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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

The Story Borrower

The Story Borrower

March 3, 2016

Harvard Graduate School of Education | Profile of Anthony Abraham Jack (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology), whose whose research looks at the stories of low-income, first-generation undergraduates at elite universities. “They are letting me borrow their stories and it motivates me like crazy,” he says.

Jack will join the HGSE faculty as an assistant professor in July 2019, following a prestigious fellowship at the Harvard Society of Fellows. He will also hold the Shutzer Assistant Professorship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Is This the End of Big-Money Politics?

Is This the End of Big-Money Politics?

March 3, 2016

The New Yorker | Draws from study on "The Koch Effect"  by Theda Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, and Alex Hertel-Fernandez, Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy. "In essence, the Harvard study concludes, the Kochs and their allied donors have financial influence over American politics that extends far beyond the Presidential race."... Read more about Is This the End of Big-Money Politics?

The costs of inequality: A goal of justice, a reality of unfairness

The costs of inequality: A goal of justice, a reality of unfairness

February 29, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Spotlights research in criminal justice by Bruce Western (Professor of Sociology, the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, and Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy), Devah Pager (Professor of Sociology and Public Policy), Phillip Atiba Goff (Visiting scholar in the Malcolm Wiener Center and Co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity), and Vinny Schiraldi (Senior research fellow at the HKS Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation).  Fifth in a series on what Harvard scholars are doing to understand and find solutions to problems of inequality. This article also appeared at US News and World Report.

Variations on racial tension

Variations on racial tension

February 26, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and director of the Weatherhead Center, led a panel that traced evolving attitudes toward race and discrimination in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. With Patrick Simon, director of research at the National Institute of Demographic Studies in France, and Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin-American History at Harvard and director of the University’s soon-to-launch Afro-Latin American Research Institute.

America has locked up so many black people, it has warped our sense of reality

America has locked up so many black people, it has warped our sense of reality

February 26, 2016

Washington Post | Draws on work by Bruce Western, who argues that statistics on employment and economic activity that fail to take into account high rates of incarceration among black men in high-risk groups miss how deeply mass incarceration is connected to American poverty and economic inequality. Western is a Professor of Sociology, the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, and director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.

The Great Expectations of Matthew Desmond

The Great Expectations of Matthew Desmond

February 24, 2016

The Chronicle Review—Chronicle of Higher Education | Matthew Desmond hopes to bring a fresh approach to the study of poverty by focusing on the trauma of eviction. "Before this work I didn’t know how bad it was," he says. "I don’t think a lot of us know the state of poverty today."

The scariest thing about the gig economy is how little we actually know about it

The scariest thing about the gig economy is how little we actually know about it

February 23, 2016

Quartz | “Individual workers who really value flexibility may be much better off” in the gig economy, says Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard who is studying gig work. But it could also be eroding standards for other workers. What if much bigger employers like Walmart pivoted to the Uber work model? There are always “effects on the equilibrium of the labor market,” Katz says.

The costs of inequality: Money = quality health care = longer life

The costs of inequality: Money = quality health care = longer life

February 22, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Features Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy. Also David R. Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard Chan School and professor of African and African-American Studies, who gave an Inequality & Social Policy Seminar on "Race, Racism, and Racial Inequalities in Health", Feb 8, 2016. Fourth in a series on what Harvard scholars are doing to understand and find solutions to problems of inequality. This article also appeared at US News and World Report.

In 'Evicted', Home is an Elusive Goal for America's Poor

In 'Evicted', Home is an Elusive Goal for America's Poor

February 21, 2016

The New York Times | Review of Matthew Desmond's, Evicted.  NYT book critic Jennifer Senior calls it "an exhaustively researched, vividly realized and, above all, unignorable book — after “Evicted,” it will no longer be possible to have a serious discussion about poverty without having a serious discussion about housing."

No Exceptions

No Exceptions

February 20, 2016

Harvard Ed Magazine | A look at the life and work of one of the Ed School's newest faculty members, Roland Fryer.

Kicked Out in America!

Kicked Out in America!

February 19, 2016

The New York Review of Books | Matthew Desmond's Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.  Reviewed by Jason DeParle of The New York Times.

Can the Welfare State Survive the Refugee Crisis?

Can the Welfare State Survive the Refugee Crisis?

February 18, 2016

The Atlantic | Quotes George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy. Borjas is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on the Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration, whose report will be published later this year.

Latest commentary and analysis

Should We Trust Forensic Science?

Should We Trust Forensic Science?

February 18, 2016

Boston Review | Two forensic experts respond to Nathan J. Robinson, Ph.D. student in Sociology & Social Policy, and Robinson replies. Robinson argued in the previous issue of Boston Review that the problems of forensic science constitute an unheralded crisis of criminal justice. 

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%.

