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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

After Trump: How authoritarian voters will change American politics

After Trump: How authoritarian voters will change American politics

April 28, 2016

Vox | Quotes Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, and Vanessa S. Williamson (Ph.D. '14), Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. Also cites research of Skocpol and Alex Hertel-Fernandez (Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy) showing that wealthy donor networks have largely supplanted the GOP in the share of financial resources available for conservative causes and candidates.

Creating cities to be spaces for voice and influence

Creating cities to be spaces for voice and influence

April 27, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Interview with Quinton Mayne, Assistant Professor of Public Policy.

"I'm really interested in understanding the difference in the powers that cities and local governments have and what the consequences of those differences are for how people think and act politically. I’m also interested in how these differences affect the types of goods and services local governments are able to produce.

"There's a lot of excitement right now, and energy, around cities as the site of participation and engagement and at the level where problems can get solved and challenges can be addressed. I care a lot about trying to figure out the conditions under which cities are able to realize their potential as real problem-solvers and spaces of meaningful participation."

To Ban the Box or Not Ban the Box? How Policy Change Can Affect Hiring and Employment

To Ban the Box or Not Ban the Box? How Policy Change Can Affect Hiring and Employment

April 27, 2016

Chicago Policy Review | Reviews new paper by Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11,  Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School) and Stan Veuger (AEI), which finds that ban-the-box measures increased employment of residents in high crime neighborhoods by as much as 4%, benefiting low-skilled African-American men, while reducing employment opportunities for women as employers responded by increasing experience requirements. View the paper.

Boston has a new program to help young workers build credit

Boston has a new program to help young workers build credit

April 26, 2016

Boston.com | Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01) will be working with Boston's Office of Financial Empowerment to evaluate a new program for low-income workers to build credit. Modestino is an Associate Professor at Northeastern University and Associate Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

New Research: How your Reputational Awareness can Incite Action

New Research: How your Reputational Awareness can Incite Action

April 26, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Interview with Todd Rogers, Associate Professor of Public Policy, about his research  examining  how subtle interventions to increase the perceived observability of society-benefiting behaviors might be used to increase contributions to public goods. Read the original study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

#AirbnbWhileBlack: How Hidden Bias Shapes the Sharing Economy.

#AirbnbWhileBlack: How Hidden Bias Shapes the Sharing Economy.

April 26, 2016

NPR Hidden Brain | Discusses study by Inequality faculty affiliate Michael Luca and HBS colleagues Benjamin Edelman and Dan Svirsky on racial discrimination in the sharing economy [Article and audio: 22:29 minutes]. Read the original study, based on a field experiment Luca and colleagues conducted on Airbnb, here.

Economic Inequality and the Founding Fathers

Economic Inequality and the Founding Fathers

April 25, 2016

The Atlantic |Discussion of new book, American Growth and Inequality since 1700, by Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson (Laird Bell Professor of Economics Emeritus, Harvard), also highlights The Citizen’s Share: Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century, by Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman (Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics), and Douglas L. Kruse.

Cities that used lead pipes to carry water have higher murder rates says new study

Cities that used lead pipes to carry water have higher murder rates says new study

April 22, 2016

International Business Times | Coverage of research by James Feigenbaum (Ph.D. candidate in Economics) and Christopher Muller (Ph.D. '14, now an RWJ Health & Society Scholar and Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley) linking lead exposure and violent crime in the early 20th century. Feigenbaum and Muller presented their paper, which is forthcoming in Explorations in Economic History, in the April 18 Inequality Seminar.

Do Felons Make Good Employees?

Do Felons Make Good Employees?

April 22, 2016

NPR Morning Edition | Devah Pager, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, explains how the military provided a natural experiment to test how those with felony records perform on the job and what she found.

Lead Water Pipes Linked to Higher Murder Rates

Lead Water Pipes Linked to Higher Murder Rates

April 20, 2016

The Huffington Post | Spotlights research by James Feigenbaum (Ph.D. candidate in Economics) and Christopher Muller (Ph.D. '14, now an assistant professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley) linking lead exposure and violent crime in the early 20th century. Feigenbaum and Muller presented this work, which is forthcoming in Explorations in Economic History, in the Inequality Seminar on April 18. Read the Feigenbaum and Muller paper.

