published Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Location as your child’s income predictor

When President Barack Obama speaks here Tuesday, it’s almost a sure bet he’ll talk about jobs and the U.S. economy and our children’s future.

In fact he began that conversation in Galesburg, Ill., last week when he talked about the disconnect between Congress and his vision — our vision — for the country and our children.

House Republicans gutted a farm bill and eliminated food stamps that America’s most vulnerable children depend on; and Congress continues to push what he calls the “the meat cleaver” sequester that is suppressing an economy that had been on the mend for more than three years.

A new study unveiled last week in the New York Times points up the dire straits we will continue to place our children in if we can’t break at least some of that disconnect.

Despite this country’s many accomplishments and its creation of 7.2 million new jobs in the past 40 months — some of them right here in Chattanooga — many of our children will not climb the income ladder as easily as we and our parents did.

The study, by researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley, shows that location, location, location may the determiner for whether youngsters will grow up to be better off than their parents.

And guess what: Despite decades of economic gains, the South comes in dead last as a good place to grow up. Especially if the child’s parents are poor or middle-class. Specifically, the study finds that the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities like Memphis, Atlanta, Charlotte and Chattanooga.

In Memphis, the chance that a child raised in the bottom fifth of the nation’s income levels can rise to top fifth is only 2.6. In Atlanta, it is only 4 percent. In Charlotte, N.C., that chance is 4.3 percent, and in Chattanooga, it is 5.9 percent.

What does it mean?

It’s a measure — a road map if you will — of where it will be most difficult for lower-income households to rise into the middle class and beyond. Another way to look at it is that it’s a road map of where not to raise your children if you want them to prosper.

The researchers are quick to say the disparity has little to do with present economic opportunity. After all, the South is a growth area. What this disappointment seems to hinge on is class consciousness as it applies to the culture of education and even children’s self confidence.

Looking at a map that color-codes the findings of the analysis of school scores, incomes and a myriad of other data, the children with least future income opportunity fall squarely in what has been labeled for years as “the black belt.”

Regions with larger black populations had lower upward-mobility rates. But the researchers’ analysis suggested that this was not primarily because of their race. Both white and black residents of Atlanta have low upward mobility, for example.

The researchers, who started out to determine whether tax expenditure policies impacted children’s future earning potential — what they call “income mobility” — found instead that poverty and class seems to hold more correlation.

But the classism of the South also adversely affects the future earnings of middle-class children here, too.

For instance, the study shows that fairly poor children in Seattle, those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution, do as well financially as middle-class children who grew up at the 50th percentile from Atlanta.

Researchers identified four broad factors that appeared to affect income mobility: All else being equal, upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods. Income mobility was also higher in areas with more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

And the study found that affluent children often remain so: one of every three 30-year-olds who grew up in the top 1 percent of the income distribution was already making at least $100,000 in family income. Among adults who grew up in the bottom half of the income distribution, only one out of 25 had family income of at least $100,000 by age 30.

As Obama noted in his Galesburg rebuild-the-middle-class speech last week:

“… The income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, but the typical family’s incomes barely budged. …

Yes, Mr. President, it is time to retool this country’s middle class. And the place to start is investment in jobs and education.

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LaughingBoy said...

Affluent children remain affluent adults...maybe they work their butts off for it?

July 28, 2013 at 9:54 p.m.
nucanuck said...

IT continues to help companies increase productivity which translates into fewer jobs. Spiraling job benefit costs encourage employers to both hold down employment and to use as many part-time workers as possible. Ever decreasing worker purchasing power is taking a toll on consumption, further reducing jobs. High government and personal debt levels with low savings levels mean reduced investment, hence fewer jobs.

Reality says that jobs are probably not going to increase, that the labor force is static to down. The century of cheap abundant energy and explosive growth are over. We must adapt to a new way forward and our politicians aren't the visionaries to do that. Conservative life styles (not to be confused with conservative politics) will become a necessary component for success in our new way forward. We will spend less, work harder, have less, and be happier. That may seem like a paradox, but the blind stupid ways we have spent money never really created happiness. Not everyone will have a job. Many will work at home or in the garden doing things that help ease the burden on those who do have jobs. Multi-generational families will become much more common.

Thrift has almost disappeared from the American lexicon, but it is going to come back strong...our new favorite word.