Nudge Yields Big Results with Subtle Changes

Nudge Yields Big Results with Subtle Changes

February 15, 2016

WUTC—Start it Up [audio: 29 min] | Interview with Elizabeth Linos, Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy and a member of the Behavioral Insights Team. Linos explains how the Behavioral Insights Team is employing "nudge theory" in cities across the US to modify behaviors and create positive change—from increasing the diversity of police departments to getting delinquent taxpayers to willingly ante up... Read more about Nudge Yields Big Results with Subtle Changes

Education gap: The root of inequality

Education gap: The root of inequality

February 15, 2016

Harvard University [video]| Interview with Ronald Ferguson, director of Harvard's Achievement Gap Initiative: "Educational inequality is, probably more than anything else, the fundamental root of broader inequality."  There is progress being made, encouraging examples to emulate, and an early start is critical, Ferguson says. A lot of hard work lies ahead, "but there's nothing more important we can do."

Reflections on the American Dream in Crisis

Reflections on the American Dream in Crisis

February 13, 2016

Harvard EdCast | Robert D. Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of  Public Policy, reflects on what educators can do to help restore a measure of social mobility to U.S. society [audio: 13 minutes].

Why many black politicians backed the 1994 crime bill

Why many black politicians backed the 1994 crime bill

February 12, 2016

Slate | Interview with Michael Javen Fortner (Ph.D. '10), now City University of New York, who argues the need for a more complex understanding of the origins and unintended consequences of the 1994 crime bill.

Capital Hill Briefing on American Families: The State of the Working Class

Capital Hill Briefing on American Families: The State of the Working Class

February 12, 2016

C-SPAN [video] | Robert Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, participated in a briefing on U.S. working class families with Andrew Cherlin (Johns Hopkins), Ron Haskins (Brookings Institution), Sara McLanahan (Princeton). Sponsored by the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Why African Americans don't trust the courts, and why it matters

Why African Americans don't trust the courts, and why it matters

February 11, 2016

The Marshall Project | By Sara Sternberg Greene (Ph.D. '14, now Associate Professor, Duke Law School): "My research suggests that the disparate treatment African Americans receive at the hands of the criminal justice system—or even the perception of disparity—may perpetuate inequality in ways that so far have been largely overlooked." How distrust of the criminal justice system spills over into the civil justice system...with often dire consequences for the poor. 

Is Punishment the Only Response to Violence and Poverty?

Is Punishment the Only Response to Violence and Poverty?

February 10, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast [Audio: 25 min] | Conversation with Bruce Western, Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center and Chair of its Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management.  "We estimate that in recent birth cohorts for black men, if they dropped out of high school, the chances that they'll go to prison at some point in their lives is now about two-thirds."

Sociology's Truth? W.E.B. Du Bois and the Origins of Sociology

Sociology's Truth? W.E.B. Du Bois and the Origins of Sociology

February 9, 2016

Los Angeles Review of Books | By Monica Bell, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy. Reviewing Aldon Morris's The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology, Bell argues Morris evokes the challenges of black and activism-oriented scholars today.

In Iowa, Voting Science at Work

In Iowa, Voting Science at Work

February 5, 2016

The New York Times | By Todd Rogers (Associate Professor of Public Policy) and Adan Acevedo (Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School).

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Closing the Opportunity Gap Report

Closing the Opportunity Gap Report

March 16, 2016

The Saguaro Seminar—Harvard Kennedy School | In 2015, the Saguaro Seminar, led by Robert D. Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, launched the Closing the Opportunity Gap initiative. The initiative convened five working groups of the country’s leading experts in each of five areas: family and parenting, early childhood, K-12 education, community institutions, and “on-ramps” (like community college or apprenticeships).

Patrick Sharkey (Ph.D. '07) of New York University, a contributor to the community working group, co-authored the chapter on "Rebuilding Communities to Help Close the Opportunity Gap."

Economic Report of the President 2016

Economic Report of the President 2016

February 22, 2016

Council of Economic Advisers | Inequality (chapter 1) and early childhood disparities (chapter 4) were a central focus of this year's annual report, drawing extensively on research by many Inequality & Social Policy faculty and alumni. We are particularly partial to p. 182, which cites work by (then) doctoral fellow Sarah Cohodes et. al., "The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling." Cohodes (Ph.D. '15) is now an Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University.

What Do Unions Do for the Middle Class?

What Do Unions Do for the Middle Class?

January 13, 2016

Center for American Progress | New research by Richard B. Freeman and collaborators suggests that about one-third of the decline in the share of middle class workers is directly tied to the decreasing share of workers in unions. "The big question this research raises for Americans troubled by the decline of the middle class is whether the growth and level of inequality can be reduced without a strong labor movement,” said Freeman, Herbert Anchorman Professor of Economics at Harvard.
Get the report

Addressing Economic Challenges in an Evolving Health Care Market [Event]

Addressing Economic Challenges in an Evolving Health Care Market [Event]

October 7, 2015

The Hamilton Project  | Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, participated in a policy forum addressing economic challenges in an evolving health care market, with a focus on three new papers released in conjunction with the event. The event, held at The Brookings Institution, featured opening remarks by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, and framing remarks by CEA Chairman Jason Furman.  View papers, presentation slides, and event video online.