There is a big bonus to having rich friends on Facebook.
Poor children who are raised by wealthier parents are more likely to earn a higher salary later in life.
It's all about who you know, that's what the findings suggest.
If a child from a low-income family lives in an area where 70% of their friends are wealthy, their adult income will increase by 20 percent.
It is a very strong correlation. Future income is boosted by factors other than education or occupation.
Bad news is also present. A second analysis by the same group shows that it is very rare to cross the income divide in the US.
Most of the low-income zip codes in the US that were analyzed did not show high levels of economic connection. Children are more likely to hang out with people their age from the same class.
People with low socio economic status may not be able to connect with people with higher socio economic status if there aren't many of them nearby.
Income inequality and economic opportunity can be influenced by societal relationships, according to researchers. It has been difficult to get large-scale data to support that hypothesis.
This idea can be studied through social media.
Researchers used Facebook data to analyze 21 billion online friends, which is 3,500 times larger than the most widely used data for social networks to date.
A variety of factors can help a child get ahead in life, including family income, family background, educational attainment, occupation, and neighborhood.
Economic connectedness was the only measure of social capital that was related to income mobility. Growing up in a single-parent household had a negative impact on the economic status of kids.
There are a lot of reasons as to why that is. Making friends at school with kids from wealthier families could help shape a child's ambitions or give them access to information they wouldn't have had.
The authors say that it's consistent with their hypotheses that bridge capital is useful for getting ahead.
There are many different explanations for the correlation between economic connectedness and mobility that don't rely on a causality effect.
The type of low-income family that chooses to live in an area with high economic connectedness may have other demographic characteristics that influence their child's rate of upward mobility.
There is a correlation between economic connectedness and a child's future economic prospects. The relationship was so strong that it was worth further investigation.
The extent to which a friendship develops across class lines depends on a person's exposure to other classes and willingness to befriend other classes.
Interventions such as affordable housing or diverse college acceptance rates may not be enough to improve income inequality if a person gravitates towards making friends with people from their own group.
It would be better if initiatives fostered connections between people from different walks of life.
Researchers at Harvard found that communities with other forms of high diversity don't have higher levels of upward mobility. It's important that they show economic diversity.
The author of the study told The New York Times that people who want to create economic connectedness should focus on getting people with different incomes to interact.
It might be easier to climb the income ladder if you have friends in high places helping you.
The study was published in a scientific journal.