News

Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Math

Tell your kids: Math makes money

January 24, 2017

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

Urban Affairs Review

What the Trump Administration Should Know about Cities: Inequality

January 24, 2017

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

Mary Brinton

Putting Families First

January 24, 2017

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

EconoFact

Academic economists launch EconoFact.org

January 21, 2017

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

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

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

Mary Brinton

Family-friendly norms key to boosting birth rate

January 20, 2017

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

Is the American Dream Really Dead?

Is the American Dream Really Dead?

January 19, 2017

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

American dream

The Dark Side of American Optimism

January 19, 2017

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

Thad Williamson appointed Richmond's Senior Policy Adviser for Opportunity

Thad Williamson appointed Richmond's Senior Policy Adviser for Opportunity

January 19, 2017

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

RSF

Announcing the 2017-2018 RSF Visiting Scholars: Deirdre Bloome

January 19, 2017

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

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

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

January 18, 2017

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

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

View the research 

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

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

January 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Insitute

Minneapolis Fed Launches Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute

January 18, 2017

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

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

Khalil Gibran Muhammad at Bates College, MLK Day 2017

Khalil Gibran Muhammad: 'No Reparation without Racial Education'

January 16, 2017

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

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

health care

Do Markets Work in Health Care?

January 13, 2017

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

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

American flag

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

January 13, 2017

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

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

View the research

Latest awards

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

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

August 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

The Life of a South Central Statistic

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

The Prospects and Limits of Deliberative Democracy

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

Ending the 'War on Work'

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

The War on Work and How to End It

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

Luck, Chance, and Taxes

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

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

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

Trois questions à Michèle Lamont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest books—By doctoral fellows and alumni

The allure of order : high hopes, dashed expectations, and the troubled quest to remake American schooling

"Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush agreed on little, but united behind the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Passed in late 2001, it was hailed as a dramatic new departure in school reform. It would make the states set high standards, measure student progress, and hold failing schools accountable. A decade later, NCLB has been repudiated on both sides of the aisle. According to Jal Mehta, we should have seen it coming. Far from new, it was the same approach to school reform that Americans have tried before. In The Allure of Order, Mehta recounts a century of attempts at revitalizing public education, and puts forward a truly new agenda to reach this elusive goal. Not once, not twice, but three separate times-in the Progressive Era, the 1960s and '70s, and NCLB-reformers have hit upon the same idea for remaking schools.

Early start : preschool politics in the United States
Karch, Andrew. 2013. Early start : preschool politics in the United States. The University of Michigan Press. Abstract

A political history of the debate over preschool education policy in the United States. In the United States, preschool education is characterized by the dominance of a variegated private sector and patchy, uncoordinated oversight of the public sector. Tracing the history of the American debate over preschool education, the author argues that the current state of decentralization and fragmentation is the consequence of a chain of reactions and counterreactions to policy decisions dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s, when preschool advocates did not achieve their vision for a comprehensive national program but did manage to foster initiatives at both the state and national levels. Over time, beneficiaries of these initiatives and officials with jurisdiction over preschool education have become ardent defenders of the status quo. Today, advocates of greater government involvement must take on a diverse and entrenched set of constituencies resistant to policy change. In his close analysis of the politics of preschool education, the author demonstrates how to apply the concepts of policy feedback, critical junctures, and venue shopping to the study of social policy. – From book jacket.

Cleaning Up - How Hospital Outsourcing Is Hurting Workers and Endangering Patients

To cut costs and maximize profits, hospitals in the United States and many other countries are outsourcing such tasks as cleaning and food preparation to private contractors. In, the first book to examine this transformation in the healthcare industry, Dan Zuberi looks at the consequences of outsourcing from two perspectives: its impact on patient safety and its role in increasing socioeconomic inequality. Drawing on years of field research in Vancouver, Canada as well as data from hospitals in the U.S. and Europe, he argues that outsourcing has been disastrous for the cleanliness of hospitals-leading to an increased risk of hospital-acquired infections, a leading cause of severe illness and death-as well as for the effective delivery of other hospital services and the workers themselves.

The Democratic Foundations of policy diffusion : how health, family and employment laws spread across countries

"Why do law reforms spread around the world in waves? Leading theories argue that international networks of technocratic elites develop orthodox solutions that they singlehandedly transplant across countries. But, in modern democracies, elites alone cannot press for legislative reforms without winning the support of politicians, voters, and interest groups. As Katerina Linos shows in The Democratic Foundations of Policy Diffusion, international models can help politicians generate domestic enthusiasm for far-reaching proposals. By pointing to models from abroad, policitians can persuade voters that their ideas are not radical, ill-thought out experiments, but mainstream, tried-and-true solutions. Through the ingenious use of experimental and cross-national evidence, Linos documents voters' response to international models and demonstrates that governments follow international organization templates and imitate the policy choices of countries heavily covered in national media and familiar to voters. Empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated, The Democratic Foundations of Policy Diffusion provides the fullest account to date of this increasingly pervasive phenomenon."–page [4] of cover.

