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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

How America Lost its Mojo

How America Lost its Mojo

May 27, 2016

The AtlanticAmericans are less likely to switch jobs, move to another state, or create new companies than they were 30 years ago (or 100 years ago). What’s going on? Cites research by Raven Molloy (Ph.D. '06, now a senior economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System) and colleagues (See their BPEA paper). Also cites research by Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11, now Assistant Professor, HKS) linking rising housing prices in wealthy areas to declining income convergence (See their paper).

Chicago's Murder Problem

Chicago's Murder Problem

May 27, 2016

The New York Times | Why homicide rates in Chicago outpace those in New York, with insights from Robert Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences.

Prosperity and Equality

Prosperity and Equality

May 27, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Dean  Douglas Elmendorf of  the Harvard Kennedy School and Claudia Goldin, Harvard's Henry Lee Professor of Economics, were among the participants in "Building an Economy for Prosperity and Equality," the opening symposium of Radcliffe Day, which honored  Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair, with this year's Radcliffe Medal. Harvard Magazine writes that the panel, which also included economists David Autor of MIT, Louise Sheiner of the Brookings Institution, and Celia Rouse of Princeton University as moderator, "featured some of the most interesting researchers addressing these problems...in a searching, intelligent exchange of the sort that rarely occurred in the debates televised during the primary season."
View the discussion [85 minutes] ▶

Janet Yellen Talks Policy and Inequality at Radcliffe Day Celebration

Janet Yellen Talks Policy and Inequality at Radcliffe Day Celebration

May 27, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Harvard's Commencement week concluded with a a program "honoring Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, the recipient of this year’s Radcliffe Medal and one of today’s most publicly vocal advocates of shared prosperity." Harvard Magazine notes that "Yellen has been unapologetic in her view that promoting broadly shared prosperity is inherent in the Fed’s mandate, a role which has cemented her leadership in the public conversation on inequality."
View event video ▶

Janet Yellen to receive Radcliffe Medal

Janet Yellen to receive Radcliffe Medal

May 26, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Dean Douglas Elmendorf of  Harvard Kennedy School and Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard, are among the participants in a Radcliffe Day event on May 27 honoring Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair and this year's Radcliffe Medalist. The day will open with the panel "Building an Economy for Prosperity and Equality," featuring Elmendorf and Goldin. Other Radcliffe Day participants include former Fed Chair Ben S. Bernanke; economics professor Gregory Mankiw of Harvard; Cecilia Rouse, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University; economics professor David Autor of MIT, and Louise Sheiner of the Brookings Institution. The day's events will be webcast live beginning at 10:30 am.

Inside the Eviction Epidemic

Inside the Eviction Epidemic

May 26, 2016

WNET Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America | Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, provides a firsthand look at the harsh realities of living in a trailer park [video segment: 8:27 minutes]. See the full documentary, The Last Trailer Park, which includes Desmond's interview [26:47 minutes].

Bringing Back Labor, Without the Unions

Bringing Back Labor, Without the Unions

May 24, 2016

Bloomberg View | Cites study by Bruce Western (Professor of Sociology and Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice) and Jake Rosenfeld (Washington University in St. Louis), which found that the decline of organized labor between 1973 and 2007 explains one-third of the rise in wage inequality among men during this time (See their ASR article), and by Richard Freeman (Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics) and colleagues, which finds a "strong, though not necessarily causal link between unions, the middle class, and intergenerational mobility." (See Freeman et. al. study)

Neighborhoods Can Shape Success—Down to the Level of a City Block

Neighborhoods Can Shape Success—Down to the Level of a City Block

May 23, 2016

The Atlantic | A small but intriguing study done in West Philadelphia points to the importance of what researchers call microenvironments.  Features Laura Tach (Ph. '10) of Cornell University, lead author of the study. Also cites work of  Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren and Lawrence Katz.

