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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Biggest Week Yet for Pay for Success in the United States

Biggest Week Yet for Pay for Success in the United States

February 17, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Highlights work of Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab. This week's announcement of three new projects brings the total number of US Pay for Success projects to 11, seven of which have relied on GPL technical assistance. The new projects aim to reduce homelessness in Denver, provide healthier starts for low-income babies and their families in South Carolina, and to promote family stability and reduce parental substance use for families involved in Connecticut's child welfare system.

What do trends in economic inequality imply for innovation and entrepreneurship? A framework for future research and policy

What do trends in economic inequality imply for innovation and entrepreneurship? A framework for future research and policy

February 16, 2016

Washington Center for Equitable Growth | By Elisabeth Jacobs (Ph.D. '08), now Senior Director for Policy and Academic Programs at Equitable Growth. Also cites work by Inequality doctoral fellow Alex Bell (Ph.D. candidate in Economics) et. al., which finds that children of parents in the top 1% of the income distribution are ten times more likely to become inventors than those in the bottom 50%.

Women, overshadowed

Women, overshadowed

February 16, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Interview with Heather Sarsons, Ph.D. candidate in Economics on implications of, and the reactions to, her research—first featured in The New York Times—finding that female economists received less credit for co-authored work than their male counterparts.

How Segregated Schools Drive Criminal Behaviors

How Segregated Schools Drive Criminal Behaviors

February 16, 2016

Pacific Standard | Delves into new research by David J. Deming (Ph.D. '10 and Associate Professor, HGSE), co-authored with Stephen Billings (UNC Charlotte) and Stephen L. Ross (University of Connecticut), which suggests that re-segregation of American schools has consequences beyond the classroom in increasing criminal behavior. Read the NBER Working Paper.

Also highlights earlier research by Billings, Deming, and Jonah Rockoff (Ph.D. '04, now Columbia Business School), which found "the end of race-based busing widened racial inequality [in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools], despite efforts by CMS to mitigate the impact of segregation through compensatory resource allocation."

One Simple Trick that Boosts Kids' College Graduation Rates

One Simple Trick that Boosts Kids' College Graduation Rates

February 15, 2016

Pacific Standard | Examines new study co-authored by doctoral fellow Preeya Mbekeani (Ed.D. candidate), which found that providing four additional SAT score reports for free to low-income students increased college access and completion rates.

How segregated schools turn kids into criminals

How segregated schools turn kids into criminals

February 12, 2016

Washington Post | Explores new study co-authored by Stephen Billings (UNC Charlotte), David J. Deming (Ph.D. '10 and Associate Professor, HGSE), and Stephen L. Ross (University of Connecticut), who show that concentrating disadvantaged youth together in the same schools and neighborhoods increases total crime. Read the NBER Working Paper.
Also notes earlier research by Billings, Deming, and Jonah Rockoff (Ph.D. '04, now Columbia Business School), which found that attempts to mitigate the effects of segregation in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools by providing extra resources did help improve academic outcomes in segregated schools, but not crime.

How Highlighting the Best and Brightest Can Backfire

How Highlighting the Best and Brightest Can Backfire

February 9, 2016

Pacific Standard | Research by Todd Rogers (Associate Professor of Public Policy, HKS) and Avi Feller (UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy) finds that exposing students in a massive open online course to the best of their peers' work lowers their grades and increases dropout rates.

Immigrants Push Down Wages for Workers, But How Much?

Immigrants Push Down Wages for Workers, But How Much?

February 9, 2016

Wall Street Journal | Differing assessments among economists, including George Borjas (Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy, HKS) and Lawrence Katz (Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics).

Giving Voice

Giving Voice

February 8, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School Magazine | Feature profile of Bruce Western, Professor of Sociology, the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice, and Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.

"The kind of work, or research, that we want to promote I think has a central role for the human voices and stories of the people who are experiencing criminal justice involvement, eviction and housing insecurity, and deep material deprivation,” Western says. “We thought this could come to define a style of work in the poverty field, and part of our hope for it is we could use work like this to engage a public conversation.”

Money Interests are Blocking US Action on Climate Change

Money Interests are Blocking US Action on Climate Change

February 8, 2016

Aljazeera America | Opinion piece by Sean McElwee of Demos draws on data from recent work  by Theda Skocpol (Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government & Sociology) and Alex Hertel-Fernandez (Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy).  Skocpol and Hertel-Fernandez are presenting the latest version of their paper,"The Koch Effect: The Impact of a Cadre-Led Network on American Politics," at the Harvard Center for American Political Studies, Feb 12, 2016.

What the Science Says About Long-Term Damage from Lead

What the Science Says About Long-Term Damage from Lead

February 8, 2016

The New York Times | Highlights research by Jessica Wolpaw Reyes (Ph.D. '01, now Professor of Economics, Amherst College) on the effects of  childhood lead exposure on educational test scores and on behavioral outcomes in later childhood and young adulthood. View Reyes's research at her homepage.

Christopher Muller (Ph.D. '14, now a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar) will be presenting related research, "Lead Exposure and Violent Crime in the Early Twentieth Century," co-authored by James Feigenbaum (Ph.D. candidate in Economics), in the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series on Apr 18, 2016.

Getting to Win-Win

Getting to Win-Win

February 8, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School Magazine | Jane Mansbridge on the vanishing art and science of political compromise. Mansbridge and Cathie Jo Martin (Boston University) are the editors of Political Negotiation, published by Brookings Institution Press in December 2015.  Doctoral fellow Chase Foster (Ph.D. candidate in Government), Mansbridge, and Martin co-authored chapter 4 in the book, "Negotiation Myopia."

