Meet our fellows

Now accepting applications

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

Application deadline
Thursday, May 26, 2016

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Fellows and alumni

DOCTORAL FELLOWS 
Each year 8-12 new Doctoral Fellows are selected from Harvard's Ph.D. programs in the social sciences.
Meet the 2015-2016 fellows ▶

ON THE JOB MARKET (New)
Hire a Harvard Ph.D.
Inequality doctoral fellows on the job market in AY 2015-16.
View job market candidates ▶

ALUMNI
Over 150 Inequality doctoral fellows have earned their Ph.D.'s.
See where they are now ▶

Seminar and events

EVENT—UP NEXT

2016 May 02

Inequality Fellowships Luncheon and Information Session: For Harvard Ph.D. students (G-1 and G-2)

12:00pm to 2:00pm

Location: 

CGIS S-030, 1730 Cambridge Street

Harvard Ph.D. students (G-1 or G-2): Join us for lunch, meet the fellows, and learn more about exciting new opportunities to become a Scholar in the Inequality & Social Policy program. Now inviting applications for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Students may drop by luncheon at any time. Introductions and informational discussion will begin at ~12:45 pm.

RSVP to inequality@harvard.edu with your name, Ph.D. program, and year.

View all upcoming seminars.

Spotlight

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENTARY

Theo Leenman: Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates

Theo Leenman: Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates

April 12, 2016

Awardee | Theodore S. Leenman, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, is one of five recipients of the 2016 Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. The award includes a $1,000 prize from a gift given by David G. Nathan ’51, M.D. ’55, Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and his wife Jean Louise Friedman Nathan. Read more about Theo Leenman's work at his homepage.

John Marshall receives MPSA Kellogg/Notre Dame Award for Best Paper in Comparative Politics

John Marshall receives MPSA Kellogg/Notre Dame Award for Best Paper in Comparative Politics

April 9, 2016

Awardee | John Marshall, Ph.D. candidate in Government, is a recipient of the Midwest Political Science Association's 2016 Kellogg/Notre Dame Award for Best Paper in Comparative Politics for his paper, "Information acquisition, local media, and electoral Accountability: When do Mexican voters punish Incumbents for high homicide rates?" Marshall will join the faculty of Columbia University in July as Assistant Professor of Political Science. Learn more about his work at his homepage. To read the award commendation...

The Egalitarian

The Egalitarian

April 15, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Danielle Allen's mission to return equality to the heart of American democracy. Allen is Professor of Government and Director of Harvard's Safra Center for Ethics.

Reassessing the Gender Gap

Reassessing the Gender Gap

April 15, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Examining the gender wage gap with Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics.

How conservative megadonors built a shadow GOP that weakened the official party

How conservative megadonors built a shadow GOP that weakened the official party

April 14, 2016

Vox | Elite donor groups have pulled Republican politicians to the far right on economic policy, according to research by Theda Skocpol (Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology), Alexander Hertel-Fernandez (Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy), and Vanessa S. Williamson (Ph.D. '15, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution).

Americans Like Taxes

Americans Like Taxes

April 13, 2016

No Jargon [Podcast—Ep. 28] | Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), now a fellow at the Brookings Institution, dispels the misconception that Americans hate taxes. In fact, most Americans support taxes and are willing to increase them for services they care about. She outlines how, despite this, anti-tax policies became so popular. No Jargon presents interviews with top university scholars on the politics, policy problems, and social issues facing the nation. Subscribe  in iTunes, or listen to individual episodes at the SSN website.

Did Blacks Really Endorse the 1994 Crime Bill?

Did Blacks Really Endorse the 1994 Crime Bill?

April 13, 2016

The New York Times | By Elizabeth Hinton (Harvard), and Julilly Kohnler-Hausmann (Cornell), and Vesla M. Weaver (Ph.D. '07, Associate Professor, Yale University). The 1994 crime bill was the result of "a process of selectively hearing black voices on the question of crime."

America's Eviction Epidemic

America's Eviction Epidemic

April 12, 2016

The New Republic | A look at Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

Good jobs without a degree? Boston's $3 million test

Good jobs without a degree? Boston's $3 million test

April 11, 2016

Christian Science Monitor | Facing problems of income inequality, US cities looking at new ways to create well-paying jobs for workers. With insights from Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01), associate professor at Northeastern University.

