Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Mindy Adnot
In 2014, Raj Chetty and the Opportunity Insights Report found that out of the top 100 U.S. commuting zones, Charlotte, NC, ranks dead last in upward economic mobility and New York City, NY, ranks fifth highest in the nation. New York is my home city, and I was surprised to hear that economic mobility is so much high here than here in Charlotte. I set out to find how different socio-economic contributors account for the difference in mobility measures between Charlotte and New York City. I am especially interested in differences in early childhood education and racial segregation in the two cities, as these two factors are delineated by the Charlotte Leading on Opportunity task force report as “key determinants” of upward economic mobility. Using Opportunity Insights data frames, I first analyzed the effects of different demographic factors on upward mobility in the largest 100 commuting zones of the US. I then went on to more specifically analyze early childhood education and racial segregation within the cities of Charlotte and New York. I utilized census data frames and early education data frames from NYC open data to do this. I had to perform joining, separating, and other relational data techniques to use the NYC ECE data I found. By producing visualizations, I was able to make sense of trends in these data. I found that geographic racial segregation in New York and Charlotte are both similarly high, by producing map plots. By comparing NYC and Charlotte child care center metrics, mapped on to racial statistics, I found that access to child care in both cities is not racially skewed. However, the quality of child care centers in Charlotte decreases significantly in high-minority areas, much more than in New York city. I come away from my analysis believing that I may have found a determinant of lower upward mobility in Charlotte: a lack of racial equity in the quality of early education. This suggests a lack of racial diversity in early education in Charlotte as well. New York City has more racial equity in the quality of early childhood education than Charlotte does; however, this likely only one of the many factors that gives the New York such high levels of upward mobility. The Charlotte Leading on Opportunity Task Force report underscores the importance of quality early childhood education and racial diversity in schools; the minority communities of Charlotte are certainly lacking in these two areas. It seems that there are other more broad factors that increase mobility in New York City: perhaps the presence of a larger foreign born population and international commerce?