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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Donald Trump's infrastructure illusion

Donald Trump's infrastructure illusion

November 16, 2016

Chicago Tribune | Column cites research by Andrew Garin, Ph.D. candidate in Political Economy and Government, who examined the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on local employment growth. Using geographically-detailed data on highway construction, Garin found no effect on employment in the local of the construction site, showing that this was because the majority of contractors, selected by competitive bidding, commute from other local labor markets.
View the research

Trump Campaign's Easy Answers Confront Hard Reality

Trump Campaign's Easy Answers Confront Hard Reality

November 15, 2016

The New York Times | Eduardo Porter column quotes Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy: “What happens when Trump realizes he cannot adequately respond to the expectations he has raised?” he asked. “Does he respond to economic failure like all populists around the world do — by further polarizing the nation and deepening divisions based on identity? And what does that do the quality of our democracy?”... Read more about Trump Campaign's Easy Answers Confront Hard Reality

Trust Me

Trust Me

November 10, 2016

Freakonomics Radio | Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades. Features Robert Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, and Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics [audio + transcript].

Trump and Apocalyptic Thinking

Trump and Apocalyptic Thinking

November 10, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Coverage of "Dark and Stormy: Reflections on the Election,” a panel discussion with Harvard faculty members Jill Lepore (Kemper Professor of American History), David Laibson (Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics), and Danielle Allen (Professor of Government and Director of the Safra Center for Ethics), hosted by the Mahindra Humanities Center.
View event video ▶

Faculty Analyze Climate Around Trump’s Victory

Faculty Analyze Climate Around Trump’s Victory

November 10, 2016

Harvard Crimson | Government professor Danielle Allen, economics professor David Laibson, and History professor Jill Lepore sat down to talk economics, politics, and demographics in the aftermath of President-elect Donald Trump's victory for a panel sponsored by Harvard's Mahindra Humanities Center.
Watch video

How Do We Unlearn Racism?

How Do We Unlearn Racism?

November 9, 2016

Complex | "Can our racism be unlearned? Experts believe perhaps it can, but that work starts with a better understanding of the nation's history." Features Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of Race, History, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

Why neither Trump nor Clinton’s plans will fix Social Security

Why neither Trump nor Clinton’s plans will fix Social Security

November 7, 2016

MarketWatch | Features Harvard Kennedy School professor Brigitte Madrian on policy measures that would specifically address the solvency of the Social Security system. Madrian was a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings, which recently issued the report cited in the article.

Schools that Work

Schools that Work

November 4, 2016

The New York Times | Sunday Review column by David Leonhardt highlights new evidence, "among the most rigorous," by Joshua Angrist (MIT), Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15, now Columbia University), Susan Dynarski (University of Michigan), Parag Pathak (MIT), and Christopher Walters (UC Berkeley) showing impressive results from Boston's charter high schools. Among their findings, the article notes that "Boston's charters eliminate one-third to one-half of the white-black test-score gap in a single year."

“Relative to other things that social scientists and education policy people have tried to boost performance—class sizes, tracking, new buildings—these schools are producing spectacular gains,” said Angrist.
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What's your ideal community? The answer is political

What's your ideal community? The answer is political

November 3, 2016

The New York Times | Features research by Ryan D. Enos, Associate Professor of Government, who "simulated the effects of added diversity in white suburbs by hiring Spanish speakers to board commuter trains outside Boston...'There are a lot of things we can experiment on, but context in itself is this widely diffuse and complex thing,' Mr. Enos said. Nailing down how we’re shaped by it, he said, 'is the most impossible problem in social science.'"
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Michèle Lamont delivers keynote at COES-LSE Inequalities conference in Santiago

Michèle Lamont delivers keynote at COES-LSE Inequalities conference in Santiago

November 2, 2016

COES-LSE | Michèle Lamont gave the first keynote presentation at the 2016 COES-LSE Inequalities conference, an international conference jointly held by The Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies-COES and the International Inequalities Institute-LSE in Santiago, Chile, November 2-4, 2016. Lamont spoke on Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel, her new book published in September by Princeton University Press. The book is co-authored with a team of sociologists, including former Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellows Graziella Moraes Silva (Ph.D. '10) and Jessica S. Welburn (Ph.D. '11), as well as Joshua Guetzkow, Nissim Mizrachi, Hanna Herzog & Elisa Reis. Lamont is the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and professor of sociology and of African and African American studies at Harvard University.

Vote 'yes' on Question 2

Vote 'yes' on Question 2

October 30, 2016

Boston Globe | Boston Globe editorial urges lifting the charter school cap, citing research by Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15), Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, and co-authors Joshua Angrist, Susan Dynarski, Parag Pathak, and Christopher Walter. The research, "Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice, appears in the Journal of Labor Economics 34,2 (2016).
Read the research

Latest awards

Congratulations, new Ph.D.'s!

Congratulations, new Ph.D.'s!

May 28, 2015

Sixteen Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellows receive their Ph.D's. See what's next for these grads.

Roland Fryer is the 2015 John Bates Clark Medalist

Roland Fryer is the 2015 John Bates Clark Medalist

April 24, 2015

Awardee | Roland Fryer.
Awarded by the American Economics Association to "that American economist under the age of forty who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge."

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.

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.