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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Why Falling Home Prices Could Be a Good Thing

Why Falling Home Prices Could Be a Good Thing

February 10, 2017

The New York Times | "Suppose there were a way to pump up the economy, reduce inequality, and put an end to destructive housing bubbles like the one that contributed to the Great Recession." Discusses recent paper by economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard and Joe Gyourko at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which reviews the basic economics and functioning of the U.S. housing market "to better understand the impacts on home prices, household wealth, and the spatial distribution of people across markets."

Also cites research by Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, and Peter Ganong of the University of Chicago, on the role of housing prices in limiting the ability of low-income workers to migrate to higher-wage areas, thereby contributing income inequality.

JPAL North America

Government leaders gather at J-PAL North America to advance evidence-based policymaking

February 9, 2017

MIT News | Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard and co-scientific director of JPAL-North America, spoke on leveraging housing vouchers as a ladder to economic mobility for low-income families. 

The conference, held at MIT, brought together state and local policymakers with leading researchers to discuss "how governments and researchers have partnered to use evidence from randomized evaluations to reduce crime and violence, improve maternal and child health, and promote housing mobility."

Dani Rodrik

Balance of Trade

February 9, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School Magazine
By Robert Kuttner
There are economists who teach the well-known postulate that free trade improves global well-being. There are other social scientists and popular critics who contend that laissez-faire trade can be bad for equality, for social stability, and even for economic efficiency, just as pure laissez-faire is not optimal at home.

And then there is Dani Rodrik.

Rodrik, the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the Kennedy School, is close to a unique specimen in the field of economics. He is a respectful critic of some of the most cherished suppositions of his profession, notably in his books and articles expressing qualms about globalization. But Rodrik does it as a superb technical economist, with humility, precision, wit, intellectual curiosity, and an astonishing range of reading across disciplines. Continue reading»

kids

The most important skill for the workplace isn’t being taught in American schools

February 9, 2017

Quartz | Discusses research by David Deming (Ph.D. '10), a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Graduate School of Education, who finds that the labor market  in recent decades "increasingly rewards social skills", with "employment and wage growth particularly strong for jobs requiring high levels of both cognitive skill and social skill." Also cites a recent brief from The Hamilton Project, "Seven Facts on Noncognitive Skills from Education to the Labor Market," which draws on Deming's work.
View the research

School integration

Integration Works: Can It Survive the Trump Era?

February 9, 2017

The New York Times | Thomas B. Edsall reviews an extensive body of social science evidence, including the work of Raj Chetty of Stanford University and Harvard's Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics.

Skyscrapers

HKS Footprint: Cities

February 9, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School Magazine | At Harvard Kennedy School, cities are a focus for research and an opportunity to experiment with new and better ways of governing. Features the work of Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy and director of the Government Peformance Lab, and of Quinton Mayne, Associate Professor of Public Policy, whose research "has found that where local governments can shape welfare policies, such as in education or social services, citizens are much less likely to be politically disaffected."

Radcliffe Day 2017

Judy Woodruff and the late Gwen Ifill named Radcliffe medalists

February 7, 2017

Harvard Gazette | Radcliffe Day 2017, on May 26, will honor PBS journalists Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. Harvard's Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor, will participate in the morning panel, "(Un)truths and Their Consequences," joined by A’Lelia Bundles '74, E. J. Dionne ’73, and Peggy Noonan. For more information about the day's events, which will be webcast live, see Radcliffe Day 2017.

Tea Party

The Tea Party's Revival as the Party of Trump

February 7, 2017

OZY | Quoted: Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology. 

“[The Tea Party] was never about small government; it was about small government for the elites who latched on,” says Theda Skocpol, a Harvard professor and co-author of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. “For the grassroots back then, it was about making sure the government didn’t spend on the wrong people. Rarely did anyone criticize Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits — the big-ticket items.” The biggest common theme, she says: “cracking down on immigration.”

women's march

A Harvard study identified the precise reason protests are an effective way to cause political change

February 3, 2017

Quartz | Political protests in the first days of the Trump administration generate new interest in a study by Daniel Shoag (Ph.D.'11), Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and colleagues Andreas Madestam (Stockholm University), Stan Veuger (American Enterprise Institute), and David Yanagizawa-Drott (University of Zurich). The study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in November 2013, seeks to determine whether protests actually cause political change, or whether they are "merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences."
View the research

Also cited: Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson's book, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (Oxford University Press, 2012). Theda Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Governmant and Sociology at Harvard. Vanessa S. Williamson (Ph.D. '15) is  a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Workers' Declining Share: Are 'Superstar' Firms Partially Responsible?

Workers' Declining Share: Are 'Superstar' Firms Partially Responsible?

February 3, 2017

Bloomberg | Discusses new study by David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT), which examines the relationship between market concentration and labor's falling share in GDP. This work is forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.
View the research

Ivy League gender pay-gap

The Ivy League's Gender Pay-Gap Problem

February 2, 2017

The Atlantic | Features insights of Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee  Professor of Economics. Cites her research, joint with Marianne Bertrand (University of Chicago) and Lawerence Katz (Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics), published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (2010), which examined the dynamics of the gender gap for young professionals in the financial and corporate sectors. Also cites Goldin and Katz study, "The Cost of Workplace Flexibility for High-Powered Professionals," published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2011).

Immigrant Shock: Can California Predict the Nation’s Future?

Immigrant Shock: Can California Predict the Nation’s Future?

February 1, 2017

The New York Times | Cites research from a coming book by Ryan Enos, Associate Professor of Government at Harvard. Also cites Daniel Hopkins (Ph.D. '07), Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and Robert Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard. 

Enos provides the details of his analysis in a short research note, "Changes in Hispanic Population and Voting in the 2016 Presidential Election."
View research note

factory

Declining Labor Share: The 'Superstar' Firm Explanation

February 1, 2017

The Atlantic | Discusses new study by David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT), which examines the relationship between market concentration and labor's falling share in GDP. This work is forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.
View the research

crime scene

Testing strategies for preventing violence and crime

January 31, 2017

MIT News | J-PAL North America, a research center at MIT, has announced that it has awarded grants to fund randomized evaluations focused on employing behavioral science insights to prevent crime and violence. One of the two grants, awarded to Anuj Shah, Associate Professor of Behavioral Science at Chicago Booth, and Aurélie Ouss (Ph.D. '13), a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, "will evaluate whether an app designed to lead at-risk youth to participate in safe activities can help them avoid dangerous default situations and behaviors."

Boston Trump protest

Trials for a global university

January 30, 2017

Harvard Gazette | With travel to U.S. banned from some nations, Harvard moves to support members of its international community. President Drew Faust's letter to the Harvard community and responses from across the University, including that of Dean Douglas Elmendorf of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Sorry, Working From Home Isn't the Future of Job Flexibility

Sorry, Working From Home Isn't the Future of Job Flexibility

January 30, 2017

Bloomberg | Highlights new study by Harvard economist Amanda Pallais and Alexandre Mas of Princeton, "Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements." Also discusses work of Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, on jobs that may allow greater flexibility in hours without sacrificing pay.

