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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Police will aid early-childhood campaign in Mattapan

Police will aid early-childhood campaign in Mattapan

April 25, 2017

Boston Globe | Reports on a new Boston Basics campaign, targeted in one city's poorest neighborhoods, to build babies’ cognitive and learning abilities from birth to age 3.

Research shows that 80 percent of brain growth occurs during the first three years of life and that racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic gaps can become apparent by age 2, said Ron Ferguson, faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, which is helping to launch the campaign.

“By the age of two, those gaps are already there,” Ferguson said at a presentation to more than two dozen officers at the B-3 police precinct in Mattapan on Monday. “And by the time [children] start school those gaps are way behind."

School classroom

The Privilege of School Choice

April 25, 2017

The Atlantic | When given the chance, will wealthy parents ever choose to desegregate schools? Features research by Ann Owens (PhD '12), now Assistant Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences at USC, Sean Reardon of Stanford, and Christopher Jencks of Harvard Kennedy School, which "found that segregation between poor and non-poor students in public schools grew more than 40 percent from 1991 to 2012." (AERJ 2016)
View the research

Cracking the Mystery of Labor's Falling Share of GDP

Cracking the Mystery of Labor's Falling Share of GDP

April 24, 2017
Bloomberg View | Cites a recent study by David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT), "Concentrating on the Fall of the Labor Share," which appears in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings (May 2017).  For a more detailed treatment, see "The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms," released as an NBER Working Paper in May 2017.
View AER paper
View NBER paper
Emily Sneff and Danielle Allen - The New York Times

A New Parchment Declaration of Independence Surfaces. Head-Scratching Ensues.

April 21, 2017
The New York Times | A remarkable discoverty by Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. "Its subtle details, the scholars argue, illuminate an enduring puzzle at the heart of American politics: Was the country founded by a unitary national people, or by a collection of states? 'That is really the key riddle of the American system,' said Danielle Allen, a professor of government at Harvard, who discovered the document with a colleague, Emily Sneff."
Ruth Lopez Turley

Rice researchers are helping close the socio-economic gaps in achievement and attainment

April 18, 2017
Rice University | Read about the work of Rice University sociology professor Ruth López Turley (PhD '01), who leads the university's Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC), a research-practice partnership between Rice and the Houston Independent School District that aims to close socioeconomic achievement gaps. HERC has been awarded a $10.7 million grant to expand its work to school districts in the Greater Houston region.
Boston Basics

Can Love Close the Achievement Gap?

April 17, 2017

The Atlantic | Feature on Boston Basics, a series of evidence-based parenting principles designed for children under the age of 3, created by Ronald Ferguson of Harvard Kennedy School and director of Harvard University's Achievement Gap Initiative.

Democracy: A Case Study

Democracy on the Brink: Protecting the Republic in Trump's America

April 17, 2017

Foreign Affairs | Review essay by political scientist Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University examines David A. Moss's new book, Democracy: A Case Study (Harvard University Press, 2017), and Christopher H. Achen and Larry M. Bartels, Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government (Princeton University Press, 2016).

Donald Trump

A riveting relationship: Donald Trump woos the unions

April 8, 2017

The Economist | Cites research by Alex Hertel Fernandez (PhD '16), Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University:

Forthcoming research by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez of Columbia University suggests that limits on collective bargaining, which are mainly aimed at public-sector unions, made government workers in Indiana and Wisconsin less likely to take part in political campaigns, or to vote. In a study of 111 border counties in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, he also calculates that the right-to-work laws they introduced between 2012 and 2016 could account for two percentage points of Mrs Clinton’s underperformance in those states compared with Barack Obama in 2012. Given that Mr Trump’s victory in the electoral college was based on a combined total of 70,000 votes across Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that could have cost her the presidency.

No, Donald Trump's triumph is not a setback for the Koch brothers

No, Donald Trump's triumph is not a setback for the Koch brothers

April 7, 2017

Minnesota Post | Coverage of Theda Skocpol's talk, "Battle  of the Mega-Donors: Koch Network vs. Democracy Alliance," delivered in the Humphrey Forum at the University of Minnesota. Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard.

Bernie Sanders

Despair is Not an Option: Bernie Sanders in Conversation

April 4, 2017

Boston Review | In the latest episode of BR: A Political and Literary Podcast, Bernie Sanders talks to Archon Fung, Boston Review board member and Professor and Academic Dean at the Harvard Kennedy School, about his new book, 'Our Revolution,' the future of progressive politics, and what must be done to resist the Trump regime. Includes an edited transcript of their conversation.

Tax policy Alvin Cheng

These 4 questions could change your views on tax fairness

March 29, 2017

Vox | A Tax Policy Center quiz published earlier this year in Vox was actually an experiment by Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15) designed to test how pliable people's attitudes on taxes on are when given more information. Understanding how political knowledge correlates with political attitudes "is a really important question for democratic accountability," said Williamson, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

Read more about Williamson's study in her TPC research brief, "What Makes Taxes Seem Fair." The Tax Policy Center is a joint venture between the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.
View the research

Seattle

What Works Cities: Tackling Homelessness in Seattle [video]

March 28, 2017

What Works Cities | Seattle teamed up with What Works Cities' partner the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School to strengthen its approach to tackling homelessness. Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy, directs the Government Performance Lab. To learn more, read the GPL brief," Shaking up the Routine: How Seattle is Implementing Results-Driven Contracting Practices to Improve Outcomes for People Experiencing Homelessness."
Read the brief

Latest awards

Michèle Lamont

Michèle Lamont awarded Doctorate Honoris Causa

June 14, 2017

Université de Bordeaux | Harvard sociologist Michèle Lamont is the recipient of the Doctorate Honoris Causa, conferred by the Université de Bordeaux in a ceremony and conference held June 14th. The honorary title is awarded to persons of foreign nationality for outstanding service in the arts, letters, sciences, and technology.

Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies. She serves as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association in 2016-2017.

Hope Harvey

Hope Harvey awarded SSSP family division paper prize

June 8, 2017

Awardee | Hope Harvey, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, has been awarded the 2017 Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) Family Division Graduate Student Paper Prize for her paper, "When Mothers Can’t ‘Pay the Cost to be the Boss’: Roles and Identity within Doubled-Up Households." Read more about Hope Harvey's work at her homepage.
scholar.harvard.edu/hopeharvey

Kelley Fong awarded SSSP paper prize in educational problems

Kelley Fong awarded SSSP paper prize in educational problems

June 8, 2017
Awardee | Kelley Fong, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, has been awarded the 2017 Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) Educational Problems Graduate Student Paper Prize for her paper (co-authored with Sarah Faude of Northeastern University), "Choosing Late: Considering Late Registration in School Choice."
Kelley Fong receives ESS Candace Rogers Student Paper Award

Kelley Fong receives ESS Candace Rogers Student Paper Award

June 6, 2017
Awardee | Kelley Fong, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, is the 2017 winner of the Eastern Sociological Society's Candace Rogers Award for most outstanding paper by a graduate student. The award for her paper, "Child Welfare Reporting and Poor Mothers’ Disengagement," was presented in February at the ESS annual meeting in Philadelphia.
Abena Subira Mackall named NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow

