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Old Posted Nov 7, 2019, 4:24 AM
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Kids Raised in Walkable Cities Earn More Money As Adults

Kids Raised in Walkable Cities Earn More Money As Adults

RICHARD FLORIDA OCTOBER 24, 2019

A new study finds that even considering other factors, the walkability of a child’s neighborhood has a direct correlation to increased adult earnings.


A woman and a child walk in New York, the city with the highest score for walkability given at walkscore.com. A new study finds that growing up in a walkable neighborhood can increase upward economic mobility for children. David Delgado/Reuters

The benefits of walkable neighborhoods are many and varied. People who live in walkable neighborhoods are more active, healthier, have more time to spend with family and friends, and report higher levels of happiness and subjective well-being.

Now, add another big benefit to the list: Children who live in walkable neighborhoods have higher levels of upward economic mobility.

That’s the key finding from a new study published in the American Psychologist. The study, “The Socioecological Psychology of Upward Social Mobility,” by psychologists at Columbia University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, looks at the effect of growing up in a walkable community on the economic mobility of children. The walkability measure comes from Walk Score. The economic mobility measure is based on the detailed data developed by economist Raj Chetty and his research team. Their data cover more than 9 million Americans born between 1980 and 1982 and gauges the probability that children from households in the bottom fifth of the income distribution will reach the top fifth by age 30.

The more walkable an area is, the more likely Americans whose parents were in the lowest income quintile are to be in the highest quintile by their 30s.
The new study looks at walkability across more than 380 commuting zones, the basic unit used by Chetty’s team, which are similar to metro areas. It examines the effect of walkability in light of five key factors—school quality, income inequality, race, social capital (measured through community and civic participation), and the share of families with single parents—that Chetty and others have found to be associated with economic mobility.

Walkability has a sizable effect on upward economic mobility, according to the study. Indeed, walkability accounted for 11 percent of the additional variance in economic mobility above and beyond these five key factors. (Statistically speaking, the size of the R2 for their model increased from .41 without walkability to .52 with walkability added to the five factors).

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https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/10...DXXmTm24d-4V2c
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