The academy and the marketplace: The effects of foreign competition on professors of mathematics

The academy and the marketplace: The effects of foreign competition on professors of mathematics

January 28, 2017

The Economist | Delves into new study by George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and coauthors Kirk Doran and Ying Shen of the University of Notre Dame, which examines the productivity of American mathemeticians following the influx of Chinese graduate students from China's liberalization in 1978. The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Human Resources.
​​​​​​​View the research

Blame Monopolies for Short-Changing U.S. Workers

Blame Monopolies for Short-Changing U.S. Workers

January 26, 2017

Bloomberg View | Highlights new work by David Autor (MIT), David Dorn (University of Zurich), Lawrence Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), and John Van Reenen (MIT) exploring the relationship between market concentration and labor's falling share of GDP. The paper is forthcoming in American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings.
View the research

Latest awards

The Best Books of 2016

The Best Books of 2016

December 8, 2016

Bloomberg | Angus Deaton, awarded the 2015 Nobel prize in Economics, recommends Matthew Desmond's Evicted, together with $2.00 a Day, by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer. 

Best Books of 2016

Best Books of 2016

December 7, 2016

Boston Globe | Matthew Desmond's Evicted is selected as one of the year's best in nonfiction. Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

The 10 Best Books of 2016

The 10 Best Books of 2016

December 1, 2016

The New York Times Book Review | Matthew Desmond's Evicted is among this year's 10 Best Books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

Lawrence Bobo Elected Fellow of American Academy of Political and Social Science

Lawrence Bobo Elected Fellow of American Academy of Political and Social Science

November 29, 2016

AAPSS | Lawrence D. Bobo, the W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, is one of five newly-elected Fellows to join the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2017. The AAPSS, one of the nation's oldest learned societies, recognized Bobo's research contributions as having "quantified, qualified, and illuminated understandings about social inequality, politics, racism and attitudes about race in America."

The 2017 Fellows also include Martha Minow (Dean of Harvard Law School), Margaret Levi (Stanford University), Timothy Smeeding (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Claude Steele (University of California-Berkeley).

The 10 Best Books of 2016

The 10 Best Books of 2016

November 17, 2016

Washington Post | Matthew Desmond's Evicted is selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2016: "In spare and beautiful prose, Desmond chronicles the economic and psychological devastation of substandard housing in America and the cascading misfortunes that come with losing one’s home...In this extraordinary feat of reporting and ethnography, Desmond has made it impossible ever again to consider poverty in the United States without tackling the central role of housing."

Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

Danielle Allen named University Professor

Danielle Allen named University Professor

November 14, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Renowned political philosopher Danielle Allen, director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, professor of government in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and professor of education at the Graduate School of Education, has been named a University Professor, Harvard’s highest faculty honor.

Journal of Politics Best Paper Award: The Political Legacy of American Slavery

Journal of Politics Best Paper Award: The Political Legacy of American Slavery

November 10, 2016

Awardee | Maya Sen, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and co-authors Avidit Acharya (Stanford) and Matthew Blackwell (Harvard Government Department), have been awarded the Joseph Bernd Award for the best article published in Journal of Politics in 2016. Their article, "The Political Legacy of American Slavery," is available open access.
View article (PDF)

'Evicted' selected for 2017 Shortlist: Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

'Evicted' selected for 2017 Shortlist: Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

October 26, 2016

Matthew Desmond's Evicted is one of six books (3 fiction, 3 nonfiction) named to the Shortlist for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The citation reads, "This is essential reading for anyone interested in social justice, poverty, and feminist issues, but its narrative nonfiction style will also draw general readers—and will hopefully spark national discussion."  The two medal winners will be announced January 22, 2017. Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard.

Leah Wright Rigueur book honored by New England Historical Society

Leah Wright Rigueur book honored by New England Historical Society

October 7, 2016

The Boston Globe | Leah Wright Rigueur's book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican (Princeton University Press, 2014), will be honored by the New England Historical Association at its annual conference on October 22. Rigueur, an Assistant Professor af the Harvard Kennedy School, will receive the James P. Hanlan book award, which recognizes the work of an historian, focusing on any area of historical scholarship, who lives and works in New England.

Congratulations, teaching fellows

Congratulations, teaching fellows

September 27, 2016

Awardees | Harvard's Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning announced the recipients of its Certificates of Distinction in teaching for spring 2016, which included Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellows Aaron Benavidez (Sociology), Jack Cao (Psychology), Oren Danieli (Business Economics), Kelley Fong (Sociology & Social Policy), Margot Moinester (Sociology), and Alix Winter (Sociology & Social Policy). The recipients will be honored at a reception on Wed, Oct 19th from 4-5:30 pm in CGIS-South.

Jessica Simes awarded first Boston University Provost Career Development Professorship

Jessica Simes awarded first Boston University Provost Career Development Professorship

September 16, 2016

Awardee | Jessica Simes (Ph.D. in Sociology '16), now an assistant professor at Boston University, has been awarded the first of two newly-endowed University Provost Career Development Professorships at that institution.  The three-year University Provost’s Career Development Professorships will support two junior faculty working in academic areas with “the greatest potential for impacting the quality and stature of the University, as determined by the provost." Simes, whose Harvard doctoral dissertation focused on racial inequality and the mass incarceration of African Americans, was recognized for her work in data science—"specifically the mapping of communities to reflect the percentage of incarcerated people—[which] has been the backbone of Simes’s research on race, poverty, and mass incarceration." Learn more about her research at her homepage.

Inaugural CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars: Natalie Bau

Inaugural CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars: Natalie Bau

September 7, 2016

CIFAR | Natalie Bau (Ph.D. in Public Policy, '15) is one of 18 exceptional early-career researchers from diverse science and social science fields selected to the inaugural cohort of the new CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Program, sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars receive two-year appointments with one of 14 research programs—in Bau's case, Institutions, Organizations, and Growth.

An Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto, Bau studies development and education economics, with an emphasis on the industrial organization of education markets. 

Natalie Bau homepage

Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award: Daniel Schlozman

Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award: Daniel Schlozman

September 1, 2016

Awardee | Daniel Schlozman (Ph.D. '11), Assistant Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, is the winner of the 2016 Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award for first book, When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History (Princeton University Press, 2015). The award is conferred by the Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section of the American Sociological Association.

Equitable Growth announces 2016 class of grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

Equitable Growth announces 2016 class of grantees: Ellora Derenoncourt

July 20, 2016

Awardee: Ellora Derenoncourt, Ph.D. candidate in Economics, is one of 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class. Derenoncourt's research, "Social preferences at work: Evidence from online lab experiments and job-to-job mobility in the LEHD dataset," will will use online lab experiments and employee-employer matched data to look at labor market decisions, testing for individual social preferences over payoff distributions.

The award citation highlights that "this project is offers a novel twist on intra-firm mobility and job-to-job transitions by using preferences to look at labor market decisions and not simply tax preferences." Equitable Growth has worked with Derenoncourt before—she is a contributor to its forthcoming edited volume on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, "and this project is an example of her ability to engage with traditional economic literature and push it in interesting and useful new directions."

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Christopher Jencks and Beth Truesdale

Equitable Growth Announces 2016 Class of Grantees: Christopher Jencks and Beth Truesdale

July 20, 2016

Awardees | Christopher Jencks, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, and Beth Truesdale, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, are among the 19 new grantees in the Washington Center for Equitable Growth's 2016 class.  Jencks and Truesdale will investigate "The effects of income inequality on health disparities in the United States." Jencks and Truesdale hypothesize that some of the correlation between income inequality and health outcomes is causal, running from inequality to health, and will seek to identify the causal mechanisms.