How Violence Shapes Children for Life

How Violence Shapes Children for Life

April 20, 2016

Washington Post | Discusses new research by Patrick Sharkey (Ph.D. '07), Associate Professor of Sociology at NYU, which suggests that places with more violent crime lower children's prospects for economic mobility. Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics, comments on the study.

Want to Fix Education? Give a Kid a Tutor

Want to Fix Education? Give a Kid a Tutor

April 19, 2016

Bloomberg View | Reviews a new survey of field experiments on the production of human capital by Roland Fryer, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, and the lessons they offer for education policy. View Fryer's paper, "which concludes with a back of the envelope simulation of how much of the racial wage gap in America might be accounted for if human capital policy focused on best practices gleaned from randomized field experiments."

Jeffrey Liebman appointed to new federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Jeffrey Liebman appointed to new federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

April 18, 2016

Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy, has been appointed by Senate Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which was enacted into law in March 2016. The law establishes a 15-member commission to study how best to expand and coordinate the use of federal administrative data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs. (See American Statistical Association community website for list of appointees to date).

See also: Urban Institute, "Everything you need to know about the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking."

The Tobin Project: Conference on Inequality and Decision-Making Participants Selected

The Tobin Project: Conference on Inequality and Decision-Making Participants Selected

April 15, 2016

The Tobin Project | Inequality & Social Policy doctoral fellows Beth Truesdale (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology) and Robert Manduca (Ph.D. student in Sociology & Social Policy), and alumnae Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington (Ph.D. '14) and Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), are among the group of national and international scholars selected to participate in The Tobin Project's Conference on Inequality and Decision-Making, to be held August 4-5 in Cambridge.
... Read more about The Tobin Project: Conference on Inequality and Decision-Making Participants Selected

Reassessing the Gender Gap

Reassessing the Gender Gap

April 15, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Examining the gender wage gap with Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics.

The Egalitarian

The Egalitarian

April 15, 2016

Harvard Magazine | Danielle Allen's mission to return equality to the heart of American democracy. Allen is Professor of Government and Director of Harvard's Safra Center for Ethics.

How conservative megadonors built a shadow GOP that weakened the official party

How conservative megadonors built a shadow GOP that weakened the official party

April 14, 2016

Vox | Elite donor groups have pulled Republican politicians to the far right on economic policy, according to research by Theda Skocpol (Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology), Alexander Hertel-Fernandez (Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy), and Vanessa S. Williamson (Ph.D. '15, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution).

America's Eviction Epidemic

America's Eviction Epidemic

April 12, 2016

The New Republic | A look at Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

Latest commentary and analysis

Forum: What Is Education For?

Forum: What Is Education For?

May 9, 2016

Boston Review | By Danielle Allen, Professor of Government and of Education. Reducing inequality, Allen argues, requires more than the dissemination of technical skills. "The civic conception of education...begins with the recognition that fair economic outcomes are aided by a robust democratic process and, therefore, by genuine political equality." We should aspire to "educate for civic participation, and not merely work."

Is the American Party System About to Crack Up?

Is the American Party System About to Crack Up?

May 5, 2016

The Nation | By Danielle Allen of Harvard, Rick Perlstein, and Daniel Schlozman (Ph.D. '11) of Johns Hopkins University. Three scholars of American politics and history consider whether we're on the verge of a fundamental realignment. 

No room for the urban poor? 'Eviction' author explains

No room for the urban poor? 'Eviction' author explains

May 5, 2016

The Christian Science Monitor | Interview with Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, who explains why eviction must be central to any comprehensive anti-poverty discussion and why he chose to document the perspectives of landlords as well.

The worrisome return of a racist form of home lending

The worrisome return of a racist form of home lending

May 5, 2016

Urban Institute | By Steven Brown, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology. How and why "contract for deed" is making a comeback and what it means for economic mobility and wealth accumulation for minority families.

How contraception can boost social mobility

How contraception can boost social mobility

April 26, 2016

Brookings Institution—Social Mobility Memos | By Adam Thomas (Ph.D. 07, Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy) and Quentin Karpilow (Child Trends).

American Ghetto

American Ghetto

April 24, 2016

The Chronicle Review | By Mario L. Small, Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology. Review of Mitchell Duneier's Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea. "The heart of book," writes Small, "is three detailed studies of black scholars who in the 1940s, ’60s, and ’80s wrote definitive texts on urban conditions among African-Americans," with William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, and The Truly Disadvantaged (1987) the focus of the third.

