Peterson, Paul E., Angela K. Dills, and M. Danish Shakeel. “Are Connections the Way to Get Ahead? Social Capital, Student Achievement, Friendships, and Social Mobility.” Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series, May 19, 2023.

What’s the issue?

What factors drive social mobility? What builds “social capital”—the networks of groups, family ties, and norms that shape people’s lives? What role do cross-class friendships play? With a better understanding of what drives social mobility, policymakers can help more people get ahead.

What does the research say?

Professor Paul Peterson and colleagues find that elements such as parental presence, community life, and student achievement affect social mobility. Peterson and his colleagues argue that policymakers should consider what disadvantaged people experience at home, at school, and in their communities to help them get ahead. They say more research is needed on this topic.

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