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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

What Does Immigration Actually Cost Us?

What Does Immigration Actually Cost Us?

September 29, 2016

The New York Times | Columnist Thomas Edsall explores the complexity of core findings contained in a new National Academy of Sciences report, "The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration." Cites research by George J. Borjas, one of the panel members who contributed to the report, who concludes that immigration produces substantial wage losses for native-born U.S. workers, particularly high school dropouts, as well as Lawrence Katz, whose more recent work with Claudia Goldin has convinced him "that immigration is at most a small contributor to the awful real and relative wage performance of U.S. high school dropouts," whose relative wages "fell by 40 percent compared to college graduates"' from 1980 to the early 2000s."

Trust gap: What happens when black communities call 911 less often?

Trust gap: What happens when black communities call 911 less often?

September 29, 2016

The Christian Science Monitor | "The first study of its kind found 911 calls in black Milwaukee neighborhoods dropped significantly following the beating of Frank Jude, an unarmed black man. And then crime rates rose." Examination of new study by Harvard's Matthew Desmond, Andrew Papachristos .(Yale University), and David Kirk (University of Oxford), just out in the American Sociological Review.

Police Brutality Leads to Thousands Fewer Calls to 911

Police Brutality Leads to Thousands Fewer Calls to 911

September 28, 2016

The Atlantic | Examines new study by Harvard's Matthew Desmond (John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences), Andrew Papachristos (Yale University), and David Kirk  (University of Oxford).

An Online Education Breakthrough? A Master’s Degree for a Mere $7,000

An Online Education Breakthrough? A Master’s Degree for a Mere $7,000

September 28, 2016

The New York Times | Discusses findings of new study by faculty members Joshua Goodman (Harvard Kennedy School), Julia Melkers (Georgia Tech), and Amanda Pallais (Harvard Economics), which suggest that access to high-quality, low-cost online education could make a real difference in educational options, at least among mid-career Americans.
View the research

A more inclusive Harvard

A more inclusive Harvard

September 28, 2016

Harvard Gazette | An interview with Danielle Allen, Archon Fung, and Meredith Weenick,  co-chairs of the new University-wide Presidential Task Force on Belonging and Inclusion. Danielle Allen is Professor of Government and Education and Director of the Edmond Safra Center for Ethics. Archon Fung is Academic Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School and Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship. 

911 calls fell in black Milwaukee neighborhoods after Jude beating, study finds

911 calls fell in black Milwaukee neighborhoods after Jude beating, study finds

September 28, 2016

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Coverage of new study by Harvard's Matthew Desmond, Andrew Papachristos (Yale University), and David Kirk (University of Oxford). "Desmond said he was shocked when he first saw the size of the drop...'Something like the Frank Jude case tears the fabric apart so deeply and delegitimizes the criminal justice system in the eyes of the African-American community that they stop relying on it in significant numbers,' Desmond told the Journal Sentinel in an interview."

It’s Easy for Obamacare Critics to Overlook the Merits of Medicaid Expansion

It’s Easy for Obamacare Critics to Overlook the Merits of Medicaid Expansion

September 26, 2016

The New York Times | Cites research by Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15) and co-authors showing that Medicaid in childhood makes children more likely to finish high school and college. Cohodes is Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. The research was subsequently published in the Journal of Human Resources. View it here.

FREOPP Names Scott Winship a Visiting Fellow

FREOPP Names Scott Winship a Visiting Fellow

September 26, 2016

FREOPP | The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a newly-created non-profit think tank that will conduct original research on expanding economic opportunity for those  with incomes or wealth below the U.S. median, today named Scott Winship a Visiting Fellow. Winship joins FREOPP from the Manhattan Institute, where he was the Walter B. Wriston Fellow.

The 13th: Inside Ava DuVernay's Netflix prison documentary on racial inequality

The 13th: Inside Ava DuVernay's Netflix prison documentary on racial inequality

September 26, 2016

The Guardian | Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, is among the participants to appear in The 13th, Ava DuVernay's new documentary, which traces the history of racism, criminalization, and mass incarceration in the U.S. "The trailer sets up DuVernay’s documentary as a provocative a mix of archival footage and testimonies from activists, politicians and historians, including Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Angela Davis, Senator Cory Booker, Grover Norquist, Khalil Muhammad, Craig DeRoche, Shaka Senghor, Malkia Cyril and Henry Louis Gates Jr," reports the Guardian.  The film will open the New York Film Festival on Sept 30, the first documentary to ever do so, and will then release on Netflix and in a limited theater run on Oct 7.  A screening will be coming soon to the Ash Center at the Harvard Kennedy School.
View The 13th - Official trailer

Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Equitable Growth's Inaugural Grantee Conference

September 25, 2016

Washington Center for Equitable Growth | Grantees Ellora Dernoncourt (Ph.D. candidate in Economics), Beth Truesdale (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology), and Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), now a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, were among those attending Equitable Growth's inaugural grantee conference. Also participating: Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics,  and Elisabeth Jacobs (Ph.D. '08), Senior Director for Policy at Equitable Growth. View the program.

