How The Neighborhood You Grew Up in Could Shape Your Economic Outcome

Ever wondered if your chances of success in life would increase or decrease based on the neighborhood you grew up? Well, meet The Opportunity Atlas, a new data tool which finds a strong correlation between where people grew up and their chances of climbing the economic ladder, by marrying U.S. Census Bureau data with data from the Internal Revenue Service. Published by the Census Bureau, in collaboration with researchers at Harvard and Brown, this interactive map makes it possible to pinpoint where children of all backgrounds have the best shot at getting ahead. This interactive chart can help you determine what your potential economic outcome or that of any child, based on historic data within that neighborhood. The researchers found that if a person moves out of a neighborhood with worse economic prospects and into to a neighborhood with better outlooks, that move increases lifetime earnings for low-income children by an average $200,000.

In 2014, the researchers released data which showed that Charlotte, North Carolina was last out of 50 cities that were compared at providing upward mobility for low-income kids. In other cities, incarceration becomes the driver of future poverty, like some neighborhoods in Milwaukee or New Haven, where as many as one in four poor black boys growing up in those places were incarcerated. Those neighborhoods sent more poor children into prison than out of poverty. These data could influence policymakers to help communities understand and tackle the barriers that prevent people from climbing the economic ladder, and possibly use the information to offer new solutions in local communities


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