Not Leaving, Just Changing Jobs

Not Leaving, Just Changing Jobs

May 23, 2016

Education Next | By Paul E. Peterson, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government. With this issue, Peterson passes leadership of the journal Education Next to Martin West (Ph.D. 06), Associate Professor of Education, who will now serve as editor-in-chief. Peterson will continue to serve as senior editor for the publication, which he and collaborators launched 17-years ago.

Researchers Find Surprising Results After Testing A New Way To Measure Poverty

Researchers Find Surprising Results After Testing A New Way To Measure Poverty

May 19, 2016

NPR Morning Edition | Christopher Wimer (Ph.D. '07), Co-Director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, is working with colleagues on a better way to measure poverty in New York City. Visit the interactive website to learn more about the Robin Hood Poverty Tracker. Scott Winship (Ph.D. '09), Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, agrees that the research reveals some useful findings but expresses reservations about the measures, arguing that they may misdirect attention and public resources from those who really are struggling.

The Complex Relationship between Data and Cities

The Complex Relationship between Data and Cities

May 18, 2016

The Atlantic CityLab |Checking in on the latest advancements, and the challenges that remain. Highlights work by faculty affiliate Robert Sampson and Jackelyn Hwang (Ph.D. '15, now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University), and a recent NBER paper by faculty affiliates Edward L. Glaeser and Michael Luca (with colleagues Scott Duke Kominers and Nikhil Naik), which uses computer visioning to better understand geographic differences in income and housing prices.

The Destructive Legacy of Housing Segregation

The Destructive Legacy of Housing Segregation

May 17, 2016

The Atlantic | By Patrick Sharkey (Ph.D. '07), New York University. Less visible than the rise of economic inequality is the way it has altered America's urban neighborhoods. Two books—Evicted by Harvard's Matthew Desmond and Ghetto by Mitchell Duneier (Princeton)—should help change that, writes Sharkey.

Latest commentary and analysis

New Laws for the New 'Gig Economy'

New Laws for the New 'Gig Economy'

June 23, 2016

WBUR - On Point | Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics; Gillian White of The Atlantic; and Seth Harris, former deputy U.S. Labor Secretary and former acting U.S. Labor Secretary guest.

Who is affirmative action for?

Who is affirmative action for?

June 23, 2016

Boston Globe | By Natasha Kumar Warikoo (Ph.D. '05), Associate Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Why ultimately the narrow diversity defense of affirmative action is harmful, Warikoo argues. Draws from her forthcoming book based on research with undergraduates at Ivy League universities, The Diversity Bargain (University of Chicago Press).

Challenges in Measuring Regulatory Capture

Challenges in Measuring Regulatory Capture

June 22, 2016

RegBlog | By Daniel Carpenter, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government. "An executive order setting out clear criteria by which to measure regulatory capture would help provide much needed clarity and guidance for agencies and those tasked with assessing their behavior," writes Carpenter. This essay is part of a 15-part series, Rooting Out Regulatory Capture.

Why Diversity Programs Fail

Why Diversity Programs Fail

June 21, 2016

Harvard Business Review | By Frank Dobbin (Professor of Sociology) and Alexandra Kalev (Tel Aviv University). "Companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s—which often make things worse, not better," the authors argue. "The very good news is that we know what does work—we just need to do more of it."

Bonus: Jump on the Bandwagon

Bonus: Jump on the Bandwagon

June 21, 2016

No Jargon [Podcast—Ep. 38] | Harvard economist Richard Freeman and Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse of Rutgers University stay post-interview to discuss why trade unions, business schools, and foundations should get on board with employee ownership and profit sharing programs. Subscribe  in iTunes, or listen to individual episodes at the SSN website.

When Workers Become Owners

When Workers Become Owners

June 21, 2016

No Jargon [Podcast—Ep. 38] | Harvard economist Richard Freeman joins Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse of Rutgers University to explain how sharing the ownership or profits of a company with workers can improve productivity, pay, and work life quality—all while reducing economic inequality. 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.