"Uncovering the causal channels between inequality and health would be an important contribution," the award citation notes, "particularly in light of recent research examining the relationship between income and life expectancy." This research is co-funded by the Russell Sage Foundation.

Latest commentary and analysis

Prisoners at prayer at Gadsden County Jail, Quincy, Fla

Power and Punishment: Two New Books About Race & Crime

April 14, 2017

The New York Times Book Review
By Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. "Two new books offer timely and complementary ways of understanding America’s punitive culture," writes Muhammad: Locking Up Our Own, by James Forman Jr., and A Colony in a Nation, by Chris Hayes.

Why aren't we moving as much for work?

Why aren't we moving as much for work?

April 14, 2017

Marketplace | Daniel Shoag (PhD'11), Associate Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, sees reasons to worry about declining geographical mobility, driven in part by higher housing costs in high-growth areas, which limit opportunity for low-income Americans and increase inequality.

Douglas W. Elmendorf

Advice for the New President and Congress

April 8, 2017

Harvard Graduate School Alumni Day | By Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy, who delivered the keynote address at Harvard GSAS Alumni Day 2017.

Peter A. Hall

Hall shares thoughts on EU's future

April 6, 2017
Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs | Peter A. Hall, Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies at  Harvard, gave a keynote address on "A Continent Redvided? European Integration in Turbulent Times," as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's spring symposium on "Europe in Crisis: The Future of the EU and Trans-Atlantic Relations." View the full program:
La Follette Spring Symposium
Vanessa Williamson, Brookings forum

Why Americans are proud to pay taxes

April 4, 2017

Brookings Institution | The Brookings Institution hosted an event marking the release of Read My Lips: Why Americans are Proud to Pay Taxes, by Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. A panel of experts joined Williamson to discuss how Americans view their responsibility as taxpayers and what Americans’ attitudes about taxes can tell us about public opinions of government as a whole. With E.J. Dionne, Heather Boushey (Washington Center for Equitable Growth), and Frank Clemente (Americans for Fair Taxes). (Video: 90 minutes)

Larry Summers

Larry Summers: The Economy and Tax Reform

March 30, 2017

Charlie Rose | A conversation about the economy and Trump's plans for tax reform with Larry Summers, president emeritus of Harvard University and former treasury secretary under President Clinton. (Video: 30 minutes)

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

March 29, 2017

Christian Science Monitor | By Natasha Warikoo (Ph.D. 05), Associate Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Creating equal opportunity is a huge challenge. But we can start by changing our attitudes toward the admissions process," Warikoo writes.

NEJM logo

An FDA Commissioner for the 21st Century

March 29, 2017

New England Journal of Medicine | By Amitabh Chandra and Rachel E. Sachs. Chandra is Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Sachs is Associate Professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

March 28, 2017

Crain's Chicago Business | By Anjanette M. Chan Tack and Mario L. Small. Discussion of the authors' new in-depth case study, recently published in Sociological Science, which interviewed African American students in high poverty Chicago neighborhoods about how they form friendships. "What we uncovered surprised us," Chan Tack and Small write.

Small is Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology at Harvard. Chan Tack is a doctoral candidate at University of Chicago. 

BETA 2017

New Frontiers in Behavioral Economics

March 28, 2017

The Institute of Public Administration Australia ACT Division (IPAA ACT) and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) hosted Harvard professors Sendhil Mullainathan, Ziad Obermeyer, and Brigitte Madrian for a presentation and discussion of predictive policy—"how it can solve some of society’s most difficult problems and why it matters to government policy making." The event was led by political scientist Michael J. Hiscox, who is currently on leave from his Harvard whle serving as founding director of the Behavioural Economics Team (BETA) in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian Government. Includes video highlights (7 minutes) and full-length event video (~75 minutes).

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

March 27, 2017

Wall Street Journal | By Michael I. Norton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Involving customers or employees in charity decisions can help boost sales or job satisfaction.

Douglas Elmendorf and Richard Parker

Dean Douglas Elmendorf: Understanding the Congressional Budget Office

March 23, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein CenterDoug Elmendorf, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School and former director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) from 2009-2015, discussed why the CBO exists, how it works, and how the media reports on its findings, in a conversation at the Shorenstein Center, March 22, 2017. Highlights and audio.

Douglas Elmendorf via Bloomberg

Trump's Budget isn't Going Anywhere, says Ex-CBO Director

March 17, 2017

Bloomberg | Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, joins to discussTrump's budget proposal and look at growth potential for the U.S. economy. (video: 6 minutes)

Latest academic articles — By doctoral fellows

Can States Take Over and Turn Around School Districts? Evidence From Lawrence, Massachusetts
Beth E. Schueler,, Joshua S. Goodman, and David J. Deming. 2017. “Can States Take Over and Turn Around School Districts? Evidence From Lawrence, Massachusetts.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 39 (2): 311-332. Abstract

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to identify and turn around struggling schools, with federal school improvement money required to fund evidence-based policies. Most research on turnarounds has focused on individual schools, whereas studies of district-wide turnarounds have come from relatively exceptional settings and interventions. We study a district-wide turnaround of a type that may become more common under ESSA, an accountability-driven state takeover of Massachusetts’s Lawrence Public Schools (LPS). A differences-in-differences framework comparing LPS to demographically similar districts not subject to state takeover shows that the turnaround’s first 2 years produced sizable achievement gains in math and modest gains in reading. We also find no evidence that the turnaround resulted in slippage on nontest score outcomes and suggestive evidence of positive effects on grade progression among high school students. Intensive small-group instruction over vacation breaks may have led to particularly large achievement gains for participating students.

Voting But For the Law: Evidence from Virginia on Photo Identification Requirements
Hopkins, Daniel J., Marc Meredith, Michael Morse, Sarah Smith, and Jesse Yonder. 2017. “Voting But For the Law: Evidence from Virginia on Photo Identification Requirements.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 14 (1): 79-128. Abstract

One contentious question in contemporary election administration is the impact of voter identification requirements. We study a Virginia law which allows us to isolate the impact of requiring voters to show photo identification. Using novel, precinct-level data, we find that the percentage of registered voters without a driver's license and over age 85 are both positively associated with the number of provisional ballots cast due to lacking a photo ID. To examine the law's impact on turnout, we associate precinct-level demographics with the change in turnout between the 2013 gubernatorial and 2014 midterm elections. All else equal, turnout was higher in places where more active registered voters lacked a driver's license. This unexpected relationship might be explained by a targeted Department of Elections mailing, suggesting that the initial impact of voter ID laws may hinge on efforts to notify voters likely to be affected.

Surprising Ripple Effects: How Changing the SAT Score-Sending Policy for Low-Income Students Impacts College Access and Success
Hurwitz, Michael, Preeya P. Mbekeani, Margaret M. Nipson, and Lindsay C. Page. 2017. “Surprising Ripple Effects: How Changing the SAT Score-Sending Policy for Low-Income Students Impacts College Access and Success.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 39 (1): 77-103. Abstract

Subtle policy adjustments can induce relatively large “ripple effects.” We evaluate a College Board initiative that increased the number of free SAT score reports available to low-income students and changed the time horizon for using these score reports. Using a difference-in-differences analytic strategy, we estimate that targeted students were roughly 10 percentage points more likely to send eight or more reports. The policy improved on-time college attendance and 6-year bachelor’s completion by about 2 percentage points. Impacts were realized primarily by students who were competitive candidates for 4-year college admission. The bachelor’s completion impacts are larger than would be expected based on the number of students driven by the policy change to enroll in college and to shift into more selective colleges. The unexplained portion of the completion effects may result from improvements in nonacademic fit between students and the postsecondary institutions in which they enroll.