Leah Wright Rigueur on African Americans and Politics

Leah Wright Rigueur on African Americans and Politics

April 22, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Leah Wright Rigueur, an historian and assistant professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, sits down for a wide-ranging analysis of the 2016 presidential campaign, African Americans' relationship to the Republican and Democratic parties, and Black Lives Matter in historical context.

Americans Like Taxes

Americans Like Taxes

April 13, 2016

No Jargon [Podcast—Ep. 28] | Vanessa Williamson (Ph.D. '15), now a fellow at the Brookings Institution, dispels the misconception that Americans hate taxes. In fact, most Americans support taxes and are willing to increase them for services they care about. She outlines how, despite this, anti-tax policies became so popular. No Jargon presents interviews with top university scholars on the politics, policy problems, and social issues facing the nation. Subscribe  in iTunes, or listen to individual episodes at the SSN website.

Latest academic articles — By doctoral fellows

Sosnaud, Benjamin, David Brady, and Steven M Frenk. 2013. “Class in Name Only: Subjective Class Identity, Objective Class Position, and Vote Choice in American Presidential Elections.” Social Problems 60. University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems: pp. 81-99. Publisher's Version Abstract
Partly because of the widespread tendency for Americans to think of themselves as “middle class,” subjective class identity often does not correspond to objective class position. This study evaluates the extent to which American voters' subjective class identities differ from their objective class positions. We then evaluate the implications of such differences for voting behavior using American National Election Studies data from eight recent presidential elections. Coding respondents according to whether subjective class identity is higher or lower than objective class position, we construct a novel schema of inflated, deflated, and concordant class perceptions. We find that there are substantial differences between Americans' subjective and objective social class: over two-thirds of the upper-middle class have a deflated perception of their class position, only half of the middle class have concordant perceptions, and more than a third of the working class have inflated perceptions. We also find that this divergence varies depending on sociodemographic factors, and especially race and education. The analyses initially show a pattern that those with inflated class perceptions are more likely to vote Republican. However, this relationship is not significant once we control for race and income.
Beckfield, Jason, Sigrun Olafsdottir, and Benjamin Sosnaud. 2013. “Healthcare Systems in Comparative Perspective: Classification, Convergence, Institutions, Inequalities, and Five Missed Turns.” Annual Review of Sociology 39: 127-146. Publisher's Version Abstract
This article reviews and evaluates recent comparative social science scholarship on healthcare systems. We focus on four of the strongest themes in current research: (a) the development of typologies of healthcare systems, (b) assessment of convergence among healthcare systems, (c) problematization of the shifting boundaries of healthcare systems, and (d) the relationship between healthcare systems and social inequalities. Our discussion seeks to highlight the central debates that animate current scholarship and identify unresolved questions and new opportunities for research. We also identify five currents in contemporary sociology that have not been incorporated as deeply as they might into research on healthcare systems. These five missed turns include emphases on social relations, culture, postnational theory, institutions, and causal mechanisms. We conclude by highlighting some key challenges for comparative research on healthcare systems.

Scholars have long noted how migration streams, once initiated, obtain a self-feeding character. Studies have attributed this phenomenon – the cumulative causation of migration – to expanding social networks that connect migrants in destination to individuals in origin. Studies however, often disagree on how social networks influence migration decisions. While many establish a positive association between individuals’ ties to prior migrants and their migration propensities, only few acknowledge that multiple social mechanisms might account for these interdependencies. To address this issue, we adopt a typology developed by DiMaggio and Garip (2012) and consider three mechanisms by which social ties may influence individuals’ migration choices. We study the prevalence of these mechanisms in the Mexico-US migration context using a mixed methods approach. First, analyzing data from more than 90,000 individuals surveyed by the Mexican Migration Project (MMP) we establish the presence of network effects in migration and test how prior migrants in the family or community increase individuals’ migration propensities, and whether prior migrants reduce the effect of economic or political indicators on migration propensities. Second, we analyze qualitative data from 120 in-depth interviews to determine the different mechanisms that lead to interdependencies in individuals’ migration choices. We thus provide a deeper understanding of migration as a social process, which we contend is crucial for anticipating future flows and policy responses.

