Baltimore is the toughest place in the country for poor children to escape poverty, a new study has found.
The report, conducted by two Harvard economics professors, looked at how much children from low-income families earn when they turn 26. It found a wide variation among the nation’s largest counties.
Nationally, average household income at age 26 is $26,000. But young adults from Baltimore, the site of multiple protests and riots following the recent death of a young black man while in police custody, make 17.3%, or $4,500, less than that. Young men in Baltimore are hit particularly hard, bringing home nearly 28%, or $7,250, less.
On the other extreme, poor children raised in DuPage, Illinois, have the best shot at climbing the economic ladder. The Chicago suburb is home to several large corporations, including McDonald’s and Ace Hardware, and is one of the nation’s wealthiest counties. Children from poor families in DuPage grow up to earn 15%, or $3,900, more than the national average by the time they are 26.
To conduct the study, Professors Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren looked at tax records for more than 5 million children whose families moved from one county to another between 1996 and 2012. Their analysis showed that where children are raised does have an impact on their chances of moving up economically. In addition, the younger a child is when he or she moves to a neighborhood with more opportunity, the greater the income boost. Neighborhoods matter more for boys than for girls.
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