When Families Move to Higher Opportunity Neighborhoods, Their Children Have Higher Income

Back • May 20, 2015 • Uncategorized

Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues have just released two important studies (both featured in the New York Times “Upshot” column) on the impact of place on children’s life outcomes.

Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues have just released two important studies (both featured in the New York Times “Upshot” column) on the impact of place on children’s life outcomes.

The takeaway: when children move from “low-opportunity” neighborhoods to “high-opportunity” neighborhoods, they have better adult life outcomes.

The first study found that, upon reaching adulthood, children whose families used a housing voucher to move from high-poverty neighborhoods to low-poverty neighborhoods had income 31% higher than their peers whose families never left high-poverty neighborhoods. The second study found that some American counties offer children much greater opportunity to climb up the income ladder than others. When children move from low-opportunity counties to high-opportunity counties, their adult earnings tend to increase; the younger the age at which children move, the greater the effect on future earnings. Additionally, the study identified five factors associated with “high-opportunity” counties: less segregation by race and income, lower levels of income inequality, better schools (as measured by student test scores), lower rates of violent crime, and a higher percentage of two-parent households.

This research has important implications for Connecticut. First, Chetty’s data suggest that Fairfield and New Haven Counties are relatively low-opportunity places: a low-income child (family income at the 25th percentile nationally) who moves from the typical American county to Fairfield County or New Haven County would on average see their earnings reduced 8% by age 26. By contrast, a child who moves to Tolland County would see their earnings increased by 14% by age 26. Of course, these broad averages likely mask the enormous diversity of experience within Connecticut’s counties; the most dramatic segregation in Connec

We envision a Connecticut that creates opportunity for everyone, not just the lucky and privileged few. Together, we can ensure a prosperous future for all of our children.

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