Linos, Elizabeth. 2013. “Do Conditional Cash Transfers Shift Votes? Evidence from the Honduran PRAF.” Electoral Studies 32: 864-874. Abstract
How do national social programs influence local voting? This study utilizes the experimental set up of a conditional cash transfer program to show that small, targeted cash transfers can have large electoral effects. The Honduran PRAF program allocated an average of $18 per capita per year to poor households within municipalities that were randomly assigned to receive the program. Although the program was administered at the national level, the program increased an incumbent mayor’s re-election probabilities by 39%, without significantly influencing voting behavior in presidential elections. Moreover, the evidence suggests that transferring cash to poor households were more effective at increasing political support than interventions providing public goods for poor villages.
Hertel-Fernandez, Alexander. 2013. “Dismantling Policy through Fiscal Constriction: Examining the Erosion in State Unemployment Insurance Finances.” Social Service Review 87. The University of Chicago Press: pp. 438-476. Publisher's Version Abstract
Abstract A common proposition in welfare state research is that programs financed through dedicated payroll taxes tend to be more durable. This article examines American unemployment insurance (UI) as an exception to this proposition. UI is a self-financed social insurance program whose benefits have been dismantled over time because of an inability to maintain a constant revenue base. The study first examines the long-run decline in UI finances and concludes that changes in UI taxes are associated with the largest declines in state finances. It then examines why more states have not pursued reforms to strengthen UI finances and finds that opponents of more generous UI benefits have generally succeeded in preventing such measures, thus constricting UI finances and gradually retrenching benefits. These findings have implications for those seeking to improve UI solvency, as well as for the study of welfare state retrenchment more generally.
Huang, Wei, and Yi Zhou. 2013. “Effects of Education on Cognition at Older Ages: Evidence from China’s Great Famine.” Social Science & Medicine 98: 54-62. Publisher's Version Abstract

This paper explores whether educational attainment has a cognitive reserve capacity in elder life. Using pilot data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), we examined the impact of education on cognitive abilities at old ages. OLS results showed that respondents who completed primary school obtained 18.2 percent higher scores on cognitive tests than those who did not. We then constructed an instrumental variable (IV) by leveraging China’s Great Famine of 1959e1961 as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of education on cognition. Two-stage least squares (2SLS) results provided sound evidence that completing primary school significantly increases cognition scores, especially in episode memory, by almost 20 percent on average. Moreover, Regression Discontinuity (RD) analysis provides further evidence for the causal interpretation, and shows that the effects are different for the different measures of cognition we explored. Our results also show that the Great Famine can result in long-term health consequences through the pathway of losing educational opportunities other than through the pathway of nutrition deprivation.

Huang, Wei, Xiaoyan Lei, John Strauss, Geert Ridder, and Yaohui Zhao. 2013. “Health, Height, Height Shrinkage, and SES at Older Ages: Evidence from China.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 5: 86-121. Publisher's Version Abstract

In this paper, we build on the literature that examines associations between height and health outcomes of the elderly. We investigate the associations of height shrinkage at older ages with socioeconomic status, finding that height shrinkage for both men and women is negatively associated with better schooling, current urban residence, and household per capita expenditures. We then investigate the relationships between pre-shrinkage height, height shrinkage, and a rich set of health outcomes of older respondents, finding that height shrinkage is positively associated with poor health outcomes across a variety of outcomes, being especially strong for cognition outcomes.

Feigenbaum, James J, and Cameron A Shelton. 2013. “The Vicious Cycle: Fundraising and Perceived Viability in US Presidential Primaries.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 8 (1): 1-40. Publisher's Version Abstract
Scholars of presidential primaries have long posited a dynamic positive feedback loop between fundraising and electoral success. Yet existing work on both directions of this feedback remains inconclusive and is often explicitly cross-sectional, ignoring the dynamic aspect of the hypothesis. Pairing high-frequency FEC data on contributions and expenditures with Iowa Electronic Markets data on perceived probability of victory, we examine the bidirectional feedback between contributions and viability. We find robust, significant positive feedback in both directions. This might suggest multiple equilibria: a candidate initially anointed as the front-runner able to sustain such status solely by the fundraising advantage conferred despite possessing no advantage in quality. However, simulations suggest the feedback loop cannot, by itself, sustain advantage. Given the observed durability of front-runners, it would thus seem there is either some other feedback at work and/or the process by which the initial front-runner is identified is informative of candidate quality.
Papachristos, Andrew V, David M Hureau, and Anthony A Braga. 2013. “The Corner and the Crew: The Influence of Geography and Social Networks on Gang Violence.” American Sociological Review 78 (3): 417-447. Abstract

