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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Why the High Cost of Big-City Living is Bad for Everyone

Why the High Cost of Big-City Living is Bad for Everyone

August 25, 2016

The New Yorker | Summarizes an expanding body of research, including work by Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor of Public Policy, which suggests that the unaffordability of wealthy cities is itself a source of decreasing opportunity and a contributor to income inequality.

To learn more, see Ganong and Shoag's discussion and link to their paper, "Why Has Regional Income Convergence Declined?", at the Brookings Institution here.

How Science Can Help Get Out the Vote

How Science Can Help Get Out the Vote

August 23, 2016

Scientific AmericanResearch offers several proved strategies for boosting turnout on Election Day. Highlights work by behavioral scientist Todd Rogers, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

POV's 'All the Difference' to air Sept 12 on PBS

POV's 'All the Difference' to air Sept 12 on PBS

August 21, 2016

PBS | Filmed over five years, a new documentary follows two African-American teens from the South Side of Chicago on their journey to achieve their dream of graduating from college. Emmy-winning producer/director Tod Lending’s film is inspired by Wes Moore’s bestselling autobiographical book, The Other Wes Moore. Watch the trailer and learn more about the film at the link.

Moore, who also serves as an executive producer for the film, is a former a Harvard Inequality & Social Policy Galbraith Scholar ('01). The Galbraith Scholars initiative was an undergraduate summer program that gathered 12-16 students each year from colleges across the country to explore issues of inequality and social policy.

Poverty in America: No money, no love

Poverty in America: No money, no love

August 18, 2016

The Economist | Notes forthcoming paper by Scott Winship (Ph.D. '09) of the Manhattan Institute, who, after factoring in non-cash benefits and underreported income, disagrees with negative assessments of the impact of 1996 welfare reform. "The only groups he finds to be worse off than they were in 1996, including childless households, were unaffected by the reform. Meanwhile, he argues that 'children, in particular those in single-mother families—are significantly less likely to be poor today than they were before.'”

Aiding the “Doubly Disadvantaged”

Aiding the “Doubly Disadvantaged”

August 18, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Sociologist Anthony Jack (Ph.D. '16) explores the diversity of experience among low-income students, and what it means for colleges and professors to support an economically-diverse student body. Jack is a Junior Fellow with the Harvard Society of Fellows and will join the faculty as an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in fall 2018.

New Yorkers in Subway Deserts Have Advice for L Train Riders: ‘Suck It Up’

New Yorkers in Subway Deserts Have Advice for L Train Riders: ‘Suck It Up’

August 15, 2016

The New York Times | Quotes Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics, whose research with Raj Chetty found a link between commuting times and a child’s likelihood of escaping poverty. “Across the U.S., the pattern you see is that neighborhoods with shorter commute times produce better outcomes for low-income kids,” said Hendren."

What We Learned About Trump's Supporters This Week

What We Learned About Trump's Supporters This Week

August 13, 2016

The New Yorker | Cites "Theda Skocpol's careful work [joint with Vanessa Williamson] on the Tea Party show[ing] that it was a movement of middle-class Americans, many of whom experienced a shock to their net worth after the 2008 financial crash when the value of their retirement accounts and homes plummeted."

Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard. Williamson (Ph.D. '15) is a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) Letter to HUD to Support Regional MTW Designation

Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) Letter to HUD to Support Regional MTW Designation

August 12, 2016

Cambridge Housing Authority | On August 12, the Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) research team [which includes Harvard economists Lawrence Katz and Nathaniel Hendren] submitted a letter to HUD Secretary Castro to support regional MTW designation for Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) and Boston Housing Authority (BHA). CMTO is a collaborative partnership of academic researchers and housing practitioners from 17 public housing authorities across the country.

CMTO is developing and piloting mobility interventions to increase moves to neighborhoods of opportunity for voucher holders. CMTO believes investment in and policies to improve opportunities in high-poverty neighborhoods are as critical as increasing moves to lower-poverty neighborhoods to improve upward economic mobility for low-income families.

