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Latest awards

IZA Prize goes to Claudia Goldin

IZA Prize goes to Claudia Goldin

May 17, 2016

Awardee | Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, is the winner of the 2016 IZA Prize in Labor Economics, awarded by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn. The prize is awarded for outstanding academic achievement in labor economics, intended to stimulate research that seeks "answers to the important labor market policy questions of our time." Read a profile of Claudia Goldin in the The University of Chicago Magazine, where Goldin earned her Ph.D., and Goldin's interview in Econ Focus, magazine of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Q4:2014). Learn more about Goldin's latest work at her Harvard Economics homepage.

Ann Owens named a 2016 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow

Ann Owens named a 2016 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow

May 16, 2016

Awardee | Ann Owens (Ph.D. '12), Assistant Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences at University of Southern California, has been named a 2016 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, a fellowship that supports early career scholars working in critical areas of education research.

Owens will investigate whether and how both school and neighborhood inequalities contribute to the educational attainment gap between high- and low-income youth.The gap between high- and low-income young adults' educational attainment has grown over the past few decades while racial gaps have stabilized. Identifying possible explanations for the economic attainment gap, including neighborhood, district, and school economic segregation, is thus critical for reducing inequality for future generations.
... Read more about Ann Owens named a 2016 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow

Asad L. Asad named a Radcliffe Institute Graduate Student Fellow for 2016-2017

Asad L. Asad named a Radcliffe Institute Graduate Student Fellow for 2016-2017

May 13, 2016

Awardee | Asad L. Asad, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, is one of three Harvard University doctoral students selected to be a Graduate Student Fellow in the 2016-2017 class of Radcliffe Fellows at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Asad will spend the year completing his dissertation, Living in the Shadows? Reconsidering How Immigrants Experience Enforcement Policy, with a Radcliffe Institute Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Learn more about Asad's work at his homepage.

Jal Mehta

Announcing New Radcliffe Institute Fellows: Jal Mehta

May 13, 2016

Awardee | Jal Mehta (Ph.D. '06), Associate Professor in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has been selected to be the Evelyn Green Davis Fellow in the 2016-2017 class of fellows at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. These Radcliffe Fellows—scholars, scientists, and artists—come from six continents and across Harvard to pursue an individual project in an interdisciplinary setting. Mehta will be working on a book, The Chastened Dream: Social Science, Social Policy, and Social Progress across the Twentieth Century.

Abena Subira Mackall awarded AERA Dissertation Travel Award to participate in Annual Meeting

Abena Subira Mackall awarded AERA Dissertation Travel Award to participate in Annual Meeting

May 11, 2016

Awardee | Abena Subira Mackall, doctoral candidate in Education, has been awarded the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Minority Dissertation Travel Award to present her dissertation research at the 2017 annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The 2017 meeting theme is "Achieving the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity." Read more about Mackall's research at her homepage.

Funding the future: Star Family Challenge supports cutting-edge research projects

Funding the future: Star Family Challenge supports cutting-edge research projects

May 10, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Edward L. Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, is one of five recipients of this year's Star Family Challenge grant, awarded annually to "high-risk, high-return research efforts." Glaeser and colleagues are working to extend a machine-learning algorithm based on street-level images  that they developed in Boston and New York to aid in the collection of urban data in developing countries. 

Matthew Desmond to receive 2016 Human Security Award from UC Irvine

Matthew Desmond to receive 2016 Human Security Award from UC Irvine

May 3, 2016

Awardee | Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Science, is the 2016 recipient of the Human Security Award, which recognizes an individual "whose actions have made a dramatic difference in helping protect and empower the world’s most vulnerable groups and communities." The award is sponsored by the UC Irvine Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation, Center for Unconventional Security, and School of Social Ecology.

Mary Waters selected to give Henry and Bryna David Lecture at National Academy of Sciences

Mary Waters selected to give Henry and Bryna David Lecture at National Academy of Sciences

May 3, 2016

Awardee | Mary C. Waters, M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology, has been selected to give the 2016 Henry and Bryna David Lecture at the National Academy of Sciences. The Henry and Bryna David Endowment awards innovative research in the behavioral and social sciences by selecting a leading expert and researcher to write an article in their field to be presented at the National Academy of Sciences and published in Issues in Science and Technology.  The lecture will be webcast live May 3, 2016, at 5 pm.

