“Where You Grow Up Matters”

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A new study shows that your potential for climbing the income ladder in the United States is largely dependent on your hometown. “Where you grow up matters,” Harvard economist and study author Nathaniel Hendren told The New York Times. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

An interactive map at The New York Times website lets you roll over states and see the income mobility rates change.

Map from The New York Times website lets you roll over states and see the income mobility rates change. Click on the map to interact with it at The New York Times website

Geography matters much less for the children of well-off parents — who tend to do well across the board — but for those at the bottom of the ladder, growing up in poor neighborhoods in Atlanta or Chicago often means that the chances of achieving higher incomes later in life are significantly lessened.

David Leonhardt reports:

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

Read the entire article at The New York Times »

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  • Michael Perez

    What’s going on in western North Dakota?

  • marsha

    coal and gas extraction is making wealthy people out of truck-drivers.

  • Anonymous

    Trust me, Michael, you DON’T want to live there.

  • Woods and Water

    Does it really count that oil is being extracted from beneath your land…polluting the earth? That’s an accident of nature, not education or get up and go.

  • Daniel Lowe

    Fracking.

  • Curious

    As opposed to your good luck? Or did you rise to where you are through ecological get up and go all by yourself?

  • Woods and Water

    I scratched and scrimped…never had a mortgage…am off grid, albeit with more pv panels than I had when I built this place from native materials in 1984…

    Yes, ecological get up and go.

  • AngelaC

    Nothing; that’s why they read, study and work hard to get out.

  • cecicijywop

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    I scratched and scrimped…never had a mortgage…am off grid, albeit
    with more pv panels than I had when I built this place from native
    materials in 1984…

  • Winston

    This is less dependent on locale and more dependent on taking responsibility for your self and working your way up. My father was born into the bottom fifth in Mississippi and worked his way to the top fifth. The areas on the map show the greater concentration of people who are not willing to work for it. Add to that the institutionalized poverty that the Democrat party has created by “paying” people just enough to ensure their vote and that they remain sedentary and on the dole. Just like “The Matrix” – hooked up to the government pipeline and given nothing in return other than their vote. There is no accident that the pills offered in The Matrix are “blue” and “red”. The blue pill keeps you in stasis, ignorant and “believing whatever you want to believe”. The red pill is reality. The question becomes, are you ready to take the red pill?

  • wizardchef

    Winston, ever give thanks that you were born white, that your dad had a choice of jobs leading “up?” Ever consider the collapse of the agricultural economy in MS? All assistance programs need constant review. So does your view of the world.

  • XXXX

    Some people are willing to work, but lack the ability to obtain jobs i.e. lack of transportation, or some other reason other than being lazy. Most cities don’t have fantastic public transit. That “red pill” says pop out some babies you don’t want and can’t afford to have, but please get off the government tit. Most poor people don’t vote, they can’t get there. BTW, most people with advanced degrees are liberal.

  • Brenda

    WOW!
    You may have a job, however, you are an ignoramous. White folks have always have had affirmative action on their side. Furthemore, the folks that benefited the most from afirmative action are White women. It seems as if you are a Rush and FOX fun. My recommendation, please conduct your VERY OWN research. Then, we may have a civil discourse.
    If you conduct your own research, you will find out that welfare and food stamps are utilized at a much higher rate in red states. Additionally, red states by far have the lowest level of education in the country. Hence, the ignorance in evaluating issues for their merit not by Rush and FOX standards. Wich by the way, are intellectually damaging, sometimes for a lifetime.
    The number of whites using and selling drugs is much highet than thouse of black and brown folks. Yet, blacks are incarcerated at a much higher rate. I wonder why?
    You speak about those individuals that have to resort to food stampas and welfare assistance as a last resource. that benefit from Federal and State programs such as welfare. However, you neglected to mention corporate welfare and agricultue welfare. In 2012, Corporate Welfare spending hit $100 billion dollars. On the other hand, food stamps spent record $84. 5 billion dollars.
    For your information, in 2007 under the Bush administration, the number of participants increased by 70%. Do you know why? Because the deregulation of all financial institutiions. Wall Street and their real state loans broke the economy because nobody was watching. Remember, we had to bail them out . US taxpayers.

  • rehfeld3

    Wonder how many people are employed dishing out public welfare ie the jobs that are created just to take care of the bureaucracy of this system vs. the jobs created for corporate welfare ie besides congress and lobbyists…seems like we may have a problem or two.

  • rehfeld3

    OIL,OIL,OIL!

  • John p

    Wow you really have no clue what is going on in this country – your comment is amazing in an extremely depressing way

  • Winston

    Wow. I find it really interesting that some of you assume I am white, and even more impressed with how much you inferred from my post, none of which is accurate. I am watching as cities like Detroit are collapsing because the takers have outnumbered the makers. Quit drinking the kool-aid and open your eyes. You are being deceived. This is not the way people were intended to live, and this country affords too much opportunity for people of all colors to be successful to allow this to happen.

