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Assessing Colleges' Contributions to Social Mobility

July 25, 2017

A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research examines the key findings of the Equality of Opportunity Project, which exploits a unique data set to assess the contributions that individual colleges make to intergenerational social mobility. The research received significant attention upon its public release last winter, including in Inside Higher Ed, but the paper released by NBER explores the findings in depth. The authors -- researchers at Stanford and Brown Universities; the University of California, Berkeley; and the U.S. Treasury Department -- assess colleges based on the number of students who come to the institution from families in the bottom quintile of family income and reach the top quintile.

While elite colleges do well under the metric, especially in driving students into the top 1 percent of Americans, the researchers find that many midtier public institutions -- many of those in the City University of New York and California State University systems, for instance -- have the highest rates of upward mobility.

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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