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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Small Factories Emerge as a Weapon in the Fight Against Poverty

Small Factories Emerge as a Weapon in the Fight Against Poverty

October 28, 2016

The New York Times | Quotes Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics."In the 1950s, says Lawrence Katz, a prominent labor economist at Harvard, nearly one-third of the men who went to work after high school were employed in factories. Those jobs and that era are never coming back, Mr. Katz said, 'but a job as a physical therapist or a home health aide doesn’t fit the identity of someone who is a welder or a machinist...I call it an identity mismatch, and I think it’s a huge issue for men,' Mr. Katz said. 'Pure physical labor isn’t much valued today, but we need to try and rebuild the service sector for men without college degrees.'”... Read more about Small Factories Emerge as a Weapon in the Fight Against Poverty

The two reasons it really is harder to get a job than it used to be

The two reasons it really is harder to get a job than it used to be

October 28, 2016

Washington Post | Cites research on employer "upskilling" by Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01), Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics at Northeastern University and Associate Director of its Dukakis Center; Daniel Shoag (PhD. '11), Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Joshua Ballance of the Boston Fed. "Upskilling: Do Employers Demand Greater Skill When Workers Are Plentiful."
View the research

Book of the Week: The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions and Meritocracy at Elite Universities, by Natasha K. Warikoo

Book of the Week: The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions and Meritocracy at Elite Universities, by Natasha K. Warikoo

October 27, 2016

Times Higher Education | Review of The Diversity Bargain, by Natasha Warikoo (Ph.D. '05), Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Here, Warikoo explores how such inequalities [in higher education] persist, particularly in relation to students’ understandings of race, meritocracy and inequality in elite universities in the US and the UK. By using the concept of “race frames” (lenses through which we observe, interpret and respond to our world), Warikoo considers the role of family, schooling and history in shaping how we see the world." The Diversity Bargain was just released earlier this month by the University of Chicago Press.

We Put Financial Advisers to the Test—And They Failed

We Put Financial Advisers to the Test—And They Failed

October 27, 2016

Wall Street Journal | Antoinette Schoar of MIT Sloan writes about her research with Harvard's Sendhil Mullainathan (Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics) and Markus Noeth of Hamburg University. "We sent “mystery shoppers” to financial advisers in the greater Boston area who impersonated regular customers seeking advice on how to invest their retirement savings outside of their 401(k) plans...What we learned is highly troubling."

Educator-researcher partnerships show promise in HISD

Educator-researcher partnerships show promise in HISD

October 26, 2016

Houston Chronicle | Interview with Ruth López Turley (Ph.D. '01): As the director of Rice University's Houston Education Research Consortium, Ruth López Turley seeks to close socioeconomic gaps in achievement in the Houston Independent School District...The Laredo native and Harvard-educated professor works to strengthen the connection between education research and practice, and founded a network of research institutions and public school districts that have partnered in 13 cities nationwide. Continue reading

Impact and Nonimpact of Online Competition

Impact and Nonimpact of Online Competition

October 25, 2016

Inside Higher Ed | New NBER working paper by faculty member David J. Deming (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Michael Lovenheim (Cornell), and Richard W. Patterson (US Military Academy) finds that growth of fully online degree programs led to increased spending and falling enrollments at some place-based colleges, but had little impact on tuition rates.
View the research

The Racial Disparity of the Student-Loan Crisis

The Racial Disparity of the Student-Loan Crisis

October 24, 2016

The Atlantic | Coverage of newly-released study by Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. '09), Associate Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Jing Li, a research associate at Teachers College.

From US to Europe, the face of employment is changing

From US to Europe, the face of employment is changing

October 24, 2016

Christian Science Monitor | The number of temp, on-call, contract, and freelance workers is growing so rapidly, it may explain most of America's job growth in the last decade. Discusses findings from new NBER working paper by economists Lawrence Katz (Harvard) and Alan Krueger (Princeton), "The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the US, 1995-2015." 
View the research (updated: Sept 13, 2016).

