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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

Why Democrats Must Embrace a Universal Child Allowance

Why Democrats Must Embrace a Universal Child Allowance

March 21, 2016

The New Republic | Quotes Christopher Wimer (Ph.D. '07), co-author of a new study issued by The Century Foundation showing that such a policy could cut child poverty in half. Wimer is Co-Director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia University Population Research Center. The Century Foundation report, "Doing More for Our Children," is co-authored by Irwin Garfinkel, David Harris, and Jane Waldfogel, all of Columbia University.

How Jackie Robinson Confronted a Trump-Like Candidate

How Jackie Robinson Confronted a Trump-Like Candidate

March 19, 2016

The Atlantic |  Leah Wright Rigueur's The Loneliness of the Black Republican (Princeton University Press) is cited in an historical perspective on Jackie Robinson, Barry Goldwater, and the 1964 GOP nomination. Leah Wright Rigueur, an historian, is an assistant professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.

How Citizens United Made it Easier for Bosses to Control Their Workers' Votes

How Citizens United Made it Easier for Bosses to Control Their Workers' Votes

March 17, 2016

International Business Times | Discusses new research by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy, and Paul Secunda, a law professor at Marquette University, who find that employers' tactics to influence the political behavior of workers, now legal as a result of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, have also proved effective. 

Working, with children

Working, with children

March 14, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Especially after parenthood, gender equality remains an unmet goal. Coverage of a new workshop series on comparative inequality sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Features Mary C. Brinton (Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology and chair of the Department of Sociology), Claudia Goldin (Henry Lee Professor of Economics), and Alexandra Killewald (John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Sociology).

The costs of inequality: Faster lives, quicker deaths

The costs of inequality: Faster lives, quicker deaths

March 14, 2016

Harvard Gazette | For blacks and Hispanics, frail neighborhoods undercut health, education, and jobs. Featuring William Julius Wilson (Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor) and Ronald Ferguson ( Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy  and faculty director of Harvard’s Achievement Gap Initiative). Also highlights work of David R. Williams (Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), who spoke on Race, Racism, and Racial Inequalities in Health in the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series, Feb 8, 2016.  Seventh in a series on what Harvard scholars are doing to understand and find solutions to problems of inequality. 

Why soaring housing costs threaten Boston's economic vitality

Why soaring housing costs threaten Boston's economic vitality

March 14, 2016

New Boston Post | Interview with Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics. Building housing only for the well-off, Glaeser said, “cuts people out of the innovation economy who would like to be there, and you have a smaller, less fertile ground for growth.” 

Meet our newest faculty affiliates

Meet our newest faculty affiliates

March 10, 2016

The Inequality & Social Policy program is pleased to welcome 16 new faculty affiliates.

Their engagement in the program will bring new strengths in the areas of income inequality and wealth concentration, intergenerational mobility, labor markets and human capital investment, government management of private-sector risks, regulation and government accountability, behavioral economics and household finance, judgment and decision-making, behavioral science in the design of social policy, regional economies and housing, and race, civil rights, and politics.... Read more about Meet our newest faculty affiliates

Reviving the Working Class without Building Walls

Reviving the Working Class without Building Walls

March 8, 2016

The New York Times | Economic Scene column quotes Lawrence Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics.  “It is not crazy to suggest,” he said, “that some percentage of that could be shared with a broader group.”

There is No FDA for Education. Maybe There Should Be

There is No FDA for Education. Maybe There Should Be

March 8, 2016

NPR Ed | Print interview with Thomas J. Kane, Walter H. Gale Professor of Education and Economics, who argues the need for education research to rigorously vet solutions that will close the achievement gap, and to connect that knowledge to the decisions that school superintendents and chief academic officers inside school districts make.

The costs of inequality: For women, progress until they get near power

The costs of inequality: For women, progress until they get near power

March 7, 2016

Harvard Gazette | Surveys Harvard research on gender inequality, including work by Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics; Mary C. Brinton, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology; and Heather Sarsons, Ph.D. candidate in Economics. Sixth in a series on what Harvard scholars are doing to understand and find solutions to problems of inequality. This article also appeared at US News and World Report.

Boston's struggle with income segregation

Boston's struggle with income segregation

March 6, 2016

Boston Globe | In-depth examination of economic segregation in Massachusetts quotes Robert D. Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, and Robert J. Sampson, the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences. Also cites forthcoming article by Ann Owens (Ph.D. '12) showing that the growth in economic segregation nationwide between 1990 and 2010 occurred almost entirely among families with children. Owens is now an assistant professor of sociology at USC. The article is expected to appear in the June 2016 issue of the American Sociological Review.

