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Latest Inequality & Social Policy In the News

After Mass Shootings, It's Often Easier to Buy a Gun

After Mass Shootings, It's Often Easier to Buy a Gun

June 14, 2016

The New York Times | Discusses recent study by faculty affiliate Michael Luca, Deepak Malhotra, and Christopher Poliquin, all of Harvard Business School. Luca and colleagues find a 15% increase in the introduction of gun-related bills in state legislatures following a mass shooting, but no statistically significant increase in gun laws enacted in either Democrat-led or divided state legislatures. In contrast, in states with Republican-controlled legislatures, they find a 75% increase in laws passed to loosen gun restrictions. 
View the research

After mass shootings, Republicans make it easier to buy guns

After mass shootings, Republicans make it easier to buy guns

June 14, 2016

Washington Post | Discusses recent study by faculty affiliate Michael Luca, Deepak Malhotra, and Christopher Poliquin, all of Harvard Business School. Luca and colleagues find a 15% increase in the introduction of gun-related bills in state legislatures following a mass shooting, but no statistically significant increase in gun laws enacted in either Democrat-led or divided state legislatures. In contrast, in states with Republican-controlled legislatures, they find a 75% increase in laws passed to loosen gun restrictions. 
View the research

When passengers air their fury

When passengers air their fury

June 13, 2016

Harvard Gazette | What might situational microcosms of inequality—like that experienced by air passengers—reveal about how societal income and wealth inequality play out in everyday life? New study by social psychologist Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Katherine A. DeCelles of University of Toronto examines episodes of "air rage" to shed light on the social behavioral consequences of inequality.
View the research in PNAS

Teaching the Teachers

Teaching the Teachers

June 11, 2016

The Economist | Cites and quotes Thomas Kane, Walter S. Gale Professor of Education: "Thomas Kane of Harvard University estimates that if African-American children were all taught by the top 25% of teachers, the gap between blacks and whites would close within eight years. He adds that if the average American teacher were as good as those at the top quartile the gap in test scores between America and Asian countries would be closed within four years."

Also highlights work of Roland Fryer, Henry Lee Professor of Economics: "In a vast study published in March, Roland Fryer of Harvard University found that “managed professional development”, where teachers receive precise instruction together with specific, regular feedback under the mentorship of a lead teacher, had large positive effects."

In Pursuit of Political Equality

In Pursuit of Political Equality

June 10, 2016

Wall Street Journal | Profile of political theorist Danielle Allen and a discussion of her new book, Equality and Education, which is being released this month by University of Chicago Press. Allen is Professor of Government and of Education and director of the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

Mehta Named Radcliffe Institute Fellow

Mehta Named Radcliffe Institute Fellow

June 9, 2016

Harvard Graduate School of Education | What Associate Professor Jal Mehta (Ph.D. '06) will be working on as a Radcliffe Institute fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year.

High Earners Are Going to Hate These Retirement Proposals

High Earners Are Going to Hate These Retirement Proposals

June 9, 2016

Bloomberg | A 146-page report on how to fix Social Security and more. Results and policy proposals from the two-year Bipartisan Policy Center Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings. Brigitte Madrian, Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management at the Harvard Kennedy School, served on the commission.
View the report

New book: Education and Equality, by Danielle Allen

New book: Education and Equality, by Danielle Allen

June 7, 2016

This month marks the launch of Danielle Allen's new book, Education and Equality, published by the University of Chicago Press. The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard, Harvard Book Store, and Boston Review will host a book discussion with Allen, Professor of Government and Education, as part of the Safra Center's new "Ethics in Your World" speaker series—Jun 7, 7:00-8:00 pm, Harvard Book Store (See event details).

How Location Affects Economic and Educational Prospects

How Location Affects Economic and Educational Prospects

June 7, 2016

Harvard Kennedy School | Analyzing data on more than 100,000 Japanese- Americans interned during World War II, HKS Assistant Professor Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11) and co-author Nicholas Carollo (UCLA) provide new evidence on the causal effect of place. They find that camp assignment had large and lasting effects on long-term locations, on individual economic outcomes, and on economic outcomes in subsequent generations.
View the research

How Kids Learn Resilience

How Kids Learn Resilience

June 3, 2016

The Atlantic | Notes and discusses economist Roland Fryer's research on incentive schemes in public school systems with high poverty rates: "As a body of work, Fryer’s incentive studies have marked one of the biggest and most thorough educational experiments in American history." Fryer, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, generally found no effect on student achievement.

The Disconnected

The Disconnected

June 3, 2016

Slate | Two decades after “welfare to work,” some women are navigating life without either welfare or work. Article accompanying a new Marketplace podcast, "The Uncertain Hour," which looks back at welfare reform 20 years later. Quotes David Ellwood, Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy.

Curbing Our Enthusiasm Over Rising Home Prices

Curbing Our Enthusiasm Over Rising Home Prices

June 1, 2016

Bloomberg View | Cites study by Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag (Ph.D. '11, Assistant Professor of Public Policy) that links rising housing prices in wealthy areas to income divergence across regions of the U.S.

