Economists Raj Chetty (Harvard), John Friedman (Brown), and Nathan Hendren (Harvard) are linking big data from government agencies, education institutions, and private firms to improve economic opportunity and upward mobility. Together, they founded the Opportunity Insights (OI) institute, which uses this data to document both the decline of the American Dream and potential solutions to revive it.
The goal of the OI’s work is to use data to drive scalable policy solutions that empower families throughout the U.S. to rise out of poverty and achieve better life outcomes. For example, OI’s team found that children’s outcomes in adulthood vary sharply across neighborhoods that are just a mile or two apart, and that moving to a better neighborhood earlier in childhood can increase a child’s income by several thousand dollars. They also identified “opportunity bargains,” affordable neighborhoods that produce good outcomes for children. Their work has been featured in the NY Times, NPR, CityLab, and several other outlets.
Overdeck Family Foundation is one of four early funders of the Institute, alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.