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DOCTORAL FELLOWS 
Each year 8-12 new Doctoral Fellows are selected from Harvard's Ph.D. programs in the social sciences.
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ALUMNI
Over 165 Inequality doctoral fellows have earned their Ph.D.'s.
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New fellowship opportunities

EXCITING NEW OPPORTUNITIES
for Harvard Ph.D. students 


The Inequality and Wealth Concentration Ph.D. Scholars
~
The Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Ph.D. Scholars in Poverty and Justice

Fellowship awards
$32,000 dissertation stipend + $5,000 research funds

New lines of research
Top-end income inequality and wealth concentration

A distinctive new component will be a coordinated endeavor to advance new lines of research on top-end inequality and wealth concentration, the main drivers of U.S. economic inequality in recent decades.

With designated resources for Ph.D. students pursuing empirical research that will contribute to our understanding the nature of trends at the top of the distribution and their economic, political, social, and policy consequences.

Deadline for 2016-2017 Ph.D. Scholars has now passed.
Look for 2017-2018 application materials in March 2017.

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LATEST NEWS AND COMMENTARY

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Blythe George

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Blythe George

July 20, 2016

Awardee | Blythe George, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, is one of 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class. George's research, "Those jobs ain’t coming back: The consequences of an industry collapse on two tribal reservations," will use qualitative data to explore the mechanisms that link the decline of employment options and life outcomes for males on two Native American tribal reservations, The Yurok and Hoopa Valley Reservations, located in California’s northwest.

"A member of the Yurok tribe herself, the researcher’s data provide a unique contribution ... [with] useful insights on the consequences of declining male labor force participation, particularly in non-urban settings." The award citation highlights that "From a policy engagement perspective, the rich[ness of] this qualitative work will help provide the narrative and texture that is necessary for capturing policy attention."

Equitable Growth announces 2016 class of grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

Equitable Growth announces 2016 class of grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

July 20, 2016

Awardee: Ellora Derenoncourt, Ph.D. candidate in Economics, is one of 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class. Derenoncourt's research, "Social preferences at work: Evidence from online lab experiments and job-to-job mobility in the LEHD dataset," will will use online lab experiments and employee-employer matched data to look at labor market decisions, testing for individual social preferences over payoff distributions.

The award citation highlights that "this project is offers a novel twist on intra-firm mobility and job-to-job transitions by using preferences to look at labor market decisions and not simply tax preferences." Equitable Growth has worked with Derenoncourt before—she is a contributor to its forthcoming edited volume on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, "and this project is an example of her ability to engage with traditional economic literature and push it in interesting and useful new directions."

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Christopher Jencks and Beth Truesdale

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Christopher Jencks and Beth Truesdale

July 20, 2016

Awardees | Christopher Jencks, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, and Beth Truesdale, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, are among the 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class.  Jencks and Truesdale will investigate "The effects of income inequality on health disparities in the United States." Jencks and Truesdale hypothesize that some of the correlation between income inequality and health outcomes is causal, running from inequality to health, and will seek to identify the causal mechanisms.

"Uncovering the causal channels between inequality and health would be an important contribution," the award citation notes, "particularly in light of recent research examining the relationship between income and life expectancy." This research is co-funded by the Russell Sage Foundation.

Inaugural Convening of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Inaugural Convening of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

July 15, 2016

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking—on which Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy, serves—will convene its first public meeting on July 22 in Washington, DC. The Commission was established under the bipartisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-140), jointly sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and signed by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2016. Under the law, the Commission is charged with examining aspects of how to increase the availability and use of data in order to build evidence about government programs, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.
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Who is Delrawn Small? Why Some Police Shootings Get Little Media Attention

Who is Delrawn Small? Why Some Police Shootings Get Little Media Attention

July 26, 2016

NPR Code Switch | Quotes Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, on the media's tendency to report through the lens of the police instead of the victim, and the persistence of the police narrative even when it turns out to be wrong.

