A recent study by researchers from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley found that Atlanta is one of the worst places in the country for upward mobility. Economists see the new information as proof that conditions in different areas are what hold the people in those areas back, and that the blame should not be put on the individuals alone.
The study, which was based on millions of anonymous earnings records, found that a child raised in Atlanta’s bottom fifth income bracket has only a 4 percent chance of ever reaching the top fifth.
A New York Times article on the subject suggested that “extensive traffic,” “concentrated poverty,” and a sub-par public transit system make it difficult for individuals to find job opportunities in Atlanta.
Public transportation was pointed to as the most salient challenge to Atlantans seeking to improve their socio-economic standing.
“On average, a poor person in the suburbs can only reach 18 percent of Atlanta’s jobs,” the report reads. “What’s worse, those commutes can take up to ninety minutes each way.”
While the study found that cities with large Black populations were more likely to have lower upward mobility rates, the problem can’t be clearly defined as something that exists along racial lines. The Times also mentioned that in Atlanta both Blacks and Whites have a low likelihood of increasing their socioeconomic standing.
Other southern cities like Charlotte, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., and Raleigh, N.C., as well as some midwestern cities like Indianapolis and Cincinnati, also had poor upward mobility rates. Some of the highest upward mobility rates could be found in New York City, Boston, Salt Lake City and parts of California.
(Photo: A poverty map of the Atlanta metro area)