Location matters – enormously. If you’re poor and live in the Phoenix area, it’s better to be in Maricopa County than in Gila County or Pinal County. Not only that, the younger you are when you move to Maricopa, the better you will do on average. Children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, more likely to go to college and more likely to earn more.
Every year a poor child spends in Maricopa County adds about $30 to his or her annual household income at age 26, compared with a childhood spent in the average American county. Over the course of a full childhood, which is up to age 20 for the purposes of this analysis, the difference adds up to about $700, or 3 percent, more in average income as a young adult.