News

Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Outsourcing at home

Shaky Jobs, Sluggish Wages: Reasons Are at Home

February 28, 2017

The New York Times | "This reorganization of employment is playing a big role in keeping a lid on wages — and in driving income inequality — across a much broader swath of the economy than globalization can account for," writes Economic Scene columnist Eduardo Porter.

Cites recent study by Lawrence Katz of Harvard and Alan Krueger of Princeton, which concluded that temp agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, and freelancers accounted for 94% of U.S. employment growth from 2005 to 2015. View this research»

Also cites Katz on the pay gaps between firms as an important source of inequality: "Overall, Professor Katz estimates, the sorting of workers into high- and low-end employers accounts for a quarter to a third of the increase of wage inequality in the United States since 1980."

Just How Abnormal Is the Trump Presidency? Rating 20 Events

Just How Abnormal Is the Trump Presidency? Rating 20 Events

February 27, 2017

The New York Times | The New York Times consulted a panel of experts, among them Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard, and Vesla Weaver (Ph.D. '07), Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of ISPS Center for the Study of Inequality at Yale University.

Do we need a new kind of economics?

Do we need a new kind of economics?

February 24, 2017

Financial Times | FT Books Essay by Martin Sandu recalls an instructive insight from an international trade theory course at Harvard with Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy.

Related
Comments on Economic Models, Economics, and Economists: Remarks on Economics Rules by Dani Rodrik
Journal of Economic Literature | By Ariel Rubinstein. "This essay reviews Dani Rodrik’s superb book Economics Rules and argues that it can serve as an ideal platform for discussing what economists can and should accomplish."

Betsy DeVos

Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins

February 23, 2017

The New York Times | Martin West, Associate Professor of Education, comments on a recent research finding unusually large negative effects of vouchers on children's test scores in Louisiana.

The article also cites research by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff (PhD '04, now Columbia Business School) linking teachers' impacts on test scores (teacher value-added) to improved adult outcomes on a variety of measures.

And it notes that "the new voucher studies stand in marked contrast to research findings that well-regulated charter schools in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a strong, positive impact on test scores," citing research by Sarah Cohodes (PhD '15, now Columbia Teachers College) and collaborators. Cohodes and Susan Dynarski summarize the evidence in a 2016 Brookings Institution report, "Massachusetts charter cap holds back disadvantaged students."

Retraining Paradox

The Retraining Paradox

February 23, 2017

The New York Times Magazine | Many Americans need jobs, or want better jobs, while employers have good jobs they can’t fill. Matching them up is the tricky part. Quoted: Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics.

Amanda Pallais

When Bias Hurts Profits

February 22, 2017

Harvard Gazette | Details new study by economics professor Amanda Pallais and colleagues, which found that when minority employees in a French grocery chain worked for biased managers their job performance dropped from 79th to 53rd percentile on average. Pallais is the Paul Sack Associate Professor of Political Economy and Social Studies. The study is forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.
View the research

Robert Sampson

To advance sustainability, fight inequality, researcher says

February 17, 2017

Harvard Gazette | Unless social and economic inequalities are addressed, sustainability efforts in urban centers will likely stall or never take hold, according to a new Harvard study by Robert J. Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences. 

San Francisco Chronicle

Trump’s storm keeps Democrats busy on many fronts

February 17, 2017

San Francisco Chronicle | Quoted: Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology.

Midterm elections such as 2018 favor opposition parties, which makes House Democrats “well positioned” as a fulcrum of the Trump resistance, said Theda Skocpol, a Harvard University sociologist. “That’s the place where Democrats will be able to make gains, if they can pick up support from a broader array of people,” Skocpol said. “That and the governors races are the really critical turning points.”

Monopoly

Monopolies Are Worse Than We Thought

February 15, 2017

Bloomberg View | New research suggests that growing market concentration may partly explain labor's declining share of national income, but what accounts for this growing market concentration? A new paper by  David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT) suggests a technological explanation driving the rise of "superstar firms" in "winner take most' markets. This paper is forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.
View the research

ACA alternatives in the JFK Jr Forum

The confused future of health care

February 14, 2017

Harvard Gazette | Coverage of the JFK Jr. Forum event, "Alternatives to the Affordable Care Act," with panelists Katherine Baicker, C. Boyden Gray Professor of Health Economics at Harvard; Jonathan Gruber, Ford Professor of Economics at MIT; Avik Roy, co-founder and president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity; and Gail R. Wilensky, senior fellow at Project HOPE and former director of Medicare and Medicaid. Moderated by Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy. Co-sponsored by the T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.
View event video

Chicago Tribune building

Welcome to the 'Great Divergence'

February 14, 2017

The Atlantic—CityLab | "Before 1980, places in America with lower average incomes grew faster than their richer counterparts, so that incomes converged. Today, that’s no longer the case." Richard Florida delves into a recent study by economists Peter Ganong, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School, and Daniel Shoag (Ph.'11), Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.
...

