School, family, faith and upward mobility

by Ryan Streeter on July 26, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

A new study on upward mobility contains this interesting summation of its results:

Areas in which low income individuals were residentially segregated from middle income individuals were also particularly likely to have low rates of upward mobility. The quality of the K-12 school system also appears to be correlated with mobility: areas with higher test scores (controlling for income levels), lower dropout rates, and higher spending per student in schools had higher rates of upward mobility. Finally, some of the strongest predictors of upward mobility are correlates of social capital and family structure. For instance, high upward mobility areas tended to have higher fractions of religious individuals and fewer children raised by single parents. Each of these correlations remained strong even after controlling for measures of tax expenditures. Likewise, local tax policies remain correlated with mobility after controlling for these other factors.

The authors – Chetty, Hendren, Kline, and Saez – are careful to point out that these factors are all correlational, not causal. Nonetheless, the idea that school quality, intact families, and faith drive wellbeing and positive outcomes is certainly known in plenty of other research.

They have also produced an upward mobility map of the USA along with a list of the top and bottom ten metro areas here.

  • Tom Marshall’s ghost

    You know what else correlates with upward mobility? Not being from Indiana:

    Upward Mobility in the 50 Biggest Cities — Starting from Bottom Fifth, Odds of Reaching Top Fifth
    48 Indianapolis, IN 4.8%

    What are you doing about that?