Intergenerational Impacts of Concentrated Poverty – What Can Be Done?

Poverty & Race forum, July/August 2013, available here

“Patrick Sharkey’s powerful new book, Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2013), brings a multi-generational dimension to the study of how children are affected by living in our poorest neighborhoods, and poses provocative questions about the kinds of policies that might actually address these intergenerational impacts. Research by Sharkey, an Associate Professor of Sociology at NYU, shows that neighborhood poverty during childhood accounts for more than a quarter of the racial gap in economic mobility, and further that neighborhood disadvantages experienced by children do not fade away as they move into adulthood, but continue to have an impact on their own children’s development a generation later. These findings take on an additional urgency in a country where 70 percent of families living in concentrated poverty neighborhoods in 1972 are still living in similar neighborhoods 40 years later. To address the multiple intergenerational impacts that he documents, Sharkey calls for a new kind of “durable” urban policy that has potential to reach multiple generations, to generate a lasting impact on families, and to be sustained over time. We have invited several of our Board and Social Science Advisory Board members to reflect on Sharkey’s analysis; this first response is from Marge Turner of the Urban Institute. — the editors” 

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