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Neighborhood and Life Chances
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Neighborhood and Life Chances
How Place Matters in Modern America

Edited by Harriet B. Newburger, Eugenie L. Birch, and Susan M. Wachter

392 pages | 6 x 9 | 34 illus.
Paper 2013 | ISBN 9780812222654 | $32.50s | Outside the Americas £24.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series City in the Twenty-First Century
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"Neighborhood and Life Chances is for the most part an examination of studies on changing urban communities and what happens when families move from impoverished urban neighborhoods to mixed-income communities. . . . The variety and expertise of its contributors, coupled with a successful editing effort to maintain a unified style and coherent voice, make this book an interesting read."—Urban Geography

"There is much material here that should interest those who care about American city neighborhoods as well as the experience, effects, and challenges of alleviating urban poverty."—Annals of the Association of American Geographers

"Public policy interventions do not, sadly, guarantee success at work—or in life. However, Newburger, Birch, and Wachter have illuminated through well-documented research how place can dramatically impact the odds of success."—Nicolas P. Retsinas, Director, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University

"This book is a fascinating compendium of insights and research about the impact of place on a wide range of human behaviors—from health to crime. If you think place matters, but you aren't sure why or how much, you need this book."—Alice M. Rivlin, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

"Social progress and economic opportunity in our society are national ideals but they are realistically advanced in the physical places where Americans live and work. Support for these ideals must exist in our neighborhoods, cities, and metropolitan areas. Neighborhood and Life Chances captures this reality with precision and helps us understand it so that we can act on it."—Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and current Executive Chairman, CityView

"This collection of essays shows the historical 'people vs. places' urban policy debate to have been a false dichotomy—a difference without distinction. The contributors to this volume convincingly demonstrate that place matters, and that if our political leaders are committed to returning zip code to a metric of residential location rather than a forecast of household destiny, they will benefit from the insights presented in this rich mixture of smart, data-informed policy analysis."—Michael A. Stegman, Director of Policy and Housing, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Does the place where you lived as a child affect your health as an adult? To what degree does your neighbor's success influence your own potential? The importance of place is increasingly recognized in urban research as an important variable in understanding individual and household outcomes. Place matters in education, physical health, crime, violence, housing, family income, mental health, and discrimination—issues that determine the quality of life, especially among low-income residents of urban areas.

Neighborhood and Life Chances: How Place Matters in Modern America brings together researchers from a range of disciplines to present the findings of studies in the fields of education, health, and housing. The results are intriguing and surprising, particularly the debate over Moving to Opportunity, an experiment conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, designed to test directly the effects of relocating individuals away from areas of concentrated poverty. Its results, while strong in some respects, showed very different outcomes for boys and girls, with girls more likely than boys to experience positive outcomes. Reviews of the literature in education and health, supplemented by new research, demonstrate that the problems associated with residing in a negative environment are indisputable, but also suggest the directions in which solutions may lie.

The essays collected in this volume give readers a clear sense of the magnitude of contemporary challenges in metropolitan America and of the role that place plays in reinforcing them. Although the contributors suggest many practical immediate interventions, they also recognize the vital importance of continued long-term efforts to rectify place-based limitations on lifetime opportunities.

Harriet B. Newburger is Community Development Research Advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. At the University of Pennsylvania, Eugenie L. Birch is Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research and Education and Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the School of Design, and Susan M. Wachter is Richard B. Worley Professor of Financial Management and Professor of Real Estate and Finance at The Wharton School and Professor of City and Regional Planning at the School of Design. Together, Birch and Wachter direct the Penn Institute for Urban Research and are the coeditors of Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina and Growing Greener Cities: Urban Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century, both available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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