In Nearly Every U.S. Metro Area, New Data Show Opportunity Lags For Kids Of Color
When it comes to children’s prospects in life, the neighborhoods where they grow up matter a lot. Schools, safety, access to healthy food, places to play are all things that help to shape their futures.
Now, new data from the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University reveal a sharp racial divide in access to such opportunities in almost every major metropolitan area of the country.
Most white children in the United States live in neighborhoods with high levels of opportunity, while most black and Hispanic children live in ones with low opportunity, according to the research. Often, these neighborhoods are just a few blocks apart. NPR got an early look at the data, which will be publicly available early next year.
Brandeis professor Dolores Acevedo-Garcia calls the findings “disturbing” and says the pattern is repeated in communities across the United States.
“We see really vast inequities between black and white children, as well as between white and Hispanic children,” she says.
It’s surprising not that such disparities exist but that they are so pervasive. The Brandeis group is still analyzing the new data, but Acevedo-Garcia says she sees no sign that the racial divide has improved in recent years.
This is significant because such inequities tend to perpetuate themselves. Acevedo-Garcia says children growing up in low-opportunity areas are likely to face many more problems as adults, in terms of their economic success and health. In fact, children in low-opportunity neighborhoods are expected to live about seven fewer years than those in high-opportunity areas.
The researchers also found that some of the greatest disparities are within metropolitan areas, with resources often concentrated in the suburbs and a few select city neighborhoods.
Albany, N.Y., is a case in point.
The city’s Arbor Hill and West Hill neighborhoods, not far from the state Capitol building, are among its most impoverished. The streets are lined with boarded-up homes, which are marked by big red signs with large x’s slashed across the middle — put there by the fire department.