And no, Obama is not going to create jobs. We have exceeded efficient debt levels and more government borrowing/spending won't make things better, no matter what Paul Krugman says.

July 29, 2013 at 1:50 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

LaughingBoy, Yes like the doctor who bought his two useless sons a hotel to manager so they would have something to do. Those rich folk really know how to work. Their money is a garrote about their neck.

But your point is exactly right, children tend to model behavior according to their parents, so the challenge is improving the lot of the parents, or keeping the status quo?

July 29, 2013 at 7:45 a.m.
conservative said...

I actually read this one but only once.

What nonsense, what gibberish! Liberal nonsense, Liberal gibberish.

Only a Liberal mind could come up with such incoherent nonsense and express it in such incoherent gibberish such as this.

The conclusion of her nonsense and gibberish were her last words:

"investment in jobs and education"

All that Liberal nonsense and Liberal gibberish came down to a plea for more government make work jobs and more money for teacher's unions. The Liberal nonsense never changes, does it?

July 29, 2013 at 8:21 a.m.
klifnotes said...

LaughingBoy said... Affluent children remain affluent adults...maybe they work their butts off for it?

Yeah! Right! LB. I've worked with some of those type hardworking adults from affluent families. They show up when they want (management/supervisor fix the time so it won't show they were hours late getting to work), and goof off most of the day. They get promoted with little to no effort. When they screw up a project management covers for them by placing the blame on some lowly worker (preferably a minority). On Monday morning, and sometimes through the week, they show up smelling like they spent the night inside a whisky barrel. They're usually either hung-over/stoned or coming down from a high. Don't get me started. I know better.

July 29, 2013 at 8:50 a.m.

Deferred gratification has positive consequences which endure across multiple generations. What a revelation! Likewise, with the negative effects of instant gratification, which is just a subtler, more culturally acceptable form of child abuse.

July 29, 2013 at 8:58 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Klif's explanation, "Blame Whitey"

July 29, 2013 at 9:10 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

LB's explanation: blame the victim, the poor, the homeless, the jobless. It's ALWAYS their fault, right? If they don't pull themselves up by their boot straps it's their own fault, right? And if they don't have boots on in the first place, or straps to pull themselves up by, well, it's their own fault, right? It's always, always, always the victim's fault. Right?

I fault LaughingBoy for not having the initiative to crawl out from that rock he lives under. It's his own fault for being so self absorbed he can't see straight.

July 29, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Imagine 10 people encircled by a vast number of hungry sharks, with the shore and safety just a short swim away. That shore represents success and a life of prosperity and relative comfort. At least one or a few of those 10 people might make it safely to shore, but it will take every bit of their strength and ingenuity, not to mention a great deal of good luck. And most of that group of ten will undoubtedly perish. Now imagine 10 people in waters with only the sight of one or two sharks visible, and they are in the distance. Most, if not all, of those 10 people will be able to make it to shore before the few sharks have time to get to them.

Life in the U.S. today has become shark infested waters for too many people. Those sharks are the super rich, the big corporations and the lobbyists who pitch for them, and the congressmen who take the money from the corporations to vote for the laws and policies that favor only those at the top. It has become harder and harder for people with little or nothing to swim out of the shark infested waters, and not only is our government not doing anything to help them, it is putting more and more sharks in the water!

It is impossible to remove all the predators and obstacles from our lives but we can create a calmer sea and greatly reduce the number of sharks so that more people have a chance to swim ashore. It will always take initiative on the part of the individual but it is possible to create an environment that nurtures individual growth and success. That is what the American Dream used to be all about - making it possible for the most number of people to swim safely to shore and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Instead, those at the top - along with their boot-licking peons - are trying to distort the American Dream into one of greed and a self-centered winner-take-all mentality. If this country is going to ever live up to its potential of being one of "we the people," our government is going to have to concentrate more on getting rid of the sharks, not feeding them.

July 29, 2013 at 12:33 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

It's not difficult to finish high school and stay out of jail. Too many can't even complete those minimum achievements. But it's the rich/Whitey's/Republicans' fault. I get it.

