Featured Speaker Treatment_Raj Chetty

Raj Chetty

Director, Opportunity Insights & William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics, Harvard University 

Raj Chetty is the Director of Opportunity Insights and the William A. Ackman Professor of Economics at Harvard University. His research seeks to answer one question: What can be done to revive the American dream? At Opportunity Insights, he uses big data to study the factors that influence economic opportunity, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Combining empirical evidence and economic theory, Chetty reveals the barriers to upward mobility and develops the government policy changes necessary to remove them. Informative and engaging, Chetty offers an eye-opening look into the real but hidden forces impacting our lives. He leaves audiences with a deeper understanding of the most critical issues of our time and the knowledge to be part of their solutions. 

Chetty’s areas of research are inspired by the issues affecting everyday people, challenges that arise in dinner table conversations and those that make newspaper headlines. His work on topics ranging from tax policy and unemployment insurance to education and affordable housing has been widely cited in academia, media outlets, and Congressional testimony. His most recent paper shook up the college admissions conversation with the revelation of a type of “affirmative action” for children of the 1% at elite universities and that these 12 schools, dubbed the “Ivy-plus,” are responsible for an incredibly significant portion of America’s leadership. With the research came a call for schools to diversify their admissions to enable a broader spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds in American leadership—our politicians, CEOs, Supreme Court justices—and prevent further concentration of power into the hands of the elite. Prior studies included how zip code, social capital, race, and even one’s kindergarten teacher affects chances of upward economic mobility. 

Raj Chetty received his PhD from Harvard University in 2003 and is one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard’s history. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, he was a professor at UC Berkeley and Stanford University. Chetty has received numerous awards for his research, including the John von Neumann Award, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and the John Bates Clark medal, given to the economist under 40 whose work is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field.

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