What is the social cost of carbon? Marketplace talks with Sol Hsiang


"You know the old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? About a decade ago, the Obama administration tried applying that to the fight against climate change. Federal agencies were required to assess the future damages of carbon emissions as part of cost-benefit calculations — the kind they need to do before passing new regulations." Read the                                                                                  full article HERE.

Revolutionizing Data for Public Good

On March 28 O-Lab held a conference and matchmaking event to identify ways that new-unique data can advance social good, promote communication between researchers and companies with rich data-sets, and provide a deeper understanding of the synergistic benefits of data access. 

Read #OurTake by Ben Handel to learn more about key takeaways and how data can produce public good. Event video and pictures can be found HERE

For more information about speakers please visit the event website, www.data4publicgood.com.

Hilary Hoynes Elected Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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O-Lab Co-Director Hilary Hoynes is among the distinguished leaders selected this year to be a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Election to the Academy is considered one of the nation's highest honors since its founding during the American Revolution in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, and other scholar-patriots who contributed prominently to the establishment of the new nation, its government, and its Constitution.

Read more about the Academy and newly elected members HERE.

O-Lab Faculty Named 2018 Sloan Research Fellows

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Professors Danny Yagan and Supreet Kaur are two of this year's Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship recipients. Every year the Sloan Foundation honors early-career scholars who "represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada."  Read the full announcement HERE.

Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration


"Most people don't realize how much climate affects everything, from their property values to how hard people work," says Solomon Hsiang, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, who led a recent study that predicts, as the climate warms, there will be "a large transfer of value northward and westward." And the wealthy, who can afford to adapt, will benefit, while the poor, who will likely be left behind, will suffer. "If we continue on the current path," Hsiang says, "our analysis suggests that climate change may result in the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the country's history." Read the full article HERE

Come the Recession, Don’t Count on That Safety Net

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The economists Hilary Hoynes of the University of California, Berkeley, and Marianne Bitler of the University of California, Davis, pointed out in a recent paper that “the safety net for low-income families with children has transformed from one subsidizing out-of-work families into one subsidizing in-work families.”

And yet, as many unemployed Americans discovered the last time recession hit, government benefits that require recipients to hold a job become worthless when there is no work to be had. Read full article HERE.

World Inequality Report-Disastrous Policy Widened the Wealth Gap

              Source: WID.world (2017)

              Source: WID.world (2017)

Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, and colleagues at WID released the 2018 World Inequality Report; the world's leading assessment on global inequality. This year's report finds that while inequality has risen world wide, it varies greatly between and even within regions. Stark results for the United States show the consistent decline in share of national income for the bottom 50% while the top 1% experienced unprecedented gains. Read the full report in English HERE, or visit WID.world for more languages. 

SNAP: Nutrition Aid Can Provide Long-Term Benefits

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"The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as "food stamps", is one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the United States, reaching over 44 millionAmericans in 2016, at a cost of $73 billion to the Federal Government.  Major policy changes up for consideration in Congress as well as the Trump administration's federal budget proposal could lead to dramatic funding cuts to SNAP.  Read the full memo HERE

Don’t Let Puerto Rico Fall Into an Economic Abyss: New York Times Op-Ed by Solomon Hsiang

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Almost nothing on the planet, short of nuclear weaponry, destroys economic value as rapidly as a mega-hurricane. In Puerto Rico, decades of economic progress were undone in 12 hours by Hurricane Maria. 

With millions lacking electricity or potable water, avoiding a humanitarian disaster should be President Trump’s top priority.Read Full Article HERE.

How Local Housing Regulations Smother the U.S. Economy: New York Times Op-Ed by Enrico Moretti


If you live in a coastal city like New York, Boston or San Francisco, you know that the cost of housing has skyrocketed. This housing crisis did not happen by chance: Increasingly restrictive land-use regulations in the last half-century contributed to it.

But what appears to be several local housing crises is actually a much more alarming national crisis: Land-use restrictions are a significant drag on economic growth in the    United States. Read full article HERE.

Gabriel Zucman on Tax Evasion and Inequality

Image from Gabriel Zucman's book "The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens" published in 2015. 

Image from Gabriel Zucman's book "The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens" published in 2015. 

Alphachat's Matthew Klein spoke with O-Lab's Gabriel Zucman on tax evasion and inequality. "Using publicly-available data from central banks and the International Monetary Fund, he found that...the discrepancy between reported assets and the associated claims is concentrated in a handful of places known to facilitate tax avoidance." Listen to the full interview HERE and visit our Taxation and Inequality page for more research. 

Hilary Hoynes talks #SNAP with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

"The War on Poverty was launched over half a century ago, with a host of programs intended to ease the plight of the poor. Food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and programs for job training, adult education and equal opportunity business lending were launched or strengthened. Long before that, the New Deal initiated Aid to Families with Dependent Children, guaranteed pensions, unemployment insurance, the Works Progress Administration and other programs—creating a “social safety net” to protect Americans from economic poverty and related disadvantages." Read the full interview HERE.

The Success of the Earned Income Tax Credit

O-Lab Co-Director Hilary Hoynes contributes to EITC research with an EconoFact memo. 

"The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a major anti-poverty program that benefits both children and adults. It is a program with wide bipartisan support since, by providing a tax credit to lower-income working families in a way that incentivizes work, it both promotes greater labor force participation and supports the working poor. It currently does not provide much support for individuals or households without children, but there has been bipartisan support in the past for an expansion of the program to provide greater benefits to this group as well." Read the full memo HERE.

O-Lab Presents Empirical Research to CalDay Audience

On April 22, three O-Lab affiliated faculty presented some of their most recent research to a captivated audience.

Rucker Johnson, Associate Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy and a Faculty Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research discussed his research on the synergistic effects of pre-K and K-12 spending on children’s long-run adult attainments.

Danny Yagan, Assistant Professor of Economics and Faculty Lead of O-Lab’s Taxation and Inequality Initiative shared his Mobility Report Cards research, which shows that some colleges have a significant number of students who come from low-income families and end up as high-income adults.

Supreet Kaur, Assistant Professor of Economics, spoke about new advances in the psychology of poverty: how integrating ideas from psychology into economics can help us better understand why it is difficult for the poor to escape poverty.  Kaur did this by describing empirical results from field experiments with manufacturing workers that indicate the experience of poverty itself lowers cognitive functioning and worker productivity.  

Learn about upcoming events by following us on Twitter, @Berkeley_OLab or signing up for our newsletter by emailing info.olab@berkeley.edu 

Do Healthy Lunches Improve Student Test Scores? A new study identifies a link between food quality and achievement.

The Atlantic looked to a new study by O-Lab's Michael Anderson when discussing the link between healthy school lunches and test scores.  Professor Anderson's study shows that “Healthier meals could raise student achievement by about 4 percentile points on average.”