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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Theda Skocpol Joins Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board

Theda Skocpol Joins Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board

May 17, 2019

Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University, has joined the Advisory Board for the Obama Presidency Oral History.Produced under the auspices of the Columbia University Center for Oral History Research, this archive will include more than 1,000 hours of interviews with Obama administration officials, politicians, journalists, and other key figures outside of the White House.  

... Read more via Russell Sage Foundation ▶
... View Obama Presidency Oral History Project site ▶

Robert J. Sampson

Harvard study shows the predictive power of punishing and toxic environments on children's outcomes

May 17, 2019

Harvard Gazette
Coverage of new study by Robert Manduca, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, and Robert J. Sampson, the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, now out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They find that neighborhood measures of lead exposure, violence, and incarceration have strong independent predictive power, on top of standard variables, for children's life outcomes.

Robert Manduca

Study finds gap between rich and poor growing regionally, too

May 2, 2019

Harvard Gazette | A new paper by Robert Manduca, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, now out in Social Forces.

“In 1980, only about 12 percent of the population lived in places that were especially rich or especially poor,” Manduca said. “By 2013, it was over 30 percent. So what we’re seeing is a polarization, where people are increasingly living in places that are either much richer or much poorer than the country overall.”

While part of that shift is due to sorting — the notion that high-earning people and high-paying jobs have become more geographically concentrated — Manduca shows that the rise in national income inequality can account for more than half of the economic divergence across regions that we observe.

... View the research ▶

David J. Deming

Deming named director of Wiener Center for Social Policy

April 26, 2019

Harvard Gazette | Harvard Kennedy School has named David Deming as the faculty director of the School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. Deming serves as a professor of public policy at the Kennedy School and a professor of education and economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

The Tobin Project 2019 conference

Tobin Convenes Scholars for Conference on Inequality and Decision Making

April 26, 2019

The Tobin Project | On April 26th and 27th, the Tobin Project hosted a Conference on Inequality and Decision Making, convening forty-seven scholars of psychology, sociology, economics, and other fields to investigate the impacts of high and/or rising economic inequality on individuals’ behavior.

Harvard faculty members Ryan D. Enos (Government), Christopher Jencks (Harvard Kennedy School), Mario Luis Small (Sociology), and Michael Norton (Harvard Business School) opened the conference with a panel on how people become aware of high and rising economic inequality. Other panels featured Zoe B. Cullen (Harvard Business School) and Beth Truesdale, PhD'17, now a Sloan Postdoctoral Fellow with the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard. Jason Furman (Harvard Kennedy School and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, 2013-2017) gave the keynote address. 

PhD Scholars Kiera Hudson, Shom Mazumder, Preeya Mbekeani, and Nozomi Nakajima were selected to join the conference as well. 

David A. Moss (Harvard Business School and Founder of The Tobin Project) and Michael Norton served on the conference advisory board that developed and planned the event.

The Chronicle Review

Being a Black Academic in America

April 18, 2019

Chronicle of Higher Education | In the wake of the Operation Varsity Blue bribery scandal, The Chronicle Review asked graduate students, junior professors, and senior scholars what it’s like to be an African-American academic today. Includes responses by Michael Javen Fortner PhD 2010, Matthew Clair PhD 2018, and Nadirah Farah Foley, a fourth-year Ph.D. student at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is helping fight West Virginia’s opioid epidemic

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is helping fight West Virginia’s opioid epidemic

April 3, 2019

Vox | A new study by Brendan Saloner PhD 2012 (with Rachel Landis, Bradley Stein, and Colleen Barry) suggests that expanding Medicaid helped get more West Virginians into addiction treatment. Saloner is now Associate Professor Professor of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

How the 1 Percent Is Pulling America’s Cities and Regions Apart

How the 1 Percent Is Pulling America’s Cities and Regions Apart

April 3, 2019
CityLab | By Richard Florida.

The two gravest challenges facing America today, economic inequality and geographic divides, are increasingly intertwined. Economic inequality has surged with nearly all the growth being captured by the 1 percent, and the economic fortunes of coastal superstar cities and the rest of the nation have dramatically diverged.

These two trends are fundamental to a new study by Robert Manduca, a PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University. The study uses census microdata culled from 1980 to 2013, and finds that America’s growing regional divide is largely a product of national economic inequality, in particular the outsized economic gains that have been captured by the 1 percent.

