A major new study adds to the evidence that where you grow up plays a major role in how far you get in life, and of course it’s the worst for kids growing up in poverty-stricken urban counties.
The feelings heard across Baltimore’s recent protests — of being trapped in poverty — seem to be backed up by the new data. Among the nation’s 100 largest counties, the one where children face the worst odds of escaping poverty is the city of Baltimore, the study found.
The city is especially harsh for boys: Low-income boys who grew up there in recent decades make roughly 25 percent less as adults than similar low-income boys who were born in the city and moved as small children to an average place.
Beyond Baltimore, economists say the study offers perhaps the most detailed portrait yet of upward mobility — and the lack of it. The findings suggest that geography does not merely separate rich from poor but also plays a large role in determining which poor children achieve the so-called American dream.
How neighborhoods affect children “has been a quandary with which social science has been grappling for decades,” said David B. Grusky, director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University, who was not involved in the research. “This delivers the most compelling evidence yet that neighborhoods matter in a really big way.”
So yes, after decades of white flight, gated communities, exurbs, urban gentrification, and taking schools, infrastructure, and jobs with them, are we surprised that kids who grow up with multiple structural advantages do better than those who grow up with nothing?
Why, it’s almost like the people who keep pointing out that there are structural barriers to the American dream for an entire class of people, and those barriers are not a product of nebulous “morality” as some would have it but a distinct feature of our broken system (if not the desired outcome of that system that’s not broken at all, but working as intended.)
In America we stack the deck so high that it blots out the sun and people still wonder why the grass doesn’t grow very well. The redistribution screamers are perfectly fine with the wealth remaining in the giant Scrooge McDuck money bins that exist now. The rest of us are just there to get crushed under all that loot, I guess.
P.S. The worst counties to grow up poor in according to the study? Reservation counties, particularly in South Dakota, counties along the lower Mississippi, and Forsyth County NC, home of Winston-Salem, about a hour from where I grew up.