This project seeks to answer the following question: To what extent do character virtues influence an individual’s capability to take control of his or her life trajectory as a means to foster their opportunities and prosperity? The normative assumption underlying the project is this: A meritocratic society has to create not only opportunities, but also people who can seize them. The project will investigate which character virtues count most in terms of promoting social mobility, especially from the bottom rung of the economic ladder, and which policies best promote their development.

This project is structured in two phases. Phase 1 will be focused on definition, planning, and scoping. Subject to a successful outcome, Phase 2 will move onto modeling, comparative policy analysis, and policy formulation. The Project will draw on social science data sources. Both stages will contain a strong outreach and communications component. The Project will be founded on a social science approach, with a strong policy orientation. This application details the work of Phase 1.