Banktown: For some, not an ideal place for upward mobility

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A recent study's findings might not be too surprising - though they are certainly no less harder to stomach - for a city that prides itself on being the second largest financial district in the U.S.

According to what some are calling the most comprehensive study of upward mobility in American history, children who were raised in lower-income households in Charlotte - and much of the Southeast and Midwest - have about a 4 percent chance of climbing into the middle class and beyond over the course of their lives. Children from cities in the West, Great Plains and Northeast have a roughly 10 percent chance.

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"Where you grow up matters," Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study's authors, told the New York Times. "There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty."

The researchers identified "four broad factors that appeared to affect income mobility," wrote the NYT, including the size and dispersion of a city's middle class.

All else being equal, upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods.

Income mobility was higher in areas with more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools and more civic engagement, and lower in areas with a large black population (though not primarily because of race, the study claims. For example, both white and black residents of Atlanta have low upward mobility rates.)

Read the Times' story (and check out some nifty graphics) here.

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