A recent study by Jonathan Rothwell and Douglas Massey analyzes the impact of growing up in poor neighborhoods and its impact on the future of the kids living there. We know a lot about how growing up in a low income family affects future earnings, but there is less research on how growing up on the wrong side of the tracks can impact future opportunities. The authors´ main objective was, as a result, comparing how a kid from poor parents would fare compared to the same kid if he had lived in a bad neighborhood. At the same time, they looked at how the the children of wealthy parents do when growing up in a poor corner of town.
The implications for Connecticut, by the way, are considerable. Income segregation is, after all, one of defining features of our state. Mixed income neighborhoods are great at promoting social mobility; unfortunately, our state does not have many.
As we have mentioned in the past, concentrated poverty is rising in Connecticut. An area of concentrated poverty is defined as census tracts with poverty rates of 40 percent or more. Currently 5.4 million Americans live in these areas and the number has been increasing steadily since 2000. In a fascinating report, Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube at the Brookings Institution analyze
the data. Surprisingly, suburban areas in the sunbelt are some of the hardest hit, but the numbers for some of Connecticut's metro areas are dismal:
- Harford/West Hartford/East Hartford: 22.3% live in concentrated poverty areas, 15th worst in the country.
- New Haven/Milford metro area: 17.9% live in concentrated poverty areas, 25th worst in the country.
- Bridgeport/Stamford/Norwalk: 7.9%, 71st worst in the country.