Cities as Lobbyists
Goldstein, Rebecca, and Hye Young You. 2017. “Cities as Lobbyists.” American Journal of Political Science 61 (4): 864-876. Abstract

Individual cities are active interest groups in lobbying the federal government, and yet the dynamics of this intergovernmental lobbying are poorly understood. We argue that preference incongruence between city and its parent state government leads to under-provision of public goods, and cities need to appeal to the federal government for additional resources. We provide evidence for this theory using a dataset of over 13,800 lobbying disclosures filed by cities with populations over 25,000 between 1999 and 2012. Income inequality and ethnic fragmentation are also highly related to federal lobbying activities. Using an instrumental variables analysis of earmark and Recovery Act grant data, we show that each dollar a city spends on lobbying generates substantial returns.

Effects of a Summer Mathematics Intervention for Low-Income Children: A Randomized Experiment
Lynch, Kathleen, and James S. Kim. 2017. “Effects of a Summer Mathematics Intervention for Low-Income Children: A Randomized Experiment.” Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis 39 (1): 31-53. Abstract

Prior research suggests that summer learning loss among low-income children contributes to income-based gaps in achievement and educational attainment. We present results from a randomized experiment of a summer mathematics program conducted in a large, high-poverty urban public school district. Children in the third to ninth grade (N = 263) were randomly assigned to an offer of an online summer mathematics program, the same program plus a free laptop computer, or the control group. Being randomly assigned to the program plus laptop condition caused children to experience significantly higher reported levels of summer home mathematics engagement relative to their peers in the control group. Treatment and control children performed similarly on distal measures of academic achievement. We discuss implications for future research.

Concentrated Foreclosure Activity and Distressed Properties in New York City
Perkins, Kristin L., Michael J. Lear, and Elyzabeth Gaumer. 2017. “Concentrated Foreclosure Activity and Distressed Properties in New York City.” Urban Affairs Review 53 (5): 868-897. Abstract

Recent research suggests that foreclosures have negative effects on homeowners and neighborhoods. We examine the association between concentrated foreclosure activity and the risk of a property with a foreclosure filing being scheduled for foreclosure auction in New York City. Controlling for individual property and sociodemographic characteristics of the neighborhood, being located in a tract with a high number of auctions following the subject property’s own foreclosure filing is associated with a significantly higher probability of scheduled foreclosure auction for the subject property. Concentration of foreclosure filings prior to the subject property’s own foreclosure filing is associated with a lower probability of scheduled foreclosure auction. Concentrated foreclosure auctions in the tract prior to a subject property’s own filing is not significantly associated with the probability of scheduled foreclosure auction. The implications for geographic targeting of foreclosure policy interventions are discussed.

Does Your Home Make You Wealthy?
Killewald, Alexandra, and Brielle Bryan. 2016. “Does Your Home Make You Wealthy?” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2 (6): 110–128 . Abstract

Estimating the lifetime wealth consequences of homeownership is complicated by ongoing events, such as divorce or inheritance, that may shape both homeownership decisions and later-life wealth. We argue that prior research that has not accounted for these dynamic selection processes has overstated the causal effect of homeownership on wealth. Using NLSY79 data and marginal structural models, we find that each additional year of homeownership increases midlife wealth in 2008 by about $6,800, more than 25 percent less than estimates from models that do not account for dynamic selection. Hispanic and African American wealth benefits from each homeownership year are 62 percent and 48 percent as large as those of whites, respectively. Homeownership remains wealth-enhancing in 2012, but shows smaller returns. Our results confirm homeownership’s role in wealth accumulation and that variation in both homeownership rates and the wealth benefits of homeownership contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in midlife wealth holdings.

Greenberg, Claire, Marc Meredith, and Michael Morse. 2016. “The Growing and Broad Nature of Legal Financial Obligations: Evidence from Court Records in Alabama.” Connecticut Law Review 48 (4): 1079-1120. Abstract

In 2010, Harriet Cleveland was imprisoned in Montgomery, Alabama for failing to pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees stemming from routine traffic violations. More than thirty years after a series of Supreme Court rulings outlawed debtor's prisons, Ms. Cleveland's case brought national attention to both the sheer amount of lega lfinancial obligations (LFOs) that could be accrued, even in cases without a criminal conviction, and the potential consequences of non-payment. But it has been nearly impossible to know how common Ms. Cleveland's experience is because of a general lack of individual-level data on the incidence and payback of LFOs, particularly for non-felonies. 

In this vein, we gather about two hundred thousand court records from Alabama over the last two decades to perform the most comprehensive exploration of the assessments and payback of LFOs to date across an entire state. Consistent with conventional wisdom, we demonstrate that the median LFOs attached to a case with a felony conviction nearly doubled between 1995 and 2005, after which it has remained roughly steady. But a felony-centric view of criminal justice underestimates the extent of increasing LFOs in the United States. Our systematic comparison of LFOs in felony, misdemeanor, and traffic cases across Alabama demonstrates how the signficant debt Ms. Cleveland accumulated for a series of minor traffic offenses is not such an aberration. We show that only a minority of LFOs are assessed in cases where someone was convicted of a felony and incarcerated. Rather, most LFOs are assessed in cases without an imposed sentence, in cases with a misdemeanor or traffic violation, or even in cases that did not result in a conviction at all. These case records also reveal substantial heterogeneity in the assessment of LFOs-both within and across local judicial districts-even in cases in which defendants were convicted on exactly the same charge.

 

Predicting Freshman Grade Point Average From College Admissions Test Scores and State High School Test Scores
Koretz, Daniel, Carol Yu, Preeya P. Mbekeani, Meredith Langi, Tasmin Dhaliwal, and David Braslow. 2016. “Predicting Freshman Grade Point Average From College Admissions Test Scores and State High School Test Scores.” AERA Open 2 (4). SAGE Publications: 1-13. Abstract

The current focus on assessing “college and career readiness” raises an empirical question: How do high school tests compare with college admissions tests in predicting performance in college? We explored this using data from the City University of New York and public colleges in Kentucky. These two systems differ in the choice of college admissions test, the stakes for students on the high school test, and demographics. We predicted freshman grade point average (FGPA) from high school GPA and both college admissions and high school tests in mathematics and English. In both systems, the choice of tests had only trivial effects on the aggregate prediction of FGPA. Adding either test to an equation that included the other had only trivial effects on prediction. Although the findings suggest that the choice of test might advantage or disadvantage different students, it had no substantial effect on the over- and underprediction of FGPA for students classified by race-ethnicity or poverty.

