rich, the study found, their future incomes would be 20% higher than their counterpart who grew up without these bonds across class lines, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.
  • A higher-income person might show a lower-income person how to apply for financial aid or help them land a job, one of the study's authors explained to the New York Times.

Details: Researchers looked at Facebook friendship data of 72 million people to measure "social capital" — the strengths of relationships and communities, which affect everything from education to health.

Zoom in: In Miami-Dade, the average income for adults who grew up in low-income families is $32,100 per year, the data shows, signaling low upward income mobility compared to the rest of the U.S.

  • For people with low incomes in the county, just 29.3% of their friends are of high economic status.

That's because of low "exposure" and high "friending bias":

  • For low-income people in Miami-Dade, 39.9% of the individuals they meet have high incomes.
  • Compared to the rest of the country, low-income people here are 9.2% less likely to form friendships with high-income people they meet.

Zoom out: View our interactive chart to see how other counties stack up. (Looks like North Dakota is onto something.)

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