Stagnationists are Simply Wrong

Stagnationists are Simply Wrong

June 16, 2016

Forbes | By Scott Winship (Ph.D. '09), Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

When it comes to subprime lending, both race and space matter

When it comes to subprime lending, both race and space matter

June 14, 2016

Work in Progress | By Jackelyn Hwang (Ph.D. '15, now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Office of Population Research at Princeton University) , Michael Hankinson (Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy), and Kreg Steven Brown (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology).  A summary of the authors' research on "Racial and Spatial Targeting", which originally appeared in the journal Social Forces. Work in Progress is a public sociology blog of the American Sociological Association, dedicated to 'short-form sociology' on the economy, work, and inequality.

Where are the Jobs?, v. 2.0. Now with earnings data

Where are the Jobs?, v. 2.0. Now with earnings data

June 8, 2016

Robert Manduca, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, has released a new version of his 'Where are the Jobs?' data visualization, now with earnings data. These interactive maps depict nearly every single job in the United States, one dot per job. Each plotted job is color-coded by sector and by earnings, allowing exploration of the spatial distribution of employment and pay in fine detail. The new maps also include previously unavailable data for Massachusetts. Manduca's research interests in this area focus on local economic development—how cities and regions can promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Learn more about his work at his website.

Anthony Jack: A New Voice for Diversity in Higher Ed

Anthony Jack: A New Voice for Diversity in Higher Ed

June 7, 2016

Harvard Alumni for Education (HAEd| Interview with Anthony Abraham Jack (Ph.D. '16), now Harvard Society of Fellows. "What I’m showing is that two students who come from similar backgrounds are experiencing college so differently. Why? And what are colleges doing to magnify those differences? Because the whole story is not just differences between the middle class and the working class. There are differences between those who have access to a middle class way of life and those who do not."

The US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty: An Idea Grows in Brooklyn

The US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty: An Idea Grows in Brooklyn

June 6, 2016

The Urban Institute | By David Ellwood and Nisha G. Patel. An introduction to the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, chaired by David Ellwood, Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School. The accompanying video, which highlights the first stages of group's work, also features partnership participant Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics. The partnership brings together 24 scholars and practitioners with the aim of discovering permanent ladders of mobility for the poor.
[Video 4:42 minutes]

The Tale of Two Cities: Inequality and Global Cities

The Tale of Two Cities: Inequality and Global Cities

June 3, 2016

Chicago Council of Global Affairs | Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, participated in a plenary panel on urban inequality at the second annual Chicago Forum on Global Cites, hosted by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs and the Financial Times. [Text and event video]

In Vergara, low-income students pay...one way or another

In Vergara, low-income students pay...one way or another

June 3, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Thomas J. Kane, Walter H. Gale Professor of Education and a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. "A decade from now, we will look back on the statutes challenged in the Vergara case as shameful examples of one group of adults putting their own interests ahead of children," Kane writes.

Getting federal stimulus money turned blue U.S. counties bluer, and red counties redder. How can that be?

Getting federal stimulus money turned blue U.S. counties bluer, and red counties redder. How can that be?

June 2, 2016

Washington Post | By Katherine Levine Einstein (Ph.D. '12), Kris-Stella Trump, and Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '14).  "Political science research has been finding increasingly polarized reactions to polling questions...But our work suggests that polarization is even deeper: The public, at least in this very high-profile instance, reacted to actual federal spending by growing more divided."

The authors draw from their research,"The Polarizing Effect of the Stimulus: Partisanship and Voter Responsiveness to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," recently published in Presidential Studies Quarterly.

Why the Education Department's New Equity Rule Might Not Be So Equal

Why the Education Department's New Equity Rule Might Not Be So Equal

June 1, 2016

The Atlantic | By Nora Gordon (Ph.D. '02), Associate Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University: "On the surface, the proposed rule sounds like a win for poor kids...However, the practical and policy implications are far less straightforward than they first appear."

