Moving and the Neighborhood Glass Ceiling

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Science  21 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6101, pp. 1464-1465
DOI: 10.1126/science.1227881

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Twenty-five years ago, William J. Wilson drew widespread attention to increases in the concentration of poverty in the United States and the diminished life chances of “the truly disadvantaged” (1). The hypothesis that growing up in a severely deprived neighborhood threatens well-being is rooted in a long scientific tradition. From Victorian London to present-day America, research has shown links between neighborhood poverty and outcomes such as crime, economic dependency, poor physical health, teenage pregnancy, and school dropout (2). But could the characteristics of individuals living in deprived neighborhoods explain these observed associations rather than the characteristics of the neighborhood itself (3)? On page 1505 of this issue, Ludwig et al. (4) address this question by analyzing the results of a policy project that supported neighborhood relocation.