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How Airline Deregulation Fueled Regional Inequality in the U.S.

The concentration of airline service resulting from deregulation has tilted the economic playing field toward larger metropolitan areas.
Passengers walk through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport based on passenger traffic, and the main hub of Delta Air Lines.
Passengers walk through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport based on passenger traffic, and the main hub of Delta Air Lines.Tami Chappell/Reuters

Various factors have contributed to America’s widening regional divide: deindustrialization, globalization, and the clustering of knowledge jobs in large cities. But it is not just the result of companies and people preferring big, dense cities. National policies also bear some of the blame.

Many commentators believe that lax antitrust policies have allowed the biggest and most powerful firms, which are located in the country’s richest regions, to grow even bigger and more powerful. Recent research by Robert Manduca finds that rising regional inequality is in large measure an outgrowth of the outsized economic gains realized by the top 1 percent of Americans.