Does Neighborhood Determine Personal Success?

Although the findings of a vast, decades-long study into the effectiveness of efforts to decrease the segregation of poor families did not turn up the results social scientists had hoped for, those efforts were successful in unexpected ways.
September 22, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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According to Sabrina Tavernise, social scientists had hoped that experiments begun in the 1990s to move poor families into more affluent communities would result in better jobs, higher incomes and more education. In findings reported last week in the journal Science, researchers noted those results did not happen. However, "What researchers did find were substantial improvements in the physical and mental health of the people who moved."

"This vast social experiment," notes Tavernise, "tested a long-held theory that neighborhood is an important determinant of an individual's success." If success is measured by higher incomes, than the answer seems to be no. But it turns out you can quantify happiness in relation to income level. And according to Jens Ludwig, a professor of public policy at the University of Chicago and the lead author of the study, "[t]he improvement [in happiness] was equal to the level of life satisfaction of someone whose annual income was $13,000 more a year."


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Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012 in The New York Times
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