If You Want your Children to Climb Income Ladder, Leave the South, Move to Neighborhood with Good Schools and Two-Parent Families

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Where a person lives in the United States can be a big determinant in how likely their children will be to make more money than their parents.


Geography, in fact, plays a critical role in whether offspring can move up from one income level to another, according to a new academic study based on millions of anonymous earnings records.


Economists determined that a child’s odds of doing better than their mother and father were lower in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, specifically in the cities of Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus.


Conversely, odds were higher in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle as well as many parts of California and Minnesota.


The researchers identified three other factors that contributed to economic mobility besides geography: “upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods;” income mobility was higher in areas with more two-parent households; and areas with better schools and more involvement in religious groups and community groups.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters (by David Leonhardt, New York Times)

The Economic Impacts of Tax Expenditures Evidence from Spatial Variation Across the U.S. (by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez, Equality of Opportunity.org)


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