Why does social policy matter?

Through data-driven research, hands-on training, and collaborative public engagement, the Malcolm Wiener Center is advancing policy initiatives that empower people to solve the most urgent social challenges and questions of our times.


The History and Future of Human Rights

New essays from Malcolm Wiener Center faculty members Sandra Susan Smith, Deirdre Bloome, Gordon Hanson, Frank Hartmann, Hong Qu, Mark Shepard, and Julie Boatright Wilson discuss the intersection of human rights and racial justice, economic equality, migration, technology, child welfare, and more.

New Study Finds Wide Gap in SAT/ACT Test Scores Between Wealthy, Lower-Income Kids

Research by David Deming and Opportunity Insights found that children of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans were 13 times likelier than the children of low-income families to score 1300 or higher on SAT/ACT tests. Deming expected to find an income-related gap among test-takers, but the magnitude of the disparity was “sobering.”


A new study co-authored by Wiener Center faculty affiliates Crystal Yang, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law, and Marcella Alsan, Angelopoulos Professor of Public Policy, shows that an innovative new jail education program reduces recidivism and may improve lives in Flint, Michigan.


Led by WAPPP co-director Iris Bohnet and co-sponsored by the Malcolm Wiener Center, the seminar series builds on data and behavioral design to better understand what works to promote change in government, business and society. Mondays @ 3pm

Final Session: Monday, 4/15, 3:00pm, via Zoom. Open to all!



Could highly selective private colleges increase the socioeconomic diversity of America's leaders by changing their admissions policies?  Raj Chetty, David Deming, and Susan Dynarski asked these questions at a recent IOP Forum Event.



Questions We Explore


From opportunity gaps in education, to racial and gender disparities in employment, our interdisciplinary research explores the social and economic causes and effects of inequality and how sound policy can improve access for all.


Our research applies rigorous scholarship and insight to questions around labor markets and employment, creating pathways to economic mobility in the workforce and in society.


Reforming the criminal legal system aims to balance objectives of fairness, justice, and public safety. Our evidence-based research advances policy solutions that can break barriers and lead to systemic change.


Drastic inequalities in healthcare access and outcomes require us to confront this stark question. We bring expertise and data-driven inquiry to the goals of improving access and reducing disparities in the healthcare system.

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The Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management

The Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management draws from rigorous research as well as insights from practitioners and people from impacted communities to inform the development of fairer and more just criminal legal system policies, practices, and procedures.


The Stone Program

The James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality and Social Policy unites faculty, students, and researchers from across Harvard University and beyond to address the causes and consequences of wealth inequalities in different populations around the world.

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Reimagining the Economy

The Reimagining the Economy project explores local labor market, industrial, and development policies, combined with practitioner insights, to produce multidisciplinary scholarship to reshape narratives about how we achieve inclusive prosperity.

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Shift Project

The Shift Project, a joint project at Harvard Kennedy School and UCSF, examines the nature and consequences of precarious employment in the service sector with a focus on how policymakers and firms can improve job quality.

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Project on Workforce

The Project on Workforce is an interdisciplinary, collaborative project with Harvard Business School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education charting the course for a post-secondary system of the future that creates more and better pathways to economic mobility.


Health Inequality Lab

The Health Inequality Lab is a research group based at the Harvard Kennedy School dedicated to studying the economics of health inequality in the United States and around the world.

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Other Programs and Initiatives

Explore all of the programs, projects, and initiatives at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.

Faculty Focus

New research from David Deming finds that wages grow faster for college graduates who have more opportunity for on-the-job training. College acts as a gateway to jobs with higher wage growth because it allows workers to find jobs where they can develop expertise and productivity over time. Understanding how to design jobs so that workers can continue to learn is an important priority for future work.

David Deming’s New Blog “Forked Lightning”
News and opinion on education, economics, and the future of work.

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