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Residential Mobility by Whites Maintains Segregation Despite Recent Changes

Residential Mobility by Whites Maintains Segregation Despite Recent Changes

December 21, 2016

NYU Furman Center | By Jackelyn Hwang (Ph.D. '15), essay for the NYU Furman Center discussion series "The Dream Revisited." Hwang is postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University, and in fall 2017 will join the Stanford University faculty as Assistant Professor of Sociology.

Economic Report of the President 2017

Economic Report of the President 2017

December 15, 2016

Reducing inequality, reforming the health care system, investing in higher education, strengthening the financial system, and addressing climate change are the focus of this year's Economic Report of the President.

Draws on research by Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Amitabh Chandra, Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15), David Deming (Ph.D. '10 and faculty), Will Dobbie (Ph.D. '13), Roland Fryer, Claudia Goldin, Joshua Goodman, Nathaniel Hendren, Thomas Kane, Lawrence Katz, Adam Looney (Ph.D. '04), Brigitte Madrian, Sendhil Mullainathan, Jonah Rockoff (Ph.D. '04), and Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. '09).

Washington Center for Equitable Growth

The fading American dream: trends in absolute income mobility since 1940

December 8, 2016

Washington Center for Equitable Growth | By Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca, and Jimmy Narang.

A summary of the authors' findings from a newly-released paper by a team of researchers from Stanford, Harvard, and UC Berkeley. Harvard Inequality & Social Policy affiliates are Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics, and Robert Manduca, Ph.D. student in Sociology & Social Policy. Learn more: The Equality of Opportunity Project 

A principled federal role in PreK-12 education

A principled federal role in PreK-12 education

December 7, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Douglas N. Harris, Helen F. Ladd, Marshall S. Smith, and Martin R. West. A set of principles to guide the federal role in education policy from a bipartisan group of scholars and policy experts. Martin West (Ph.D. '06) is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

High-Stakes Student Testing has Mixed Results in Texas Schools

High-Stakes Student Testing has Mixed Results in Texas Schools

December 1, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Discusses findings of new study forthcoming in the December issue of The Review of Economics and Statistics by David J. Deming (Ph.D. '10), Professor of Education and Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15), Assistant Professor of Education an Public Policy, Teachers College, Columbia University; Jennifer Jennings of New York University; and Christopher Jencks, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, Emeritus, Harvard Kennedy School.... Read more about High-Stakes Student Testing has Mixed Results in Texas Schools

After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality

After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality

November 15, 2016

 

Harvard University Press | Ellora Derenoncourt, Ph.D. candidate in Economics, is a contributor to After Piketty, forthcoming from Harvard University Press in April 2017. Edited by Heather Boushey, J. Bradford DeLong, and Marshall Steinbaum, the 640-page volume brings together published reviews by Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Robert Solow and newly-commissioned essays by Suresh Naidu, Laura Tyson, Michael Spence, Heather Boushey, Branko Milanovic, and others. Emmanuel Saez lays out an agenda for future research on inequality, while a variety of essays examine the book's implications for the social sciences more broadly. Piketty replies in a substantial concluding chapter.

Derenoncourt's chapter explores the historical and institutional origins of the wealth and income inequality documented in Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century. Drawing on the framework introduced by Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, and James Robinson of extractive and inclusive institutions, Derenoncourt demonstrates how these institutions influence the distribution of economic outcomes in different countries and regions historically. In particular, she explores these questions in the context of slavery in the US South and European colonization in Africa and the Americas.

Learn more about her work:
Ellora Derenoncourt: Ph.D. fellow page ▶... Read more about After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality

Chart of the week: Do high taxes motivate star inventors to relocate?

Chart of the week: Do high taxes motivate star inventors to relocate?

November 4, 2016

American Economics Association | Is tax flight by the rich mostly a myth or a serious concern? Discusses new study co-authored by Stefanie Stantcheva, Assistant Professor of Economics, which appears in the October issue of the American Economic Review. The research is co-authored by Ufuk Akcigit, University of Chicago, and Salomé Baslandze, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance. 
View AER article (complimentary access)

Research highlight: Are hospitals more like other businesses than we thought?

