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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

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Latest commentary and analysis

Leah Wright Rigueur “Between the Lines: The Republican Party at a Racial Crossroads”

Leah Wright Rigueur “Between the Lines: The Republican Party at a Racial Crossroads”

November 16, 2016

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library | Leah Wright Rigueur's spoke at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, providing "a new understanding of the interactions between African Americans and the Republican Party, and the seemingly incongruous intersection of civil rights and American conservatism." Rigueur, an historian, is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power  (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Fixing Discrimination in Online Marketplaces

Fixing Discrimination in Online Marketplaces

November 15, 2016

Harvard Business Review | By Ray Fisman (Boston University) and Michael Luca (Harvard Business School). Also cites economist Claudia Goldin's well-known article (with Cecilia Rouse) on the lessons we can learn from symphony orchestras.

Straight Talk on Trade

Straight Talk on Trade

November 15, 2016

Project Syndicate | By Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise

November 15, 2016

PBS | Historian Leah Wright Rigueur of the Harvard Kennedy School is among those featured in this four-part documentary written and hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Watch Tuesday, November 15 and 22 at 8 pm on PBS. (If you miss the premiere, watch videos online)

Responding to our Oral Culture

Responding to our Oral Culture

November 11, 2016

Nieman Reports | By Danielle Allen, Professor of Government. Part of NR's "Election '16: Lessons for Journalism" series. 

Education in the Trump Presidency

Education in the Trump Presidency

November 10, 2016

HGSE Usable Knowledge | Five faculty members, inluding Thomas Kane, Walter H. Gale Professor of Economics and Education, share their thoughts on the election and its implications for education.

"As the mushroom cloud of uncertainty settles on Washington, D.C., educators should understand that the game moved out of Washington a year ago," says Kane. "The federal government handed the reins of K–12 education reform back to state and local leaders with the signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015. We will soon see whether governors, state commissioners, school boards and district leaders are ready to step up and accept the challenge."

Why neither Christie nor Giuliani should be the next attorney general

Why neither Christie nor Giuliani should be the next attorney general

November 10, 2016

Washington Post | By Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard and a contributing columnist for the Post. "We need to de-politicize the judicial branch to preserve our constitutional fabric," argues Allen. "Appoint a nonpartisan legal figure with a deep record for integrity and public service, who is squeaky clean with regard to conflicts and the appearance of conflict...Only such an appointment will make it clear that the Justice Department will protect liberty and justice for all Americans. There could be no more important early signal for the president-elect to send."

Election Autopsy

Election Autopsy

November 10, 2016

No Jargon [Podcast—Ep. 57] | With Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology. What to expect from a Trump presidency. Analyzing the factors that swayed voters, Skocpol offers insight on what the Democrats need to do moving forward. A production of the Scholars Strategy Network, No Jargon presents interviews with top university scholars on the politics, policy problems, and social issues facing the nation.

Watch: Populism and the Future of American Politics

Watch: Populism and the Future of American Politics

November 10, 2016

American Academy of Arts & Sciences | Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government, Lawrence D. Bobo, W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, and Charles Stewart III of MIT.

Trumpcast: What does Trump’s Victory Mean for Education Policy?

Trumpcast: What does Trump’s Victory Mean for Education Policy?

November 10, 2016

EdNext Podcast | Education Next’s Paul E. Peterson (Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government) and Martin West (Ph.D ''06, Associate Professor of Education) talk about what education reforms they expect from President-elect Donald Trump. Will he move on school choice, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Title I portability, charter schools, or something entirely unexpected? 

Seeing Red in Trump's America

Seeing Red in Trump's America

November 10, 2016

Radio OpenSource | Among this week's guests, Nathan J. Robinson, Ph.D. student in Sociology & Social Policy.