Improving Economic Opportunity in America: A Discussion with Raj Chetty

Improving Economic Opportunity in America: A Discussion with Raj Chetty

With Robert Doar

AEI, Auditorium
1789 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
Contact Information

For more information, please contact Andrew Smith at, 202.862.5937.

Event Summary

Friday at AEI, Stanford’s Raj Chetty discussed his economic mobility research. He showed how absolute mobility (the percentage of children who make more than their parents did at age 30) has fallen substantially over the past 40 years. While this general trend is disturbing, there is wide variation across different geographic regions, implying there are possible solutions. Dr. Chetty discussed how childhood exposure to less economically mobile communities has a causal effect on outcomes. He looks to direct future research on five variables correlated to higher or lower absolute mobility: segregation, income inequality, family structure, social capital, and education. Lastly, he discussed his research on which higher education institutions best serve low-income populations.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics’ Jason Furman noted that policymakers should consider relative versus absolute mobility and its implications for those above the poverty line who still populate the bottom half of the income distribution. He advocated for policies that do not rely on relocating low-income Americans. The University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney argued that culture affects upward mobility, although she acknowledged the difficulties with quantifying culture and using policy to address it. Finally, AEI’s Robert Doar highlighted the value of increasing access to administrative data, improving struggling neighborhoods, and encouraging two-parent families.
Kyle Craft and Emily Stearns

Event Description

Experts and policymakers across the political spectrum are focusing more and more on how to increase opportunity for low-income Americans. No researcher has contributed more to this debate than Raj Chetty, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” award and the John Bates Clark Medal. Dr. Chetty’s Equality of Opportunity Project has focused on detailing the state of the American dream and learning from the cities, neighborhoods, and schools that have managed to foster upward mobility to inform public policy. What are the most important factors in helping low-income Americans move up?

Join AEI for a discussion of Dr. Chetty’s cutting-edge research and its implications for policy with experts in antipoverty policy, including Jason Furman, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Join the conversation on social media with #ChettyatAEI.

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