Raj Chetty — big data ‘solutions’ to poverty

9 Nov, 2019 at 14:31 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

Bws7vMhIIAAFK9RChetty’s pitch to the nation is that our problems have technocratic solutions, but at times I sense that he is avoiding an argument. Surely our neighborhoods can be improved, and those improvements can help the next generation achieve better outcomes. But what of the larger forces driving the enormous disparities in American wealth? Poor people would be better off if their children had better prospects, but also if they had more money—if the fruits of our society were shared more broadly. “I can take money from you and give it to me, and maybe that is good and maybe it is not,” he said. “I feel like there are a lot of people working on redistribution, and it is hard to figure out the right answer there.” To focus on the question of who gets what is also, of course, politically incendiary.

Chetty believes there is more progress to be made through a moral framing that is less partisan. “There are so many kids out there who could be doing so many great things, both for themselves and for the world,” he said. Chetty’s challenge to the system is measured and empirical; it’s one that billionaires and corporations can happily endorse. But his stance is also a simple matter of personality: Chetty is no agitator. He told me, “I like to find solutions that please everyone in the room, and this definitely has that feel.”

Gareth Cook / The Atlantic

I’m sure this guy will get the ‘Nobel prize’ in economics. I mean, arguing with tons of data that you basically solve the poverty problem by getting people to move into other and more prosperous neighbourhoods is indeed such a great scientific achievement …


  1. A genius, this is next year’s Nobel Laureate! 🙂

  2. I love the absolute refusal to even consider what happens to the worse off parts of town after. The American Dream really is abandoning vast neighborhoods of your family and friends to strike it rich on your own. Neoliberal Utopia.

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