Fragile Families Challenge Uses "Big Data" to Improve the Lives of Disadvantaged Children

November 15, 2017

L–R: Matthew Salganik, Ian Lundberg, Alex Kindel, Sara McLanahan. Source: Princeton University

On November 16-17, the winners of the Fragile Families Challenge, a mass research collaboration supported by the Russell Sage Foundation's special initiative on Computational Social Science, will convene at Princeton University with other participants to discuss their use of Fragile Families data and its implications future projects that combine predictive modeling, causal inference, and in-depth interviews to better address social inequality in the U.S.

The Fragile Families Challenge, launched in March 2017, invited social scientists from around the world to use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to predict outcomes for disadvantaged children and families. For over fifteen years, the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study has followed thousands of American families and collected information about the children, their parents, their schools, and their larger environments.

The co-organizers of the Fragile Families Challenge are Sara McLanahan, an RSF trustee and co-editor of the RSF book Children of the Great Recession, which also draws from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study; Matthew Salganik, a member of RSF's Computational Social Science working group; and graduate students Ian Lundberg and Alex Kindel.

In a statement to Princeton, McLanahan said of the project, “I think that having so many different people with such different backgrounds working with the data is going to help us with what we really care about, which is understanding and improving the lives of disadvantaged families.”

Read the announcement from Princeton University.

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