Thomas Piketty debunks Australia's meritocracy 'fairy tale'

Thomas Piketty debunks Australia's meritocracy 'fairy tale'

October 23, 2016

The Australian Financial Review | Andrew Leigh (Ph.D. '04), Australian Labor MP and Shadow Assistant Treasurer, held a question and answer session with French economist Thomas Piketty, who spoke at the Syndey Opera House on the question "Is Increasing Inequality Inevitable?" See also Andrew Leigh's earlier essay:

An Australian take on Thomas Piketty's 'Capital in the Twenty-first Century'
May 29, 2014
The Monthly | By Andrew Leigh (Ph.D. '04). Leigh notes that his own interest in studying long-run inequality was piqued by meeting Sir Tony Atkinson in the Harvard Inequality & Social Policy Seminar more than a decade earlier. Atkinson and Leigh subsequently collaborated on a set of papers examining inequality trends in Australia and New Zealand.

Untangling the Immigration Debate

Untangling the Immigration Debate

October 23, 2016

The New Yorker | What do we owe people in other countries who would like to come to this one?, Kelefa Sanneh asks. Discusses George J. Borjas's perspective, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

Growing Racial Disparities in Student Debt

Growing Racial Disparities in Student Debt

October 21, 2016

Inside Higher Ed | Coverage of new study by Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. '09), Associate Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. “'What was shocking was the magnitude of the debt four years after graduation. It’s huge,' said Scott-Clayton. Debt shouldn’t be seen as a bad word, she said, but the study indicates that the system isn’t working the same way for everyone.

"The study suggests that black graduates from the class of 2008 may have enrolled in graduate school at substantially higher rates than other groups did because of weak job markets. And more than a quarter of those graduate students enrolled in for-profit institutions, compared to 9 percent for white college graduates. 'That just begs the question what is going on in that sector,' Scott-Clayton said."

The Devastation of Divorce for Older Women

The Devastation of Divorce for Older Women

October 21, 2016

CBS MoneyWatch | Discusses new research by Boston College economist Claudia Olivetti and Dana Rotz (Ph.D. '12) of Mathematica Policy Research, who found that those who divorced at later ages were more likely to be still working full-time between the ages of 50 to 74. “A 10-year increase in age at divorce is associated with a three percentage points increase in the propensity of a woman to work full-time when observed between ages 50 and 74,” they wrote in the paper, which was published at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Having gone through a divorce “has long-run consequences for older women’s marital, work, and retirement decisions, above and beyond the impact of past divorce on current marital status.”
View the research

More Than 3 Million Children Have Coverage Due to Drop in Uninsured Rate Since 2008

More Than 3 Million Children Have Coverage Due to Drop in Uninsured Rate Since 2008

October 20, 2016

The White House (blog) | Post by CEA Chair Jason Furman cites findings of Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15) and collaborators, who showed that having Medicaid or CHIP coverage in childhood substantially increases the likelihood of completing high school and college. Cohodes is now Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The Immigration Debate We Need

The Immigration Debate We Need

October 19, 2016

Wall Street Journal | Review of George J. Borjas's new book, We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative. Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

Racist Hiring Practices Hurt Employers Too

Racist Hiring Practices Hurt Employers Too

October 18, 2016

Pacific Standard | A look at new research by Devah Pager, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and Director of the Inequality & Social Policy program, which found that businesses that were observed to be racially discriminatory in hiring were twice as likely to go out of business over a six-year period. The study appeared in Sociological Science.
View the research

How unequal should America be? Take this inequality quiz

How unequal should America be? Take this inequality quiz

October 18, 2016

CNN Money | A quiz app designed by behavioral economist Dan Ariely (Duke), Michael Norton (Harvard Business School), and David Grusky (Stanford). The article notes Ariely and Norton's 2013 viral video showing how skewed Americans' perceptions are of the wealth distribution in the US.

