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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

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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 policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

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