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February 20, 2007

« Risk, Reward and the New Class | Main | Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness »

Lot's of people talk about how important it is for regions to be good places for families and children. But few, if any, studies have provided detailed empirical evidence to compare cities and regions.  A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for Health Advancement has developed detailed rankings for the largest 100 metropolitan regions based upon measures of housing, neighborhood conditions, residential integration, education and health.

The best and worst lists after the jump. The full report is here (hat tip: Shari Young Kuchenbecker).

Best Metros for Children

Ann Arbor, MI; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MI-WI; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Newark, NJ; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV.

Colorado Spring, CO; Denver, CO; Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Portland-Vancouver, OR-WA; Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC; San Antonio, TX; San Jose, CA; Tucson, AZ; Vallejo-Fairfield-Napa, CA;

Austin-San Marcos, TX; Baltimore, MD; Monmouth-Ocean, NJ; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Newark, NJ; Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV

Ann Arbor, MI; Cincinnati, OH; Colorado Springs, CO; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Jacksonville, FL; Monmouth-Ocean, NJ; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA; Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV.

Worst Metros for Children

Bakersfield, CA; El Paso, TX; Fresno, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA; Miami, FL; Mobile, AL; Modesto, CA; New York, NY; Riverside-San Bernardino, CA; Stockton-Lodi, CA.


Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY; Chicago, IL; Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH; Fresno, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Louisville, KY; Miami, FL; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Rochester, NY.

Bakersfield, CA; Fresno, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Jersey City, NJ; Los Angeles- Long Beach, CA; Miami, FL; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; Modesto, CA; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA-NJ; Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA; Sacramento, CA; Stockton-Lodi, CA; Tacoma, WA.

Bakersfield, CA; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY; El Paso, TX; Fresno, CA; Hartford, CT; Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA; Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI; New York, NY; Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA; Rochester, NY; Springfield, MA; Syracuse, NY.


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How can a place be good for any children if it's not good for all children, regardless of race?

What kind of example does it set your child if these see that its okay for some children to be left behind by society?


Wendy - Welcome to the world of educational segregation US-style. Sickening isn't it. I remember people telling me when I lived in Pittsburgh, decent people - and remember Pittsburgh is a terribly segregated city and region - that they never, ever saw a middle-class African-American person until they went somewhere like New York, Chicago or Atlanta. Or take Washington DC where I live now. It has fantastic suburban and private schools for those with means. Immigrants increasingly move to the suburbs to gain access to those schools. So if you have the means to move to suburban Maryland or Northern Virgina your kids have access to some of the best schools in the US and the world. But if you're a poor African-American family trapped in Northeast, Southeast, or Southwest Washington, you're stuck in terrible schools. Same can be said of the Newark metro and many, many others. Have you looked at the report. I trolled it for an overall measure but could not find one. But to their credit, the authors are quite sensitive to this issue of differential educational opportunities and educational segregation.


I've lived in the US, and was shocked when I first moved there in 1993 at how segregated life really was. At TCU, the students were mostly white (save some of the athletes), the faculty and office staff were white, the cleaning staff was hispanic and the cooking staff was black.

I called this "segregated" and was strongly corrected by a famously liberal academic at the instituion who called this "integrated" because everyone worked in the same buildings.

What frustrates me, as a citizen of the US (as well as Canada) is the continuation of this segregationist language -- as I think it is perpetuating the idea that race comes before personhood. Everytime I visit the US I'm intrigued at the growing visibility of inter-racial families. On various American cable tv shows too we see mixed race couples and children.

These children are forced into racial groupings -- and those that resist (think Tiger Woods a few years back) are criticized by one racial activist or another. Barack Obama is another example -- he's been forced to call himself African American (or chooses to, not sure which). But does he have an option? people don't know what to do with him because he doesn't neatly fit American racial profiles. In discussions about him in the media
there is this inherent attitude showing that somehow he must have a race before he can be a person.

My (long-winded) point was/is that in selecting the best city in which to raise children, perhaps the one with the fewest visible differences between ethnic groups might be a good choice.


Wendy- I could not agree more. The US has one of the strictest racial classification systems in the world. All the while as race is fading into oblivion through inter-marriage and mixing. Anyway, the whole system was imposed by the British who tried to classify an incredible range of people under a simplistic set of racial categories. Plus geneticists have shown how there is greater diversity within races as between them. Question: Do you think Canada's mosaic ideal is a more reasonable system for dealing with this?


Canada and the United States have such different histories when it comes to multi-cultural immigration that I'm not sure there are too many applicable lessons the either country could pass along. And Canada has its own race-related problems, just different ones albeit perhaps less divisive.

One possible example for the US might be less state-sponsored race separation and definition. That is, giving people benefits based on race. The only group that really receives this in Canada are the aboriginal peoples, and they are the one group who stand out as continuing to struggle economically. It's a chicken and egg argument now -- what's the cause and what's the effect? or is it mutually reinforcing.

Perhaps Brazil would be a better place for the US to learn from -- again, not a place without racial tension. But if I remember correctly Brazilians are allowed to self identify as to their "color." I've heard that there are some 70 categories of race in that country as a result.

What if Americans were encouraged to self-identify race? Rather than having to fit into a state-imposed category? Could they be Mexican-German-Swedish Americans? or Cherokee-African-Anglo Americas? or would many simply come to call themselves "American?"

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