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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

New Progress on Using Behavioral Sciences Insights

New Progress on Using Behavioral Sciences Insights

September 15, 2016

The White House | One year ago President Obama issued an executive order directing Federal Government agencies to apply behavioral science insights to their programs to better serve the American people. To mark the past year of progress, today the White House is hosting a Summit on Behavioral Science Insights and releasing the SBST Second Annual Report. The report draws extensively from research by Inequality & Social Policy faculty affiliates Sendhil Mullainathan (Economics), Brigitte Madrian (HKS), David Laibson (Economics), Jeffrey Liebman (HKS), Todd Rogers (HKS), and Michael Norton (HBS). It also cites work by Inequality & Social Policy alumni Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. '09), Associate Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University; W. Adam Looney (Ph.D. '04), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis, U.S. Treasury; and David Hureau (Ph.D. '16), Assistant Professor, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, SUNY.

How We Undercounted Evictions by Asking the Wrong Questions

How We Undercounted Evictions by Asking the Wrong Questions

September 15, 2016

FiveThirtyEight | The Milwaukee Area Renter's Study (MARS), the brainchild of Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, "may be the first rigorous, detailed look at eviction in a major city...Now the survey is going national: The Census Bureau recently agreed to add some of the MARS questions to its massive, biennial housing survey."

Introducing the Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative

Introducing the Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative

September 13, 2016

Andrew Feldman (Ph.D. '07), Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution Center on Children and Families, has been appointed to the newly-launched Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative. Funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the collaborative brings together researchers from the Urban Institute, the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative to create tools to inform evidence-based policymaking at all levels of government. 

The Politico 50: Matthew Desmond

The Politico 50: Matthew Desmond

September 12, 2016

Politico | Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Science at Harvard—"for turning to a powerful source in explaining poverty: poor people themselves,"—has been named to The Politico 50, Politico's annual list of "thinkers transforming politics." From the citation: "In 2008, when Matthew Desmond moved into a poor Milwaukee neighborhood to begin what would become his groundbreaking study of eviction and its role in exacerbating poverty, the notion that a presidential race would be defined by progressive ideas about the evils of income inequality would have seemed almost inconceivable. But this year, the book that Desmond produced from that research—Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City—landed in the middle of a campaign in which outsider candidates from both parties pushed populist messages aimed at the working poor."

"Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, challenged stale notions about how poverty works through intimate portraits of eight families. One of his most notable discoveries was that evictions often were not the result of losing a job but rather the cause, a potentially game-changing insight into what traps people in poverty." A word of advice for the next president? "Fight poverty."

The Politico 50: George J. Borjas

The Politico 50: George J. Borjas

September 12, 2016

Politico | George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, has been named to The Politico 50, Politico's annual list of "thinkers transforming politics."  From the citation: "But Borjas isn’t necessarily anti-immigration; in fact, his research shows immigration can benefit the nation overall. The real message he has been delivering since his pioneering 1994 study is that both political parties are far too simplistic when they talk about immigration’s harms and benefits. The problem is that immigration doesn’t lift everyone equally: Immigrants themselves get a lot out of it, as do business owners and people on the top of the economic pyramid. But it genuinely hurts many native-born Americans, especially low-skilled workers."

Poor Students’ Futures Are on the Ballot in Massachusetts

Poor Students’ Futures Are on the Ballot in Massachusetts

September 3, 2016

Daily Beast | Highlights research findings by Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15), Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. This work includes “Teaching to the Student: Charter School Effectiveness in Spite of Perverse Incentives,” Education Finance and Policy; and "Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice,” by Joshua D. Angriest, Sarah Cohodes, Susan Dynarski, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters,  Journal of Labor Economics.
View the research

The Array of Things is Coming to Chicago (and the World)

The Array of Things is Coming to Chicago (and the World)

September 2, 2016

Chicago Magazine | What can we learn from environmental sensors in these new fixtures? Highlights pioneering work of Robert Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, "doing Google Street View before there was a Google," and Edward Glaeser and colleagues, who have used a machine learning algorithm with Google Street View to answer social science questions.

Clinton drug plan: Is it enough?

Clinton drug plan: Is it enough?

September 2, 2016

Marketplace | Marketplace talks with Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, for his analysis.

School reform: After freedom, what?

School reform: After freedom, what?

