In a recently published Harvard study on economic mobility in the United States, counties across the U.S. are ranked from best to worst. Buncombe County comes in at the bottom, ranking 2,386 out of 2,478. Boys and girls growing up in low-income households in Buncombe County will earn on average 13.1% less at age 26 than their low-income peers nationwide. The impact is greater for boys, with an 18.6% loss in income, than for girls, at a 6.8% loss.
A New York Times infographic, The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares, illustrates the projection that today’s low-income children in Buncombe County will make $3,420 less at age 26 than their counterparts across the U.S.
The growth we see in downtown Asheville makes it easy to forget that life for many young people in our community is hard – and getting harder. This study, 16 years in the making, helps explain some of the harder things I have seen at the Courthouse in 20 plus years of law practice. Policymakers should consider this study as the City and County continue to grow and develop. It’s a matter of social justice that we can’t afford to ignore.
The study, The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility, is part of The Equality of Opportunity Project, and you can find the story from the Asheville Citizen-Times here: Study finds little path from poverty in Buncombe County.