(For those not familiar with Northern Virginia, ironically the only place I speak more Arabic outside of Arab countries than anywhere else, specifically in the United States, even after hearing NJ is Little Egypt.)
Anyway, cool story, man. Would love to see you write more about it!
In Virginia, you meet many new immigrants. And in Bethesda area of Maryland and the surrounding area of DC, there are many established Lebanese families (gathering from the church events and more formal social events I was invited to).
Again, these are one man's anecdotes.
similar story of a refugee attributing his good fortune to chance
I'll avoid posting any spoilers
Watch out for the Ebola-infected lab monkeys :)
Welcome to the States, and congrats with your successes; your life story already sounds like something worthy of an inspirational (auto)biography.
they use your local data several times throughout the article.
I think this is one of the best examples of a news article written in 2015.
1. Role model availability plays a huge part in what kids think they can be. I didn't have good role models when I grew up. Except for teachers and doctors I encountered, I rarely met educated middle-class adults, and even more rarely met upper class. I think this is a big aspect of the neighborhood thing... what kinds of people live in that neighborhood? What is the social life of the parents?
2. Tribalism goes both ways. The poor distrust the middle class as much as the middle class distrusts the poor. A great deal of the business transactions the poor experience are exploitation, businesses that take advantage of the weakness of the poor, either by force (this is the only deal you'll get), or by ignorance (trust me, you'll do great!).
So the benefits of living in a better neighborhood are that there are better adult examples for children, and there are professional services that have to provide to more sophisticated and strong middle-class customers as well as the poor.
In public policy, that's going to be a killer.
I'm trying to think of what could be responsible for the above average outcomes in this area, and not coming up with much. The best reason I have is that it's a very family focused area. The 'default' path for most people is to get married, have kids, and put parenting before their career. This is quite different from what I see now, living in the bay area.
When overlaid on top the NYT map, seems to smooth out some of the outliers.
Counties are a crude way in which to break down this data, however, as many urban counties comprise a huge variance in income.
In metros like the Bay Area, where people routinely commute across county borders for work and housing, this analysis doesn't show how upper-middle-class to wealthy areas like San Mateo effectively outsource the housing of the working poor to places like Alameda county (mostly to places like East Oakland), thus compounding the concentration of poverty.
At the least, I'd like to see the actual income/wealth (and race) breakdown of the population of the counties highlighted, to give more context to the maps.
Look at upstate NY, counties in central NY with economies in freefall have good outcomes vs more prosperous counties with less urban population.
Having grown up in a small town in my teenage years and NYC in my younger years, it makes sense to me. People care about the neighbors in small towns. In the city, not so much.
I think if it made more of an effort upfront to show that certain aspects of the following article will change based on your location and identified what those parts were, the effect would have been cool instead of weird.
I noticed this in high school, when it started becoming popular for inner city families to ship their kids out to the suburban schools to get them away from "bad influences". Many of those kids had already been programmed by their peers to think that working hard and doing well was uncool.
The American desire to succeed brings a lot of pressure. I sometimes think we want too much--too quick. I think about our suicide rate and cringe.
Ooo... yes you do. As an Australian travelling across the US in 2009, I felt a little stifled at social expectations. Americans like to point at crazy people and other outliers as examples of their freedom, but there's a lot of social conservatism. Simple examples include political speeches that love to mention god (don't even think of being an atheist), and whatever you do, don't criticise the troops. And there's definitely more conformity against casual swearing than back home.
One archaic but interesting example was when I stayed with a couple of ex-pat retirees. I brought them a small present as thanks for letting me stay with them, apologising that it wasn't much as I was on a shoestring. They mentioned that amongst their age group, there was this weird phenomenon where if you visited with someone, it didn't matter how many thank-you presents you bought during the visit, or how much you spent entertaining your hosts - if you didn't send a 'thank you' note when you got home, it was a minor scandal. They did care to mention that it didn't really happen with younger people anymore, but it was common with their age group.
I forget if there is a name for this phenomena, probably, but people are strongly biased towards thinking that they are open minded, that they don't like conformity etc. Everyone likes to think that they are accepting of new ideas, that they are adventurous, that they are forging their own path and so on.
Conversely no one likes to them of themselves as being prone to conformity, sensitive to peer pressure, fearful of ideas that challenge their own assumptions or fearful of being exposed to criticism or ridicule.
As a result people are very fond of saying that they are open minded and that they don't like conformity even though its not necessarily borne out by their actions.
Its also worth keeping in mind that this kind of belief is closely tied to a person's identity (as they see it) so challenging it can result in them getting extremely defensive and angry. By challenging it you are pointing out the gap between how they actually are and how they imagine themselves to be.
Allen County has better opportunities, higher per family income, and a substantially higher minority population. The map shows a $5.5K advantage for the poor white suburb, so it seems that race matters more than the rich part.