July 29, 2013 at 12:55 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Try living as a kid/teenager in a ghetto/project in some inner city with no father figure, a poor mother who can barely make ends meet, and the relentless peer pressure of gangs, the allure of quick/easy money from selling drugs, and the excitement and escape from the taking of those drugs. Then tell us about how easy it is to accomplish the "minimal achievements" of finishing high school and staying out of jail. LB, it is really sad that you lack any capability of seeing the world through the eyes of anybody but yourself.

Of course, it's possible for some people to escape the squalor and deprivations of even the most horrific environment but very, very few do. It takes an extremely rare individual, with an uncanny sense of inner fortitude and an almost supernatural gift of foresight that most kids do not have, just to be able to see a better life for themselves.

I'm not pretending to know what the answer is, but you have to be some kind of dense, Pollyanna-ish, one-dimensional, self-absorbed prick to not see and acknowledge the many roadblocks that so many poor kids have to overcome just to attain what you call "minimal achievements."

July 29, 2013 at 1:37 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Very few graduate high school and stay out of jail, after starting in those conditions? That's incorrect. The ones that fail to achieve those benchmarks are the cause of many problems, however.

July 29, 2013 at 1:47 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Regardless of whatever levels of achievement you're talking about, it is undeniable that people born into a prosperous, healthy, nurturing environment are not going to view life in the same way as someone from the ghettoes. What you consider "minimal achievements" might be gargantuan steps for someone without the emotional and tangible support systems that you and others from more prosperous backgrounds have been accustomed to. You still cling to the notion that it's perfectly okay to deprive people at the bottom of stepping stones because individual merit is supposedly all that matters. Of course individual merit matters and no one can do anything without it, but it's like you conservatives want to take away all life lines, put more sharks in the waters, and then say, "Now, see how far you can make it without being eaten alive! If you make it, well, congratulations, you're one of us, but if you don't, then it's your own fault." Heh heh heh.

And now, I've said enough. You and I will never see eye to eye and I'm not going to waste any more time trying to argue with you.

July 29, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

What stepping stones do you think I'm wanting taken away?

July 29, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.
Ki said...

LaughingBoy said... It's not difficult to finish high school and stay out of jail

In today's school-to-prison-pipeline America it's near impossible to remain in school and not get arrested at some point during ones lifetime. In some parts of America it's become not at all unusual for an innocent citizen to be stopped, frisked and in some cases strip searched in public during routine traffic stops. In schools, with children getting suspicions for something as simple as wearing the wrong colored shirt on any given day, Kindergarteners being arrested for throwing temper tantrums, children as young as 14 getting shot and killed by SROs placed in schools, no wonder they don't want to be there, and drop out at first opportunity. Would you want to exist in such a hostile, negative environment? Surely no learning or teaching can take place when schools are being operated like prisons and jails. In fact, many prisons and jails treat their inmates more humanely than some schools treat their students.

July 29, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

I'm not usually much for name-calling, but you're an idiot.

July 29, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Any child listening to and believing Ki will grow offering excuses and blaming someone else for any setback, which seems to be want the "progressives" want.

July 29, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.
gypsylady said...

Nucanuck actually gets what's going on with the economy. Jobs and growth and wages aren't coming back and we will have to live our lives accordingly. The politicians will keep the fantasy going that we can go back, as long as possible (out of self interest.) The world has changed and so must we. We've automated so many jobs out of existence. It's up to us to figure out how to handle that fact.

July 29, 2013 at 5:48 p.m.
Ki said...

LaughingBoy said... Any child listening to and believing Ki will grow offering excuses and blaming someone else for any setback, which seems to be want the "progressives" want.*

I'm just speaking to the reality and the need for reform. You live in a fantasy world. That is, until something like NSA comes along and temporarily knock you off your platform. Where such programs as NSA shock you senseless, the rest of us living in the real world knew of similar operations on local and state levels all along. Local and state operated programs that have been going on much longer than any on a federal level.

July 29, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

littlejohnnyrossy wrote: JonRoss said...

"I am damn near bankrupt because I sent my kids to independent schools, but they received a great education."

Would this be your third or fourth bankruptcy? It's nice to know you can send your kids to private schools while those you went bankrupt against all those times lost their jobs, homes, and money.

Typical behavior from a blowhard racist and tea-bagger loudmouth. Uses government welfare through the courts, steals from those he cheated, then whines and cries about everybody else.

July 29, 2013 at 11:43 p.m.
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