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.


New Video Series: The Case for Equity

With diversity, equity, and belonging efforts at universities and other institutions across the country under scrutiny, it's important to understand what is at stake. "The Case for Equity," a new video series from HKS and the Wiener Center, will explore equity in a variety of contexts, including health care, economics, education and more. In this first episode, Mark Shepard, Associate Professor of Public Policy, explains what equity is, and why it's relevant to public policy.


New research from The Shift Project provides insights into the prevalence of labor standards violations in California. The report breaks ground in using a novel survey of workers to provide estimates of labor standards violations and the rate at which workers experience retaliation for reporting.



Professor Deirdre Bloome (with Garret Pace, Univ of Nevada) studies how southern family lineages contribute to marriage trends and how understanding these intergenerational and place-based patterns could help address racial inequality.


New research by  Sandra Susan Smith based on a survey of Boston residents reveals large racial disparities in trust in law enforcement and a strong association between experiences of police harassment and self-reported chronic health conditions.

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

Michela Carlana

Michela Carlana

Globally, women remain underrepresented in STEM. New research from Michela Carlana delves into parental influence on adolescents’ perceptions of scientific versus humanistic aptitude. She finds that parental recommendation affects students’ beliefs in a gender-stereotypical way. Carlana recently received a $1.5 million European Research Council Starting Grant to continue this research on education, inequalities, and stereotypes.

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

2024 HKS Class Day Awards

Each year, the Malcolm Wiener Center awards prizes for excellence in student research work through the selection of the Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE), Second Year Policy Analysis (SYPA), essay, paper, or case study that best exemplifies the work of four remarkable individuals: Manuel C. Carballo, Susan C. Eaton, Frederick Fischer, and William Julius Wilson.

Manuel C. Carballo Memorial Prize

Benjamin Daly (MPP 2024) and Emily Orenstein (MPP 2024) for the Policy Analysis Exercise: 
Balancing Act: Optimizing Massachusetts' Subsidized Housing Waitlist

This award honors the memory of Manuel C. Carballo, a faculty member at Harvard Kennedy School from 1978 to 1982 who served in numerous public service positions and was the Massachusetts Secretary of Human Services. This prize is awarded for exemplary articulation of ideas related to the implementation, management, and evaluation of programs to serve disadvantaged populations in the U.S.

Susan C. Eaton Memorial Prize

Noam Alon (MPP 2024) for the Policy Analysis Exercise: 
Building Trust through Healthcare Equity

This prize, named in honor of Susan C. Eaton, a student, alumna, and faculty member at Harvard Kennedy School from 1993-2003, recognizes excellence in research on a topic related to Eaton's academic work, including human resources management, health care management, health care quality, union leadership, fair wage policy, health care disparities, work/family policy, gender equity, elder care and aging, and topics related to disability.

Frederick Fischer Memorial Prize

Ilai Levin (MPP), Lucy McSweeney (MPP 2024), and Mannat Singh (MPP 2024) for the Policy Analysis Exercise:
From Displacement to Learning: Overcoming Educational Barriers for Ukrainian Refugees in Italy

This prize, honoring the memory of Frederick Fischer, an alumnus of the MPP program and a committed public servant, recognizes excellence in research on a social policy topic related to criminal justice and the criminal legal system, inequality, economic and social mobility, economics of industrial policy, regional economic topics, workforce development, labor, poverty, education, immigration, social services, and other social policy issues.

William Julius Wilson Research Award

Valeria Silva Gomez (MPP 2024) for the Policy Analysis Exercise:
Racial Inequality in Britain: Spotlight Occupational Segregation

This award honors the scholarship and research of William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Emeritus at Harvard University who was the founder and director of the Malcolm Wiener Center’s Joblessness and Urban Poverty Research Program. This prize is awarded for an outstanding paper written on a topic that Wilson’s academic research addressed, including race relations, urban poverty and joblessness, and segregation, with particular attention to macro-level factors driving social phenomena.



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