Latest awards

Laura Tach named a 2015 William T. Grant Scholar

Laura Tach named a 2015 William T. Grant Scholar

April 8, 2015

Awardee | Laura Tach (Ph.D. '10). The William T. Grant Scholars program selects 4-6 promising early-career researchers each year in the social, behavioral, and health sciences and supports their professional development with five-year research awards.

New RSF grant: How Rigid is the Wealth Structure and Why?

New RSF grant: How Rigid is the Wealth Structure and Why?

March 12, 2015

Awardees | Alexandra Killewald and Fabian Pfeffer (University of Michigan) are the recipients of a Russell Sage Foundation grant, jointly funded with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to assess the strength and pattern of multigenerational wealth associations, and explore the role of intergenerational transfers, home ownership and marriage in wealth mobility across generations.

Latest commentary and analysis

A Guide to Solving Social Problems with Machine Learning

A Guide to Solving Social Problems with Machine Learning

December 8, 2016

Harvard Business Review | By Jon Kleinberg (Cornell), Jens Ludwig (University of Chicago), and Sendhil Mullainathan (Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics, Harvard University). "[As] with all new 'products', there is potential for misuse. How can we maximize the benefits while minimizing the harm?"

"In applying these tools the last few years, we have focused on exactly this question. We have learned that some of the most important challenges fall within the cracks between the discipline that builds algorithms (computer science) and the disciplines that typically work on solving policy problems (such as economics and statistics). As a result, few of these key challenges are even on anyone’s radar screen. The good news is that many of these challenges, once recognized, are fairly straightforward to solve."

A Simple Way to Measure Health Care Outcomes

A Simple Way to Measure Health Care Outcomes

December 8, 2016

Harvard Business Review | By John Schupbach (HBS), Amitabh Chandra (HKS), and Robert S. Huckman (HBS). Chandra is Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Who Read What in 2016

Who Read What in 2016

December 7, 2016

Wall Street Journal | What Matthew Desmond and 49 others named as their favorite book this year. Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences and the author of Evicted.

Robots aren't coming for your job. They're already here

Robots aren't coming for your job. They're already here

December 7, 2016

Bloomberg Game Plan Podcast | This week, Sam and Rebecca of Bloomberg talk about how robots are changing the workplace and what it means for the future of the job market. Will jobs even exist in the future? Well, yes -- they'll just be different. Prof. David Deming (Ph.D. '10), a researcher at Harvard, joins them to talk about what kinds of skills and labor the robots can't take. Hint: Be human.

Predictive Analytics: Better than human intuition?

Predictive Analytics: Better than human intuition?

December 7, 2016

GovEx | GovEx, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, speaks with Dr. Elizabeth Linos (Ph.D. '16), Vice President and Head of Research and Evaluation at Behavioral Insights Team North America, to explore the future of algorithms and their use in cities.

Congressional Forum: Future of the Electoral College

Congressional Forum: Future of the Electoral College

December 6, 2016

C-SPAN | Alexander Keyssar, the Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy, testified at a forum hosted by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), which explored possibilities for replacing the Electoral College in favor of the popular vote.

PEOTUS! HUD! DGA! MDC!

PEOTUS! HUD! DGA! MDC!

December 6, 2016

WNPR—The Wheelhouse | Prof. Leah Wright Rigueur of the Harvard Kennedy School guests.

Trump Transition Continues

Trump Transition Continues

November 30, 2016

WBUR Greater Boston | Prof. Leah Wright Rigueur of the Harvard Kennedy School guests.

Harvard EdCast: The Diversity Bargain

Harvard EdCast: The Diversity Bargain

November 30, 2016

Harvard EdCast | For her new book, The Diversity Bargain and Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities, Associate Professor Natasha Warikoo (Ph.D. '05), interviewed first-year students at Brown, Harvard, and Oxford. What she found was a disconnect between students' ideas of what a diverse campus would be and the reality. Often, says Warikoo, white students who were in favor of affirmative action during the admissions process were so because they saw a diverse campus as a benefit to their own growth and learning; they didn't consider what the experience would be for those of different backgrounds.

