University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Alleviating Racial Disparities in Urban Communities: A Two-generation Approach

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March 2019

Lindsey Barrett

Abstract

The most recent U.S. American Community Survey revealed that despite a second year of growth for median income in Michigan, poverty rates for residents in the state’s poorest cities-- Detroit and Flint-- have stagnated. Survey results also uncover an alarming 48% and 58% child poverty rate in Detroit and Flint, respectively.1 Compared to other states, Michigan currently ranks 36th in U.S. child poverty. Children who grow up poor are more likely to earn less in the future, more likely to engage in crime, and more likely to experience poor health, generating large social costs for the state.2 The racial disparities that persist among children growing up in poverty should be considered a crisis for the state of Michigan. Local and state officials can look to two-generation programs to alleviate racial disparities in child poverty rates, deliver on the America’s promise of opportunity for its most vulnerable populations, and improve long-term economic outcomes for the state.

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