Abena Subira Mackall named NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow

May 25, 2017
National Academy of Education | Abena Subira Mackall, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has been named 2017 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow. Abena's research explores the mechanisms underlying associations between poverty, crime, and low educational attainment through the use of in-depth interviews.
Soledad Prillaman awarded Harvard's Robert Noxon Toppan Prize for dissertation

Soledad Prillaman awarded Harvard's Robert Noxon Toppan Prize for dissertation

May 24, 2017
Awardee | Soledad Artiz Prillaman (PhD in Government, '17) is a recipient of Harvard's Robert Noxon Toppan Prize for best dissertation on a subject of political science for her doctoral dissertation, "Why Women Mobilize: Dissecting and Dismantling India's Gender Gap in Political Participation." Prillaman, who graduates this week, will spend the next two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, before joining the faculty at Stanford University in 2019 as Assistant Professor of Political Science.  Learn more about her work at her homepage:
soledadprillaman.com
Michael Hankinson awarded Harvard's Senator Charles Sumner Prize for dissertation

Michael Hankinson awarded Harvard's Senator Charles Sumner Prize for dissertation

May 24, 2017
Awardee | Michael Hankinson (PhD in Government & Social Policy, '17) is a recipient of Harvard's Senator Charles Sumner Prize for his dissertation, "Why is Housing So Hard to Build? Four Papers on the Collection Action Problem of Spatial Proximity." Hankinson, who graduates tomorrow, will spend the coming year as a Quantitative Policy Analysis Postdoctoral Fellow in the Politics Department at Oberlin College. Learn more about his work at his homepage:
mhankinson.com
RSF

New Awards in Intergenerational Mobility in the United States

May 18, 2017

Russell Sage Foundation | The Russell Sage Foundation announced four new awards from its small grant competition in intergenerational mobility, three of which will support research by Harvard Inequality & Social Policy affiliates:

  • Ellora Derenoncourt (Harvard University)
    Did Great Migration Destinations become Mobility Traps?
    Ellora Derenoncourt is a PhD candidate in Economics.
     
  • Ryan D. Enos (Harvard University)
    Do Public Works Programs Increase Intergenerational Mobility? Evidence from the Works Progress Administration
    Ryan Enos is Associate Professor of Government.
     
  • James J. Feigenbaum (Princeton University), Maximillian Hell (Stanford University), and Robert Manduca (Harvard University)
    The American Dream in the Great Depression: Absolute Income Mobility in the United States, 1915-1940
    James Feigenbaum (Harvard PhD '16) is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University. In fall 2017 he will join the Boston University faculty as Assistant Professor of Economics. Maximillian Hell is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Stanford University.  Robert Manduca is a PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy at Harvard University.

Read the project abstracts

Lives in Limbo

'Lives in Limbo' is a finalist for C. Wright Mills Award

May 12, 2017
Society for the Study of Social Problems | The Society for the Study of Social Problems announced its five finalists for its 2016 C. Wright Mills Award, including Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America, by Roberto G. Gonzales, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The prestigious C. Wright Mills Award recognizes the most outstanding book  that "advances social scientific understanding" on "an issue of contemporary public importance." The winner will be announced on August 12, 2017, at the annual meeting of the... Read more about 'Lives in Limbo' is a finalist for C. Wright Mills Award
'Evicted' is a finalist for C.Wright Mills Award

'Evicted' is a finalist for C.Wright Mills Award

May 12, 2017
Society for the Study of Social Problems | The Society for the Study of Social Problems announced its five finalists for its 2016 C. Wright Mills Award, including Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences. The prestigious C. Wright Mills Award recognizes the most outstanding book  that "advances social scientific understanding" on "an issue of contemporary public importance." The winner will be announced on August 12, 2017, at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
RFK Human Rights

2017 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Winner Announced

May 8, 2017

Awardee | Matthew Desmond receives 2017 top honor for Evicted, announced today by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights. Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.
 

Harvard Magazine

Radcliffe Institute Announces 2017-2018 Fellows

May 4, 2017

Harvard Magazine | Devah Pager, Leah Wright Rigueur, and Alexandra Killewald are featured among the 52 fellows who will be in residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study for the 2017-2018 academic year. 

Devah Pager, director of the the Inequality & Social Policy program and Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, will investigate "Race, Discrimination, and the Search for Work." Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, whose work focuses on race and the American political system, will be conducting research for her project “Black Men in a White House.” Sociology professor Alexandra Killewald’s project, “Tethered Lives: How the Male Breadwinner Norm Constrains Men and Women” will build off of her research, which focuses on the work-family intersection and the effects of marriage and parenting on income.
View the full list of fellows

Noam Gidron

Noam Gidron named a Princeton Niehaus Center Fellow

May 4, 2017
Awardee | Noam Gidron (PhD '16) has been selected to be a 2017-2018 fellow in the Neihaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. Beginning in 2018, he will join the faculty of the Department of Political Science and the Joint Program in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Learn more about Noam Gidron's work:
scholar.harvard.edu/gidron
Hope Harvey

Hope Harvey named a Radcliffe Institute Graduate Student Fellow for 2017-2018

May 4, 2017

Awardee | Hope Harvey, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy is one of three Harvard University doctoral students selected to be a Graduate Student Fellow in the 2017-2018 class of Radcliffe Fellows at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Hope will spend the year completing her dissertation, Exploring the Impacts of Doubling Up on American Families, with a Radcliffe Institute Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Learn more about Hope's work at her...

Read more about Hope Harvey named a Radcliffe Institute Graduate Student Fellow for 2017-2018
Katerina Linos

Katerina Linos named 2017 Carnegie Fellow

April 26, 2017
Awardee | Katerina Linos (JD '06, PhD '07) is one of 35 recipients of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie fellowship, awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for the advancement of research in the social sciences and humanities. Linos is Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Project title: Refugees Misdirected: Information Barriers in the Exercise of Legal Rights.
Christopher Bail

Christoper Bail named a 2017 Carnegie Fellow

April 26, 2017
Awardee | Christopher A. Bail (PhD '11) is one of 35 recipients of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie fellowship, awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for the advancement of research in the humanities and social sciences. Bail is the Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University. Project title: Countering Extremist Narratives on Social Media Via Computational Social Science.
'Evicted' awarded 2017 Hillman Prize for Book Journalism

'Evicted' awarded 2017 Hillman Prize for Book Journalism

April 25, 2017
Awardee | Matthew Desmond is the recipient of the 2017 Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, for "investigative reporting and deep storytelling in the service of the common good." The Sidney Hillman Foundation honors the legacy of union leader and New Deal architect Sidney Hillman (1887-1946).
Victor Tan Chen

Victor Tan Chen receives LERA John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar Award

April 18, 2017
Labor Employment Relations Association | Victor Tan Chen (Ph '12), Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, is a recipient of LERA's 2017 John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar Award for outstanding contributions to research that addresses employment problems of national significance. The selection panel praised Chen’s book, Cut Loose: Jobless and Hopeless in an Unfair Economy (2015), for providing an “incisive analysis based on first-person stories of the experience of economic restructuring and prolonged joblessness for long-term unemployed autoworkers.”

