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Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies
Vol. 4 • Issue 1 • January 2016

Jacob HackerFrom Jacob Hacker

I am very pleased to announce that we have just chosen ten Yale College students for our third cohort of Director’s Fellows. The Director’s Fellows are a vital component of a larger initiative that we are calling the Policy Lab—an innovative new collaborative workspace and policy program that will inculcate policy-analytic skills and connect students with faculty and policymakers. (We are hiring a creative postdoc to help lead this program—if you or someone you know might be that rare individual, take a look at our call for applications!) Speaking of faculty, resident scholars Alan Gerber and Greg Huber have exciting new findings regarding partisan bias in political knowledge, while Peter Aronow and Benjamin Miller have broken new ground in the study of public (mis)information about gun laws. And on our blog, Gautam Nair looks at why the poor don’t vote in their own self-interest.


FEB 2 @12:00 Comp Workshop
Justin Farrell (Yale)

FEB 3 @12:00 CSAP
Sean Farhang (UC Berkeley)

FEB 4 @12:00 Behavioral Sci
Supreet Kaur (Columbia)

FEB 11 @12:00 Quant Methods
Walter Mebane (U Mich)

FEB 17 @12:00 CSAP
Sarah Anzia (UC Berkeley)

FEB 17 @ 4:00 Bioethics
Susan Schneider (U Conn)

FEB 18 @12:00 Behavioral Sci
Max Bazerman (Harvard)


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Director's Fellows Chosen


ISPS welcomes the new Director's Fellows of 2016. Ten Yale College students were chosen out of a competitive pool of applicants for the third cohort of ISPS Fellows: Pranav Bhandarkar, Zachary Cohen, Sarah DiMagno, Alejandra Padin-Dujon, Hedy Gutfreund, Hannah Hauptman, William McGrew, Laila Robbins, Priya Sundaresan, and Angelina Xing. The fellowship is designed to bring together undergraduates interested in honing their skills in public policy research and outreach. The training consists of seminars and bi-weekly meetings in the spring semester; a summer internship in local, state or federal government, or at a NGO; and a related, academic research project to be completed in the fall semester. A stipend is also provided for research. See here for more information.

Lux et Data Blogging Corner


Gautam Nair, an ISPS Graduate Policy Fellow, untangles the research and reasons why the poor and lower classes don't vote their self interest in "Why the Poor Don't Soak the Rich: They Don't Know How Poor (or Rich) They Really Are." The post looks at whether voters might be divided along other interests (old vs. young or white vs. black), or fear being in "last place," or if the disconnect is caused by the "empathy gulf." Nair plans to spend his ISPS fellowship expanding on this scholarship.

Media Coverage Continues on Zack Cooper's Project


The trove of private insurance data that Zack Cooper and his fellow researchers broke down in their Health Care Pricing Project continues to attract media around the country.
The New Yorker's Atul Gawande cites the study, saying it "manages to crack open the black box of private insurance."
In Forbes, John Goodman writes about who is at fault for the crazy price differences (hint: the hospitals). In Mother Jones, Kevin Drum looks at how competition would lower the price of health care. In the Houston Chronicle, Chris Tomlinson writes that all the suspicions are confirmed-- the reason for high health care costs are the hospitals. Time magazine's Kara Brandeisky points out the connection between the higher health care costs in cities with fewer hospitals. And in a BYU Radio interview with host Julie Rose, Zack Cooper explains the value of making health care costs transparent. For a full listing of media coverage of this report, click here.

Gerber, Huber et al. on Partisan Bias


A recently published paper in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science, "Partisan Bias in Factual Beliefs about Factual Beliefs," looks at how partisan bias affects objective truth. Written by
ISPS Resident Faculty Fellows Alan S. Gerber and Gregory Huber, and former ISPS affiliates John G. Bullock and Seth J. Hill, the study uses a social science experiment that shows respondents' partisanship trumps their initial response to political questions. But when offered a small amount of cash for their political knowledge, they were much more likely to be accurate about what they did not know about the political issue. Neil Irwin in Upshot cited the paper in his article, "How Is the Economy Doing? It May Depend on Your Party, and $1."

Aronow's Study on Public's Perception of Gun Laws


Americans support strong gun control laws, but many erroneously believe these laws are already enacted. A newly published paper in Lancet by ISPS Resident Faculty Fellow Peter Aronow and Benjamin Miller, a graduate student in Political Science, find that in public opinion surveys there is a basic disconnect between gun laws and public knowledge. Lancet's editorial, "Gun Violence in America: A National Crisis," draws on Aronow and Miller's paper. And Yale News  holds a Q & A with co-author Benjamin Miller on the details of the study. 

Research Position Opening at New ISPS Policy Lab


A research and policy-related opportunity is opening up at ISPS in the soon-to-be established Policy Lab. Professors Jacob Hacker and Andrew Papachristos seek a postdoctoral associate or postgraduate associate for a one-year full-time appointment starting in September 2016 (or earlier, depending on availability). The position is for a researcher with interests in domestic policy-related domains (especially, criminal justice, education, and economic inequality) with a desire to help develop new collaborative educational and research opportunities for Yale undergraduate and graduate students at ISPS. More info here.

Publications, Media, and Mentions


Jason Lyall in an op-ed in the Washington Post explains why 2015 was "quietly disastrous" for Afghanistan.
Peter Aronow, Betsy Paluck, and Hana Shepherd's new study finds that highly-connected students can influence norms and behavior and reduce peer conflict and bullying. The research is covered in New York Magazine and the LA Times. Originally published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Peter Aronow and co-author Joel Middleton publish "Unbiased Estimation of the Average Treatment Effect in Cluster-Randomized Experiments" in Statistics, Politics, and Policy.
John Henderson's paper, "Genetic Matching Approach to Estimating Treatment Effects," is available at SSRN.
Eitan Hersh comments on why for the Republicans there is not really much to debate on gun laws in The Trace.
Jacob Hacker's book, The Great Shift Risk, is mentioned in a story about Bernie Sanders in the New York Review of Books

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