A MacArthur “Genius” and one of the top economists in the world, Raj Chetty tackles the inequality in American society—including in education, housing, and longevity—through the powerful lens of economics. When COVID-19 hit, Chetty and his team of Harvard researchers created the first and only real-time economic tracker documenting the pandemic’s lopsided effects on the population. As jobs continue to disappear, education is stalled, and low-income and minority groups disproportionately bear the burden of the virus itself, Chetty’s data-driven insights are essential for our recovery.
“[Raj Chetty] has established himself in a few short years as arguably the best applied microeconomist of his generation.”— American Economic Association
Since its creation, Raj Chetty’s COVID-19 tracker—created with his Harvard-based research lab Opportunity Insights—has been relied upon by federal, state, and local leaders as they manage the crisis. “Rather than waiting weeks to see where the economy is falling and playing catch-up, the new data assembled in this tool offer the capacity to spot economic problems as they emerge and to consider a more targeted policy response,” explains Chetty. He has used the data from this tool to personally brief then-president elect Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on how low-income workers will bear the brunt of the economic losses caused by COVID-19, as well as many other politicians and members of congress. A recent Bloomberg feature on Chetty writes, “Unlike some high-profile economists who have strongly partisan viewpoints, Chetty doesn’t ask elected leaders or their voters to abandon their political ideologies. He just tries to get them to pay attention to the people and places the economy has shunted aside. We’ll only see their suffering if we obsess less about aggregate measures like GDP, and more about what’s happening on street corners and in schoolyards where Americans are blocked from reaching their potential.”
In addition to his pioneering work on the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Chetty has presented a crucial study on economic mobility to the Obama administration, and worked on a study analyzing which American colleges help children climb the social ladder. With his groundbreaking “Opportunity Atlas”—a visualization of his paradigm-shifting research—Chetty has taken predicting children’s economic futures to the next level, and with startling accuracy—so much so that it can provide assessments on a street-by-street basis. His work marks a huge leap forward for sociological data: replacing speculative guesswork and shaky correlations with concrete proof of causation. It also overwhelmingly points to one main factor as the most vital indicator for a child’s future success: their childhood environment. Today, a child’s opportunity to achieve upward mobility—the chance to out-earn their parents and enjoy economic success—is on the decline. Chetty and his team at Opportunity Insights hope to reverse this trend, using scalable solutions to help people rise out of poverty.
In thought-provoking talks, Chetty shows audiences how can we provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds the tools they need to succeed, and how we can change the social and economic systems stacked against them. The economic keynote speaker’s work on tax policy, unemployment insurance, and education has been widely cited in media outlets, as well as in Congressional testimony.
Chetty received his Ph.D. from Harvard University at the age of 23 and later became one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard’s history. A winner of the John Bates Clark Medal for best American economist under 40, Chetty has also received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and was formerly a Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He is currently the William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics at Harvard University, and the Director of Opportunity Insights, which uses “big data” to explore how to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds a better shot at success.
Where Opportunity Happens How Neighborhoods Affect Social Mobility
How can we get the American dream back? In this talk, Raj Chetty draws on his revolutionary “Opportunity Atlas”—a visualization of his paradigm-shifting research—to provide predictive tools and practical tactics for taking action to mobilize and empower communities and enhance equality. Combining empirical evidence and economic theory, Chetty explores exactly how, through expanding social mobility and creating new opportunities, businesses and institutions alike can connect with, reshape, and strengthen the communities they serve.
Chetty’s work marks a huge leap forward for sociological data: replacing speculation with data-driven solutions. Engaging, informative, and more relevant than ever, his talks provide the tools we need to change our social and economic systems for the better, together.