August 27, 2016

The Economist | Cites research by Roland Fryer, Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard, and Will Dobbie (Ph.D. '13), Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton, on the essential qualities of the best charter schools. "In a new paper, Mr Dobbie and Mr Fryer found that although the best charter schools in Houston did better than equivalent state schools in tests and college admissions, attending one had no discernible impact on wages."
View this research

Tobin Project Holds Conference on Inequality and Decision Making

Tobin Project Holds Conference on Inequality and Decision Making

August 26, 2016

Tobin Project | A number of Inequality & Social Policy affiliates participated in the Tobin Project's Conference on Inequality and Decision-Making, held Aug 4-5 in Cambridge. The conference, whose organizers included faculty members David Moss and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, "brought together leading scholars from across the social and behavioral sciences to explore the effects of economic inequality on individual behavior and decision making."

"Participants examined the ways in which rising inequality might influence the perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors of Americans..., [with the aim] to improve understanding of the mechanisms through which inequality affects our democracy, economy, and society as a whole."

In addition to Moss and Norton, speakers included Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellow Beth Truesdale (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology) and alumnae Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington (Ph.D. '14) and Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), who presented pilot research at the conference. Robert Manduca (Ph.D. student in Sociology & Social Policy) presented research in progress on income inequality and structural change at a smaller doctoral student workshop organized by the Tobin Project on August 6.
View conference program 

Why you should save more than 3% in your 401(k)

Why you should save more than 3% in your 401(k)

August 26, 2016

San Francisco Chronicle | Quotes and cites early research by Brigitte Madrian, Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Employees who are auto-enrolled in 401(k) plans often contribute 3 percent of pay 
because this is the most popular default contribution level. How did this become the default? The 3 percent rate was used as a hypothetical example in two Internal Revenue Service rulings in 1998 and 2000, in which the IRS explained how 401(k) plans could automatically enroll workers without jeopardizing their tax benefits.... Read more about Why you should save more than 3% in your 401(k)

Latest commentary and analysis

Race in America: Looking to the Past to Understand the Present

Race in America: Looking to the Past to Understand the Present

October 24, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast | HKS Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad makes the case that contemporary hot-button issues like race and policing, as well as mass incarceration, are fundamentally rooted in a widespread failure to fully educate Americans about their country’s racial history.

What you need to know about ED’s proposed rule on Title I supplement-not-supplant

What you need to know about ED’s proposed rule on Title I supplement-not-supplant

October 21, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Nora E. Gordon (Ph.D. '02), Associate Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Gordon has testified on the implications of the proposed supplement not supplant regulation before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and (in Sept 2016) the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education (view).

After Words with George Borjas

After Words with George Borjas

October 20, 2016

C-SPAN Book TV | George Borjas talked about his book We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative, in which he examines the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy throughout history. He is interviewed by Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Closing of the American Border. Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

After Words with George Borjas

After Words with George Borjas

October 20, 2016

C-SPAN Book TV | George Borjas talked about his book We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative, in which he examines the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy. He is interviewed by Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Closing of the American Border.  Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School [video + transcript: 60 minutes].

Barack Obama's Eight-Year Balancing Act

Barack Obama's Eight-Year Balancing Act

October 19, 2016

The 2016 New Yorker Festival |Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, joined a discussion with Congressman Keith Ellison, Jelani Cobb, Alicia Garza, and Margo Jefferson that took a look back at the Obama Presidency.

How to Hire with Algorithms

How to Hire with Algorithms

October 17, 2016

Harvard Business Review |  By Oren Danieli (Ph.D. candidate in Business Economics), Andrew Hillis, and Michael Luca (Assistant Professor of Business Administration). Algorithms have the potential to improve hiring and promotion decisions, the authors argue, but need to be managed.

"We explored that potential in a recent study (American Economic Review, May 2016) on selecting teachers and policemen. We used machine learning algorithms to transform data about teacher and police characteristics – for example, educational background, surveys, and test performance – into predictions about their likely performance in the future. Our results demonstrate that students and communities alike could benefit from a more data-driven selection process. Algorithms can help with some of the nation’s most challenging personnel issues. For example, the data suggest that police departments can predict, at the time of hire, which officers are most likely to be involved in a shooting or accused of abuse."
View the research

Who Are Immigration's Winners and Losers?

Who Are Immigration's Winners and Losers?