Nearly a century of empirical research examines how neighborhood properties influence a host of phenomena such as crime, poverty, health, civic engagement, immigration, and economic inequality. Theoretically bundled within these neighborhood effects are institutions’ and actors’ social networks that are the foundation of other neighborhood-level processes such as social control, mobilization, and cultural assimilation. Yet, despite such long-standing theoretical links between neighborhoods and social networks, empirical research rarely considers or measures dimensions of geography and social network mechanisms simultaneously. The present study seeks to fill this gap by analyzing how both geography and social networks influence an important social problem in urban America: gang violence. Using detailed data on fatal and non-fatal shootings, we examine effects of geographic proximity, organizational memory, and additional group processes (e.g., reciprocity, transitivity, and status seeking) on gang violence in Chicago and Boston. Results show adjacency of gang turf and prior conflict between gangs are strong predictors of subsequent gang violence. Furthermore, important network processes, including reciprocity and status seeking, also contribute to observed patterns of gang violence. In fact, we find that these spatial and network processes mediate racial effects, suggesting the primacy of place and the group in generating gang violence.

Eldik, Yaseen, and Monica C Bell. 2012. “The Establishment Clause and Public Education in an Islamophobic Era.” Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 8: 245-258. Abstract
The public education system has often been considered a critically important site for inter-ethnic dialogue designed to root out the prejudice that leads to discrimination against ethnic minorities. However, the prohibition of certain religious practices in schools has placed the "celebration" of religious diversity in a more precarious position than the promotion of racial diversity in ways that have deleterious effects for Muslim Americans. This Essay argues that Supreme Court jurisprudence on religious establishment in public schools has contributed to public education’s inefficacy as a tool to dismantle fear and prejudice against Muslims. We explore judicial, political, and practical approaches to bringing constitutionally permissible religious education and interfaith dialogue into public schools.
Western, Bruce, Deirdre Bloome, Benjamin Sosnaud, and Laura Tach. 2012. “Economic Insecurity and Social Stratification.” Annual Review of Sociology 38: 341-359. Publisher's Version Abstract
Economic insecurity describes the risk of economic loss faced by workers and households as they encounter the unpredictable events of social life. Our review suggests a four-part framework for studying the distribution and trends in these economic risks. First, a focus on households rather than workers captures the microlevel risk pooling that can smooth income flows and stabilize economic well-being. Second, insecurity is related to income volatility and the risk of downward mobility into poverty. Third, adverse events such as unemployment, family dissolution, or poor health commonly trigger income losses. Fourth, the effects of adverse events are mitigated by insurance relationships provided by government programs, employer benefits, and the informal support of families. Empirical research in these areas reveals high levels of economic insecurity among low-income households and suggests an increase in economic insecurity with the growth in economic inequality in the United States.
Hirsch, Nicole Arlette, and Anthony Abraham Jack. 2012. “What We Face: Framing Problems in the Black Community.” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 9: 133-148. Abstract
While many sociological studies analyze the causes, conditions, and mechanisms perpetuating American racial inequality, the literature on how African Americans understand and explain these inequalities is less developed. Drawing on 150 interviews with middle-class and working-class African American men and women, this paper analyzes inductively how respondents define and conceptualize the most pressing obstacles facing their group when probed on this question. We find that middle- and working-class respondents alike identify the problem of racism as the most salient obstacle facing African Americans. Class differences appear with respect to what other obstacles are singled out as salient: while middle-class respondents focus on lack of racial solidarity among Blacks and economic problems (in this order), working-class respondents are more concerned with the fragility of the Black family followed by the lack of racial solidarity. This analysis discusses the relevance of considering how groups make sense of obstacles, and of racism and discrimination in particular, for the study of destigmatization and antiracist strategies of stigmatized minorities.
Papachristos, Andrew, Anthony Braga, and David Hureau. 2012. “Social Networks and the Risk of Gunshot Injury.” Journal of Urban Health 89 (6). Boston: 992-1003. Abstract

Direct and indirect exposure to gun violence have considerable consequences on individual health and well-being. However, no study has considered the effects of one’s social network on gunshot injury. This study investigates the relationship between an individual’s position in a high-risk social network and the probability of being a victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound by combining observational data from the police with records of fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries among 763 individuals in Boston’s Cape Verdean community. A logistic regression approach is used to analyze the probability of being the victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound and whether such injury is related to age, gender, race, prior criminal activity, exposure to street gangs and other gunshot victims, density of one’s peer network, and the social distance to other gunshot victims. The findings demonstrate that 85 % all of the gunshot injuries in the sample occur within a single social network. Probability of gunshot victimization is related to one’s network distance to other gunshot victims: each network association removed from another gunshot victim reduces the odds of gunshot victimization by 25 % (odds ratio = 0.75