"The problem is that when that is the only way students make sense of affirmative action and diversity," says Warikoo, "it leads to some perverse outcomes," including reverse racial discrimination and anxiety about how others are affecting their success.

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Warikoo discusses the study that led to her new book, and reflects on the notions of race, merit, and privilege at elite universities.

Trump’s attempt to ‘drain the swamp’ will make matters worse in Washington

Trump’s attempt to ‘drain the swamp’ will make matters worse in Washington

November 27, 2016

Los Angeles Times | By Lee Drutman (Senior Fellow, New America) and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez (Ph.D. '16, Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs, Colubmia University). "If government doesn’t have resources of its own to develop policies, private groups with narrow interests — businesses above all — will happily do it themselves," the authors argue. "The evidence is increasingly clear: Disproportionate special interest and lobbyist influence comes from the simple fact that on many issues, these lobbyists are the only ones investing in crucial policy resources.

Two Immigrants Debate Immigration

Two Immigrants Debate Immigration

November 26, 2016

Reason | A spirited exchange between George J. Borjas and Shikha Dalmia on the empirical claims and proposed policy prescriptions in Borjas's new book, We Wanted Workers. Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Dalmia is a Reason Foundation analyst.

Behind "Make America Great," the Koch Agenda Returns with a Vengeance

Behind "Make America Great," the Koch Agenda Returns with a Vengeance

November 21, 2016

Talking Points Memo | By Theda Skocpol, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, and Caroline Tervo. "At first glance, the victory of Donald Trump suggests that big political money has less clout than imagined in U.S. democracy." Not so, say the authors, whose research has tracked the long-term rise and recent impact of the Koch network. Here they offer their perspective on how the Koch network helped to elect Trump and will now set the policy agenda. "Most media outlets have not noticed that the Koch network is now fusing with the emerging Trump presidency—a situation that leaves citizens in the dark about huge pending policy upheavals in federal programs most American families have long taken for granted." 

Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard. Hertel-Fernandez (Ph.D. '16) is now Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Caroline Tervo is a junior at Harvard College.

Lawmakers must ask tough questions about the 21st Century Cures Act

Lawmakers must ask tough questions about the 21st Century Cures Act

November 21, 2016

The Hill | By Gregg Gonsalves, Daniel Carpenter, and Joseph Ross: "To those of us who have watched and studied the FDA for years, this legislation is the culmination of years of quiet, subtle deregulation—death to the FDA by a thousand cuts – as this new law includes worrying provisions that deftly and severely weaken the evidentiary requirements for the approval of new drugs and medical devices."

Daniel Carpenter is the Allie S. Freed Professor of Government at Harvard. Gregg Gonsalves and Joseph Ross are both from Yale University.

Why Surging Stocks May Not Mean the Economy Trusts Trump

Why Surging Stocks May Not Mean the Economy Trusts Trump

November 18, 2016

The New York Times | By Sendhil Mullainathan, Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics."The early stock market reaction to Donald J. Trump’s election victory was overwhelmingly positive. But that doesn’t mean a Trump presidency will be good for the economy," writes Mullainathan.

Episode 12: Breaking Down a Changing America with Maria Hinojosa and Dan Hopkins

Episode 12: Breaking Down a Changing America with Maria Hinojosa and Dan Hopkins

November 16, 2016

Grapple  | Dan Hopkins (Ph.D. '07), Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about  what contributes to the rise of anti-immigration politics and how it played out in the 2016 presidential election. [Audio + Interview highlights (text)]

Grapple is a new audio podcast, produced by Kouvenda Media and Keystone Crossroads, that "gives voice to people living and working in distressed communities." Keystone Crossroads is a collaborative reporting project of partner public media stations: WHYY, WITF, WESA and WPSU.
View first season ▶ 

Choose your own election post-mortem: Part 2

Choose your own election post-mortem: Part 2

November 16, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15) and Carly Knight, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology. Williamson is now a fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings.

