The Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy is a vibrant intellectual community of faculty, master's and Ph.D. students, researchers, and administrative staff striving to improve public policy and practice in the areas of health care, human services, criminal justice, inequality, education, and labor. Find out more about us.


Israel Prize Winner Offers New Take On Stop-And-Frisk - Anthony Braga
The Jewish Week, June 10, 2015
Criminologist David Weisburd revises his original work on hot spots policing with an emphasis on a more fair and just approach.

The SAT: A New Core Subject in Schools? - Christopher Avery
The Atlantic, June 9, 2015
The College Board is promoting training materials which will benefit students, especially those who are high-achieving and in a low-income bracket, as they prepare for the SAT.

New Report Examines Race and Policing: An Agenda for Action - Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety
John F. Kennedy School of Government, June 3, 2015
A new report explores measures police can take to address concerns about race and law enforcement, including revising policy and engaging with diverse communities.

Does Immigration Suppress Wages? It’s Not So Simple - George Borjas
Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2015
Immigration's impact on wages is debated, with critics arguing that immigration impacts U.S. workers in lower skilled jobs.

Big Bets on Proton Therapy Face Uncertain Future - Amitabh Chandra
The Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2015
Proton therapy, offering cancer treatment, awaits results of randomized trials while the therapy remains unproven and may become pricey.

Radcliffe Fellows for 2015-2016 Announced - Devah Pager
Harvard Magazine, May 14, 2015
The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has named next year's fellows, including professor of sociology and professor of public policy Devah Pager.

As Middle Class Fades, So Does Use of Term on Campaign Trail - William Julius Wilson
The New York Times, May 11, 2015
Presidential candidates struggle to find words to describe a shrinking number of middle class Americans.

Harvard faculty elected to NAS - Bruce Western
Harvard Gazette, May 5, 2014
Bruce Western, professor of sociology and director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, will be inducted into The National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

The Man Who Foresaw Baltimore - Bruce Western
Politico Magazine, April 30, 2015
In 1967, the Kerner Commission called on Americans to take action against movement toward a society divided on racial lines.

The labor roots of Baltimore’s anguish - William Julius Wilson
Washington Post, April 29, 2014
Recent protests in Baltimore may be rooted in a labor market that has failed the city's residents in recent decades.

Forcing Black Men Out of Society - Devah Pager and William Julius Wilson
The New York Times, April 25, 2015
The marginalization of black men in American society is underlined by joblessness, low likelihood of being hired, and high imprisonment rates.

America needs to curb immigration flows - George Borjas
The Washington Post, April 9, 2015
High immigration rates are discussed in relation to the contraction of the middle class and the reduction of wages of lower-skilled workers.

College admissions is broken. Here's how to fix it. - Christopher Avery
Vox, April 7, 2015
As college admissions rates become more competitive, low income students have difficulty navigating the process.

Bruce Western on Policing, Incarceration, and Justice - Bruce Western
Harvard Kennedy School Insight, March 26, 2015
As incarceration rates increase, the issue of prison, as an unjust solution to problems of poverty, mental illness, and addiction, is raised.

The real reason research blaming black poverty on black culture has fallen out of favor - William Julius Wilson
Vox, March 26, 2015
Scholars debate the reason why the focus has shifted from cultural issues to structural issues as reasons for black poverty.

Shoveling a Path Out of Prison - Bruce Western
The Atlantic, March 1, 2015
As inmates perform snow removal in Boston, questions arise pertaining to the available work for recently released inmates in need of a living wage.

Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work - Devah Pager
The New York Times, February 28, 2015
Not only is conviction a barrier to employment for men, but high incarceration rates are having an effect on labor markets as a whole.

From prison to poverty - Bruce Western
Harvard Gazette, February 24, 2015
A multiyear study reveals how America's poverty concerns shape the socioeconomic path of those released from prison.

Marriage is no cure for poverty - William Julius Wilson
Al Jazeera, February 14, 2015
When the cause of low marriage rates is examined, lower rates are seemingly tied to marriage pools within certain demographics.

Gun violence is at the root of Michael Brown’s death - Devah Pager
Boston Globe, February 12, 2015
As differing parties debate over the root cause of recent police shootings, evidence shows that prevalent access to guns is a major factor.

