Friday, January 24, 2014

The Geography of U.S. Lack of Economic Mobility

The Washington Post has published this map describing the geographic areas in which children find it hardest to escape poverty:
Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Mississippi do the worst job helping kids advance. 
That's what a careful analysis of new income data from Harvard's Equality of Opportunity project shows.  The underlying study, which Jim Tankerlsey wrote up here, is fascinating and challenging -- it suggests that economic mobility, contrary to what many thought, hasn't changed much over the last 50 years. But it also found that geography is a massive predictor of future mobility. Head over to the map to see where your county ranks.
 Georgia, the Carolinas, Mississippi and Virginia -- where children are most likely to remain as poor as their parents -- are from the old Confederacy, the home of slavery and Jim Crow. The big blue counties in the southwest, in what we call the Four Corners region, are areas of large American Indian populations, where again there is a history of racial prejudice against the Indians.

Whatever the cause, the lack of opportunity in many counties in the United States suggests that the country as a whole will progress economically less rapidly that it might.

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