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Harvard University

Evaluating Upward Mobility: The Fading American Dream

Harvard University via edX

This course may be unavailable.


This course will soon be retired. Last day to enroll is October 20th, 2023 at 00:00 UTC.

"Those who pursue the American Dream believe that no matter how much they accomplish, there is always something better to strive for." – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Many families in the United States dream of a future where children will surpass their parents’ wealth and seek a higher standard of living, through economic mobility, better education, and increased earning potential. While that may have been a reality for some in the mid-20th century, the “American Dream” is drastically fading– highlighting even greater socio-economic divides.

While researchers have explored the many contributing factors to this decline, the answer is not a simple one. The rise of inequality in the United States is a strong indicator of the decline in mobility and often is impacted by geographic location, quality of education, and household size and income.

In Evaluating Upward Mobility: The Fading American Dream , you will explore these factors in detail in order to understand the historical characteristics of high-mobility groups and factors that impact growth, like geography and access to opportunity. Using big data sets and data science, you will learn to compare trends across the U.S. and understand the causal effect of policies that can expand opportunities in specific neighborhoods. By the end of this course, you will have a foundational understanding of how big data can be used to measure mobility and solve social problems.

Taught by

Raj Chetty, Abby Hiller and Gregory Bruich


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