The American Opportunity Study: A New Infrastructure for Monitoring Outcomes, Evaluating Policy, and Advancing Basic Science

RSF. 2019 Mar;5(2):20-39. doi: 10.7758/RSF.2019.5.2.02.


The American Opportunity Study is an ongoing initiative to build the country's capacity to access and analyze linked administrative data. It is best viewed as a population-level scaffolding on which other administrative data can then be hung. This scaffolding, if used as a stand-alone resource, will allow for long-run analyses of fundamental population and labor market processes. If combined with data from other sources, it will allow for long-run program evaluation and other experimental and quasi-experimental analyses. We discuss the current status of the American Opportunity Study, its potential to advance the field, remaining obstacles that must be overcome to build it, and how it can work within the guidelines suggested by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.

Keywords: administrative data; data linkage; program evaluation; social mobility.