William Julius Wilson Named Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance - William Julius Wilson
Library of Congress, February 11, 2015
Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University, has been named a scholar-in-residence at the Library of Congress Kluge Center.

The Partisan Paradox of Black Republicans - Leah Wright Rigueur
The Atlantic, February 5, 2014
A sense of alienation pervades amongst black Republicans, whose recent prominence only spotlights their complex position.

Black Men and the Struggle for Work - James M. Quane, William Julius Wilson and Jackelyn Hwang
Education Next, Spring 2015
While sometimes tied to family instability, the challenges black men face regarding employment may have a stronger link to social and economic institutional failures.

Colleges Fill More Seats Early Favoring Richer U.S. Students - Christopher Avery
Bloomberg Businessweek, January 9, 2015
Early admissions allow elite colleges to admit affluent students, reducing spots available to low income students.

The Legacy of Pioneering Senator Edward Brooke - Leah Wright Rigueur
The Boston Herald, January 4, 2015
Former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward W. Brooke III died January 3, 2014 at age 95. Brooke laid the groundwork for a blend of liberalism and conservatism among black politicians.

Racial Bias, Even When We Have Good Intentions - Bruce Western and Devah Pager
The New York Times, January 3, 2015
Implicit bias exists toward African-Americans, with studies citing handling of employment applications as a shocking example of racism.

The 38 biggest surprises of 2014 - Tarek Masoud, Linda Bilmes, Devah Pager
The Boston Globe, December 28, 2014
From the capture of Mosul by ISIS to the collapse in world oil prices and low violent crime rates, the biggest surprises in 2014 are examined.

Protests shine light on deeper issues with modern justice - Bruce Western
The Boston Globe, December 16, 2014
Protests following recent grand jury decisions reflect not only concerns with law enforcement, but with the criminal justice system itself.

Why Boston’s protests to Ferguson remained largely peaceful - Anthony Braga
Boston Globe, November 26, 2014
The relative calm of Boston's Ferguson protests stems from a growing trust built between the police and communities of color.

Ferguson: Through a global lens - Moshik Temkin
Harvard Gazette, November 25, 2014
As the world watched the Ferguson grand jury decision unfold, reactions were based on perception of this issue as a human rights concern.

Obama’s Immigration Plan Seen Affecting Wages, Job Moves - George Borjas
The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2014
Obama's executive order to provide legal worker status to immigrants may impact wages for certain minority groups.

This chart is amazing news for our health cost problem - Amitabh Chandra
Washington Post, November 20, 2014
A new chart from the Council of Economic Advisors demonstrates the projections of how much federal spending on healthcare will cost in the future, based on the recent slowing of growth of health care costs in recent years.

It’s Easier to Measure the Cost of Health Care than Its Value - Amitabh Chandra
Harvard Business Review, November 18, 2014
Because the potential profit to be made by an Ebola vaccine is small, little effort has been put into research and development.

Voters and the Affordable Care Act in the 2014 Election - Robert Blendon and John Benson
New England Journal of Medicine, November 13, 2014
Voters are divided along party lines in their feelings about the ACA, which may affect the future of healthcare.

Why students have no idea what college actually costs - Christopher Avery
The Washington Post - November 12, 2014
The difference between a college's sticker price and the actual cost is confounding students and may hinder enrollment.

Getting more poor kids into college won't fix income inequality - Christopher Avery
The Washington Post, October 23, 2014
While higher education is more affordable for low-income students, issues in K-12 public school system remain obstacles.

Confusion over new health law a major hurdle for many in Florida - Robert Blendon
Associated Press, October 18, 2014
In Florida, confusion over how the ACA works and how much health coverage will cost is a barrier to attaining care for many residents.

Health-care law's fate could hinge on political climate in individual states - Sheila Burke
The Washington Post, October 15, 2014
While the media is predicting the failure of the ACA based on its technical issues during the rollout, the real predictor of its future lies in the political leanings of individual states.

Medicaid, Often Criticized, Is Quite Popular With Its Customers - Robert Blendon
The New York Times, October 9, 2014
Low-income Americans say Medicaid's services are higher quality and more affordable than private insurance.

