Upward Mobility Framework
Urban Institute’s framework identifies five pillars that support mobility from poverty and their predictors, which both reflect performance and can be influenced by local leaders to help bolster the conditions that boost upward mobility and narrow racial inequities.
Achieving mobility from poverty encompasses the following three interconnected and mutually inclusive dimensions.
Economic success. When a person has adequate income and assets to support their and their family’s material well-being.
Being valued in community. When a person feels the respect, dignity, and sense of belonging that comes from contributing to and being appreciated by people in their community.
Power and autonomy. When a person has the ability to have control over their life, to make choices, and to influence larger policies and actions that affect their future.
The following five pillars support people and families as they propel themselves up and out of poverty over the course of their lives. Together, these five pillars contribute to a person’s economic success, power and autonomy, and sense of belonging in their community.
Opportunity-Rich & Inclusive Neighborhoods. Neighborhoods play a central role in supporting families’ stability and well-being, their access to social and economic opportunities, and their children’s chances to thrive and succeed.
High-Quality Education. Education—from prekindergarten through postsecondary—provides a crucial avenue to economic and social mobility.
Rewarding Work. Jobs and wages constitute the primary source of income and economic security for most people in the US today.
Healthy Environment & Access to Good Health Care. Good and stable health helps people of all ages surmount life’s challenges, excel in school and on the job, ensure their families’ well-being, and fully participate in their communities.
Responsive & Just Governance. Governance that is attentive to the needs of all community members and residents who are deeply engaged in collective decisionmaking are hallmarks of a community that supports upward mobility.
In our Mobility Metrics Framework, domains represent policy areas related to predictive factors strongly associated with people’s and families’ long-term upward mobility. Local leaders can work across these policy areas to influence and improve key conditions for mobility.
Dig deeper into our research approach and the evidence behind our framework.