Study: Hamilton County in Bottom Quarter for Income Mobility

Hamilton County is worse than roughly 75 percent of counties in the United States when it comes to income mobility.

May 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

Hamilton County is worse than roughly 75 percent of counties in the United States when it comes to income mobility.

A recent study by Harvard economists looks at how much income a child will make by age 26 as a function of what county they grow up in. The more likely a low-income child in an area is to add to their annual household income as they grow up, the more income mobility that area offers.
The results for Hamilton County reveal both economic and gender inequalities.

The revelation about income mobility for poor children comes as Cincinnati and the surrounding area struggle with high poverty rates.

One-third of Cincinnati’s almost 298,000 residents live below the federal poverty line, including one-half of the city’s children. Overall, 18 percent of the population of the Greater Cincinnati area lives in poverty.
Poor children in Hamilton County can statistically expect to lose $810 from their yearly household income over time. That loss is not evenly distributed, however.

Poor males will actually do better over time to the tune of $700 a year, while poor females will do much, much worse — statistically, they can expect to be down almost $2,700 a year by age 26.
Further up the income spectrum, Hamilton County children do much better, though a gender gap persists. Boys in average-income households can expect to see their median household income rise by about $1,000 a year as they grow up, while girls will see theirs drop by $210 a year.

Interestingly, the gender income gap is reversed here among wealthy earners. For households making $100,000 or more, children in Hamilton County can expect to see an income boost of $1,770 a year — $1,280 more for boys and $2,430 more for girls. And for the top 1 percent of households, those making over $500,000 a year, children growing up in Hamilton County can expect to make $2,690 a year more as they grow up. Again, girls, who can expect to make $4,570 more, far outpace boys, who can expect only $1,370 more yearly.

Nearby counties fared better in terms of income mobility for the poor. Warren County, for instance, saw positive income growth across the board.

There, poor children can expect to see their household incomes rise by $2,500 by the time they’re 26, and that rise is nearly equal among males and females. Warren ranks highest in the Greater Cincinnati area for income mobility among poor children.

The study uses reams of data from nearly every county across the country to paint a big picture of what income mobility looks like in America.