If you want your child to have a shot at entering a higher tier of the socioeconomic echelon, you might not want to settle down in the South. It’s not so much about big or small cities as it is, well, segregation. Says Harvard economics professor Raj Chetty,
We find that some of the highest mobility places in America are smaller towns rather than the biggest cities … What’s happening in those communities is they’re producing these very successful kids, even kids from low-income families.
And they end up leaving those communities typically, moving to bigger cities and being very successful in the broader American economy. But they’re being produced in these smaller towns…take a place like Atlanta … it’s a very residentially segregated city, where low-income people are living in neighborhoods that are quite separated physically from higher income. And the public transportation’s not great. And so that was a common characteristic that we found of many places of low rates of upward mobility.