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Royal Baby? Poor Newborns in L.A. Have 1 in 10 Chance of Achieving Wealth

Royal Baby? Poor Newborns in L.A. Have 1 in 10 Chance of Achieving Wealth
Zitona / Flickr

We know you're having conniptions over the birth of the royal baby. This boy will never worry about paying the rent, that's for sure.

But what about the average newborn in L.A? What chance does she have at achieving wealth? Turns out researchers from Harvard University and UC Berkeley have crunched the numbers and come up with a remarkably exact figure:

About a 10 percent chance for Southern California and the Bay Area. In other words, according to the study called "The Economic Impacts of Tax Expenditures," a SoCal baby born into poverty, or the bottom fifth of income earners, has about a 1 in 10 chance of making it to the top fifth.

Of course, a royal baby has about 100 percent chance making into the top 1 percent, innit?

The exact rate of upward mobility for L.A., Orange County and the Inland Empire is 9.6 percent, the research shows; for San Diego it's 10.4 percent; and for the Bay Area it's 11.2 percent.

(These exact numbers were collected by the New York Times).

That's not bad, but not great. Parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming have some of the highest rates of upward mobility -- 25 to 30 percent and more -- probably because young people get the hell out as soon as they can. Just our guess.

On the low end you have the Republican stronghold of the Deep South, with rates as sorry as 3.9 percent for Montgomery, Alabama, for example.

Royal Baby? Poor Newborns in L.A. Have 1 in 10 Chance of Achieving Wealth
The lighter the color, the lower the chances of making it. Map via Harvard/UC Berkeley.

Because small government and tax cuts for the wealthy really do work for breeding Americans with an equal chance to bootstrap themselves to success, right? We kid.

Actually, the researchers found that tax policy doesn't explain the disparity:

Although tax policies may account for some of the variation in outcomes across areas, much variation remained to be explained. To understand what is driving this variation and better isolate the effects of the tax expenditures themselves, we considered other sets of factors that have been proposed in prior work. Here, we found significant correlations between intergenerational mobility and income inequality, economic and racial residential segregation, measures of K-12 school quality (such as test scores and high school dropout rates), social capital indices, and measures of family structure (such as the fraction of single parents in an area). Each of these correlations remained strong even after controlling for measures of tax expenditures.

The moral of this story is, of course, that the South is a backwater in so many ways, which is not exactly breaking news. As for SoCal? At least you have a chance at the dream.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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