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LATEST ACADEMIC ARTICLES BY OUR DOCTORAL FELLOWS

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.

The Populist Style in American Politics: Presidential Campaign Rhetoric, 1952-1996
Bonikowski, Bart, and Noam Gidron. Forthcoming. “The Populist Style in American Politics: Presidential Campaign Rhetoric, 1952-1996.” Social Forces. Full text (authors' version)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.

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.

Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice
Angrist, Joshua D., Sarah R. Cohodes, Susan M. Dynarski, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters. Forthcoming. “Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’S Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice.” Journal of Labor Economics 34 (2). NBER Working Paper 19275. June 2014 versionAbstract

We use admissions lotteries to estimate effects of attendance at Boston's charter high schools on college preparation and enrollment. Charter schools increase pass rates on Massachusetts' high-stakes exit exam, with large effects on the likelihood of qualifying for a state-sponsored scholarship. Charter attendance boosts SAT scores sharply, and also increases the likelihood of taking an Advanced Placement (AP) exam, the number of AP exams taken, and AP scores. Charters induce a substantial shift from two- to four-year institutions, though the effect on overall college enrollment is modest. Charter effects on college-related outcomes are strongly correlated with gains on earlier tests.

Parties, Brokers and Voter Mobilization: How Turnout Buying Depends Upon the Party's Capacity to Monitor Brokers
Larreguy, Horacio, John Marshall, and Pablo Querubin. 2016. “Parties, Brokers and Voter Mobilization: How Turnout Buying Depends Upon the Party's Capacity to Monitor Brokers.” American Political Science Review 110 (01): 160-179.Abstract

Despite its prevalence, little is known about when parties buy turnout. We emphasize the problem of parties monitoring local brokers with incentives to shirk. Our model suggests that parties extract greater turnout buying effort from their brokers where they can better monitor broker performance and where favorable voters would not otherwise turn out. Exploiting exogenous variation in the number of polling stations—and thus electoral information about broker performance—in Mexican electoral precincts, we find that greater monitoring capacity increases turnout and votes for the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Consistent with our theoretical predictions, the effect of monitoring capacity on PRI votes varies nonlinearly with the distance of voters to the polling station: it first increases because rural voters—facing larger costs of voting—generally favor the PRI, before declining as the cost of incentivizing brokers increases. This nonlinearity is not present for the PAN, who stand to gain less from mobilizing rural voters.

(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University
Jack, Anthony Abraham. 2016. “(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University.” Sociology of Education 89 (1): 1-15.Abstract

How do undergraduates engage authority figures in college? Existing explanations predict class-based engagement strategies. Using in-depth interviews with 89 undergraduates at an elite university, I show how undergraduates with disparate precollege experiences differ in their orientations toward and strategies for engaging authority figures in college. Middle-class undergraduates report being at ease in interacting with authority figures and are proactive in doing so. Lower-income undergraduates, however, are split. The privileged poor—lower-income undergraduates who attended boarding, day, and preparatory high schools—enter college primed to engage professors and are proactive in doing so. By contrast, the doubly disadvantaged—lower-income undergraduates who remained tied to their home communities and attended local, typically distressed high schools—are more resistant to engaging authority figures in college and tend to withdraw from them. Through documenting the heterogeneity among lower-income undergraduates, I show how static understandings of individuals’ cultural endowments derived solely from family background homogenize the experiences of lower-income undergraduates. In so doing, I shed new light on the cultural underpinnings of education processes in higher education and extend previous analyses of how informal university practices exacerbate class differences among undergraduates.

Compounded Deprivation in the Transition to Adulthood: The Intersection of Racial and Economic Inequality Among Chicagoans, 1995–2013
Perkins, Kristin L., and Robert J. Sampson. 2015. “Compounded Deprivation in the Transition to Adulthood: The Intersection of Racial and Economic Inequality Among Chicagoans, 1995–2013” 1 (1): 35-54.Abstract

This paper investigates acute, compounded, and persistent deprivation in a representative sample of Chicago adolescents transitioning to young adulthood. Our investigation, based on four waves of longitudinal data from 1995 to 2013, is motivated by three goals. First, we document the prevalence of individual and neighborhood poverty over time, especially among whites, blacks, and Latinos. Second, we explore compounded deprivation, describing the extent to which study participants are simultaneously exposed to individual and contextual forms of deprivation—including material deprivation (such as poverty) and social-organizational deprivation (for example, low collective efficacy)—for multiple phases of the life course from adolescence up to age thirty-two. Third, we isolate the characteristics that predict transitions out of compounded and persistent poverty. The results provide new evidence on the crosscutting adversities that were exacerbated by the Great Recession and on the deep connection of race to persistent and compounded deprivation in the transition to adulthood.

