Charts of the Week: Public colleges and the middle class; local climate resilience; voting by mail

Where students attend college, by parental income quintile

In this week’s edition of Charts of the Week: a look at public college’s role in economic mobility for the middle-class; how local communities can increase their resilience in responding to climate crises; and a state-by-state voting by mail scorecard.

Public colleges’ critical role in middle-class mobility

Where students attend college, by parental income quintileSarah Reber, Chenoah Sinclair, and Hannah Van Drie examine how “students who attend college—particularly a four-year college—are significantly more likely to experience upward mobility in adulthood.” And most of them attend public four-year colleges. In their report, the authors conclude that “moderately selective public colleges play a critical role in promoting upward mobility for students from the middle class and that two-year colleges offer good value for society.”

Local climate resilience and economic opportunity in the COVID-19 era


In a new report, Joseph Kane explores the resilience of local communities to respond to climate challenges—wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, etc.—in an era when local budgets are strained and the costs of climate-related disasters keep growing. “Now is the moment,” Kane argues, “to create a resilient platform for local growth, one that reduces uncertainty, expands economic opportunity, and ultimately adapts to an extreme climate through improvements to transportation, water, energy, and telecommunications systems.” In calling for a “resilient platform for growth,” Kane concludes that “building back better should not just be a priority during a pandemic—it can help us all adapt and succeed in an uncertain climate for decades to come.”

Rating the states on voting by mail

Pandemic Voting Preparedness Map

The coronavirus pandemic combined with the coming presidential election has brought the issue of voting by mail into focus.  While the president of the United States has been castigating this method, even though five states conduct all elections entirely by mail, the authors of a new scorecard—Elaine Kamarck, Yousef Ibreak, Amanda Powers, and Chris Stewart—write that the “safest and most secure way to vote in a pandemic is vote-by-mail.” The image above is from July 20, 2020, and may be updated as the researchers examine new data.