Latest academic articles — By doctoral fellows

Sosnaud, Benjamin, David Brady, and Steven M Frenk. 2013. “Class in Name Only: Subjective Class Identity, Objective Class Position, and Vote Choice in American Presidential Elections.” Social Problems 60. University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems: pp. 81-99. Publisher's Version Abstract
Partly because of the widespread tendency for Americans to think of themselves as “middle class,” subjective class identity often does not correspond to objective class position. This study evaluates the extent to which American voters' subjective class identities differ from their objective class positions. We then evaluate the implications of such differences for voting behavior using American National Election Studies data from eight recent presidential elections. Coding respondents according to whether subjective class identity is higher or lower than objective class position, we construct a novel schema of inflated, deflated, and concordant class perceptions. We find that there are substantial differences between Americans' subjective and objective social class: over two-thirds of the upper-middle class have a deflated perception of their class position, only half of the middle class have concordant perceptions, and more than a third of the working class have inflated perceptions. We also find that this divergence varies depending on sociodemographic factors, and especially race and education. The analyses initially show a pattern that those with inflated class perceptions are more likely to vote Republican. However, this relationship is not significant once we control for race and income.
Beckfield, Jason, Sigrun Olafsdottir, and Benjamin Sosnaud. 2013. “Healthcare Systems in Comparative Perspective: Classification, Convergence, Institutions, Inequalities, and Five Missed Turns.” Annual Review of Sociology 39: 127-146. Publisher's Version Abstract
This article reviews and evaluates recent comparative social science scholarship on healthcare systems. We focus on four of the strongest themes in current research: (a) the development of typologies of healthcare systems, (b) assessment of convergence among healthcare systems, (c) problematization of the shifting boundaries of healthcare systems, and (d) the relationship between healthcare systems and social inequalities. Our discussion seeks to highlight the central debates that animate current scholarship and identify unresolved questions and new opportunities for research. We also identify five currents in contemporary sociology that have not been incorporated as deeply as they might into research on healthcare systems. These five missed turns include emphases on social relations, culture, postnational theory, institutions, and causal mechanisms. We conclude by highlighting some key challenges for comparative research on healthcare systems.

Scholars have long noted how migration streams, once initiated, obtain a self-feeding character. Studies have attributed this phenomenon – the cumulative causation of migration – to expanding social networks that connect migrants in destination to individuals in origin. Studies however, often disagree on how social networks influence migration decisions. While many establish a positive association between individuals’ ties to prior migrants and their migration propensities, only few acknowledge that multiple social mechanisms might account for these interdependencies. To address this issue, we adopt a typology developed by DiMaggio and Garip (2012) and consider three mechanisms by which social ties may influence individuals’ migration choices. We study the prevalence of these mechanisms in the Mexico-US migration context using a mixed methods approach. First, analyzing data from more than 90,000 individuals surveyed by the Mexican Migration Project (MMP) we establish the presence of network effects in migration and test how prior migrants in the family or community increase individuals’ migration propensities, and whether prior migrants reduce the effect of economic or political indicators on migration propensities. Second, we analyze qualitative data from 120 in-depth interviews to determine the different mechanisms that lead to interdependencies in individuals’ migration choices. We thus provide a deeper understanding of migration as a social process, which we contend is crucial for anticipating future flows and policy responses.