"The stakes are now higher than ever, Mansbridge argues...'
The idea is that when we design institutions we should be thinking consciously of how to design them to be partial cures for the mistakes our brains habitually make,' says Mansbridge. 'That’s how you get the rules of political engagement.'"

One-Party System

One-Party System

February 8, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School Magazine | Delves into Leah Wright Rigueur's new book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican, Princeton University Press. Rigueur is an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.

David Ellwood to Chair New U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty

February 5, 2016


Urban Institute
The Urban Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the establishment of the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, aimed at discovering permanent ladders of mobility out of poverty in the U.S.

David Ellwood, the Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School, will chair the national group of 24 leading  voices on these issues, which also includes Lawrence F. Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard University; Kathryn Edin, former director of the Inequality & Social Policy program, now Johns Hopkins University; and Raj Chetty of Stanford University. "We hope that as a result, we can reset our country's approach to social mobility," Ellwood said.

The Inequality Problem

The Inequality Problem

February 4, 2016

London Review of Books | Essay by Ed Miliband, MP and former leader of the Labour Party, draws from Robert Putnam's Our Kids to argue that inequality is a defining issue for progressives in the UK, that Labour's renewal must be built on ideas and a determination to tackle inequality.

Latest commentary and analysis

Roland Fryer: 2015 John Bates Clark Medalist

Roland Fryer: 2015 John Bates Clark Medalist

February 3, 2016

Journal of Economic Perspectives | By Lawrence F. Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics: "Roland Fryer is an extraordinary applied microeconomist whose research output related to racial inequality, the US racial achievement gap, and the design and evaluation of educational policies make him a worthy recipient of the 2015 John Bates Clark Medal. I will divide this survey of Roland's research into five categories..."

Do Snow Days Hurt Student Learning?

Do Snow Days Hurt Student Learning?

February 3, 2016

EdNext Podcast [audio] | Marty West, Associate Professor of Education, talks with Josh Goodman, Associate Professor of Public Policy.

Changing Neighborhoods for Better or Worse

Changing Neighborhoods for Better or Worse

February 2, 2016

No Jargon [Podcast—Ep. 19] | Jackelyn Hwang (Ph.D. '15, now a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University) discusses gentrification in America—how race and class influence who moves where and when, and how can decision-makers encourage investment that protects long-time residents? No Jargon presents interviews with top university scholars on the politics, policy problems, and social issues facing the nation. Subscribe  in iTunes, or listen to individual episodes at the SSN website.

Event video: The American Dream in Crisis: Can Education Restore Social Mobility?

Event video: The American Dream in Crisis: Can Education Restore Social Mobility?

February 1, 2016

HGSE Askwith Forum | Robert D. Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, shares insights from Our Kids, his examination of how the American Dream of equal opportunity is in crisis. He is joined by Roland G. Fryer, Jr., Henry Lee Professor of Economics and Professor of Education, and Meira Levinson, Professor of Education, who consider what educators can do. The research of doctoral fellow Anthony Abraham Jack, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, gets a shout-out at the 1:09:23 mark.

How Colleges Fail Poor Students

How Colleges Fail Poor Students

January 18, 2016

Minnesota Public Radio—MPR News with Kerri Miller | Anthony Abraham Jack (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology) guests to discuss what his dissertation research shows [audio 40 min].

Legal hurdles to the Affordable Care Act

Legal hurdles to the Affordable Care Act

January 17, 2016

Oxford University Press Blog | By Lawrence R. Jacobs (University of Minnesota) and Theda Skocpol (Victor S. Thompson Professor of Government &  Sociology). Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, it has withstood—and overcome—a storm of legal hurdles in the past five and a half years. Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol, authors of the newly-published third edition of Health Care Reform and American Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know, provide insight into the legal challenges it faced, including the Supreme Court ruling in 2015.

Migration, Wages, Housing Prices, and Why They All Matter

Migration, Wages, Housing Prices, and Why They All Matter

January 14, 2016

WGBH and PRI's Innovation Hub | Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Assistant Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, explains how century-long trend of Americans moving to locations that offer higher wages has stalled for all but the most educated—and how this contributes to inequality. [Text and audio: 12 minutes]

The other side of Black Lives Matter

The other side of Black Lives Matter

December 14, 2015

The Brookings Institution | William Julius Wilson has been appointed a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings. This is his first piece for their Social Mobility Memos series.

Does Inequality Matter? Foreign Affairs' Brain Trust Weighs In

Does Inequality Matter? Foreign Affairs' Brain Trust Weighs In

December 13, 2015

Foreign Affairs [gated] | Theda Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, is among a group of leading scholars asked to assess the political consequences of economic inequality in this online-only forum, which (annoyingly) requires registration or individual subscription to view.
The January-February print issue of Foreign Affairs leads with a series on inequality—"what causes it, why it matters, what can be done." The issue features articles by Ronald Inglehart (University of Michigan), 
François Bourguignon (Paris School of Economics), Pierre Rosanvallon (College de France), Danielle Allen (Harvard University), and Anthony B. Atkinson (London School of Economics).

Alphachatterbox: Our podcast chat with Claudia Goldin

Alphachatterbox: Our podcast chat with Claudia Goldin

December 11, 2015

Financial Times [audio: 55 mins]|An in-depth conversation with economist Claudia Goldin about her work on the history of women in the workforce and the causes of the lingering gender wage gap.