Why Flint's children can't leave the city that poisoned them

Why Flint's children can't leave the city that poisoned them

March 4, 2016

Washington Post | If we do help families move, what happens to the disinvested places they leave, and the people who choose (or have no choice) to stay there? Are resources better spent trying to revive Flint, or helping people who want to abandon it?..."It’s the hardest question that we’re faced with now that we think places matter," Nathaniel Hendren [Assistant Professor of Economics] says.  

What Happens to People Who Get Evicted Over and Over?

What Happens to People Who Get Evicted Over and Over?

March 4, 2016

New York Magazine | Interview with Matthew Desmond about his new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Desmond also cites work by Harvard colleagues Sendhil Mullainathan, Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics; Robert J. Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences; and Devah Pager, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy.

Latest awards

Orlando Patterson receives Anisfeld-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award

Orlando Patterson receives Anisfeld-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award

April 7, 2016

Harvard Gazette |Orlando Patterson, the John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2016 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, presented by The Cleveland Foundation.

Read additional coverage from The Cleveland Plain Dealer: "The Anisfield-Wolf Awards, established in 1935, are given to books that confront racism, examine diversity and expand society's understanding of class and justice". Past winners include Nadine Gordimer, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Toni Morrison.

Barbara Kiviat named an Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellow in Ethics

Barbara Kiviat named an Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellow in Ethics

March 31, 2016

Awardee | Barbara Kiviat, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology & Social Policy, has been selected to be an Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellow in Ethics for the 2016-17 academic year. Her dissertation explores the moral underpinnings of the big data economy, asking what we must believe to be morally at ease with using information about a person's past to algorithmically predict future behavior and allocate resources accordingly.

Christopher Winship named an Edmond J. Safra Fellow-in-Residence

Christopher Winship named an Edmond J. Safra Fellow-in-Residence

March 31, 2016

Awardee | Christopher Winship, Diker-Tishman Professor of Sociology, has been selected an Edmond J. Safra Fellow-in-Residence for the 2016-17 academic year. During the fellowship year, Winship will be working on an evaluation of community-police relations in Boston.

Anthony Jack recognized for his contributions to the black community at Harvard College

Anthony Jack recognized for his contributions to the black community at Harvard College

March 25, 2016

Awardee | Anthony Abraham Jack (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology) is the recipient of the Association of Black Harvard Women (ABHW) Tribute to Black Men Faculty Award in recognition of his "exceptional and lasting contributions to the black community at Harvard College." Jack will be a Junior Fellow in Harvard Society of Fellows (2016-2019) and then joins the Harvard faculty (beginning 2019) as Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Shutzer Assistant Professor with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

AERA Early Career Award in Educational Policy

AERA Early Career Award in Educational Policy

March 22, 2016

Awardee | Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. in Public Policy '09), Associate Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, is the 2016 recipient of the American Educational Research Association Early Career Award in Educational Policy. Scott-Clayton studies labor economics and higher education policy, with a focus on financial aid, student employment, and programmatic barriers to college persistence and completion. Her work examining the adverse consequences of complexity in the federal student aid application process has contributed to national policy debates about financial aid simplification.

AEFP Jean Flanigan Outstanding Dissertation Award 2016: Sarah Cohodes

AEFP Jean Flanigan Outstanding Dissertation Award 2016: Sarah Cohodes

March 17, 2016

Awardee | Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. in Public Policy, '15) is a recipient of the 2016 Jean Flanigan Outstanding Dissertation Award conferred by the Association of Education Finance and Policy for exemplary dissertation research in education finance and policy. Cohodes is now Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

The 30 Top Thinkers Under 30: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

The 30 Top Thinkers Under 30: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

March 17, 2016

Pacific Standard | Alex Hertel-Fernandez (Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy) has been selected one of 'Thirty under 30' top young thinkers who are making an impact on the social, political, and economic issues that will shape the nation's future.  Hertel-Fernandez joins the Columbia University faculty as Assistant Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

Paul Peterson Receives Prize for Best Academic Paper on School Choice and Reform

Paul Peterson Receives Prize for Best Academic Paper on School Choice and Reform

March 15, 2016

Awardee | Paul E. Peterson, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard Kennedy School, and Matthew M. Chingos, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, have been selected as winners of the 2016 Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) Prize for their paper “Experimentally estimated impacts of school vouchers on college enrollment and degree attainment,” named best academic paper on school choice and reform.

Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York History

Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York History

March 15, 2016

Awardee | Michael Javen Fortner (Ph.D. in Government & Social Policy '10) has been awarded the 2016 Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York History by the New York Academy of History for his book, Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment, published by Harvard University Press in 2015. Fortner is Assistant Professor and Academic Director of Urban Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, Murphy Institute.

Upjohn Institute 2016 Early Career Research Award

Upjohn Institute 2016 Early Career Research Award

March 14, 2016

Awardee | John Horton (Ph.D. in Public Policy '11), Assistant Professor in the Stern School of Business, New York University, is the recipient of an Early Career Research Award from the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Horton will investigate the effect of demand shocks on human capital acquisition strategies.

Nathan Hendren named a 2016 Sloan Research Fellow

Nathan Hendren named a 2016 Sloan Research Fellow

February 23, 2016

Awardee | Nathaniel Hendren, Assistant Professor of Economics, is one of 126 early-career scientists and scholars selected for the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship, which recognizes the next generation of leaders in eight scientific fields. Harvard colleague Melissa Dell, also an Assistant Professor of Economics, was likewise named a 2016 Sloan Research Fellow. Read the press release.

Roland Fryer: 2015 John Bates Clark Medalist

Roland Fryer: 2015 John Bates Clark Medalist

February 3, 2016

Journal of Economic Perspectives | By Lawrence F. Katz, Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics: "Roland Fryer is an extraordinary applied microeconomist whose research output related to racial inequality, the US racial achievement gap, and the design and evaluation of educational policies make him a worthy recipient of the 2015 John Bates Clark Medal. I will divide this survey of Roland's research into five categories..."

ESSA Accountability Design Competition: The Contenders

ESSA Accountability Design Competition: The Contenders

January 28, 2016

Thomas B. Fordham Institute | Ronald F. Ferguson of the Harvard Kennedy School is one of ten finalists in the Fordham Institute's ESSA Accountability Design Competition. Under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states now face the challenge of creating school accountability systems that can vastly improve upon the model required by No Child Left Behind. To help spur creative thinking about how they might do so, and to inform the Department of Education as it develops its ESSA regulations, the Fordham Institute is sponsoring this competition. The ten finalists will pitch their work on the Fordham stage to a live audience and a panel of judges on February 2.

The 2016 Education Scholar Public Influence Rankings: Top Tens

The 2016 Education Scholar Public Influence Rankings: Top Tens

January 7, 2016

Education Week | Inequality & Social Policy faculty and alumni are well-represented on this year's Education Week list of 200 most influential education scholars, university-based scholars "who are doing the most to influence education policy and practice." Of special note, alumni hold four of the top five spots on the junior faculty list, including Martin West, David Deming, and Jal Mehta (Harvard), and Judith Scott-Clayton (Columbia TC).

John Bates Clark Medal Award Ceremony [video]

John Bates Clark Medal Award Ceremony [video]

January 4, 2016

Awardee | Watch as Roland Fryer, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, receives the American Economic Association's  John Bates Clark Medal. In his remarks, Fryer reflects on "the true owners who have paved the way for all of us who use the tools of economics not just to calculate the odds for poor people, but to change the odds." [begins at 15:45 mark]

2015-2016 New Scholar Grant Winners

2015-2016 New Scholar Grant Winners

December 21, 2015

Awardee| Deirdre Bloome (Ph.D. '14, now University of Michigan) is one of seven New Scholar grant recipients selected by Stanford's Center on Poverty and Inequality. Bloome will investigate (1) to what extent intragenerational and intergenerational income mobility contribute to lifetime income inequality, (2) how these contributions have changed across recent birth cohorts, and (3) whether these differ across people from low- and high-income backgrounds—with an eye to understanding "how income mobility over the life course relates to income inequality between people."

Finalists for 2016 William T. Grant Scholars Program Awards

Finalists for 2016 William T. Grant Scholars Program Awards

December 21, 2015

William T. Grant Foundation | Faculty member Matthew Desmond is one of ten finalists for the William T. Grant Foundation Scholars program, which supports early career researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. Four to six Scholars will be selected in March 2016 for these five-year research awards.

