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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

JPAL North America

Government leaders gather at J-PAL North America to advance evidence-based policymaking

February 9, 2017

MIT News | Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard and co-scientific director of JPAL-North America, spoke on leveraging housing vouchers as a ladder to economic mobility for low-income families. 

The conference, held at MIT, brought together state and local policymakers with leading researchers to discuss "how governments and researchers have partnered to use evidence from randomized evaluations to reduce crime and violence, improve maternal and child health, and promote housing mobility."

Dani Rodrik

Balance of Trade

February 9, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School Magazine
By Robert Kuttner
There are economists who teach the well-known postulate that free trade improves global well-being. There are other social scientists and popular critics who contend that laissez-faire trade can be bad for equality, for social stability, and even for economic efficiency, just as pure laissez-faire is not optimal at home.

And then there is Dani Rodrik.

Rodrik, the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the Kennedy School, is close to a unique specimen in the field of economics. He is a respectful critic of some of the most cherished suppositions of his profession, notably in his books and articles expressing qualms about globalization. But Rodrik does it as a superb technical economist, with humility, precision, wit, intellectual curiosity, and an astonishing range of reading across disciplines. Continue reading»

kids

The most important skill for the workplace isn’t being taught in American schools

February 9, 2017

Quartz | Discusses research by David Deming (Ph.D. '10), a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Graduate School of Education, who finds that the labor market  in recent decades "increasingly rewards social skills", with "employment and wage growth particularly strong for jobs requiring high levels of both cognitive skill and social skill." Also cites a recent brief from The Hamilton Project, "Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market," which draws on Deming's work.
View the research

School integration

Integration Works: Can It Survive the Trump Era?

February 9, 2017

The New York Times | Thomas B. Edsall reviews an extensive body of social science evidence, including the work of Raj Chetty of Stanford University and Harvard's Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics.

Skyscrapers

HKS Footprint: Cities

February 9, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School Magazine | At Harvard Kennedy School, cities are a focus for research and an opportunity to experiment with new and better ways of governing. Features the work of Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy and director of the Government Peformance Lab, and of Quinton Mayne, Associate Professor of Public Policy, whose research "has found that where local governments can shape welfare policies, such as in education or social services, citizens are much less likely to be politically disaffected."

Radcliffe Day 2017

Judy Woodruff and the late Gwen Ifill named Radcliffe medalists

February 7, 2017

Harvard Gazette | Radcliffe Day 2017, on May 26, will honor PBS journalists Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. Harvard's Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor, will participate in the morning panel, "(Un)truths and Their Consequences," joined by A’Lelia Bundles '74, E. J. Dionne ’73, and Peggy Noonan. For more information about the day's events, which will be webcast live, see Radcliffe Day 2017.

Tea Party

The Tea Party's Revival as the Party of Trump

February 7, 2017

OZY | Quoted: Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology. 

“[The Tea Party] was never about small government; it was about small government for the elites who latched on,” says Theda Skocpol, a Harvard professor and co-author of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. “For the grassroots back then, it was about making sure the government didn’t spend on the wrong people. Rarely did anyone criticize Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits — the big-ticket items.” The biggest common theme, she says: “cracking down on immigration.”

women's march

A Harvard study identified the precise reason protests are an effective way to cause political change

February 3, 2017

Quartz | Political protests in the first days of the Trump administration generate new interest in a study by Daniel Shoag (Ph.D.'11), Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and colleagues Andreas Madestam (Stockholm University), Stan Veuger (American Enterprise Institute), and David Yanagizawa-Drott (University of Zurich). The study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in November 2013, seeks to determine whether protests actually cause political change, or whether they are "merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences."
View the research

Also cited: Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson's book, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (Oxford University Press, 2012). Theda Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Governmant and Sociology at Harvard. Vanessa S. Williamson (Ph.D. '15) is  a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Workers' Declining Share: Are 'Superstar' Firms Partially Responsible?

Workers' Declining Share: Are 'Superstar' Firms Partially Responsible?

February 3, 2017

Bloomberg | Discusses new study by David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT), which examines the relationship between market concentration and labor's falling share in GDP. This work is forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.
View the research

Ivy League gender pay-gap

The Ivy League's Gender Pay-Gap Problem

February 2, 2017

The Atlantic | Features insights of Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee  Professor of Economics. Cites her research, joint with Marianne Bertrand (University of Chicago) and Lawerence Katz (Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics), published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (2010), which examined the dynamics of the gender gap for young professionals in the financial and corporate sectors. Also cites Goldin and Katz study, "The Cost of Workplace Flexibility for High-Powered Professionals," published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2011).

Immigrant Shock: Can California Predict the Nation’s Future?

Immigrant Shock: Can California Predict the Nation’s Future?