Linos, Elizabeth. 2013. “Do Conditional Cash Transfers Shift Votes? Evidence from the Honduran PRAF.” Electoral Studies 32: 864-874. Abstract
How do national social programs influence local voting? This study utilizes the experimental set up of a conditional cash transfer program to show that small, targeted cash transfers can have large electoral effects. The Honduran PRAF program allocated an average of $18 per capita per year to poor households within municipalities that were randomly assigned to receive the program. Although the program was administered at the national level, the program increased an incumbent mayor’s re-election probabilities by 39%, without significantly influencing voting behavior in presidential elections. Moreover, the evidence suggests that transferring cash to poor households were more effective at increasing political support than interventions providing public goods for poor villages.
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander. 2013. “Dismantling Policy through Fiscal Constriction: Examining the Erosion in State Unemployment Insurance Finances.” Social Service Review 87. The University of Chicago Press: pp. 438-476. Publisher's Version Abstract
Abstract A common proposition in welfare state research is that programs financed through dedicated payroll taxes tend to be more durable. This article examines American unemployment insurance (UI) as an exception to this proposition. UI is a self-financed social insurance program whose benefits have been dismantled over time because of an inability to maintain a constant revenue base. The study first examines the long-run decline in UI finances and concludes that changes in UI taxes are associated with the largest declines in state finances. It then examines why more states have not pursued reforms to strengthen UI finances and finds that opponents of more generous UI benefits have generally succeeded in preventing such measures, thus constricting UI finances and gradually retrenching benefits. These findings have implications for those seeking to improve UI solvency, as well as for the study of welfare state retrenchment more generally.
Huang, Wei, and Yi Zhou. 2013. “Effects of Education on Cognition at Older Ages: Evidence from China’s Great Famine.” Social Science & Medicine 98: 54-62. Publisher's Version Abstract

This paper explores whether educational attainment has a cognitive reserve capacity in elder life. Using pilot data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), we examined the impact of education on cognitive abilities at old ages. OLS results showed that respondents who completed primary school obtained 18.2 percent higher scores on cognitive tests than those who did not. We then constructed an instrumental variable (IV) by leveraging China’s Great Famine of 1959e1961 as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of education on cognition. Two-stage least squares (2SLS) results provided sound evidence that completing primary school significantly increases cognition scores, especially in episode memory, by almost 20 percent on average. Moreover, Regression Discontinuity (RD) analysis provides further evidence for the causal interpretation, and shows that the effects are different for the different measures of cognition we explored. Our results also show that the Great Famine can result in long-term health consequences through the pathway of losing educational opportunities other than through the pathway of nutrition deprivation.

Huang, Wei, Xiaoyan Lei, John Strauss, Geert Ridder, and Yaohui Zhao. 2013. “Health, Height, Height Shrinkage, and SES at Older Ages: Evidence from China.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 5: 86-121. Publisher's Version Abstract

In this paper, we build on the literature that examines associations between height and health outcomes of the elderly. We investigate the associations of height shrinkage at older ages with socioeconomic status, finding that height shrinkage for both men and women is negatively associated with better schooling, current urban residence, and household per capita expenditures. We then investigate the relationships between pre-shrinkage height, height shrinkage, and a rich set of health outcomes of older respondents, finding that height shrinkage is positively associated with poor health outcomes across a variety of outcomes, being especially strong for cognition outcomes.

Feigenbaum, James J, and Cameron A Shelton. 2013. “The Vicious Cycle: Fundraising and Perceived Viability in US Presidential Primaries.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 8 (1): 1-40. Publisher's Version Abstract
Scholars of presidential primaries have long posited a dynamic positive feedback loop between fundraising and electoral success. Yet existing work on both directions of this feedback remains inconclusive and is often explicitly cross-sectional, ignoring the dynamic aspect of the hypothesis. Pairing high-frequency FEC data on contributions and expenditures with Iowa Electronic Markets data on perceived probability of victory, we examine the bidirectional feedback between contributions and viability. We find robust, significant positive feedback in both directions. This might suggest multiple equilibria: a candidate initially anointed as the front-runner able to sustain such status solely by the fundraising advantage conferred despite possessing no advantage in quality. However, simulations suggest the feedback loop cannot, by itself, sustain advantage. Given the observed durability of front-runners, it would thus seem there is either some other feedback at work and/or the process by which the initial front-runner is identified is informative of candidate quality.
Papachristos, Andrew V, David M Hureau, and Anthony A Braga. 2013. “The Corner and the Crew: The Influence of Geography and Social Networks on Gang Violence.” American Sociological Review 78 (3): 417-447. Abstract

