Apr 29, 2024 - News

Where Atlanta kids have the most — and least — opportunity

Credit: Jared Whalen, Alice Feng/Axios Visuals

A new analysis illustrates how metro areas like Atlanta can be economic powerhouses while significant childhood opportunity gaps remain in their communities.

Why it matters: Childhood opportunity significantly influences a person's life, factoring into educational and career progress, life expectancy and more.

How it works: The Child Opportunity Index, from the DiversityDataKids.org project at Brandeis University, seeks to quantify the opportunity afforded to each child based on several factors tied to where they live, including education, health, environment and socioeconomics.

  • Based on those factors, the report assigns a score of 1 to 100 to each census tract, with 1 representing the least childhood opportunity and 100 the most.

By the numbers: According to the index, Black children living in Atlanta have a score that's 37 points below white children. For Hispanic children, it's 34 points below.

Zoom in: Suburban neighborhoods, like Roswell, Johns Creek and Alpharetta, have very high zones of opportunity compared to southern metro Atlanta neighborhoods, save for Fayette County.

  • Neighborhoods near Meriwether County, where 16.6% of the population lives in poverty, have some of the lowest scores in the metro region.

Zoom out: Augusta has one of the lowest opportunity scores.

Flashback: In 2013, researchers from Harvard and UC-Berkeley released a landmark study that found a child born into a low-income household in Atlanta had a less than 4% chance of escaping poverty in their lifetime.

  • The study helped contextualize Atlanta's deep socioeconomic disparities that had been long visible in the city and growing in the suburbs.
  • It also underscored a painful truth: Atlanta might be economically thriving, but too many families were trapped in generational poverty.

What they're saying: "These inequities ... are neither natural nor random," Brandeis professor and report author Dolores Acevedo-Garcia said in a statement.

  • "They're driven by systemic inequities such as high segregation and policies that enable opportunity hoarding."

Explore the interactive metro map and data

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