2.4x Higher Housing Costs Near Better Schools

Want to live near a great CPS school?  That'll cost you 2.4 times what it will cost you to live near a bad or average one.  A new Brookings Institute report shows some things we already knew but a few surprises as well:  The familiar news is that the Chicago metro area ranks 2nd in the nation in terms of economic segregation. A whopping 58 percent of poor students would have to move zip codes to create an equal distribution of kids across schools.  Some of the more surprising news, in terms of where Chicago ranks:  Poor kids score 26 percentage points lower than middle and upper income kids (24th).  Housing costs are 2.4 times higher near high-scoring schools (42nd).  Zoning restrictions against inexpensive housing in Chicago rate just 70th in the study.  Link to the Chicago page here (PDF). Study overview page here. Huffington Post education story about the isssue here.




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  • Alexander's post mixed up what is called the Chicago metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with the city of Chicago. This was clear because Alexander wrote: "Want to live near a great CPS school? That’ll cost you 2.4 times what it will cost you to live near a bad or average one."

    The Brooking's study did not use any data exclusively from the city of Chicago, but rather from the much larger Chicago MSA of which the city proper is only a small part of. An MSA is a geographical region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area it may actually not look at all like the city at the center of it.

    The Brooking's paper used specifically what is called the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI MSA. It has a huge population of 10,055,638 using 2009 data. It even includes towns like Gary Ind., and Wisconsin towns like Kenosha, and Racine. The population of Chicago in 2010 was 2,695,598, so in terms of population it composes only about 26.8% of the MSA. Just within those school districts located in Illinois that are part of the MSA we have a wide variety of property tax rates and equalized assessed valuations of property, let alone very different school funding systems in Indiana and Wisconsin.

    I think the paper made some valid points about the linkage between wealth and school test scores on a national scale. But getting down to the level CPS schools and how much more it would cost for a Chicago family to live in the intake area for a high scoring neighborhood school in the city as opposed to an average or low scoring school the Brookings report can tell us very little. This type of analysis could be done but the Brooking's report does not attempt it.

    My guess is that if you were to examine just property values around average scoring neighborhood CPS elementary schools and compare them to the very highest scoring neighborhood CPS elementary schools it would turn out to cost considerably more than 2.4 times or $11,000 more a year. So I think Alexander may be underestimating the wealth effect within the city itself by a good amount, but I will admit I am just guessing.

    Rod Estvan

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