This morning, there was an interesting piece in the New York Times: “An Atlas of Upward Mobility shows paths out of poverty.”
Essentially, what the study says is: some places have more upward mobility potential–a greater likelihood that people will become better off financially. Some places do not have the same potential. If people in less-potential neighborhoods move to better-potential areas (often at great cost), their children will do better in the long run.
Low-income boys who grow up in Baltimore, for example, earn about 25% less as adults than those low-income boys who were born in Baltimore but moved out as small children to a more average place.
This piece will extract were you presently are, and tell you how much more or less your kids might earn by residing in this place.
So, for example, if you’re a poor kid and you move into Collin County, Texas, you could earn $770 more as an adult than if you lived in a poorer area (boys a little more, girls a little less). But if you’re a rich kid, and you move to Collin County as a kid, you’re likely going to earn $1,700 less per year.
The reasons are complicated, but boil down to the simple idea that ‘good neighborhoods nurture success.’ (The author of that piece calls moving ‘winning the lottery.’) The solution, therefore: if you are in a poor place, move. Get out. Go to a less poor place. Go to the least poor place that you can afford. Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for your kids. It provides ‘upward mobility bargains’ for people to pick from: a sort of Walmart-ization of the American dream.
Implicit in this is a kind of voluntary segregation, not so much by race, but by financial strata. A very extremist picture of this kind of environment can be found in the movie In Time.
But there’s an inverse. What if you can’t move out? Or, what if you want to move in? What if you want to go to a less-well-off place to be a blessing?
Then, these articles become something different: interesting pieces about the price you – and perhaps your kids – will pay if you instead wish to move in and be a blessing to these areas.