Latest commentary and analysis

Anthony Abraham Jack

I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren't the Hard Part.

September 10, 2019

The New York Times Magazine
By Anthony Abraham Jack PhD 2016. Schools must learn that when you come from poverty, you need more than  financial aid to succeed.

Anthony Abraham Jack is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students (Harvard University Press, 2019). He received his PhD in Sociology from Harvard in 2016.

Project Syndicate

Whither Central Banking?

August 23, 2019

Project Syndicate | By Lawrence H. Summers and Anna Stanwbury. Anna Stansbury is a PhD candidate in Economics and a Stone PhD Scholar in Inequality and Wealth Concentration.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad

The Barbaric History of Sugar in America

August 14, 2019

The New York Times | By Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. This essay is part of the 1619 Project examining the legacy of slavery in America.

trumpmonkeycage

Is President Trump’s rhetoric racist? It depends on whom you ask.

August 12, 2019

Washington Post | By Meredith Dost, Ryan D. Enos, and Jennifer L. Hochschild. The authors' research suggests a deep moral and perceptual divide among Americans on what is and isn't racism. Stone research scholar Meredith Dost is a PhD candidate in Government & Social Policy and a Stone PhD Research Fellow. Ryan Enos and Jennifer Hochschild are professors in the Harvard Government Department.

Lawrence Katz

Lawrence Katz on researching housing and economic mobility to create moves to opportunity

August 7, 2019

JPAL | A new paper summarizing preliminary findings from the Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) study was just released. Results demonstrate that helping low-income families overcome barriers to moving to higher-opportunity areas may be a promising strategy for reducing residential segregation and promoting economic mobility. We sat down with Lawrence Katz—Co-Scientific Director of J-PAL North America and one of the authors on the CMTO study—to collect his reflections on the preliminary results, how this study builds upon his previous research, and how these and future results may inform housing policy moving forward. 

Scientific American

Do Prisons Make Us Safer?

June 21, 2019

Scientific American | By David J. Harding (PhD 2005). How much safety does the high rate of U.S. imprisonment buy us? Very little, according to a recent by the author published in Nature. Harding received his PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard and is now Prodessor of Sociology and Director of the Social Science D-Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.

View the research ►

The dilemmas for Democrats in three past visions for the party

The dilemmas for Democrats in three past visions for the party

June 13, 2019

Vox | By Sam Rosenfeld and Daniel Schlozman PhD 2011. Daniel Schlozman received his PhD in Government and Social Policy from Harvard and is now the Joseph and Bertha Bernstein Associate Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History (Princeton University Press, 2015).

Brookings panel on the racial wealth gap

Racial wealth inequality: Social problems and solutions

June 3, 2019

Brookings Institution
Harvard's Alexandra Killewald, Professor of Sociology, joined an expert panel with Rashawn Ray, Thomas Shapiro, Tonia Wellons, and moderator Camille Busette on the racial wealth gap. Co-sponsored by Contexts Magaine. [Video + transcript]

Christopher Wimer

What States Can Do to Drastically Reduce Child Poverty

May 6, 2019

Governing | By Meg Wiehe and Christopher Wimer PhD 2007. Building on the federal Child Tax Credit would yield dramatic results, Wiehe and Wimer argue. Christopher Wimer received his PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard and is now Co-Director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University.

Anthony Abraham Jack at TEDxCambridge

Anthony Abraham Jack delivers TEDxCambridge talk

May 3, 2019

TedxCambridge | Anthony Abraham Jack, PhD '16, delivered a TEDxCambridge talk at the Boston Opera House [video available soon]. Jack is a Junior Fellow with the Harvard Society of Fellows and Assistant Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also holds the Shutzer Assistant Professorship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. He is the author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students (Harvard University Press, 2019).

Latest books—By doctoral fellows and alumni

The allure of order : high hopes, dashed expectations, and the troubled quest to remake American schooling

"Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush agreed on little, but united behind the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Passed in late 2001, it was hailed as a dramatic new departure in school reform. It would make the states set high standards, measure student progress, and hold failing schools accountable. A decade later, NCLB has been repudiated on both sides of the aisle. According to Jal Mehta, we should have seen it coming. Far from new, it was the same approach to school reform that Americans have tried before. In The Allure of Order, Mehta recounts a century of attempts at revitalizing public education, and puts forward a truly new agenda to reach this elusive goal. Not once, not twice, but three separate times-in the Progressive Era, the 1960s and '70s, and NCLB-reformers have hit upon the same idea for remaking schools.

Early start : preschool politics in the United States
Karch, Andrew. 2013. Early start : preschool politics in the United States. The University of Michigan Press. Abstract

A political history of the debate over preschool education policy in the United States. In the United States, preschool education is characterized by the dominance of a variegated private sector and patchy, uncoordinated oversight of the public sector. Tracing the history of the American debate over preschool education, the author argues that the current state of decentralization and fragmentation is the consequence of a chain of reactions and counterreactions to policy decisions dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s, when preschool advocates did not achieve their vision for a comprehensive national program but did manage to foster initiatives at both the state and national levels. Over time, beneficiaries of these initiatives and officials with jurisdiction over preschool education have become ardent defenders of the status quo. Today, advocates of greater government involvement must take on a diverse and entrenched set of constituencies resistant to policy change. In his close analysis of the politics of preschool education, the author demonstrates how to apply the concepts of policy feedback, critical junctures, and venue shopping to the study of social policy. – From book jacket.

Cleaning Up - How Hospital Outsourcing Is Hurting Workers and Endangering Patients

To cut costs and maximize profits, hospitals in the United States and many other countries are outsourcing such tasks as cleaning and food preparation to private contractors. In, the first book to examine this transformation in the healthcare industry, Dan Zuberi looks at the consequences of outsourcing from two perspectives: its impact on patient safety and its role in increasing socioeconomic inequality. Drawing on years of field research in Vancouver, Canada as well as data from hospitals in the U.S. and Europe, he argues that outsourcing has been disastrous for the cleanliness of hospitals-leading to an increased risk of hospital-acquired infections, a leading cause of severe illness and death-as well as for the effective delivery of other hospital services and the workers themselves.

The Democratic Foundations of policy diffusion : how health, family and employment laws spread across countries

"Why do law reforms spread around the world in waves? Leading theories argue that international networks of technocratic elites develop orthodox solutions that they singlehandedly transplant across countries. But, in modern democracies, elites alone cannot press for legislative reforms without winning the support of politicians, voters, and interest groups. As Katerina Linos shows in The Democratic Foundations of Policy Diffusion, international models can help politicians generate domestic enthusiasm for far-reaching proposals. By pointing to models from abroad, policitians can persuade voters that their ideas are not radical, ill-thought out experiments, but mainstream, tried-and-true solutions. Through the ingenious use of experimental and cross-national evidence, Linos documents voters' response to international models and demonstrates that governments follow international organization templates and imitate the policy choices of countries heavily covered in national media and familiar to voters. Empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated, The Democratic Foundations of Policy Diffusion provides the fullest account to date of this increasingly pervasive phenomenon."–page [4] of cover.

