Institute on Assets and Social Policy

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

Assets and Mobility

Financial assets, unevenly distributed across the population, play a fluid role in the dynamics of social mobility and opportunity. Through its research and policy analysis, the Institute seeks a broader understanding of the way families, over time, do or do not acquire and utilize assets and how they manage financial uncertainty and opportunity, leverage social mobility, and secure prospects for themselves and their children.

IASP's “Leveraging Mobility" project, funded by the Ford Foundation, aims to improve understanding of the pathways and barriers families face in moving to economic security by empirically answering the question: What is the role of financial assets and aspirations in the mobility pathways of low, moderate, and middle-income families over time?  This research will include an examination of the racial wealth gap, looking to understand the main drivers behind its continued expansion. The project explores these issues by re-interviewing 140 families originally interviewed in 1998-1999 to understand the role of financial assets in their lives and the basis and implications of their decisions about asset use for their mobility over a decade. Alongside these interviews—conducted in Boston, Los Angeles and St. Louis—an analysis of longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) will test these qualitative findings against a nationally representative sample, exploring the impact of race, class and other factors on how families build and leverage assets over the life course.

Copyright 2014 • Brandeis University • All rights are reserved