October 17, 2016

WBUR—Radio Boston | Both major party candidates have staked claims on the impact of immigration on the U.S. Harvard economist George Borjas says each side of the debate is ignoring key points about the economic impacts of immigration. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, is the author of We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative, published this month by W.W. Norton and Company.

Event video: Race and Justice in the Age of Obama

Event video: Race and Justice in the Age of Obama

October 12, 2016

Harvard IOP | Panelists Paul Monteiro, Acting Director of Community Relations Service at the U.S. Department of Justice; Brittany Packnett, Vice President of National Communities Alliances, Teach for America and Co-founder of Campaign Zero; and Avik Roy, President of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and Editor of Forbes Opinion join moderator Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, for a John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum event. Opening remarks by Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School. Co-sponsored by the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.

Cross-Cultural Responses to Discrimination: A Q&A with Michèle Lamont

Cross-Cultural Responses to Discrimination: A Q&A with Michèle Lamont

October 11, 2016

Weatherhead Center for International Affairs—Epicenter | Interview with Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and professor of sociology and of African and African American studies at Harvard University, about her new book Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel.

The book is co-authored with a team of sociologists, including Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellow alumnae Graziella Moraes Silva (Ph.D. 10) and Jessica Welburn (Ph.D. '11). Silva is now Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology with The Graduate Institute in Geneva, and Assistant Professor of Sociology and Vice Chair of the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Social Inequality at the University of Rio de Janeiro. Welburn is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at the University of Iowa.

A Prize Worth Celebrating

A Prize Worth Celebrating

October 9, 2016

Wall Street Journal | By Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics. In his review of “The Nobel Factor," Glaeser argues that "the best role for the Nobel Prize in economics is not to advance an ideology but rather to reinforce the requirement that economists should play by the same rules as scientists. "

Tax Me. Please.

Tax Me. Please.

October 8, 2016

The New York Times | By Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. "Asked what bothers them most about taxes, Americans overwhelmingly say the feeling that the wealthy and corporations are not paying their fair share. This is the top issue for nearly two-thirds of Americans. In contrast, 8 percent of Americans say that their biggest concern is the amount they personally pay in taxes. What upsets most people about taxes is not the amount they contribute. They are angry about the amount that the wealthy can avoid contributing."

Recommendations for Federal Budget Policy

Recommendations for Federal Budget Policy

October 7, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Douglas W Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School. This brief is part of "Election 2016 and America’s Future." a Brookings-wide initiative in which Brookings scholars have identified the biggest issues facing the country this election season and are providing individual ideas for how to address them. Elmendorf was a visiting fellow with Brookings until he became Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School in January 2016.

Sending Potatoes to Idaho? How the Free Market Can Fight Poverty

Sending Potatoes to Idaho? How the Free Market Can Fight Poverty

October 7, 2016

The New York Times | By Sendhil Mullainathan, Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics. "It turns out that when you analyze objections to free markets on these grounds, they contain two basic issues: First, goods go to the highest bidder; second, bidders possess different amounts of wealth. Disentangling these two factors is important. When markets produce outcomes that seem unfair, it is usually the second factor — the wealth disparity — that is to blame. Place bidders on an equal footing and the superior efficiency of the market becomes evident."... Read more about Sending Potatoes to Idaho? How the Free Market Can Fight Poverty

A Horrible Idea: Trump’s Push for Stop-and-Frisk Nationwide

A Horrible Idea: Trump’s Push for Stop-and-Frisk Nationwide

October 6, 2016

Moyers & company | Before stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York City, historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad spoke out about a program he called an “enduring form of surveillance and racial control.” Interview with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School [text and video].

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Immigration's Long-Term Impacts on Overall Wages and Employment of Native-Born U.S. Workers Very Small, Although Low-Skilled Workers May Be Affected, New Report Finds

Immigration's Long-Term Impacts on Overall Wages and Employment of Native-Born U.S. Workers Very Small, Although Low-Skilled Workers May Be Affected, New Report Finds

September 21, 2016

National Academy of Sciences | The National Academy of Sciences today released a new report, The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration, authored by a panel of 14 experts, including George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The 508-page report provides "a comprehensive assessment of economic and demographic trends of U.S. immigration over the past 20 years, its impact on the labor market and wages of native-born workers, and its fiscal impact at the national, state, and local levels."
View the report

Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more

Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more

September 7, 2016

Brookings Institution | The Hutchins Roundup spotlights new study by Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01) of Northeastern University, Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11) of the Harvard Kennedy School, and Joshua Ballance of the Boston Fed showing that employer skill requirements have fallen recently recently, reversing the trend observed during the Great Recession.
...

