A new report ranks North Carolina 23rd in the nation for creating a public policy environment conducive to social mobility.

The Archbridge Institute, a Washington D.C. based nonprofit whose stated mission is to lift the barriers that stand in the way of (people’s) ability to set and reach their own goals” released the report earlier this month. Defining social mobility as “the opportunity to better oneself and those around them,” the report identifies four “pillars” for social mobility and assigns scores to states based on their public policies that either promote or hinder these pillars.

The four pillars they identified are:

  • Entrepreneurship and Growth – “(O)ne important way to promote social mobility is to improve the climate for entrepreneurship, thereby creating more jobs and better opportunities for people at all levels,” according to the report. States can increase entrepreneurship by decreasing barriers to entry (such as occupational licensing) and regulations making it harder to start and operate a business.
  • Institutions and Rule of Law – Corruption, cronyism, and weak institutions “are detrimental to societal stability and foster further social and economic exclusion of those at the bottom of the income ladder,” according to the report. Better protection of property rights and higher quality legal systems are two keys to this pillar.
  • Education and Skills Development – The report focuses on “education as the primary way people build skills and become productive members of society,” and also notes that “parental engagement, family structure, and stable families are critical for skills development.” As such, the report awards states with robust educational choice programs and policies – such as a Parents’ Bill of Rights – that empower parents and encourage more parental involvement.
  • Social Capital – This pillar focuses on community engagement and charity. States with higher levels of community volunteerism and charitable giving, along with lower barriers to operating charitable organizations, receive higher scores in this metric.

North Carolina received high marks in the “entrepreneurship and growth” category, driven largely by its highly competitive tax climate. Lower marks were given in the “education and skills development” category, but it appears the scores were calculated prior to the expansion of our Opportunity Scholarship program and passage of the Parents’ Bill of Rights. North Carolina also has plenty of room for improvement regarding community engagement, charitable giving, and ease of operating a charity.