Today, I point you toward a completely fascinating story in the New York Times on a study on income mobility that shows that the extent your kids are able to climb the income ladder might have less to do with what you do for them and more to do with where you live.
The size and scope of the study — conducted by researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears), who looked at “millions of anonymous earnings records” — is unprecedented in that it’s the first that permits those interested to compare results across geographic areas.
Taking in the whole of America at once, the results — particularly across large swaths of the South — can look a little depressing, but the bright spots give me hope. Among bigger metro areas, San Francisco and Salt Lake City lead the way with kids in the lowest income quintile in each of these areas getting more than an 11% shot at climbing their way to the highest income quintile. And there are some parts of North Dakota and other Great Plains (upper Midwest?) states where this climbs past 25%.
What’s even more interesting to me is that the researchers use this data to find what cities with better income mobility have in common. For example, having neighborhoods that are more integrated by income levels is correlated with poor kids having a better shot at getting out of poverty. This could be due to them having better access to schools, services, and so forth.
Anyhow, the Times has some very good graphics to help understand the findings so I recommend you spend some time playing around with those if you read the story.
New York isn’t bad, but if I ever have kids, I wouldn’t want to raise them around here for other reasons. Where does your metro area stack up?