Friendships between the rich and poor can contribute towards the sustainability goal of no poverty: Study

Friendships between the rich and poor can contribute towards the sustainability goal of no poverty: Study
Representative image (IANS)
Having a rich friend is advantageous! This is something many of us intuitively knew, but we now have the statistical backing to it. Be it housing, school, or any social gathering, one common thing across the globe is the apparent divide in terms of one’s economic status. While many rich people prefer to remain in their own circles, many poor are forced to be only among their peers due to the way we have shaped our societies.
However, a new study has now shown that better mixing among people from different socio-economic backgrounds can alleviate more people out of poverty. This can, in turn, contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number one: No Poverty!
Friendships that cross socio-economic boundaries can mean the difference between a low-income child succeeding in life. While it is challenging to determine how those connections affect a person's future financial situation, an analysis of 21 billion Facebook connections in the United States has made it possible.
The new study, published in the reputed journal Nature, suggests that childhood friendships between wealthier and poorer individuals are linked to increased earnings later in life for poor children. In other words, children are more likely to rise out of poverty if they're friends with wealthier kids.
Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist and the study's lead researcher, explained to the New York Times, "Growing up in a community connected across class lines improves kids' outcomes and gives them a better shot at rising out of poverty".
The researchers closely examined a sample of more than 70 million Facebook users aged 25 to 44, representing 84 per cent of all American adults. This massive national social graph with billions of connections revealed an intriguing pattern: the degree to which rich and poor children were connected in a neighbourhood predicted how well children performed later in life.
In fact, this rich-poor friendship factor was stronger than any other factor, including academic performance, family structure, community job availability, and racial composition.
Global poverty is one of the most crippling social crises that the world continues to face today. The poor often also face hunger and malnutrition and lack access to education, health and sanitation. More than 700 million people, or 10% of the world's population, live in extreme poverty, which means they can only afford to eat only once or twice a day and earn less than ₹150. COVID-19 and the ongoing effects of war and climate change have been acting as catalysts exacerbating these poverty crises.
The report is the most comprehensive analysis to date on the influence of such social ties on children’s performing better in life. Friendships between different social classes, or what the researchers refer to as "cross-class friendships", are said to have a bigger impact on kids than good schools, stable families, employment opportunities, or a diverse community. According to the study, as children interact with each other, opportunities for bridging the class gap arise.
So, Is it time for us to start thinking about shifting to some affluent neighbourhood?