Poverty, crime and education
The paradox of the ghetto
Unnervingly, poor children seem to fare better in poor neighbourhoods
THE poorest people in Leicester by a wide margin are the Somalis who live in the St Matthews housing estate. Refugees from civil war, who often passed through Sweden or the Netherlands before fetching up in the English Midlands, they endure peeling surroundings and appalling joblessness. At the last census the local unemployment rate was three times the national average. But Abdikayf Farah, who runs a local charity, is oddly upbeat. Just look at the children, he says.
生活在Leicester郊区最穷的人是索马里人，他们生活在St Matthews住宅区。在他们来到英国中部之前，作为内战的难民，索马里人经常穿越瑞典或者荷兰。他们忍受环境的盘剥，因没有工作而担惊受怕。在最近的人口普查中，当地的失业率是不列颠全国平均水平的三倍。但在当地从事慈善事业的Abdikayf Farah却莫名的乐观。他说，看看那些孩子就明白我为什么乐观了。
Close to Mr Farah's office is Taylor Road Primary School—which, it turns out, trumps almost every school in Leicester in standardised tests. Its headmaster, Chris Hassall, credits the Somali immigrants, who insist that their children turn up for extra lessons at weekends and harry him when they seem to fall behind. Education is their ticket out of poverty. Poor district, wonderful school, well-ordered children: in Britain, the combination is not as unusual as one might suppose.
Britain has prized the ideal of economically mixed neighbourhoods since the 19th century. Poverty and disadvantage are intensified when poor people cluster, runs the argument; conversely, the rich are unfairly helped when they are surrounded by other rich people. Social mixing ought to help the poor. It sounds self-evident—and colours planning regulations that ensure much social and affordable housing is dotted among more expensive private homes. Yet “there is absolutely no serious evidence to support this,“ says Paul Cheshire, a professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics (LSE).
And there is new evidence to suggest it is wrong. Researchers at Duke University in America followed over 1,600 children from age five to age 12 in England and Wales. They found that poor boys living in largely well-to-do neighbourhoods were the most likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, from lying and swearing to such petty misdemeanours as fighting, shoplifting and vandalism, according to a commonly used measure of problem behaviour. Misbehaviour starts very young (see chart 1) and intensifies as they grow older. Poor boys in the poorest neighbourhoods were the least likely to run into trouble. For rich kids, the opposite is true: those living in poor areas are more likely to misbehave.
The researchers suggest several reasons for this. Poorer areas are often heavily policed, deterring would-be miscreants; it may be that people in wealthy places are less likely to spot misbehaviour, too. Living alongside the rich may also make the poor more keenly aware of their own deprivation, suggests Tim Newburn, a criminologist who is also at the LSE. That, in turn, increases the feelings of alienation that are associated with anti-social conduct and criminal behaviour.
Research on England's schools turns up a slightly different pattern. Children entitled to free school meals—a proxy for poverty—do best in schools containing very few other poor children, perhaps because teachers can give them plenty of attention. But, revealingly, poor children also fare unusually well in schools where there are a huge number of other poor children. That may be because schools have no choice but to focus on them. Thus in Tower Hamlets, a deprived east London borough, 60% of poor pupils got five good GCSEs (the exams taken at 16) in 2013; the national average was 38%. Worst served are pupils who fall in between, attending schools where they are insufficiently numerous to merit attention but too many to succeed alone (see chart 2).
Mr. Cheshire reckons that America, too, provides evidence of the limited benefits of social mixing. Look, he says, at the Moving to Opportunity programme, started in the 1990s, through which some poor people received both counselling and vouchers to move to richer neighbourhoods. Others got financial help to move as they wished, but no counselling. A third group received nothing. Studies after 10-15 years suggested that the incomes and employment prospects of those who moved to richer areas had not improved. Boys who moved showed worse behaviour and were more likely to be arrested for property crime.
In Britain, this pattern might be partly explained by the existence of poor immigrant neighbourhoods such as St Matthews in Leicester. The people who live in such ghettos are poor in means, because they cannot speak English and lack the kind of social networks that lead to jobs, but not poor in aspiration. They channel their ambitions through their children.
在不列颠，这种现象可以得到部分证实。诸如住在Leicester St Matthews区的贫困移民的存在就可以证实这点。生活在这些地区的人们平均生活水平属于贫困状态，因为他们不会说英语，也缺乏那些可以提供工作的社会关系网络，不过他们不乏进取的勇气。他们把自己的进取之心传递给了自己的孩子。
Another probable explanation lies in the way that the British government hands out money. Education funding is doled out centrally, and children in the most indigent parts tend to get the most cash. Schools in Tower Hamlets receive 7,014 ($10,610) a year for each child, for example, compared with the English average of 4,675. Secondary schools also get 935 for each poor child thanks to the “pupil premium“ introduced by the coalition government. Meanwhile Teach First sends top graduates into poor schools. In America, by contrast, much school funding comes from local property taxes, so those in impoverished areas lose out.
As the Duke University researchers are keen to point out, all this does not in itself prove that economically mixed neighbourhoods are a bad thing. They may be good in other ways—making politicians more moderate, for example. But the research does suggest that the benefits of such districts are far from straightforward. Patterns of social segregation reflect broader social inequality, argues Mr. Cheshire, who has written a book about urban economics and policy. Where mixed neighbourhoods flourish, house prices rise, overwhelmingly benefiting the rich. Spending more money on schools in deprived areas and dispatching the best teachers there would do more to help poor children. Assuming that a life among wealthy neighbours will improve their lot is too complacent.
杜克大学研究者尖锐地指出，所有这些并不能证明，经济混合社区就是个坏东西。他们也许会在其他方面有益—比如让政客们更为中和。不过这些发现这些区域的益处表现得并不明朗。社会分离的模式反映了更严重的社会不平等，Cheshire争论道（他写过一本关于城市的经济与政策的书）。当混合社区繁荣起来后，房价上涨，获益的毫无疑问是富人。在贫瘠地区投入更多资金，并将最好的教师分配过去会更好的帮助孩子们。生活在富人中能极大改善穷人家孩子们状况的想法，显然是过于想当然了。翻译：唐宇•无心 校对：王颖 （译文属译生译世）
1、Unnervingly adv. 令人胆怯地；使人紧张不安地
2、appalling adj. Something that is appalling is so bad or unpleasant that it shocks you. 可怕的；令人震惊的
They have been living under the most appalling conditions for two months.
3、misdemeanour： A misdemeanour is an act that some people consider to be wrong or unacceptable. 行为不端
Paul appeared before the faculty to account for his various misdemeanours.
4、shoplifting 商店行窃： Shoplifting is stealing from a shop by hiding things in a bag or in your clothes.
5、vandalism ：Vandalism is the deliberate damaging of things, especially public property. (尤指对公共财产的) 故意破坏
...a 13-year-old boy whose crime file includes violence, theft, vandalism and bullying.
6、miscreant：A miscreant is someone who has done something illegal or behaved badly. 不法之徒; 恶棍
Local people demanded that the police apprehend the miscreants.
7、proxy： If you do something by proxy, you arrange for someone else to do it for you. 代理权
Those not attending the meeting may vote by proxy.