February 1, 2017

The New York Times | Cites research from a coming book by Ryan Enos, Associate Professor of Government at Harvard. Also cites Daniel Hopkins (Ph.D. '07), Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and Robert Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard. 

Enos provides the details of his analysis in a short research note, "Changes in Hispanic Population and Voting in the 2016 Presidential Election."
View research note

factory

Declining Labor Share: The 'Superstar' Firm Explanation

February 1, 2017

The Atlantic | Discusses new study by David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT), which examines the relationship between market concentration and labor's falling share in GDP. This work is forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.
View the research

crime scene

Testing strategies for preventing violence and crime

January 31, 2017

MIT News | J-PAL North America, a research center at MIT, has announced that it has awarded grants to fund randomized evaluations focused on employing behavioral science insights to prevent crime and violence. One of the two grants, awarded to Anuj Shah, Associate Professor of Behavioral Science at Chicago Booth, and Aurélie Ouss (Ph.D. '13), a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, "will evaluate whether an app designed to lead at-risk youth to participate in safe activities can help them avoid dangerous default situations and behaviors."

Boston Trump protest

Trials for a global university

January 30, 2017

Harvard Gazette | With travel to U.S. banned from some nations, Harvard moves to support members of its international community. President Drew Faust's letter to the Harvard community and responses from across the University, including that of Dean Douglas Elmendorf of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Sorry, Working From Home Isn't the Future of Job Flexibility

Sorry, Working From Home Isn't the Future of Job Flexibility

January 30, 2017

Bloomberg | Highlights new study by Harvard economist Amanda Pallais and Alexandre Mas of Princeton, "Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements." Also discusses work of Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, on jobs that may allow greater flexibility in hours without sacrificing pay.

The academy and the marketplace: The effects of foreign competition on professors of mathematics

The academy and the marketplace: The effects of foreign competition on professors of mathematics

January 28, 2017

The Economist | Delves into new study by George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and coauthors Kirk Doran and Ying Shen of the University of Notre Dame, which examines the productivity of American mathemeticians following the influx of Chinese graduate students from China's liberalization in 1978. The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Human Resources.
​​​​​​​View the research

Blame Monopolies for Short-Changing U.S. Workers

Blame Monopolies for Short-Changing U.S. Workers

January 26, 2017

Bloomberg View | Highlights new work by David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT) exploring the relationship between market concentration and labor's falling share of GDP. The paper is forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.
View the research

Latest awards

The 10 Best Books of 2016

The 10 Best Books of 2016

December 1, 2016

The New York Times Book Review | Matthew Desmond's Evicted is among this year's 10 Best Books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

Lawrence Bobo Elected Fellow of American Academy of Political and Social Science

Lawrence Bobo Elected Fellow of American Academy of Political and Social Science

November 29, 2016

AAPSS | Lawrence D. Bobo, the W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, is one of five newly-elected Fellows to join the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2017. The AAPSS, one of the nation's oldest learned societies, recognized Bobo's research contributions as having "quantified, qualified, and illuminated understandings about social inequality, politics, racism and attitudes about race in America."

The 2017 Fellows also include Martha Minow (Dean of Harvard Law School), Margaret Levi (Stanford University), Timothy Smeeding (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Claude Steele (University of California-Berkeley).

The 10 Best Books of 2016

The 10 Best Books of 2016

November 17, 2016

Washington Post | Matthew Desmond's Evicted is selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2016: "In spare and beautiful prose, Desmond chronicles the economic and psychological devastation of substandard housing in America and the cascading misfortunes that come with losing one’s home...In this extraordinary feat of reporting and ethnography, Desmond has made it impossible ever again to consider poverty in the United States without tackling the central role of housing."

Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

Danielle Allen named University Professor

Danielle Allen named University Professor

November 14, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Renowned political philosopher Danielle Allen, director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, professor of government in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and professor of education at the Graduate School of Education, has been named a University Professor, Harvard’s highest faculty honor.

Journal of Politics Best Paper Award: The Political Legacy of American Slavery

Journal of Politics Best Paper Award: The Political Legacy of American Slavery

November 10, 2016

Awardee | Maya Sen, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and co-authors Avidit Acharya (Stanford) and Matthew Blackwell (Harvard Government Department), have been awarded the Joseph Bernd Award for the best article published in Journal of Politics in 2016. Their article, "The Political Legacy of American Slavery," is available open access.
View article (PDF)

'Evicted' selected for 2017 Shortlist: Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

'Evicted' selected for 2017 Shortlist: Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

October 26, 2016

Matthew Desmond's Evicted is one of six books (3 fiction, 3 nonfiction) named to the Shortlist for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The citation reads, "This is essential reading for anyone interested in social justice, poverty, and feminist issues, but its narrative nonfiction style will also draw general readers—and will hopefully spark national discussion."  The two medal winners will be announced January 22, 2017. Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard.