Three worlds of relief : race, immigration, and the American welfare state from the Progressive Era to the New Deal

This book examines the role of race and immigration in the development of the American social welfare system by comparing how blacks, Mexicans, and European immigrants were treated by welfare policies during the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Taking readers from the turn of the twentieth century to the dark days of the Depression, the author finds that, despite rampant nativism, European immigrants received generous access to social welfare programs. The communities in which they lived invested heavily in relief. Social workers protected them from snooping immigration agents, and ensured that noncitizenship and illegal status did not prevent them from receiving the assistance they needed. But that same helping hand was not extended to Mexicans and blacks. The author reveals, for example, how blacks were relegated to racist and degrading public assistance programs, while Mexicans who asked for assistance were deported with the help of the very social workers they turned to for aid. Drawing on archival evidence, the author paints a portrait of how race, labor, and politics combined to create three starkly different worlds of relief. She debunks the myth that white America's immigrant ancestors pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, unlike immigrants and minorities today. This book challenges us to reconsider not only the historical record but also the implications of our past on contemporary debates about race, immigration, and the American welfare state.

The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican conservatism
Skocpol, Theda, and Vanessa Williamson. 2012. The Tea Party and the remaking of Republican conservatism. New York: Oxford University Press. Abstract

On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered a dramatic rant against Obama administration programs to shore up the plunging housing market. Invoking the Founding Fathers and ridiculing "losers" who could not pay their mortgages, Santelli called for "Tea Party" protests. Over the next two years, conservative activists took to the streets and airways, built hundreds of local Tea Party groups, and weighed in with votes and money to help right-wing Republicans win electoral victories in 2010. In this study, the author, a political scientists, and co-author go beyond the inevitable photos of protesters in Colonial costumes and tricorn hats and knee breeches to provide a nuanced portrait of the Tea Party. What they find is sometimes surprising. Drawing on grassroots interviews and visits to local meetings in several regions, they find that older, middle-class Tea Partiers mostly approve of Social Security, Medicare, and generous benefits for military veterans. Their opposition to "big government" entails reluctance to pay taxes to help people viewed as undeserving "freeloaders" including immigrants, lower income earners, and the young. At the national level, Tea Party elites and funders leverage grassroots energy to further longstanding goals such as tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of business, and privatization of the very same Social Security and Medicare programs on which many grassroots Tea Partiers depend. Elites and grassroots are nevertheless united in hatred of Barack Obama and determination to push the Republican Party sharply to the right. This book combines portraits of local Tea Party members and chapters with an overarching analysis of the movement's rise, impact, and likely fate. The paperback edition will be updated to bring the discussion up to the present, including the Republican Presidential primary race in early 2012.

The Great Recession
Grusky, David B, Bruce Western, and Christopher Wimer, ed. 2011. The Great Recession. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Abstract

The consequences of the great recession / David B. Grusky, Bruce Western, and Christopher Wimer -- The roots of thegreat recession / Neil Fligstein and Adam Goldstein -- Job loss and unemployment / Michael Hout, Asaf Levanon, and Erin Cumberworth -- Poverty and income inequality in the early stages of the great recession / Timothy M. Smeeding, ... [et al.] -- How much wealth was destroyed in the great recession? / Edward N. Wolff, Lindsay A. Owens, and Esra Burak -- An analysis of trends, perceptions, and distributional effects in consumption / Ivaylo D. Petev, Luigi Pistaferri, and Itay Saporta-Eksten -- The surprisingly weak effects of recessions on public opinion / Lane Kenworthy and Lindsay A. Owens -- The great recession's influence on fertility, marriage, divorce, and cohabitation / S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, and Christopher Wimer -- The federal stimulus programs and their effects / Gary Burtless and Tracy Gordon -- Has the great recession made Americans stingier? / Rob Reich,... [et al.].