Waters first presented this work, "The War on Crime and the War on Immigrants: New Forms of Legal Exclusion and Discrimination in the U.S.," in the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series, March 7, 2016.

Richard Freeman recognized with AEA Distinguished Fellow Award

Richard Freeman recognized with AEA Distinguished Fellow Award

April 29, 2016

Awardee | Richard B. Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics, is one of four recipients of the American Economics Association Distinguished Fellow award for lifetime distinguished research contributions. 

"Richard Freeman is an enormously innovative labor economist who has made pioneering contributions to virtually every aspect of the field including the market for highly educated labor, the economics of discrimination and poverty, the economics of trade unionism, comparative labor market institutions and empirical methodology. Freeman’s analyses have been notably expansive, eye opening, revealing, policy-relevant and often provocative, no more so than on trade unionism and the role of employee ownership." More ►

Center on the Developing Child Richmond Fellowship: Abena Subira Mackall

Center on the Developing Child Richmond Fellowship: Abena Subira Mackall

April 28, 2016

Awardee | Abena Subira Mackall, an Ed.D. candidate in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is one of four Harvard doctoral students to receive a Julius B. Richmond Fellowship from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Mackall’s dissertation research lies at the intersection of education systems and juvenile and criminal justice systems, exploring the lived experience of juvenile probation and how adjudicated youth sentenced to probation interpret and understand this experience within the social context of their daily lives and development.

Center on the Developing Child Richmond Fellowship: Kelley Fong

Center on the Developing Child Richmond Fellowship: Kelley Fong

April 28, 2016

Awardee | Kelley Fong, Ph.D. student in Sociology and Social Policy, is one of four Harvard doctoral students selected to receive a Julius B. Richmond Fellowship from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child for the 2016-2017  academic year.

Fong’s research examines patterns of distrust and disconnection among low-income parents, asking how and why parents disengage from services and systems aimed at supporting their children’s health, well-being, and development.

Sendhil Mullainathan elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Sendhil Mullainathan elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 20, 2016

Awardee | Sendhil Mullainathan, Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics, is one of 213 new members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious learned societies whose members some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, business, and philanthropic leaders. Read more about the University's eight new members in the Harvard Gazette.

Vesla Weaver named a 2016 Carnegie Fellow

Vesla Weaver named a 2016 Carnegie Fellow

April 19, 2016

Awardee | Vesla M. Weaver (Ph.D. '07, now Yale University) is one of 33 recipients of a prestigious Andrew Carnegie fellowship, awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for the advancement of research in the humanities and social sciences. Weaver is Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Yale, and founding director of its Center for the Study of Inequality.

From Yale News: "Weaver’s proposal for the Carnegie fellowship, titled “The Faces of American Democracy,” will examine the relationship between poor citizens and communities and government in the United States. The project will provide the first systematic study of how Americans in different communities experience government activity across a number of areas, including schools, social welfare agencies, police and probation agencies, civil ordinances, the housing authority, and child protective services."

Jeffrey Liebman appointed to new federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Jeffrey Liebman appointed to new federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

April 18, 2016

Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy, has been appointed by Senate Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which was enacted into law in March 2016. The law establishes a 15-member commission to study how best to expand and coordinate the use of federal administrative data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs. (See American Statistical Association community website for list of appointees to date).

See also: Urban Institute, "Everything you need to know about the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking."

Matthew Desmond named a William T. Grant Scholar

Matthew Desmond named a William T. Grant Scholar

April 18, 2016

Awardee | Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, is one of six new William T. Grant Scholars, which supports promising, early career researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences with five-year  research awards. Desmond will pursue research titled "When the State Takes Your Children: How the Child Protective Services System Changes Young Parents."

Kelley Fong awarded Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being

Kelley Fong awarded Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being

April 15, 2016

Awardee | Kelley Fong, Ph.D. student in Sociology & Social Policy, has been awarded a Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. The two-year fellowship is designed to cultivate doctoral scholars whose work can generate "practice and policy initiatives that will enhance child development and improve the nation's ability to prevent all forms of child maltreatment."