Braga, Anthony A, David M Hureau, and Andrew V Papachristos. 2011. “An Ex Post Facto Evaluation Framework for Place-Based Police Interventions.” Evaluation Review 35 (6): 592-626. Abstract

Background: A small but growing body of research evidence suggests that place-based police interventions generate significant crime control gains. While place-based policing strategies have been adopted by a majority of U.S. police departments, very few agencies make a priori commitments to rigorous evaluations. Objective: Recent methodological developments were applied to conduct a rigorous ex post facto evaluation of the Boston Police Department’s Safe Street Team (SST) hot spots policing program. Research Design: A nonrandomized quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the violent crime control benefits of the SST program at treated street segments and intersections relative to untreated street segments and intersections. Propensity score matching techniques were used to identify comparison places in Boston. Growth curve regression models were used to analyze violent crime trends at treatment places relative to control places. Units of Analysis: Using computerized mapping and database software, a micro-level place database of violent index crimes at all street segments and intersections in Boston was created. Measures: Yearly counts of violent index crimes between 2000 and 2009 at the treatment and comparison street segments and intersections served as the key outcome measure. Results: The SST program was associated with a statistically significant reduction in violent index crimes at the treatment places relative to the comparison places without displacing crime into proximate areas. Conclusions: To overcome the challenges of evaluation in real-world settings, evaluators need to continuously develop innovative approaches that take advantage of new theoretical and methodological approaches.

Robbery, and the fear it inspires, has a profound effect on the quality of life in certain urban neighborhoods. Recent advances in criminological research suggest that there is significant clustering of crime in micro places, or "hot spots," that generate a disproportionate amount of criminal events in a city. In this article, the authors use growth curve regression models to uncover distinctive developmental trends in robbery incidents at street segments and intersections in Boston over a 29-year period. The authors find that robberies are highly concentrated at a small number of street segments and intersections rather than spread evenly across the urban landscape over the study time period. Roughly 1 percent and 8 percent of street segments and intersections in Boston are responsible for nearly 50 percent of all commercial robberies and 66 percent of all street robberies, respectively, between 1980 and 2008. Our findings suggest that citywide robbery trends may be best understood by examining micro-level trends at a relatively small number of places in urban environments.

Braga, Anthony A, Anne M Piehl, and David Hureau. 2009. “Controlling Violent Offenders Released to the Community: An Evaluation of the Boston Reentry Initiative.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 46 (4): 411-436. Abstract

Despite the high level of funding and policy interest in prisoner reentry, there is still little rigorous scientific evidence to guide jurisdictions in developing reentry programs to enhance public safety, particularly for managing those who pose the greatest safety risks. The Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI) is an interagency initiative to help transition violent adult offenders released from the local jail back to their Boston neighborhoods through mentoring, social service assistance, and vocational development.This study uses a quasi-experimental design and survival analyses to evaluate the effects of the BRI on the subsequent recidivism of program participants relative to an equivalent control group. The authors find that the BRI was associated with significant reductions—on the order of 30 percent—in the overall and violent arrest failure rates.

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Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Immigration's Long-Term Impacts on Overall Wages and Employment of Native-Born U.S. Workers Very Small, Although Low-Skilled Workers May Be Affected, New Report Finds

Immigration's Long-Term Impacts on Overall Wages and Employment of Native-Born U.S. Workers Very Small, Although Low-Skilled Workers May Be Affected, New Report Finds

September 21, 2016

National Academy of Sciences | The National Academy of Sciences today released a new report, The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration, authored by a panel of 14 experts, including George J. Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The 508-page report provides "a comprehensive assessment of economic and demographic trends of U.S. immigration over the past 20 years, its impact on the labor market and wages of native-born workers, and its fiscal impact at the national, state, and local levels."
View the report

Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more

Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more

September 7, 2016

Brookings Institution | The Hutchins Roundup spotlights new study by Alicia Sasser Modestino (Ph.D. '01) of Northeastern University, Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11) of the Harvard Kennedy School, and Joshua Ballance of the Boston Fed showing that employer skill requirements have fallen recently recently, reversing the trend observed during the Great Recession.
...

