M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 207

Economic Connectedness: How U.S. High Schools Can Enable Economic Mobility

Nina Harstad

2023 Policy Analysis Exercise Prepared for Opportunity Insights

Executive Summary

This research on economic connectedness aims to explore the role of high schools in promoting cross-socioeconomic class friendships and therefore economic mobility. Interventions in high schools possess enormous potential to increase economic mobility. This work examines patterns among high schools with integrated socio-economic social networks and identifies key programs and activities that can encourage cross-class friendships.

New research from Opportunity Insights has found that social networks play a critical role in promoting economic mobility, with economic connectedness (i.e., cross-class friendships) being the single greatest predictor of whether a person from a low-SES (socio-economic status) background will experience economic mobility. Economic connectedness has two primary components: exposure and friending bias.

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