There are other factors that obviously affect this, but looks like that's the real dominant factor. Drastically changing location is the best way to quickly increase wage, and these towns do that, like tossing a young bird out of a nest.
At age 26 I was in more debt than I was at any point in my life... Basically this completely ignores time and money invested in education.
And I'm not sure how one would control for it if the cut-off is at 26, because people who did odd jobs in college would come out way better off than those who haven't.
Overall, it looks a little suspicious to me because the Manhattan island looks like one of the worst places to move to especially for upper class, but also has one of the highest education levels in the county.
Over the generations, the different races in America regress toward different means. So white kids growing up in almost all white West Virginia tend to do better than their parents because they are likely to get the heck out of supposedly high opportunity West Virginia (which you and me know is the worst place in White America), especially for places like Charlotte and Atlanta, which Chetty sees as black holes of low social mobility.
In contrast, Atlanta attracts affluent college graduate black families. Their kids tend to regress part way back toward the black mean, so it makes Atlanta look bad under Chetty’s methodology.
But in the real world, his results are close to 180 degrees backwards to wise advice: if you are white and young in West Virginia, hit the road; if you are black and looking for a community with a lot of black college graduates to be good role models for your kids, consider Atlanta’s suburbs.
As I explained on my blog in 2014:
Notice that according to Chetty West Virginia is an oasis of income mobility in the East, while nearby North Carolina is an abyss of stasis. Yet, lots of people raised in West Virginia who have something on the ball have moved to North Carolina to get ahead in life.
Since West Virginia is only about 5% black and has attracted very few Hispanics and Asians, the bottom 20% of West Virginians in income are majority white, so their children tend to regress toward the white mean, which is higher than the black mean. The bottom 20% in income in the Charlotte or Atlanta area is highly black, so their children tend to regress toward the black mean. Thus, West Virginia comes out looking better for social mobility than Atlanta and Charlotte in Chetty’s methodology.
This doesn’t mean that if you had a peek around the Rawlsian curtain of ignorance, you’d choose to be born in West Virginia because of its strong social mobility. If you knew you were going to be born white, West Virginia would probably be last on your list of states to be born into. Nor does it mean that Blue State policies increase social mobility relative to red state policies. It’s just mostly Moynihan’s Canadian Border effect in action.
And then I beat up Chetty’s methodology some more here.
The general lesson of the success of Chetty’s Malcolm Gladwell-quality work is that race is such a minefield that it inclines everybody, even sharp nonwhite guys like Chetty, into Orwellian crimestop, or protective stupidity.
If we want our presidential candidates to get access to better social policy discourse, we need to stop wrecking the careers of the Jason Richwines, James D. Watsons, and Larry Summers for the crime of telling the truth.
1. There are a lot of troubled youth 'programs' there. Wealthy parents send their children to a depopulated part of Montana to keep them out of trouble, and then they return to the advantages of their family's income. One member of my high school's graduating class works for his dad's investment bank, for instance.
2. The data might not include people who don't graduate high shcool(?) or it might not include dishwashers and convenience store clerks. I'd like to know how the data was gathered.
3. Small sample sizes which include outliers give distorted results. One early-stage Dropbox engineer makes a big difference when the entire county graduated 300 people from high school that year.
1. Top X% of what? The top 1% of earners in the community? The nation?
2. Does income data for a "child" reflect back on all the locations they previously lived or does it reflect solely on the county they currently live in? e.x. If I am a child who moved many times, and at age 26 live in a place where I did not grow up, which locations' income differences are affected by my income?
1. Annual income of 500k in the 80's and 90's using 2012 dollars
2. County kids born from '80 to '86 living in during the 80s and 90s.
Basically, if you don't fit the profile of a family that never moved from the same house in the suburbs, you aren't included. Also, take a look at the national map. It would seem the plains are the best place for upward mobility, but I get the feeling they forgot to control for some confounding variable.
Also, the breakdowns show some Simpsons paradox, where individual counties might be very good for boys or girls, but are on average much worse. I'm sure a racial breakdown would show similar issues.
The article does explicitly discusses this as well, saying: "To remove variation that was simply caused by different types of people living in different areas, Mr. Chetty and Mr. Hendren based the latest estimates on the incomes of more than five million children who moved between areas when they were growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. These estimates are causal: They suggest moving a given child to a new area would in fact cause him or her to do better or worse."
They say that it suggests that this is the case, and discuss what the researchers did to try to isolate cause.
For example, say you grow up rich in the Bay Area. Then move to the midwest for work. Your household income in the Bay growing up might have been 300k. Then in Minneapolis, MN you and your husband earn 200k total.
You're standard of living has stayed the same or even increased, even though your household income has gone down by 33%.
Wow! This is a real sleeper. You risk unknowingly revealing your location when commenting on this type of story.