... Read more ▶

Crystal S. Yang

Making the Case for Criminal Justice Reform: Crystal Yang

January 29, 2019

Harvard Law Bulletin | Profile of Crystal Yang PhD 2013, a professor at Harvard Law School who brings an empirical focus to the study of criminal law. She has now turned her attention to the extensive use of cash bail and pretrial detention in the U.S., in order to understand their short- and long-term consequences.

How Pollution Can Hurt the Health of the Economy

How Pollution Can Hurt the Health of the Economy

November 27, 2018

The New York Times | Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of pollution. Daniel Prinz, a Harvard PhD candidate in Health Policy and Stone PhD Scholar, is the author of a recent paper on the subject. “The evidence is overwhelming that pollutants encountered in utero can cause long-term harm,” Mr. Prinz said.

View the research ►
Harvard Gazette

The Ongoing Tragedy of Lead in Our Lives

November 20, 2018

Harvard Gazette | Lead Summit at Harvard: Revolutionary Discoveries in Lead Pollution and Health Impacts. Speakers included Jessica Wolpaw Reyes PhD'02, Professor of Economics at Amherst College and chair of the Massachusetts Governor's Advisory Commitee for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

Robert Manduca

Racial and economic disparities intertwined, study shows

October 25, 2018
Harvard Gazette | By many measures, the U.S. has made important strides when it comes to Civil Rights: The racial gaps in educational achievement, life expectancy, and wages, though still considerable, have all narrowed measurably in the past 50 years. Yet in one marker of fundamental importance — family income — disparities between black and white have remained virtually unchanged since 1968.


In a study published in Sociological Science, Robert Manduca, PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Policy, argues that a major reason that economic disparities between the races remain so large is rising income inequality nationwide.

... Read more about Racial and economic disparities intertwined, study shows

Latest awards

Soledad Artiz Prillaman

Soledad Artiz Prillaman: APSA Juan Linz Prize for Best Dissertation in the Comparative Study of Democracy

August 31, 2018
Awardee | Soledad Artiz Prillaman PhD 2017 is the recipient of the 2019 Juan Linz Prize for best dissertation from the American Political Science Association's Section on Democracy and Autocracy. The award recognizes the best dissertation on democratization and/or the development and dynamics of democracy and authoritarianism completed within the two previous calendar years. Prillaman earned her PhD in Political Science from Harvard and is a Prize Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford's Nuffield College. In July 2019 Prillaman joins the faculty of Stanford University as Assistant Professor of Political Science.
Beth Truesdale: ASA Best Graduate Student Paper Award in Aging and the Life Course

Beth Truesdale: ASA Best Graduate Student Paper Award in Aging and the Life Course

August 15, 2018

Awardee | Beth Truesdale PhD 2017 is the recipient of the Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Aging and the Life Course, for “Coming of Age in an Unequal State: The Life Course Effects of Economic Inequality on Health." Truesdale received her PhD in Sociology from Harvard in 2017 and is now a Sloan Postdoctoral Research Fellow on Aging and Work, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.

Barbara Kiviat receives ASA Ronald Burt Outstanding Student Paper Award in Economic Sociology

Barbara Kiviat receives ASA Ronald Burt Outstanding Student Paper Award in Economic Sociology

August 10, 2018

Awardee | Barbara Kiviat, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, is the 2018 recipient of the Ronald Burt Outstanding Student Paper Award by the American Sociological Association's section on Economic Sociology, for her paper, "The Art of Deciding with Data: Evidence from how Employers Translate Credit Reports into Hiring Decisions," published in Socio-Economic Review.

Washington Center for Equitable Growth announces 2018 grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

Washington Center for Equitable Growth announces 2018 grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

July 25, 2018

Awardee | Ellora Derenoncourt, PhD candidate in Economics, is one of 12 doctoral student grantees announced today by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.  Ellora and colleague Claire Montialoux of CREST and UC Berkeley will invetigate how effective basic and universal labor standards are at reducing group inequality in order to increase our understanding of how a higher wage floor and universal federal labor standards can impact the racial and gender wage gaps. 