Three worlds of relief : race, immigration, and the American welfare state from the Progressive Era to the New Deal

This book examines the role of race and immigration in the development of the American social welfare system by comparing how blacks, Mexicans, and European immigrants were treated by welfare policies during the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Taking readers from the turn of the twentieth century to the dark days of the Depression, the author finds that, despite rampant nativism, European immigrants received generous access to social welfare programs. The communities in which they lived invested heavily in relief. Social workers protected them from snooping immigration agents, and ensured that noncitizenship and illegal status did not prevent them from receiving the assistance they needed. But that same helping hand was not extended to Mexicans and blacks. The author reveals, for example, how blacks were relegated to racist and degrading public assistance programs, while Mexicans who asked for assistance were deported with the help of the very social workers they turned to for aid. Drawing on archival evidence, the author paints a portrait of how race, labor, and politics combined to create three starkly different worlds of relief. She debunks the myth that white America's immigrant ancestors pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, unlike immigrants and minorities today. This book challenges us to reconsider not only the historical record but also the implications of our past on contemporary debates about race, immigration, and the American welfare state.

The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican conservatism
Skocpol, Theda, and Vanessa Williamson. 2012. The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican conservatism. New York: Oxford University Press. Abstract

On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered a dramatic rant against Obama administration programs to shore up the plunging housing market. Invoking the Founding Fathers and ridiculing "losers" who could not pay their mortgages, Santelli called for "Tea Party" protests. Over the next two years, conservative activists took to the streets and airways, built hundreds of local Tea Party groups, and weighed in with votes and money to help right-wing Republicans win electoral victories in 2010. In this study, the author, a political scientists, and co-author go beyond the inevitable photos of protesters in Colonial costumes and tricorn hats and knee breeches to provide a nuanced portrait of the Tea Party. What they find is sometimes surprising. Drawing on grassroots interviews and visits to local meetings in several regions, they find that older, middle-class Tea Partiers mostly approve of Social Security, Medicare, and generous benefits for military veterans. Their opposition to "big government" entails reluctance to pay taxes to help people viewed as undeserving "freeloaders" including immigrants, lower income earners, and the young. At the national level, Tea Party elites and funders leverage grassroots energy to further longstanding goals such as tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of business, and privatization of the very same Social Security and Medicare programs on which many grassroots Tea Partiers depend. Elites and grassroots are nevertheless united in hatred of Barack Obama and determination to push the Republican Party sharply to the right. This book combines portraits of local Tea Party members and chapters with an overarching analysis of the movement's rise, impact, and likely fate. The paperback edition will be updated to bring the discussion up to the present, including the Republican Presidential primary race in early 2012.

The Great Recession
Grusky, David B, Bruce Western, and Christopher Wimer, ed. 2011. The Great Recession. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Abstract

The consequences of the great recession / David B. Grusky, Bruce Western, and Christopher Wimer -- The roots of thegreat recession / Neil Fligstein and Adam Goldstein -- Job loss and unemployment / Michael Hout, Asaf Levanon, and Erin Cumberworth -- Poverty and income inequality in the early stages of the great recession / Timothy M. Smeeding, ... [et al.] -- How much wealth was destroyed in the great recession? / Edward N. Wolff, Lindsay A. Owens, and Esra Burak -- An analysis of trends, perceptions, and distributional effects in consumption / Ivaylo D. Petev, Luigi Pistaferri, and Itay Saporta-Eksten -- The surprisingly weak effects of recessions on public opinion / Lane Kenworthy and Lindsay A. Owens -- The great recession's influence on fertility, marriage, divorce, and cohabitation / S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, and Christopher Wimer -- The federal stimulus programs and their effects / Gary Burtless and Tracy Gordon -- Has the great recession made Americans stingier? / Rob Reich,... [et al.].

Latest academic articles — By doctoral fellows

Do Tax Cuts Produce more Einsteins? The Impacts of Financial Incentives Versus Exposure to Innovation on the Supply of Inventors
Bell, Alex, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, and John Van Reenen. 2019. “Do Tax Cuts Produce more Einsteins? The Impacts of Financial Incentives Versus Exposure to Innovation on the Supply of Inventors.” Journal of the European Economic Association 17 (3): 651–677. Abstract
Many countries provide financial incentives to spur innovation, ranging from tax incentives to research and development grants. In this paper, we study how such financial incentives affect individuals’ decisions to pursue careers in innovation. We first present empirical evidence on inventors’ career trajectories and income distributions using deidentified data on 1.2 million inventors from patent records linked to tax records in the United States. We find that the private returns to innovation are extremely skewed—with the top 1% of inventors collecting more than 22% of total inventors’ income—and are highly correlated with their social impact, as measured by citations. Inventors tend to have their most impactful innovations around age 40 and their incomes rise rapidly just before they have high-impact patents. We then build a stylized model of inventor career choice that matches these facts as well as recent evidence that childhood exposure to innovation plays a critical role in determining whether individuals become inventors. The model predicts that financial incentives, such as top income tax reductions, have limited potential to increase aggregate innovation because they only affect individuals who are exposed to innovation and have essentially no impact on the decisions of star inventors, who matter most for aggregate innovation. Importantly, these results hold regardless of whether the private returns to innovation are fully known at the time of career choice or are fully stochastic. In contrast, increasing exposure to innovation (e.g., through mentorship programs) could have substantial impacts on innovation by drawing individuals who produce high-impact inventions into the innovation pipeline. Although we do not present direct evidence supporting these model-based predictions, our results call for a more careful assessment of the impacts of financial incentives and a greater focus on alternative policies to increase the supply of inventors.
Antitrust Enforcement as Federal Policy to Reduce Regional Economic Disparities
Manduca, Robert. 2019. “Antitrust Enforcement as Federal Policy to Reduce Regional Economic Disparities.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 685 (1): 156-171. Abstract
Regions of the United States have seen their incomes diverge dramatically over the last four decades. This article makes the empirical and political case for treating regional economic disparities as a national phenomenon best resolved through federal policy, rather than exclusively as a matter of local responsibility. It then considers reinvigorated antitrust enforcement as an example of a federal policy that would strengthen local economies while benefiting from policy feedback effects.
The Cognitive Dimension of Household Labor
Daminger, Allison. 2019. “The Cognitive Dimension of Household Labor.” American Sociological Review 84 (4): 609-633. Abstract
Household labor is commonly defined as a set of physical tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Sociologists sometimes reference non-physical activities related to “household management,” but these are typically mentioned in passing, imprecisely defined, or treated as equivalent to physical tasks. Using 70 in-depth interviews with members of 35 couples, this study argues that such tasks are better understood as examples of a unique dimension of housework: cognitive labor. The data demonstrate that cognitive labor entails anticipating needs, identifying options for filling them, making decisions, and monitoring progress. Because such work is taxing but often invisible to both cognitive laborers and their partners, it is a frequent source of conflict for couples. Cognitive labor is also a gendered phenomenon: women in this study do more cognitive labor overall and more of the anticipation and monitoring work in particular. However, male and female participation in decision-making, arguably the cognitive labor component most closely linked to power and influence, is roughly equal. These findings identify and define an overlooked—yet potentially consequential—source of gender inequality at the household level and suggest a new direction for research on the division of household labor.
Unemployment insurance and reservation wages: Evidence from administrative data
Barbanchon, Thomas Le, Roland Rathelot, and Alexandra Roulet. 2019. “Unemployment insurance and reservation wages: Evidence from administrative data.” Journal of Public Economics 171: 1-17. Abstract

