London reflects global trend towards downtown wealth & suburban poverty

When it comes to wealth, London is currently being turned inside out.

That’s the condensed verdict of a report released last week by think tank Centre for London. Looking at the U.K. capital’s demographics since the millennium, the study found that key trends that had dominated the city for at least a century have recently been reversed—often dramatically so.

Once a visitor to London looking for evidence of poverty would have headed straight for the high-density working-class neighborhoods grouped around the downtown area. In 2015, a visitor returning to these areas would find a more-affluent set of residents living in some of the city’s most highly priced homes. If you want to find London’s fastest-growing concentrations of poverty today, the report notes, you need to head for the city’s leafy, low-density suburbs.

This trend—the return of the wealthy to city centers—is of course mirrored by many cities across the West. What makes London’s case particularly striking is the remarkable swiftness and intensity of the change. In some areas, wealth levels have risen so rapidly that long-term residents must be blinking in disbelief.

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