  • Winston

    Actually, I did not speak about many of the things you mention in your post. I research the social condition daily by observation. I don’t need the pabulum that the media is feeding you. I see welfare abuse on a scale you cannot possibly imagine. So much is going to waste in this country it’s criminal. And as for your information on the deregulation of financial institutions, it was the abuse of Collateralized Debt Obligations that broke our economy, not a president or a congress. This happened over a span of 20+ years.

  • Winston

    First of all, the major agricultural industry in Mississippi is forestry, which is doing fine. As for my father, he started with zero options and made his way by joining the military at age 16 and making his opportunities from there.

  • Terri EC Mom5

    Winston–I guess we can all become millionaires if we buy enough lottery tickets.

  • Terri EC Mom5

    Fracking.

  • Brenda

    With all due respect, if you research independently, you will find that trickle down economics under the Reagan and Bush’s administrations, only trickle up to CEO’s, CFO”s investor and Asia workers specifically. It was at that time, that unemployment started to fluctuate in our country. Hence, forcing people out jobs therefore resorting to the assistance of Federal and Stage programs as a lat resort.
    Like you, I totally agree that audits, evaluations and findings should and most be conducted in order to streamline such processess and do away with unnecessary bureaucracy. Therefore, becoming more cost effectived true public servants. Alternatively, the same should and must be done with corporations. We can no longer look the other way in terms of their creative utilization of the tax code. Why contunue subzidizibng corporations when them like Mr. Romney take their profits to invest in the develpments of other countries while closing the doors for us in terms of employment and opportunites. In my book, this is totally un-American. The strenght of our wonderful country in not only on the hands of goverment but rather on the hands of moral and responsible capitalism as well,. Nowadays, having millions and even billions is not longer enough; those on the top only goal is to beat the other globally to the detriment of our citezen and country survival. Watch carefully, middle class has been desaperaing, slowly but surely.
    Like you, I think that we have a problem or two or three Our issues are complex and challenging. However, when united we have always managed to find the truth, the way out and the light of a better future for all. Informed, transparent and honest discourse would be beneficial. Saddly, neither one of us have easy access to our legislators as the lobbiests with tons of $$$$$$$$$$$ do. Therefore, this is no longer a goverment for the people by the people but rather a goverment for the wealthy and by the wealthy. I am a naturalized citezen and I love my country.

  • Megs22

    You do seem slightly out of touch with what is happening in the US. First off, it is called welfare in the US, not the dole, which is more of a British/Aussie/Irish term for it. If you would look at the demographics, those who live in the most poverty in the South (not including Chicago), are overwhelmingly Republican. Personally, I don’t think the choice should be red or blue. If people would wake up and vote by the issues rather than party lines, there could be a way different government. Believing red and blue are the only choices is what is destroying the country, especially since red and blue are both owned by the corporations.

  • pariah

    Not to say the dems aren’t complicit in destroying the middle class but did you even look at that map.

    All those states south of delaware have been run by republicans since they hopped ship from the dems during the civil rights movement, coincidentally these right to work states are the worst for upward social mobility. Both parties have been making poor policy decisions that are leading to the demise of the middle class, just looks like the gop is better at it. Both are piss poor choices, catering to the richest of the rich and multinational conglomerates rather than communities and citizens. Sour milk is coming from both teats, but it seems like people would rather pick a team than actually try to solve any societal ills.

    The blue pill leads to the USSA and the red pill leads to AynRandistan, both seem like dystopian futures to me.

  • Winston

    Yes, I looked at the map very carefully. But I interpret the data differently. This is indicative of a symptom, not a cause. This is yet another excuse for why people don’t achieve. It is not the fault of the locale, as this story insists. It’s the fault of those in those locations. We must get out of this victim mentality, drop the excuses and get busy, or this country is doomed.

  • Winston

    You are slightly, or perhaps entirely, out of touch with the South. Those who accept and live in poverty in the South are overwhelmingly Democrats. Just because these are labeled red states does not mean every person in these states are Republicans. And I very much agree with you. The uninformed voter is our greatest danger, and continuing to vote down party lines is getting us nowhere!

  • Anonymous

    I beg to differ!! I’ve lived in the South (NC and GA) for 46 years and it’s simply false to claim that southern democrats are the poverty class, quite the contrary. I work with MANY who are one tiny catastrophe away from deep poverty and they are dogmatic and faithful republicans.

  • John Smith

    Deny reality often, Winston? Pariah is spot on. And one cannot separate the geographic location from the people.

  • Porst

    Wow, go North Dakota.