Nearly a century of empirical research examines how neighborhood properties influence a host of phenomena such as crime, poverty, health, civic engagement, immigration, and economic inequality. Theoretically bundled within these neighborhood effects are institutions’ and actors’ social networks that are the foundation of other neighborhood-level processes such as social control, mobilization, and cultural assimilation. Yet, despite such long-standing theoretical links between neighborhoods and social networks, empirical research rarely considers or measures dimensions of geography and social network mechanisms simultaneously. The present study seeks to fill this gap by analyzing how both geography and social networks influence an important social problem in urban America: gang violence. Using detailed data on fatal and non-fatal shootings, we examine effects of geographic proximity, organizational memory, and additional group processes (e.g., reciprocity, transitivity, and status seeking) on gang violence in Chicago and Boston. Results show adjacency of gang turf and prior conflict between gangs are strong predictors of subsequent gang violence. Furthermore, important network processes, including reciprocity and status seeking, also contribute to observed patterns of gang violence. In fact, we find that these spatial and network processes mediate racial effects, suggesting the primacy of place and the group in generating gang violence.

Eldik, Yaseen, and Monica C Bell. 2012. “The Establishment Clause and Public Education in an Islamophobic Era.” Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 8: 245-258. Abstract
The public education system has often been considered a critically important site for inter-ethnic dialogue designed to root out the prejudice that leads to discrimination against ethnic minorities. However, the prohibition of certain religious practices in schools has placed the "celebration" of religious diversity in a more precarious position than the promotion of racial diversity in ways that have deleterious effects for Muslim Americans. This Essay argues that Supreme Court jurisprudence on religious establishment in public schools has contributed to public education’s inefficacy as a tool to dismantle fear and prejudice against Muslims. We explore judicial, political, and practical approaches to bringing constitutionally permissible religious education and interfaith dialogue into public schools.
Western, Bruce, Deirdre Bloome, Benjamin Sosnaud, and Laura Tach. 2012. “Economic Insecurity and Social Stratification.” Annual Review of Sociology 38: 341-359. Publisher's Version Abstract
Economic insecurity describes the risk of economic loss faced by workers and households as they encounter the unpredictable events of social life. Our review suggests a four-part framework for studying the distribution and trends in these economic risks. First, a focus on households rather than workers captures the microlevel risk pooling that can smooth income flows and stabilize economic well-being. Second, insecurity is related to income volatility and the risk of downward mobility into poverty. Third, adverse events such as unemployment, family dissolution, or poor health commonly trigger income losses. Fourth, the effects of adverse events are mitigated by insurance relationships provided by government programs, employer benefits, and the informal support of families. Empirical research in these areas reveals high levels of economic insecurity among low-income households and suggests an increase in economic insecurity with the growth in economic inequality in the United States.
Hirsch, Nicole Arlette, and Anthony Abraham Jack. 2012. “What We Face: Framing Problems in the Black Community.” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 9: 133-148. Abstract
While many sociological studies analyze the causes, conditions, and mechanisms perpetuating American racial inequality, the literature on how African Americans understand and explain these inequalities is less developed. Drawing on 150 interviews with middle-class and working-class African American men and women, this paper analyzes inductively how respondents define and conceptualize the most pressing obstacles facing their group when probed on this question. We find that middle- and working-class respondents alike identify the problem of racism as the most salient obstacle facing African Americans. Class differences appear with respect to what other obstacles are singled out as salient: while middle-class respondents focus on lack of racial solidarity among Blacks and economic problems (in this order), working-class respondents are more concerned with the fragility of the Black family followed by the lack of racial solidarity. This analysis discusses the relevance of considering how groups make sense of obstacles, and of racism and discrimination in particular, for the study of destigmatization and antiracist strategies of stigmatized minorities.
Papachristos, Andrew, Anthony Braga, and David Hureau. 2012. “Social Networks and the Risk of Gunshot Injury.” Journal of Urban Health 89 (6). Boston: 992-1003. Abstract

