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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 commentary and analysis

A Conversation with Robert D. Putnam [Video]

A Conversation with Robert D. Putnam [Video]

March 14, 2016

Conversations with Bill Kristol | Robert D. Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, discusses declining levels of civic participation in America and his interpretation of the reasons for it. He also recalls how political developments awakened his interest in political science, and explains how social science might help us address public policy problems. [Video: 70 minutes]

Three reasons political polarization is here to stay

Three reasons political polarization is here to stay

March 11, 2016

Washington Post | By Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values. "That U-curve of income inequality tracks uncannily the U-curve of polarization," Mansbridge writes. As president of the American Political Science Association from 2012 to 2013, she created the Task Force on Negotiating Agreement in Politics to respond to the crisis of polarization in the federal legislature.

Trumpism as a Transatlantic Phenomenon

Trumpism as a Transatlantic Phenomenon

March 8, 2016

The American Prospect | By Charlotte Cavaillé (Ph.D. '14), Noam Gidron (Ph.D. candidate in Government), and Peter A. Hall (Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies). Cavaillé is presently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse. She joins the Georgetown University faculty in July.

Matthew Desmond: "Evicted"

Matthew Desmond: "Evicted"

March 7, 2016

NPR—The Diane Rehm Show [audio and transcript] | Guests: Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Professor of the Social Sciences; Rolf Pendall, Urban Institute; Vanetta (a pseudonym), a mother of five whose family's story is depicted in Evicted; and Tim Ballering, founder and owner of Affordable Rental Associates, LLC, in Milwaukee.

The Eviction Economy

The Eviction Economy

March 5, 2016

The New York Times | By Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Social Sciences. "Poverty is not just a product of joblessness and low wages. It is also a product of exploitation...A universal housing voucher program would fundamentally change the face of poverty in the United States."

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.

Event video: Matthew Desmond on Evicted

March 3, 2016


A Malcolm Wiener Center
for Social Policy event

The launch of Matthew Desmond's new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, was the occasion of a book event sponsored by the Malcolm Wiener Center at Harvard Kennedy School.

Matthew Desmond, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard, was joined by a panel of experts, moderated by Bruce Western, Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center, including William Julius Wilson of Harvard University, Xavier de Souza Briggs of the Ford Foundation, and Jennifer Gonnerman of The New Yorker.

Theda Skocpol on how political scientists think differently about politics

Theda Skocpol on how political scientists think differently about politics

March 1, 2016

The Ezra Klein Show—Vox  [audio] | Theda Skocpol, a political scientist at Harvard (and a former chair of the American Political Science Association), explains how political scientists learn about politics, what makes their work different both from pundits and from each other, and how it’s helped her understand this insane election. She also talks through some of her research on what really drives the tea party and the ways in which the Koch Brothers are setting up an organization that’s almost become a shadow political party of its own [audio: 58 minutes].

Trump will win or lose. Either way, the Koch network will shape the Republican Party

Trump will win or lose. Either way, the Koch network will shape the Republican Party

February 29, 2016

Washington Post | Alexander Hertel Fernandez (Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy) and Theda Skocpol (Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology) are interviewed about their research on how Koch brothers-funded organizations have been changing the Republican Party in profound ways. Interviewed by political scientist Henry Farrell of George Washington University.

Pundits and presidents complain about polarization. But it may be the sign of a healthy democracy.

Pundits and presidents complain about polarization. But it may be the sign of a healthy democracy.

February 25, 2016

Washington Post | By Torben Iversen (Harold Hitchings Burbank Professor of Political Economy) and David Soskice (London School of Economics). Iversen and Soskice argue in a new academic article that lack of polarization among ordinary citizens isn't necessarily a good thing. Indeed it might be a sign of serious democratic failure.... Read more about Pundits and presidents complain about polarization. But it may be the sign of a healthy democracy.

Latest policy, research briefs, and expert testimony

Michael Luca

Lessons from Yelp's Empirical Approach to Diversity

September 20, 2017
Harvard Business Review | By Rachel Williams, Gauri Subramani, Michael Luca, and Geoff Donaker. Michael Luca is the Lee J. Styslinger III Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
The Gains of Greater Granularity: The Presence and Persistence of Problem Properties in Urban Neighborhoods

The Gains of Greater Granularity: The Presence and Persistence of Problem Properties in Urban Neighborhoods

September 5, 2017
Boston Area Research Initiative | In a recent paper, BARI Co-Directors Dan O’Brien and Chris Winship demonstrated the presence and persistence of ‘‘problem properties’’ with elevated levels of crime and disorder in Boston. Importantly, they find that this additional geographic detail offers a wealth of information beyond the traditional focus on at-risk neighborhoods, and even the more recent attention to hotspot street segments. (Continue reading)

Chris Winship is the Diker-Tishman Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and a member of the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School. The paper was published in a special issue of the Journal of Quantitative Criminology on the Law of Concentration of Crime. 
View the research
Jeff Liebman

Using Data to Make More Rapid Progress in Addressing U.S. Social Problems

August 30, 2017
By Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy.

