Demography In Action: The Kids Are All Right

(Editor’s Note: This is part an occasional series that will seek insights about life in Lower Manhattan by looking at statistics available from the Data2Go.NYC website, by Measure of America — a nonpartisan, non-profit project of the Brooklyn-based Social Science Research Council. This installment focuses on statistics about young people.)

If you were poised to enter this world, and were given a choice as to where you would be born, Lower Manhattan would be among the best options anywhere in New York, according to Data2Go.NYC. Your improved prospects would begin at the moment you emerged from your mother’s womb: Lower Manhattan’s rate of infant mortality (defined as deaths among children aged one year or less) is 1.5 among 100,000 births, compared to 4.7 for New York City as a whole. (The prevalence is low birth-weight children in Lower Manhattan is 7.6 percent, while pre-term births clock in at 7.2 percent — both below City-wide averages.) The proportion of infants born late or with no prenatal care is 1.5 percent in Lower Manhattan, less than a fourth of the overall rate of more than 6.0 percent for all of New York.

By the time you reached kindergarten age, you would be enjoying another bonus. For every 10,000 youngsters aged five to 14, there are only eight annual hospitalizations for asthma. (The City’s overall number is 36 per 10,000 kids.) In another striking anomaly, the current rate of Lower Manhattan children found to have elevated levels of lead in their systems is one. Not one percent. Not one child in 10,000. Literally one child per year.

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Your first years would also be comfortable, relative to those of children from other communities. The rate of childhood poverty is zero percent in seven of Lower Manhattan’s 12 census tracts, and hovers in the low single-digits elsewhere. For New York City as a whole, the rate is 31.4 percent. Another benchmark for measuring privation among the young is their participation in Child Health Plus or Medicaid programs. For all of New York City, this rate is slightly more than 46 percent. In the various neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan, it never rises above 4.6 percent.

Nor would you be lonely as a child living in Lower Manhattan, for the community is producing new Downtowners at a prodigious rate: 18.2 new babies each year per 1,000 residents, which comes to 1,143 new children every 12 months.

As you progressed through elementary and middle school, you would benefit from the $1.9 million the City spends each year in Lower Manhattan on after-school programs. This largesse would perhaps distract you from the fact that City government allocates literally no money at all to youth workforce programs or services for runaways and homeless youth within Lower Manhattan, because there appears to be no local demand. (The City may be assuming too much, however: Some statistical evidence indicates that there are as many as 6.1 homeless children in Lower Manhattan for every 1,000 local kids.)

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As you entered your teenage years, you would be less likely than your peers in other communities to drift aimlessly. The local prevalence of “disconnected youth” (defined as people between the ages 16 and 24 who are neither employed nor enrolled in school) is 4.2 percent, as opposed to more than 15 percent for the City overall. And you would be similarly unlikely to find yourself becoming a parent at a precociously early age: the local rate for teen pregnancy is 1.4 per 1,000 girls, aged 15 to 19.

All of the benefits from this auspicious start in life would add up to a related advantage that would stick with you for decades: four extra years in this world. Being born in Lower Manhattan gives you an expected life span of 85.4 years, compared to 81.1 years for all of New York.

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