View the announcement
Ellora Derenoncourt website
Karen Dynan

Karen Dynan joins Equitable Growth Steering Committee

June 27, 2018

Washington Center for Equitable Growth | Karen Dynan, a former assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy and amcurrent professor of the practice of economics at Harvard, has joined the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's Steering Committee, the organization announce today.

“As policymakers continue to confront the challenges of stagnant wages and rising economic inequality, Equitable Growth’s support of new research and evidence-based policy solutions is essential,” Dynan said. “Economic policymaking will ultimately be more effective when we take into account the question of how and to what degree inequality may be altering our understanding of the economic landscape facing households and the broader economy. Equitable Growth’s growing network and body of supported research is critical for policymakers looking to better understand how to attain growth that benefits all, not only the few.”

... Read more about Karen Dynan joins Equitable Growth Steering Committee

Barbara Kiviat receives ASA Best Student Paper Award

Barbara Kiviat receives ASA Best Student Paper Award

June 19, 2018

Awardee | Barbara Kiviat, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, is a recipient of the Best Student Paper Award by the American Sociological Association's Consumers and Consumption Section for her paper, "The Art of Deciding with Data: Evidence from How Employers Translate Credit Reports into Hiring Decisions," published in Socio-Economic Review.

... View the research ▶

Hope Harvey

Hope Harvey awarded SSSP Poverty, Class, and Inequality paper prize

June 15, 2018

Awardee | Hope Harvey, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, has been awarded the 2018 Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) Poverty, Class , and Inequality dvision graduate student paper prize for her paper, "Exchange and Relational Work within Doubled-up Households."

Hope Harvey will receive her PhD in November 2018, and will be a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, 2018-2020.

Aaron Benavidez

Aaron Benavidez: Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Undergraduates

May 2, 2018

Awardee | Aaaron Benavidez, PhD candidate in Sociology, is one of five recipeients of the 2018 Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. Benavidez was referred to by his nominator as “one of the very best teaching fellows that we have ever had the pleasure of employing in sociology.” Students and faculty praised Aaron for his pedagogical innovation, leadership, and his attention and care for each of his students...Read more ►

Jane Mansbridge

Jane Mansbridge awarded the 2018 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science

April 15, 2018

Jane Mansbridge, the Charles F. Adams Professor in Political Leadership and Democratic Values at Harvard University, is awarded the 2018 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science. Professor Mansbridge wins the prize for “having shaped our understanding of democracy in its direct and representative forms, with incisiveness, deep commitment and feminist theory.”

The Johan Skytte Prize, often referred to as political-science equivalent of the Nobel Prizes, is awarded annually since 1995 to a scholar who in the view of the Prize Committee has made the most valuable contribution to political science

Christopher Bail

Christopher Bail awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

April 5, 2018

John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Christopher A. Bail PhD 2011, Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University, is one of 173 scholars, artists, and scientists named today as 2018 Guggenheim Fellows. "Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise," this year's class was selected from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Guggenheim Foundation's 94th annual competition.

During his year as a Guggenheim Fellow, Bail will work on a book about political polarization based on a large field experiment designed to disrupt social media echo chambers on Twitter that combines survey data, text analysis, and in-depth interviews with hundreds of Republicans and Democrats in the United States.

Robert Sampson

Robert J. Sampson awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

April 5, 2018

John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Robert J. Sampson, the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard, is one of 173 scholars, artists, and scientists named today as 2018 Guggenheim Fellows. "Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise," this year's class was selected from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Guggenheim Foundation's 94th annual competition.

As a Guggenheim Fellow, Sampson will work on a book project that examines how children navigated the transition to adulthood during the transformation of crime, punishment, and inequality in America during the latter part of the 20th century until the present. Becoming Marked draws on an original long-term original study that originated in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, for which Sampson served as Scientific Director.

Peter A. Hall awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Peter A. Hall awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

April 5, 2018

John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Peter A. Hall, Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies at Harvard, is one of 173 scholars, artists, and scientists named today as 2018 Guggenheim Fellows. "Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise," this year's class was selected from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Guggenheim Foundation's 94th annual competition.

Professor Hall's Guggenheim project will focus on the renegotiation of the social contract in the developed democracies over the years since 1945 and on the role of electoral politics and producer group politics in that process.

