In Baton Rouge, the richest kids get richer while the poorest kids get poorer, study shows

For East Baton Rouge Parish children who grow up in a family that is among the richest in the area, life is “pretty good” and the advantages that wealth brings contribute to considerably higher average salaries later in life than their peers nationally—unless you’re a girl.

But for those who come from even moderately wealthy families, being raised in Baton Rouge doesn’t lead to a better salary or provide for much upward mobility, according to a new study from The Equality of Opportunity Project, which is led by economists at Harvard and Berkeley.

And if you’re raised in a family here that is among the poorest, you’ll likely earn much less as an adult than your peers in other cities across the country.

“East Baton Rouge Parish is extremely bad for income mobility for children in poor families,” concludes the reports, which shows East Baton Rouge is among “the worst” counties or parishes in the U.S. for upward mobility among its poorest residents.

The study includes earnings data from every county or parish in the United States, and it measures the gain or loss in income for men and women at age 26 as compared to their peers in other cities who grew up in households with similar incomes. The average level of household income for a 26-year-old American is $26,000, the study says.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, if you were born into a family that is among the wealthiest 1% in the area, then you’ll make about $2,110 more annually than your peers on average nationally.

“East Baton Rouge Parish is pretty good for children in families in the top 1%. It is better than about 77% of counties,” says the study.

The data shows upward mobility is best in Baton Rouge among boys from the wealthiest 1% of families. They’ll earn an average of $5,570 more a year than their peers at age 26, which places them in the 99th percentile nationally. However, girls here from families in the top 1% will earn $2,210 less on average than their peers across the country by age 26.

On the flip side, if you were born into a poor family in East Baton Rouge Parish, as defined as those with household incomes at or below 25% of the national average, then by age 26 you’ll earn about $3,620 less per year than your peers nationally.

For those from families in the 50th and 75th percentile of average earners, the data show upward mobility is also difficult. Among those from the 50th percentile, East Baton Rouge Parish children by age 26 will earn about $1,730 less than their peers nationally while those from families in the 75th percentile will earn about $360 more annually.

Read the complete story by The New York Times on the study and access an interactive map of the findings.

—Steve Sanoski

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