Read more about Hutchins Roundup: Income mobility, labor protection regulations, and more
New Study: Market Forces Do Affect Health Care Sector

New Study: Market Forces Do Affect Health Care Sector

September 7, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Coverage of new research by Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy, in the American Economic Review, "Health Care Exceptionalism? Performance and Allocation in the US Health Care Sector." The article is co-authored by Amy Finkelstein, MIT; Adam Sacarny, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; and Chad Syverson, Chicago Booth.
View the research

Understanding employers' responses to for-profit colleges

Understanding employers' responses to for-profit colleges

August 25, 2016

Work in Progress | By Nicole Deterding (Ph.D. '15) and David Pedulla (Stanford University). Deterding is a National Poverty Fellow in the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Work in Progress is the American Sociological Association's blog for 'short-form sociology' on the economy, work, and inequality.

Poverty After Welfare Reform

Poverty After Welfare Reform

August 22, 2016

Manhattan Institute | By Scott Winship (Ph.D. '09), Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Why has regional income convergence declined?

Why has regional income convergence declined?

August 4, 2016

The Brookings Institution | By Peter Ganong, Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11), Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

For one hundred years, per capita incomes in poorer U.S. states have grown more rapidly than incomes in richer states, narrowing the gap between them.  Over the past three decades, though, the rate of convergence has slowed sharply. It has become more difficult for poorer states to catch up with richer states. In a paper presented at the Municipal Finance Conference, Ganong and Shoag attribute this slowdown in convergence to increasingly tight land use regulations in wealthy areas.

The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force

The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force

July 8, 2016

Center for Policing Equity | On July 7-8, 2016, police chiefs, elected officials, researchers, and oversight practitioners met at the Department of Justice in Washington DC for a conversation about race and policing in the United States. As part of this convening, researchers presented a report of preliminary findings comparing patterns of stops and the use of force across twelve departments participating in CPE’s National Justice Database project. 

Phillip Atiba Goff, president and co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity led the study. Co-authored by Tracey (Shollenberger) Lloyd (Ph.D. '15) of the the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, Amanda Geller of NYU, and Steven Raphael and Jack Glaser of UC Berkeley. Goff, a visiting scholar at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy from 2014-2016, is the Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

View the study
Read the full press release

Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks

Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks

July 7, 2016

The New York Times | Quotes Phillip Atiba Goff on the findings of "The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and the Use of Force," a new study significant for its assembly and empirical analysis of detailed use-of-force data in the nation's first national database on police behavior. Goff, a visiting scholar at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy from 2014-2016, is co-founder and president of the Center for Policing Equity, which released the report, and the Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Tracey (Shollenberger) Lloyd (Ph.D. '15), a research associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, is a co-author of the study.
View the study

How judges understand, try to address racial disparities in the criminal court process

How judges understand, try to address racial disparities in the criminal court process

May 23, 2016

Journalist's Resource | Write-up of key findings from recently-published article in Criminology by Matthew Clair (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology) and Alix Winter (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy), "How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System" (view it here).  Also cites related research by Maya Sen, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, "Is Justice Really Blind? Race and Reversal in U.S. Courts,” Journal of Legal Studies, 2015 (view it here).

ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders

ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders

May 18, 2016

Congressional Testimony | Testimony of Nora Gordon (Ph.D. '02), Associate Professor at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

See Gordon's written testimony, which explains "how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) changes the definition of supplement not supplant, how the Department of Education proposes to regulate it, and the potential for that regulation to cause serious adverse consequences" that could make poor students worse off.

Aiming Higher Together: Strategizing Better Educational Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

Aiming Higher Together: Strategizing Better Educational Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color

May 10, 2016

Urban Institute | By Ronald F. Ferguson, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. Boys and young men of color remain overrepresented among those who do not excel academically and face home, school, peer-group, and societal disadvantages relative to their white peers. This report proposes strategies to achieve a person-environment fit that can change dynamics and lead to better educational outcomes for these students.

Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System

Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System

April 25, 2016

Council of Economic Advisers | The Council of Economic Advisers makes the economic case for criminal justice reform. The report draws on and cites academic research by Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Bruce Western, Amitabh Chandra, David Deming, Roland Fryer, David Hureau (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy), Devah Pager, and Robert J. Sampson.