Read more about Welcome to the 'Great Divergence'
Automation

The Relentless Pace of Automation

February 13, 2017

MIT Technology Review | Quotes Lawrence Katz, Elisabath Allison Professor of Economics:“I’m very worried that the next wave [of AI and automation] will hit and we won’t have the supports in place,” says Lawrence Katz, an economist at Harvard. Katz has published research showing that large investments in secondary education in the early 1900s helped the nation make the shift from an agriculture-based economy to a manufacturing one. And now, he says, we could use our education system much more effectively. For example, some areas of the United States have successfully connected training programs at community colleges to local companies and their needs, he says, but other regions have not, and the federal government has done little in this realm. As a result, he says, “large areas have been left behind.”

Also quotes MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, who presented his latest work in this area, "Machine vs. Man: The Labor Market in the Age of Robots," in the Harvard Inequality Seminar, Feb 6, 2017 (view seminar abstract).

Americans just can't leave retirement savings alone

Americans just can't leave retirement savings alone

February 13, 2017

Marketplace | “For every dollar people are contributing to the retirement savings system, about 40 cents of that money is coming out before people reach their late 50s,” said Brigitte Madrian, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. “That’s a quite striking amount of leakage, especially when many people are not saving enough in the first place.”

Illiquid savings

People Trying to Save Prefer Accounts That Are Hard to Tap

February 12, 2017

Wall Street Journal | Research suggests policy makers could make retirement accounts even more restrictive without reducing their appeal. Discusses findings of an experimental study by John Beshears (Harvard Business School), James J. Choi (Yale), Christopher Harris (University of Cambridge), David Laibson (Harvard Economics), Brigitte C. Madrian (Harvard Kennedy School), and Jung Sakong (University of Chicago).
View the research

More Women in their 60's and 70's are Working

More Women in their 60's and 70's are Working

February 11, 2017

The New York Times | The Upshot talks with Harvard economist Claudia Goldin on her recent study with Lawrence Katz, "Women Working Longer: Facts and Some Explanations." Also highlights Goldin's work with Joshua Mitchell (Ph.D. '11), a senior economist at the U.S. Census Bureau, which appears in the current issue of Journal of Economics Perspectives.

"Nearly 30 percent of women 65 to 69 are working, up from 15 percent in the late 1980s, one of the analyses, by the Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, found. Eighteen percent of women 70 to 74 work, up from 8 percent.

"This rejection of retirement is more common among women with higher education and savings, though not confined to them. Those who are not working are more likely to have poor health and low savings, and to be dependent on Social Security and sometimes disability benefits, Ms. Goldin said.

Of those still working, Ms. Goldin said, 'They’re in occupations in which they really have an identity.' She added, 'Women have more education, they’re in jobs that are more fulfilling, and they stay with them.'” 
View the research (by Goldin and Katz)
View JEP article (by Goldin and Mitchell)

Why Falling Home Prices Could Be a Good Thing

Why Falling Home Prices Could Be a Good Thing

February 10, 2017

The New York Times | "Suppose there were a way to pump up the economy, reduce inequality, and put an end to destructive housing bubbles like the one that contributed to the Great Recession." Discusses recent paper by economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard and Joe Gyourko at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which reviews the basic economics and functioning of the U.S. housing market "to better understand the impacts on home prices, household wealth, and the spatial distribution of people across markets."

Also cites research by Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, and Peter Ganong of the University of Chicago, on the role of housing prices in limiting the ability of low-income workers to migrate to higher-wage areas, thereby contributing income inequality.

Latest awards

Michele Lamont

Michèle Lamont wins Erasmus Prize

February 20, 2017

Harvard Gazette | Harvard Professor Michèle Lamont has been named winner of the 2017 Erasmus Prize, which recognizes individual or group contributions to European culture, society, or social science.

Daniel Prinz

Daniel Prinz: Mark A. Satterthwaite Award for Outstanding Research in Healthcare Markets

January 21, 2017

Kellogg School of Management| Stone PhD Scholar Daniel Prinz (PhD candidate in Health Policy), Michael Geruso (Assistant Professor of Economics, UT Austin), and Timothy J. Layton (Assistant Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School) have been awarded the 2017 Mark A. Satterthwaite Award for Outstanding Research in Health Care Markets for their paper, "Screening in Contract Design: Evidence from the ACA Health Insurance Exchanges,” subsequently published in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2019 11(2): 64–107.

