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Racial and Ethnic Inequality in the Duration of Children's Exposure to Neighborhood Poverty and Affluence
Abstract and Figures
Despite much scholarly attention to "neighborhood effects" on children, no study to date has measured the cumulative exposure of children to neighborhood poverty and affluence. In this article, I estimate racial and ethnic inequality in the amount of time children can expect to live in poor and nonpoor neighborhoods throughout childhood. At rates prevailing in the early- to mid-1990s, the average black child can expect to spend about 50 percent of her first 18 years in neighborhoods with poverty rates in excess of 20 percent. The corresponding figures for Latino and white children are about 40 percent and 5 percent, respectively. I find that black/white differences in childhood exposure to neighborhood poverty are largely accounted for by differences in the probability of being born into a poor neighborhood, and to a lesser degree by differences in rates of upward and downward neighborhood mobility during childhood. Finally, cross-period analyses indicate that white children's share of childhood in the most affluent neighborhood type increased steadily beginning in the late 1980s and that black children's exposure to the poorest neighborhood type increased rapidly in the mid-1980s and then declined sharply throughout the first half of the 1990s.
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