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...... Read more about John Marshall receives MPSA Kellogg/Notre Dame Award for Best Paper in Comparative Politics

Latest commentary and analysis

Prisoners at prayer at Gadsden County Jail, Quincy, Fla

Power and Punishment: Two New Books About Race & Crime

April 14, 2017

The New York Times Book Review
By Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. "Two new books offer timely and complementary ways of understanding America’s punitive culture," writes Muhammad: Locking Up Our Own, by James Forman Jr., and A Colony in a Nation, by Chris Hayes.

Why aren't we moving as much for work?

Why aren't we moving as much for work?

April 14, 2017

Marketplace | Daniel Shoag (PhD'11), Associate Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, sees reasons to worry about declining geographical mobility, driven in part by higher housing costs in high-growth areas, which limit opportunity for low-income Americans and increase inequality.

Douglas W. Elmendorf

Advice for the New President and Congress

April 8, 2017

Harvard Graduate School Alumni Day | By Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy, who delivered the keynote address at Harvard GSAS Alumni Day 2017.

Peter A. Hall

Hall shares thoughts on EU's future

April 6, 2017
Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs | Peter A. Hall, Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies at  Harvard, gave a keynote address on "A Continent Redvided? European Integration in Turbulent Times," as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's spring symposium on "Europe in Crisis: The Future of the EU and Trans-Atlantic Relations." View the full program:
La Follette Spring Symposium
Vanessa Williamson, Brookings forum

Why Americans are proud to pay taxes

April 4, 2017

Brookings Institution | The Brookings Institution hosted an event marking the release of Read My Lips: Why Americans are Proud to Pay Taxes, by Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. A panel of experts joined Williamson to discuss how Americans view their responsibility as taxpayers and what Americans’ attitudes about taxes can tell us about public opinions of government as a whole. With E.J. Dionne, Heather Boushey (Washington Center for Equitable Growth), and Frank Clemente (Americans for Fair Taxes). (Video: 90 minutes)

Larry Summers

Larry Summers: The Economy and Tax Reform

March 30, 2017

Charlie Rose | A conversation about the economy and Trump's plans for tax reform with Larry Summers, president emeritus of Harvard University and former treasury secretary under President Clinton. (Video: 30 minutes)

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

March 29, 2017

Christian Science Monitor | By Natasha Warikoo (Ph.D. 05), Associate Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Creating equal opportunity is a huge challenge. But we can start by changing our attitudes toward the admissions process," Warikoo writes.

NEJM logo

An FDA Commissioner for the 21st Century

March 29, 2017

New England Journal of Medicine | By Amitabh Chandra and Rachel E. Sachs. Chandra is Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Sachs is Associate Professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

March 28, 2017

Crain's Chicago Business | By Anjanette M. Chan Tack and Mario L. Small. Discussion of the authors' new in-depth case study, recently published in Sociological Science, which interviewed African American students in high poverty Chicago neighborhoods about how they form friendships. "What we uncovered surprised us," Chan Tack and Small write.

Small is Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology at Harvard. Chan Tack is a doctoral candidate at University of Chicago. 

BETA 2017

New Frontiers in Behavioral Economics

March 28, 2017

The Institute of Public Administration Australia ACT Division (IPAA ACT) and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) hosted Harvard professors Sendhil Mullainathan, Ziad Obermeyer, and Brigitte Madrian for a presentation and discussion of predictive policy—"how it can solve some of society’s most difficult problems and why it matters to government policy making." The event was led by political scientist Michael J. Hiscox, who is currently on leave from his Harvard whle serving as founding director of the Behavioural Economics Team (BETA) in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian Government. Includes video highlights (7 minutes) and full-length event video (~75 minutes).

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

March 27, 2017

Wall Street Journal | By Michael I. Norton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Involving customers or employees in charity decisions can help boost sales or job satisfaction.

Douglas Elmendorf and Richard Parker

Dean Douglas Elmendorf: Understanding the Congressional Budget Office

March 23, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein CenterDoug Elmendorf, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School and former director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) from 2009-2015, discussed why the CBO exists, how it works, and how the media reports on its findings, in a conversation at the Shorenstein Center, March 22, 2017. Highlights and audio.