Research highlight: Are hospitals more like other businesses than we thought?

November 2, 2016

American Economics Association | Delves into new article by Harvard's Amitabh Chandra (Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy), Amy Finkelstein (MIT), Adam Sacarny (Columbia University), and Chad Syverson (Chicago Booth).

"A study published in the August issue of American Economic Review found that hospitals – long thought to be economic islands apart from typical market pressures – are shaped by consumer-driven forces like in other industries. The findings challenge long-held beliefs about health care “exceptionalism” and raise questions for policymakers as they consider reforms to the $3 trillion U.S. health care sector."
View the AER article (complimentary access)

The Importance of Middle Skill Jobs

The Importance of Middle Skill Jobs

October 25, 2016

National Academy of Sciences—Issues in Science and Technology | By Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01). Middle-skill jobs are key for the nation and its workforce. Here is where things stand today and projections for future improvements. 

Alicia Sasser Modestino is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics at Northeastern University, and Associate Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

6 charts showing race gaps within the American middle class

6 charts showing race gaps within the American middle class

October 21, 2016

Brookings Institution | Latest Social Mobility Memo by Richard V. Reeves and Dana Bowen Matthew of the Brookings Institution features findings of new study by Judith-Scott Clayton (Ph.D. '09), Associate Professor of Education and Economics, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Jing-Li, also of Columbia University, revealing large black-white disparities in student loan debt, which more than triples after graduation.

Invention, place, and economic inclusion

Invention, place, and economic inclusion

October 20, 2016

Brookings Institution | Delves into research by Inequality fellow Alex Bell (Ph.D. candidate in Economics), Raj Chetty (Stanford University), Xavier Jaravel (now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford), and John Van Reenen (LSE and MIT) showing that "children of low-income parents are much less likely to become inventors than their higher-income counterparts (as are minorities and women)." Their research explores the sources of differences, and "establishes the importance of 'innovation exposure effects' during childhood," both geographic and parental.
View the research

Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation

Black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation

October 20, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Judith Scott Clayton (Ph.D. '09), Associate Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Jing Li, Research Associate, Teachers College: "While previous work has documented racial disparities in student borrowing, delinquencies, and defaults, in this report we provide new evidence that racial gaps in total debt are far larger than even recent reports have recognized, far larger now than in the past, and correlated with troubling trends in the economy and in the for-profit sector. We conclude with a discussion of policy implications."

Recommendations for Federal Budget Policy

Recommendations for Federal Budget Policy

October 7, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Douglas W Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School. This brief is part of "Election 2016 and America’s Future." a Brookings-wide initiative in which Brookings scholars have identified the biggest issues facing the country this election season and are providing individual ideas for how to address them. Elmendorf was a visiting fellow with Brookings until he became Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School in January 2016.

Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market

Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market

October 4, 2016

The Hamilton Project | New policy brief  by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and colleagues draws from research by Harvard faculty member David Deming, "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market." Deming (Ph.D. '10), Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education, first presented this work in the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series in fall 2015.
View the latest version of Deming's paper (Aug 2016).... Read more about Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market

Housing Development Toolkit

Housing Development Toolkit

September 26, 2016

The White House | The Obama administration issued a policy brief that takes aim at accumulated barriers to housing development, zoning and other land-use regulations that the administration argues are jeopardizing housing affordability, increasing income inequality by reducing access to high-wage labor  markets, and stifling economic growth. The report cites Sociology faculty member Matthew Desmond's Evicted, noting the lasting trauma that extreme rent burdens and housing insecurity can pose for families, and draws extensively on research by Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11 and HKS faculty), Edward Glaeser (Economics), and Raven (Saks) Malloy (Ph.D. '05), now section chief with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, on the rise and consequences of land-use regulations.