View the research ►

Carrie Conaway

President Obama announces appointment of Carrie Conaway to National Board of Education Sciences

January 13, 2017

President Barack Obama announced the appointment of alumna Carrie Conaway to the 15-member National Board for Education Sciences. "This is fabulous news," wrote Susan Dynarski, Professor of Public Policy, Education, and Economics at the University of Michigan, commenting on the appointment on Twitter. "Conaway has helped put Massachusetts on its path of research-driven, educational excellence."

Conaway is Associate Commissioner of Planning and Research for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Who are the 2017 RHSU Edu-Scholar Rising Stars?

Who are the 2017 RHSU Edu-Scholar Rising Stars?

January 11, 2017

Education Week | Education Week released its annual RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence  Rankings, which "recognize those university-based scholars in the U.S. who are doing the most to influence educational policy and practice."

Of the top 10 junior scholars on its "rising star" list, all are Harvard faculty members, doctoral alumni, or both—including Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Martin West (Ph.D. and faculty), Jal Mehta (Ph.D. and faculty), Joshua Goodman (faculty), and Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15, now Columbia University Teachers College). HGSE professor Roberto G. Gonzales, author of   Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America (University of California Press, 2015), led the list, which also included HGSE professor Stephanie M. Jones.

Among the Inequality & Social Policy affiliates on the full list of 200 are senior scholars Paul Peterson (Harvard Government), Richard Murnane (HGSE), Roland Fryer (Harvard Economics), Nora Gordon (Ph.D. alum, now Georgetown Public Policy), Jonah Rockoff (Ph.D. alum, now Columbia Business School), Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. alum, now Columbia TC), Ronald Ferguson (HKS), and David Deming (Ph.D. alum and faculty).
View 2017 full list

Michèle Lamont awarded University of Amsterdam honorary doctorate for role in bridging European and American sociology

Michèle Lamont awarded University of Amsterdam honorary doctorate for role in bridging European and American sociology

January 9, 2017

Awardee | MIchèle Lamont received an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in recognition of her  "important theoretical and empirical contribution to the social sciences, particularly cultural sociology, and her important role in linking American and European social sciences." Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard.

IZA Prize in Labor Economics awarded to Claudia Goldin at ASSA Meeting in Chicago

IZA Prize in Labor Economics awarded to Claudia Goldin at ASSA Meeting in Chicago

January 6, 2017

IZA Institute of Labor Economics | The 15th IZA Prize in Labor Economics was formally conferred to Harvard's Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics,during the traditional IZA Reception at the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations in Chicago. Goldin was recognized for "her career-long work on the economic history of women in education and the labor market."

Michèle Lamont delivers Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture

Michèle Lamont delivers Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture

January 6, 2017

Institute for Social Research (Oslo) | Michèle Lamont, Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard, delivered the 2016 Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture in Oslo. Her lecture addressed the themes of her new book, Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016.)

The best books of 2016, according to two best-selling authors

The best books of 2016, according to two best-selling authors

December 27, 2016

PBS NewsHour |Jeffrey Brown sat down recently with best-selling authors Jacqueline Woodson, a 2016 National Book Award finalist for fiction, and Daniel Pink, at Politics and Prose, a popular bookstore in Washington, D.C. First up: Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

The Best Books of 2016

The Best Books of 2016

December 21, 2016

Chicago Tribune | Ten selections, including Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

The Carnegie Interviews: Matthew Desmond

The Carnegie Interviews: Matthew Desmond

December 21, 2016

The Booklist Reader | One in a series of interviews with each of the finalists for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

The Year in Reading

The Year in Reading

December 19, 2016

The New York Times Book Review
Poets, musicians, diplomats, filmmakers, novelists, actors, and artists share the books that accompanied them through 2016. "There was a lot of great nonfiction in 2016," writes novelist Ann Patchett, "but there are four books that I recommend with a sense of urgency"—among them, Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

Former U.S. Representative Barney Frank notes two pieces of conventional wisdom—one domestic; the other international—that have structured our national debates for deades. Subjecting the received wisdom to close examintion: The Globalization Paradox, by Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of Political Economy at the Harvard Kennedy School, 

The Books We Loved in 2016

The Books We Loved in 2016

December 13, 2016

The New Yorker | Among them, Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

'Evicted' Selected to 2017 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

'Evicted' Selected to 2017 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

December 9, 2016

PEN America | Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, is one of 10 books on the 2017 PEN America longlist in nonfiction for the John Kenneth Galbraith award. Finalists for this biennial award will be announced on January 18, 2017. The winner will be announced on February 22, 2017 and honored at the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on March 27, 2017. Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Science at Harvard.