Ferguson, Human Rights and America's Interests Abroad - Moshik Temkin
The Nation, October 9, 2014
America's approach to racism lies in stark contrast to foreign approaches to racism as a human rights issue.

Evans defends Boston police after ACLU report on racial bias - Anthony Braga
The Boston Globe, October 8, 2014
BPD defends its policies after study reveals disproportionate questioning and searching of black residents.

Powerful voices - William Julius Wilson
Harvard Gazette, September 30, 2014
W.E.B. Du Bois awards honor contributors to African-American culture including Oprah Winfrey, with a special honor for Maya Angelou.

Inequality and the American Dream - William Julius Wilson
Huffington Post, September 22, 2014
In 2014, black children have less of a chance of achieving upward mobility than white children, due to longstanding socioeconomic factors.

The bias fighters - Phillip Goff
The Boston Globe, September 21, 2014
Study of racial discrimination by law enforcement focuses on not just psychology, but action and policy.

HUD's "Moving to Opportunity Program" and Housing for the Poor - Robert Sampson, William Julius Wilson
New York Times, September 16, 2014
The outcome of HUD's "Moving to Opportunity Program" shows improvements in mental and physical health, but not necessarily in education and employment.

Making Top Colleges Less Aristocratic and More Meritocratic - Christopher Avery
New York Times, September 12, 2014
As elite institutions strive to make higher ed more affordable, an appropriate measure of an institutions’ success might be to take a look at its Pell grants.

Global Cities Initiative – Foreign students in America - George Borjas
University World News, September 4, 2014
Foreign students in U.S. bring much to the table, but have negative effect on wages for U.S. workers.

Harvard Changes Employee Health Benefits - Joseph Newhouse
Harvard Magazine, September 3, 2014
Harvard announces changes in employee health benefits in line with benefits packages of other major employers.

Diversity in ranks limited, Mass. police try to build links - Phillip Goff
The Boston Globe, September 2, 2014
Massachusetts recognizes disparity between racial demographics of diverse communities and their police forces.

Democrats reframe debate on health care - Robert Blendon
Associated Press, August 22, 2014

Poll: Obama health law is a tale of 2 Americas - Robert Blendon
Yahoo News, August 5, 2014

Why You Can't Catch Up - Christopher Avery
The New York Times, August 1, 2014
Attending an elite institution is less attainable for low-income students than for students from privileged backgrounds.

Politicians stress us out - Robert Blendon
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24, 2014
86% of Americans report recent stress linked to distrust of elected officials and media saturation of said officials.

Court nixes Obamacare subsidies for Indiana, 35 other states - Robert Blendon
Indianapolis Business Journal, July 22, 2014
Tax credits that helped to subsidize health care for Indiana residents are now in jeopardy after a recent court decision.

Income Inequality Is Not Rising Globally. It's Falling. - George Borjas
The New York Times, July 19, 2014
On a global scale, income inequality is decreasing, despite its increase in individual countries, including the U.S.

Half of Americans under high stress over past year, survey says - Robert Blendon
Boston Globe, July 7, 2014
A recent survey shows that half of Americans experiences high stress in the past year, with health issues having a great impact.

A Case Study in Lifting College Attendance - Christopher Avery
New York Times, June 10, 2014
When Delaware began offering the SAT during school hours as an effort to increase college attendance, nearly all students began taking the test.

How to Pay for Only the Health Care You Want - Amitabh Chandra
New York Times, June 9, 2014
By paying for only the care they choose, many Americans could see the cost of health care decrease.

The Hidden Failure of Obama's Health Care Overhaul - Robert Blendon
The Hill, June 3, 2014
As millions of Americans wait for their Medicaid applications to be processed, Democrats worry that delays could call the ACA into question.

Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say - Christopher Avery
New York Times, May 27, 2014
Despite the rising cost of college education, the pay gap between graduates and non-graduates makes a degree worth the price.

A Harsh Sentence for Our Communities - Bruce Western
Huffington Post, May 14, 2014
As incarceration rates rise, correlations are made between those rates and high-poverty rates.

In the U.S., Punishment Comes Before the Crimes - Devah Pager, Bruce Western
New York Times, April 30, 2014
As U.S. spending on its prison system reaches $80 billion, prevalent racial anxiety and the estrangement between the rich and the poor are noted.