  • Anonymous

    i think all of this has a lot to do with the culture one is brought up in, and the cultural habits you have inherited. if your culture has an ethic that it is OK and cool and praiseworthy to strive and build, then it will be much easier to strive and build. If your culture has an attitude that it is stupid and clueless and lame to strive and build, then it will be much harder to strive and build. You will be viewed as betraying your “tribe.”

  • Just Curious

    I agree with the earlier post that culture may well be a factor. I’ve lived in Houston, Memphis, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco, and each has a distinct culture, especially in regards to risk-taking, creativity, personal accountability, going against the system, working smart versus putting in the hours, bucking the prevailing wisdom and openness to new ideas. In my experience, these correlate with an area’s financial growth and the residents’ financial mobility. I don’t know if there’s a way to correlate all these factors but I suspect how an personal aligns against these criteria has a lot to do with economic mobility.

  • Winston

    Then you must have lived in the parts of those states that largely ignored the poverty. Anyone who opens their eyes can see what the Democrats have done to enslave the poor in the South. More promises of more – just need your vote to make it happen!

  • NotARedneck

    “I work with MANY who are one tiny catastrophe away from deep poverty and they are dogmatic and faithful republicans.”

    Racism causes the poverty in the south and RepubliCON strategy since the 1960s is to attract the racist vote. Cheap to buy and easily manipulated.

  • NotARedneck

    When a southerner blames people for being “lazy” it is a code word for black.

  • NotARedneck

    It is quite obvious to anyone with good analytical ability.

    In recent decades, upward mobility only occurs where there is new resource extraction happening.

    Racism has caused the lack of upward mobility when corporate America relocates away from minorities and southern racists resist – in ever more sophisticated ways – to prevent blacks and other minorities from getting an education and therefore a job.

  • Anonymous

    Hasn’t this really always been the case?

  • Anonymous

    Home culture matters immensely. If adults at home value education and civilized behavior children are much more likely to succeed. It must be incredibly difficult for an 8,10 or 14 year old with a single parent unemployed & on drugs to keep their eye on the prize. Maybe it is time to rethink the benefits of boarding school programs for children of unfit parents rather than foster homes. Spartan living, resident adults, uniforms, academics, phys ed, regular food and medical care, tutoring – a structured existence with focus on education & civil behavior.

  • Michael Kenney

    Of course, you can make a very strong case that the “individual responsibility” mantra of the conservatives is just their easy way of getting off the hook for any kind of responsibility to any one but themselves. I find it ironic that so many conservatives claim to be “Christian” and at the same time are eager to excoriate anyone who doesn’t buy into the American myth that hard work will make you successful. It’s a rigged game, beyond certain limits. The exception does not prove the rule. Entrenched poverty is much more complicated than just a matter of having the willpower to overcome it. Personally, I’m just fed up with the conservative dogma about responsibility- which I think is often spouted by people who for the most part have it pretty good.

  • Winston

    No, it’s not. You’re practicing the same prejudice you so readily condemn.

  • Winston

    Ironic. I know a Michael Kenney who pulled himself up and became an accomplished radiologist. Through hard work and perseverance, which seems to be one very effective way of defeating poverty. Unless of course, you write it off as a “myth”. Convenient things, those myths. They help to remove that pesky personal responsibility.

  • Winston

    Apparently, you aren’t an historian, either. The Republican party supported the Civil RIghts Act in the 60′s, and were instrumental in its passage. At the time, the southern arm of the Democrat party (“Dixiecrats”, as they were known), were hard at work keeping the black population segregated and poor. Kind of like they do today, but for different reasons.

  • Winston

    Could be. I wouldn’t know. You can’t buy lottery tickets in my state. I prefer the old fashioned way – you earn it.

  • moderator

    Hi Winston and NotARedneck,

    Everyone has made their points quite clearly, let’s not make it too personal.

    Thanks Again,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    Michael, exactly — if I had a nickel for every conservative “Christian” who was just waiting for an excuse to jump all over someone for their hardships …

  • Anonymous

    Fracking. Quick money, but I doubt it’ll last.

  • Anonymous

    So why do the blue states support the red states? The red states receive more revenue than they pay in taxes. They depend upon the blue states to support them. There’s responsibility and there’s rhetoric.

  • Anonymous

    You are totally misunderstanding the philosophy as Ayn Rand, as all the politicians jumping on the cart. I suggest you read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, etc. She believed in being the best you can be, independence, and standing up to the likes of the Republican party and their wealthy friends and entitled corporations. She did not believe in corporate entitlements or wealthy entitlements or poor entitlements.

  • Anonymous

    The movies and stories about the South and Texas are alive in well. They teach in school that they won the Civil War and other fiction. They talk about it constantly. How many times a day do you hear the word, “Texas.”

