News

Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Math

Tell your kids: Math makes money

January 24, 2017

MarketWatch | Delves into new NBER paper by Joshua Goodman, Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, who found that "state changes in minimum high school math requirements substantially increase black students’ completed math coursework and their later earnings." Goodman estimated that the return to an additional math course for a student at the margin is 10 percent, "roughly half the return to a year of high school." The paper concluded that "Rigorous standards for quantitative coursework can close meaningful portions of racial gaps in economic outcomes."
View the research

Urban Affairs Review

What the Trump Administration Should Know about Cities: Inequality

January 24, 2017

Urban Affairs Forum | By George Galster, Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, Wayne State University. First in a series sponsored by Urban Affairs Review, Galster's essay summarizes the empirical evidence on segregation, geographic inequalities, and opportunity, including research by Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Edward Glaeser, David Hureau (Ph.D. '16), Nathaniel Hendren, Christopher Jencks, Lawrence Katz, Ann Owens (Ph.D. '12), Robert J. Sampson, and Patrick Sharkey (Ph.D. '07).

Mary Brinton

Putting Families First

January 24, 2017

National University of Singapore News | Coverage of recent public lecture, “Postindustrial Low Fertility in Europe and East Asia: Lessons for Singapore," featuring Mary C. Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology at Harvard, and Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State. 

EconoFact

Academic economists launch EconoFact.org

January 21, 2017

EconoFact | EconoFact launches as "a non-partisan publication designed to bring key facts and incisive analysis to the national debate on economic and social policies."

The posts are written by leading academic economists from across the country who belong to the EconoFact Network—a group that includes Inequality & Social Policy alumni David Deming (Ph.D. '10), now HKS and HGSE; Nora Gordon (Ph.D. '02), Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy; and Tara Watson (Ph.D. '03), former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, now Williams College.

EconoFact published by the Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Mary Brinton

Family-friendly norms key to boosting birth rate

January 20, 2017

The Straits Times | Coverage of Mary C. Brinton's Distinguished Public Lecture, "Postindustrial Low Fertility in Europe and East Asia: Lessons for Singapore," delivered at the National University of Singapore in January. Brinton is Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology at Harvard.

Is the American Dream Really Dead?

Is the American Dream Really Dead?

January 19, 2017

Freakonomics Radio | Guest Raj Chetty of Stanford University discusses his work with Harvard's Nathaniel Hendren from their Equality of Opportunity project. Also notes their finding, suggested by the work of Robert Putnam, that areas with high levels of social capital in their data also seem to exhibit high level of social mobility. [audio + transcript]

American dream

The Dark Side of American Optimism

January 19, 2017

The Atlantic | Americans are “too optimistic” about the odds of poor citizens getting richer “relative to actual mobility in the U.S.,” according to a new paper by Harvard economists Alberto Alesina, Stefanie Stantcheva, and Edoardo Teso (Ph.D. candidate in Political Economy and Government). In experiments, giving people more pessimistic information, they found, increased support for redistribution. Stefanie Stantcheva will be presenting this research, "Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution," in the Harvard Inequality Seminar, February 13, 2017.

Thad Williamson appointed Richmond's Senior Policy Adviser for Opportunity

Thad Williamson appointed Richmond's Senior Policy Adviser for Opportunity

January 19, 2017

RVA City News | Thad Williamson (Ph.D. '04) has been appointed Senior Policy Adviser for Opportunity for the City of Richmond by Mayor Levar M. Stoney. Williamson served as first director of the City's Office of Community Wealth Building while on leave from the University of Richmond in 2014-2016, where he is Associate Professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law. He will serve part-time in the new post while maintaining his professorship at the University of Richmond.

RSF

Announcing the 2017-2018 RSF Visiting Scholars: Deirdre Bloome

January 19, 2017

Russell Sage Foundation | The Russell Sage Foundation announced the appointment of 15 leading social scientists as Visiting Scholars for the 2017-2018 academic year. Among them: Deirdre Bloome (Ph.D. '14), Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan, who will investigate "the effects of rising inequality in the U.S. on intergenerational income persistence, or the extent to which children’s economic outcomes in adulthood resemble those of their parents."

