A new report from the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University shows that most white children in the U.S. live in neighborhoods of opportunity while most Black and Hispanic children live in neighborhoods with low opportunity. In fact, across the 100 largest metros, the majority of white (65%) and Asian (62%) children live in high- or very high-opportunity neighborhoods but the majority of Black (67%) and Hispanic children (58%) live in very low- or low-opportunity neighborhoods. Black children are 7.6 times and Hispanic children 5.3 times more likely to live in very low-opportunity neighborhoods than white children.
The researchers created a Child Opportunity Index that analyzed 72,000 neighborhoods or census tracts in the U.S. The index measures a range of neighborhood conditions that shape child outcomes, such as the availability and quality of early education centers and schools, high school graduation rates, the number of adults with high-skill jobs, poverty and employment rates, air pollution levels, housing vacancy and home ownership rates, and the availability of green spaces and healthy food options. Each neighborhood received a composite score and was assigned an opportunity level: very low, low, moderate, high, or very high opportunity.
“Neighborhoods matter for children’s health and development,” write the report’s authors. “All children in the United States should live in neighborhoods with access to good schools, healthy foods, safe parks and playgrounds, clean air, safe housing and living-wage jobs for the adults in their lives. However, far too many children in the U.S. live in neighborhoods that lack these conditions.”