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FOR Ph.D. FELLOWS 2015-2016

The Inequality & Social Policy Doctoral Fellows Program

For Harvard Ph.D. students now completing their G-1 or G-2 year in a social science doctoral program.

Application deadline
Monday, May 18, 2015

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Meet Our Fellows

Each year 8-12 new Doctoral Fellows are selected from Harvard's Ph.D. programs in the social sciences.
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Over 140 Inequality doctoral fellows have earned their Ph.D.'s.
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Seminar series

Newly released

The two papers presented by Professor Raj Chetty in his Malcolm Wiener Seminar, "The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children's Long-Term Outcomes," have now been released for distribution:

For a discussion of this research, see Justin Wolfers (Ph.D. '01), "Why the New Research on Mobility Matters," New York Times (May 4, 2015).



Why the New Research on Mobility Matters: An Economist's View

Why the New Research on Mobility Matters: An Economist's View

May 4, 2015

New York Times | By Justin Wolfers (Ph.D. '01). Discussion of new findings by economics professors Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence Katz. Raj Chetty first presented these results in the Malcolm Wiener Seminar, Jan 26, 2015.

An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty

An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty

May 4, 2015

New York Times | Discussion of  latest work by professors Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence Katz of the Harvard Economics Department. Raj Chetty first presented these findings in the Malcolm Wiener Seminar.

How Not to Drown in Numbers

How Not to Drown in Numbers

May 2, 2015

New York Times | Op-ed argues we need "small data" to make sense of "big data", noting Thomas Kane's work with school districts.

Justice, pursued

Justice, pursued

May 1, 2015

Harvard Gazette | Phillip Atiba Goff, Visiting Scholar, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy

More news


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. 
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.
Freeman, Richard B, and Wei Huang. Forthcoming. “

Collaborating with People Like Me: Ethnic Co-Authorship Within the Us

.” Journal of Labor Economics. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This study examines the ethnic identify of the co-authors of over 1.2 million papers with US addresses from 1985 to 2008. It finds a striking change in the ethnic composition of authors, with the proportion with English and European names falling while the proportion of names from China and other developing countries increases. The greater variety of ethnicity is associated with considerable homophily among research teams, as persons of similar ethnicity tend to work together far more frequently than can be explained by chance. The paper identifies a modest negative relation between homophily and the potential scientific contribution of the papers as measured by the impact factor of journals of publication and the number of citations, with the latter attributable to the previous publishing performance of authors. Using a Markov analysis to calculate a steady state rate of homophily, the paper finds that the rates is close to the steady state and thus likely to continue at high levels into the future. The analysis also finds that papers written by authors at different addresses and that cite larger numbers of references are more likely to get into high impact journals and to gain more citations than other papers.