Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with Raj Chetty, a professor of economics at Harvard University, about a recent report he co-authored on social mobility.
What did you think as one of the authors of this fascinating study? What are the big takeaways that you get out of it?
So the basic fact from this study is that there’s a great deal of variation within the U.S. in rates of upward income mobility. So, traditionally, people often perceive the U.S. as the land of opportunity. And as you were saying, recently, people have become concerned that upward mobility is declining in the U.S. relative to other countries.
What we’re showing in this study is, actually, you should think about the U.S. very differently. There are some places that are, in fact, lands of opportunity, where children do have high odds of moving from the bottom of the income distribution to the top – places like Pittsburgh or San Diego or San Francisco. And then there are other places, like Atlanta or Charlotte or Indianapolis, where the odds of moving up in the income distribution are, unfortunately, much, much lower.
And why, if you were to point to one or two things, what was the thing that most struck you? Why is that?
So there are a number of correlations that we’re able to document. We don’t know for sure exactly what the causes of these differences are. But what we can say is things like differences in school quality or differences in the degree of income inequality or segregation in a city or things like the number of two parent families in an area are all correlated with upward mobility.
So for instance, a place like Atlanta, where the odds of moving up in the income distribution are particularly low, they tend to be cities where there’s a lot of income segregation. The poor are not living in close proximity with the rich, for example.