  • Winston

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am not jumping on anyone with hardships, or anyone who truly needs help. I’m talking about those who are able, but choose not to work and better themselves. There are so many opportunities presented to everyone this day and time, that there’s little excuse for not progressing. The really sad reality is that there are so many parents who bring children into the world in order to qualify for more benefits, yet make no plans on how they will rear or educate the child. A parent allowing a child to fall into that same pit of poverty is inexcusable.

  • Winston

    Thanks Nancy, but I don’t need to re-read Rand to know that entitlements of any kind are a bad idea. It always amazes me that some folks embrace the science of evolution (natural selection, survival of the fittest, adaptation for survival, etc.) yet completely ignore it as it applies to businesses and economics. Why is Detroit bankrupt? Lots of reasons, including a failure to adapt, bloated pay scales and an inability to thrive on its own. “Too big to fail?” Nonsense. You either thrive or you fail, whether you are a person, a city or a corporation.

  • Anonymous

    People do need help. Empowerment, not enabling. Today, there seems so much putting down, tearing down. I overcame my childhood almost completely on my own, but giving credit for what I did receive along the way. There is a huge difference in parents, who expect their children to learn in school and stay out of trouble, and parents, who expect their children to be in trouble and stay out of school. There are some children, who in spite of the negativity, thrive and rise out of the poverty, abuse, and negligence of their childhood. They move into another world, one of intelligence, acceptance, love, and peace.

  • IreneTH

    “I know someone who…” Anecdotal evidence. My father, a Greek immigrant, who did very well.never used his success to suggest that therefore anyone could do it. He knew better. Greek-Americans, as well as other immigrant groups, established “benevolent associations” to provide a helping hand, including giving them jobs which could improve their skills, or at least give them needed income. “Individual responsibility” is a joke in this modern world. It’s now being used to deny a helping hand to those who most need it, lest we corrupt them and make them ‘takers’.

  • Anonymous

    if you live in oil country in N. Dakota you can work in the oil fields.

  • Anonymous

    oil boom.

  • Anonymous

    red states elect the same people to office and they control the House appropriations.

  • Anonymous

    red states have military bases.

  • NotARedneck

    ” The Republican party supported the Civil RIghts Act in the 60′s, and were instrumental in its passage.”

    They wouldn’t do it today. Currently, they are hell bent on bringing back the same sort of voter suppression that worked for the Jim Crow Democrats for nearly a century.

    The RepubliCON party now represents the same people as the southern Democratic party did up until they all bolted after the reforms of the mid 60s. It is called the “Southern Strategy”.

  • NotARedneck

    In other words, wages are high, cost of living is higher. Such places are only good to those brought there to do the work, earn the high pay and return to their family where they can afford to live well.

    Real estate speculators are the main beneficiaries of all resource booms. When they go bust, those who put down roots are the losers.

  • Anonymous

    ” If your culture has an attitude that it is stupid and clueless and lame to strive and build”
    I never heard of a culture developing this unless they already have a higher class telling others that they are useless and there are no use in you striving.
    This becomes an excuse to take away other individuals their selfworth.
    People want to, if you think like that you will always find excamples for your bias.

  • Susan

    “The Republican party supported the Civil RIghts Act in the 60′s, and were instrumental in its passage.”

    A favorite Right-Wing chestnut. The Democrats who opposed the bill were all SOUTHERN Democrats, many of whom left the party to become Republicans after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

    The Civil Rights act was introduced to Congress by JFK, and,
    after his assassination, pushed forward by Lyndon Johnson, both Democrats.

    Here’s the break-down by region. The Democrats who were NOT Southern Democrats voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act by an overwhelming majority. Note the Republican votes for both regions.

    (The first number and the first percentage are the votes in favor of the CR Act.)

    The original House version:

    Southern Democrats: 7-87 (7%-93%)
    Southern Republicans: 0-10 (0%-100%)
    Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94%-6%)
    Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85%-15%)

    The Senate version:

    Southern Democrats: 1-20 (5%-95%)
    Southern Republicans: 0-1 (0%-100%)
    Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98%-2%)
    Northern Republicans: 27-5 (84%-16%)

    The “Democrats” who opposed the bill were all SOUTHERN
    Democrats – most of them are Republicans now.

  • Working Woman

    Sometimes a person has to rub elbows with a success story. Without having witnessed another individual’s upward trajectory, it is hard to believe it can happen.

  • Socialmedic

    THE EXCEPTION A RULE DOES NOT MAKE.

  • Socialmedic

    You forget that Rand was an atheist. Now Hitler, on the other hand, was convinced he was God’s chosen one for the job, just like Sarah Palin and fellow wing-nuts. So let’s call the Right for what it is, Hitlerstan. By the way, if the left is working for the rich then it really isn’t the left is it? For the last three decades there has been no left in America, nor a middle ground for that matter. If you had a right wing and you had a left wing what would you call the center? The far right wing is known as fascism, the far left wing is known as communism and I do believe the in-utterable word “socialism” was coined to describe the condition between the two extremes. We can not even say the word in America, much less have a practice of it. So there is nothing left here but fascism. We have, over three decades become an increasingly FASCIST third world nation. Period.