Leah Wright Rigueur book honored by New England Historical Society

Leah Wright Rigueur book honored by New England Historical Society

October 7, 2016

The Boston Globe | Leah Wright Rigueur's book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican (Princeton University Press, 2014), will be honored by the New England Historical Association at its annual conference on October 22. Rigueur, an Assistant Professor af the Harvard Kennedy School, will receive the James P. Hanlan book award, which recognizes the work of an historian, focusing on any area of historical scholarship, who lives and works in New England.

Congratulations, teaching fellows

Congratulations, teaching fellows

September 27, 2016

Awardees | Harvard's Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning announced the recipients of its Certificates of Distinction in teaching for spring 2016, which included Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellows Aaron Benavidez (Sociology), Jack Cao (Psychology), Oren Danieli (Business Economics), Kelley Fong (Sociology & Social Policy), Margot Moinester (Sociology), and Alix Winter (Sociology & Social Policy). The recipients will be honored at a reception on Wed, Oct 19th from 4-5:30 pm in CGIS-South.

Jessica Simes awarded first Boston University Provost Career Development Professorship

Jessica Simes awarded first Boston University Provost Career Development Professorship

September 16, 2016

Awardee | Jessica Simes (Ph.D. in Sociology '16), now an assistant professor at Boston University, has been awarded the first of two newly-endowed University Provost Career Development Professorships at that institution.  The three-year University Provost’s Career Development Professorships will support two junior faculty working in academic areas with “the greatest potential for impacting the quality and stature of the University, as determined by the provost." Simes, whose Harvard doctoral dissertation focused on racial inequality and the mass incarceration of African Americans, was recognized for her work in data science—"specifically the mapping of communities to reflect the percentage of incarcerated people—[which] has been the backbone of Simes’s research on race, poverty, and mass incarceration." Learn more about her research at her homepage.

Inaugural CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars: Natalie Bau

Inaugural CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars: Natalie Bau

September 7, 2016

CIFAR | Natalie Bau (Ph.D. in Public Policy, '15) is one of 18 exceptional early-career researchers from diverse science and social science fields selected to the inaugural cohort of the new CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Program, sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars receive two-year appointments with one of 14 research programs—in Bau's case, Institutions, Organizations, and Growth.

An Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto, Bau studies development and education economics, with an emphasis on the industrial organization of education markets. 

Natalie Bau homepage

Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award: Daniel Schlozman

Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award: Daniel Schlozman

September 1, 2016

Awardee | Daniel Schlozman (Ph.D. '11), Assistant Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, is the winner of the 2016 Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award for first book, When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History (Princeton University Press, 2015). The award is conferred by the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section of the American Sociological Association.

Equitable Growth announces 2016 class of grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

Equitable Growth announces 2016 class of grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

July 20, 2016

Awardee: Ellora Derenoncourt, Ph.D. candidate in Economics, is one of 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class. Derenoncourt's research, "Social preferences at work: Evidence from online lab experiments and job-to-job mobility in the LEHD dataset," will will use online lab experiments and employee-employer matched data to look at labor market decisions, testing for individual social preferences over payoff distributions.

The award citation highlights that "this project is offers a novel twist on intra-firm mobility and job-to-job transitions by using preferences to look at labor market decisions and not simply tax preferences." Equitable Growth has worked with Derenoncourt before—she is a contributor to its forthcoming edited volume on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, "and this project is an example of her ability to engage with traditional economic literature and push it in interesting and useful new directions."

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Christopher Jencks and Beth Truesdale

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Christopher Jencks and Beth Truesdale

July 20, 2016

Awardees | Christopher Jencks, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, and Beth Truesdale, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, are among the 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class.  Jencks and Truesdale will investigate "The effects of income inequality on health disparities in the United States." Jencks and Truesdale hypothesize that some of the correlation between income inequality and health outcomes is causal, running from inequality to health, and will seek to identify the causal mechanisms.

"Uncovering the causal channels between inequality and health would be an important contribution," the award citation notes, "particularly in light of recent research examining the relationship between income and life expectancy." This research is co-funded by the Russell Sage Foundation.

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Blythe George

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Blythe George

July 20, 2016

Awardee | Blythe George, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, is one of 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class. George's research, "Those jobs ain’t coming back: The consequences of an industry collapse on two tribal reservations," will use qualitative data to explore the mechanisms that link the decline of employment options and life outcomes for males on two Native American tribal reservations, The Yurok and Hoopa Valley Reservations, located in California’s northwest.

"A member of the Yurok tribe herself, the researcher’s data provide a unique contribution ... [with] useful insights on the consequences of declining male labor force participation, particularly in non-urban settings." The award citation highlights that "From a policy engagement perspective, the rich[ness of] this qualitative work will help provide the narrative and texture that is necessary for capturing policy attention."

