Stories

How economic inequality hurts US innovation

A high-school inventor competes in a robot design competition at Javits Center in New York in 2014

Equally skilled children from lower income households are less likely to become inventors than their higher-income counterparts, according to a study published by the Equality of Opportunity project. Race and gender discrepancies were reported, as well. "These gaps don't seem to be about differences in ability to innovate — they seem directly related to environment," study author Raj Chetty told The Atlantic's Alana Semuels.

The bottom line: Lower income children, children of color, and female children aren't being encouraged to become inventors, according to the study authors. This means people who have the potential to innovate are entering other fields. And since innovation leads to economic growth, the gaps are harming the U.S. economy, they argue.