  • Michael Kenney

    Well, I’m not a radiologist, but I have worked hard to get a college degree, a Masters degree, and to own a home for my family. Currently working 12-14 hour days 3 times per week to pay for college loans. (work full time and a part-time practice, so you see I’m also a “small business person”). And you can see I’ve taken “individual responsibility” for my life. Came from a family in which neither of my parents were lucky enough to go to college, but both also worked hard at a time when many mothers stayed home to raise children. I was lucky that I had a family that offered support to help me through. Not everyone has that- and without it, the myth that hard work equals success is much harder to achieve. Because my Masters was partly financed through my work at a public agency, I was able to better my life and that of my family- yes, based partly on taxpayer money. That taxpayer funded Masters has also enabled me to help many people who otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to help. My point in sharing all this is that even with my hard work and relative success, I recognize that not everyone has benefitted the way I have. My problem with the conservative dogma about “individual responsibility” is that it has become just that- dogma- a catch phrase that easily overlooks the complications involved in severe poverty. In America we like to find some extreme example (like the film “Pursuit of Happiness”) and cite it as proof that “anyone can make it if they try”. The reality is far different. My wife and I encounter people everyday through our work who do try, do work hard, but because of circumstances are in need of government support. I often wonder how many “individual responsibility” proponents actually know any poor or disabled people- or if they are satisfied to accept the Fox News propaganda that “anyone who wants to make it can”. I suggest you try living on a food stamp budget for a week or so, like my wife and daughter did a few years back. It’s a great way to improve your sense of empathy.

  • Michael Kenney

    Do you actually know any poor people? Do you have actual first hand knowledge of someone who can work- no disability, adequate education, adequate skills- and chooses not to? Too many conservatives have bought the propaganda about “welfare queens” and those who game the system. As a social worker, I see people all the time who are unable to work for very legitimate reasons. It also seems you don’t understand how public assistance works- since reform under Clinton, the old model of being on a “grant” indefinitely and getting more money per each child has changed. TANF is a temporary program now- “welfare”, as people used to know it, doesn’t exist anymore, and where there is public assistance the dollar amounts are so low that it hardly amounts to an easy life. Conservatives often have many outdated notions about what public policy actually is.

  • Pete Joachim

    Especially when no one in your entire family has “moved up” the ladder – which is the case for many generations of minorities in this country for hundreds of years. This has many economic and cultural consequences.that still haunt us today but that many fail to recognize.

  • Joseph Guilbert

    Had an employee of mine tell this story… When he was young he used to goof off enjoying the attention of being the class clown. His father, an engineer told him one day he would regret it. He recounted this story at the age of 30 with tears streaming down his face. He was black. Racism had nothing to do with his decision toward upward mobility. My father was the 1st son of ten children. He was forced to quit school to help with finances. He still managed to get an AA degree and a pilots license although he remained blue collar. I like my father did not have the financial opportunity to go to college. I have been self employed for twenty one years and have seven employees. Excuses do not help people they keep them in chains of despair and destitution. Personal responsibility is taught at home. No one owes anyone a damn thing.

  • Terri EC Mom5

    I was being facetious. One would be more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the lottery.

  • Maximum_207

    And just how well do your employees live. My uncle is a contractor and lives the good life, while many of his employees qualify for government aid. A truly successful business wouldn’t have to rely on the government to pay its employee wages and healthcare benefits. Same goes for larger companies like Walmart were over 50% of all it wages and benefits are payed for through state and federal programs for the poor. We live in “1984″ today, where “welfare for the poor” is really “corporate welfare” fore companies have chosen to pay shareholders over paying livable wages to those who actually work.

  • Maximum_207

    Most people who qualify for some form of welfare for the poor work full time. We live in a society that rewards shareholders over labors. Welfare for the poor is nothing more than wages employers have refused to pay and therefore is actually corporate welfare. When the middle class finally recognizes this fact, then and only then will things finally get better.

  • Susan

    Blue states have military bases, too, obibecker.
    For instance, New Jersey, which draws only 77 cents for every dollar paid in federal taxes, has EIGHT military bases.
    Find another justification, please.

  • Sharon Savitski

    middle class has nothing to do with it try the rich and famous ppl

  • Winston

    I realize you were being facetious. I was being serious.

  • Terri EC Mom5

    Correct. Why does anyone think that a corporate “tax exemption” as anything more than a corporate entitlement? Most of the time, that same entitlement isn’t even used in this country. It is used to set up shop in another country.

