New Research on Mobility: Studies by Profs. Chetty, Hendren, and Katz

May 4, 2015
Raj Chetty

New research on mobility by Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren and also by Lawrence Katz makes the case that living in good neighborhoods contributes to upward mobility later in life.

The latest research from Chetty, Hendren, and Katz on improving economic opportunities for low income children was recently profiled in a series of articles appearing in The New York Times on May 4, 2015.  Below are links to the latest summary of the current phase of research in the Equality of Opportunity Project as well as to the articles that appeared in the Times.

The Equality of Opportunity Project:

How can we improve economic opportunities for low-income children? The Equality of Opportunity Project uses “big data” to develop new answers to this question. The previous phase of the project presented statistics on how upward mobility varies across areas of the U.S. and over time. In the current phase, we focus on families who moved across areas to study how neighborhoods affect upward mobility. We find that every year of exposure to a better environment improves a child’s chances of success, both in a national quasi-experimental study of five million families and in a re-analysis of the Moving to Opportunity Experiment. We use the new methodology and data to present estimates of the causal effect of each county in America on upward mobility.

-- by Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren

Why the New Research on Mobility Matters: An Economist’s View, by Justin Wolfers, The New York Times, May 4, 2015

The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares: Children who grow up in some places go on to earn much more than they would if they grew up elsewhere.
by Gregor Aisch, Eric Buth, Matthew Bloch, Amanda Cox, and Kevin Quealy, The New York Times, May 4, 2015

An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty
by David Leonhardt, Amanda Cox, and Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times, May 4, 2015

Raj Chetty is William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Economics.  He is the Director of the Lab for Economic Applications and Policy for Harvard University, Department of Economics as well as Director of the Public Economics group at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Editor of the Journal of Public Economics. His research combines empirical evidence and theory to inform the design of more effective government policies. His work on the topics of taxation, unemployment, and education has been widely cited in media outlets and Congressional testimony. He was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2012.

Nathaniel Hendren is Assistant Professor of Economics and joined the faculty in July 2013. His interests include insurance markets and adverse selection, welfare estimation, and intergenerational mobility.

Lawrence F. Katz is the Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics. His research focuses on issues in labor economics and the economics of social problems. He is the author (with Claudia Goldin) of The Race between Education and Technology (Harvard University Press, 2008), a history of U.S. economic inequality and the roles of technological change and the pace of educational advance in affecting the wage structure. Katz also has been studying the impacts of neighborhood poverty on low-income families as the principal investigator of the long-term evaluation of the Moving to Opportunity program, a randomized housing mobility experiment.