The Best Books of 2016

The Best Books of 2016

December 8, 2016

Bloomberg | Angus Deaton, awarded the 2015 Nobel prize in Economics, recommends Matthew Desmond's Evicted, together with $2.00 a Day, by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer. 

Best Books of 2016

Best Books of 2016

December 7, 2016

Boston Globe | Matthew Desmond's Evicted is selected as one of the year's best in nonfiction. Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

Latest commentary and analysis

Gentrification and its Discontents

Gentrification and its Discontents

May 5, 2017
Wall Street Journal | By Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics. Cities attract the rich with amenities and the poor with services. But they are failing the middle class. Edward Glaeser reviews “The New Urban Crisis” by Richard Florida.
Declaration of Independence

Thanks to this agency, we identified an unknown copy of the Declaration of Independence

May 3, 2017
Washington Post | By Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. "In the middle of the 20th century, this research project would have consumed at least a lifetime, and possibly several. Without [these] digital resources...it is highly unlikely that a researcher would have been able to assemble the vast body of evidence necessary to make the identification that we have made."
Brookings Institution - Universal Child Allowance

Should the U.S. enact a universal child allowance?

May 1, 2017
Brookings Institution | The Center on Children and Families at Brookings hosted an event with leading experts to discuss the current safety net and potential benefits and costs of a Universal Child Allowance. Among the participants, Chris Wimer (PhD '07), Co-Director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, presented a proposal for a universal child allowance to reduce poverty and income instability among children. Scott Winship (PhD '09), Project Director with the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, participated as a panelist. 
What the Press Still Doesn't Get About Trump

What the Press Still Doesn't Get About Trump

April 28, 2017

Politico | Politco surveys a range of experts—among them, historian Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor at Harvard Kennedy School. Says Rigueur: We need to take Trump's tweets more seriously.

Op-Ed: How Boston Basics helps our children

Op-Ed: How Boston Basics helps our children

April 28, 2017

Jamaica Plain Gazette (and others) | By Mayor Martin Walsh and Ron Ferguson, Faculty Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University.

As the science tells us, 80 percent of a child’s brain growth happens during the first three years of life. Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic skill gaps can become apparent by the age of two. How we engage our babies and toddlers in those first years are critical. We must foster stimulating learning environments across all households and neighborhoods in our city.

"That purpose is what brought organizations like the Black Philanthropy Fund, Boston Children’s Museum, the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard, Boston Medical Center, WGBH, and the City of Boston together to launch the Boston Basics campaign.

The Hamilton Project

Leveling the Playing Field: Policy Options to Improve Postsecondary Education and Career Outcomes

April 26, 2017

The Hamilton Project | A policy forum held at the Brookings Institution. The forum began with introductory remarks by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, followed by three roundtable discussions. Papers by David J. Deming (PhD '10) and by Tara E. Watson (PhD '03) and Adam Looney (PhD'04) were the focus of two of the roundtables. View event video and dowload papers, full transcript, and presentation slides from the event webpage.

David Deming is Professor of Education and Economics at HGSE and Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Tara Watson is Associate Professor of Economics at Williams College and served in the U.S. Treasury Department from 2015-2016 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Microeconomic Analysis. Adam Looney is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings and served in the U.S. Treasury Department from 2013-2017 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis.

Reforming land use regulations

Reforming land use regulations

April 24, 2017
Brookings Institution | By Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard. "Land use controls that limit the growth of...successful cities mean that Americans increasingly live in places that make it easy to build, not in places with higher levels of productivity," writes Glaeser.
Edward Glaeser

Two Takes on the Fate of Future Cities

April 21, 2017
The Atlantic—CityLab | A conversation between Ed Glaeser and Richard Florida on what urban policy needs to work towards in an uncertain future. Edward Glaeser is Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard.
Ronald Ferguson interview - HarvardX

Family Engagement in Education: The Boston Basics - Supporting Child Development

April 19, 2017

HarvardX | Listen as Professor Ron Ferguson, from the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses the Boston Basics — five actions a parent or any caregiver can take to help young children thrive. [video: 2 minutes]

"The nugget for me [that most influenced our emphasis in Boston Basics] was 4 or 5 years ago looking at the early childhood longitudinal survey and seeing that racial and socioeconomic differences are not very apparent around the first birthday, but they are stark by the second birthday."

Jeffrey Liebman at Council on Foreign Relations

Behavioral Insights into Policymaking

April 18, 2017

Council on Foreign Relations | Part I of the Robert Menschel Economics Symposium: A conversation with psychologist Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel prize in economic sciences. Part II: A discussion on behavioral insights into policymaking with Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School; Maya Shankar, founder and Chair of the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) under President Obama; and Elspeth Kirkman, senior vice president with The Behavioral Insights Team, North America. (Video + transcript)
View Part I: Daniel Kahneman