Esteemed economist Raj Chetty, holding the distinguished title of William A. Ackman Professor of Economics at Harvard University and serving as the director of Opportunity Insights, took center stage as the keynote speaker at UNC Charlotte’s 12th annual Chancellor’s Speaker Series.
Chetty’s appearance on November 14 marked almost a decade since the groundbreaking “Land of Opportunity Study” in 2014. This influential study revealed that the Charlotte region ranked 50th out of the 50 largest metro areas in terms of economic mobility. The findings sparked significant investment and research efforts, involving entities such as the University’s urbanCORE, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, and collaborative partnerships with local and state governments, as well as non-profit institutions.
The day’s schedule featured a moderated conversation in the afternoon with UNC Charlotte students, faculty, and staff. Later in the evening, there was a presentation and discussion with WFAE’s Ely Portillo at The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City.
During the conversation, Portillo asked Chetty about his observations regarding the reaction to the 2014 economic mobility rankings. Chetty commended Charlotte for its proactive response and the collaborative efforts with institutions like the University in addressing the stark findings.
“As a researcher interested in these questions, it hadn’t occurred to me how putting out these data publicly could really spur public action,” Chetty noted. “I think Charlotte is really exemplary of that.”
Chetty also revealed that his research group is finalizing a new economic mobility study, serving as a “10-year update” on the 2014 project. This upcoming study aims to explore the changes in economic mobility across America over the past decade, considering factors such as race and class.
“We haven’t put that out publicly yet, but let me just end by saying that I think you all are going to be encouraged by what you see in that new study,” Chetty concluded, leaving the audience anticipating the positive developments revealed in the forthcoming research.