Latest academic articles — By doctoral fellows

Do Tax Cuts Produce more Einsteins? The Impacts of Financial Incentives Versus Exposure to Innovation on the Supply of Inventors
Bell, Alex, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, and John Van Reenen. 2019. “Do Tax Cuts Produce more Einsteins? The Impacts of Financial Incentives Versus Exposure to Innovation on the Supply of Inventors.” Journal of the European Economic Association 17 (3): 651–677. Abstract
Many countries provide financial incentives to spur innovation, ranging from tax incentives to research and development grants. In this paper, we study how such financial incentives affect individuals’ decisions to pursue careers in innovation. We first present empirical evidence on inventors’ career trajectories and income distributions using deidentified data on 1.2 million inventors from patent records linked to tax records in the United States. We find that the private returns to innovation are extremely skewed—with the top 1% of inventors collecting more than 22% of total inventors’ income—and are highly correlated with their social impact, as measured by citations. Inventors tend to have their most impactful innovations around age 40 and their incomes rise rapidly just before they have high-impact patents. We then build a stylized model of inventor career choice that matches these facts as well as recent evidence that childhood exposure to innovation plays a critical role in determining whether individuals become inventors. The model predicts that financial incentives, such as top income tax reductions, have limited potential to increase aggregate innovation because they only affect individuals who are exposed to innovation and have essentially no impact on the decisions of star inventors, who matter most for aggregate innovation. Importantly, these results hold regardless of whether the private returns to innovation are fully known at the time of career choice or are fully stochastic. In contrast, increasing exposure to innovation (e.g., through mentorship programs) could have substantial impacts on innovation by drawing individuals who produce high-impact inventions into the innovation pipeline. Although we do not present direct evidence supporting these model-based predictions, our results call for a more careful assessment of the impacts of financial incentives and a greater focus on alternative policies to increase the supply of inventors.
Antitrust Enforcement as Federal Policy to Reduce Regional Economic Disparities
Manduca, Robert. 2019. “Antitrust Enforcement as Federal Policy to Reduce Regional Economic Disparities.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 685 (1): 156-171. Abstract
Regions of the United States have seen their incomes diverge dramatically over the last four decades. This article makes the empirical and political case for treating regional economic disparities as a national phenomenon best resolved through federal policy, rather than exclusively as a matter of local responsibility. It then considers reinvigorated antitrust enforcement as an example of a federal policy that would strengthen local economies while benefiting from policy feedback effects.
The Cognitive Dimension of Household Labor
Daminger, Allison. 2019. “The Cognitive Dimension of Household Labor.” American Sociological Review 84 (4): 609-633. Abstract
Household labor is commonly defined as a set of physical tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Sociologists sometimes reference non-physical activities related to “household management,” but these are typically mentioned in passing, imprecisely defined, or treated as equivalent to physical tasks. Using 70 in-depth interviews with members of 35 couples, this study argues that such tasks are better understood as examples of a unique dimension of housework: cognitive labor. The data demonstrate that cognitive labor entails anticipating needs, identifying options for filling them, making decisions, and monitoring progress. Because such work is taxing but often invisible to both cognitive laborers and their partners, it is a frequent source of conflict for couples. Cognitive labor is also a gendered phenomenon: women in this study do more cognitive labor overall and more of the anticipation and monitoring work in particular. However, male and female participation in decision-making, arguably the cognitive labor component most closely linked to power and influence, is roughly equal. These findings identify and define an overlooked—yet potentially consequential—source of gender inequality at the household level and suggest a new direction for research on the division of household labor.
Unemployment insurance and reservation wages: Evidence from administrative data
Barbanchon, Thomas Le, Roland Rathelot, and Alexandra Roulet. 2019. “Unemployment insurance and reservation wages: Evidence from administrative data.” Journal of Public Economics 171: 1-17. Abstract

Although the reservation wage plays a central role in job search models, empirical evidence on the determinants of reservation wages, including key policy variables such as unemployment insurance (UI), is scarce. In France, unemployed people must declare their reservation wage to the Public Employment Service when they register to claim UI benefits. We take advantage of these rich French administrative data and of a reform of UI rules to estimate the effect of the Potential Benefit Duration (PBD) on reservation wages and on other dimensions of job selectivity, using a difference-in-difference strategy. We cannot reject that the elasticity of the reservation wage with respect to PBD is zero. Our results are precise and we can rule out elasticities larger than 0.006. Furthermore, we do not find any significant effects of PBD on the desired number of hours, duration of labor contract and commuting time/distance. The estimated elasticity of actual benefit duration with respect to PBD of 0.3 is in line with the consensus in the literature. Exploiting a Regression Discontinuity Design as an alternative identification strategy, we find similar results.

Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure
Muller, Christopher, Robert J. Sampson, and Alix S. Winter. 2018. “Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure.” Annual Review of Sociology 44 (1): 263-282 . Abstract
In this article, we review evidence from the social and medical sciences on the causes and effects of lead exposure. We argue that lead exposure is an important subject for sociological analysis because it is socially stratified and has important social consequences—consequences that themselves depend in part on children's social environments. We present a model of environmental inequality over the life course to guide an agenda for future research. We conclude with a call for deeper exchange between urban sociology, environmental sociology, and public health, and for more collaboration between scholars and local communities in the pursuit of independent science for the common good.
he consequences of lead exposure for later crime are theoretically compelling, but direct evidence from representative, longitudinal samples is sparse. By capitalizing on an original follow-up of more than 200 infants from the birth cohort of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods matched to their blood lead levels from around age 3 years, we provide several tests. Through the use of four waves of longitudinal data that include measures of individual development, family background, and structural inequalities in how lead becomes embodied, we assess the hypothesized link between early childhood lead poisoning and both parent-reported delinquent behavior and official arrest in late adolescence. We also test for mediating developmental processes of impulsivity and anxiety or depression. The results from multiple analytic strategies that make different assumptions reveal a plausibly causal effect of childhood lead exposure on adolescent delinquent behavior but no direct link to arrests. The results underscore lead exposure as a trigger for poisoned development in the early life course and call for greater integration of the environment into theories of individual differences in criminal behavior.
Public Campaign Financing, Candidate Socioeconomic Diversity, and Representational Inequality at the U.S. State Level: Evidence from Connecticut
Conventional wisdom holds that public campaign financing can diversify the socioeconomic makeup of candidate pools and, therefore, of U.S. elected officials, which could make U.S. public policy more responsive to lower socioeconomic status (SES) citizens. I argue that in addition to the absence of a positive relationship between public financing and candidate socioeconomic diversity, public financing, depending on the program design, may, in fact, reduce candidate socioeconomic diversity. Using occupational data on state legislative candidates in public financing state Connecticut and two paired control states to execute a difference in difference analysis, I demonstrate that when public financing is available, fewer low SES candidates run for state legislative office, and those who do run are not more likely to win and are less likely to utilize public financing.
Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure
Muller, Christopher, Robert J. Sampson, and Alix S. Winter. 2018. “Environmental Inequality: The Social Causes and Consequences of Lead Exposure.” Annual Review of Sociology 44 (1): 263-282. Abstract
In this article, we review evidence from the social and medical sciences on the causes and effects of lead exposure. We argue that lead exposure is an important subject for sociological analysis because it is socially stratified and has important social consequences—consequences that themselves depend in part on children's social environments. We present a model of environmental inequality over the life course to guide an agenda for future research. We conclude with a call for deeper exchange between urban sociology, environmental sociology, and public health, and for more collaboration between scholars and local communities in the pursuit of independent science for the common good.
Introducing a performance-based component into Jakarta's school grants: What do we know about its impact after three years?
Samarrai, Samer Al, Unika Shrestha, Amer Hasan, Nozomi Nakajima, Santoso Santoso, and Wisnu Harto Adi Wijoyo. 2018. “Introducing a performance-based component into Jakarta's school grants: What do we know about its impact after three years?” Economics of Education Review 67: 110-136. Abstract
Using administrative data, this paper evaluates the early impact of introducing a performance-based component into Jakarta's long-standing school grant program on learning outcomes. The authors use difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity approaches to identify the component's impact on both government primary and junior secondary schools. Learning outcomes improved in primary schools at the bottom of the performance distribution, which narrowed the performance gaps between schools. However, the component had a negative impact on the better performing primary schools. Overall, primary examination scores fell slightly but this effect was only temporary. In contrast, the performance-based component improved examination scores in junior secondary schools. This impact seems to have been greatest among better-performing schools, thus widening the performance gap between these schools and those whose performance was worse. The data suggest that the main impact of the performance-based grant in terms of learning outcomes operated through an increase in competition among schools to earn the performance-based grant rather than through receipt of the actual grant funds.
Beyond the Border and Into the Heartland: Spatial Patterning of U.S. Immigration Detention
The expansion of U.S. immigration enforcement from the borders into the interior of the country and the fivefold increase in immigration detentions and deportations since 1995 raise important questions about how the enforcement of immigration law is spatially patterned across American communities. Focusing on the practice of immigration detention, the present study analyzes the records of all 717,160 noncitizens detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2008 and 2009—a period when interior enforcement was at its peak—to estimate states’ detention rates and examine geographic variation in detention outcomes, net of individual characteristics. Findings reveal substantial state heterogeneity in immigration detention rates, which range from approximately 350 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Connecticut to more than 6,700 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Wyoming. After detainment, individuals’ detention outcomes are geographically stratified, especially for detainees eligible for pretrial release. These disparities indicate the important role that geography plays in shaping individuals’ chances of experiencing immigration detention and deportation.
Attitudes Toward Mass Arrivals: Variations by Racial, Spatial, and Temporal Distances to Incoming Disaster Evacuees
Raker, Ethan J., and James R. Elliott. 2018. “Attitudes Toward Mass Arrivals: Variations by Racial, Spatial, and Temporal Distances to Incoming Disaster Evacuees.” Social Science Quarterly 99 (3): 1200-1213. Abstract

