Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
A new interactive tool rates neighborhoods on the "Child Opportunity Index"—a quality-of-life scale for young residents.
Approximately 49 million children live in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States—that's two-thirds of America's total under-18 population. But some places are healthier places for children to grow up than others. A new interactive tool rates U.S. neighborhoods on how healthy they are for child development and maps who lives in them.
The tool is a part of a project called diversitydatakids.org run by Brandeis University's Heller School of Social Policy and Management and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. It measures how neighborhoods fare on the "Child Opportunity Index"—a scale that evaluates neighborhoods on all the conditions and resources available to kids for healthy physical, social, and cognitive development, says Dolores Acevedo-Garcia of the Heller School.
One of the project's key findings is that a disproportionate share of minority children live in unhealthy neighborhoods. About 40 percent of black children and 32 percent of Hispanic children reside in neighborhoods that don't do well on the Child Development Index. On the other hand, only 9 percent of white children live in such neighborhoods.
Obviously, these percentages vary depending on where you live. In Albany, New York, 60 percent of the metro region's black children (indicated by blue dots in the map below) live in the unhealthiest regions (marked "very low" in the map's light-colored areas):
On the other hand, only 8 percent of the African American children who live in McAllen, Texas, live in neighborhoods that score "very low" on the "Child Opportunity Index" scale:
Similarly, 57 percent of Hispanic kids live in neighborhoods in Boston (below, top), that aren't good for their development, but in New Orleans (below, bottom), only 10 percent of Hispanic children live in such neighborhoods:
Incidentally, the study rates Albany and Boston as the worst cities for equitable child development. Check out how your city, county and district score here.