Intergenerational mobility of low-income youth in metropolitan and non-metropolitan America: A spatial analysis

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© 2018 The Author(s). Regional Science Policy and Practice © 2018 RSAI Average absolute upward mobility is greater for youth in non-metropolitan counties than in metropolitan counties. What may be more important for upward mobility of low-income youth, however, is not whether their county is metro or non-metro but rather how far their county is from metropolitan centres. We test this hypothesis and find support for the conclusion that distance is a significant predictor of upward mobility, that remoteness from central metro counties is associated with higher upward mobility. We also find that the association of other factors with upward mobility differs between metro and non-metro counties. The shares of single-mother families and income inequality have a smaller negative association with upward mobility in metro than non-metro counties. The high school dropout rate, on the other hand, has a much larger negative association with upward mobility in metro than in non-metro areas, suggesting that the quality of the school system matters more in urban areas. Better spatial job matching and higher social capital, by contrast, are more positively correlated with mobility in non-metro counties than in metro counties, suggesting that specific place-based rural policies may have more potential to increase upward mobility in rural areas.

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Regional Science Policy and Practice

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