Douglas Elmendorf via Bloomberg

Trump's Budget isn't Going Anywhere, says Ex-CBO Director

March 17, 2017

Bloomberg | Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, joins to discussTrump's budget proposal and look at growth potential for the U.S. economy. (video: 6 minutes)

Latest academic articles — By doctoral fellows

Sosnaud, Benjamin, David Brady, and Steven M Frenk. 2013. “Class in Name Only: Subjective Class Identity, Objective Class Position, and Vote Choice in American Presidential Elections.” Social Problems 60. University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems: pp. 81-99. Publisher's Version Abstract
Partly because of the widespread tendency for Americans to think of themselves as “middle class,” subjective class identity often does not correspond to objective class position. This study evaluates the extent to which American voters' subjective class identities differ from their objective class positions. We then evaluate the implications of such differences for voting behavior using American National Election Studies data from eight recent presidential elections. Coding respondents according to whether subjective class identity is higher or lower than objective class position, we construct a novel schema of inflated, deflated, and concordant class perceptions. We find that there are substantial differences between Americans' subjective and objective social class: over two-thirds of the upper-middle class have a deflated perception of their class position, only half of the middle class have concordant perceptions, and more than a third of the working class have inflated perceptions. We also find that this divergence varies depending on sociodemographic factors, and especially race and education. The analyses initially show a pattern that those with inflated class perceptions are more likely to vote Republican. However, this relationship is not significant once we control for race and income.
Beckfield, Jason, Sigrun Olafsdottir, and Benjamin Sosnaud. 2013. “Healthcare Systems in Comparative Perspective: Classification, Convergence, Institutions, Inequalities, and Five Missed Turns.” Annual Review of Sociology 39: 127-146. Publisher's Version Abstract
This article reviews and evaluates recent comparative social science scholarship on healthcare systems. We focus on four of the strongest themes in current research: (a) the development of typologies of healthcare systems, (b) assessment of convergence among healthcare systems, (c) problematization of the shifting boundaries of healthcare systems, and (d) the relationship between healthcare systems and social inequalities. Our discussion seeks to highlight the central debates that animate current scholarship and identify unresolved questions and new opportunities for research. We also identify five currents in contemporary sociology that have not been incorporated as deeply as they might into research on healthcare systems. These five missed turns include emphases on social relations, culture, postnational theory, institutions, and causal mechanisms. We conclude by highlighting some key challenges for comparative research on healthcare systems.

Scholars have long noted how migration streams, once initiated, obtain a self-feeding character. Studies have attributed this phenomenon – the cumulative causation of migration – to expanding social networks that connect migrants in destination to individuals in origin. Studies however, often disagree on how social networks influence migration decisions. While many establish a positive association between individuals’ ties to prior migrants and their migration propensities, only few acknowledge that multiple social mechanisms might account for these interdependencies. To address this issue, we adopt a typology developed by DiMaggio and Garip (2012) and consider three mechanisms by which social ties may influence individuals’ migration choices. We study the prevalence of these mechanisms in the Mexico-US migration context using a mixed methods approach. First, analyzing data from more than 90,000 individuals surveyed by the Mexican Migration Project (MMP) we establish the presence of network effects in migration and test how prior migrants in the family or community increase individuals’ migration propensities, and whether prior migrants reduce the effect of economic or political indicators on migration propensities. Second, we analyze qualitative data from 120 in-depth interviews to determine the different mechanisms that lead to interdependencies in individuals’ migration choices. We thus provide a deeper understanding of migration as a social process, which we contend is crucial for anticipating future flows and policy responses.

