Power of Place, The Sobering View

photo: Bradley Maule

In a pathbreaking report the American Sociological Review put out last week, researchers confirm what most of us implicitly understand: the longer a child lives in an impoverished neighborhood, the poorer her chances are of graduating high school. Researchers Geoffrey T. Wodtke and David J. Harding of the University of Michigan and Felix Elwert of the University of Wisconsin-Madison followed over 4,000 children across 17 years, correlating the impact of segregation, crime, and poverty on school advancement. “Black children were about seven times more likely than white children to experience long-term residence in the most disadvantaged 20 percent of neighborhoods in the country,” Wodke told the website City Mayors.

This is not as obvious or easy to prove a point as you might imagine. In Neighborhood and Life Chances: How Place Matters in Modern America (Penn Press, 2011), editors Eugenie Birch and Susan Wachter of Penn and Harriet Newburger of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia write, “Despite the common wisdom that place matters, it has proven extremely difficult to pin down just how and how much it matters. Indeed, even definitively documenting that it does matter is beset by difficulties.”

So Birch, Wachter, and Newburger survey the field of current research on health, race, crime, violence, housing, and neighborhood type, concluding that “people and place prosperity go hand-in-hand. The policy-maker who wants to improve the life chances of poor families and their children cannot ignore the effects that place has on those chances.”

It’s worth noting the granularity of the research. For example, researchers Douglas Wiebe and Charles Branas report findings from the Philadelphia Gun and Alcohol Study. According to the Study, heavy drinkers are 2.7% more likely to be shot compared to non-drinkers (regardless of other factors) and being near a stop-n-go doubles your risk of being shot. Combine the two factors and you increase your risk of being shot by more than 9 times.

About the author

Nathaniel Popkin is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including the forthcoming Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (Temple Press) and a novel, Lion and Leopard (The Head and the Hand Press). He is the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."



No Comments


Trackbacks

  1. Daily Links for October 11th | Akkam's Razor

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Building A Better Future With Bright Common

Building A Better Future With Bright Common

May 19, 2017  |  Vantage

Hidden City editor Michael Bixler catches up with sustainable architect Jeremy Avellino to talk climate change, deep energy retrofits, and the power of passive house building. > more

Restoration Project Gives New Life To Ben Franklin's Grave

Restoration Project Gives New Life To Ben Franklin’s Grave

May 17, 2017  |  News

Benjamin Franklin's tombstone gets some desperately needed TLC. Tyler Horst has the story > more

Summoning The Spirit Of A Victorian Masterpiece

Summoning The Spirit Of A Victorian Masterpiece

May 15, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

Gone, but not forgotten. The Shadow channels the ghost of the Henry J. Morton Guild House, a beautiful Victorian hall designed by famed Philadelphia architects Wilson Brothers & Company > more

The Making (And Marketing) Of The Modern Gayborhood

The Making (And Marketing) Of The Modern Gayborhood

May 12, 2017  |  Vantage

Contributor Kelson Northeimer takes a look at the history of the Gayborhood and its cultural transformation through lifestyle marketing and gentrification > more

Hidden Lens: Fading Industry On The Delaware River

Hidden Lens: Fading Industry On The Delaware River

May 10, 2017  |  Hidden Lens

In this next installment of Hidden Lens, a new series showcasing the captures of local photographers, we feature the work of Betsy Manning and the final days of the Port Richmond Grain Elevator > more

Film Center At International House Set To Expand

Film Center At International House Set To Expand

May 8, 2017  |  Walk the Walk

After 40 years of screening independent films, the theater at International House expands programming and gets a new name. Joe Brin takes a look at Lightbox Film Center > more