Map courtesy of kidscount.org
The number of Ohio children living in areas of high poverty is 12 percent, according to a new study released today by the Kids Count Data Snapshot, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (Read more here.)
That’s a pretty startling number all by itself, but it’s really shocking when you consider that’s a 60 percent increase since 2000.
According to the study:
Research indicates that as neighborhood poverty rates increase, undesirable outcomes rise and opportunities for success are less likely. The effects of concentrated poverty begin to appear once neighborhood poverty rates rise above 20 percent and continue to grow as the concentration of poverty increases up to the 40 percent threshold.
This report defines areas of concentrated poverty as those census tracts with poverty rates of 30 percent or more because it is a commonly used threshold that lies between the starting point and leveling off point for negative neighborhood effects. The 2010 federal poverty threshold is $22,314 per year for a family of four.
In general, most of the Midwest fell in the 10 to 15 percent area. It’s not as bad as some places in the South with traditions of poverty problems.
The organization has its own ideas on how to chip away at this problem:
- Promoting community change efforts that integrate physical revitalization with human capital development.
- Leveraging “anchor institutions” to build strong, supportive communities for children and families.
- Promoting proven and promising practices in the areas of work supports, asset building and employment.
I’m not sure there’s any value in working on the second two until you hit the first one pretty hard. Unfortunately, many people living in poverty are living in generational poverty. We need to figure out how to break the cycle before we start investing huge chunks of money into areas of poverty.
And by we, I mean the private sector. Frankly, the private sector and the economy succeed when low-income individuals pick up meaningful work at reasonable pay rates.
Some of this is based on policy decisions too. Not to harp on how great Indiana seems to be doing, but I’d note its high-poverty rate of 8 percent is lower than much of the country. And frankly, the two states aren’t that different, aside from its pro-business approach.
What would you do to correct this problem?