Linos, Elizabeth. 2013. “Do Conditional Cash Transfers Shift Votes? Evidence from the Honduran PRAF.” Electoral Studies 32: 864-874. Abstract
How do national social programs influence local voting? This study utilizes the experimental set up of a conditional cash transfer program to show that small, targeted cash transfers can have large electoral effects. The Honduran PRAF program allocated an average of $18 per capita per year to poor households within municipalities that were randomly assigned to receive the program. Although the program was administered at the national level, the program increased an incumbent mayor’s re-election probabilities by 39%, without significantly influencing voting behavior in presidential elections. Moreover, the evidence suggests that transferring cash to poor households were more effective at increasing political support than interventions providing public goods for poor villages.
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander. 2013. “Dismantling Policy through Fiscal Constriction: Examining the Erosion in State Unemployment Insurance Finances.” Social Service Review 87. The University of Chicago Press: pp. 438-476. Publisher's Version Abstract
Abstract A common proposition in welfare state research is that programs financed through dedicated payroll taxes tend to be more durable. This article examines American unemployment insurance (UI) as an exception to this proposition. UI is a self-financed social insurance program whose benefits have been dismantled over time because of an inability to maintain a constant revenue base. The study first examines the long-run decline in UI finances and concludes that changes in UI taxes are associated with the largest declines in state finances. It then examines why more states have not pursued reforms to strengthen UI finances and finds that opponents of more generous UI benefits have generally succeeded in preventing such measures, thus constricting UI finances and gradually retrenching benefits. These findings have implications for those seeking to improve UI solvency, as well as for the study of welfare state retrenchment more generally.
Huang, Wei, and Yi Zhou. 2013. “Effects of Education on Cognition at Older Ages: Evidence from China’s Great Famine.” Social Science & Medicine 98: 54-62. Publisher's Version Abstract

This paper explores whether educational attainment has a cognitive reserve capacity in elder life. Using pilot data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), we examined the impact of education on cognitive abilities at old ages. OLS results showed that respondents who completed primary school obtained 18.2 percent higher scores on cognitive tests than those who did not. We then constructed an instrumental variable (IV) by leveraging China’s Great Famine of 1959e1961 as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of education on cognition. Two-stage least squares (2SLS) results provided sound evidence that completing primary school significantly increases cognition scores, especially in episode memory, by almost 20 percent on average. Moreover, Regression Discontinuity (RD) analysis provides further evidence for the causal interpretation, and shows that the effects are different for the different measures of cognition we explored. Our results also show that the Great Famine can result in long-term health consequences through the pathway of losing educational opportunities other than through the pathway of nutrition deprivation.

Huang, Wei, Xiaoyan Lei, John Strauss, Geert Ridder, and Yaohui Zhao. 2013. “Health, Height, Height Shrinkage, and SES at Older Ages: Evidence from China.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 5: 86-121. Publisher's Version Abstract

In this paper, we build on the literature that examines associations between height and health outcomes of the elderly. We investigate the associations of height shrinkage at older ages with socioeconomic status, finding that height shrinkage for both men and women is negatively associated with better schooling, current urban residence, and household per capita expenditures. We then investigate the relationships between pre-shrinkage height, height shrinkage, and a rich set of health outcomes of older respondents, finding that height shrinkage is positively associated with poor health outcomes across a variety of outcomes, being especially strong for cognition outcomes.

Feigenbaum, James J, and Cameron A Shelton. 2013. “The Vicious Cycle: Fundraising and Perceived Viability in US Presidential Primaries.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 8 (1): 1-40. Publisher's Version Abstract
Scholars of presidential primaries have long posited a dynamic positive feedback loop between fundraising and electoral success. Yet existing work on both directions of this feedback remains inconclusive and is often explicitly cross-sectional, ignoring the dynamic aspect of the hypothesis. Pairing high-frequency FEC data on contributions and expenditures with Iowa Electronic Markets data on perceived probability of victory, we examine the bidirectional feedback between contributions and viability. We find robust, significant positive feedback in both directions. This might suggest multiple equilibria: a candidate initially anointed as the front-runner able to sustain such status solely by the fundraising advantage conferred despite possessing no advantage in quality. However, simulations suggest the feedback loop cannot, by itself, sustain advantage. Given the observed durability of front-runners, it would thus seem there is either some other feedback at work and/or the process by which the initial front-runner is identified is informative of candidate quality.
Papachristos, Andrew V, David M Hureau, and Anthony A Braga. 2013. “The Corner and the Crew: The Influence of Geography and Social Networks on Gang Violence.” American Sociological Review 78 (3): 417-447. Abstract

