“Right now the biggest predictor of how a child will do in life is the ZIP Code in which they are born,” according to Eva Gladstein head of Philadelphia’s Office of Community Empowerment as reported at CBSnews.com. One of the major global demographic trends for well over a century has been the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas. Their driving impetus as reported by sociologists who study the phenomenon is that they are looking for a better life for themselves and a better future for their children. For most of them it seems that even living in urban squalor is superior to staying in poverty-stricken rural areas.
The rural heartland of America has for decades been losing its population to nearby cities. The standard practice since World War II is for children growing up in rural areas to go off to the nearest city for work and education and never return to the rural areas.
The accompanying major trend is the movement from inner-city to the outer rings to improve life and provide a better future for children. One of the main concerns of parents today in choosing where to live, if they feel like they have the choice, is where they can get the best education for their children along with the most desirable subcultural surroundings for them to grow up in. This is what wise parents do.
Since so much of child rearing is the non-deliberate influence on children from their surrounding sub culture starting with the parents, going to other adults then to their peers, the choice of where to have your children grow up is vitally important in shaping how their lives will turn out.
I would suggest – and I think the data would back it up – that after the ZIP Code in which you were born being of most critical importance, the ZIP Code to which you move as soon as possible with the greatest opportunity for your family and your children would be a close second as a predictor of how your child will do in life.