Information asymmetry: Secrets and agents

Information asymmetry: Secrets and agents

July 23, 2016

The Economist | First in a series on seminal economic ideas delves into George Akerlof's 1970 paper, "The Market for Lemons"—and highlights how Daniel Shoag's findings (joint with Robert Clifford, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston) on the impact of credit check bans on employment draw insight from the field of information economics that Akerlof's work spurred. Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, and Clifford find that, contrary to the bans' intent, prohibiting the use of credit scores in hiring led to relatively worse outcomes for black and young job-seekers. 
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Wages of Mariel

Wages of Mariel

July 23, 2016

The Economist | New study by George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, counters the findings of a classic paper in immigration economics. Borjas reexamines the impact of the 1980 Mariel boatlift on Miami-area wages by focusing on high school dropouts, the group most comparable to the Marielitos, he argues, over 60% of whom were high school dropouts. The paper is forthcoming in Industrial and Labor Relations Review.
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LATEST ACADEMIC ARTICLES BY OUR DOCTORAL FELLOWS

Concentrated Foreclosure Activity and Distressed Properties in New York City
Perkins, Kristin L., Michael J. Lear, and Elyzabeth Gaumer. Forthcoming. “Concentrated Foreclosure Activity and Distressed Properties in New York City.” Urban Affairs Review.Abstract

Recent research suggests that foreclosures have negative effects on homeowners and neighborhoods. We examine the association between concentrated foreclosure activity and the risk of a property with a foreclosure filing being scheduled for foreclosure auction in New York City. Controlling for individual property and sociodemographic characteristics of the neighborhood, being located in a tract with a high number of auctions following the subject property’s own foreclosure filing is associated with a significantly higher probability of scheduled foreclosure auction for the subject property. Concentration of foreclosure filings prior to the subject property’s own foreclosure filing is associated with a lower probability of scheduled foreclosure auction. Concentrated foreclosure auctions in the tract prior to a subject property’s own filing is not significantly associated with the probability of scheduled foreclosure auction. The implications for geographic targeting of foreclosure policy interventions are discussed.

Network Effects in Mexico—U.S. Migration: Disentangling the Underlying Social Mechanisms
Garip, Filiz, and Asad L. Asad. Forthcoming. “Network Effects in Mexico—U.S. Migration: Disentangling the Underlying Social Mechanisms.” American Behavioral Scientist.Abstract

Scholars have long noted how migration streams, once initiated, obtain a self-feeding character. Studies have connected this phenomenon, called the cumulative causation of migration, to expanding social networks that link migrants in destination to individuals in origin. While extant research has established a positive association between individuals’ ties to prior migrants and their migration propensities, seldom have researchers interrogated how multiple social mechanisms—as well as exposure to common environmental factors—might account for these interdependencies. This article uses a mixed-methods strategy to identify the social mechanisms underlying the network effects in Mexico–U.S. migration. Three types of social mechanisms are identified, which all lead to network effects: (a) social facilitation, which is at work when network peers such as family or community members provide useful information or help that reduces the costs or increases the benefits of migration; (b) normative influence, which operates when network peers offer social rewards or impose sanctions to encourage or discourage migration; and (c) network externalities, which are at work when prior migrants generate a pool of common resources that increase the value or reduce the costs of migration for potential migrants. The authors first use large-sample survey data from the Mexican Migration Project to establish the presence of network effects and then rely on 138 in-depth interviews with migrants and their family members in Mexico to identify the social mechanisms underlying these network effects. The authors thus provide a deeper understanding of migration as a social process, which they argue is crucial for anticipating and responding to future flows.

Getting 'What Works' working: Building blocks for the integration of experimental and improvement science
Peterson, Amelia. Forthcoming. “Getting 'What Works' working: Building blocks for the integration of experimental and improvement science.” International Journal of Research and Method in Education.Abstract

As a systemic approach to improving educational practice through research, ‘What Works’ has come under repeated challenge from alternative approaches, most recently that of improvement science. While ‘What Works’ remains a dominant paradigm for centralized knowledge-building efforts, there is need to understand why this alternative has gained support, and what it can contribute. I set out how the core elements of experimental and improvement science can be combined into a strategy to raise educational achievement with the support of evidence from randomized experiments. Central to this combined effort is a focus on identifying and testing mechanisms for improving teaching and learning, as applications of principles from the learning sciences. This article builds on current efforts to strengthen approaches to evidence-based practice and policy in a range of international contexts. It provides a foundation for those who aim to avoid another paradigm war and to accelerate international discussions on the design of systemic education research infrastructure and funding.

