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Some Rural Areas Are Better for Economic Mobility

Kids from many rural areas have a better chance at upward mobility than those who grow up in urban areas, but it varies from place to place, and from neighborhood to neighborhood.
An elementary school in Oklahoma City.
An elementary school in Oklahoma City.Rick Wilking/Reuters

This is the third of a series of posts that explore the myths and realities of America’s urban-rural divide. This one reviews recent research on the economic mobility of children who grow up in rural and urban areas. For an overview of the series and the data and methodology we use, see the first post in this series.

When it comes to economic mobility, the image that comes to mind is one of savvy, ambitious kids from the cities and suburbs of large superstar metro areas like New York, Boston, and San Francisco getting ahead, while children from more isolated, rural areas fall further and further behind.