Robert Sampson elected to the British Academy

Robert Sampson elected to the British Academy

July 15, 2016

Awardee | Robert J. Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, has been elected a Fellow of the British Academy. The Academy elected 42 distinguished UK academics and 20 scholars from overseas institutions in recognition of their outstanding contributions to research. It also elected four Honorary Fellows, including U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Learn more about Robert Sampson's work at his homepage.

Latest commentary and analysis

Prisoners at prayer at Gadsden County Jail, Quincy, Fla

Power and Punishment: Two New Books About Race & Crime

April 14, 2017

The New York Times Book Review
By Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. "Two new books offer timely and complementary ways of understanding America’s punitive culture," writes Muhammad: Locking Up Our Own, by James Forman Jr., and A Colony in a Nation, by Chris Hayes.

Why aren't we moving as much for work?

Why aren't we moving as much for work?

April 14, 2017

Marketplace | Daniel Shoag (PhD'11), Associate Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, sees reasons to worry about declining geographical mobility, driven in part by higher housing costs in high-growth areas, which limit opportunity for low-income Americans and increase inequality.

Douglas W. Elmendorf

Advice for the New President and Congress

April 8, 2017

Harvard Graduate School Alumni Day | By Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy, who delivered the keynote address at Harvard GSAS Alumni Day 2017.

Peter A. Hall

Hall shares thoughts on EU's future

April 6, 2017
Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs | Peter A. Hall, Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies at  Harvard, gave a keynote address on "A Continent Redvided? European Integration in Turbulent Times," as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's spring symposium on "Europe in Crisis: The Future of the EU and Trans-Atlantic Relations." View the full program:
La Follette Spring Symposium
Vanessa Williamson, Brookings forum

Why Americans are proud to pay taxes

April 4, 2017

Brookings Institution | The Brookings Institution hosted an event marking the release of Read My Lips: Why Americans are Proud to Pay Taxes, by Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. A panel of experts joined Williamson to discuss how Americans view their responsibility as taxpayers and what Americans’ attitudes about taxes can tell us about public opinions of government as a whole. With E.J. Dionne, Heather Boushey (Washington Center for Equitable Growth), and Frank Clemente (Americans for Fair Taxes). (Video: 90 minutes)

Larry Summers

Larry Summers: The Economy and Tax Reform

March 30, 2017

Charlie Rose | A conversation about the economy and Trump's plans for tax reform with Larry Summers, president emeritus of Harvard University and former treasury secretary under President Clinton. (Video: 30 minutes)

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

March 29, 2017

Christian Science Monitor | By Natasha Warikoo (Ph.D. 05), Associate Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Creating equal opportunity is a huge challenge. But we can start by changing our attitudes toward the admissions process," Warikoo writes.

NEJM logo

An FDA Commissioner for the 21st Century

March 29, 2017

New England Journal of Medicine | By Amitabh Chandra and Rachel E. Sachs. Chandra is Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Sachs is Associate Professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

March 28, 2017

Crain's Chicago Business | By Anjanette M. Chan Tack and Mario L. Small. Discussion of the authors' new in-depth case study, recently published in Sociological Science, which interviewed African American students in high poverty Chicago neighborhoods about how they form friendships. "What we uncovered surprised us," Chan Tack and Small write.

Small is Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology at Harvard. Chan Tack is a doctoral candidate at University of Chicago. 

BETA 2017

New Frontiers in Behavioral Economics

March 28, 2017

The Institute of Public Administration Australia ACT Division (IPAA ACT) and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) hosted Harvard professors Sendhil Mullainathan, Ziad Obermeyer, and Brigitte Madrian for a presentation and discussion of predictive policy—"how it can solve some of society’s most difficult problems and why it matters to government policy making." The event was led by political scientist Michael J. Hiscox, who is currently on leave from his Harvard whle serving as founding director of the Behavioural Economics Team (BETA) in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian Government. Includes video highlights (7 minutes) and full-length event video (~75 minutes).

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

March 27, 2017

Wall Street Journal | By Michael I. Norton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Involving customers or employees in charity decisions can help boost sales or job satisfaction.

Douglas Elmendorf and Richard Parker

Dean Douglas Elmendorf: Understanding the Congressional Budget Office

March 23, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein CenterDoug Elmendorf, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School and former director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) from 2009-2015, discussed why the CBO exists, how it works, and how the media reports on its findings, in a conversation at the Shorenstein Center, March 22, 2017. Highlights and audio.

Douglas Elmendorf via Bloomberg

Trump's Budget isn't Going Anywhere, says Ex-CBO Director

March 17, 2017

Bloomberg | Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, joins to discussTrump's budget proposal and look at growth potential for the U.S. economy. (video: 6 minutes)