Creative Destruction and Subjective Wellbeing
Aghion, Philippe, Ufuk Akcigit, Angus Deaton, and Alexandra Roulet. 2016. “Creative Destruction and Subjective Wellbeing.” American Economic Review 106 (12): 3869-97. Abstract

In this paper we analyze the relationship between turnover-driven growth and subjective wellbeing. Our model of innovation-led growth and unemployment predicts that: (i) the effect of creative destruction on expected individual welfare should be unambiguously positive if we control for unemployment, less so if we do not; (ii) job creation has a positive and job destruction has a negative impact on wellbeing; (iii) job destruction has a less negative impact in US Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) within states with more generous unemployment insurance policies; (iv) job creation has a more positive effect on individuals that are more forward-looking. The empirical analysis using cross-sectional MSA-level and individual-level data provide empirical support to these predictions. 

The Racial Ecology of Lead Poisoning: Toxic Inequality in Chicago Neighborhoods, 1995-2013
Sampson, Robert J., and Alix S. Winter. 2016. “The Racial Ecology of Lead Poisoning: Toxic Inequality in Chicago Neighborhoods, 1995-2013.” Du Bois Review 13 (2): 1-23. Abstract

This paper examines the racial ecology of lead exposure as a form of environmental inequity, one with both historical and contemporary significance. Drawing on comprehensive data from over one million blood tests administered to Chicago children from 1995-2013 and matched to over 2300 geographic block groups, we address two major questions: (1) What is the nature of the relationship between neighborhood-level racial composition and variability in children’s elevated lead prevalence levels? And (2) what is the nature of the relationship between neighborhood-level racial composition and rates of change in children’s prevalence levels over time within neighborhoods? We further assess an array of structural explanations for observed racial disparities, including socioeconomic status, type and age of housing, proximity to freeways and smelting plants, and systematic observations of housing decay and neighborhood disorder. Overall, our theoretical framework posits lead toxicity as a major environmental pathway through which racial segregation has contributed to the legacy of Black disadvantage in the United States. Our findings support this hypothesis and show alarming racial disparities in toxic exposure, even after accounting for possible structural explanations. At the same time, however, our longitudinal results show the power of public health policies to reduce racial inequities.

The base rate principle and the fairness principle in social judgment
Cao, Jack, and Mahzarin R. Banaji. 2016. “The base rate principle and the fairness principle in social judgment.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113 (27). Abstract

Meet Jonathan and Elizabeth. One person is a doctor and the other is a nurse. Who is the doctor? When nothing else is known, the base rate principle favors Jonathan to be the doctor and the fairness principle favors both individuals equally. However, when individuating facts reveal who is actually the doctor, base rates and fairness become irrelevant, as the facts make the correct answer clear. In three experiments, explicit and implicit beliefs were measured before and after individuating facts were learned. These facts were either stereotypic (e.g., Jonathan is the doctor, Elizabeth is the nurse) or counterstereotypic (e.g., Elizabeth is the doctor, Jonathan is the nurse). Results showed that before individuating facts were learned, explicit beliefs followed the fairness principle, whereas implicit beliefs followed the base rate principle. After individuating facts were learned, explicit beliefs correctly aligned with stereotypic and counterstereotypic facts. Implicit beliefs, however, were immune to counterstereotypic facts and continued to follow the base rate principle. Having established the robustness and generality of these results, a fourth experiment verified that gender stereotypes played a causal role: when both individuals were male, explicit and implicit beliefs alike correctly converged with individuating facts. Taken together, these experiments demonstrate that explicit beliefs uphold fairness and incorporate obvious and relevant facts, but implicit beliefs uphold base rates and appear relatively impervious to counterstereotypic facts.

Are Landlords Overcharging Housing Voucher Holders?
Desmond, Matthew, and Kristin L. Perkins. 2016. “Are Landlords Overcharging Housing Voucher Holders?” City and Community 15 (2): 137-162. Abstract

The structure of rental markets coupled with the design of the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), the largest federal housing subsidy for low-income families in the United States, provides the opportunity to overcharge voucher holders. Applying hedonic regression models to a unique data set of Milwaukee renters combined with administrative records, we find that vouchered households are charged between $51 and $68 more in monthly rent than unassisted renters in comparable units and neighborhoods. Overcharging voucher holders costs taxpayers an estimated $3.8 million each year in Milwaukee alone, the equivalent of supplying 620 additional families in that city with housing assistance. These findings suggest that the HCVP could be made more cost-effective—and therefore more expansive—if overcharging were prevented.

Putting America to Work, Where? The Limits of Infrastructure Construction as a Locally-Targeted Employment Policy

Is infrastructure construction an effective way to boost employment in distressed local labor markets? I use new geographically-detailed data on highway construction funded by the American Recovery and Recovery Act to study the relationship between construction work and local employment growth. I show that the method for allocating funds across space facilitates a plausible selection-on-observables strategy. However, I find a precisely-estimated zero effect of spending on road construction employment–or other employment–in the locale of the construction site. Reported data on vendors reveal this is because the majority of contractors–selected by competitive bidding–commute from other local labor markets. I also find no robust effect in the locales of the contractors’ offices, but argue that this source of variation does not capture an economically meaningful local demand shock. I conclude that infrastructure construction is not effective as a way to stimulate local labor markets in the short-run so long as projects are allocated by competitive bidding.

Situational Trust: How Disadvantaged Mothers Reconceive Legal Cynicism
Bell, Monica C. 2016. “Situational Trust: How Disadvantaged Mothers Reconceive Legal Cynicism.” Law and Society Review 50 (2): 314-347. Abstract

Research has shown that legal cynicism is pervasive among residents of poor, black neighborhoods. However, controlling for crime rates, these residents call police at higher rates than whites and residents of middle-class neighborhoods, and ethnographic research suggests that mothers in particular sometimes exact social control over partners and children through police notification. Given these findings, how might researchers better understand how legal cynicism and occasional reliance on police fit together? Drawing on interviews with poor African-American mothers in Washington, DC, this article develops an alternative conception of cultural orientations about law: situational trust. This concept emphasizes micro-level dynamism in cultural conceptions of the police, expanding the literature on police trust by emphasizing situational contingency. Mothers deploy at least four alternative strategies that produce moments of trust: officer exceptionalism, domain specificity, therapeutic consequences, and institutional navigation. These strategies shed light on the contextual meanings of safety and legitimacy.

Citizens Coerced: A Legislative Fix for Workplace Political Intimidation Post-Citizens United
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander, and Paul Secunda. 2016. “Citizens Coerced: A Legislative Fix for Workplace Political Intimidation Post-Citizens United.” UCLA Law Review 64 (2). Abstract

This Essay examines the growing threat of workplace political coercion, such as when employers attempt to threaten or coerce their workers into supporting firm-favored issues, policies, or political candidates. We describe, for the first time, the prevalence of such coercion, and propose a relatively straightforward legislative fix that would protect private-sector workers from the risk of political intimidation from their employers.

This Essay responds to an earlier piece published by Professor Secunda in the YLJ Forum that described how the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FECopened up the possibility for employers to hold mandatory “captive audience” meetings for workers, in which managers could endorse candidates for elected office. Managers, Secunda noted, could discipline workers who refused to participate in such firm-sponsored partisan activities. Accordingly, Secunda recommended federal legislation that would ban the use of mandatory political meetings in the private sector.

