May 22, 2022

A New Interactive Atlas “Maps the Roots of Social Mobility”; Estimates of Social Mobility by Census Tract Now Available

From the U.S. Census:

Moving early in life to a neighborhood where children experience better overall outcomes can increase a child’s income by several thousands of dollars later in life.

According to the Opportunity Atlas, a new interactive tool released today, social mobility varies widely by neighborhoods just a few miles apart, even when families have similar incomes.

For the first time, public access to highly localized data on social mobility is available through the Opportunity Atlas. The project is a U.S. Census Bureau collaboration with Raj Chetty and Nathan Hendren at Harvard University and John Friedman at Brown University.


A mapping interface allows users to conduct custom analyses for neighborhoods. It lets them better understand which neighborhoods offer children the best chances of climbing the income ladder later in life.


The Census Bureau has long provided data that give a snapshot of neighborhood characteristics at a given time. These data have proven valuable for economic and social research for decades. However, these snapshots don’t allow the direct study of social mobility.


The Opportunity Atlas was constructed using data on 20 million Americans who are in their mid-thirties today. The data were stripped of personal information and statistically protected.

Read the Complete Launch Announcement and Some Key Findings

See Also: Research Paper: The Opportunity Atlas: Mapping the Childhood Roots of Social Mobility 
95 pages; PDF. 

See Also: The Opportunity Atlas (via Research Matters Blog, U.S. Census)
Learn more about how the atlas was built.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.