heat map of New York City
June 14, 2021

Opportunity Insights in the Economics Class

A conversation between student and teacher about exploring the intersections of economics, big data & social inequality
by Tang Institute

In a microeconomics class taught by Tang Institute fellow Elizabeth Monroe, Bianca ’21 chose to evaluate the condition of opportunity (upward mobility) in New York City. As part of the Institute’s ongoing collaboration with Opportunity Insights, Andover economics faculty have been piloting modules from Harvard Professor Raj Chetty’s course, Using Big Data to Solve Social and Economic Problems.

During the 2020–2021 school year, Andover offered 12 sections total of microeconomics and macroeconomics, along with one section each of the colloquium and a new environmental economics class. There were 212 total enrollments in economics across the year, and 121 unique students took at least one term.

“Since I grew up in New York City,” Bianca says, “I decided to focus on wealth and opportunity disparities between White and POC residents within Manhattan. Using Opportunity Insights, I was able to view the racialization of opportunity in NYC as areas with high Latinx and Black populations were painted orange and red, signifying lower household income levels, while majority White neighborhoods in the city flaunted high-income hues of green. With the effect of COVID-19 on industries in NYC in mind, Opportunity Insights allowed me to correlate the increase of frontline workers and drops in consumer spending to the flight of privileged White New Yorkers to their suburban hideaways.” (Visit Bianca’s project here.)

Bianca recently spoke with Monroe about how she’s used Opportunity Insights with her classes and how it has helped students tie together current events and social justice and equality. Watch to learn more.


Elizabeth Monroe is an instructor in history and social science and a Tang Institute fellow with the Opportunity Insights project.


Read more about the Opportunity Insights project at the Tang Institute here.

To learn how Ellen Greenberg, instructor in mathematics, statistics, and computer science and a Tang Institute fellow with the Opportunity Insights project, uses big data in her classes, read Reflections on Teaching Big Data.

Categories: Fellows

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