Causal Effects of Neighborhoods

Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, Harvard University, May 2015

"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."

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Research papers are available on Equality of Opportunity's website.

This research has been discussed by both the New York Times and NPR.

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