  • Ed Ruthazer

    This has nothing to do with geography. The red zone in that map corresponds perfectly to the parts of the south with predominantly Black populations.

  • Tamara

    It sounds like you assume all poor, single parents do drugs and are horrible parents. That’s hardly the case. And if that was the case, wouldn’t it be better to help the parent be a better parent, by helping them get a job, life skills training and how to be drug-free, instead of tearing the family apart and punishing the children for circumstances they didn’t choose? Yes, home culture matters, but some people arrive in this world much more well-equipped than others. I think productive aid is far better than tearing things apart and giving up on a family structure. Plus, vulnerable children placed in institutions are ripe for abuse. Also, who decides who is an unfit parent and what constitutes unfit parenting?

  • Ed Ruthazer
  • Mary McKenney

    I can totally relate. I posted your comment on my Facebook page.
    editrix66@gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    Another factor is the effect that poverty has on the human brain — very damaging. Studies show that one effect is the impact on decision-making — it’s a little like being seriously sleep-deprived and trying to draw a thoughtful conclusion. The terrible effects on children’s developing brains can accompany them throughout school and beyond. Researchers also talk about the Matthew Effect on individuals — the “rich get richer, and the poor get poorer” applies to more than just finances.

  • Nativegrl59

    Resource extraction income benefits multinational corporations not locals. Local are left with unsustainable degradated ecosystems after the extractors leave causing failing property values. property values plummet when natural spaces are developed or over harvested.Ed Ruthazer is correct. 34% of American children being able to rise out of poverty is deplorable if that is the highest record for a community. it has everything to do with racial demographics and what

  • Neil Forte

    Good by to the myth of the attainable American dream

  • Anonymous

    kmtominey44 didn’t read the article, or didn’t understand it. The researchers found that “upward mobility rates…often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.” Additionally, “Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results.” In other words, the mobility of children among equally poor households was more affected by geography than was that of children in wealthy homes. Perhaps most importantly researchers found that “all else being equal… upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods.” The environment poor people live in was a significant factor. This contradicts kmtominey44′s assertion that the mobility of the poor children is mainly impacted by bad parenting.

  • Stephen

    The multinational corporations do profit, as do we all from lower fuel costs. But the rancher who owns the mineral rights also benefits from mineral leases.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like you either didn’t read the article, or didn’t understand it. “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 instance.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.coit Ken Coit

    Looks to me like ethnicity matters. I’d like to know more about this study.

  • Harvey B Vaughn Jr.

    Does this actually surprise anyone?

  • Anonymous

    Does this mean for people who grew up there but moved away later? Or just for those who were born and stayed all their lives?

  • Anonymous

    It’s all education, no matter where you start. It’s the Peter Principle “Everyone rises to their own level of incompetence”

  • Anonymous

    I think you misunderstand my point – a person , (frequently a single, white woman who never graduated HS) who has massive struggles in ther own lives is rarely an effective parent. Perhaps an option is to simply tell the truth – mom needs to focus on her education, health and life skills for a time w/o distraction. The children already know that mom is struggling and failing. They can accept a change of pace until she is on her feet and able to function in earning a living & taking care of her children. Everyone gets a breather from fear, anxiety & uncertainty all of which are monster impediments to success at anything.

  • Anonymous

    And nutrition!

  • Marti Bridges

    Curiously I’m a single parent white woman. I have a masters degree, as do most of the rest of my single white women friends with kids. My parents both had college educations, with three years each, but couldn’t finish as WWII intervened. They grew up dirt poor in a midwestern state but dad became a Unionized employee of a large American auto company. Therein lies what made America great…union wages and skilled blue collar and white collar workers. But geography does matter. And with education costing an arm and a leg these days, more and more folks will fall through the cracks. I will not be able to pay for more than one year of college in state for my own daughter, and there is no way she’ll be able to make enough to cover tuition, fees, book, room and board, like I was able to in the 1970′s Income inequality is the worst it’s ever been in America since the Depression era of the 1930′s a time my parents grew up in. And Right to Work states offer less ability to move up the economic ladder. I live in one of them. We are a nation hell bent on the race to the bottom.

  • Woods and Water

    exactly my point

  • Sandy MoonbeamBohème Lowe

    Read the article?

  • Mitchell Brown

    You’re a real party loyalist. Keep those blinders on.

  • Linda Devendorf

    Excellent points, Marti!

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Not accurate.

  • Michael Rogers

    In the past, there were ladders in employment–you came in at the bottom and
    worked your way up the list. Given time and dedication, you rose to the top or as far as you could. Now there’s NO ladder.

    Another thing to consider is where the poor started, Poor in San Francisco or LA means you have to hustle for gas on the last week of the month, Poor in the south means you need to hustle for something to eat other than what you can glean out of the field after it’s been picked.

