Location, location, location

The Atlantic has an interesting piece on how much direct influence parents have. The research tells us not as much as we like to think. So, don’t beat yourself up too much for every small decision that in retrospect seems like a mistake with a child. Nor boast too much about how great your child fares. Your genes and parenting aren’t likely to cause too much success or failure.

The neighborhood one chooses to live apparently means much more to future education and salary for a child. Certain cities are the best and neighborhoods within them the best.

Three of the biggest predictors that a neighborhood will increase a child’s success are the percentage of households in which there are two parents, the percentage of residents who are college graduates, and the percentage of residents who return their census forms. These are neighborhoods, in other words, with many role models: adults who are smart, accomplished, engaged in their community, and committed to stable family lives.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, The One Parenting Decision That Really Matters, The Atlantic. May 7, 2022.

Realtors really need to start selling on percentage of households with two parents, residents with degrees, and Census return rates.

my neighborhood from Chris Dlugosz

The article mentioned a pretty cool tool called The Opportunity Atlas. I found playing around with it interesting. Based on parent income, Black race, and Female gender, Fleur can expect an annual income at age 35 after growing up at different familiar places to me:

  • our current address $46K/yr
  • where Ada lived before we met $50K/yr.
  • the house where I grew up $34K/yr
  • the house where my cousins lived $20K/yr
  • the neighborhood in the next county over where a coworker brags about the schools can’t predict because there isn’t enough data.

Should she be White passing race…

  • our current address $63K/yr
  • where Ada lived before we met $56K/yr.
  • the house where I grew up $66K/yr
  • the house where my cousins lived $61K/yr
  • the coworker’s neighborhood 55K/yr.

The 17K difference based on my current address and different races is startling, but so is the lack of a difference not far away. Even more so the 41K difference in my cousin’s neighborhood.


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