In new research from Raj Chetty’s team at Opportunity Insights (published in two parts in Nature and summarized in NYT), a massive analysis of economic and social networks found that exposure to and friendships among people of different social classes is one of the strongest predictors of upward mobility.
The study found that lower socio-economic groups make connections in their home neighborhood and at religious institutions, while higher SES groups tend to make their bridging connections in college. This research builds on their prior economic mobility analysis and development of the Opportunity Atlas.
So what do we do with this information?
Programs, services, policies, and investments that facilitate interactions across diverse economic groups will likely have lasting impacts. Policy level solutions might include inclusive housing and planning decisions. At a more local level, effort might be made to reduce in-school student segregation. Programmatically, even experiential programs outside of participants’ own neighborhood may have an impact.