At the time that Secunda’s Essay was published, however, we lacked any systematic evidence of the prevalence or characteristics of employer political coercion in the American workforce, and so his recommendations could not be tailored to the specifics of employer political recruitment. New survey research from an ongoing academic project from Mr. Hertel-Fernandez, however, has provided precisely that information, documenting the extent to which workers have experienced political coercion from their employers. Our present Essay summarizes that survey evidence, using the empirical data to craft a bipartisan policy proposal that would address employer political coercion in the private sector by adding political opinions and beliefs to the list of protected classes in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lastly, we draw on survey research to describe why this proposal could attract bipartisan political support.

Network Effects in Mexico—U.S. Migration: Disentangling the Underlying Social Mechanisms
Garip, Filiz, and Asad L. Asad. 2016. “Network Effects in Mexico—U.S. Migration: Disentangling the Underlying Social Mechanisms.” American Behavioral Scientist 60 (10): 1168-1193. Abstract

Scholars have long noted how migration streams, once initiated, obtain a self-feeding character. Studies have connected this phenomenon, called the cumulative causation of migration, to expanding social networks that link migrants in destination to individuals in origin. While extant research has established a positive association between individuals’ ties to prior migrants and their migration propensities, seldom have researchers interrogated how multiple social mechanisms—as well as exposure to common environmental factors—might account for these interdependencies. This article uses a mixed-methods strategy to identify the social mechanisms underlying the network effects in Mexico–U.S. migration. Three types of social mechanisms are identified, which all lead to network effects: (a) social facilitation, which is at work when network peers such as family or community members provide useful information or help that reduces the costs or increases the benefits of migration; (b) normative influence, which operates when network peers offer social rewards or impose sanctions to encourage or discourage migration; and (c) network externalities, which are at work when prior migrants generate a pool of common resources that increase the value or reduce the costs of migration for potential migrants. The authors first use large-sample survey data from the Mexican Migration Project to establish the presence of network effects and then rely on 138 in-depth interviews with migrants and their family members in Mexico to identify the social mechanisms underlying these network effects. The authors thus provide a deeper understanding of migration as a social process, which they argue is crucial for anticipating and responding to future flows.

Explaining Durable Business Coalitions in U.S. Politics: Conservatives and Corporate Interests across America's Statehouses
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander. 2016. “Explaining Durable Business Coalitions in U.S. Politics: Conservatives and Corporate Interests across America's Statehouses.” Studies in American Political Development 30 (1): 1-18. Abstract

Scholars of business mobilization emphasize that national, cross-sector employer associations are difficult to create and maintain in decentralized pluralist polities like the United States. This article considers an unusual case of a U.S. business group—the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—that has succeeded in creating a durable coalition of diverse firms and conservative political activists. This group has emerged since the 1970s as an important infrastructure for facilitating corporate involvement in the policymaking process across states. Assessing variation within this group over time through both its successes and missteps, I show the importance of organizational strategies for cementing political coalitions between otherwise fractious political activists and corporate executives from diverse industries. A shadow comparison between ALEC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce further serves to reinforce the importance of organizational structure for business association management. My findings engage with literatures in both American business history and comparative political economy, underscoring the difficulties of forming business coalitions in liberal political economies while also showing how savvy political entrepreneurs can still successfully unite otherwise fragmented corporate interests. These conclusions, in turn, have implications for our understanding of business mobilization and corporate influence in politics.

How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System
Clair, Matthew, and Alix S. Winter. 2016. “How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System.” Criminology 54 (2): 332-359. Abstract

Researchers have theorized how judges’ decision-making may result in the disproportionate presence of Blacks and Latinos in the criminal justice system. Yet, we have little evidence about how judges make sense of these disparities and what, if anything, they do to address them. By drawing on 59 interviews with state judges in a Northeastern state, we describe, and trace the implications of, judges’ understandings of racial disparities at arraignment, plea hearings, jury selection, and sentencing. Most judges in our sample attribute disparities, in part, to differential treatment by themselves and/or other criminal justice officials, whereas some judges attribute disparities only to the disparate impact of poverty and differences in offending rates. To address disparities, judges report employing two categories of strategies: noninterventionist and interventionist. Noninterventionist strategies concern only a judge's own differential treatment, whereas interventionist strategies concern other actors’ possible differential treatment, as well as the disparate impact of poverty and facially neutral laws. We reveal how the use of noninterventionist strategies by most judges unintentionally reproduces disparities. Through our examination of judges’ understandings of racial disparities throughout the court process, we enhance understandings of American racial inequality and theorize a situational approach to decision-making in organizational contexts.

Getting 'What Works' working: Building blocks for the integration of experimental and improvement science
Peterson, Amelia. 2016. “Getting 'What Works' working: Building blocks for the integration of experimental and improvement science.” International Journal of Research and Method in Education 39 (3): 299-313. Abstract

As a systemic approach to improving educational practice through research, ‘What Works’ has come under repeated challenge from alternative approaches, most recently that of improvement science. While ‘What Works’ remains a dominant paradigm for centralized knowledge-building efforts, there is need to understand why this alternative has gained support, and what it can contribute. I set out how the core elements of experimental and improvement science can be combined into a strategy to raise educational achievement with the support of evidence from randomized experiments. Central to this combined effort is a focus on identifying and testing mechanisms for improving teaching and learning, as applications of principles from the learning sciences. This article builds on current efforts to strengthen approaches to evidence-based practice and policy in a range of international contexts. It provides a foundation for those who aim to avoid another paradigm war and to accelerate international discussions on the design of systemic education research infrastructure and funding.

Intergroup Behavioral Strategies as Contextually Determined: Experimental Evidence from Israel

Why are the negative effects of social diversity more pronounced in some places than in others? What are the mechanisms underlying the relationship between diversity and discriminatory behaviors and why do they vary in prevalence and strength across locations? Experimental research has made advances in examining these questions by testing for differences in behavior when interacting with individuals from different groups. At the same time, research in American and comparative politics has demonstrated that attitudes toward other groups are a function of context. Uniting these two lines of research, we show that discriminatory behaviors are strongly conditioned by the ways in which groups are organized in space. We examine this claim in the context of intra-Jewish conflict in Israel, using original data compiled through multi-site lab-in-the-field experiments and survey responses collected across 20 locations.

The Populist Style in American Politics: Presidential Campaign Rhetoric, 1952-1996
Bonikowski, Bart, and Noam Gidron. 2016. “The Populist Style in American Politics: Presidential Campaign Rhetoric, 1952-1996.” Social Forces 94 (4): 1593-1621. Abstract

This paper examines populist claims-making in US presidential elections. We define populism as a discursive strategy that juxtaposes the virtuous populace with a corrupt elite and views the former as the sole legitimate source of political power. In contrast to past research, we argue that populism is best operationalized as an attribute of political claims rather than a stable ideological property of political actors. This analytical strategy allows us to systematically measure how the use of populism is affected by a variety of contextual factors. Our empirical case consists of 2,406 speeches given by American presidential candidates between 1952 and 1996, which we code using automated text analysis. Populism is shown to be a common feature of presidential politics among both Democrats and Republicans, but its prevalence varies with candidates' relative positions in the political field. In particular, we demonstrate that the probability of a candidate's reliance on populist claims is directly proportional to his distance from the center of power (in this case, the presidency). This suggests that populism is primarily a strategic tool of political challengers, and particularly those who have legitimate claims to outsider status. By examining temporal changes in populist claims-making on the political left and right, its variation across geographic regions and field positions, and the changing content of populist frames, our paper contributes to the debate on populism in modern democracies, while integrating field theory with the study of institutional politics.

