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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Donald Trump’s Appeal to American Nationalism

Donald Trump’s Appeal to American Nationalism

October 17, 2016

Pacific Standard |  A new analysis by Bart Bonikowski of Harvard and Paul DiMaggio of New York University explains why it resonates with only a segment of the population. Discusses their article,"Varieties of American Popular Nationalism," forthcoming in the American Sociological Review
View the research

Divorce is Destroying Retirement

Divorce is Destroying Retirement

October 17, 2016

Bloomberg | Discusses findings of new NBER paper by Claudia Olivetti of Boston College and Dana E Rotz (Ph.D. '12) of Mathematica Policy Research, "Changes in Marriage and Divorce as Drivers of Employment and Retirement of Older Women."
View the research

Improving K-12: New Research Urges Policymakers to Consider New Approaches to Educational Accountability

Improving K-12: New Research Urges Policymakers to Consider New Approaches to Educational Accountability

October 17, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School |  "''Policymakers have an opportunity to use the evidence from behavioral science to craft comprehensive systems that invoke a wider range of accountability tools and have the potential to provide educators with the means to improve their practice at the same time that they promote constructive incentives,' says Jennifer Lerner, [Professor in the Management, Leadership, and Decision Science Area at the Harvard Kennedy School and Co-founder of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory].

"A new research study published in Behavioral Science and Policy provides such evidence.  The study, “Reimagining accountability in K-12 education,” is co-authored by Brian P. Gill, Senior Fellow, Mathematica Policy Research; Professor Lerner; and Paul Meosky, Harvard College '16. They argue that a more multi-faceted and evidence-based approach – one that incorporates professional accountability – would prove a more successful method for improving public school performance."

How Inequality Is Rising Among Identical Workers as Companies’ Fortunes Diverge

How Inequality Is Rising Among Identical Workers as Companies’ Fortunes Diverge

October 14, 2016

The Wall Street Journal | Discusses new research brief by Richard Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics, which argues that "increased inequality among employers is the main pathway for the trend rise in inequality" in recent decades. Read the brief, published by Third Way. View the research (joint with Erling Barth, Alex Bryson, and James C. Davis), published earlier this year in the Journal of Labor Economics.

Researchers have debunked one of our most basic assumptions about how the world works

Researchers have debunked one of our most basic assumptions about how the world works

October 14, 2016

Washington Post | Examines new research by David Cutler (Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard), Wei Huang (Ph.D. '16, Postdoctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research), and Adriana Lleras-Muney (UCLA) on the relationship between economic conditions and mortality.  Reporter Jeff Guo draws out its potential implications: "All of this research should have us thinking about inequality. If growth is not wholly good, we should pay attention to who secures its blessings and who suffers the health consequences. In the United States, the financial rewards of economic expansion have mostly accrued to those at the very top, while average Americans have faced decades of stagnant wages. The question is: Have the health consequences accrued to the bottom?"
View the research

Harvard gets $2m to study race, inequality in Boston

Harvard gets $2m to study race, inequality in Boston

October 13, 2016

The Boston Globe | Coverage of new project of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research on "Race and Cumulative Adversity." The project is led by William Julius Wilson, Harvard's Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, with colleagues Lawrence D. Bobo, Matthew Desmond, Devah Pager, Robert Sampson, Mario Small, and Bruce Western.

America’s Dazzling Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs

America’s Dazzling Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs

October 12, 2016

Wall Street Journal | Cites David Deming (Ph.D. '10), Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who "estimates that the hollowing out of work spread to programmers, librarians and engineers between 2000 and 2012." The article notes that "for a long time, those with bachelor’s degrees in science seemed to be safe from automation-related layoffs because their cognitive knowledge was tough for computers to duplicate." But Deming's research has shown that the labor market increasingly rewards social skills, with employment and job growth particularly strong for jobs requiring high levels of both cognitive and social skills.
View the research (Aug 2016)

Ph.D. fellow research cited in amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Fair Housing Act

Ph.D. fellow research cited in amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Fair Housing Act

October 10, 2016

Research by Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellows Jackelyn Hwang (Ph.D. '15), Michael Hankinson, and Steven Brown is part of an amicus curiae brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a robust enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to prevent and remedy discrimination in mortgage lending. 

