NC Budget and Tax Center, Poverty and Policy Matters, Uncategorized

Children’s Opportunities are Deeply Connected to the Neighborhoods they Live in

Well above the state poverty rate of 17.5 percent, an astounding 1 in 4 of North Carolina’s children live in poverty. Beyond the significance for a child living in a household with too few dollars to meet the most basic needs (to be poor a family of four must have an annual income below $23,314 in 2010), there are longer term implications of a childhood of hardship. Research shows that childhood poverty for the youngest children is literally built into the architecture of their developing brains with implications for their chances at educational success and attachment to the labor force. All of these play out negatively for children who are poor well into their adult years.

But what about children who are poor and live in distressed communities? Research shows they face compounding barriers to long-term economic security due to often having less access to quality educational opportunities and strong social networks. A report released by the Budget and Tax Center last Thursday found that 10.4 percent of North Carolina’s impoverished children lived in one of the state’s 100 concentrated-poverty neighborhoods—which are neighborhoods with a poverty rate of 40 percent or higher—in 2006-2010. This rate was slightly higher than the state’s concentrated-poverty rate of 10.2 percent.  

For children, however, research shows that place matters regardless of family income. So, concentrated poverty exacerbates disadvantage for children living below and above the federal poverty line. Children growing up in concentrated-poverty neighborhoods are at risk of poor outcomes, including elevated stress levels, lower test scores, and higher dropout rates. For children living in middle-and upper-income families, research shows that growing up in a high-poverty neighborhood can increase the risk of downward mobility by 52 percent.

In 2006-2010, there were nearly 125,000 children living in concentrated-poverty neighborhoods in North Carolina, more than 75,000 lived above the federal poverty line and nearly 50,000 lived below the federal poverty line. But, are the economic hardships borne by these kids shared equally?

Kids of color are not only more vulnerable to poverty, they are also more vulnerable to concentrated poverty nationwide. The trend is likely the same in North Carolina, especially for African American children. Nearly half (49) of the state’s 100 concentrated-poverty neighborhoods in 2006-2010 were majority African American neighborhoods, and those neighborhoods accounted for 38.1 percent of the poor population in all concentrated-poverty neighborhoods. Whites were the majority race in 15 of the 100 concentrated-poverty neighborhoods, accounting for 14.6 percent of the poor population in extreme-poverty neighborhoods.

Again, the interaction of place and one’s life chances is abundantly clear. Neighborhood distress and underinvestment are far-reaching, requiring policies that transform neighborhoods and support the extension of opportunity to all communities in the state.

Check Also

Redesigning TANF to lift more families out of poverty

The 1996 welfare law that created Temporary Assistance ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

On a sultry day last September, Megan Stilley arrived at Lanier Farms, a large swine operation in ru [...]

When North Carolina lawmakers approved what one Republican described as a “historic” investment in r [...]

Lawmakers late last week released two new versions of a judicial redistricting bill, making these th [...]

An omnibus bill alleviating some of the headaches associated with North Carolina’s class size crisis [...]

The General Assembly’s latest mashup legislation is an example of government at its worst In the com [...]

The post Tied up in knots appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Every day brings new reports that Congress is interested in further whittling away at the programs c [...]

When Congress finally passed a continuing resolution last month allowing the government to re-open, [...]

Upcoming Events

Friday, Feb. 16

12:00 PM

Crucial Conversation – Prof. Peter Edelman discusses his new book, Not a Crime to be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America

Prof. Edelman is coming to the Triangle to mark the 50th anniversary of Durham-based nonprofit MDC. His visit is the first of a series of MDC-sponsored events focused on ways that Southern leaders can work together to create an Infrastructure of Opportunity that shapes a South where all people thrive.”