Americans have been lying to themselves about the economy for way too long

Americans have been lying to themselves about the economy for way too long

January 18, 2017

Washington Post | Talks with Stefanie Stantcheva, Assistant Professor of Economics, about her new study (joint with Alberto Alesina and Edoardo Teso), "Intergenerational Mobility and Support for Redistribution." Stantcheva will be presenting this research in the Harvard Inequality Seminar, Feb 13, 2017.

“We find that this idea of the American Dream, going from rags to riches, is really salient in people’s minds,” Stantcheva said. “In the U.S., people are too optimistic about intergenerational mobility, particularly about the chances of making it from the very bottom to the very top.” Such perceptions — or misperceptions, as the case may be — are important because they may influence how we think about government programs such as the social safety net or public education.

View the research 

Do high-deductible plans make the health care system better?

Do high-deductible plans make the health care system better?

January 18, 2017

Marketplace | Cites Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy.

High-deductible plans push people to shop around for health treatments, often without the benefit of information on quality and price. That worries Amitabh Chandra, an economist and health care researcher at Harvard University. 

"Simply calling the patient a consumer doesn’t make buying health care anything like buying cars and computers," said Chandra.

In fact, Chandra’s research shows that even higher-income earners with more economic flexibility do not really shop for health care efficiently, even when they're given a state-of-the-art computer program to compare prices. People on these plans tend to forgo all sorts of care, regardless of their own need and health status.

...In health care research, a new consensus is forming, in part because of Chandra’s work: high-deductible plans with cheaper premiums work well for people who are generally healthy. But for those who are chronically ill or live on lower incomes, these plans can be a disaster. 

View the research ... Read more about Do high-deductible plans make the health care system better?

Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Insitute

Minneapolis Fed Launches Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute

January 18, 2017

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis | The Minneapolis Fed announced today the launch of the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute, a new multidisciplinary research initiative "to improve the economic well-being of all Americans, with a particular focus on structural barriers that limit full participation in economic opportunity and advancement in the United States." Harvard's Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics, and Robert Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, participate on its Board of Advisors.

The Institute also announced its Visiting Scholars Program, with fellowships for both early-career Ph.D. social scientists and senior visiting scholars. Application deadline: February 28, 2017.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad at Bates College, MLK Day 2017

Khalil Gibran Muhammad: 'No Reparation without Racial Education'

January 16, 2017

Bangor Daily News | "Americans who fail to acknowledge the role racism has played in shaping U.S. history and culture miss the true legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., scholar and author Khalil Gibran Muhammad said in Maine on Monday."

Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, was at Bates College on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to deliver his keynote address, "No Reparation without Racial Education: Martin Luther King on the Tyranny of Ignorance," as part of the Bates College program "Reparations: Addressing Racial Injustices."

health care

Do Markets Work in Health Care?

January 13, 2017

The New York Times | David Brooks column cites research by Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy (joint with Amy Finkelstein of MIT, Adam Sacarny of Columbia, and Chad Syverson of Chicago Booth), summarized in their recent piece in Harvard Business Review, "Perhaps Market Forces Do Work in Health Care After All."

Yet, as Chandra pointed out, in other work, he and colleagues also found that people struggle to be good 'consumers'  with high-deductible health plans, contrary to his expectation before conducting the research. That study (joint with Zarek Brot-Goldberg, Benjamin Handel, and Jonathan Holstad, all of UC Berkeley) was the subject of Margot Sanger-Katz column in The New York Times last year.

American flag

Where the American Dream is the Most Dead, People Believe in It More Strongly

January 13, 2017

Fast Company | Digs into new study by Harvard economists Alberto Alesina, Stefanie Stantcheva, and Edoardo Teso (Ph.D. candidate in Political Economy and Government), "Intergenerational Mobility and Support for Redistribution."

Across the U.S. as a whole, Americans overestimate the probability of making it from the bottom quintile to the top quintile by almost 50%. The actual probability is that 7.8 kids out of 100 will do it, but we believe the probability to be on average to be 11.4 kids. It "seems that information about mobility has not yet made its way into people’s minds, given that both left- and right-wing respondents still overestimate mobility in the U.S.," says Stefanie Stantcheva, one of the authors, in an email. She says the higher perception-actuality gaps in the South could be explained by higher rates of "income segregation"—that is, that richer and poorer people tend to live further apart.

