CU study discounts effects of poverty on kids’ success

Article Last Updated: 12/14/2006 01:35:55 AM MST

Growing up in a bad neighborhood is not as harmful to a child’s future as conventional wisdom says it is, an eight-year study at the University of Colorado at Boulder found.

The study analyzed the successful development of children from different kinds of neighborhoods in Denver and Chicago and found that kids from high-poverty neighborhoods were doing much better than expected.

The rate of successful development for children from the best neighborhoods was 63 percent, while the success rate for children living in high-poverty, disadvantaged neighborhoods was 52 percent.

“There’s an 11-point difference between our worst neighborhoods and our best neighborhoods,” said study co-author Delbert Elliott, director of the CU-Boulder Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. “The idea that living in high-poverty, disorganized, disadvantaged neighborhoods is kind of a death sentence for kids is clearly not the case.”

The researchers used U.S. census data, personal interviews and focus groups to study 662 families and 820 youths ages 10 to 18 from 33 neighborhoods in Denver, and 545 families and 830 youths from 40 neighborhoods in Chicago.