Latest awards

Carrie Conaway

President Obama announces appointment of Carrie Conaway to National Board of Education Sciences

January 13, 2017

President Barack Obama announced the appointment of alumna Carrie Conaway to the 15-member National Board for Education Sciences. "This is fabulous news," wrote Susan Dynarski, Professor of Public Policy, Education, and Economics at the University of Michigan, commenting on the appointment on Twitter. "Conaway has helped put Massachusetts on its path of research-driven, educational excellence."

Conaway is Associate Commissioner of Planning and Research for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Who are the 2017 RHSU Edu-Scholar Rising Stars?

Who are the 2017 RHSU Edu-Scholar Rising Stars?

January 11, 2017

Education Week | Education Week released its annual RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence  Rankings, which "recognize those university-based scholars in the U.S. who are doing the most to influence educational policy and practice."

Of the top 10 junior scholars on its "rising star" list, all are Harvard faculty members, doctoral alumni, or both—including Inequality & Social Policy affiliates Martin West (Ph.D. and faculty), Jal Mehta (Ph.D. and faculty), Joshua Goodman (faculty), and Sarah Cohodes (Ph.D. '15, now Columbia University Teachers College). HGSE professor Roberto G. Gonzales, author of   Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America (University of California Press, 2015), led the list, which also included HGSE professor Stephanie M. Jones.

Among the Inequality & Social Policy affiliates on the full list of 200 are senior scholars Paul Peterson (Harvard Government), Richard Murnane (HGSE), Roland Fryer (Harvard Economics), Nora Gordon (Ph.D. alum, now Georgetown Public Policy), Jonah Rockoff (Ph.D. alum, now Columbia Business School), Judith Scott-Clayton (Ph.D. alum, now Columbia TC), Ronald Ferguson (HKS), and David Deming (Ph.D. alum and faculty).
View 2017 full list

Michèle Lamont awarded University of Amsterdam honorary doctorate for role in bridging European and American sociology

Michèle Lamont awarded University of Amsterdam honorary doctorate for role in bridging European and American sociology

January 9, 2017

Awardee | MIchèle Lamont received an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in recognition of her  "important theoretical and empirical contribution to the social sciences, particularly cultural sociology, and her important role in linking American and European social sciences." Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard.

IZA Prize in Labor Economics awarded to Claudia Goldin at ASSA Meeting in Chicago

IZA Prize in Labor Economics awarded to Claudia Goldin at ASSA Meeting in Chicago

January 6, 2017

IZA Institute of Labor Economics | The 15th IZA Prize in Labor Economics was formally conferred to Harvard's Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics,during the traditional IZA Reception at the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations in Chicago. Goldin was recognized for "her career-long work on the economic history of women in education and the labor market."

Michèle Lamont delivers Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture

Michèle Lamont delivers Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture

January 6, 2017

Institute for Social Research (Oslo) | Michèle Lamont, Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard, delivered the 2016 Vilhelm Auberts Memorial Lecture in Oslo. Her lecture addressed the themes of her new book, Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016.)

The best books of 2016, according to two best-selling authors

The best books of 2016, according to two best-selling authors

December 27, 2016

PBS NewsHour |Jeffrey Brown sat down recently with best-selling authors Jacqueline Woodson, a 2016 National Book Award finalist for fiction, and Daniel Pink, at Politics and Prose, a popular bookstore in Washington, D.C. First up: Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

The Best Books of 2016

The Best Books of 2016

December 21, 2016

Chicago Tribune | Ten selections, including Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

The Carnegie Interviews: Matthew Desmond

The Carnegie Interviews: Matthew Desmond

December 21, 2016

The Booklist Reader | One in a series of interviews with each of the finalists for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard.

The Year in Reading

The Year in Reading

December 19, 2016

The New York Times Book Review
Poets, musicians, diplomats, filmmakers, novelists, actors, and artists share the books that accompanied them through 2016. "There was a lot of great nonfiction in 2016," writes novelist Ann Patchett, "but there are four books that I recommend with a sense of urgency"—among them, Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

Former U.S. Representative Barney Frank notes two pieces of conventional wisdom—one domestic; the other international—that have structured our national debates for deades. Subjecting the received wisdom to close examintion: The Globalization Paradox, by Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of Political Economy at the Harvard Kennedy School, 

The Books We Loved in 2016

The Books We Loved in 2016

December 13, 2016

The New Yorker | Among them, Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences.

'Evicted' Selected to 2017 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

'Evicted' Selected to 2017 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

December 9, 2016

PEN America | Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, is one of 10 books on the 2017 PEN America longlist in nonfiction for the John Kenneth Galbraith award. Finalists for this biennial award will be announced on January 18, 2017. The winner will be announced on February 22, 2017 and honored at the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on March 27, 2017. Desmond is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Science at Harvard.

