Study: Where You Live is Key Factor in Climbing Income Ladder

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Pack your bags, kids.

A startling new study out this morning reveals that location remains a significant barrier in climbing the income ladder. And the news is not good for Idahoans. The research found that rising to another income level occurs most often in the Northeast, Great Plains and far West.

In fact, the research says children from the bottom one-fifth of the income level in the Boise area have a 7.5 percent chance to rise to the top one-fifth of income levels. The odds are a bit better in the McCall area (10.2 percent) and the Salmon area (19.9 percent).

The study—based on millions of anonymous earnings records and published in this morning's New York Times—is the first of its kind to track upward mobility across metropolitan areas.

The big losers in the survey are the Southeast and industrial Midwest with income climbing occurring less often in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., Raleigh, N.C., Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. Conversely, some of the higher rates occurred in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors, told the Times. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

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