Visualizing Social Mobility in the Developing World (2017-2018)

Researchers have traditionally measured social mobility using longitudinal datasets, comparing the careers or the earnings of parents and their children. Measuring such differences requires collecting data across generations. However, such data are not available for developing countries, and generating such data takes decades.

This team synthesized disparate indicators into a complex understanding of social mobility in order to help fill gaps in knowledge. By constructing measures of social mobility for specific countries using a variety of indices, the project team explored “ladders of opportunity” for countries where social mobility indicators are less than promising.

The team collected data from multiple sources and created a visual, accessible social mobility data hub for developing nations. This hub provides a living resource for researchers, policy practitioners, media and the general public to learn more about social mobility in multiple countries.

Hub research topics include how different countries identify and nurture talent, the relationship between economic downturns and social mobility, pathways to mobility in different national and state contexts and the relationship between social capital and social mobility, among others. 


Summer 2017 – Spring 2018

Team Outcomes

Anirudh Krishna, Sarah Nolan. “Synthetic Fathers and Real Consequences: Social Mobility Research in Transition.” 2019. The Journal of Developmental Studies 55(4):737-742.

Visualizing Social Mobility in the Developing World (talk by Casey Pettiford and Hannah Wang), EHDx, April 19, 2018

Addressing Challenges in Social Mobility Research (poster by Anirudh Krishna, Angela Zoss, Sarah Nolan, Luke LeGrand, Victoria Nneji, Casey Pettiford, Hannah Wang, Maddie Keyes, Mumbi Kanyogo, Sanjeev Dasgupta, Varun Prasad), presented at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018, and EHDx, April 19, 2018

Project team website

This Team in the News

Top Student Scholars: Independent Studies of Neutrinos, Medicaid Policy and African Feminis

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. 

Team Leaders

  • Anirudh Krishna, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Angela Zoss, Duke Libraries

/graduate Team Members

  • Victoria Nneji, Mech Engg/Materials Sci-MS, Mech Engg/Materials Sci-PHD
  • Sarah Nolan, Public Policy Studies-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Sanjeev Dasgupta, Political Science (AB)
  • Mumbi Kanyogo, Gender Sexuality & Fem St(AB)
  • Madeline Keyes, Economics (BS)
  • Casey Pettiford, Int Comparative Studies (AB)
  • Varun Prasad, Economics (BS)
  • Hannah Wang, Political Science (AB)