Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Community Investments Vol 22, Issue 1
Understanding How Place Matters for Kids

Author(s):

Spring 2010

Community Investments

A central goal of U.S. social welfare policy is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential as productive adults. Yet it is increasingly clear that where children live plays a central role in determining their life chances. Children growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods, with extreme levels of racial and economic segregation and inadequate public services—police, schools, sanitation, grocery stores—are at risk for a range of negative outcomes, including poor physical and mental health, cognitive delays, risky sexual behavior, and delinquency. The consequences for these children’s life chances—and for society—are severe: they are more likely than those who grow up in less distressed communities to drop out of high school, get involved in gangs, become teen parents, and less likely to be employed when they reach adulthood.

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