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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

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.