From the Government Performance Lab at Harvard Kennedy School:  In a new piece forthcoming in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (Jan 2018), Professor Jeffrey Liebman describes how high frequency use of data can move agencies from static evaluation of programs to real-time improvement in outcomes and to solutions to challenging social problems.... Read more about Using Data to Make More Rapid Progress in Addressing U.S. Social Problems
How the government can help simplify personal financial decision-making

How the government can help simplify personal financial decision-making

August 29, 2017

Harvard Kennedy School | "Low incomes, limited financial literacy, fraud, and deception are just a few of the many intractable economic and social factors that contribute to the financial difficulties that households face today...But poor financial outcomes also result from systematic psychological tendencies," some of which may be countered with government interventions that are both low-cost and scalable," Harvard Kennedy School Professor Brigitte Madrian and co-authors write in the latest issue of Behavioral Science & Policy. Their article outlines a set of interventions that the federal government "could feasibly test or implement to improve household nancial outcomes in a variety of domains: retirement, short-term savings, debt management, the take-up of government benefits, and tax optimization." 
View the research

Carola Frydman

Why Has CEO Pay Grown So Much Faster Than the Average Worker’s?

August 3, 2017

Kellogg Insight | Based on the research of Carola Frydman (PhD 2006) and Dimitris Papanikolaou. Carola Frydman is Associate Professor of Finance in the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. View the research: “In Search of Ideas: Technological Innovation and Executive Pay Inequality.” Journal of Financial Economics (Oct 2018).

View the research ►
Education Next

2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform released

August 1, 2017
Education Next | By Martin R. West, Michael B. Henderson, Paul E. Peterson, and Samuel Barrows. This article appears in print in the Winter 2018 issue of Education Next.
Scientific American

Natural Disasters by Location: Rich Leave and Poor Get Poorer

July 2, 2017
Scientific American | Each big catastrophe like a hurricane increases a U.S. county's poverty by 1 percent,  90 years of data show. By Leah Platt Boustan (PhD '06), Maria Lucia Yanguas, Matthew Kahn, and Paul W. Rhode, based on the authors' research. Leah Platt Boustan is a Professor of Economics at Princeton University.
Carlos Lastra-Anadon

Technological Change, Inequality, and the Collapse of the Liberal Order

June 17, 2017

G20 Insights | Carlos Lastra-Anadón, PhD candidate in Government & Social Policy, has co-authored a policy brief that has been selected to appear in "20 Solution Proposals for the G20" to be circulated to summit participants at the G20 Hamburg summit, July 7-8, 2017. Theirs is one of 20 policy recommendations "chosen for their novelty, implementability, and relevance to the G20 during the German presidency."

The brief is co-authored by Manuel Muñiz (Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University), Karl Kaiser (Harvard University), Henning Meyer (London School of Economics), and Manuel Torres (Accenture).

Microeconomic insights

A most egalitarian profession: pharmacy and the evolution of a family-friendly occupation

June 8, 2017

Microeconomic Insights | By Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz. "How much of the earnings gap between men and women is because the latter choose jobs and occupations that enable flexibility in their work, predictability in their hours and bounds on their work schedule?," ask Harvard economics professors Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. Here they summarize their recent article by the same title, pubilshed in 2016 in the Journal of Labor Economics.
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How “the community” undermines the goals of participatory democracy

How “the community” undermines the goals of participatory democracy

June 5, 2017
Work in Progress | By Jeremy R. Levine (PhD '16), Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies, University of Michigan. Discusses the findings of his academic research, "The Paradox of Community Power: Cultural Processes and Elite Authority in Participatory Governance, published earlier this spring in Social Forces. 'Work in Progress' is a public blog of the American Sociological Association (ASA) for 'short-form sociology' on the economy, work, and inequality.
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How tax rates influence the migration of superstar inventors

How tax rates influence the migration of superstar inventors

May 24, 2017
Microeconomic Insights | By Ufak Akcigit (University of Chicago), Salome Baslandze (Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance), and Stefanie Stantcheva (Harvard University). The authors summarize the findings from their recent American Economic Review article, "Taxation and the International Mobility of Inventors." Stantcheva is Associate Professor of Economics (effective 7/1) at Harvard.
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International Ladies Garment Workers Union

Does union activism increase workers’ wages?

May 22, 2017
Work in Progress | By Nathan Wilmers, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology. Research findings from his recently-published article in Social Forces. Work in Progress is the American Sociological Association's blog for 'short-form sociology' on the economy, work, and inequality. 
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Annual Review of Sociology

Wealth Inequality and Accumulation

May 12, 2017

Annual Review of Sociology | By Alexandra Killewald, Fabian T. Pfeffer, and Jared Schachner. Alexandra Killewald is Professor of Sociology at Harvard. Jared Schachner is a PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Policy.