Nearly a century of empirical research examines how neighborhood properties influence a host of phenomena such as crime, poverty, health, civic engagement, immigration, and economic inequality. Theoretically bundled within these neighborhood effects are institutions’ and actors’ social networks that are the foundation of other neighborhood-level processes such as social control, mobilization, and cultural assimilation. Yet, despite such long-standing theoretical links between neighborhoods and social networks, empirical research rarely considers or measures dimensions of geography and social network mechanisms simultaneously. The present study seeks to fill this gap by analyzing how both geography and social networks influence an important social problem in urban America: gang violence. Using detailed data on fatal and non-fatal shootings, we examine effects of geographic proximity, organizational memory, and additional group processes (e.g., reciprocity, transitivity, and status seeking) on gang violence in Chicago and Boston. Results show adjacency of gang turf and prior conflict between gangs are strong predictors of subsequent gang violence. Furthermore, important network processes, including reciprocity and status seeking, also contribute to observed patterns of gang violence. In fact, we find that these spatial and network processes mediate racial effects, suggesting the primacy of place and the group in generating gang violence.

Eldik, Yaseen, and Monica C Bell. 2012. “The Establishment Clause and Public Education in an Islamophobic Era.” Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 8: 245-258. Abstract
The public education system has often been considered a critically important site for inter-ethnic dialogue designed to root out the prejudice that leads to discrimination against ethnic minorities. However, the prohibition of certain religious practices in schools has placed the "celebration" of religious diversity in a more precarious position than the promotion of racial diversity in ways that have deleterious effects for Muslim Americans. This Essay argues that Supreme Court jurisprudence on religious establishment in public schools has contributed to public education’s inefficacy as a tool to dismantle fear and prejudice against Muslims. We explore judicial, political, and practical approaches to bringing constitutionally permissible religious education and interfaith dialogue into public schools.
Western, Bruce, Deirdre Bloome, Benjamin Sosnaud, and Laura Tach. 2012. “Economic Insecurity and Social Stratification.” Annual Review of Sociology 38: 341-359. Publisher's Version Abstract
Economic insecurity describes the risk of economic loss faced by workers and households as they encounter the unpredictable events of social life. Our review suggests a four-part framework for studying the distribution and trends in these economic risks. First, a focus on households rather than workers captures the microlevel risk pooling that can smooth income flows and stabilize economic well-being. Second, insecurity is related to income volatility and the risk of downward mobility into poverty. Third, adverse events such as unemployment, family dissolution, or poor health commonly trigger income losses. Fourth, the effects of adverse events are mitigated by insurance relationships provided by government programs, employer benefits, and the informal support of families. Empirical research in these areas reveals high levels of economic insecurity among low-income households and suggests an increase in economic insecurity with the growth in economic inequality in the United States.
Hirsch, Nicole Arlette, and Anthony Abraham Jack. 2012. “What We Face: Framing Problems in the Black Community.” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 9: 133-148. Abstract
While many sociological studies analyze the causes, conditions, and mechanisms perpetuating American racial inequality, the literature on how African Americans understand and explain these inequalities is less developed. Drawing on 150 interviews with middle-class and working-class African American men and women, this paper analyzes inductively how respondents define and conceptualize the most pressing obstacles facing their group when probed on this question. We find that middle- and working-class respondents alike identify the problem of racism as the most salient obstacle facing African Americans. Class differences appear with respect to what other obstacles are singled out as salient: while middle-class respondents focus on lack of racial solidarity among Blacks and economic problems (in this order), working-class respondents are more concerned with the fragility of the Black family followed by the lack of racial solidarity. This analysis discusses the relevance of considering how groups make sense of obstacles, and of racism and discrimination in particular, for the study of destigmatization and antiracist strategies of stigmatized minorities.
Papachristos, Andrew, Anthony Braga, and David Hureau. 2012. “Social Networks and the Risk of Gunshot Injury.” Journal of Urban Health 89 (6). Boston: 992-1003. Abstract

Direct and indirect exposure to gun violence have considerable consequences on individual health and well-being. However, no study has considered the effects of one’s social network on gunshot injury. This study investigates the relationship between an individual’s position in a high-risk social network and the probability of being a victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound by combining observational data from the police with records of fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries among 763 individuals in Boston’s Cape Verdean community. A logistic regression approach is used to analyze the probability of being the victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound and whether such injury is related to age, gender, race, prior criminal activity, exposure to street gangs and other gunshot victims, density of one’s peer network, and the social distance to other gunshot victims. The findings demonstrate that 85 % all of the gunshot injuries in the sample occur within a single social network. Probability of gunshot victimization is related to one’s network distance to other gunshot victims: each network association removed from another gunshot victim reduces the odds of gunshot victimization by 25 % (odds ratio = 0.75

