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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

The Shifting Nature of Gender Norms

The Shifting Nature of Gender Norms

July 28, 2016

Pacific Standard | A new study suggests expectations are changing faster for women than for men. Coverage of Alexandra Killewald's research, "Money, Work, and Marital Stability: Assessing Change in the Gendered Determinants of Divorce," published in the current issue of the American Sociological Review.
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Turns Out That the Husband’s Employment Status Is Probably the Best Predictor of Divorce

Turns Out That the Husband’s Employment Status Is Probably the Best Predictor of Divorce

July 28, 2016

NY Magazine—The Science of US | "In a new study published in the American Sociological Review, Harvard sociologist Alexandra Achen Killewald has found that the things that increase the probability of divorce — as they relate to work, at least — have changed over the past couple decades. It turns out that the amount of money that either the husband or wife makes isn’t that important: For contemporary couples, the biggest determinant is whether the husband is working full-time."
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Don’t Blame Divorce on Money. Ask: Did the Husband Have a Job?

Don’t Blame Divorce on Money. Ask: Did the Husband Have a Job?

July 28, 2016

Bloomberg | A new study by Alexandra Killewald, Professor of Sociology, suggests that neither financial strains nor women's increased ability to get out of an unhappy marriage is predictive of divorce. Killewald's research, "Money, Work, and Marital Stability: Assessing Change in the Gendered Determinants of Divorce," appears in the current issue of the American Sociological Review.
View the ASR article (ungated)

Information asymmetry: Secrets and agents

Information asymmetry: Secrets and agents

July 23, 2016

The Economist | First in a series on seminal economic ideas delves into George Akerlof's 1970 paper, "The Market for Lemons"—and highlights how Daniel Shoag's findings (joint with Robert Clifford, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston) on the impact of credit check bans on employment draw insight from the field of information economics that Akerlof's work spurred. Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, and Clifford find that, contrary to the bans' intent, prohibiting the use of credit scores in hiring led to relatively worse outcomes for black and young job-seekers. 
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Wages of Mariel

Wages of Mariel

July 23, 2016

The Economist | New study by George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, counters the findings of a classic paper in immigration economics. Borjas reexamines the impact of the 1980 Mariel boatlift on Miami-area wages by focusing on high school dropouts, the group most comparable to the Marielitos, he argues, over 60% of whom were high school dropouts. The paper is forthcoming in Industrial and Labor Relations Review.
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Inaugural Convening of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Inaugural Convening of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

July 22, 2016

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking—on which Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy, serves—convened its first public meeting on July 22. The Commission was established under the bipartisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-140), jointly sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2016. The Commission is charged with examining aspects of how to increase the availability and use of data in order to build evidence about government programs, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.
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View meeting materials and slides

Politics in a 'post-truth' age

Politics in a 'post-truth' age

July 14, 2016

Harvard Gazette | In this topsy-turvy presidential campaign, the old laws may no longer apply. Harvard analysts weigh in on norms and culture of democracy—including Jennifer Hochschild, the Henry LaBarre Jayne professor of Government, and political theorist Danielle Allen, who directs the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

How the 2% lives

How the 2% lives

July 14, 2016

The Economist | How do growing numbers of temp workers, now over 2% of the U.S. workforce, affect temporary and staff workers alike? Quotes Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allen Professor of Economics, who estimates that temps face a 15% earnings penalty even after controlling for age, education, and other demographic variables, and cites his earlier work with Alan Krueger, which found that  states with a higher share of temporary employment in the late 1980s experienced lower wage growth in the 1990s. 

Obama's hopes for the future of health care

Obama's hopes for the future of health care

July 12, 2016

Marketplace | Features Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy. "The name of the act is the Affordable Care Act," Chandra said. "But I think American health care is still largely unaffordable to many, many people." To truly build on Obama’s legacy, he said policymakers must tackle the problem of drugs and procedures that are expensive but really don't offer much value.

Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings

Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings

July 11, 2016

The New York Times | Coverage of new NBER working paper by Roland Fryer, Henry Lee Professor of Economics: "A new study confirms that black men and women are treated differently in the hands of law enforcement. They are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where, and when they encounter the police. But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias."
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When Urbanization Doesn't Help

When Urbanization Doesn't Help

July 10, 2016

The Atlantic—CityLabWhile some nations have seen rapid urbanization lead to economic progress, others have fallen behind. Discusses new study by Edward Glaeser and colleagues that compares the process of urbanization in three of the world’s largest emerging economies—Brazil, China, and India—to that of the United States. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard.
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Latest commentary and analysis

Happy Birthday, Welfare Reform

Happy Birthday, Welfare Reform

August 25, 2016

New York Daily News | By Scott Winship (Ph.D. '09), Walter B. Wriston Fellow, Manhattan Institute. "Welfare reform was the most successful anti-poverty legislation since the national expansion of food stamps in 1974. History will regard it as a model, not a mistake," Winship argues.

When African-American Voters Shifted Away from the GOP

When African-American Voters Shifted Away from the GOP

August 25, 2016

NPR—All Things Considered |NPR's Robert Siegel talks with historian Leah Wright Rigueur, whose book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power, explores the history of the relationship between African-Americans and the Republican Party. Rigueur is an assistant professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Summer jobs programs: What do we know?

Summer jobs programs: What do we know?

August 23, 2016

Brookings Institution | By Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01), Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Department of Economics, Northeastern University, and Associate Director of Northeastern's Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. Modestino has recently  joined Brookings as a non-resident fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program.