  • SecularPatriot

    Correct.

  • peacelovecrazy

    It looked to me like the map has everything to do with race.

  • sirald66

    The blue up central north is the current oil boom.

  • Ed Ruthazer

    OK, so for positive upward mobility, location matters.
    For being stuck in generational poverty, race is the thing.

  • Colby

    I’m guessing you mean not accurate when applied to yourself…otherwise you surely would have explained why and not just wasted space on the internet, right?

  • Nativegrl59

    Stephen, Do you have experience, as a landowner, contracting with mining multinationals on your own property? I am very interested in how that is going for you. I would have questions like who pays for the degradation to your land during and after mining operations? If you have energy multinationals leasing your lands what will your property value be when they have extracted the minerals or non-renewabes? Do you have a say to what limits the multinationals can extract? Do you feel that the contract signed was fair and balanced to favor you and your descendants or the multinational? My next question is very important. Who do you work for? The reason why I ask is because your reply reads suspiciously similar to multinational lobbyist rhetoric that I, as a natural resource sustainability scientist for TRIBES, have heard on a daily basis. Here are the facts that Indigenous sovereign landowners have found, Stephen. Land leases to Multinational mining and energy corporations do NOT benefit the landowners. They do not benefit citizens’ energy costs. Landowners do NOT PROFIT. WHY? because the external costs surpass any revenue exponentially. What that means is that the costs for cleanup, loss of soil, water and ecosystem integrity due to mineral and non-renewable energy extraction and health issues increase and become more and more expensive for every year thereafter. There are case studies and peer reviewed articles that support my argument BY FAR more than your sales pitch.

  • Jon Adams

    It has everything to do with certain Regions that practice racism and social stratification.

  • Jon Adams

    Blacks and poor whites — in a certain part of the country where public education was never very important.

  • Nativegrl59

    I would also like to add that landowners have very little chance in court, against multinationals, to win damages. There is rarely accountability placed on multinationals when they break contracts, emit toxins or any causation that harms the landowner. It takes years, decade, and sometimes, in the case of Indigenous peoples, centuries for the courts to right wrongs, which doesn’t mean damages will be paid. Again, the multinationals profit and everyone else loses.

  • Anonymous

    Parents have more to do with whether kids rise out of poverty than geography. This needs to be linked to parents in prison, parents in poverty etc

  • Anonymous

    Your father as an exemplar of success? How old is he? Are you intentionally naive to the changing economic changes that have taken place since, as an example, Reagan?
    Lastly, your anecdotal experience is completely insignificant in the face of the data. Unless you think statistics are just pesky annoyances.

  • Jon Adams

    yes there are incentives, just LESS so in places like the Deep South.

  • Stephen

    Actually, I’m an environmental chemist and I do not for a corporation, multinational or otherwise. But I understand your viewpoint. I simply look for solutions that do not cause economic hardship for anyone (if you can say that losing a few dollars is an economic hardship to multibillion corporations). :-)

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    We checked out demographics and educational systems in both hgh oportunity and impoverished areas…….. The facts did not mesh with the study…… Check some yourself…randomly.

  • Brenton Calaway

    Yes I have.

    I know a few poor people, a few rich, but almost everyone I know is middle class. The fact that the classes are so segregated is one of the factors that leads to our nation’s growing inequality. But, however antidotal it may be, the fact that almost everyone I know is middle class makes me suspicious of the idea that our country’s middle class is small.

  • nellix9

    again, care to elaborate with real evidence? you make the claim that it’s not accurate so the burden of proof is on you. supply us with data and the method for gathering/interpreting the data. “we checked out” could mean we went to a biased website for 10 seconds. what does “high opportunity area” mean? how do you define it? again – care to elaborate (look up the meaning of “elaborate”, because you certainly didn’t seem to understand it by your reply) with real evidence?

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    I don’t have to “prove” anything. I put forth the effort to find the information……you can do the same……. You are just looking for an arguement……..I found information because I was interested…not to challenge anyone……..I don’t care if you believe me or not. If someone stated to me that information was inaccurate…I would go looking myself…not demand that someone else do it for me.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks tedium

  • nellix9

    interesting that you are willing to make a stand and say that it’s not accurate but are not forthcoming with any evidence. do you understand the meaning of “burden of proof”? so basically, i should know that this and future commentaries from you will be devoid of facts and instantiation but filled with opinions that are not backed up?

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    You are a moron…this is only a stupid comment page…not a court room…you’re a real nerd…. I have no need to prove anything to you or anyone else…You’re just too lazy to look it up yourself…..You’re one of those people who sits at home on the computer an harasses others anonlymously because you’re a coward…….and can’t debate anything in real time. A true LEGEND in your own MIND.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Don’t reply to me again…..I’ll report you.

