Jan Resseger writes here about Raj Chetty’s return to Harvard to start a new project, reviving the American dream. l

In the past, we have known Raj as the prime author of a widely doubted study that concluded that one effective teacher (who raised test scores) would have a significant impact on lifetime earnings, pregnancy rates, and other important life outcomes. In the years since that study was published, the efforts to apply its lessons have universally failed, because–as social scientists have long known–the influence of teachers on student test scores is small as compared to the influence of the family, its income, its level of education, its devotion to education.

Jan’s post begins:

Raj Chetty, the superstar, big-data economist, has returned to Harvard from Stanford to establish his own Opportunity Insights research and policy institute, a project seeded with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. Chetty’s research has created an Opportunity Atlas, which maps neighborhoods of opportunity and other neighborhoods where children are unable to move up the economic ladder.

After reviewing some of his ideas, Jan asks why Gates and CZI don’t advocate for a higher minimum wage, which doesn’t need a lot of new research to establish the premise that the best way to reduce poverty is to increase family incomes.

This is a good opportunity to recommend two very valuable books about the paradox of super-rich people saving the world:

Anand Girihiradhas, Winners Take All

Michael Edwards: Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World

Edwards makes this salient point: Why ask capitalists (or philanthrocapitalists, as he calls them) to fix the problems created by capitalism?