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Using a survey that traces individuals and their offspring since 1968, Sharkey shows that children who come from middle-class (non-poor) neighborhoods and whose mothers also grew up in middle-class neighborhoods score an average of 104 on problem-solving tests.
Children from poor neighborhoods whose mothers also grew up in poor neighborhoods score lower, an average of 96.
Evidence is especially impressive for long term outcomes for adolescents and young adults who have attended integrated schools (e.g., Guryan, 2001; Johnson, 2011).
Although immigrant low-income Hispanic students are also concentrated in schools, by the third generation their families are more likely to settle in more middle-class neighborhoods.
Illustrative is that Latino immigrants who had resided in California for at least 30 years had a 65 percent homeownership rate prior to the burst of the housing bubble (Myers, 2008).1 It’s undoubtedly lower after the bubble burst, but still extraordinary.
In such a neighborhood, many, if not most other residents are likely to have very low incomes, although not so low as to be below the official poverty line. What’s more, for black families, mobility out of such neighborhoods is much more limited than for whites.
Sharkey finds that young African Americans (from 13 to 28 years old) are now ten times as likely to live in poor neighborhoods, defined in this way, as young whites—66 percent of African Americans, compared to 6 percent of whites (Sharkey, 2013, p. Sharkey shows that 67 percent of African American families hailing from the poorest quarter of neighborhoods a generation ago continue to live in such neighborhoods today. Considering all black families, 48 percent have lived in poor neighborhoods over at least two generations, compared to 7 percent of white families (Sharkey, 2013, p. If a child grows up in a poor neighborhood, moving up and out to a middle-class area is typical for whites but an aberration for blacks.
But neighborhoods did not get that way from “innocent private decisions” or, as the late Justice Potter Stewart once put it, from “unknown and perhaps unknowable factors such as in-migration, birth rates, economic changes, or cumulative acts of private racial fears” (, 1974).
In truth, residential segregation’s causes are both knowable and known – twentieth century federal, state and local policies explicitly designed to separate the races and whose effects endure today. Crimes without punishment: White neighbors’ resistance to black entry. Education policy is constrained by housing policy: it is not possible to desegregate schools without desegregating both low-income and affluent neighborhoods.However, the policy motivation to desegregate neighborhoods is hobbled by a growing ignorance of the nation’s racial history.The racial segregation of schools has been intensifying because the segregation of neighborhoods has been intensifying.Analyzing Census data, Rutgers University Professor Paul Jargowsky has found that in 2011, 7 percent of poor whites lived in high poverty neighborhoods, where more than 40 percent of the residents are poor, up from 4 percent in 2000; 15 percent of poor Hispanics lived in such high poverty neighborhoods in 2011, up from 14 percent in 2000; and a breathtaking 23 percent of poor blacks lived in high poverty neighborhoods in 2011, up from 19 percent in 2000 (Jargowsky, 2013).Claims that some schools, charter schools in particular, “beat the odds” founder upon close examination.