Although the reservation wage plays a central role in job search models, empirical evidence on the determinants of reservation wages, including key policy variables such as unemployment insurance (UI), is scarce. In France, unemployed people must declare their reservation wage to the Public Employment Service when they register to claim UI benefits. We take advantage of these rich French administrative data and of a reform of UI rules to estimate the effect of the Potential Benefit Duration (PBD) on reservation wages and on other dimensions of job selectivity, using a difference-in-difference strategy. We cannot reject that the elasticity of the reservation wage with respect to PBD is zero. Our results are precise and we can rule out elasticities larger than 0.006. Furthermore, we do not find any significant effects of PBD on the desired number of hours, duration of labor contract and commuting time/distance. The estimated elasticity of actual benefit duration with respect to PBD of 0.3 is in line with the consensus in the literature. Exploiting a Regression Discontinuity Design as an alternative identification strategy, we find similar results.

Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure
Muller, Christopher, Robert J. Sampson, and Alix S. Winter. 2018. “Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure.” Annual Review of Sociology 44 (1): 263-282 . Abstract
In this article, we review evidence from the social and medical sciences on the causes and effects of lead exposure. We argue that lead exposure is an important subject for sociological analysis because it is socially stratified and has important social consequences—consequences that themselves depend in part on children's social environments. We present a model of environmental inequality over the life course to guide an agenda for future research. We conclude with a call for deeper exchange between urban sociology, environmental sociology, and public health, and for more collaboration between scholars and local communities in the pursuit of independent science for the common good.
he consequences of lead exposure for later crime are theoretically compelling, but direct evidence from representative, longitudinal samples is sparse. By capitalizing on an original follow-up of more than 200 infants from the birth cohort of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods matched to their blood lead levels from around age 3 years, we provide several tests. Through the use of four waves of longitudinal data that include measures of individual development, family background, and structural inequalities in how lead becomes embodied, we assess the hypothesized link between early childhood lead poisoning and both parent-reported delinquent behavior and official arrest in late adolescence. We also test for mediating developmental processes of impulsivity and anxiety or depression. The results from multiple analytic strategies that make different assumptions reveal a plausibly causal effect of childhood lead exposure on adolescent delinquent behavior but no direct link to arrests. The results underscore lead exposure as a trigger for poisoned development in the early life course and call for greater integration of the environment into theories of individual differences in criminal behavior.
Public Campaign Financing, Candidate Socioeconomic Diversity, and Representational Inequality at the U.S. State Level: Evidence from Connecticut
Conventional wisdom holds that public campaign financing can diversify the socioeconomic makeup of candidate pools and, therefore, of U.S. elected officials, which could make U.S. public policy more responsive to lower socioeconomic status (SES) citizens. I argue that in addition to the absence of a positive relationship between public financing and candidate socioeconomic diversity, public financing, depending on the program design, may, in fact, reduce candidate socioeconomic diversity. Using occupational data on state legislative candidates in public financing state Connecticut and two paired control states to execute a difference in difference analysis, I demonstrate that when public financing is available, fewer low SES candidates run for state legislative office, and those who do run are not more likely to win and are less likely to utilize public financing.
Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure
Muller, Christopher, Robert J. Sampson, and Alix S. Winter. 2018. “Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure.” Annual Review of Sociology 44 (1): 263-282. Abstract
In this article, we review evidence from the social and medical sciences on the causes and effects of lead exposure. We argue that lead exposure is an important subject for sociological analysis because it is socially stratified and has important social consequences—consequences that themselves depend in part on children's social environments. We present a model of environmental inequality over the life course to guide an agenda for future research. We conclude with a call for deeper exchange between urban sociology, environmental sociology, and public health, and for more collaboration between scholars and local communities in the pursuit of independent science for the common good.
Introducing a performance-based component into Jakarta's school grants: What do we know about its impact after three years?
Samarrai, Samer Al, Unika Shrestha, Amer Hasan, Nozomi Nakajima, Santoso Santoso, and Wisnu Harto Adi Wijoyo. 2018. “Introducing a performance-based component into Jakarta's school grants: What do we know about its impact after three years?” Economics of Education Review 67: 110-136. Abstract
Using administrative data, this paper evaluates the early impact of introducing a performance-based component into Jakarta's long-standing school grant program on learning outcomes. The authors use difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity approaches to identify the component's impact on both government primary and junior secondary schools. Learning outcomes improved in primary schools at the bottom of the performance distribution, which narrowed the performance gaps between schools. However, the component had a negative impact on the better performing primary schools. Overall, primary examination scores fell slightly but this effect was only temporary. In contrast, the performance-based component improved examination scores in junior secondary schools. This impact seems to have been greatest among better-performing schools, thus widening the performance gap between these schools and those whose performance was worse. The data suggest that the main impact of the performance-based grant in terms of learning outcomes operated through an increase in competition among schools to earn the performance-based grant rather than through receipt of the actual grant funds.
Beyond the Border and Into the Heartland: Spatial Patterning of U.S. Immigration Detention
The expansion of U.S. immigration enforcement from the borders into the interior of the country and the fivefold increase in immigration detentions and deportations since 1995 raise important questions about how the enforcement of immigration law is spatially patterned across American communities. Focusing on the practice of immigration detention, the present study analyzes the records of all 717,160 noncitizens detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2008 and 2009—a period when interior enforcement was at its peak—to estimate states’ detention rates and examine geographic variation in detention outcomes, net of individual characteristics. Findings reveal substantial state heterogeneity in immigration detention rates, which range from approximately 350 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Connecticut to more than 6,700 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Wyoming. After detainment, individuals’ detention outcomes are geographically stratified, especially for detainees eligible for pretrial release. These disparities indicate the important role that geography plays in shaping individuals’ chances of experiencing immigration detention and deportation.
Attitudes Toward Mass Arrivals: Variations by Racial, Spatial, and Temporal Distances to Incoming Disaster Evacuees
Raker, Ethan J., and James R. Elliott. 2018. “Attitudes Toward Mass Arrivals: Variations by Racial, Spatial, and Temporal Distances to Incoming Disaster Evacuees.” Social Science Quarterly 99 (3): 1200-1213. Abstract

Objective

Disasters can send large numbers of evacuees into new contexts of reception, where attitudes toward them can vary significantly by perceived social distance. To conventional assessment of such distance along racial lines, we add spatial and temporal distance from point of central arrival.