Why China Trade Hit U.S. Workers Unexpectedly Hard

Why China Trade Hit U.S. Workers Unexpectedly Hard

August 11, 2016

Wall Street Journal | A growing body of academic research shows the U.S. workforce was hit harder than expected by trade with China. The Wall Street Journal summarizes some of the most important new research in this area, including work by Raven Molloy (Ph.D. '05) and colleagues, "Understanding declining fluidity in the U.S. labor market," forthcoming in Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Molloy is chief of the real estate finance section of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
View the research

The Millions of Americans Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Barely Mention: The Poor

The Millions of Americans Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Barely Mention: The Poor

August 11, 2016

The New York Times | Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences quoted: “We don’t have a full-voiced condemnation of the level or extent of poverty in America today," said Matthew Desmond, a Harvard professor of sociology. "We aren’t having in our presidential debate right now a serious conversation about the fact that we are the richest democracy in the world, with the most poverty. It should be at the very top of the agenda.”

Is the U.S. Due for Radically Raising Taxes for the Rich?

Is the U.S. Due for Radically Raising Taxes for the Rich?

August 9, 2016

The Atlantic | Cites research by Stefanie Stantcheva, Assistant Professor of Economics (co-authored with Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez). Stantcheva presented this work, "Optimal Taxation of Top Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities," in the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series in April 2015. It has since been published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.
View the research

The Miseries of Eviction: An Interview with Matthew Desmond

The Miseries of Eviction: An Interview with Matthew Desmond

August 2, 2016

Current Affairs | Current Affairs speaks to the Harvard sociologist, Matthew Desmond, about his book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

The truth about the gender wage gap

The truth about the gender wage gap

August 1, 2016

Vox | An illustrated guide to what economics research tells us about the gender wage gap, featuring Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics.

Latest commentary and analysis

Jason Furman

The real cost of the Republican tax cuts

November 1, 2017
Vox | By Jason Furman and Greg Leiserson. They’ll require spending cuts, or tax increases in other areas. Either could hurt many American families.
PBS NewsHour Making Sen$e

Achieving the American Dream may depend on where you live

October 26, 2017
PBS NewsHour Making Sen$e | The economists Nathaniel Hendren and Raj Chetty have co-authored studies on social mobility and income inequality. Hendren, who teaches at Harvard University, and Chetty, who teaches at Stanford University, recently spoke with PBS NewsHour’s Paul Solman for Thursday’s Making $ense segment. Here is an excerpt of their conversation, which was edited for length and clarity.
Mario Luis Small

How do we decide whom to rely on? A Q&A with Mario L. Small

October 23, 2017
OUPblogIn theory, the answer seems obvious: if the matter is personal, they will turn to a spouse, a family member, or someone close. In practice, what people actually do often belies these expectations. 

We sat down with Mario L. Small, author of Someone To Talk To, to answer some key questions into how we decide whom to rely on and understanding social networks. Small (PhD '01) is Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology at Harvard.
The Big Picture: Violence and Criminal Justice

The Big Picture: Violence and Criminal Justice

October 23, 2017
Public Books | By Patrick Sharkey (PhD '07'), Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at NYU. This is the 11th installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge. 
William Julius Wilson

The Big Picture: Multiracial Cooperation

October 9, 2017
Public Books | By William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. This is the first installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.
National Academies logo

National Academies Committee Meeting on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia

October 4, 2017
The National Academies  | The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is undertaking a study on the impact of sexual harassment in academia on the career advancement of women in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce. To advance this discussion, the Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia held a half-day meeting in Boston. Harvard's Frank Dobbin, a Professor of Sociology whose research has examined discrimination in the workplace and diversity management, spoke in the opening session. View the conference materials and presentation videos online.
Larry Katz

Interview with Lawrence Katz

September 25, 2017
The Region—Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis | Harvard's Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics, on the gender pay gap, fissuring workplaces, decling labor share and superstar firms, and the importance of moving to a good neighborhood early in a child's life. 