Maya Sen

Maya Sen recognized with 2018 Early Career Award

March 20, 2018
Awardee | Political scientist Maya Sen, an associate professor at Harvard Kennedy School, has been awarded the Midwest Women's Caucus for Political Science's 2018 Early Career Award for research contributions and impact on the discipline.
Blythe George

Blythe George awarded NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant

March 14, 2018

National Science Foundation | Blythe George, PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Policy, has been awarded a National Science Foundation doctoral dissertation research grant for her doctoral dissertation work on "Employment of Native Americans with Criminal Records."

Stefanie Stantcheva

Stefanie Stantcheva awarded tenure in Economics

March 5, 2018
Harvard Economics | Stefanie Stantcheva has been promoted to Professor of Economics. Stantcheva's research focuses on the optimal design of the tax system, taking into account important labor market features, social preferences, and long-term effects such as human capital acquisition and innovation by people and firms. She also examines the empirical effects of taxation on inequality, top incomes, migration, human capital, and innovation. Stantcheva earned her PhD in Economics from MIT in 2014 and was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2014-2016.
Todd Rogers

Todd Rogers awarded tenure at Harvard Kennedy School

February 27, 2018
Harvard Kennedy School | Harvard's Behavioral Science Insights Group celebrated behavioral scientist Todd Rogers, who has been promoted to Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Marie Lawrence (MPP'18) sat down with Prof. Rogers about his work to date, some of his ongoing projects, and upcoming plans in the years ahead.
Amanda Pallais awarded tenure in Economics

Amanda Pallais awarded tenure in Economics

February 23, 2018
Harvard Economics | Amanda Pallais, formerly Paul Sack Associate Professor of Political Economy  and Social Studies, has been promoted to Professor of Economics. Palliais studies the labor market performance and educational investment decisions of  disadvantaged and socially excluded groups. Pallais's research has shown how manager bias can depress the job performance of minorities, how the cost of developing a reputation can make it difficult for young workers to enter the labor market, how marriage market concerns can lead women to invest less in labor market success, and how financial aid can increase the educational attainment of low-income students.

Latest commentary and analysis

Project Syndicate

Robert Barro's Tax-Reform Advocacy: A Response

December 15, 2017
Project Syndicate | By Jason Furman and Lawrence H. Summers. Jason Furman is Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Lawrence Summers is Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University.
Adam Looney

How the new tax bill encourages tax avoidance

December 14, 2017
Brookings Institution | By Adam Looney (PhD '04), Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, Brookings Institution. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis in the U.S. Treasury from 2013 to 2017.
LSE Brexit

Brexit appealed to white working-class men who feel society no longer values them

December 14, 2017
LSE Brexit | By Noam Gidron and Peter A. Hall. Why is there such strong support for right-populist causes and candidates among the white working class? The authors' summarize their recent article published in the British Journal of Sociology.
View the research

Noam Gidron (PhD '16) is a fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. Beginning in 2018, he will join the faculty of the Department of Political Science and the Joint Program in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Peter A Hall is Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies in the Department of Government, Harvard University, and at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies.
Daniel Schlozman

The Plutocratic Id

December 4, 2017
n + 1 | By Daniel Schlozman (PhD '11), Assistant Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University. 

"The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a horrifying but aso politically curious document," Schlozman observes. He examines "why a bill so manifestly written to please such a narrow stratum of plutocrats, with so few evident political benefits to a party hoping to retain power, now heads into the home stretch...That this is 'what Republicans do' hardly seems sufficient to make sense of how we got there."
Jack Cao

Ideas42: A Talk with Jack Cao

November 20, 2017

Ideas42 | With the ideas42 Seminar Series, we invite leading scholars to share their insights and what inspires their exploration into human behavior. Our New York office was pleased to host Jack Cao, a 5th year PhD candidate in social psychology at Harvard University. Jack’s research examines the divide between the conscious values we try to uphold and the implicit biases that reside within the mind...After giving a talk to the ideas42 team, Jack was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on behavioral science.

