According to a recent article on, you can spot income inequality from space. Yes, you read that correctly. If you look at the pictures below, you should be able to spot a clear difference between the two neighborhoods.

Piedmont and Oakland, CA (Courtesy Per Square Mile, Public Domain Photos)
Piedmont and Oakland, CA (Courtesy Per Square Mile, Public Domain Photos)

Pictures can say a thousand words, but these can be summed up pretty quickly.  Put simply, more affluent communities can afford more space for trees. They also place more value on growing and maintaining them.

In fact, according to Tim DeChant, Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and creator of Per Square Mile,

for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent… The researchers reason that wealthier cities can afford more trees, both on private and public property. The well-to-do can afford larger lots, which in turn can support more trees. On the public side, cities with larger tax bases can afford to plant and maintain more trees.

These trees also reinforce inequalities by providing shade, improving the air quality, and even improving the mental health of those around. As the article notes, “[I]t all makes a pretty powerful argument in favor of tree-planting initiatives in lower income neighborhoods.”