Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Key to climbing out of poverty: Location

And now there is new research, published this week, showing that when it comes to the chances that a poor child born in America can climb up from the lowest rungs on the economic ladder, where that child lives may be more telling than previously thought. The researchers started by looking narrowly at questions of tax policy for poor parents, when they discovered something surprising but unmistakable in their data.

“Location matters, place matters,” says Nathaniel  Hendren, a Harvard professor and one of the authors of the study. When it comes to a low-income child having a chance to climb up the economic ladder, “it matters where you grow up.”

That climb, the study shows, happens most commonly in the Northeast and the West, along with parts of the upper Midwest and much of Texas. New York, Boston, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Houston give a poor child a decent fighting chance. (In the map below, lighter colors indicate higher mobility; darker colors indicate lower mobility).

The odds of children from poor families moving into the middle class are significantly lower in the Southeast and industrial Midwest. Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, and Columbus are some of the metropolitan areas where upward mobility seems to be seriously limited. Read more >>
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