Their research, published in Social Forces, examined the relationship between segregation and subprime lending across the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. They found that residential segregation created “distinct geographic markets that enabled subprime lenders and brokers to leverage the spatial proximity of minorities to disproportionately target minority neighborhoods.” They conclude that "segregation played a pivotal role in the housing crisis by creating relatively larger areas of concentrated minorities into which subprime loans could be efficiently and effectively channeled."

Learn more about their work:

Jackelyn Hwang (Ph.D. '15) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University. In fall 2017, she joins the faculty at Stanford University as Assistant Professor of Sociology.

Michael Hankinson is a Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy.

Steven Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and an affiliated scholar in the Executive Office at the Urban Institute. He is also a contributor to the Inequality and Mobility Initiative at the Urban Institute.... Read more about Ph.D. fellow research cited in amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Fair Housing Act

Black lives, in focus

Black lives, in focus

October 7, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Hutchins Center honors 8 medalists who have made a difference. "Introducing television writer and producer[David] Simon, William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, related how, after hearing people discuss Simon’s groundbreaking HBO series “The Wire,” he binge-watched the entire first season on a flight to Bangkok. He then designed a course around the show, aware of how with fiction an artist can portray a deeper truth. “David Simon offers us an unflinching portrait of race, class, and poverty in the United States,” he said.

African-American Center at Harvard to Receive $10 Million Donation

African-American Center at Harvard to Receive $10 Million Donation

October 6, 2016

Wall Street Journal | Harvard's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research announced  the gift, which is aimed at study of residents in poor neighborhoods in the Greater Boston area. "Leading the new research project, which Mr. Hutchins referred to as the crown jewel of the center, is Prof. William Julius Wilson, who has spent most of his career studying poverty in inner cities." Wilson is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard.

Introducing Michèle Lamont, ASA’s 2017 President

Introducing Michèle Lamont, ASA’s 2017 President

October 6, 2016

American Sociological Association | Profile of Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and Professor of Sociology and African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, by Ann Swidler of the University of California, Berkeley. Featuring perspectives from many colleagues and current and former students, including Mario Luis Small (Ph.D. '01) Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology at Harvard:

"Mario Small of Harvard, who was at Chicago when he, Michèle, and David Harding [(Ph.D. '10) of UC Berkeley], co-edited the important volume, Reconsidering Culture and Poverty, said “In public and in private, Michèle is a force of nature. Pursuing multiple research agendas—on symbolic boundaries, on criteria of evaluation, on culture and behavior, on successful societies, and more—with an extraordinary level of intellectual commitment, Michèle has become a role model for many. Her first major paper was an imaginative study of Jacques Derrida, titled ‘How to Become a Dominant French Philosopher.’ Today, several generations of researchers would be inspired by what would surely be a fascinating sequel: ‘How to Become Michèle Lamont.’”

Making change through studying 'cumulative adversity'

October 6, 2016


CNBC | William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard, joins Glenn Hutchins on CNBC to discuss "Multidimensional Inequality in the 21st Century: the Project on Race and Cumulative Adversity," a new research project that Wilson will lead. The project is supported by a grant from the Hutchins Family Foundation, announced today by Harvard's Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies.

Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market

Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market

October 4, 2016

The Hamilton Project | New policy brief  by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and colleagues draws from research by Harvard faculty member David Deming, "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market." Deming (Ph.D. '10), Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education, first presented this work in the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series in fall 2015.
View the latest version of Deming's paper (Aug 2016).... Read more about Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market

When Whites Just Don't Get It, Part 7

When Whites Just Don't Get It, Part 7

October 1, 2016

The New York Times | Nicholas Kristof column cites Devah Pager's research on discrimination, a field experiment (joint with Bruce Western and Bart Bonikowski) that documented various forms of racial discrimination at work in a low-wage labor market, and her latest research showing that companies that discriminated were more likely to have gone out of business in the 2008 recession. Pager is Director of the Inequality & Social Policy Program and Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Harvard. Western is Professor of Sociology and Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy. Bonikowski is an Associate Professor of Sociology.