Objective

Disasters can send large numbers of evacuees into new contexts of reception, where attitudes toward them can vary significantly by perceived social distance. To conventional assessment of such distance along racial lines, we add spatial and temporal distance from point of central arrival.

Methods

A novel research design combines the natural experiment triggered by Hurricane Katrina with five consecutive Kinder Houston Area Surveys (2006–2010), which gather data on attitudes toward arrived evacuees as well as tract‐level data on residential context.

Results

Regression analyses reveal that spatial and temporal distance act similarly to racial distance in predicting negative attitudes toward evacuees. Results also show these effects are moderated by the racial context of incumbents’ residential neighborhoods.

Conclusions

Social distance exerts a multifaceted influence on evacuee reception in ways that become especially pertinent in the arrival of communities from large‐scale, urban evacuations.

Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities
Zoorob, Michael. 2018. “Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 75: 736-738. Abstract

Objective Economic policies can have unintended consequences on population health. In recent years, many states in the USA have passed ‘right to work’ (RTW) laws which weaken labour unions. The effect of these laws on occupational health remains unexplored. This study fills this gap by analysing the effect of RTW on occupational fatalities through its effect on unionisation.

Methods Two-way fixed effects regression models are used to estimate the effect of unionisation on occupational mortality per 100 000 workers, controlling for state policy liberalism and workforce composition over the period 1992–2016. In the final specification, RTW laws are used as an instrument for unionisation to recover causal effects.

Results The Local Average Treatment Effect of a 1% decline in unionisation attributable to RTW is about a 5% increase in the rate of occupational fatalities. In total, RTW laws have led to a 14.2% increase in occupational mortality through decreased unionisation.

Conclusion These findings illustrate and quantify the protective effect of unions on workers’ safety. Policymakers should consider the potentially deleterious effects of anti-union legislation on occupational health.

The Persistent Effect of U.S. Civil Rights Protests on Political Attitudes
Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2018. “The Persistent Effect of U.S. Civil Rights Protests on Political Attitudes.” American Journal of Political Science 62 (4): 922-935. Publisher's Version Abstract
Protests can engender significant institutional change. Can protests also continue to shape a nation's contemporary politics outside of more formalized channels? I argue that social movements can not only beget institutional change, but also long‐run, attitudinal change. Using the case of the U.S. civil rights movement, I develop a theory in which protests can shift attitudes and these attitudes can persist. Data from over 150,000 survey respondents provide evidence consistent with the theory. Whites from counties that experienced historical civil rights protests are more likely to identify as Democrats and support affirmative action, and less likely to harbor racial resentment against blacks. These individual‐level results are politically meaningful—counties that experienced civil rights protests are associated with greater Democratic Party vote shares even today. This study highlights how social movements can have persistent impacts on a nation's politics.
Political Consequences of Survival Strategies among the Urban Poor
Desmond, Matthew, and Adam Travis. 2018. “Political Consequences of Survival Strategies among the Urban Poor.” American Sociological Review 83 (5): 869–896. Abstract
Combining ethnographic and statistical methods, this study identifies interlocking mechanisms that help explain how disadvantaged neighborhoods influence their residents’ political capacity. Support systems that arise in low-income neighborhoods promote social interaction that helps people make ends meet, but these systems also expose residents to heavy doses of adversity, which dampens perceptions of collective political capacity. For the poorest residents of these neighborhoods in particular, the expected positive effect of informal social support is suppressed by the negative effect of perceived trauma. These findings present a micro-level account of poverty, social interaction, and political capacity, one that holds implications for scholarship and public policy on participatory inequality.
Income Inequality and the Persistence of Racial Economic Disparities
Manduca, Robert. 2018. “Income Inequality and the Persistence of Racial Economic Disparities.” Sociological Science 5 (8): 182-205. Abstract
More than 50 years after the Civil Rights Act, black–white family income disparities in the United States remain almost exactly the same as what they were in 1968. This article argues that a key and underappreciated driver of the racial income gap has been the national trend of rising income inequality. From 1968 to 2016, black–white disparities in family income rank narrowed by almost one-third. But this relative gain was negated by changes to the national income distribution that resulted in rapid income growth for the richest—and most disproportionately white—few percentiles of the country combined with income stagnation for the poor and middle class. But for the rise in income inequality, the median black–white family income gap would have decreased by about 30 percent. Conversely, without the partial closing of the rank gap, growing inequality alone would have increased the racial income gap by 30 percent.
Is Running Enough? Reconsidering the Conventional Wisdom about Women Candidates
BucchianerI, Peter. 2018. “Is Running Enough? Reconsidering the Conventional Wisdom about Women Candidates.” Political Behavior 40 (2): 435-466. Abstract
The conventional wisdom in the literature on women candidates holds that “when women run, they win as often as men.” This has led to a strong focus in the literature on the barriers to entry for women candidates and significant evidence that these barriers hinder representation. Yet, a growing body of research suggests that some disadvantages persist for Republican women even after they choose to run for office. In this paper, I investigate the aggregate consequences of these disadvantages for general election outcomes. Using a regression discontinuity design, I show that Republican women who win close House primaries lose at higher rates in the general election than Republican men. This nomination effect holds throughout the 1990s despite a surge in Republican voting starting in 1994. I find no such effect for Democratic women and provide evidence that a gap in elite support explains part of the cross-party difference.
Racialized legal status as a social determinant of health
Asad, Asad L., and Matthew Clair. 2018. “Racialized legal status as a social determinant of health.” Social Science & Medicine 199: 19-28. Abstract