  • nellix9

    name-calling! classic last-ditch strategy of someone who knows that she’s losing the argument. a moron? and a nerd? morons are typically known for being stupid and nerds are typically known for being smart. which is it, honey? not sure yourself? can’t decide which name to call me in a juvenile attempt to try to remain in control. report me. that’s an order. can you follow instructions?

  • moderator

    Please follow our comment policy. If you choose to use hate speech or personally attack other community members, you will no longer be allowed to participate, and all of your comments will be removed. This is a zero-tolerance policy.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Winston

    There’s something you need to understand. No one in my family is “rich” and certainly not “mega-rich”. But my father did attain and give to his family a comfortable lifestyle for which we are all grateful. He taught us lessons on how to be industrious and a loving and caring father. Don’t think for a second that I take that for granted. And as for all of your “if’s” – some of those things did happen along the way – a case of double-pneumonia that almost killed him, military deployments, etc. But I’ve watched that man work hard all of his life, and he cheated no one. In fact, I’ve seen him work hard to give others with whom he worked similar opportunities, and helped them in any way he could. Maybe if all of you could lay down your cynicism and stop and think, you’d understand. As the old saying goes, “the harder you work, the luckier you get”.

  • Anonymous

    Marti – I don’t know what your profession is or how it pays. My mother was a college educated grade school teacher, a WWII widow. She moved back with her parents on the farm with her two children, went to work teaching, put every SS check for the war orphan children into savings bonds for college it adds up over 17 or 18 years. Believe me a public school teacher in rural new jersey in the late forties and early fifties did not make a lot. When it came time for college, as a war orphan even though mom had remarried to a career air force officer (not flight rated so pay was low at that time) i was eligible for VA subsidies in college. But, I had to take an IQ test, the Gruder Preference test and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality ,, test and get counseling about my plans for education and the profession I was aiming for. Fortunately my interest in chemistry and the physical sciences matched the test results for capability, likely to succeed and a realistic for my temperament.

    I have current friends two incomes but their daughter attended the local junior college for two years and just transferred to the local branch of a state university to finish. Lives at home and has continued with her part time employment. No loans needed because she is making realistic choices.

    With my step daughter my husband and I went a similar route – every paycheck had a deduction for bonds for her education. She picked a state school and between her mother and step father and us we covered her college expenses which were roughly 15K per year (she was a frugal kid) and the uncashed bonds were a graduation present for her BS in BIochemistry. Now she and her hubby live in a little town, own a tavern and she also does website development and management but they still save and are frugal.

    All this said I agree on the issue of compensation for ordinary people is disgraceful and I do not patronize firms that have these counter productive policies for their employees. The and use of the tax code to subsidize off shoring of jobs and covering expenses for managing overseas ventures where the earnings are not repatriated is also unacceptable but still legal why is that? Issue is the people that we elected to represent us over the years quit doing that and focused on big buck contributors. Time to fire them and replace them with people who are focused on all of we the people.

  • Anonymous

    He be required listening in public schools.

  • JJ

    I have worked hard and my luck just got worse. I put in 45 to 60 hour weeks for years and barely had enough to get by each month (rent start 550 with a 5% increase each year, food budget of 300, transportation 120 +, utilities 125, then medicine copay 200, amount left over for anything else maybe 5 dollars )

  • James Michael McDaniel

    Matt, you don’t seem to understand the meaning and use of statistical data as opposed to anecdotal individual experience. Your personal experience is just that and folds into the group data quite neatly.

  • James Michael McDaniel

    Babs, I think Mr. Moyers is suggesting that statistics show that class rigidity has causes that are linked to factors connected to location. This country for much of its history gained vibrancy and a large share of immigrants based on its reputation as a class mobile place. Are you implying that is not a positive characteristic for a place/country to have?

  • James Michael McDaniel

    David, there is a big difference between a study that is very limited in scope and one that will definitively answer all your questions. I find nothing misleading here. Only answers to some questions which lead me to other questions and so on. It’s like you are seeking to cast a shadow rather than a light.

  • James Michael McDaniel

    We people tend to associate with and “know” those in our own strata more than those in other strata. This is probably why a Mitt Romney seemed so obtuse about lower income (average) Americans. Brenton keep reading and learning. I think the word you wanted is “anecdotal”.

  • Anonymous

    I like that quite a bit. I do hope it wasn’t directed at me.

  • Anonymous

    Does this study account for *why* this is the case in certain locations? Is it because certain communities have a higher instance of subcultures that value long-term financial outlooks vs. living for the moment? I’ve also heard that people in the northeast have an easier time getting jobs than people in the south, because people in the northeast are known for having a superior work ethic, thus increasing their likelihood of upward mobility. So why is that? What is it about the culture in the northeast that makes them more likely to be upwardly mobile than people in the south?