Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Wealth Gap and Upward Mobility

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    A controversial new finding nicknamed the Great Gatsby Curve makes the strongest case yet that inequality and mobility are intertwined. The more unequal a society is, the greater the likelihood that children will remain in the same economic standing as their parents. In the U.S., which has higher income inequality and lower mobility than most rich industrialized countries, the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area is the most unequal.

    The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area is home to nearly 1 million people and has the biggest gap between rich and poor of any metropolitan area in the U.S.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Jodey Lazarus moved to Stamford from the South Bronx in search of better neighborhoods and schools for her son Gerahmee (left) and daughter Ahhsha.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    The Bridgeport metro area consists of 24 towns in Fairfield County in the state's southwestern corner, including small, prosperous hamlets like Darien and New Canaan, and pockets of poverty in Stratford and Norwalk.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Late middle-age hasn't brought the stability Janet Delesanti grew up expecting. Instead she scrapes by working two jobs and cares for her elderly mother.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    If the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area were a country, it'd be the world's 12th-most unequal, ranking just below Guatemala.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    In the Bridgeport of Barbara Edinberg's childhood (the '50s), factory work at manufacturers like GE propelled her parents' generation toward middle-income stability. "Those opportunities don't exist anymore," she says.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    At its peak in the 1930s, Bridgeport was home to some 500 plants; big employers included General Electric, Singer, and Remington Arms.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Carla Miklos quit investment banking to run an area food pantry and homeless shelter. "Pockets of extreme wealth and pockets of extreme poverty" butt up against one another, she says.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Median household income in Bridgeport was $41,047 in 2010, according to census data, and nearly 21 percent of residents lived in poverty. The unemployment rate was 11.9 percent in May.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Phil Kuchma is a private real estate developer from Bridgeport who's working hard to rebuild the city's downtown. "I feel like here I can make a difference," he says.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Sixty-six percent of Bridgeport high school seniors graduated in 2009, compared with 91 percent statewide, according to the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    "It's a known fact that this generation is worse off than our parents," says Diane Brassell, who lost her job as a forecast analyst four years ago.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Bridgeport's rate of child poverty in 2010, at 31 percent, is nearly 2.5 times the statewide rate of 13 percent, according to the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Gary Vollono's life was upended after his production job at the New Haven Register was outsourced last year. "Poverty is staring at me more than ever before," he says.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    One of Bridgeport's most famous sons is P.T. Barnum, circus promoter and former mayor.

    Photograph by Saswat Pattanayak for Bloomberg Businessweek