View the research

Latest awards

Announcing the 2017 Sloan Research Fellows: Amanda Pallais

Announcing the 2017 Sloan Research Fellows: Amanda Pallais

February 21, 2017

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation | Harvard economics professor Amanda Pallais, the Paul Sack Associate Professor of Political Economy and Social Studies, has been awarded a 2017 Sloan Research Fellowship.

Sloan Research Fellows are early-career scholars who "represent the most promising scientific researchers working today....Since 1955, Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win 43 Nobel Prizes, 16 Fields Medals, 69 National Medals of Science, 16 John Bates Clark Medals, and numerous other distinguished awards."

Learn more about Amanda Pallais's work:
scholar.harvard.edu/pallais

Erasmus Prize 2017 awarded to Michèle Lamont

Erasmus Prize 2017 awarded to Michèle Lamont

February 20, 2017

Awardee | Michèle Lamont is the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Erasmus Prize, awarded annually by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation to the person or institution who has made "an exceptional contribution to the humanities or the arts, in Europe and beyond." Lamont receives the prize "for her devoted contribution to social science research into the relationship between knowledge, power and diversity." 

Lamont is a Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies, and Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard.

The Erasmus Prize will be presented in Amsterdam in November 2017, and a varied program of activities arranged in conjunction with the event. Learn more:
Former Laureates
Prize and Adornments

Michele Lamont

Michèle Lamont wins Erasmus Prize

February 20, 2017

Harvard Gazette | Harvard Professor Michèle Lamont has been named winner of the 2017 Erasmus Prize, which recognizes individual or group contributions to European culture, society, or social science.

Daniel Prinz

Daniel Prinz: Mark A. Satterthwaite Award for Outstanding Research in Healthcare Markets

January 21, 2017

Kellogg School of Management| Stone PhD Scholar Daniel Prinz (PhD candidate in Health Policy), Michael Geruso (Assistant Professor of Economics, UT Austin), and Timothy J. Layton (Assistant Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School) have been awarded the 2017 Mark A. Satterthwaite Award for Outstanding Research in Health Care Markets for their paper, "Screening in Contract Design: Evidence from the ACA Health Insurance Exchanges,” subsequently published in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2019 11(2): 64–107.

View the research ►

Carrie Conaway

President Obama announces appointment of Carrie Conaway to National Board of Education Sciences

January 13, 2017

President Barack Obama announced the appointment of alumna Carrie Conaway to the 15-member National Board for Education Sciences. "This is fabulous news," wrote Susan Dynarski, Professor of Public Policy, Education, and Economics at the University of Michigan, commenting on the appointment on Twitter. "Conaway has helped put Massachusetts on its path of research-driven, educational excellence."

Conaway is Associate Commissioner of Planning and Research for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Who are the 2017 RHSU Edu-Scholar Rising Stars?

Who are the 2017 RHSU Edu-Scholar Rising Stars?

January 11, 2017

Education Week | Education Week released its annual RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence  Rankings, which "recognize those university-based scholars in the U.S. who are doing the most to influence educational policy and practice."

Of the top 10 junior scholars on its "rising star" list, all are Harvard faculty members, doctoral alumni, or both—including Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Martin West (Ph.D. and faculty), Jal Mehta (Ph.D. and faculty), Joshua Goodman (faculty), and Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15, now Columbia University Teachers College). HGSE professor Roberto G. Gonzales, author of   Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America (University of California Press, 2015), led the list, which also included HGSE professor Stephanie M. Jones.

Among the Inequality & Social Policy affiliates on the full list of 200 are senior scholars Paul Peterson (Harvard Government), Richard Murnane (HGSE), Roland Fryer (Harvard Economics), Nora Gordon (Ph.D. alum, now Georgetown Public Policy), Jonah Rockoff (Ph.D. alum, now Columbia Business School), Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. alum, now Columbia TC), Ronald Ferguson (HKS), and David Deming (Ph.D. alum and faculty).
View 2017 full list

Michèle Lamont awarded University of Amsterdam honorary doctorate for role in bridging European and American sociology

Michèle Lamont awarded University of Amsterdam honorary doctorate for role in bridging European and American sociology

January 9, 2017

Awardee | MIchèle Lamont received an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in recognition of her  "important theoretical and empirical contribution to the social sciences, particularly cultural sociology, and her important role in linking American and European social sciences." Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard.