Companies That Discriminate Fail (Eventually)

Companies That Discriminate Fail (Eventually)

September 23, 2016

Bloomberg View | Highlights new study by sociologist Devah Pager, "Are Firms that Discriminate More Likely to Go Out of Business?," published in Sociological Science, which presents a new direct empirical test of Gary Becker's theory of the economics of discrimination. Pager is director of the Inequality & Social Policy program at Harvard and Professor of Sociology and Public Policy.
View the research

Science’s 1%: How income inequality is getting worse in research

Science’s 1%: How income inequality is getting worse in research

September 21, 2016

Nature | Wages for top scientists are shooting skywards, widening the wage gap between elite scientists and the rest. Interviews Richard Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics, who suggests that these trends may be driving talented young people away from careers in academic science. 

Firms that Discriminate are More Likely to Go Bust

Firms that Discriminate are More Likely to Go Bust

September 21, 2016

Marginal Revolution | Coverage of Devah Pager's latest study, published in Sociological Science, "Are Firms that Discriminate More Likely to Go Out of Business?". Pager, who directs the Inequality & Social Policy program, is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Harvard.

Is Political Science Too Pessimistic?

Is Political Science Too Pessimistic?

September 20, 2016

The Chronicle of Higher Education | Senior ideas reporter Marc Perry talks with Jennifer Hochschild about the themes of her American Political Science Association presidential address, which she recently delivered at the APSA 112th annual meeting. Hochschild, Harvard's Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and Professor of African and African American Studies, just completed her term as president (2015-2016).

The Best Headspace for Making Decisions: How Emotions Influence Decision-Making

The Best Headspace for Making Decisions: How Emotions Influence Decision-Making

September 19, 2016

The Atlantic | Delves into Jennifer Lerner's latest research on emotions and decision-making. Lerner, a psychologist, is a professor within the Management, Leadership, and Decision Science Area at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Co-founder of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory.

On the role of anger in this election season, Lerner notes that anger can be beneficial during the primaries, increasing voter turnout: "Anger is the primary emotion of justice." But when it comes to the actual election, anger can...

Read more about The Best Headspace for Making Decisions: How Emotions Influence Decision-Making

Where Does the American Dream Live?

September 18, 2016

Retro Report and The New York Times | In 1976, Chicago provided vouchers to African-American families to move into predominantly white suburbs. Retro Report examines what happened, and how it influences policy today. Features Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics.

"In 2014 Katz decided to find out what happened to the children who moved as part of Moving to Opportunity. And now that the youngest children had grown up, he was seeing something that policymakers hadn't predicted: 'We're seeing them earning 30% more than a kid who didn't get the opportunity to move to a better neighborhood. We're seeing college-going rates increase dramatically. We couldn't see that when the kids weren't old enough....Neighborhoods and childhood development are long-term investments, and one has to have some patience. Most things that are investments take a while to pay off.”

On the costs of concentrated poverty, Katz says: "We're losing people who are innovators. We're losing people who could be artists. And we could have a much more vibrant society if we had much less concentration of poverty and of social problems."

Why So Many Poor Americans Don't Get Help Paying for Housing

Why So Many Poor Americans Don't Get Help Paying for Housing

September 16, 2016

FiveThirtyEight | Quotes Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences. "Desmond said that by prioritizing assistance for homeownership — which mostly benefits middle-class and wealthy families — over rental assistance for the poor, the federal government is making the nation’s poverty problem worse...Desmond argues that unaffordable housing, and the subsequent instability, is often the catalyst for a cycle of poverty. And in his book, he says that instead of focusing housing policy on increasing homeownership, we should be 'pulling housing back to the center of the poverty debate.'"

Latest commentary and analysis

Jeremy Levine

In many poor urban neighborhoods, nonprofits are superseding elected politicians as neighborhood representatives

November 7, 2016

LSE US Centre | By Jeremy R. Levine (Ph.D. '16), Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan. The past five decades have seen community based nonprofit organizations become an integral component of urban policy, a trend which has been accelerated by the growth of public-private partnerships. In new research using fieldwork in Boston, Massachusetts, Jeremy Levine finds that in some poor urban communities, nonprofits are actually taking the place of elected officials as legitimate community representatives. While this move towards private political representation means that urban policymakers need to reconsider how neighborhoods are represented and gain access to resources, they also raise questions of accountability.
View the research (American Sociological Review).

U.S. Election Coverage: Leah Wright Rigueur

U.S. Election Coverage: Leah Wright Rigueur

November 6, 2016

Al Jazeera TV | Tune in November 6-9 as Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, joins Al Jazeera TV's U.S. elections coverage team as they broadcast live from AJTV studios.

Sentencing Reform in an Era of Racialized Mass Incarceration

Sentencing Reform in an Era of Racialized Mass Incarceration

November 3, 2016

Doctoral fellow Alix Winter, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, and Matthew Clair, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, respond to the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission's invitation to comment on issues relating to sentencing policies and practices for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Winter and Clair provide "a brief overview of sociological research on mass incarceration, sentencing practices, and racial/ethnic minorities’ disproportionate contact with criminal justice institutions," drawing the Commission's attention to "empirical research pertaining to potential sentencing practices, policies, and principles that may assist the Commonwealth in reducing racial/ethnic sentencing disparities". They then draw on this research to make specific recommendations.