What Big Data Can't Tell Us About Health Care - Amitabh Chandra
The New Yorker, April 24, 2014
As the ACA strives to move from a fee-for-service model toward paying doctors to keep patients healthy, there is concern over transparency in healthcare cost.

Acceleration Is Forecast for Spending on Health - Amitabh Chandra
New York Times, April 22, 2014
The low annual rate of increase in healthcare spending coincides with worries that costs could grow 1.2 points faster than the economy over the next two decades.

Tough healthcare choices ahead for countries, warns economist - Amitabh Chandra
Today (Singapore), April 17, 2014
Innovations in healthcare will cause many nation’s spending on healthcare to rise in future decades.

'Stop-and-frisk' won't work for Boston - Anthony Braga
Boston Globe, April 13, 2014
Despite an increased homicide rate in 2014, street crime in the past two decades is lower than New York', despite Boston's policy that reduces stop-and-frisk measures.

From slipping through the cracks to the college track - Christopher Avery
Seattle Times, April 12, 2014
Despite high achievement in school grades and test scores, low income students are often derailed by the college admissions process.

Harvard Report Praises Response to Marathon Bombings – Christine Cole, Herman B. “Dutch” Leonard
Boston Globe, April 3, 2014
Program in Criminal Justice, HKS, HBS and HLS researchers release white paper on response to Marathon Bombing events
**Note: This research also cited in other media reports including Reuters, Boston.com/AP, and Harvard Gazette.

That Old-Time Whistle - William Julius Wilson
New York Times, March 16, 2014
Conservative attitudes about race and employment don't take into account that when jobs moved away from urban centers, minorities lost employment opportunities.

School success part of broader strategy to target urban poverty in Los Angeles Promise Zone - James Quane
The Hechinger Report, March 13, 2014
Academic achievement found in Promise Zones is a part of various federal agencies' efforts to eliminate poverty and boost job growth.

The Story Behind the SAT Overhaul - Christopher Avery
New York Times, March 6, 2014
While changes in the SAT test aimed to make the test more meritocratic, higher education opportunity for low income students remains a concern.

Fighting Poverty Through Paid Sick Leave, de Blasio Opts for Impact Over Innovation - Julie Boatright Wilson
The Nation, January 21, 2014
While former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg was awarded for his approach to fighting poverty, mayor Bill de Blasio continues those efforts with an expanded sick leave policy.

Will Obama's 'promise zone' program really help the poor? - James Quane
Christian Science Monitor, January 9, 2014
President Obama will implement a Promise Zone program, aimed at boosting job opportunities and alleviating poverty in five regions across the U.S.

Study: Expanding Health Coverage Increases Emergency Room Use - Amitabh Chandra
Time Magazine, January 3, 2014
As the ACA expands health coverage for low income citizens, a study finds that pricey visits to emergency rooms are on the rise.

More News & Events


Bryan Stevenson MPP/JD 1985

Bryan Stevenson MPP/JD 1985
Photo Credit: Kristyn Ulanday

April 2, 2015 -- HKS Alum Bryan Stevenson’s Forum Address “Justice in an Era of Mass Imprisonment”. Watch the Forum here. More -- HKS coverage of this event.

Henry Paulson

Oct 1, 2014 -– Henry Paulson presented the 2014 Malcolm Wiener Lecture on International Political Economy discussing US/China relations, environmental issues and the economy.

Click here to view this Forum event.

Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series calendar


Student award winners and papers announced on Class Day.


Program in Criminal Justice News: PCJ/HKS/HBS/HLS White Paper Examines Response to Boston Marathon Bombing Events – “Why Was Boston Strong?” (.pdf)


Bruce Western on U.S. Wage Inequalities

Bruce Western

Bruce Western, Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.

"Overall trends were driven by movements at the top and the bottom of the wage distribution," wrote Western.


Loneliness of the Black Republican (cover)

In the ‘Loneliness of the Black Republican’ Assistant Professor of Public Policy Leah Wright Rigueur covers four decades of American social and political history and examines the ideas and actions of African American activists, officials and politicians in the Republican party.