HOUSING STOCK DIVERSITY, ECONOMIC SEGREGATION IN SCHOOLS, AND CHILDHOOD SOCIAL CAPITAL LEVELS: AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF NORTH CAROLINA COUNTIES
ZACHARY D. BLIZARD, M.A.
Data Analytics and Research Manager for the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM) and Winston-Salem State University (WSSU)
In a 2014 study by Harvard’s Raj Chetty, Forsyth County was identified as having some of the lowest economic mobility rates in the country. This year (2022), Chetty and a new team identified Forsyth as having some of the lowest social capital levels, especially in two of its zip codes. This is particularly concerning because social capital is a determinant of numerous socioeconomic indicators. There is strong theoretical support for the idea that social capital is affected by sprawling development, specifically homogenous single-family development, by promoting income segregation. No study to date, however, has examined this idea empirically. Better understanding these relationships is imperative for counties like our own (Forsyth) because the findings could inform policies aimed at reversing low social capital levels. For our study, we will estimate a structural equation model of childhood social capital levels and whether housing stock diversity affects these levels directly and indirectly through mediating factors. The key mediating factor of interest in our study is the level of economic segregation in schools. We will interpret our results in the context of general policy implications and in the specific context of Forsyth County, NC.