Clair and Winter co-authored a related academic article, “How Judges Think about Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System," published in Criminology earlier this year. Learn more about their work at their homepages:
scholar.harvard.edu/alixwinter
scholar.harvard.edu/matthewclair

An Interview with Matthew Desmond: The Author of 'Evicted' reveals why the housing crisis is one of the most pressing problems facing our nation.

An Interview with Matthew Desmond: The Author of 'Evicted' reveals why the housing crisis is one of the most pressing problems facing our nation.

November 2, 2016

Read it Forward | Interview with Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted and the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences: "It's heartbreaking. I mean, when you watch a mother decide between buying food for her family or paying the rent, or, after a loved one dies, debating between paying for the funeral or paying the rent, you’re seeing people confront really terrible choices. Poverty is not pretty. Poverty is a very ugly thing."

"We're at a point right now where half of poor renters below the poverty line are spending over 50% of their income on housing and at least one in four is spending 70% of their income on housing. We can’t do anything about inequality if we don’t address that problem....A lot of times when we hear policy and prescriptions about how to ameliorate poverty in the U.S., they are talking about jobs. Good jobs, better jobs, great. But it’s half the solution. We have to address this other thing too."

Can US Elections Be Rigged?

Can US Elections Be Rigged?

November 2, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast | Alex Keyssar, Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy, offers an historical perspective to modern worries about rigged elections and weighs the prevention of voter fraud against the risk of voter suppression.

Michele Lamont

Interview with Michèle Lamont: Video

November 2, 2016

COES—Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social | Interview with Michèle Lamont, a keynote speaker at the 2016 COES-LSE annual Inequalities conference, held at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, November 2-4, 2016. Lamont is Harvard's Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies, Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, and Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. (Interview is in English with Spanish subtitles).

Episode 10: Breaking Down Gentrification with Jackelyn Hwang

Episode 10: Breaking Down Gentrification with Jackelyn Hwang

November 2, 2016

Grapple  | Jackelyn Hwang (Ph.D. '15) joins to discuss the causes of gentrification, the way in which race factors into the way that gentrification happens, and what happens to renters and homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods. Hwang is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University, and will join Stanford University's faculty as Assistant Professor of Sociology in fall 2017. [Audio + Interview highlights (text)]

Voter Discrimination Starts Well Before Election Day

Voter Discrimination Starts Well Before Election Day

November 1, 2016

Boston Review | By Ariel R. White (Ph.D. '16), Assistant Professor of Political Science, MIT. "Even if voter ID laws don’t dramatically affect minority turnout, we should be concerned about them. They levy a sort of tax on minority voters, who have to work harder to get information from local officials, jump through bureaucratic hoops to get ID they may not otherwise have, and face disproportionate scrutiny from pollworkers," writes White.

Solutions to Income Volatility: A Discussion with Elisabeth Jacobs

Solutions to Income Volatility: A Discussion with Elisabeth Jacobs

November 1, 2016

The Aspen Institute | Discussion with Elisabeth Jacobs (Ph.D. '08), Senior Director for Policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Her research focuses on economic inequality and mobility, family economic security, poverty, social insurance, and the politics of inequality. Here, she shares insights on how best to help families struggling with income volatility. 

Why the establishment was blindsided by Donald Trump

Why the establishment was blindsided by Donald Trump

October 28, 2016

Washington Post | By Danielle Allen, Professor of Government and Education. He has revealed the U.S. to be one nation living in two very different worlds, argues Allen, a political theorist and contributing columnist for the Post.

Paying for Outcomes: Beyond the Social Impact Bond Buzz

Paying for Outcomes: Beyond the Social Impact Bond Buzz

October 28, 2016

Inside Story (Australia) | By Matt Tyler (MPP '17) and Ben Stephens (MPP '17). Social impact bonds’ most valuable contribution could be to support the expansion of pay-for-success contracting to dramatically improve the lives of vulnerable Australians, write Tyler and Stephens.

Voting rights, unsettled

Voting rights, unsettled

October 25, 2016

Harvard Gazette  | Interview with Alex Keyssar, Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School."Let me also make a distinction between disenfranchisement and voter suppression. ... What’s going on now is mostly a matter of suppression — and for a lot of people, it’s making it close to impossible to vote," said Harvard Kennedy School Professor Alex Keyssar.

Room for Debate: Silicon Valley Pushes for Immigration Reform for Its Own Purposes

Room for Debate: Silicon Valley Pushes for Immigration Reform for Its Own Purposes

October 24, 2016

The New York Times | George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, weighs in: Is an H-1B visa program that brings in high-skilled immigrant workers is benefiting the American people? Part of a Room for Debate forum that asks what is lost and what is gained as Silicon Valley firms build influence in Washington. Borjas is the author most recently of We Wanted Workers: Unravellng the Immigration Narrative (W.W. Norton & Co., 2016).

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.