Direct and indirect exposure to gun violence have considerable consequences on individual health and well-being. However, no study has considered the effects of one’s social network on gunshot injury. This study investigates the relationship between an individual’s position in a high-risk social network and the probability of being a victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound by combining observational data from the police with records of fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries among 763 individuals in Boston’s Cape Verdean community. A logistic regression approach is used to analyze the probability of being the victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound and whether such injury is related to age, gender, race, prior criminal activity, exposure to street gangs and other gunshot victims, density of one’s peer network, and the social distance to other gunshot victims. The findings demonstrate that 85 % all of the gunshot injuries in the sample occur within a single social network. Probability of gunshot victimization is related to one’s network distance to other gunshot victims: each network association removed from another gunshot victim reduces the odds of gunshot victimization by 25 % (odds ratio = 0.75

Braga, Anthony A, David M Hureau, and Andrew V Papachristos. 2011. “An Ex Post Facto Evaluation Framework for Place-Based Police Interventions.” Evaluation Review 35 (6): 592-626. Abstract

Background: A small but growing body of research evidence suggests that place-based police interventions generate significant crime control gains. While place-based policing strategies have been adopted by a majority of U.S. police departments, very few agencies make a priori commitments to rigorous evaluations. Objective: Recent methodological developments were applied to conduct a rigorous ex post facto evaluation of the Boston Police Department’s Safe Street Team (SST) hot spots policing program. Research Design: A nonrandomized quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the violent crime control benefits of the SST program at treated street segments and intersections relative to untreated street segments and intersections. Propensity score matching techniques were used to identify comparison places in Boston. Growth curve regression models were used to analyze violent crime trends at treatment places relative to control places. Units of Analysis: Using computerized mapping and database software, a micro-level place database of violent index crimes at all street segments and intersections in Boston was created. Measures: Yearly counts of violent index crimes between 2000 and 2009 at the treatment and comparison street segments and intersections served as the key outcome measure. Results: The SST program was associated with a statistically significant reduction in violent index crimes at the treatment places relative to the comparison places without displacing crime into proximate areas. Conclusions: To overcome the challenges of evaluation in real-world settings, evaluators need to continuously develop innovative approaches that take advantage of new theoretical and methodological approaches.

Robbery, and the fear it inspires, has a profound effect on the quality of life in certain urban neighborhoods. Recent advances in criminological research suggest that there is significant clustering of crime in micro places, or "hot spots," that generate a disproportionate amount of criminal events in a city. In this article, the authors use growth curve regression models to uncover distinctive developmental trends in robbery incidents at street segments and intersections in Boston over a 29-year period. The authors find that robberies are highly concentrated at a small number of street segments and intersections rather than spread evenly across the urban landscape over the study time period. Roughly 1 percent and 8 percent of street segments and intersections in Boston are responsible for nearly 50 percent of all commercial robberies and 66 percent of all street robberies, respectively, between 1980 and 2008. Our findings suggest that citywide robbery trends may be best understood by examining micro-level trends at a relatively small number of places in urban environments.

Braga, Anthony A, Anne M Piehl, and David Hureau. 2009. “Controlling Violent Offenders Released to the Community: An Evaluation of the Boston Reentry Initiative.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 46 (4): 411-436. Abstract

Despite the high level of funding and policy interest in prisoner reentry, there is still little rigorous scientific evidence to guide jurisdictions in developing reentry programs to enhance public safety, particularly for managing those who pose the greatest safety risks. The Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI) is an interagency initiative to help transition violent adult offenders released from the local jail back to their Boston neighborhoods through mentoring, social service assistance, and vocational development.This study uses a quasi-experimental design and survival analyses to evaluate the effects of the BRI on the subsequent recidivism of program participants relative to an equivalent control group. The authors find that the BRI was associated with significant reductions—on the order of 30 percent—in the overall and violent arrest failure rates.

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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

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

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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.
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August 25, 2016

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

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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.

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

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

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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

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May 18, 2016

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

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