Intergroup Behavioral Strategies as Contextually Determined: Experimental Evidence from Israel
Enos, Ryan D., and Noam Gidron. Forthcoming. “Intergroup Behavioral Strategies as Contextually Determined: Experimental Evidence from Israel .” Journal of Politics. Supporting information: Online appendixAbstract

Why are the negative effects of social diversity more pronounced in some places than in others? What are the mechanisms underlying the relationship between diversity and discriminatory behaviors and why do they vary in prevalence and strength across locations? Experimental research has made advances in examining these questions by testing for differences in behavior when interacting with individuals from different groups. At the same time, research in American and comparative politics has demonstrated that attitudes toward other groups are a function of context. Uniting these two lines of research, we show that discriminatory behaviors are strongly conditioned by the ways in which groups are organized in space. We examine this claim in the context of intra-Jewish conflict in Israel, using original data compiled through multi-site lab-in-the-field experiments and survey responses collected across 20 locations.

Citizens Coerced: A Legislative Fix for Workplace Political Intimidation Post-Citizens United
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander, and Paul Secunda. 2016. “Citizens Coerced: A Legislative Fix for Workplace Political Intimidation Post-Citizens United.” UCLA Law Review 64 (2).Abstract

This Essay examines the growing threat of workplace political coercion, such as when employers attempt to threaten or coerce their workers into supporting firm-favored issues, policies, or political candidates. We describe, for the first time, the prevalence of such coercion, and propose a relatively straightforward legislative fix that would protect private-sector workers from the risk of political intimidation from their employers.

This Essay responds to an earlier piece published by Professor Secunda in the YLJ Forum that described how the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FECopened up the possibility for employers to hold mandatory “captive audience” meetings for workers, in which managers could endorse candidates for elected office. Managers, Secunda noted, could discipline workers who refused to participate in such firm-sponsored partisan activities. Accordingly, Secunda recommended federal legislation that would ban the use of mandatory political meetings in the private sector.

At the time that Secunda’s Essay was published, however, we lacked any systematic evidence of the prevalence or characteristics of employer political coercion in the American workforce, and so his recommendations could not be tailored to the specifics of employer political recruitment. New survey research from an ongoing academic project from Mr. Hertel-Fernandez, however, has provided precisely that information, documenting the extent to which workers have experienced political coercion from their employers. Our present Essay summarizes that survey evidence, using the empirical data to craft a bipartisan policy proposal that would address employer political coercion in the private sector by adding political opinions and beliefs to the list of protected classes in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lastly, we draw on survey research to describe why this proposal could attract bipartisan political support.

How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System
Clair, Matthew, and Alix S. Winter. 2016. “How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System.” Criminology 54 (2): 332-359.Abstract

Researchers have theorized how judges’ decision-making may result in the disproportionate presence of Blacks and Latinos in the criminal justice system. Yet, we have little evidence about how judges make sense of these disparities and what, if anything, they do to address them. By drawing on 59 interviews with state judges in a Northeastern state, we describe, and trace the implications of, judges’ understandings of racial disparities at arraignment, plea hearings, jury selection, and sentencing. Most judges in our sample attribute disparities, in part, to differential treatment by themselves and/or other criminal justice officials, whereas some judges attribute disparities only to the disparate impact of poverty and differences in offending rates. To address disparities, judges report employing two categories of strategies: noninterventionist and interventionist. Noninterventionist strategies concern only a judge's own differential treatment, whereas interventionist strategies concern other actors’ possible differential treatment, as well as the disparate impact of poverty and facially neutral laws. We reveal how the use of noninterventionist strategies by most judges unintentionally reproduces disparities. Through our examination of judges’ understandings of racial disparities throughout the court process, we enhance understandings of American racial inequality and theorize a situational approach to decision-making in organizational contexts.

Are Landlords Overcharging Housing Voucher Holders?
Desmond, Matthew, and Kristin L. Perkins. 2016. “Are Landlords Overcharging Housing Voucher Holders?.” City and Community 15 (2): 137-162.Abstract

The structure of rental markets coupled with the design of the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), the largest federal housing subsidy for low-income families in the United States, provides the opportunity to overcharge voucher holders. Applying hedonic regression models to a unique data set of Milwaukee renters combined with administrative records, we find that vouchered households are charged between $51 and $68 more in monthly rent than unassisted renters in comparable units and neighborhoods. Overcharging voucher holders costs taxpayers an estimated $3.8 million each year in Milwaukee alone, the equivalent of supplying 620 additional families in that city with housing assistance. These findings suggest that the HCVP could be made more cost-effective—and therefore more expansive—if overcharging were prevented.

