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Klarman Fellow’s mission: Break cycles of poverty through fact-based policy

As a 19-year-old college student, economist Neil Cholli spent a summer teaching with The Algebra Project in an underprivileged neighborhood of Miami. He’d witnessed “visceral” poverty on trips to India to visit family, “but seeing that kind of poverty and inequality in the U.S., in my own country, was eye opening for me,” he said. “I thought, ‘I have to do something about this.’”

Neil Cholli often goes to the white board in his Uris Hall office to "think things through" while analyzing data on social mobility. Chris Kitchen.

The experience directed his educational path toward economics and set his social mission: to understand the mechanisms of social mobility and to help people transcend generational poverty. As a Klarman Postdoctoral Fellow in economics in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), Cholli is doing research in labor and public economics, with a focus on applied econometrics. He wants to use that knowledge to be a part of shaping social policy in the U.S.

Children’s futures are influenced by their parents’ circumstances, as well as their larger environment, Cholli said: “Inequalities that exist in the parent generation are transferred to the child generation, perpetuating cycles of poverty.”

Many policies are targeted at parents but end up shaping the environments children are brought up in and therefore shape the child’s outcomes in the future, he said. How can we target interventions at different points within this intergenerational process?

Read the full story on the College of Arts and Sciences website.

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