This article advances the concept of racialized legal status (RLS) as an overlooked dimension of social stratification with implications for racial/ethnic health disparities. We define RLS as a social position based on an ostensibly race-neutral legal classification that becomes colored through its disparate impact on racial/ethnic minorities. To illustrate the implications of RLS for health and health disparities in the United States, we spotlight existing research on two cases: criminal status and immigration status. We offer a conceptual framework that outlines how RLS shapes disparities through (1) direct effects on those who hold a legal status and (2) spillover effects on racial/ethnic in-group members, regardless of these individuals' own legal status. Direct effects of RLS operate by marking an individual for material and symbolic exclusion. Spillover effects result from the vicarious experiences of those with social proximity to marked individuals, as well as the discredited meanings that RLS constructs around racial/ethnic group members. We conclude by suggesting multiple avenues for future research that considers RLS as a mechanism of social inequality with fundamental effects on health.

Jurors' Subjective Experiences of Deliberations in Criminal Cases
Winter, Alix S., and Matthew Clair. 2018. “Jurors' Subjective Experiences of Deliberations in Criminal Cases.” Law & Social Inquiry 43 (4): 1458-1490. Abstract

Research on jury deliberations has largely focused on the implications of deliberations for criminal defendants' outcomes. In contrast, this article considers jurors' outcomes by integrating subjective experience into the study of deliberations. We examine whether jurors' feelings that they had enough time to express themselves vary by jurors' gender, race, or education. Drawing on status characteristics theory and a survey of more than 3,000 real-world jurors, we find that the majority of jurors feel that they had enough time to express themselves. However, blacks and Hispanics, and especially blacks and Hispanics with less education, are less likely to feel so. Jurors' verdict preferences do not account for these findings. Our findings have implications for status characteristics theory and for legal cynicism among members of lower-status social groups.

Discretionary Disenfranchisement: The Case of Legal Financial Obligations
Meredith, Marc, and Michael Morse. 2017. “Discretionary Disenfranchisement: The Case of Legal Financial Obligations.” Journal of Legal Studies 46 (2). Abstract
Conditioning voting rights on the payment of legal financial obligations (LFOs) may be unconstitutional if there are no exceptions for indigency. Appellate courts, though, generally have upheld felon-disenfranchisement laws that withhold voting rights until all fees, fines, and restitution are paid in full. These decisions, however, have been made with limited evidence available about the type, burden, and disparate impact of criminal debt. We address this by detailing who owes LFOs, how much they owe, and for what purpose using representative statewide samples in Alabama. The median amount of LFOs assessed to discharged felons across all of their criminal convictions is $3,956, more than half of which stems from court fees. As a result, most ex-felons remain disenfranchised after completing their sentences. People who are disproportionately indigent—blacks and those utilizing a public defender—are even less likely to be eligible to restore their voting rights.
Measuring the natural rate of interest: International trends and determinants
Holston, Kathryn, Thomas Lobach, and John C. Williams. 2017. “Measuring the natural rate of interest: International trends and determinants.” Journal of International Economics 108 (1): S59-S75. Abstract