Cuz

‘One of so many millions gone’: how my cousin’s life was taken from him

November 17, 2017
The Guardian | By Danielle Allen. At the age of just 15, Michael was sent to prison for 11 years. On his release, I tried to help him start again. Why did his story end in tragedy? Allen is a political theorist and the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. This is an edited extract from Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.
Michèle Lamont

The Big Picture: Social Solidarity

November 13, 2017
Public Books | By Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and Professor of Sociology and of African American Studies. This is the 26th installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Pretrial detention

Proposals for improving the U.S. Pretrial System

March 15, 2019

The Hamilton Project | By Will Dobbie (PhD 2013) and Crystal S. Yang (PhD 2013). Will Dobbie is now Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Crystal S. Yang is Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Economics for Inclusive Prosperity

Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP) Launches

February 15, 2019

Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School, announced the launch of a new initiative - Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP) - a network of academic economists dedicated to producing creative policy ideas for an inclusive society and economy. Co-directing the initiative are Dani Rodrik, Suresh Naidu of Columbia University, and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley. Download the (free) EfIP eBook: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity: An Introduction and policy briefs.

View the EfIP eBook (pdf) ▶ 
View all policy briefs ▶

BPEA heartland

Saving the heartland: Place-based policies in 21st century America

March 8, 2018
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity | By Benjamin Austin, Edward Glaeser, and Lawrence Summers. Austin is a PhD candidate in Economics at Harvard. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard. Lawrence Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University.
Tax reform

Macroeconomic effects of the 2017 tax reform

March 8, 2018
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity | By Robert J. Barro and Jason Furman. Barro is Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics at Harvard. Furman is Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. 
Lawrence F. Katz

Imagining a Future of Work That Fosters Mobility for All

February 1, 2018
U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty | Idea paper by Lawrence Katz, Ai-Jen Poo, and Elaine Waxman. Lawrence Katz is Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard and a member of U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty.
Restoring the American Dream: What Would It Take to Dramatically Increase Mobility from Poverty?

Restoring the American Dream: What Would It Take to Dramatically Increase Mobility from Poverty?

January 23, 2018

US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty | The US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty is a collaboration of 24 leading scholars, policy experts, and practitioners tasked with answering one big, bold, and exciting question: What would it take to dramatically increase mobility from poverty? This two-year project was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Co-authored by David T. Ellwood, Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and Nisha G. Patel, Executive Director of the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, Urban Institute

David J. Deming

The Value of Soft Skills in the Labor Market

January 17, 2018
NBER Reporter | By David J. Deming (PhD '10), Professor at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Deming provides an overview of the current state of research on soft skills in the labor market. His own work in this area, "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market," appears in the November 2017 issue of Quarterly Journal of Economics.
View the research
Can the Financial Benefit of Lobbying be Quantified?

Can the Financial Benefit of Lobbying be Quantified?

January 16, 2018
Washington Center for Equitable Growth | A look at a new paper by Inequality doctoral fellow Brian Libgober, PhD candidate in Government, and Daniel Carpenter, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, "Lobbying with Lawyers: Financial Market Evidence for Banks' Influence on Rulemaking."
View the research
Does a Criminal Past Predict Worker Performance? Evidence from One of America’s Largest Employers

Does a Criminal Past Predict Worker Performance? Evidence from One of America’s Largest Employers

January 12, 2018
Social Forces | New research by Harvard's Devah Pager and collaborators  Jennifer Hickes Lundquist and Eiko Strader provides one of the first systematic assessments of workplace performance by those with criminal records. Examining military employment records, they find that, overall, the military's screening process can result in successful employment outcomes for those with felony convictions. An important question, they write, is whether the military's 'whole person' review can apply succssfully to the civilian sector. Pager is Professor of Sociology and Professor of Public Policy at Harvard.
An inside view of credit checks in hiring

An inside view of credit checks in hiring

October 14, 2017
Work in Progress | By Barbara Kiviat, PhD candidate in Sociology & Social Policy. Barbara Kiviat summarizes findings from her research, "The Art of Deciding with Data," recently published in Socio-Economic Review.  Work in Progress is the American Sociological Assocation's blog for short-form sociology on the economy, work, and inequality.
Jason Furman - PIIE Macroeconomic Policy Conference

Should Policymakers Care Whether Inequality is Helpful or Harmful for Growth?

October 13, 2017
Peterson Institute for International Economics | Presentation by Jason Furman (Harvard Kennedy School) at PIIE's "Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy Conference," with discussion by Dani Rodrik (Harvard Kennedy School), Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and Justin Wolfers (PhD '01). View the paper, slides, and conference videos at the conference webpage.