The Populist Style in American Politics: Presidential Campaign Rhetoric, 1952-1996
Bonikowski, Bart, and Noam Gidron. 2016. “The Populist Style in American Politics: Presidential Campaign Rhetoric, 1952-1996.” Social Forces 94 (4): 1593-1621.Abstract

This paper examines populist claims-making in US presidential elections. We define populism as a discursive strategy that juxtaposes the virtuous populace with a corrupt elite and views the former as the sole legitimate source of political power. In contrast to past research, we argue that populism is best operationalized as an attribute of political claims rather than a stable ideological property of political actors. This analytical strategy allows us to systematically measure how the use of populism is affected by a variety of contextual factors. Our empirical case consists of 2,406 speeches given by American presidential candidates between 1952 and 1996, which we code using automated text analysis. Populism is shown to be a common feature of presidential politics among both Democrats and Republicans, but its prevalence varies with candidates' relative positions in the political field. In particular, we demonstrate that the probability of a candidate's reliance on populist claims is directly proportional to his distance from the center of power (in this case, the presidency). This suggests that populism is primarily a strategic tool of political challengers, and particularly those who have legitimate claims to outsider status. By examining temporal changes in populist claims-making on the political left and right, its variation across geographic regions and field positions, and the changing content of populist frames, our paper contributes to the debate on populism in modern democracies, while integrating field theory with the study of institutional politics.

The base rate principle and the fairness principle in social judgment
Cao, Jack, and Mahzarin R. Banaji. 2016. “The base rate principle and the fairness principle in social judgment.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113 (27).Abstract

Meet Jonathan and Elizabeth. One person is a doctor and the other is a nurse. Who is the doctor? When nothing else is known, the base rate principle favors Jonathan to be the doctor and the fairness principle favors both individuals equally. However, when individuating facts reveal who is actually the doctor, base rates and fairness become irrelevant, as the facts make the correct answer clear. In three experiments, explicit and implicit beliefs were measured before and after individuating facts were learned. These facts were either stereotypic (e.g., Jonathan is the doctor, Elizabeth is the nurse) or counterstereotypic (e.g., Elizabeth is the doctor, Jonathan is the nurse). Results showed that before individuating facts were learned, explicit beliefs followed the fairness principle, whereas implicit beliefs followed the base rate principle. After individuating facts were learned, explicit beliefs correctly aligned with stereotypic and counterstereotypic facts. Implicit beliefs, however, were immune to counterstereotypic facts and continued to follow the base rate principle. Having established the robustness and generality of these results, a fourth experiment verified that gender stereotypes played a causal role: when both individuals were male, explicit and implicit beliefs alike correctly converged with individuating facts. Taken together, these experiments demonstrate that explicit beliefs uphold fairness and incorporate obvious and relevant facts, but implicit beliefs uphold base rates and appear relatively impervious to counterstereotypic facts.

Situational Trust: How Disadvantaged Mothers Reconceive Legal Cynicism
Bell, Monica C. 2016. “Situational Trust: How Disadvantaged Mothers Reconceive Legal Cynicism.” Law and Society Review 50 (2): 314-347.Abstract

Research has shown that legal cynicism is pervasive among residents of poor, black neighborhoods. However, controlling for crime rates, these residents call police at higher rates than whites and residents of middle-class neighborhoods, and ethnographic research suggests that mothers in particular sometimes exact social control over partners and children through police notification. Given these findings, how might researchers better understand how legal cynicism and occasional reliance on police fit together? Drawing on interviews with poor African-American mothers in Washington, DC, this article develops an alternative conception of cultural orientations about law: situational trust. This concept emphasizes micro-level dynamism in cultural conceptions of the police, expanding the literature on police trust by emphasizing situational contingency. Mothers deploy at least four alternative strategies that produce moments of trust: officer exceptionalism, domain specificity, therapeutic consequences, and institutional navigation. These strategies shed light on the contextual meanings of safety and legitimacy.

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