How We Rise-Social Networks in Charlotte: Policy Choices, Policy Opportunities
Charlotte, NC is a city rich with opportunities; but those opportunities are not equitably shared. In 2014, Charlotte ranked 50th out of 50 in a ranking of cities for upward mobility. Now the city aspires to be a horizon community, one where all can rise. Social networks, providing access to support, information, power, and resources, are a critical and often neglected element of opportunity structures. Social capital matters for mobility. We analyzed over 10,000 interpersonal network connections in the city, drawing on rich data from 177 representative residents of Charlotte. These networks were then evaluated for size (i.e. number of people), breadth (i.e. range of connection types, such as familial or professional), and strength (i.e. the value of connection as a source of assistance). We compared social networks by demographic groups, especially race, income, and gender. In particular, we assessed networks in terms of their value for access to opportunities and resources in three domains: jobs, education, and housing.