Methods

A novel research design combines the natural experiment triggered by Hurricane Katrina with five consecutive Kinder Houston Area Surveys (2006–2010), which gather data on attitudes toward arrived evacuees as well as tract‐level data on residential context.

Results

Regression analyses reveal that spatial and temporal distance act similarly to racial distance in predicting negative attitudes toward evacuees. Results also show these effects are moderated by the racial context of incumbents’ residential neighborhoods.

Conclusions

Social distance exerts a multifaceted influence on evacuee reception in ways that become especially pertinent in the arrival of communities from large‐scale, urban evacuations.

Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities
Zoorob, Michael. 2018. “Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 75: 736-738. Abstract

Objective Economic policies can have unintended consequences on population health. In recent years, many states in the USA have passed ‘right to work’ (RTW) laws which weaken labour unions. The effect of these laws on occupational health remains unexplored. This study fills this gap by analysing the effect of RTW on occupational fatalities through its effect on unionisation.

Methods Two-way fixed effects regression models are used to estimate the effect of unionisation on occupational mortality per 100 000 workers, controlling for state policy liberalism and workforce composition over the period 1992–2016. In the final specification, RTW laws are used as an instrument for unionisation to recover causal effects.

Results The Local Average Treatment Effect of a 1% decline in unionisation attributable to RTW is about a 5% increase in the rate of occupational fatalities. In total, RTW laws have led to a 14.2% increase in occupational mortality through decreased unionisation.

Conclusion These findings illustrate and quantify the protective effect of unions on workers’ safety. Policymakers should consider the potentially deleterious effects of anti-union legislation on occupational health.

The Persistent Effect of U.S. Civil Rights Protests on Political Attitudes
Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2018. “The Persistent Effect of U.S. Civil Rights Protests on Political Attitudes.” American Journal of Political Science 62 (4): 922-935. Publisher's Version Abstract
Protests can engender significant institutional change. Can protests also continue to shape a nation's contemporary politics outside of more formalized channels? I argue that social movements can not only beget institutional change, but also long‐run, attitudinal change. Using the case of the U.S. civil rights movement, I develop a theory in which protests can shift attitudes and these attitudes can persist. Data from over 150,000 survey respondents provide evidence consistent with the theory. Whites from counties that experienced historical civil rights protests are more likely to identify as Democrats and support affirmative action, and less likely to harbor racial resentment against blacks. These individual‐level results are politically meaningful—counties that experienced civil rights protests are associated with greater Democratic Party vote shares even today. This study highlights how social movements can have persistent impacts on a nation's politics.
Political Consequences of Survival Strategies among the Urban Poor
Desmond, Matthew, and Adam Travis. 2018. “Political Consequences of Survival Strategies among the Urban Poor.” American Sociological Review 83 (5): 869–896. Abstract
Combining ethnographic and statistical methods, this study identifies interlocking mechanisms that help explain how disadvantaged neighborhoods influence their residents’ political capacity. Support systems that arise in low-income neighborhoods promote social interaction that helps people make ends meet, but these systems also expose residents to heavy doses of adversity, which dampens perceptions of collective political capacity. For the poorest residents of these neighborhoods in particular, the expected positive effect of informal social support is suppressed by the negative effect of perceived trauma. These findings present a micro-level account of poverty, social interaction, and political capacity, one that holds implications for scholarship and public policy on participatory inequality.
Income Inequality and the Persistence of Racial Economic Disparities
Manduca, Robert. 2018. “Income Inequality and the Persistence of Racial Economic Disparities.” Sociological Science 5 (8): 182-205. Abstract
More than 50 years after the Civil Rights Act, black–white family income disparities in the United States remain almost exactly the same as what they were in 1968. This article argues that a key and underappreciated driver of the racial income gap has been the national trend of rising income inequality. From 1968 to 2016, black–white disparities in family income rank narrowed by almost one-third. But this relative gain was negated by changes to the national income distribution that resulted in rapid income growth for the richest—and most disproportionately white—few percentiles of the country combined with income stagnation for the poor and middle class. But for the rise in income inequality, the median black–white family income gap would have decreased by about 30 percent. Conversely, without the partial closing of the rank gap, growing inequality alone would have increased the racial income gap by 30 percent.
Is Running Enough? Reconsidering the Conventional Wisdom about Women Candidates
BucchianerI, Peter. 2018. “Is Running Enough? Reconsidering the Conventional Wisdom about Women Candidates.” Political Behavior 40 (2): 435-466. Abstract
The conventional wisdom in the literature on women candidates holds that “when women run, they win as often as men.” This has led to a strong focus in the literature on the barriers to entry for women candidates and significant evidence that these barriers hinder representation. Yet, a growing body of research suggests that some disadvantages persist for Republican women even after they choose to run for office. In this paper, I investigate the aggregate consequences of these disadvantages for general election outcomes. Using a regression discontinuity design, I show that Republican women who win close House primaries lose at higher rates in the general election than Republican men. This nomination effect holds throughout the 1990s despite a surge in Republican voting starting in 1994. I find no such effect for Democratic women and provide evidence that a gap in elite support explains part of the cross-party difference.
Racialized legal status as a social determinant of health
Asad, Asad L., and Matthew Clair. 2018. “Racialized legal status as a social determinant of health.” Social Science & Medicine 199: 19-28. Abstract

This article advances the concept of racialized legal status (RLS) as an overlooked dimension of social stratification with implications for racial/ethnic health disparities. We define RLS as a social position based on an ostensibly race-neutral legal classification that becomes colored through its disparate impact on racial/ethnic minorities. To illustrate the implications of RLS for health and health disparities in the United States, we spotlight existing research on two cases: criminal status and immigration status. We offer a conceptual framework that outlines how RLS shapes disparities through (1) direct effects on those who hold a legal status and (2) spillover effects on racial/ethnic in-group members, regardless of these individuals' own legal status. Direct effects of RLS operate by marking an individual for material and symbolic exclusion. Spillover effects result from the vicarious experiences of those with social proximity to marked individuals, as well as the discredited meanings that RLS constructs around racial/ethnic group members. We conclude by suggesting multiple avenues for future research that considers RLS as a mechanism of social inequality with fundamental effects on health.

Jurors' Subjective Experiences of Deliberations in Criminal Cases
Winter, Alix S., and Matthew Clair. 2018. “Jurors' Subjective Experiences of Deliberations in Criminal Cases.” Law & Social Inquiry 43 (4): 1458-1490. Abstract

Research on jury deliberations has largely focused on the implications of deliberations for criminal defendants' outcomes. In contrast, this article considers jurors' outcomes by integrating subjective experience into the study of deliberations. We examine whether jurors' feelings that they had enough time to express themselves vary by jurors' gender, race, or education. Drawing on status characteristics theory and a survey of more than 3,000 real-world jurors, we find that the majority of jurors feel that they had enough time to express themselves. However, blacks and Hispanics, and especially blacks and Hispanics with less education, are less likely to feel so. Jurors' verdict preferences do not account for these findings. Our findings have implications for status characteristics theory and for legal cynicism among members of lower-status social groups.