(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University
Jack, Anthony Abraham. 2016. “(No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University.” Sociology of Education 89 (1): 1-15. Abstract

How do undergraduates engage authority figures in college? Existing explanations predict class-based engagement strategies. Using in-depth interviews with 89 undergraduates at an elite university, I show how undergraduates with disparate precollege experiences differ in their orientations toward and strategies for engaging authority figures in college. Middle-class undergraduates report being at ease in interacting with authority figures and are proactive in doing so. Lower-income undergraduates, however, are split. The privileged poor—lower-income undergraduates who attended boarding, day, and preparatory high schools—enter college primed to engage professors and are proactive in doing so. By contrast, the doubly disadvantaged—lower-income undergraduates who remained tied to their home communities and attended local, typically distressed high schools—are more resistant to engaging authority figures in college and tend to withdraw from them. Through documenting the heterogeneity among lower-income undergraduates, I show how static understandings of individuals’ cultural endowments derived solely from family background homogenize the experiences of lower-income undergraduates. In so doing, I shed new light on the cultural underpinnings of education processes in higher education and extend previous analyses of how informal university practices exacerbate class differences among undergraduates.

Parties, Brokers and Voter Mobilization: How Turnout Buying Depends Upon the Party's Capacity to Monitor Brokers
Larreguy, Horacio, John Marshall, and Pablo Querubin. 2016. “Parties, Brokers and Voter Mobilization: How Turnout Buying Depends Upon the Party's Capacity to Monitor Brokers.” American Political Science Review 110 (01): 160-179. Abstract

Despite its prevalence, little is known about when parties buy turnout. We emphasize the problem of parties monitoring local brokers with incentives to shirk. Our model suggests that parties extract greater turnout buying effort from their brokers where they can better monitor broker performance and where favorable voters would not otherwise turn out. Exploiting exogenous variation in the number of polling stations—and thus electoral information about broker performance—in Mexican electoral precincts, we find that greater monitoring capacity increases turnout and votes for the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Consistent with our theoretical predictions, the effect of monitoring capacity on PRI votes varies nonlinearly with the distance of voters to the polling station: it first increases because rural voters—facing larger costs of voting—generally favor the PRI, before declining as the cost of incentivizing brokers increases. This nonlinearity is not present for the PAN, who stand to gain less from mobilizing rural voters.

Sticker Shock: How Information Affects Citizen Support for Increased Public School Funding
Schueler, Beth, and Martin R West. 2016. “Sticker Shock: How Information Affects Citizen Support for Increased Public School Funding.” Public Opinion Quarterly 80 (1): 90-113. Abstract

This study examines the role of information in shaping public opinion in the context of support for education spending. While there is broad public support for increasing government funding for public schools, Americans tend to underestimate what is currently spent. We embed a series of experiments in a nationally representative survey administered in 2012 (n= 2,993) to examine whether informing citizens about current levels of education spending alters public opinion about whether funding should increase. Providing information on per-pupil spending in a respondent’s local school district reduces the probability that he or she will express support for increasing spending by 22 percentage points on average. Informing respondents about state-average teacher salaries similarly depresses support for salary increases. These effects are larger among respondents who underestimate per-pupil spending and teacher salaries by a greater amount, consistent with the idea that the observed changes in opinion are driven, at least in part, by informational effects, as opposed to priming alone.

Teaching to the Student: Charter School Effectiveness in Spite of Perverse Incentives

Recent work has shown that Boston charter schools raise standardized test scores more than their traditional school counterparts. Critics of charter schools argue that charter schools create those achievement gains by focusing exclusively on test preparation, at the expense of deeper learning. In this paper, I test that critique by estimating the impact of charter school attendance on subscales of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System and examining them for evidence of score inflation. If charter schools are teaching to the test to a greater extent than their counterparts, one would expect to see higher scores on commonly tested standards, higher-stakes subjects, and frequently tested topics. Despite incentives to reallocate effort away from less frequently tested content to highly tested content, and to coach to item type, I find no evidence of this type of test preparation. Boston charter middle schools perform consistently across all standardized test subscales.

Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice
Angrist, Joshua D., Sarah R. Cohodes, Susan M. Dynarski, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters. 2016. “Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice.” Journal of Labor Economics 34 (2). NBER Working Paper 19275. Abstract

We use admissions lotteries to estimate effects of attendance at Boston's charter high schools on college preparation and enrollment. Charter schools increase pass rates on Massachusetts' high-stakes exit exam, with large effects on the likelihood of qualifying for a state-sponsored scholarship. Charter attendance boosts SAT scores sharply, and also increases the likelihood of taking an Advanced Placement (AP) exam, the number of AP exams taken, and AP scores. Charters induce a substantial shift from two- to four-year institutions, though the effect on overall college enrollment is modest. Charter effects on college-related outcomes are strongly correlated with gains on earlier tests.

Unhappy Cities
Glaeser, Edward L., Joshua D. Gottlieb, and Oren Ziv. 2016. “Unhappy Cities.” Journal of Labor Economics 34 (S2). Abstract

There are persistent differences in self-reported subjective well-being across US metropolitan areas, and residents of declining cities appear less happy than others. Yet some people continue to move to these areas, and newer residents appear to be as unhappy as longer-term residents. While historical data on happiness are limited, the available facts suggest that cities that are now declining were also unhappy in their more prosperous past. These facts support the view that individuals do not maximize happiness alone but include it in the utility function along with other arguments. People may trade off happiness against other competing objectives.

Compounded Deprivation in the Transition to Adulthood: The Intersection of Racial and Economic Inequality Among Chicagoans, 1995–2013

This paper investigates acute, compounded, and persistent deprivation in a representative sample of Chicago adolescents transitioning to young adulthood. Our investigation, based on four waves of longitudinal data from 1995 to 2013, is motivated by three goals. First, we document the prevalence of individual and neighborhood poverty over time, especially among whites, blacks, and Latinos. Second, we explore compounded deprivation, describing the extent to which study participants are simultaneously exposed to individual and contextual forms of deprivation—including material deprivation (such as poverty) and social-organizational deprivation (for example, low collective efficacy)—for multiple phases of the life course from adolescence up to age thirty-two. Third, we isolate the characteristics that predict transitions out of compounded and persistent poverty. The results provide new evidence on the crosscutting adversities that were exacerbated by the Great Recession and on the deep connection of race to persistent and compounded deprivation in the transition to adulthood.

Toward a Multidimensional Understanding of Culture for Health Interventions
Asad, Asad L., and Tamara Kay. 2015. “Toward a Multidimensional Understanding of Culture for Health Interventions.” Social Science & Medicine 144: 79-87. Publisher's Version Abstract

Although a substantial literature examines the relationship between culture and health in myriad individual contexts, a lack of comparative data across settings has resulted in disparate and imprecise conceptualizations of the concept for scholars and practitioners alike. This article examines scholars and practitioners’ understandings of culture in relation to health interventions. Drawing on 169 interviews with officials from three different nongovernmental organizations working on health issues in multiple countries—Partners in Health, Oxfam America, and Sesame Workshop—we examine how these respondents’ interpretations of culture converge or diverge with recent developments in the study of the concept, as well as how these understandings influence health interventions at three different stages—design, implementation, and evaluation—of a project. Based on these analyses, a tripartite definition of culture is built—as knowledge, practice, and change—and these distinct conceptualizations are linked to the success or failure of a project at each stage of an intervention. In so doing, the study provides a descriptive and analytical starting point for scholars interested in understanding the theoretical and empirical relevance of culture for health interventions, and sets forth concrete recommendations for practitioners working to achieve robust improvements in health outcomes.

