More on the Power of Place: Neighborhoods Matter

This article is about more than just the role of the physical environment on one's life - but it points to the negative role that distressed places can have on succeeding generations.


Consider the ways that the immediate environment shapes a child’s development. It does so physically. Air and soil pollution, noise, and traffic, for example, measurably affect children’s health, stress, and cognitive development. Local institutions and resources, such as the policing, quality of the schools, availability of health services, food options, parks, and so on matter, as well. And the social environment may matter most of all. Growing up in a community with gangs, dangerous streets, discouraging role models, confused social expectations, and few connections to outsiders commanding resources is a burden for any child. Just getting by day-to-day can be a struggle. In a pair of studies, Sharkey found that a violent crime occurring near black children’s homes in the days before they took a standardized test reduced their scores on the test, presumably because of anxiety and distraction.

A bad environment can worsen the life chances not only of a child, but that of the child’s child.

Read the entire article here.

Hat tip to the Hannah Arendt Center