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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A new study shows that Johnson and Wise Counties are great places for kids to grow up… especially low-income kids who are hoping to break out of the poverty cycle.

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Augustin Bergeron, a pre-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, helped write The Equality of Opportunity Report, which basically says that, just like with homes and property, location matters when it comes to growing up in America. Bergeron said, “It matters in such a way that every extra year you spend in a better environment improves your long-term outcome.”

The project looked at poor kids who at some time during their childhood moved to a different city or town. Researchers found that exposure to a better environment improved a child’s chances of success.

Bergeron gave an example of some of the economic advances a poor child could make if they lived in a different area in North Texas. “Growing up in Wise County improves the kids outcome by 12-percent of median outcome for a poor family, which is something like an increase in income of $4,000 or $5,000. Whereas growing up in Dallas [County] has a negative impact of something like $2,000.”

After looking at the data officials with the ACLU said the report makes it clear that if a city or state wants to create equality of opportunity, they have to “start by making sure all families have access to high opportunity neighborhoods.”

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Obviously when looking at Dallas County and Johnson County there are inherent difference, most notably predominantly urban versus predominantly rural. Bergeron explained that this phase of the Equality of Opportunity Project focused on families who moved across areas to study how neighborhoods affect upward mobility.

“Initially we thought it might be due to the fact that city centers might have bad characteristics,” Bergeron said, further explaining, “but what we found globally is that counties that have higher rates of upward mobility tend to have five characteristics.”

Counties that offer the nest chance or low-income children to succeed generally:

  • Have less segregation, by income and by race
  • Have lower levels of income inequality
  • Have better schools
  • Have lower rates of violent crime
  • Have a larger percentage of two-parent households

When looking at Texas, the best two places for poor children to make advances were in Johnson and Wise Counties. The worst two counties for poor Texas children were Galveston and Travis.

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