U.S. estimates of the natural rate of interest – the real short-term interest rate that would prevail absent transitory disturbances – have declined dramatically since the start of the global financial crisis. For example, estimates using the Laubach–Williams (2003) model indicate the natural rate in the United States fell to close to zero during the crisis and has remained there into 2016. Explanations for this decline include shifts in demographics, a slowdown in trend productivity growth, and global factors affecting real interest rates. This paper applies the Laubach–Williams methodology to the United States and three other advanced economies – Canada, the Euro Area, and the United Kingdom. We find that large declines in trend GDP growth and natural rates of interest have occurred over the past 25 years in all four economies. These country-by-country estimates are found to display a substantial amount of comovement over time, suggesting an important role for global factors in shaping trend growth and natural rates of interest.

 

Awarded the Bhagwati Prize for 2017-2018, given every two years for the best article published in the Journal of International Economics during the previous two years.
The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940
Chetty, Raj, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca, and Jimmy Narang. 2017. “The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940.” Science 356 (6336): 398-406. Abstract
We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”—the fraction of children who earn more than their parents—by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. Increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. However, distributing current GDP growth more equally across income groups as in the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the “American dream” of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is shared more broadly across the income distribution.
Does Consumer Demand Reproduce Inequality? High-Income Consumers, Vertical Differentiation, and the Wage Structure

This article considers the effects on the wage structure of the U.S. economy’s growing reliance on demand from high-income consumers. Relative to the mass consumers that defined the post–World War II U.S. economy, high-income consumers are willing to pay for high-quality and high-status products. These spending patterns split producers into up-market and down-market segments and stoke winner-take-all dynamics among up-market producers. Economic dependence on high-income consumers could thus lead to a new form of industrial segmentation, based on vertical differentiation by product quality or status. To test these predictions, data from consumer expenditure and wage surveys are linked using input-output tables and used to fit variance function regressions. Results show that industries more dependent on high-income consumers have greater wage inequality. This analysis identifies a new structural source of wage inequality not considered in previous research: the increasingly unequal composition of consumer demand reproduces wage inequality.

Police Reform and the Dismantling of Legal Estrangement
Bell, Monica C. 2017. “Police Reform and the Dismantling of Legal Estrangement.” Yale Law Journal 126 (7): 2054-2150. Abstract

In police reform circles, many scholars and policymakers diagnose the frayed relationship between police forces and the communities they serve as a problem of illegitimacy, or the idea that people lack confidence in the police and thus are unlikely to comply or cooperate with them. The core proposal emanating from this illegitimacy diagnosis is procedural justice, a concept that emphasizes police officers’ obligation to treat people with dignity and respect, behave in a neutral, nonbiased way, exhibit an intention to help, and give them voice to express themselves and their needs, largely in the context of police stops. This Essay argues that legitimacy theory offers an incomplete diagnosis of the policing crisis, and thus de-emphasizes deeper structural, group-centered approaches to the problem of policing. The existing police regulatory regime encourages large swaths of American society to see themselves as existing within the law’s aegis but outside its protection. This Essay critiques the reliance of police decision makers on a simplified version of legitimacy and procedural justice theory. It aims to expand the predominant understanding of police mistrust among African Americans and the poor, proposing that legal estrangement offers a better lens through which scholars and policymakers can understand and respond to the current problems of policing. Legal estrangement is a theory of detachment and eventual alienation from the law’s enforcers, and it reflects the intuition among many people in poor communities of color that the law operates to exclude them from society. Building on the concepts of legal cynicism and anomie in sociology, the concept of legal estrangement provides a way of understanding the deep concerns that motivate today’s police reform movement and points toward structural approaches to reforming policing. 