Read more about Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more
New Study: Market Forces Do Affect Health Care Sector

New Study: Market Forces Do Affect Health Care Sector

September 7, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Coverage of new research by Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, in the American Economic Review, "Health Care Exceptionalism? Performance and Allocation in the US Health Care Sector." The article is co-authored by Amy Finkelstein, MIT; Adam Sacarny, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; and Chad Syverson, Chicago Booth.
View the research

Understanding employers' responses to for-profit colleges

Understanding employers' responses to for-profit colleges

August 25, 2016

Work in Progress | By Nicole Deterding (Ph.D. '15) and David Pedulla (Stanford University). Deterding is a National Poverty Fellow in the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Work in Progress is the American Sociological Association's blog for 'short-form sociology' on the economy, work, and inequality.

Poverty After Welfare Reform

Poverty After Welfare Reform

August 22, 2016

Manhattan Institute | By Scott Winship (Ph.D. '09), Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Why has regional income convergence declined?

Why has regional income convergence declined?

August 4, 2016

The Brookings Institution | By Peter Ganong, Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

For one hundred years, per capita incomes in poorer U.S. states have grown more rapidly than incomes in richer states, narrowing the gap between them.  Over the past three decades, though, the rate of convergence has slowed sharply. It has become more difficult for poorer states to catch up with richer states. In a paper presented at the Municipal Finance Conference, Ganong and Shoag attribute this slowdown in convergence to increasingly tight land use regulations in wealthy areas.

The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force

The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force

July 8, 2016

Center for Policing Equity | On July 7-8, 2016, police chiefs, elected officials, researchers, and oversight practitioners met at the Department of Justice in Washington DC for a conversation about race and policing in the United States. As part of this convening, researchers presented a report of preliminary findings comparing patterns of stops and the use of force across twelve departments participating in CPE’s National Justice Database project. 

Phillip Atiba Goff, president and co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity led the study. Co-authored by Tracey (Shollenberger) Lloyd (Ph.D. '15) of the the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, Amanda Geller of NYU, and Steven Raphael and Jack Glaser of UC Berkeley. Goff, a visiting scholar at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy from 2014-2016, is the Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

View the study
Read the full press release

Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks

Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks

July 7, 2016

The New York Times | Quotes Phillip Atiba Goff on the findings of "The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and the Use of Force," a new study significant for its assembly and empirical analysis of detailed use-of-force data in the nation's first national database on police behavior. Goff, a visiting scholar at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy from 2014-2016, is co-founder and president of the Center for Policing Equity, which released the report, and the Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Tracey (Shollenberger) Lloyd (Ph.D. '15), a research associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, is a co-author of the study.
View the study

How judges understand, try to address racial disparities in the criminal court process

How judges understand, try to address racial disparities in the criminal court process

May 23, 2016

Journalist's Resource | Write-up of key findings from recently-published article in Criminology by Matthew Clair (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology) and Alix Winter (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy), "How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System" (view it here).  Also cites related research by Maya Sen, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, "Is Justice Really Blind? Race and Reversal in U.S. Courts,” Journal of Legal Studies, 2015 (view it here).

ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders

ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders

May 18, 2016

Congressional Testimony | Testimony of Nora Gordon (Ph.D. '02), Associate Professor at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

See Gordon's written testimony, which explains "how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) changes the definition of supplement not supplant, how the Department of Education proposes to regulate it, and the potential for that regulation to cause serious adverse consequences" that could make poor students worse off.

Aiming Higher Together: Strategizing Better Educational Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

Aiming Higher Together: Strategizing Better Educational Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

May 10, 2016

Urban Institute | By Ronald F. Ferguson, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. Boys and young men of color remain overrepresented among those who do not excel academically and face home, school, peer-group, and societal disadvantages relative to their white peers. This report proposes strategies to achieve a person-environment fit that can change dynamics and lead to better educational outcomes for these students.

Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System

Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System

April 25, 2016

Council of Economic Advisers | The Council of Economic Advisers makes the economic case for criminal justice reform. The report draws on and cites academic research by Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Bruce Western, Amitabh Chandra, David Deming, Roland Fryer, David Hureau (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy), Devah Pager, and Robert J. Sampson.