Monday, August 29, 2016


A recurring theme on this blog is the statistically unfair comparison of Rochester to other cities across the country.  While Rochester comprises about 19 percent of its metropolitan statistical area (MSA), it can occasionally be compared to cities that comprise 40 percent (Raleigh), 42 percent (New York City), 49 percent (Memphis), or 60 percent (Albuquerque) of their respective MSA's.  As such, studies that depict Rochester as the most horrible city in America are not always telling a complete story.

As reported by the Democrat & Chronicle, a recent investigation performed by EdBuild attempted to identify the steepest lines of economic segregation in the country.  By looking at pairs of contiguous school districts throughout the country, the researchers could determine the borders across which there was a large disparity in child poverty rate.  The disparity in child poverty rate between the Rochester City School District and its eight bordering school districts (Penfield, Brighton, West Irondequoit, Rush-Henrietta, Gates-Chili, Wheatland-Chili, Greece, and East Irondequoit) was rather high.  In fact, all eight borders were in the top 1.2 percent nationally for this measure of economic segregation (among 33,526 borders studied.)

Before concluding how terrible, closed-minded, and intolerant we Rochesterians are, the data warrants a second look.  If the nine suburbs that make up the eight bordering school districts were part of the city, the city of Rochester would then comprise about 49 percent of its MSA (i.e. the same as Memphis.)  In such a case, what are now strict economic borders would turn into mere neighborhoods within one city.  The aforementioned study's conclusion would then read: Rochester has some very wealthy neighborhoods and some very poor neighborhoods.

Having lived in both Manhattan and the Bronx, I am confident that this circumstance is not unique.

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