The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich

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Gabriel Zucman, “America’s top wealth detective,” probes the secrets of the super rich using simple, voluminous spreadsheets compiling the tax tables, macroeconomic datasets, and cross-border-flow calculations of central banks. He does it on his own, only rarely outsourcing to graduate students. “You can conduct this detective work only if you do it to a large extent yourself,” he says. “The wealth is not visible in plain sight—it’s visible in the data.” Read the full article HERE.

Berkeley Talks: Professor Rucker Johnson on why school integration works

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Rucker Johnson’s book “Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works” has been released and is now available for purchase. The book reveals that school integration efforts in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s were overwhelmingly successful, and our retreat from them has had dire effects on our society. Listen to Professor Johnson speak about the book on Berkeley News.

A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty

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A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which O-Lab Co-Director Hilary Hoynes worked on, provides evidence-based policy and program suggestions that could reduce child poverty by half. “The strengths and abilities children develop from infancy through adolescence are crucial for their physical, emotional, and cognitive growth, which in turn help them to achieve success in school and to become responsible, economically self-sufficient, and healthy adults.” Read more HERE.

Economics After Neoliberalism

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The tools of economics are critical to developing a policy framework for what Gabriel Zucman, Dani Rodrik and Suresh Naidu call “inclusive prosperity.” While prosperity is the traditional concern of economists, the “inclusive” modifier demands both that economists consider the whole distribution of outcomes, not simply the average (the “middle class”), and that they consider human prosperity broadly, including non-pecuniary sources of well-being, from health to climate change to political rights. Read the full article HERE.

Congress Passes the Foundations for Evidence Based Policymaking Act of 2018

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In January, the Foundations for Evidence Based Policymaking Act of 2018 was signed into law, taking key steps to strengthen the privacy protections of federal data and increase the availability of evidence to improve policymaking. The law implements half of the recommendations made by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, a bipartisan commission that released unanimous recommendations in 2017. “The law’s improvements to secure data access should drastically improve the ability of researchers to access federal data while maintaining data privacy,” says Hilary Hoynes, co-Director of the Opportunity Lab and former Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking member. “When fully implemented, a secure, streamlined method to access federal data could transform the types of research we conduct and how quickly it can be turned around for use by policymakers.” Read more HERE.

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Hike Idea

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tax hike idea has kick-started debate on progressive income taxation. As Saez and Zucman argue in their New York Times op-ed, her tax idea is not about soaking the rich but rather curtailing inequality and saving democracy. “An extreme concentration of wealth means an extreme concentration of economic and political power. Although many policies can help address it, progressive income taxation is the fairest and most potent of them all, because it restrains all exorbitant incomes equally.” Read the full article HERE.

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

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"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

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"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

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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.