The Best Books of 2016

The Best Books of 2016

December 8, 2016

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

Best Books of 2016

Best Books of 2016

December 7, 2016

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

The 10 Best Books of 2016

The 10 Best Books of 2016

December 1, 2016

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

Latest commentary and analysis

Vanessa Williamson, Brookings forum

Why Americans are proud to pay taxes

April 4, 2017

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

Larry Summers

Larry Summers: The Economy and Tax Reform

March 30, 2017

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

NEJM logo

An FDA Commissioner for the 21st Century

March 29, 2017

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

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

College admissions: the myth of meritocracy

March 29, 2017

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

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

Chicago violence changes how children make friends

March 28, 2017

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

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

BETA 2017

New Frontiers in Behavioral Economics

March 28, 2017

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

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

How Companies Can Benefit More from Their Corporate Giving

March 27, 2017

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

Douglas Elmendorf and Richard Parker

Dean Douglas Elmendorf: Understanding the Congressional Budget Office

March 23, 2017

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

Douglas Elmendorf via Bloomberg

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

March 17, 2017

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

Hearing on Impact of House Republican ACA Repeal Bill

Douglas Elmendorf joins Hearing on Impact of House Republican ACA Repeal Bill

March 16, 2017

Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, spoke as an expert witness before a House Democratic Caucus hearing on the impact of the Affordable Health Care Act, the House Republican health care bill.

"The health care legislation supported by the House Republican leadership would take our country backward, not forward. It would do that in at least 4 important ways," Elmendorf said.

Elmendorf highlighted its reversal of progress in expanding health insurance coverage, and the inability to afford health insurance—not freedom to choose—as the main driver behind the expected rise in the numbers of uninsured. The bill "would not represent shared sacrifice for the national good but rather targeted sacrifice by lower- and middle-income Americans," Elmendorf maintained, and "would take us backward by providing a large tax cut focused on the very top of the income distribution."

On the burden to lower- and middle-income Americans, Elmendorf noted that the bill "would leave the tax subsidies for higher-income Americans fully in place and clobber the tax subsidies -- and spending subsidies -- for lower-and middle-income Americans." At the same time, "one percent of households with the highest incomes would receive 40 percent of the gains from repealing the tax increases under the ACA," Elmendorf said, citing estimates by the Tax Policy Center.
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American apartheid

American apartheid

March 16, 2017

UVA Miller Center | By Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology. Volume 9 in the Miller Center's First Year 2017 project, which examines the key issues the new U.S. president must confront. The current volume, "Grappling with Tensions Over Race," also includes essays by Elizabeth Hinton (Assistant Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard), Douglas A. Blackmon, and Michael Eric Dyson (Georgetown University)
See all essays

Dani Rodrik

How Much Europe Can Europe Tolerate?

March 14, 2017

Project Syndicate | By Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard Kennedy School. "Today, the Union is mired in a deep existential crisis, and its future is very much in doubt. The symptoms are everywhere: Brexit, crushing levels of youth unemployment in Greece and Spain, debt and stagnation in Italy, the rise of populist movements, and a backlash against immigrants and the euro. They all point to the need for a major overhaul of Europe’s institutions," Rodrik writes.

Bloomberg: Douglas Elmendorf

Why the CBO Report Is a Blow to the GOP Health Plan

March 13, 2017

Bloomberg | Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, reacts to the CBO scorecard on the GOP health plan. [video: 6 minutes]

CBS News: Douglas Elmendorf

Fmr. CBO director on new health care bill report

March 13, 2017

CBS News | Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy, joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" to discuss today's Congressional Budget Office report on the House Republican health care bill. Elmendorf served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from January 2009 to March 2015.
[Video: 8 minutes].

"...A bigger part of the reason people will lose health insurance coverage is they won’t be able to afford it, People are not maintaining access to health insurance coverage, or gaining access to health insurance coverage, in this legislation. People are being taken out of Medicaid. The subsidies are being cut back by 40% on average in insurance marketplaces. So the bill is not maintaining access and giving people freedom to choose as the Speaker suggested. It is reducing access very significantly.," Elmendorf said.

Latest academic articles — By doctoral fellows

Herd, Pamela, Thomas DeLeire, Hope Harvey, and Donald P Moynihan. 2013. “Shifting Administrative Burden to the State: The Case of Medicaid Take‐Up.” Public Administration Review 73 (s1): S69-S81.Abstract
Administrative burden is an individual's experience of policy implementation as onerous. Such burdens may be created because of a desire to limit payments to ineligible claimants, but they also serve to limit take-up of benefits by eligible claimants. For citizens, this burden may occur through learning about a program; complying with rules and discretionary bureaucratic behavior to participate; and the psychological costs of participating in an unpopular program. Using a mixed-method approach, the authors explain process changes that reduced individual burden and demonstrate how this resulted in increased take-up in Medicaid in the state of Wisconsin. The findings inform the planned expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A key design principle for Medicaid and other means-tested programs is that it is possible to increase program take-up while maintaining program integrity by shifting administrative burdens from the citizen to the state.
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 VersionAbstract
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 VersionAbstract
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.
Garip, Filiz, and Asad L Asad. 2013. “Mexico-U.S. Migration in Time: From Economic to Social Mechanisms”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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 VersionAbstract
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 VersionAbstract

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 VersionAbstract

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 VersionAbstract
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 VersionAbstract
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.

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