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Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

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Along with our new website, http://isps.yale.edu, we are pleased to announce another new venture—a monthly newsletter. Our website is intended to serve as a portal to the growing intellectual community of ISPS, and our newsletter, to highlight our recent research and events related to matters of public policy and politics. We hope you enjoy it. 


January 16 @12:00 CSAP Devin Caughey, MIT

January 18@ 4:00 Bioethics Alan Schulman on Hunger, Food, and Genes

January 23 @12:00 CSAP Erika Fowler, Wesleyan

January 23@ 4:15 Bioethics Gualberto Ruano on Personalizing Public Health

January 30 @12:00 CSAP Jeffrey Lax, Columbia


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Dan Feder on EITC No Panacea for Working Poor

Andy Horowitz on The Influence of Hurricane Sandy on Politics

David Mayhew on Why 2012 Election is not 1996

In the Company of Scholars


Jacob Hacker's talk "Is American Politics Undermining the American Dream," addressed how rising economic inequality is linked to changes in American politics and policy, with a special emphasis on the current election season.  Watch the video here.

Informal Talk: Larry Summers


Lawrence Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and former president of Harvard University (2001-2006) who worked in two Democratic administrations, gave an informal talk at ISPS on November 14. He told the gathering that the election should not be read as a mandate for large scale progressive policies, redistribution, and the welfare state, given that it was a close election for an incumbent President. More here.

Informal Talk: Cass Sunstein


Cass Sunstein, former director of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration, gave an informal talk at ISPS on November 13 where he discussed what drove him to pursue scholarship at the intersection of law, political science and behavioral economics as well as public  service. He talked about the academics who influenced his thinking and what it was like to go from academia to the White House. Dan Feder blogs here.

Detaining Democracy Conference

On November 8 & 9, Vesla Weaver, Chris Wildeman, and Jacob Hacker moderated the conference "Detaining Democracy" that examined how increasing contact with criminal justice institutions—from prisons and jail to probation, parole, and police officers—shapes American civic life. The conference brought together internationally recognized scholars from political science, sociology, economics, public policy, education, and law. The results will appear in a special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2014.

ISPS Panel Discusses "Teetering on the Fiscal Cliff"


On December 4th, David Mayhew, Jacob Hacker and Zack Cooper held a panel at the Yale Law School, "Teetering on the Fiscal Cliff," concerning social programs and government spending in the next Obama presidency. Mayhew gave the historical framework of prior financial showdowns when, as now, the House was divided, noting that austerity, tax hikes and spending cuts are not popular in any presidency. Hacker presented the growth of inequality, showing how the richest .01% of income has soared in the last generation and how it is linked to politics and policy. Cooper laid out the rising cost of medicine, noting that the main drivers of spending are medical technology and unproductive spending. Cooper said, "Right now, the government is projected to spend about $14.5 trillion on Medicare and Medicaid through 2020 and what we're arguing about is roughly $200 billion, about 1% of the money.  It's really a false debate." Read more. 

ISPS and the 2012 Elections


What They're Saying

The work of several ISPS experts relates to elections. From voter behavior to voter data mining; from the dramatically rising costs of government health care programs to the issues of redistribution and taxation, we have compiled some of the highlights featuring the 2012 election where ISPS research has had an impact.

Moneyball for Politics

Alan Gerber’s work on voter messaging that he co-authored with Don Green was featured in a New Yorker article “Calculating Campaigns” by James Suroweicki, and in Sasha Issenberg’s new book, The Victory Lab (what Politico called “Moneyball for Politics”). Both authors drew on Gerber and Green’s research using randomized experiments on voter turnout that has effectively upended conventional campaign thinking. Their findings: Deluging the public with mass media doesn’t change voters’ minds as much as social pressure, door-to-door canvassing, personal appeals and micro targeting, especially in very close races. Gerber and Green published Get Out the Vote (GOTV) in 2008, and it is used by both parties as their go-to book for mobilizing voters. See their recent textbook on experiments.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Debt

Zack Cooper put into perspective "What's At Stake in this Election" about future healthcare costs, in particular, the exploding costs of Medicare, in a paper released jointly by ISPS and LSE, and in a video. “Our ability as a country to rein in healthcare will determine our fiscal future. Healthcare is driving our debt."  View and read here.

Are They Keeping a File On Me?

Eitan Hersh joined a panel of experts on NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show in a discussion about the use of sophisticated data tools that mine individuals’ email, social media, and buying habits to be able to micro target voters for political fund raising. Hersh said: “It’s good because it gives campaigns new information about what voters care about.” But it’s bad “because we don’t want this information to move over to the government rolls. We don’t want a return to old world politics.” Hersh posed the questions: What is the role of public policy in regulating this data? What is the danger of the government collecting all this information and using it in the political process? Listen here.

The Next Four Years

Jacob Hacker participated in a special episode of @YaleLive today, along with two other Yale scholars — Beverly Gage and David Bach — assessing the issues that will be front and center in Obama’s second term. Hacker said that there are very few mandates for Obama from this election, "but the president clearly thinks he has a mandate to raise taxes on the wealthy." Watch here.

Getting Out the Woman Vote

Less than two months away from Election Day, NPR’s All Things Considered did a story on the McMann-Murphy fight for the Connecticut Senate seat. It was a close race back then and each candidate made a concerted effort to court the women vote. Political Science professor, Ellie Powell, weighed in, "She [Linda McMann] has managed to portray that she's done a lot for Connecticut women, whereas Murphy's been in the House of Representatives taking votes with the Democrats, which are sort of more traditionally allied with many women's issues." Listen here.

The Google Search for Mormon

Dan Butler, along with former ISPS Director, Don Green, blogged at Monkey Cage about how politics played a pedagogical function. Using Google Trends they charted the word searches for "Mormon" and "Romney" during the GOP nomination battle.  As primary elections drew close in states, there was a remarkable uptick in the search for the two words as Americans sought out information about the first presidential Mormon candidate. Read here.

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