The insects in your house can indicate your income.
If you annually earn close to $176,000 then your home could display the “luxury effect.” No, we are not talking about cars or jewelry. We mean bugs.
In the past, researchers have seen more plant, bird, bat and lizard species in more affluent neighborhoods. Now we can add arthropods. If your average annual income is $33,000, then 74 arthropod families share your home. But if your average yearly income is $176,000, then your arthropod guests total 106 families.
The reason is rather logical. Homes that have more vegetation outside attract a broader variety of flies, ants, beetles and other arthropods. That arthropod diversity easily can wander inside to our bedrooms, kitchens, attics and offices.
Where are we going? To income inequality.
Different Inequality Lenses
In addition to bugs, we can look at inequality through an income, age, education and race lens.
You can see below a widening wealth gap between between upper and middle income families:
Up to age 62, our wealth ascends to almost $1 million and then starts to fall if we accumulate close to $100,000 during our 20s and $300,000 by the time we are 40. (We should note that numbers from the top push the average higher):
As for net worth, people with college degrees tend to top the income scale:
From: “Tracking Inequality in America” (1/21/15) WSJ.com
A large racial divide remains for median net worth:
Our Bottom Line: Diminishing Inequality
In a “Bloomberg View” column, Nudge co-author Cass Sunstein suggests that we fight inequality through fiscal policy (federal taxes, spending, borrowing) that targets the bottom 10% rather than the top 1%. Prioritizing opportunity, he advocates programs that elevate those who have less rather than letting the wealth at the top distract us.
My sources and more: Always interesting, the Science Friday podcast had a news summary that last week included a Popular Science report on household arthropod populations. Only my beginning, from there I went to a basic study about household arthropods, to one that connected the bugs to affluence and then to WSJ for more traditional income yardsticks and analysis. Next, if you still want to read onward, do look at Cass Sunstein’s Bloomberg View and this article from eater.com that uses Starbucks locations for the geography of inequality.