A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation focuses on racial disparities in indicators that determine a child’s chance for future success. The report creates a new Race for Results Index, which includes 12 measures that are most closely connected to the likelihood of a young person becoming middle class by middle age. These measures include:
- Babies born at normal birthweight
- Children ages 3 to 5 enrolled in nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten
- Fourth graders who scored at or above proficient in reading
- Eighth graders who scored at or above proficient in math
- Females ages 15 to 19 who delay childbearing until adulthood
- High school students graduating on time
- Young adults ages 19 to 26 who are in school or working
- Young adults ages 25 to 29 who have completed an associate’s degree or higher
- Children who live with a householder who has at least a high school diploma
- Children who live in two parent families
- Children who live in families with incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty
- Children who live in low poverty areas (poverty<20 percent)
As with other states, Nevada’s African American and Latino children face more barriers to success than white and Asian children. However, in every racial category, Nevada’s children compare poorly to children in other states in the Intermountain West region, which includes Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. The charts below show that Nevada’s children rank last in the region for every racial category except for Asians.
As these charts show, Nevada scores poorly in all racial categories on the Race for Results Index due to factors such as low proficiency rates in math and reading, low graduation rates, and high poverty rates. The gaps between outcomes for Whites and African Americans and Latinos compound these issues for a growing part of Nevada’s population.
What does this mean for Nevada’s economic future? The Race for Results Index demonstrates that there is an inadequate “infrastructure of opportunity” in the Silver State, which makes it difficult for Nevada’s children to reach the middle class. The infrastructure of opportunity includes access to quality education, health care, housing, and capital. The strength of the middle class has long-term economic implications. A strong middle class is an important driver of economic growth. It provides a stable consumer base that drives investment by individuals and businesses. In contrast, a smaller middle class means less disposable income, less purchasing power, lower tax revenues, and greater use of social services.
Governor Sandoval has placed a strong emphasis on diversifying the Las Vegas economy to spur economic growth. Many of the jobs in targeted sectors require an advanced degree or highly technical skills. In order to fill these jobs, Nevada will need to make strategic decisions to improve the infrastructure of opportunity.
The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities has been analyzing issues related to the infrastructure of opportunity in Nevada. We plan to release a report called The State of Latinos in the Intermountain West in April 2014, which will examine key outcomes for Latinos in Nevada compared to Latinos in other states in the Intermountain West region. This paper will focus on how the lack of infrastructure of opportunity has made it difficult for Latinos to rebound from the Great Recession and will provide a roadmap for the future.