April 2018

Decision Making in a 'Broken Political System'

As an economic advisor to President Bill Clinton and a secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the 1990s, Robert Rubin faced many tough decisions, from the economic maelstrom of the Mexican peso crisis to passing government budgets and debating tax cuts—many of which bear striking parallels to current headlines. MORE

Research and Working Papers

Faculty Spotlight: Sera Young

Whether attending an international high school in Wales or learning Swahili while living with a Zanzibari family, IPR anthropologist Sera Young has found immersing herself in different cultures is the way to think differently. She now focuses on maternal and child health issues, closely examining the causes and consequences of food and water insecurity. MORE

Building the Prison State

The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation, with about 1 in 100 American adults currently behind bars, the majority of whom are racial minorities. How did we get here, and what can we do about it? In her new book, Building the Prison State: Race and the Politics of Mass Incarceration (University of Chicago Press, 2018), IPR sociologist and legal scholar Heather Schoenfeld addresses this question. MORE

Racial Bias in Medicine

A new study co-authored by psychologist and IPR associate Sylvia Perry finds that American clinicians rated white patients as significantly more likely to improve and more likely to adhere to recommended treatments than black patients. The U.S. clinicians also said white patients were more "personally responsible" for their health than black patients. MORE

Overcoming Barriers to Safety Net Sign-Ups

Why do people fail to sign up for social safety net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), despite being eligible? IPR economist Matthew Notowidigdo and his MIT colleague Amy Finkelstein are seeking to understand this issue by examining how to improve outreach methods to low-income households not participating in social safety net programs. MORE

IPR Working Papers

The Effect of Court-Ordered Hiring Guidelines on Teacher Composition and Student Achievement (WP-17-19)

Cynthia (CC) DuBois and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Most analyses of court-ordered school desegregation policies have focused on student outcomes, but teachers also fall under such orders. DuBois and Schanzenbach examine the effects of court-ordered hiring guidelines intended to increase the share of black teachers in a Louisiana school district. They discover that the policy, mandated in 2006, significantly increased the share of teachers in the district relative to the rest of the state, while also decreasing the student-teacher representation gap—the difference in black enrollment share among students and teachers in a district. The policy had neither positive nor negative impacts on student achievement, and despite concerns that the court order could lead to a reduction in teacher quality, qualitative interviews revealed improved quality in teachers' departments.

Reducing Bureaucratic Corruption: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on What Works (WP-17-20)

Jordan Gans-Morse, Mariana Borges, Alexey Makarin, Theresa Mannah Blankson, Andre Nickow, and Dong Zhang

Drawing from economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology, Gans-Morse and his colleagues provide the first-known, comprehensive review of 260 studies analyzing seven types of anticorruption policies, particularly those focusing on reducing bureaucratic corruption. The authors demonstrate that adequate salaries for civil servants are necessary, but insufficient, to address corruption and that electronic monitoring and audits are effective in combating it. They find little evidence that other common anticorruption methods work. Despite a large number of "unresolved questions," the researchers note the remarkable amount of growth in empirical research in the area, and their review catalogues many opportunities for future research. The research has been published in World Development.

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Infographic: The Legacy of Hardship: Mothers to Babies


Mothers who grew up poor had more premature babies with more serious health issues than babies born to mothers with more financially secure childhoods, according to research by IPR health psychologist Greg Miller, IPR developmental psychobiologist Emma Adam, IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and IPR associate Ann Borders. MORE

Faculty Awards & Honors

IPR education sociologist Simone Ispa-Landa has been named a 2018 William T. Grant Scholar. She will investigate how different disciplinary approaches in schools shape the experiences of students of different races.

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Faculty in the Media

Science Friday

Can we predict urban gun homicides?

Science Friday talked to IPR sociologist Andrew Papachristos about gun violence, which he says is more socially connected than spatially connected.

Washington Post

How romance can protect gay and lesbian youths from emotional distress

Being in a romantic relationship can help gay and lesbian youth feel less mental distress, even more so if they are black or Latino, according to a recent study by professor of medical social sciences and IPR associate Brian Mustanski.

Cleveland Plain-Dealer

Do wage theft laws in Ohio harm or help workers?

Stronger penalties can serve as an effective deterrent against wage theft, but the structure of the policy and its enforcement matter, according to a study by IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin.

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