IZA Prize in Labor Economics awarded to Claudia Goldin at ASSA Meeting in Chicago

IZA Prize in Labor Economics awarded to Claudia Goldin at ASSA Meeting in Chicago

January 6, 2017

IZA Institute of Labor Economics | The 15th IZA Prize in Labor Economics was formally conferred to Harvard's Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics,during the traditional IZA Reception at the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations in Chicago. Goldin was recognized for "her career-long work on the economic history of women in education and the labor market."

Michèle Lamont delivers Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture

Michèle Lamont delivers Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture

January 6, 2017

Institute for Social Research (Oslo) | Michèle Lamont, Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard, delivered the 2016 Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture in Oslo. Her lecture addressed the themes of her new book, Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016.)

The best books of 2016, according to two best-selling authors

The best books of 2016, according to two best-selling authors

December 27, 2016

PBS NewsHour |Jeffrey Brown sat down recently with best-selling authors Jacqueline Woodson, a 2016 National Book Award finalist for fiction, and Daniel Pink, at Politics and Prose, a popular bookstore in Washington, D.C. First up: Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

The Best Books of 2016

The Best Books of 2016

December 21, 2016

Chicago Tribune | Ten selections, including Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

The Carnegie Interviews: Matthew Desmond

The Carnegie Interviews: Matthew Desmond

December 21, 2016

The Booklist Reader | One in a series of interviews with each of the finalists for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

The Year in Reading

The Year in Reading

December 19, 2016

The New York Times Book Review
Poets, musicians, diplomats, filmmakers, novelists, actors, and artists share the books that accompanied them through 2016. "There was a lot of great nonfiction in 2016," writes novelist Ann Patchett, "but there are four books that I recommend with a sense of urgency"—among them, Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

Former U.S. Representative Barney Frank notes two pieces of conventional wisdom—one domestic; the other international—that have structured our national debates for deades. Subjecting the received wisdom to close examintion: The Globalization Paradox, by Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of Political Economy at the Harvard Kennedy School, 

The Books We Loved in 2016

The Books We Loved in 2016

December 13, 2016

The New Yorker | Among them, Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

'Evicted' Selected to 2017 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

'Evicted' Selected to 2017 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

December 9, 2016

PEN America | Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, is one of 10 books on the 2017 PEN America longlist in nonfiction for the John Kenneth Galbraith award. Finalists for this biennial award will be announced on January 18, 2017. The winner will be announced on February 22, 2017 and honored at the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on March 27, 2017. Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Science at Harvard.

Latest commentary and analysis

The 2017 Hutchins Forum: Race and Racism in the Age of Trump

August 17, 2017

PBS Newshour | Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard, and PBS NewsHour’s special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault hosted and moderated the 2017 Hutchins Forum on “Race and Racism in the Age of Trump.” They were joined by Inequality & Social Policy faculty members Leah Wright Riguer and Lawrence D. Bobo, as well as New York Times columnist Charles Blow, Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law, NPR Politics reporter Asma Khalid, White House corrrspondent April Ryan, and conservative radio host Armstrong Williams. ...

Read more about The 2017 Hutchins Forum: Race and Racism in the Age of Trump
Gainful Employment regulations will protect students and taxpayers. Don’t change them.

Gainful Employment regulations will protect students and taxpayers. Don’t change them.

August 4, 2017
Brookings Institution | By Stephanie Riegg Cellini, Adam Looney (PhD '04), David Deming (PhD '10), and Jordan Matsudaira. Adam Looney is now a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. David Deming is a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Graduate School of Education. For more details on their argument, read the full comment the authors submitted to the Department of Education (pdf download).
The New Yorker

The Life of a South Central Statistic

July 24, 2017
The New Yorker | By Danielle Allen. My cousin became a convicted felon in his teens. I tried to make sure he got a second chance. What went wrong?  Danielle Allen is a political theorist and the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. She is the author of Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., from which this essay is drawn.
The Prospects and Limits of Deliberative Democracy

