Chart of the Day: Neighborhood Characteristics and Income Mobility

Income mobility is pretty much the core of the “American dream,” the idea that people who begin their lives with little can work hard and improve their lot. But such depends on where you live. Some cities and neighborhoods are much more amenable to income mobility than others.

So check this out:

chart commute time income mobility

(Note: The chart shows the effect on boys whose parents have incomes in the bottom quarter. The effect is pretty much the same for girls.)

Via Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, the chart is from a working paper he tracked down that examines the effect of low-income children moving to different (“better”) neighborhoods. Of all the factors that were studied, commute time was the most significant, eclipsing even things like crime rates, parent incomes, social capital, and segregation.

Why might that be? Drum doesn’t have any clear answers. The erosion of family time by long distance daily travel certainly seems like a bad idea!

What do you think?

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.