What you'll learn

  • Understand the factors that led to large shifts in upward mobility.

  • Examine the effects of family status on educational outcomes and long-term success.

  • Explore how highly engaged teachers can have an impact on student learning outcomes.

  • Use historical and current data to improve educational experiences, decrease biases, and overcome barriers to upward mobility.

  • Examine other social factors and the impacts on mobility, such as innovation, race, and gender.

Course description

What factors increase or decrease your likelihood of economic mobility? Does the neighborhood you grew up in play a part? How different is your life from the family’s life just a few streets over?

It’s likely you’ve wondered what factors influence one’s success, but it’s more likely you’ve never considered that such small changes in geographical location have a statistically significant impact. In this course, you will examine the historical evidence identifying the characteristics that lead to improved outcomes. Specifically, you will explore the effects of race and access to quality education, highly invested teachers, and family support—all of which lead to higher levels of upward mobility and increased earning potential.

Through research and statistical analysis, you will apply regression models and experiment with data sets to determine how improving K–12 education leads to a more engaged population, capable of shifting the trends in mobility and decreasing significant gaps in financial and social equality.

While no formal prerequisites are required for this course, you may benefit from first taking Evaluating Upward Mobility: The Fading American Dream, which helps learners understand the history of the shifts in socioeconomic mobility and how geography can also greatly play a role in access to opportunity.


William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics at Harvard University, Director of Opportunity Insights

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4 weeks long
Registration Deadline