The Prospects and Limits of Deliberative Democracy

June 28, 2017
American Academy of Arts & Sciences | “Democracy is under siege.” So begins the Summer 2017 issue of Dædalus on “The Prospects and Limits of Deliberative Democracy.” In their introduction to the issue, editors James S. Fishkin of Stanford University and Jane Mansbridge, the Charles F. Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values at Harvard Kennedy School, consider the crisis of confidence in the ideal of democracy as rule by the people. If the “will of the people” can be manufactured by marketing strategies, fake news, and confirmation bias, then how real is our democracy? If the expanse between decision-making elites and a mobilized public grows, then how functional is our democracy? If political alienation and apathy increase, then how representative is our democracy? [ead more]
View issue contents
View introduction and selected articles (open access)
War on Work

Ending the 'War on Work'

June 28, 2017
City Journal Podcast | Harvard economics professor Edward L. Glaeser joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson discuss the great American domestic crisis of the twenty-first century: persistent joblessness, particularly among prime-age men. [Audio and transcript]
The War on Work and How to End It

The War on Work and How to End It

June 25, 2017
City Journal | By Edward L. Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics. An agenda to address joblessness, the great American domestic crisis of the twenty-first century.
Luck, Chance, and Taxes

Luck, Chance, and Taxes

June 23, 2017
The American Interest | By Christopher Jencks, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, Emeritus. Luck has more to do with economic success than Americans like to believe. Robert Frank’s new book challenges us to reckon honestly with fortune, and what it means for social policy,  Jencks writes.
NBC News

Analysis: DACA Boosts Young Immigrants' Well-Being, Mental Health

June 15, 2017
NBC News | By Roberto G. Gonzales (Assistant Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education) and Kristina Brant (PhD student in Sociology). Roberto Gonazles is Principal Investigator of the National UnDACAmented Research Project. Kristina Brant is the Project Coordinator.
Michèle Lamont

Trois questions à Michèle Lamont

June 15, 2017
Université de Bordeaux | Interview with Michèle Lamont, awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Université de Bordeaux in recognition of her work in the social sciences. Michèle Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard.
Jal Mehta, Radcliffe Institute

Learning Deeply at Scale: The Challenge of Our Times (video)

June 13, 2017
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study | As part of the 2016–2017 Fellows’ Presentation Series at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Jal Mehta RI ’17 looks beneath the surface of pedagogical methods in American high schools. What does instruction in high schools look like? Where is it better? What can we do about it?

Jal Mehta (PhD '06) is the 2016–2017 Evelyn Green Davis Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute and Associate Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The CFPB Is Making Government More Accountable. The GOP Wants to Stop It

The CFPB Is Making Government More Accountable. The GOP Wants to Stop It

June 9, 2017
Washington Monthly | By Barbara Kiviat, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy. The Financial CHOICE Act would remove the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s popular consumer complaints database from public view. At a time when many Americans feel government is unaccountable and out of touch with the day-to-day lives of everyday people, Kiviat argues, "Keeping complaints visible to the full American public, and not just to government bureaucrats, represents one of the more innovative mechanisms of accountability to emerge from federal government in recent years."
Christine Desan - HLS Thinks Big

The Dollar as a Democratic Medium: Making Money a Currency of Social Justice

June 8, 2017
Harvard Law Today | HLS Thinks Big: Harvard Law School's annual event featuring Christine Desan, who asks whether we can re-design money to deliver fairness in a world in which inequality is escalating. Christine Desan is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law and co-founder of Harvard's Program on the Study of Capitalism. (Text + video)

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

The Great Gatsby Curve: All heat, no light

The Great Gatsby Curve: All heat, no light

May 20, 2015

Brookings Institution—Social Mobility Memos | By Scott Winship.  Second of a series of memos on both sides of the "The Great Gatsby Curve" debate, including pieces by Alan Krueger (Princeton University) and Heather Boushey (Washington Center for Equitable Growth).

Six Examples of the Long-Term Benefits of Anti-Poverty Programs

Six Examples of the Long-Term Benefits of Anti-Poverty Programs

May 11, 2015

Council of Economic Advisers | CEA Chairman Jason Furman web brief provides a more detailed detailed discussion of the research mentioned in his New York Times op-ed, "Smart Social Programs". This brief highlights research by  Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy), David Deming (faculty member and Ph.D. '10), Lawrence KatzJeffrey Liebman, Jonah Rockoff (Ph.D. '04), and Christopher Wimer (Ph.D. '07).