fbpx Stone Inequality & Social Policy Seminar | Harvard Kennedy School
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Date and Location

November 20, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET
Allison Dining Room, Taubman 5th Floor, Hks
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​The Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality, and Social Policy welcomes Professor David Grusky to speak in the Stone Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series.

Why Large Cities Are Homophily-Generating Machines

David Grusky (Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality, Stanford University)

Abstract: Do
people who are well-off come into frequent contact with people who are
poor? Although it’s well-known that income inequality has grown
dramatically over the last half-century, we don’t know as much about the
amount of contact between people having more or less money.  The key
obstacle to measuring such “interaction segregation” has been wholly
methodological: We’ve lacked the capacity to track real-life
interactions among people as they move around their neighborhoods or go
to work, school, and places of leisure. Because cellphones are now
ubiquitous, it’s become possible for the first time to measure
such interactions in real time, across the United States, and
throughout the day.  We proceed by analyzing 1.6 billion “interactions”
(i.e., co-located cellphones) and infer the economic standing of their
users from home addresses (based on cell phone location at night). The
resulting map of U.S. interaction segregation shows that, because large
cities can support venues (e.g., restaurants, shopping centers) that are
targeted to thin socioeconomic slices of the population, contemporary urban life has become a homophily-generating machine.

David B. Grusky is
Edward Ames Edmonds Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences,
Professor of Sociology, Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for
Economic Policy Research, Director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and
Inequality, and coeditor of Pathways Magazine. He is a Fellow
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, corecipient
of the 2004 Max Weber Award, founder of the Cornell University Center
for the Study of Inequality, and a former Presidential Young
Investigator. His recent books are Inequality in the 21st Century (with Jasmine Hill, 2017), Social Stratification (with Kate Weisshaar, 2014), Occupy the Future (with Douglas McAdam, Robert Reich, and Debra Satz, 2012), The New Gilded Age (with Tamar Kricheli-Katz, 2011), and The Great Recession (with Bruce Western and Chris Wimer, 2011).

Speakers and Presenters

​David Grusky (Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality, Stanford University)