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Friday’s Food For Thought: Mapping Opportunity

Map Reveals Connections Between Geography and Economic Mobility

By Lindsay Tilton

Academic economists from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley have released the results of a research study called the “Equality of Opportunity Project.” The New York Times reported the data, which illustrates income mobility in the U.S., and how likely it is for children growing up in poverty-ridden cities to climb the socio-economic ladder. Based on the earnings and locations of millions of anonymous individuals, the data revealed that geography indeed matters.

The map shows regions of the U.S. in light and dark colors. Lighter colors represent areas where children from low-income families are more likely to move up the income scale, while darker colors shows where children are less likely to do so.

The Southeast and Midwest revealed low upward mobility, while the Northeast, Great Plains, and West showed higher rates. More specifically, those living in Salt Lake City, San Jose, and San Francisco had the highest upward mobility rates, while Atlanta, Charlotte, and Indianapolis had the lowest.

In addition, the article contains an interactive graphic where users can type in any city to learn the percentile children are likely to raise their future earnings to based on their parents’ income.