Publications

Boosting Upward Mobility: Metrics to Inform Local Action

Increasingly, communities across the country aspire to create the conditions that boost the long-term mobility of their residents and narrow long-standing inequities. And metrics can play an important role in both motivating and shaping local action. In early 2019, the Urban Institute established a working group composed of distinguished scholars representing relevant disciplines to advise the development of a concise, comprehensive set of evidence-based metrics. The Mobility Metrics Working Group collaborated with Urban researchers to systematically review a wide range of factors that influence mobility from poverty over the course of a person’s life. Researchers applied rigorous criteria to select metrics that strong evidence shows have predictive relationships to mobility and that can be influenced by local and state policies and programs. These metrics can help communities establish priorities, set targets, catalyze action, change policies and practices, and monitor their progress.

Boosting Upward Mobility: Exemplars

Although the challenge is daunting, programs and policies being implemented across the US have demonstrated success in supporting people’s upward mobility. Researchers examined six interventions that have been shown through rigorous evaluation to boost economic and social mobility. By exploring these programs, they aimed to better understand how successful interventions have increased economic success, power and autonomy, and being valued in community. They also examined how more proactive application of the mobility dimensions might help to scale what is successful about each exemplar across varied places and even to the level of systems reform.