Asymmetric Interest Group Mobilization and Party Coalitions in U.S. Tax Politics
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander, and Theda Skocpol. 2015. “Asymmetric Interest Group Mobilization and Party Coalitions in U.S. Tax Politics.” Studies in American Political Development 29 (2): 235-249.Abstract

Arguments about national tax policy have taken center stage in U.S. politics in recent times, creating acute dilemmas for Democrats. With Republicans locked into antitax agendas for some time, Democrats have recently begun to push back, arguing for maintaining or even increasing taxes on the very wealthy in the name of deficit reduction and the need to sustain funding for public programs. But the Democratic Party as a whole has not been able to find a consistent voice on tax issues. It experienced key defections when large, upward-tilting tax cuts were enacted under President George W. Bush, and the Democratic Party could not control the agenda on debates over continuing those tax cuts even when it enjoyed unified control in Washington, DC, in 2009 and 2010. To explain these cleavages among Democrats, we examine growing pressures from small business owners, a key antitax constituency. We show that organizations claiming to speak for small business have become more active in tax politics in recent decades, and we track the ways in which constituency pressures have been enhanced by feedbacks from federal tax rules that encourage individuals to pass high incomes through legal preferences for the self-employed. Comparing debates over the inception and renewal of the Bush tax cuts, we show how small business organizations and constituencies have divided Democrats on tax issues. Our findings pinpoint the mechanisms that have propelled tax resistance in contemporary U.S. politics, and our analysis contributes to theoretical understandings of the ways in which political parties are influenced by policy feedbacks and by coalitions of policy-driven organized economic interests.

Toward a Multidimensional Understanding of Culture for Health Interventions
Asad, Asad L., and Tamara Kay. 2015. “Toward a Multidimensional Understanding of Culture for Health Interventions.” Social Science & Medicine 144: 79-87. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Although a substantial literature examines the relationship between culture and health in myriad individual contexts, a lack of comparative data across settings has resulted in disparate and imprecise conceptualizations of the concept for scholars and practitioners alike. This article examines scholars and practitioners’ understandings of culture in relation to health interventions. Drawing on 169 interviews with officials from three different nongovernmental organizations working on health issues in multiple countries—Partners in Health, Oxfam America, and Sesame Workshop—we examine how these respondents’ interpretations of culture converge or diverge with recent developments in the study of the concept, as well as how these understandings influence health interventions at three different stages—design, implementation, and evaluation—of a project. Based on these analyses, a tripartite definition of culture is built—as knowledge, practice, and change—and these distinct conceptualizations are linked to the success or failure of a project at each stage of an intervention. In so doing, the study provides a descriptive and analytical starting point for scholars interested in understanding the theoretical and empirical relevance of culture for health interventions, and sets forth concrete recommendations for practitioners working to achieve robust improvements in health outcomes.

How Legislators Respond to Localized Economic Shocks: Evidence from Chinese Import Competition
Feigenbaum, James J., and Andrew B. Hall. 2015. “How Legislators Respond to Localized Economic Shocks: Evidence from Chinese Import Competition.” Journal of Politics 77 (4): 1012-1030.Abstract

We explore the effects of localized economic shocks from trade on roll-call behavior and electoral outcomes in the US House, 1990–2010. We demonstrate that economic shocks from Chinese import competition—first studied by Autor, Dorn, and Hanson—cause legislators to vote in a more protectionist direction on trade bills but cause no change in their voting on all other bills. At the same time, these shocks have no effect on the reelection rates of incumbents, the probability an incumbent faces a primary challenge, or the partisan control of the district. Though changes in economic conditions are likely to cause electoral turnover in many cases, incumbents exposed to negative economic shocks from trade appear able to fend off these effects in equilibrium by taking strategic positions on foreign-trade bills. In line with this view, we find that the effect on roll-call voting is strongest in districts where incumbents are most threatened electorally. Taken together, these results paint a picture of responsive incumbents who tailor their roll-call positions on trade bills to the economic conditions in their districts.

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