New Study Reveals Stark Inequities in Neighborhood Opportunities for Children Across the US

In a groundbreaking study, researchers have found that children of different races and ethnicities often grow up in neighborhoods with vastly different opportunities, even when living just a few miles apart within the same metro area. The Child Opportunity Index (COI) 3.0, developed by the diversitydatakids.org project at Brandeis University, analyzed data from all 73,000 census tracts in the country, ranking neighborhoods based on a Child Opportunity Score ranging from 1-100.

The report, which focused on the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, revealed significant disparities in opportunity for children. On average, White children live in neighborhoods with an opportunity score of 74 out of 100, while Black and Hispanic children live in neighborhoods with scores of 30 and 33, respectively.

Dr. Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Director of diversitydatakids.org and professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, emphasized the importance of addressing these inequities: “The data show us that the U.S. can provide children with rich opportunities to learn and grow, but that we’re not doing so equitably. These inequities, between high- and low-opportunity neighborhoods, and between children of different racial and ethnic groups, are neither natural nor random. They’re driven by systemic inequities such as high segregation and policies that enable opportunity hoarding. But we can close these inequities. The Child Opportunity Index points us to where we need to do more to improve opportunity for the highest-need children.”

The study also found that growing up in a low-opportunity neighborhood can have long-lasting effects on a child’s health and life expectancy. In the 100 largest metro areas, children living in very high-opportunity neighborhoods can expect to live to 82 years old, while those in very low-opportunity neighborhoods have a life expectancy of only 76 years.

The COI 3.0 is a composite of 44 indicators spanning education, health and environment, and social and economic domains. The index has been used by state and local leaders to create positive change, such as helping families eligible for Housing Choice Vouchers relocate to higher-opportunity neighborhoods in Massachusetts.

The creators of the COI 3.0 have provided recommendations for policymakers at all levels to improve equitable access to neighborhood opportunity, including reducing child poverty, increasing access to higher-opportunity neighborhoods through zoning reform, and improving children’s access to quality schools via school assignment reform.

#ChildOpportunityIndex #NeighborhoodInequity #EquitableAccess #ClosingTheGap

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