Anthony Abraham Jack named to Harvard Society of Fellows

Anthony Abraham Jack named to Harvard Society of Fellows

December 14, 2015

Congratulations to Anthony Abraham Jack (Ph.D. candidate in Sociology), who has been selected to join the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow in the 2016-19 cohort. The Harvard  Society of Fellows recognizes the ‘highest caliber of intellectual achievement’ from any field of study, awarding three-year postdoctoral fellowships to twelve new Junior Fellows each year. Learn more about Anthony Jack at his homepage▶

Ariel White named a Harvard Horizons Scholar

Ariel White named a Harvard Horizons Scholar

December 10, 2015

Awardee | Ariel R. White (Ph.D. candidate in Government) has been selected one of eight Harvard Horizons Scholars for 2016—"PhD students whose ideas, innovations, and insights have the potential to reshape their disciplines." Ariel will present her research, Voter Behavior in the Shadow of Punitive Policies, at a university-wide symposium to be held in Sanders Theater on April 5, 2016. Read more about her work ►

Latest commentary and analysis

Gentrification and its Discontents

Gentrification and its Discontents

May 5, 2017
Wall Street Journal | By Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics. Cities attract the rich with amenities and the poor with services. But they are failing the middle class. Edward Glaeser reviews “The New Urban Crisis” by Richard Florida.
Declaration of Independence

Thanks to this agency, we identified an unknown copy of the Declaration of Independence

May 3, 2017
Washington Post | By Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. "In the middle of the 20th century, this research project would have consumed at least a lifetime, and possibly several. Without [these] digital resources...it is highly unlikely that a researcher would have been able to assemble the vast body of evidence necessary to make the identification that we have made."
Brookings Institution - Universal Child Allowance

Should the U.S. enact a universal child allowance?

May 1, 2017
Brookings Institution | The Center on Children and Families at Brookings hosted an event with leading experts to discuss the current safety net and potential benefits and costs of a Universal Child Allowance. Among the participants, Chris Wimer (PhD '07), Co-Director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, presented a proposal for a universal child allowance to reduce poverty and income instability among children. Scott Winship (PhD '09), Project Director with the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, participated as a panelist. 
What the Press Still Doesn't Get About Trump

What the Press Still Doesn't Get About Trump

April 28, 2017

Politico | Politco surveys a range of experts—among them, historian Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor at Harvard Kennedy School. Says Rigueur: We need to take Trump's tweets more seriously.

Op-Ed: How Boston Basics helps our children

Op-Ed: How Boston Basics helps our children

April 28, 2017

Jamaica Plain Gazette (and others) | By Mayor Martin Walsh and Ron Ferguson, Faculty Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University.

As the science tells us, 80 percent of a child’s brain growth happens during the first three years of life. Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic skill gaps can become apparent by the age of two. How we engage our babies and toddlers in those first years are critical. We must foster stimulating learning environments across all households and neighborhoods in our city.

"That purpose is what brought organizations like the Black Philanthropy Fund, Boston Children’s Museum, the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard, Boston Medical Center, WGBH, and the City of Boston together to launch the Boston Basics campaign.

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.

Reforming land use regulations

Reforming land use regulations

April 24, 2017
Brookings Institution | By Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard. "Land use controls that limit the growth of...successful cities mean that Americans increasingly live in places that make it easy to build, not in places with higher levels of productivity," writes Glaeser.
Edward Glaeser

Two Takes on the Fate of Future Cities

April 21, 2017
The Atlantic—CityLab | A conversation between Ed Glaeser and Richard Florida on what urban policy needs to work towards in an uncertain future. Edward Glaeser is Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard.
Ronald Ferguson interview - HarvardX

Family Engagement in Education: The Boston Basics - Supporting Child Development

April 19, 2017

HarvardX | Listen as Professor Ron Ferguson, from the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses the Boston Basics — five actions a parent or any caregiver can take to help young children thrive. [video: 2 minutes]

"The nugget for me [that most influenced our emphasis in Boston Basics] was 4 or 5 years ago looking at the early childhood longitudinal survey and seeing that racial and socioeconomic differences are not very apparent around the first birthday, but they are stark by the second birthday."

Jeffrey Liebman at Council on Foreign Relations

Behavioral Insights into Policymaking

April 18, 2017

Council on Foreign Relations | Part I of the Robert Menschel Economics Symposium: A conversation with psychologist Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel prize in economic sciences. Part II: A discussion on behavioral insights into policymaking with Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School; Maya Shankar, founder and Chair of the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) under President Obama; and Elspeth Kirkman, senior vice president with The Behavioral Insights Team, North America. (Video + transcript)
View Part I: Daniel Kahneman

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."
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.