Discretionary Disenfranchisement: The Case of Legal Financial Obligations
Meredith, Marc, and Michael Morse. 2017. “Discretionary Disenfranchisement: The Case of Legal Financial Obligations.” Journal of Legal Studies 46 (2). Abstract
Conditioning voting rights on the payment of legal financial obligations (LFOs) may be unconstitutional if there are no exceptions for indigency. Appellate courts, though, generally have upheld felon-disenfranchisement laws that withhold voting rights until all fees, fines, and restitution are paid in full. These decisions, however, have been made with limited evidence available about the type, burden, and disparate impact of criminal debt. We address this by detailing who owes LFOs, how much they owe, and for what purpose using representative statewide samples in Alabama. The median amount of LFOs assessed to discharged felons across all of their criminal convictions is $3,956, more than half of which stems from court fees. As a result, most ex-felons remain disenfranchised after completing their sentences. People who are disproportionately indigent—blacks and those utilizing a public defender—are even less likely to be eligible to restore their voting rights.
Measuring the natural rate of interest: International trends and determinants
Holston, Kathryn, Thomas Lobach, and John C. Williams. 2017. “Measuring the natural rate of interest: International trends and determinants.” Journal of International Economics 108 (1): S59-S75. Abstract

U.S. estimates of the natural rate of interest – the real short-term interest rate that would prevail absent transitory disturbances – have declined dramatically since the start of the global financial crisis. For example, estimates using the Laubach–Williams (2003) model indicate the natural rate in the United States fell to close to zero during the crisis and has remained there into 2016. Explanations for this decline include shifts in demographics, a slowdown in trend productivity growth, and global factors affecting real interest rates. This paper applies the Laubach–Williams methodology to the United States and three other advanced economies – Canada, the Euro Area, and the United Kingdom. We find that large declines in trend GDP growth and natural rates of interest have occurred over the past 25 years in all four economies. These country-by-country estimates are found to display a substantial amount of comovement over time, suggesting an important role for global factors in shaping trend growth and natural rates of interest.

 

Awarded the Bhagwati Prize for 2017-2018, given every two years for the best article published in the Journal of International Economics during the previous two years.
The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940
Chetty, Raj, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca, and Jimmy Narang. 2017. “The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940.” Science 356 (6336): 398-406. Abstract
We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”—the fraction of children who earn more than their parents—by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. Increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. However, distributing current GDP growth more equally across income groups as in the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the “American dream” of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is shared more broadly across the income distribution.
Does Consumer Demand Reproduce Inequality? High-Income Consumers, Vertical Differentiation, and the Wage Structure

This article considers the effects on the wage structure of the U.S. economy’s growing reliance on demand from high-income consumers. Relative to the mass consumers that defined the post–World War II U.S. economy, high-income consumers are willing to pay for high-quality and high-status products. These spending patterns split producers into up-market and down-market segments and stoke winner-take-all dynamics among up-market producers. Economic dependence on high-income consumers could thus lead to a new form of industrial segmentation, based on vertical differentiation by product quality or status. To test these predictions, data from consumer expenditure and wage surveys are linked using input-output tables and used to fit variance function regressions. Results show that industries more dependent on high-income consumers have greater wage inequality. This analysis identifies a new structural source of wage inequality not considered in previous research: the increasingly unequal composition of consumer demand reproduces wage inequality.

Police Reform and the Dismantling of Legal Estrangement
Bell, Monica C. 2017. “Police Reform and the Dismantling of Legal Estrangement.” Yale Law Journal 126 (7): 2054-2150. Abstract

In police reform circles, many scholars and policymakers diagnose the frayed relationship between police forces and the communities they serve as a problem of illegitimacy, or the idea that people lack confidence in the police and thus are unlikely to comply or cooperate with them. The core proposal emanating from this illegitimacy diagnosis is procedural justice, a concept that emphasizes police officers’ obligation to treat people with dignity and respect, behave in a neutral, nonbiased way, exhibit an intention to help, and give them voice to express themselves and their needs, largely in the context of police stops. This Essay argues that legitimacy theory offers an incomplete diagnosis of the policing crisis, and thus de-emphasizes deeper structural, group-centered approaches to the problem of policing. The existing police regulatory regime encourages large swaths of American society to see themselves as existing within the law’s aegis but outside its protection. This Essay critiques the reliance of police decision makers on a simplified version of legitimacy and procedural justice theory. It aims to expand the predominant understanding of police mistrust among African Americans and the poor, proposing that legal estrangement offers a better lens through which scholars and policymakers can understand and respond to the current problems of policing. Legal estrangement is a theory of detachment and eventual alienation from the law’s enforcers, and it reflects the intuition among many people in poor communities of color that the law operates to exclude them from society. Building on the concepts of legal cynicism and anomie in sociology, the concept of legal estrangement provides a way of understanding the deep concerns that motivate today’s police reform movement and points toward structural approaches to reforming policing. 

Wealth Inequality and Accumulation
Killewald, Alexandra, Fabian T. Pfeffer, and Jared N. Schachner. 2017. “Wealth Inequality and Accumulation.” Annual Review of Sociology 43 (1). Abstract
Research on wealth inequality and accumulation and the data upon which it relies have expanded substantially in the twenty-first century. Although the field has experienced rapid growth, conceptual and methodological challenges remain. We begin by discussing two major unresolved methodological concerns facing wealth research: how to address challenges to causal inference posed by wealth’s cumulative nature and how to operationalize net worth, given its highly skewed distribution. Next, we provide an overview of data sources available for wealth research. To underscore the need for continued empirical attention to net worth, we review trends in wealth levels and inequality and evaluate wealth’s distinctiveness as an indicator of social stratification. We then review recent empirical evidence on the effects of wealth on other social outcomes, as well as research on the determinants of wealth. We close with a list of promising avenues for future research on wealth, its causes, and its consequences.
Autocracies and the international sources of cooperation
Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2017. “Autocracies and the international sources of cooperation.” Journal of Peace Research 54 (3): 412-426. Publisher's Version Abstract
Under what conditions do autocracies peacefully settle disputes? Existing studies tend to focus on the domestic factors that shape conflict initiation. In this article, I show how domestic institutions interact with international institutions to produce more cooperative outcomes. Particularly, this study argues that as autocracies become more central in the network of liberal institutions such as preferential trade agreements (PTAs), they are less likely to initiate a militarized interstate dispute (MID). As a state becomes more democratic, the effect of centrality within the PTA network on the peaceful dispute settlement dissipates. This is because greater embeddedness in the PTA regime is associated with enhanced transparency for autocracies, which allows autocracies to mitigate ex ante informational problems in dispute resolution. Using a dataset of MID initiation from 1965 to 1999, this study finds robust empirical support for the aforementioned hypothesis. Moreover, the results are substantively significant. Further analysis into the causal mechanisms at work provides evidence in favor of the information mechanism. Autocrats who are more embedded in the PTA network tend to have higher levels of economic transparency and economic transparency itself is associated with lower rates of conflict initiation. The results suggest that an autocrat’s structural position within the international system can help to peacefully settle its disputes.
One Egalitarianism or Several? Two Decades of Gender-Role Attitude Change in Europe
Knight, Carly R., and Mary C. Brinton. 2017. “One Egalitarianism or Several? Two Decades of Gender-Role Attitude Change in Europe.” American Journal of Sociology 122 (5): 1485-1532. Abstract
This article challenges the implicit assumption of many cross-national studies that gender-role attitudes fall along a single continuum between traditional and egalitarian. The authors argue that this approach obscures theoretically important distinctions in attitudes and renders analyses of change over time incomplete. Using latent class analysis, they investigate the multidimensional nature of gender-role attitudes in 17 postindustrial European countries. They identify three distinct varieties of egalitarianism that they designate as liberal egalitarianism, egalitarian familism, and flexible egalitarianism. They show that while traditional gender-role attitudes have precipitously and uniformly declined in accordance with the “rising tide” narrative toward greater egalitarianism, the relative prevalence of different egalitarianisms varies markedly across countries. Furthermore, they find that European nations are not converging toward one dominant egalitarian model but rather, remain differentiated by varieties of egalitarianism.
Urban Income Inequality and the Great Recession in Sunbelt Form: Disentangling Individual and Neighborhood-Level Change in Los Angeles
Sampson, Robert J., Jared N. Schachner, and Robert L. Mare. 2017. “Urban Income Inequality and the Great Recession in Sunbelt Form: Disentangling Individual and Neighborhood-Level Change in Los Angeles.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 3 (2): 102-128. Abstract