Braga, Anthony A, David M Hureau, and Andrew V Papachristos. 2011. “An Ex Post Facto Evaluation Framework for Place-Based Police Interventions.” Evaluation Review 35 (6): 592-626. Abstract

Background: A small but growing body of research evidence suggests that place-based police interventions generate significant crime control gains. While place-based policing strategies have been adopted by a majority of U.S. police departments, very few agencies make a priori commitments to rigorous evaluations. Objective: Recent methodological developments were applied to conduct a rigorous ex post facto evaluation of the Boston Police Department’s Safe Street Team (SST) hot spots policing program. Research Design: A nonrandomized quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the violent crime control benefits of the SST program at treated street segments and intersections relative to untreated street segments and intersections. Propensity score matching techniques were used to identify comparison places in Boston. Growth curve regression models were used to analyze violent crime trends at treatment places relative to control places. Units of Analysis: Using computerized mapping and database software, a micro-level place database of violent index crimes at all street segments and intersections in Boston was created. Measures: Yearly counts of violent index crimes between 2000 and 2009 at the treatment and comparison street segments and intersections served as the key outcome measure. Results: The SST program was associated with a statistically significant reduction in violent index crimes at the treatment places relative to the comparison places without displacing crime into proximate areas. Conclusions: To overcome the challenges of evaluation in real-world settings, evaluators need to continuously develop innovative approaches that take advantage of new theoretical and methodological approaches.

Robbery, and the fear it inspires, has a profound effect on the quality of life in certain urban neighborhoods. Recent advances in criminological research suggest that there is significant clustering of crime in micro places, or "hot spots," that generate a disproportionate amount of criminal events in a city. In this article, the authors use growth curve regression models to uncover distinctive developmental trends in robbery incidents at street segments and intersections in Boston over a 29-year period. The authors find that robberies are highly concentrated at a small number of street segments and intersections rather than spread evenly across the urban landscape over the study time period. Roughly 1 percent and 8 percent of street segments and intersections in Boston are responsible for nearly 50 percent of all commercial robberies and 66 percent of all street robberies, respectively, between 1980 and 2008. Our findings suggest that citywide robbery trends may be best understood by examining micro-level trends at a relatively small number of places in urban environments.

Braga, Anthony A, Anne M Piehl, and David Hureau. 2009. “Controlling Violent Offenders Released to the Community: An Evaluation of the Boston Reentry Initiative.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 46 (4): 411-436. Abstract

Despite the high level of funding and policy interest in prisoner reentry, there is still little rigorous scientific evidence to guide jurisdictions in developing reentry programs to enhance public safety, particularly for managing those who pose the greatest safety risks. The Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI) is an interagency initiative to help transition violent adult offenders released from the local jail back to their Boston neighborhoods through mentoring, social service assistance, and vocational development.This study uses a quasi-experimental design and survival analyses to evaluate the effects of the BRI on the subsequent recidivism of program participants relative to an equivalent control group. The authors find that the BRI was associated with significant reductions—on the order of 30 percent—in the overall and violent arrest failure rates.

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Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Immigration's Long-Term Impacts on Overall Wages and Employment of Native-Born U.S. Workers Very Small, Although Low-Skilled Workers May Be Affected, New Report Finds

Immigration's Long-Term Impacts on Overall Wages and Employment of Native-Born U.S. Workers Very Small, Although Low-Skilled Workers May Be Affected, New Report Finds

September 21, 2016

National Academy of Sciences | The National Academy of Sciences today released a new report, The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration, authored by a panel of 14 experts, including George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The 508-page report provides "a comprehensive assessment of economic and demographic trends of U.S. immigration over the past 20 years, its impact on the labor market and wages of native-born workers, and its fiscal impact at the national, state, and local levels."
View the report

Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more

Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more

September 7, 2016

Brookings Institution | The Hutchins Roundup spotlights new study by Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01) of Northeastern University, Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11) of the Harvard Kennedy School, and Joshua Ballance of the Boston Fed showing that employer skill requirements have fallen recently recently, reversing the trend observed during the Great Recession.
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Read more about Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more
New Study: Market Forces Do Affect Health Care Sector