20 Years Since Welfare 'Reform': How Has America Fared?

20 Years Since Welfare 'Reform': How Has America Fared?

August 22, 2016

The Atlantic | By Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer. "TANF offered states a lot of flexibility to innovate, to allow a flowering of new ideas to help the poor. But that’s not what the country got," write Edin and Shaefer. "Instead it got a new kind of welfare queens: states. States, not people, are using TANF to close the holes in their budgets. It is states, not people, who are falling prey to the “perverse disincentives” of welfare."

Edin, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, and Shaefer, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, spoke about their book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, in a Malcolm Wiener Center event at the Harvard Kennedy School in November 2015.
View the event... Read more about 20 Years Since Welfare 'Reform': How Has America Fared?

Did Welfare Reform Work?

Did Welfare Reform Work?

August 22, 2016

Politico | Interview with Scott Winship (Ph.D.'09), Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who says yes. Twenty years after passage of Bill Clinton's controversial anti-poverty law, his major new report challenges its critics—and says it even offers a way forward.

A Tale of Two Insurgencies

A Tale of Two Insurgencies

August 22, 2016

The American Interest | By Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology. 

Tuition is now a useless concept in higher education

Tuition is now a useless concept in higher education

August 19, 2016

The Washington Post | By Danielle Allen, Professor of Government and Education. "Tuition decisions made by elite colleges and universities are actually decisions about whom to subsidize," Allen writes. "The lower the sticker price, the more the well-to-do are being subsidized for an education that costs well above the sticker price."

A Moral Conscience for Economics

A Moral Conscience for Economics

August 18, 2016

Harvard MagazineNew HKS dean Douglas Elmendorf talks with Harvard Magazine about inequality, the state of economics, and the role of public policy in improving people's lives.

2016 Hutchins Forum: Race and the Race to the White House

2016 Hutchins Forum: Race and the Race to the White House

August 18, 2016

PBS NewsHour |The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University held its annual summer Hutchins Forum. Among the panelists: Inequality & Social Policy faculty affiliates Leah Wright Rigueur of the Harvard Kennedy School and Lawrence D. Bobo, W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard. View the video via PBS NewsHour.

  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault, PBS NewsHour

  • Charles M. Blow, The New York Times
  • Donna Brazile, Democratic National Committee
  • Armstrong Williams, The Right Side
  • Leah Wright Rigueur, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Lawrence D. Bobo, Harvard University

Post-Regulatory School Reform

Post-Regulatory School Reform

August 18, 2016

Harvard Magazine | By Paul E. Peterson, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government. With many students still at risk, choice and competition remain the country's best hope, Peterson argues.

Hillary Clinton's Poverty Agenda

Hillary Clinton's Poverty Agenda

August 17, 2016

The New York Times | Letter by Robert Putnam, Peter Malkin Professor of Public Policy, takes issues with New York Times article (Poor Seem Far Down the List on Candidates' Agendas, Aug 12)  for suggesting that Hillary Clinton has not offered solutions for addressing poverty, setting up "a false equivalency" between her and Donald Trump. "America’s poorest children and families have been forgotten by our leaders for too long. That was the argument of my book “Our Kids,” and why I agreed when Hillary Clinton asked me, along with 50 other experts, to serve on her policy working group on poverty and social mobility."

Column: Don't be fooled. Clinton and Democrats have their own race problem.

Column: Don't be fooled. Clinton and Democrats have their own race problem.

August 16, 2016

PBS NewsHour | By Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. "The extremism of Donald Trump somewhat obscures the complex role that race has played in Hillary Clinton’s campaign," Rigueur writes.  Second in a series of perspectives in advance of Thursday's 2016 Hutchins Forum: Race and the Race to the White House, in which Rigueur is a panelist.  PBS NewsHour will live-stream the forum here.

Ten-year Trends in Public Opinion From the EdNext Poll

Ten-year Trends in Public Opinion From the EdNext Poll

August 16, 2016

Education Next | By Paul E. Peterson, Michael B. Henderson (Ph.D '11), Martin R. West (Ph.D. '06), and Samuel Barrows (Ph.D. '14). Common Core and vouchers are down, but many other reforms still popular, the authors find.

Paul E. Peterson is professor and director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School. Michael B. Henderson is an assistant professor at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication and director of its Public Policy Research Lab. Martin R. West, editor-in chief of Education Next, is associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and deputy director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School, where Samuel Barrows is a postdoctoral fellow.

Obama's Criminal Justice Legacy

Obama's Criminal Justice Legacy

August 15, 2016

WNYC The Brian Lehrer Show | Conversation with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who recently joined the Harvard Kennedy School faculty as Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy.

Clinton Abandons the Middle on Education

Clinton Abandons the Middle on Education

August 14, 2016

Wall Street Journal | By Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West. Most rank-and-file Democrats disagree with the party platform, Peterson and West argue, drawing from a survey to be published next week in Education Next. Peterson is Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard. West (Ph.D. '06) is Associate Professor of Education.

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Pretrial detention

Proposals for improving the U.S. Pretrial System

March 15, 2019

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

Economics for Inclusive Prosperity

Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP) Launches

February 15, 2019

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

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

BPEA heartland

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

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

Macroeconomic effects of the 2017 tax reform

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

Imagining a Future of Work That Fosters Mobility for All

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

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

January 23, 2018

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

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

David J. Deming

The Value of Soft Skills in the Labor Market

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

Can the Financial Benefit of Lobbying be Quantified?

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

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

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

An inside view of credit checks in hiring

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

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

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