By PHS 795 Student Grace Shea:
This project, called “The Equality of Opportunity Project,” was started by a Harvard grad and economist, Raj Chetty, who was interested in studying the effects of socio-ecological factors on a person’s long-term trajectory. This website shows much of the research that has been done by him and his staff using “Big Data” to analyze some of the financial and health outcomes associated with one’s neighborhood. This project was also featured on one of the Freakonomics Radio podcasts sessions, which you can find on the website. Primarily, I think this website can serve as a huge resource for many in the Public Health field because they provide all of their data to the public including lecture videos from a similar class that Dr. Chetty taught. The lectures are available via Youtube with links on the website.
In this link, you can scroll to the Local Area Rankings for Commuting Zones (Counties is also an option). The list provided shows the commuting (primarily urban) centers where your adult income is estimated based on where you live as a child if you are in the bottom 25th percentile for family income. Essentially, this data attempts to predict the causal effects of where you live if you are in a low-income family.
If you look at the list provided, Seattle is at the top of the list. To understand this list, let’s use Seattle as an example. If a child were to grow up in the Seattle metro area instead of an average place, he/she would make about 12% more at age 26. The average level of household income at age 26 is $26,000, so this 12% gain translates to $3,120 of additional income.
If you look a bit further down, Madison is on that list. All kids in Madison have a 7.4% chance of making more as adults with boys at 10.4% and girls at 3.9%. My question to the class is why do we think we see such a significant gender gap for adult income for children in Madison. Additionally, do we think that a 7.4% increase in income is meaningful for predicting their long-term outcomes? How does this compare to the bottom of the list where in Fayetteville, NC, children have a -17.8% chance of making more money as an adult than their family’s current income? Can we use this data to predict where future public health efforts will be needed?