Calls to 911 From Black Neighborhoods Fell After a Case of Police Violence

Calls to 911 From Black Neighborhoods Fell After a Case of Police Violence

September 29, 2016

The New York Times | New research by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard, Andrew V. Papachristos of Yale University, and David S. Kirk at University of Oxford, now out in the American Sociological Review, estimates a net loss of 22,000 calls for service following a highly-publicized case of police violence against an unarmed black man. "Police misconduct," Desmond, Papachristos, and Kirk conclude,"can powerfully suppress one of the most basic forms of civic engagement: calling 911 for matters of personal and public safety."
View the research in ASR 

A lapse in concentration

A lapse in concentration

September 29, 2016

The Economist | A dearth of competition among firms helps explain wage inequality and a host of other ills, writes The Economist, in its review of various lines of research. Cites work by Harvard's Richard Freeman (joint with Erling Barth, Alex Bryson, and James Davis) and by Raven Malloy (Ph.D. '11) (joint with Christopher Smith and Abigail Wozniak). Malloy is now section chief with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

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Latest commentary and analysis

Leah Wright Rigueur “Between the Lines: The Republican Party at a Racial Crossroads”

Leah Wright Rigueur “Between the Lines: The Republican Party at a Racial Crossroads”

November 16, 2016

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library | Leah Wright Rigueur's spoke at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, providing "a new understanding of the interactions between African Americans and the Republican Party, and the seemingly incongruous intersection of civil rights and American conservatism." Rigueur, an historian, is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power  (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Fixing Discrimination in Online Marketplaces

Fixing Discrimination in Online Marketplaces

November 15, 2016

Harvard Business Review | By Ray Fisman (Boston University) and Michael Luca (Harvard Business School). Also cites economist Claudia Goldin's well-known article (with Cecilia Rouse) on the lessons we can learn from symphony orchestras.

Straight Talk on Trade

Straight Talk on Trade

November 15, 2016

Project Syndicate | By Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise

November 15, 2016

PBS | Historian Leah Wright Rigueur of the Harvard Kennedy School is among those featured in this four-part documentary written and hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Watch Tuesday, November 15 and 22 at 8 pm on PBS. (If you miss the premiere, watch videos online)

Responding to our Oral Culture

Responding to our Oral Culture

November 11, 2016

Nieman Reports | By Danielle Allen, Professor of Government. Part of NR's "Election '16: Lessons for Journalism" series. 

Education in the Trump Presidency

Education in the Trump Presidency

November 10, 2016

HGSE Usable Knowledge | Five faculty members, inluding Thomas Kane, Walter H. Gale Professor of Economics and Education, share their thoughts on the election and its implications for education.

"As the mushroom cloud of uncertainty settles on Washington, D.C., educators should understand that the game moved out of Washington a year ago," says Kane. "The federal government handed the reins of K–12 education reform back to state and local leaders with the signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015. We will soon see whether governors, state commissioners, school boards and district leaders are ready to step up and accept the challenge."

Why neither Christie nor Giuliani should be the next attorney general

Why neither Christie nor Giuliani should be the next attorney general

November 10, 2016

Washington Post | By Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard and a contributing columnist for the Post. "We need to de-politicize the judicial branch to preserve our constitutional fabric," argues Allen. "Appoint a nonpartisan legal figure with a deep record for integrity and public service, who is squeaky clean with regard to conflicts and the appearance of conflict...Only such an appointment will make it clear that the Justice Department will protect liberty and justice for all Americans. There could be no more important early signal for the president-elect to send."

Election Autopsy

Election Autopsy

November 10, 2016

No Jargon [Podcast—Ep. 57] | With Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology. What to expect from a Trump presidency. Analyzing the factors that swayed voters, Skocpol offers insight on what the Democrats need to do moving forward. A production of the Scholars Strategy Network, No Jargon presents interviews with top university scholars on the politics, policy problems, and social issues facing the nation.

Watch: Populism and the Future of American Politics

Watch: Populism and the Future of American Politics

November 10, 2016

American Academy of Arts & Sciences | Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government, Lawrence D. Bobo, W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, and Charles Stewart III of MIT.

Trumpcast: What does Trump’s Victory Mean for Education Policy?

Trumpcast: What does Trump’s Victory Mean for Education Policy?

November 10, 2016

EdNext Podcast | Education Next’s Paul E. Peterson (Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government) and Martin West (Ph.D ''06, Associate Professor of Education) talk about what education reforms they expect from President-elect Donald Trump. Will he move on school choice, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Title I portability, charter schools, or something entirely unexpected? 

Seeing Red in Trump's America

Seeing Red in Trump's America

November 10, 2016

Radio OpenSource | Among this week's guests, Nathan J. Robinson, Ph.D. student in Sociology & Social Policy.