Buncombe county is the hardest place to grow up for poor children in WNC

Future earnings are caused by where one grows up, indicates a recent study from two Harvard economists.  Today, Carolina Public Press  released a story on the implications of the story for the Western North Carolina region.  Buncombe county was statistically established as the most difficult environment of all the western counties to overcome for children growing up in poverty. When poor Buncombe children (those from families making less than $30,000 per year) grow up, they are likely to make $3,420 less than the national average.

Serenity, Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School
Serenity, Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School

—— From Carolina Public Press——

The study, The Effects of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects and County Level Estimates, by Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, analyzed data from more than 2,400 counties and determined that where you live isn’t just correlated with poverty — it causes it.

And for children living in poor families in Buncombe County, escaping poverty may be tougher — substantially tougher — compared to other counties across the nation.

Essentially, the study found, for poor children in Western North Carolina, it is better to live in Jackson, Watauga or Yancey counties than it is to live in Buncombe County, measured by how much that person would later earn at age 26.

The study goes on to report that Buncombe county children in general do not fair well in general for future earnings. Even children of middle and upper income make less than the national average at age 26. Also, that future earnings can be positively impacted by every year spent in a county with characteristics leading to higher average future earnings.

CPP includes in the story councilman Gordon Smith’s ideas for improving the situation for Buncombe county centering around mixed income housing.

About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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