But the data don’t paint an entirely rosy picture for Madison. In a pattern researchers have mapped across the country, local black and Hispanic children are disproportionately concentrated in “very low opportunity” neighborhoods, and white children have significant advantages.
Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, urged area residents to take a hard look at how the city is serving all children, not just those in affluent neighborhoods.
“We should be careful not to over-celebrate when there are too many young people still hurting from the challenges we face in our region,” he said. “On one hand, it’s a great win for the city to get a score like that, but it’s not reflective of how African American families are actually living — especially kids.”
The study adds to a growing body of research demonstrating that the places where children grow up influence their long-term health, education and career outcomes. Most famously, economist Raj Chetty’s Opportunity Insights project has shown how a child’s future is shaped by the ZIP code he or she lives in.