Meet our fellows

Fellows and alumni

Each year 8-12 new Doctoral Fellows are selected from Harvard's Ph.D. programs in the social sciences.
Meet the 2014-2015 fellows ▶

Hire a Harvard Ph.D.
Inequality doctoral fellows on the job market in AY 2015-16.
(Coming soon).

Over 140 Inequality doctoral fellows have earned their Ph.D.'s.
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Seminar series



The Teacher: Cassi Pittman

The Teacher: Cassi Pittman

July 22, 2015

Cleveland Scene | Cassi L. Pittman (Ph.D. '12) on the issues facing her native East Cleveland and the challenges of improving NE Ohio's urban core.

Off the Shelf

Off the Shelf

July 19, 2015

Harvard Magazine | The Allure of Order, by Jal Mehta (faculty and Ph.D. '06), is recommended as "a sobering history of the 'troubled quest to remake American schooling' through attempts to impose external accountability on teaching—most recently, via the No Child Left Behind Act."

Wealth and Finance in Post Civil-Rights America

Wealth and Finance in Post Civil-Rights America

July 18, 2015

Harlem Book Fair (C-SPAN2 Book TV) | Vesla Weaver (Ph.D. '07) of  Yale University joined a panel with Dalton Conley (NYU), William Tabb (Professor Emeritus, Queens College and CUNY), and Damon Phillips (Columbia Business School)

Capitalism for the Rest of Us

Capitalism for the Rest of Us

July 17, 2015

The New York Times | By Joseph R. Blasi (Rutgers), Douglas L. Kruse (Rutgers), and Richard B. Freeman

More news


Feigenbaum, James J, and Andrew B Hall. Forthcoming. “How Legislators Respond to Localized Economic Shocks: Evidence from Chinese Import Competition.” Journal of Politics. Publisher's versionAbstract
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.
Abeler, Johannes, and Simon Jäger. Forthcoming. “

Complex Tax Incentives

.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.Abstract
How does tax complexity affect people’s reaction to tax changes? To answer this question, we conduct an experiment in which subjects work for a piece rate and face taxes. One treatment features a simple, the other a complex tax system. The payoff-maximizing output level and the incentives around this optimum are, however, identical across treatments. We introduce the same sequence of additional taxes in both treatments. Subjects in the complex treatment underreact to new taxes; some ignore new taxes entirely. The underreaction is stronger for subjects with lower cognitive ability. Contrary to predictions from models of rational inattention, subjects are equally likely to ignore large or small incentive changes. 
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. NBER version (2013)Abstract
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.
Desmond, Matthew, Carl Gershenson, and Barbara Kiviat. 2015. “Forced Relocation and Residential Instability Among Urban Renters.” Social Service Review 89. The University of Chicago Press: pp. 227-262. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract Residential instability often brings about other forms of instability in families, schools, and communities that compromise the life chances of adults and children. Social scientists have found that low-income families move frequently without fully understanding why. Drawing on novel data of more than 1,000 Milwaukee renters, this article explores the relationship between forced relocation and residential instability. It finds that low incomes are associated with higher rates of mobility due to poorer renters’ greater exposure to forced displacement. Not only do higher rates of formal and informal eviction, landlord foreclosure, and building condemnation directly increase the mobility of poorer renters, but forced displacement also increases subsequent unforced mobility. A forced move often compels renters to accept substandard housing, which drives them to soon move again. This article reveals mechanisms of residential mobility among low-income renters, identifies previously undocumented consequences of forced displacement, and develops a more comprehensive model of residential instability and urban inequality.
Hwang, Jackelyn, Michael Hankinson, and Kreg Steven Brown. 2015. “Racial and Spatial Targeting: Segregation and Subprime Lending Within and Across Metropolitan Areas.” Social Forces 93 (3): 1081-1108. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Recent studies find that high levels of black-white segregation increased rates of foreclosures and subprime lending across US metropolitan areas during the housing crisis. These studies speculate that segregation created distinct geographic markets that enabled subprime lenders and brokers to leverage the spatial proximity of minorities to disproportionately target minority neighborhoods. Yet, the studies do not explicitly test whether the concentration of subprime loans in minority neighborhoods varied by segregation levels. We address this shortcoming by integrating neighborhood-level data and spatial measures of segregation to examine the relationship between segregation and subprime lending across the 100 largest US metropolitan areas. Controlling for alternative explanations of the housing crisis, we find that segregation is strongly associated with higher concentrations of subprime loans in clusters of minority census tracts but find no evidence of unequal lending patterns when we examine minority census tracts in an aspatial way. Moreover, residents of minority census tracts in segregated metropolitan areas had higher likelihoods of receiving subprime loans than their counterparts in less segregated metropolitan areas. Our findings demonstrate that segregation played a pivotal role in the housing crisis by creating relatively larger areas of concentrated minorities into which subprime loans could be efficiently and effectively channeled. These results are consistent with existing but untested theories on the relationship between segregation and the housing crisis in metropolitan areas.
Asad, Asad L. Forthcoming. “

Contexts of Reception, Post-Disaster Migration, and Socioeconomic Mobility

.” Population and Environment. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Current theories conceptualize return migration to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as an individual-level assessment of costs and benefits. Since relocation is cost prohibitive, return migration is thought to be unlikely for vulnerable populations. However, recent analyses of longitudinal survey data suggest that these individuals are likely to return to New Orleans over time despite achieving socioeconomic gains in the post-disaster location. I extend the “context of reception” approach from the sociology of immigration and draw on longitudinal data from the Resilience in the Survivors of Katrina Project to demonstrate how institutional, labor market, and social contexts influence the decision to return. Specifically, I show how subjective comparisons of the three contexts between origin and destination, perceived experiences of discrimination within each context, and changing contexts over time explain my sample’s divergent migration and mobility outcomes. I conclude with implications for future research on, and policy responses to, natural disasters.
Winner of 2014 Marvin E. Olsen Student Paper Award, Section on Environment and Technology, American Sociological Association.
Glaeser, Edward L, Joshua D Gottlieb, and Oren Ziv. Forthcoming. “

Unhappy Cities

.” Journal of Labor Economics.Abstract
There are persistent differences in self-reported subjective well-being across U.S. metropolitan areas, and residents of declining cities appear less happy than others. Yet some people continue to move to these areas, and newer residents appear to be as unhappy as longer term residents. While historical data on happiness are limited, the available facts suggest that cities that are now declining were also unhappy in their more prosperous past. These facts support the view that individuals don’t maximize happiness alone, but include it in the utility function along with other arguments. People may trade off happiness against other competing objectives.