The primary factors associated with Equality of Opportunity are:
1) Good Schools
2) Social Capital
3) Access to Jobs and Living Opportunities
4) Equitable Income
5) Family Strength
A key insight from the Opportunity Atlas is that you don’t have to drive across the country to find high opportunity areas. Sometimes you just have to drive two miles. In Madison’s District 16 there are neighborhoods like Liberty Place and Twin Oaks that have high opportunity potential (lower-income kids growing up in the McFarland area will tend to have above average income as adults, wherever they end up living as adults). Adjacent neighborhoods like Glendale, East Buckeye and Elvehjem show the opposite potential. Lower-income kids there will tend to remain lower-income, no matter where they move as adults.
There is a popular belief that economic activity equals opportunity. But the Opportunity Atlas shows that this activity is often unequal–that business booms are only weakly correlated with Equality of Opportunity. Charlotte, North Carolina is a key example. This area has been one of the strongest areas of business growth in the country, but it has remained one of the worst areas for Equality of Opportunity.
Charlotte has imported its talent from outside. Rather than promoting talent from within, rather than building the local talent base, companies in Charlotte have used national and international searches to find qualified employees, leaving lower income people and marginalized groups behind in the boom.