Advances in empirical economics, applied statistics, and data science bring innovation into public dialogues about poverty and inequality in the United States and abroad.
Shared prosperity—which involves deep investment in the productivity and welfare of the poorest segments of society—is critical to long-term economic growth and social stability. Over the past 50 years, there has been a steady increase in income inequality in the United States–with attendant declines in health, economic freedom, and public safety—as wages have stagnated and at times declined. Today, 40 million people in the United States (roughly 12% of the population) live in poverty. The Opportunity Lab (O-Lab), founded in 2016 and supported by CEGA, applies rigorous empirical research to persistent issues of poverty and inequality in the United States and other high-income countries. Through coordinated outreach, its growing network of faculty affiliates partner with a range of institutions—from technology companies to government agencies—to test solutions that decrease inequality and promote opportunity. For a country to experience sustained economic growth, decision-makers must support upward mobility informed by rigorous, data-driven research that evaluates programs and can rapidly influence policies that promote opportunity. O-Lab provides the evidence that policy-makers need to make informed decisions by producing research around six priority initiatives: Climate & Environment, Crime & Criminal Justice Policy, Education & Child Development, Health, Social Safety Net & Employment, and Taxation & Inequality.
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