New Haven Is Poor, New Haven County Is Rich

Joseph Delaney thinks that playing host to a prestigious university is no ticket to prosperity:

Mark has been discussing Edward Glaeser and his comments on how universities can create urban prosperity. Now, I am a big fan of universities and think that they serve an important role in global economic development. However, I am dubious that they make any particular community prosperous. Consider New Haven, CT — the home of Yale University (recently ranked the #11 university in the world).

According to wikipedia, the poverty rate in New Haven is 24%, which compares unfavorably with the rest of the United States where it is 14%. The poverty rate in New Haven, despite the presence of Yale, is nearly twice that of the United States as a whole.

I think this is the wrong level of analysis. The city of New Haven is a very small entity. New Haven county in which it’s located has a median household income of over $68,000 a year. It’s much richer than the American average. And Connecticut is one of the richest states in the union. Most American cities don’t really work as economic units. Lots of people who work at Yale, or in downtown New Haven, or who generally benefit from Yale-related prosperity don’t live within the municipal boundaries of New Haven.