New social transformations within and beyond the cities of classic urban studies challenge prevailing accounts of spatial inequality. This paper pivots from the Rust Belt to the Sunbelt accordingly, disentangling persistence and change in neighborhood median income and concentrated income extremes in Los Angeles County. We first examine patterns of change over two decades starting in 1990 for all Los Angeles neighborhoods. We then analyze an original longitudinal study of approximately six hundred Angelenos from 2000 to 2013, assessing the degree to which contextual changes in neighborhood income arise from neighborhood-level mobility or individual residential mobility. Overall we find deep and persistent inequality among both neighborhoods and individuals. Contrary to prior research, we also find that residential mobility does not materially alter neighborhood economic conditions for most race, ethnic, and income groups. Our analyses lay the groundwork for a multilevel theoretical framework capable of explaining spatial inequality across cities and historical eras.

Labor Unions as Activist Organizations: A Union Power Approach to Estimating Union Wage Effects

Amid the long decline of US unions, research on union wage effects has struggled with selection problems and inadequate theory. I draw on the sociology of labor to argue that unions use non-market sources of power to pressure companies into raising wages. This theory of union power implies a new test of union wage effects: does union activism have an effect on wages that is not reducible to workers’ market position? Two institutional determinants of union activity are used to empirically isolate the wage effect of union activism from labor market conditions: increased union revenue from investment shocks and increased union activity leading up to union officer elections. Instrumental variable analysis of panel data from the Department of Labor shows that a 1 percent increase in union spending increases a proxy for union members’ wages between 0.15 percent and 0.30 percent. These wage effects are larger in years of active collective bargaining, and when unions increase spending in ways that could pressure companies. The results indicate that non-market sources of union power can affect workers’ wages and that even in a period of labor weakness unions still play a role in setting wages for their members.

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Harvard Business School Research Brief

Consumers Punish Firms that Cut Employee Pay in Response to COVID-19

August 30, 2020

Harvard Busines School | By Bhavya Mohan, Serena Hagerty, and Michael Norton. Serena Hagerty is a Stone PhD Research Fellow and a PhD candidate at Harvard Business School. Michael Norton is the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School,

Our Common Purpose

Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century

June 11, 2020

American Academy of Arts and Sciences | Final report of the bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, co-chaired by Danielle Allen of Harvard University, Stephen B. Heintz, and Eric Liu. The report includes 31 recommendations to strengthen America’s institutions and civic culture to help a nation in crisis emerge with a more resilient democracy.

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Economics After Neoliberalism: Introducing the EfIP Project

Economics After Neoliberalism: Introducing the EfIP Project

January 23, 2020

American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings | By Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik, and Gabriel Zucman.  A revised and updated version of their introduction to the Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP) policy briefs, published originally in the Boston Review (Feb 2019).

Alix S. Winter

Is Lead Exposure a Form of Housing Inequality?

January 2, 2020

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies | By Alix Winter (PhD 2019) and Robert J. Sampson. Alix Winter received her PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard in 2019 and is now a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) at Columbia University. Robert Sampson is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

Michael Luca

2019 in Research Highlights

December 27, 2019

American Economics Association | Among the top 10 research highlights of 2019, "Tech: Economists Wanted." An interview with Susan Athey and Michael Luca about the mutual influence between economics and the tech sector. Michael Luca is the Lee J. Styslinger III Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Benjamin Schneer

Family past as political prologue

December 13, 2019

Harvard Kennedy School | Assistant Professor Benjamin Schneer's research shows a complex correlation between how members of Congress vote on immigration bills and their family history. Joint work with economist James Feigenbaum PhD 2016 and political scientist Maxwell Palmer, both of Boston University.

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DACA report

The Long-Term Impact of DACA; Forging Futures Despite DACA's Uncertainty

November 7, 2019

Immigration Initiative at Harvard
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The Inflation Gap

The Inflation Gap

November 5, 2019

Atlantic | A new analysis by Christopher Wimer PhD 2007, Sophie Collyer, and Xavier Jaravel suggests not only  that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones, but also that, after accounting for that trend, the American poverty rate is significantly higher than the official measures suggest.

Wimer received his PhD in Sociology & Social Policy from Harvard in 2007 and is now Co-Director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy (CPSP) at Columbia University. Xavier Jaravel received his PhD in Business Economics from Harvard in 2016 and is now Assistant Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. Jaravel's research on inflation inequality—showing that prices have risen more quickly for people at the bottom of the income distribution than for those at the top—which informs their analysis of the poverty rate, appears in the Quarterly Journal of Economics (May 2019).

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Michael Hankinson

Research brief: Concentrated Burdens: How Self-Interest and Partisanship Shape Opinion on Opioid Treatment Policy

October 18, 2019

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Allison Daminger

How Couples Share “Cognitive Labor” and Why it Matters

September 19, 2019

Behavioral Scientist | By Allison Daminger, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy. "Cognitive work is gendered, but not uniformly so," Allison Daminger finds. "And if we want to understand how divisions of cognitive labor impact women, families, and society as a whole, this is a crucial insight." Based on her research, "The Cognitive Dimensions of Household Labor," recently published in the American Sociological Review.

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The Economics of Free College

June 1, 2019

Economics for Inclusive Prosperity | By David J. Deming, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

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Where does innovation come from?

March 28, 2019

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