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One Chart That Explains A Big Issue Behind Baltimore Protests

Where you grow up matters.

When you talk to the people of west Baltimore, you'll hear a lot about how bleak the future looks for the children from that part of the city. The protests were certainly driven by the issue of policing, but they were also informed by the tough economic conditions of west Baltimore.

That's why a chart that our friends at Planet Money put together caught our eye. Take a look and pay close attention to the bottom of the list:

The data comes from a study by Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues who looked at data for millions of families who moved from one county to another.

What they found is that kids who grow up in Baltimore City will make, on average, nearly $3,500 less than the national average. Essentially, the economists estimated how much money simply living in Baltimore City is costing its children in earning potential.

The economists don't really get into the why of all of this, but they do describe what the counties at the top of the list have in common. Not surprisingly, perhaps, most of the counties at the top of that list have lower crime, better schools, more two-parent households, less segregation and lower income inequality. The counties at the bottom of the list? They tend to be more urban, poorer and with more racial segregation.

A couple of other findings of interest from the study:

-- Neighborhoods matter more for boys than girls with "some counties such as Baltimore and Wayne County in Detroit producing extremely negative outcomes for boys but less so for girls."

For example, a boy who comes from a "below-median income family" would ultimately earn more money if he lived in Bucks County, Pa., instead of Baltimore.

After 20 years of living in each area, the study found, those boys growing up in Bucks County would be earning 44.7 percent more than one living Baltimore.

-- The economists estimate that about 20 percent of the gap in earnings between blacks and white "can be attributed to the counties in which they grow up."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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