By Douglas Clement—Lawrence Katz is an institution in labor economics—indeed, in economics as a whole. As editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics since 1991, principal investigator of the decades-long Moving to Opportunity Program, co-founder and co-scientific director of J-PAL North America and collaborator with Claudia Goldin in pathbreaking research on the causes and consequences of rising education levels, he has been a singular force in shaping the field. Continue reading ▶️ 
How Could Donald Trump and Brexit Happen?

How Could Donald Trump and Brexit Happen?

September 20, 2017
Social Europe | In this spotlight video, Social Europe Editor-in-Chief Henning Meyer discusses the roots of populism with Peter Hall, Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies in the Department of Government and at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies of Harvard University. This conversation is also available as an audio podcast.
Danielle Allen

15 Professors of the Year: Danielle S. Allen

September 14, 2017
Fifteen Minutes Magazine - The Harvard Crimson |Danielle Allen, one of the 15 Professors of 2017, has been trying to shift the conversation from inequality to equality. An interview.
Archon Fung

It's the Gap, Stupid

September 1, 2017

Boston Review | By Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship. In this essay, Fung explores three new books on inequality which "draw an important and disturbing picture of America as a system of compounding inequality driven by a hereditary meritocracy of professional elites." One of Boston Review's Top Ten Reads in Inequality in 2017.

The fall 2017 Harvard Inequality Seminar featured the authors of two of these books: Thomas Shapiro, author of Toxic Inequality, on November 13, and Richard V. Reeves, author of Dream Hoarders, on November 27, 2017. Joan C. Williams, author of White Working Class, spoke at Harvard's Inequality in America Symposium, organized by the FAS Division of Social Science on October 13, 2017.

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Closing the Opportunity Gap Report

Closing the Opportunity Gap Report

March 16, 2016

The Saguaro Seminar—Harvard Kennedy School | In 2015, the Saguaro Seminar, led by Robert D. Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, launched the Closing the Opportunity Gap initiative. The initiative convened five working groups of the country’s leading experts in each of five areas: family and parenting, early childhood, K-12 education, community institutions, and “on-ramps” (like community college or apprenticeships).

Patrick Sharkey (Ph.D. '07) of New York University, a contributor to the community working group, co-authored the chapter on "Rebuilding Communities to Help Close the Opportunity Gap."

Economic Report of the President 2016

Economic Report of the President 2016

February 22, 2016

Council of Economic Advisers | Inequality (chapter 1) and early childhood disparities (chapter 4) were a central focus of this year's annual report, drawing extensively on research by many Inequality & Social Policy faculty and alumni. We are particularly partial to p. 182, which cites work by (then) doctoral fellow Sarah Cohodes et. al., "The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling." Cohodes (Ph.D. '15) is now an Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University.

What Do Unions Do for the Middle Class?

What Do Unions Do for the Middle Class?

January 13, 2016

Center for American Progress | New research by Richard B. Freeman and collaborators suggests that about one-third of the decline in the share of middle class workers is directly tied to the decreasing share of workers in unions. "The big question this research raises for Americans troubled by the decline of the middle class is whether the growth and level of inequality can be reduced without a strong labor movement,” said Freeman, Herbert Anchorman Professor of Economics at Harvard.
Get the report

Addressing Economic Challenges in an Evolving Health Care Market [Event]

Addressing Economic Challenges in an Evolving Health Care Market [Event]

October 7, 2015

The Hamilton Project  | Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, participated in a policy forum addressing economic challenges in an evolving health care market, with a focus on three new papers released in conjunction with the event. The event, held at The Brookings Institution, featured opening remarks by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, and framing remarks by CEA Chairman Jason Furman.  View papers, presentation slides, and event video online.