Wealth Inequality and Accumulation
Killewald, Alexandra, Fabian T. Pfeffer, and Jared N. Schachner. 2017. “Wealth Inequality and Accumulation.” Annual Review of Sociology 43 (1). Abstract
Research on wealth inequality and accumulation and the data upon which it relies have expanded substantially in the twenty-first century. Although the field has experienced rapid growth, conceptual and methodological challenges remain. We begin by discussing two major unresolved methodological concerns facing wealth research: how to address challenges to causal inference posed by wealth’s cumulative nature and how to operationalize net worth, given its highly skewed distribution. Next, we provide an overview of data sources available for wealth research. To underscore the need for continued empirical attention to net worth, we review trends in wealth levels and inequality and evaluate wealth’s distinctiveness as an indicator of social stratification. We then review recent empirical evidence on the effects of wealth on other social outcomes, as well as research on the determinants of wealth. We close with a list of promising avenues for future research on wealth, its causes, and its consequences.
Autocracies and the international sources of cooperation
Mazumder, Soumyajit. 2017. “Autocracies and the international sources of cooperation.” Journal of Peace Research 54 (3): 412-426. Publisher's Version Abstract
Under what conditions do autocracies peacefully settle disputes? Existing studies tend to focus on the domestic factors that shape conflict initiation. In this article, I show how domestic institutions interact with international institutions to produce more cooperative outcomes. Particularly, this study argues that as autocracies become more central in the network of liberal institutions such as preferential trade agreements (PTAs), they are less likely to initiate a militarized interstate dispute (MID). As a state becomes more democratic, the effect of centrality within the PTA network on the peaceful dispute settlement dissipates. This is because greater embeddedness in the PTA regime is associated with enhanced transparency for autocracies, which allows autocracies to mitigate ex ante informational problems in dispute resolution. Using a dataset of MID initiation from 1965 to 1999, this study finds robust empirical support for the aforementioned hypothesis. Moreover, the results are substantively significant. Further analysis into the causal mechanisms at work provides evidence in favor of the information mechanism. Autocrats who are more embedded in the PTA network tend to have higher levels of economic transparency and economic transparency itself is associated with lower rates of conflict initiation. The results suggest that an autocrat’s structural position within the international system can help to peacefully settle its disputes.
One Egalitarianism or Several? Two Decades of Gender-Role Attitude Change in Europe
Knight, Carly R., and Mary C. Brinton. 2017. “One Egalitarianism or Several? Two Decades of Gender-Role Attitude Change in Europe.” American Journal of Sociology 122 (5): 1485-1532. Abstract
This article challenges the implicit assumption of many cross-national studies that gender-role attitudes fall along a single continuum between traditional and egalitarian. The authors argue that this approach obscures theoretically important distinctions in attitudes and renders analyses of change over time incomplete. Using latent class analysis, they investigate the multidimensional nature of gender-role attitudes in 17 postindustrial European countries. They identify three distinct varieties of egalitarianism that they designate as liberal egalitarianism, egalitarian familism, and flexible egalitarianism. They show that while traditional gender-role attitudes have precipitously and uniformly declined in accordance with the “rising tide” narrative toward greater egalitarianism, the relative prevalence of different egalitarianisms varies markedly across countries. Furthermore, they find that European nations are not converging toward one dominant egalitarian model but rather, remain differentiated by varieties of egalitarianism.
Urban Income Inequality and the Great Recession in Sunbelt Form: Disentangling Individual and Neighborhood-Level Change in Los Angeles
Sampson, Robert J., Jared N. Schachner, and Robert L. Mare. 2017. “Urban Income Inequality and the Great Recession in Sunbelt Form: Disentangling Individual and Neighborhood-Level Change in Los Angeles.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 3 (2): 102-128. Abstract

New social transformations within and beyond the cities of classic urban studies challenge prevailing accounts of spatial inequality. This paper pivots from the Rust Belt to the Sunbelt accordingly, disentangling persistence and change in neighborhood median income and concentrated income extremes in Los Angeles County. We first examine patterns of change over two decades starting in 1990 for all Los Angeles neighborhoods. We then analyze an original longitudinal study of approximately six hundred Angelenos from 2000 to 2013, assessing the degree to which contextual changes in neighborhood income arise from neighborhood-level mobility or individual residential mobility. Overall we find deep and persistent inequality among both neighborhoods and individuals. Contrary to prior research, we also find that residential mobility does not materially alter neighborhood economic conditions for most race, ethnic, and income groups. Our analyses lay the groundwork for a multilevel theoretical framework capable of explaining spatial inequality across cities and historical eras.

Labor Unions as Activist Organizations: A Union Power Approach to Estimating Union Wage Effects

Amid the long decline of US unions, research on union wage effects has struggled with selection problems and inadequate theory. I draw on the sociology of labor to argue that unions use non-market sources of power to pressure companies into raising wages. This theory of union power implies a new test of union wage effects: does union activism have an effect on wages that is not reducible to workers’ market position? Two institutional determinants of union activity are used to empirically isolate the wage effect of union activism from labor market conditions: increased union revenue from investment shocks and increased union activity leading up to union officer elections. Instrumental variable analysis of panel data from the Department of Labor shows that a 1 percent increase in union spending increases a proxy for union members’ wages between 0.15 percent and 0.30 percent. These wage effects are larger in years of active collective bargaining, and when unions increase spending in ways that could pressure companies. The results indicate that non-market sources of union power can affect workers’ wages and that even in a period of labor weakness unions still play a role in setting wages for their members.

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. 
View the research
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

Dropbox logo

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.