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Undergraduate Financial Aid

Toward a New Understanding of Financial Aid: Analysis from the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education

May 11, 2017
American Academy of Arts and Sciences | The Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released a new publication: Undergraduate Financial Aid in the United States, authored by Judith Scott-Clayton (PhD '09), Associate Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
View the publication
The Ambition-Marriage Trade-Off Too Many Single Women Face

The Ambition-Marriage Trade-Off Too Many Single Women Face

May 8, 2017
Harvard Business Review | By Leonardo Bursztyn, Thomas Fujiwara, and Amanda Pallais. Harvard economist Amanda Pallais and co-authors discuss the findings of their latest research on marriage market incentives and labor market investments, forthcoming in the American Economic Review: "Many schooling and initial career decisions, such as whether to take advanced math in high school, major in engineering, or become an entrepreneur, occur early in life, when most women are single. These decisions can have labor market consequences with long-lasting effects," they write. 
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Lessons from the end of free college in England

Lessons from the end of free college in England

April 27, 2017
Brookings Institution | By Richard J. Murphy, Judith Scott-Clayton, and Gillian Wyness. Judith Scott-Clayton (PhD '09) is Associate Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.
The Hamilton Project

Leveling the Playing Field: Policy Options to Improve Postsecondary Education and Career Outcomes

April 26, 2017

The Hamilton Project | A policy forum held at the Brookings Institution. The forum began with introductory remarks by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, followed by three roundtable discussions. Papers by David J. Deming (PhD '10) and by Tara E. Watson (PhD '03) and Adam Looney (PhD'04) were the focus of two of the roundtables. View event video and dowload papers, full transcript, and presentation slides from the event webpage.

David Deming is Professor of Education and Economics at HGSE and Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Tara Watson is Associate Professor of Economics at Williams College and served in the U.S. Treasury Department from 2015-2016 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Microeconomic Analysis. Adam Looney is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings and served in the U.S. Treasury Department from 2013-2017 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis.

The Hamilton Project

A Risk Sharing Proposal for Student Loans

April 26, 2017

The Hamilton Project | A policy proposal by Tiffany Chou, Adam Looney, and Tara Watson. Adam Looney (PhD '04) is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings and served in the U.S. Treasury Department from 2013-2017 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis. Tara Watson (PhD '03) is Associate Professor of Economics at Williams College and served in the U.S. Treasury Department from 2015-2016 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Microeconomic Analysis.

Science

Documenting decline in U.S. economic mobility

April 24, 2017

Science | By Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger. A discussion of the Chetty et. al. study in this issue of Science. Katz is the Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard.

Economic Mobility: State-of-the-Art

Economic Mobility: A State-of-the-Art Primer

April 3, 2017

Archbridge Institute | By Scott Winship (Ph.D. '09), now project director with the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, Office of Vice Chairman Senator Mike Lee. Winship is an honorary advisor to the Archbridge Institute.

Early Childhood Development

Early Childhood Development: Statewide Policy Forum

March 30, 2017

Judge Baker Children's Center | Julie Boatight Wilson, Harry Kahn Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, joined a panel of experts today for a Statewide Policy Forum on Early Childhood Development, hosted by Judge Baker Children's Center, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Wilson also co-authored a companion policy brief, "Early Childhood Development: Implications for Policy, Systems, and Practice," by Robert P. Franks, Matthew Pecoraro, Jayne Singer, Sarah Swenson, and Julie Boatright Wilson.
View the policy brief

The Impact of the House ACA Repeal Bill on Enrollees’ Costs

The Impact of the House ACA Repeal Bill on Enrollees’ Costs

March 16, 2017

Center for American Progress | By David Cutler, Topher Spiro, and Emily Gee. David Cutler is the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University. Topher Spiro is the Vice President for Health Policy at the Center for American Progress. Emily Gee is a Health Economist at the Center for American Progress.

Crystal S. Yang

The economy and the odds of criminal recidivism

March 7, 2017

Journalists' Resource | Reviews new study by economist Crystal Yang (Ph.D. '13), Assistant Professor at Harvard Law School, which appears in the March 2017 issue of the Journal of Public Economics. 

In the study, "Local Labor Markets and Criminal Recidivism," Yang finds "that being released to a county with higher low-skilled wages significantly decreases the risk of recidivism," with the impact of favorable labor market conditions greater for black and first-time offenders. "Overall," Yang writes, "the findings suggest that the release of a large number of ex-offenders during the Great Recession likely had substantial consequences for recidivism," increasing the risk of recidivism by 5.5 to 9.6 percent.
View the research

Research: Lawyering and Lobbying: Why Banks Shape Rules

Research: Lawyering and Lobbying: Why Banks Shape Rules

March 3, 2017
Stigler Center at Chicago Booth | Brian Libgober, PhD candidate in Government, and Daniel Carpenter, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government and Director of Social Sciences at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, presented their research, Lawyering and Lobbying: Why Banks Shape Rules, at a jointly organized  conference hosted by the Stigler Center. The conference, How Incomplete is the Theory of the Firm?,  was jointly organized by Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, David Moss and Rebecca Henderson of Harvard Business School, and Karthik Ramanna of Oxford University.
Capitol Building

Washington must reduce policy uncertainty for small businesses

February 23, 2017

The Hill | Op-ed by Stan Veuger cites joint research with Daniel Shoag, Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, which found that increased local policy uncertainty contributed to the severity of the Great Recession. Their article, "Uncertainty and the Geography of the Great Recession," appears in the Journal of Monetary Economics (December 2016).
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When Do Renters Behave Like Homeowners? High Rent, Price Anxiety, and NIMBYism

When Do Renters Behave Like Homeowners? High Rent, Price Anxiety, and NIMBYism

February 7, 2017

JCHS Housing Perspectives | By Michael Hankinson, Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy. Hankinson's findings, "based on new national-level experimental data and city-specific behavioral data....help explain why it is so hard to build new housing in expensive cities even when there is citywide support for that housing."  Read the full paper in the Joint Center for Housing Studies Working Paper series, and learn more about Hankinson's work at his website.
mhankinson.com

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Open letter from political scientists clarifies evidence concerning Trump claim that millions of non-citizens voted in 2016 election

January 30, 2017

An open letter signed by nearly 200 professional political scientists and scholars of political behavior, including Harvard professor Ryan Enos and Inequality & Social Policy alumni Bernard Fraga PhD'13 (Indiana University), Alex Hertel-Fernandez PhD'16 (Columbia University), Jeremy Levine PhD'16 (University of Michigan), Daniel Schlozman PhD'11 (Johns Hopkins University), Ariel White PhD'16 (MIT), and Vanessa Williamson PhD'15 (Brookings Institution).

EconoFact

Will Manufacturing Jobs Come Back?

January 20, 2017

EconoFact | By David Deming (Ph.D '10), Professor at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Graduate School of Education.