New Study: Market Forces Do Affect Health Care Sector

September 7, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Coverage of new research by Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, in the American Economic Review, "Health Care Exceptionalism? Performance and Allocation in the US Health Care Sector." The article is co-authored by Amy Finkelstein, MIT; Adam Sacarny, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; and Chad Syverson, Chicago Booth.
View the research

Understanding employers' responses to for-profit colleges

Understanding employers' responses to for-profit colleges

August 25, 2016

Work in Progress | By Nicole Deterding (Ph.D. '15) and David Pedulla (Stanford University). Deterding is a National Poverty Fellow in the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Work in Progress is the American Sociological Association's blog for 'short-form sociology' on the economy, work, and inequality.

Poverty After Welfare Reform

Poverty After Welfare Reform

August 22, 2016

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

Why has regional income convergence declined?

Why has regional income convergence declined?

August 4, 2016

The Brookings Institution | By Peter Ganong, Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

For one hundred years, per capita incomes in poorer U.S. states have grown more rapidly than incomes in richer states, narrowing the gap between them.  Over the past three decades, though, the rate of convergence has slowed sharply. It has become more difficult for poorer states to catch up with richer states. In a paper presented at the Municipal Finance Conference, Ganong and Shoag attribute this slowdown in convergence to increasingly tight land use regulations in wealthy areas.

The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force

The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force

July 8, 2016

Center for Policing Equity | On July 7-8, 2016, police chiefs, elected officials, researchers, and oversight practitioners met at the Department of Justice in Washington DC for a conversation about race and policing in the United States. As part of this convening, researchers presented a report of preliminary findings comparing patterns of stops and the use of force across twelve departments participating in CPE’s National Justice Database project. 

Phillip Atiba Goff, president and co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity led the study. Co-authored by Tracey (Shollenberger) Lloyd (Ph.D. '15) of the the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, Amanda Geller of NYU, and Steven Raphael and Jack Glaser of UC Berkeley. Goff, a visiting scholar at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy from 2014-2016, is the Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

View the study
Read the full press release

Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks

Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks

July 7, 2016

The New York Times | Quotes Phillip Atiba Goff on the findings of "The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and the Use of Force," a new study significant for its assembly and empirical analysis of detailed use-of-force data in the nation's first national database on police behavior. Goff, a visiting scholar at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy from 2014-2016, is co-founder and president of the Center for Policing Equity, which released the report, and the Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Tracey (Shollenberger) Lloyd (Ph.D. '15), a research associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, is a co-author of the study.
View the study

How judges understand, try to address racial disparities in the criminal court process

How judges understand, try to address racial disparities in the criminal court process

May 23, 2016

Journalist's Resource | Write-up of key findings from recently-published article in Criminology by Matthew Clair (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology) and Alix Winter (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy), "How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System" (view it here).  Also cites related research by Maya Sen, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, "Is Justice Really Blind? Race and Reversal in U.S. Courts,” Journal of Legal Studies, 2015 (view it here).

ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders

ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders

May 18, 2016

Congressional Testimony | Testimony of Nora Gordon (Ph.D. '02), Associate Professor at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

See Gordon's written testimony, which explains "how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) changes the definition of supplement not supplant, how the Department of Education proposes to regulate it, and the potential for that regulation to cause serious adverse consequences" that could make poor students worse off.

Aiming Higher Together: Strategizing Better Educational Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

Aiming Higher Together: Strategizing Better Educational Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

May 10, 2016

Urban Institute | By Ronald F. Ferguson, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. Boys and young men of color remain overrepresented among those who do not excel academically and face home, school, peer-group, and societal disadvantages relative to their white peers. This report proposes strategies to achieve a person-environment fit that can change dynamics and lead to better educational outcomes for these students.

Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System

Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System

April 25, 2016

Council of Economic Advisers | The Council of Economic Advisers makes the economic case for criminal justice reform. The report draws on and cites academic research by Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Bruce Western, Amitabh Chandra, David Deming, Roland Fryer, David Hureau (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy), Devah Pager, and Robert J. Sampson.