New Opportunity Insights Report Focuses on Mobility in Charlotte

Date Published: 
December 2nd, 2020

When Harvard economist Raj Chetty and colleagues studied areas with high and low rates of mobility back in 2014, they were surprised to find that Charlotte ranked last among the 50 largest metropolitan areas when it came to the odds that low-income children in Charlotte would grow up to become high-income adults. Last month, Opportunity Insights released a new report focusing on Charlotte that takes a deep dive into the reasons behind this finding and what policy changes can ensure that low-income children growing up in Charlotte have better chances to achieve upward mobility.

Providing additional context for economic mobility challenges in Charlotte, the authors find that: 

  • Similar to many other metro areas across the country, high rates of income growth have been primarily enjoyed by households at the top of the income distribution 

  • Economic mobility is a racial equity issue; while low rates of opportunity impact low-income households across racial groups, there are significant racial differences, particularly among Black and white men 

  • Charlotte’s history of neighborhood segregation by race and income is illustrated by large opportunity disparities between neighborhoods 

  • Some local colleges and universities that enroll a significant number of low-income students make important contributions towards improving mobility opportunities 

  • Reflecting national trends, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating disparities in opportunity for low- and high- income children. 


To address these issues, the authors propose: 

  • Making investments in low-income children by providing quality education and health care 

  • Deconcentrating poverty and decreasing segregation, primarily through affordable housing construction commitments and INLIVIAN’s housing mobility program 

  • Improving higher education completion by increasing access to selective colleges and providing more supports to ensure graduation 


The report also discusses place-based initiatives as a key component of a comprehensive strategy to improve opportunity, which CLPHA members have been at the forefront in creating. Read the full report for additional details on place-based efforts as well as INLIVIAN’s opportunity strategies. 

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