Sociology, Harvard University
Cohort Five Fellow

Academic Mentor
Christopher Jencks
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Policy Mentor
Christopher Wimer
Department of Health and Human Services, Columbia University

Research Interests
child well-being; inequality; the family; intergenerational mobility; health

Areas of Expertise


Cassandra Robertson is a fourth-year doctoral student in sociology. Her research focuses on child well-being, inter-generational economic mobility, and family structure, with an emphasis on policy applications and interventions. She received her A.B. magna cum laude in government from Cornell University in 2009, and her Ed.M in international education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011. Ms. Robertson has worked in Morocco, Senegal, and Bangladesh for a variety of international development organizations, interned in the White House, and was Harvard Kennedy School Women in Public Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She is originally from Toronto, Canada.


Intergenerational Economic Mobility: Policies and Processes that Improve Children’s Life Chances

Intergenerational economic mobility occupies a central space in both the American imagination and the policy realm. In an age of growing economic inequality, understanding both the processes that provide children with the skills and opportunity to do better than their parents and the policies that enable them to do better are essential to maintaining a healthy society. However, most research in this area is unable to tell a causal story. Instead, it explores the correlates of upward and downward mobility. Furthermore, until now, data has not existed for placing an individual’s trajectory in a larger geographic and temporal context. Using new data sources that have recently become available, my research seeks to answer the following questions: what are the mechanisms through which policies can increase a child’s probability of upward mobility, how are women’s mobility trajectories different from those of men and what are the impacts on their children?