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Truth is Powerful

Seven key takeaways from Chetty’s new research on friendship and economic mobility


Editor’s Note:

The findings of the research discussed here will be the focus of an upcoming FMCi event, “Networks of opportunity: Social capital and economic mobility,” taking place August 3rd. Register here .

Improving economic mobility is a central goal for public policy. But how? Mobility is a complex, multidimensional issue, related to policies in education and training, housing markets, safety net efficacy, family stability, the labor market and much more. The latest Opportunity Insights report from Raj Chetty and colleagues [1] suggests that one ingredient that may trump all the others: Friends.

Drawing on a massive dataset, comprising the social networks of 72.2 million users of Facebook aged between 25 and 44 years, Chetty and his team are able to assess how far social networks influence economic mobility. The richness of their data permits analysis at a very granular level, down not only to zip codes, but individual colleges and high schools. Their two papers Social Capital I: measurement and associations with economic mobility and Social Capital II: determinants of economic connectedness have just been published in Nature along with supplementary data here and here . As usual they have also created an interactive and public use version of the […]

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