Social Policy

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day
Arabic translation.

Jonathan Morduch, Daryl Collins, Stuart Rutherford, & Orlanda Ruthven
05/24/2016

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day (Princeton University Press, 2009) tackles the fundamental question of how the poor make ends meet. Over 250 families in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa participated in this unprecedented study of the financial practices of the world's poor.

These households were interviewed every two weeks over the course of a year, reporting on their most minute financial transactions. This book shows that many poor people have surprisingly sophisticated financial lives, saving and borrowing with an eye to the future and creating complex "financial portfolios" of formal and informal tools.

Indispensable for those in development studies, economics, and microfinance, Portfolios of the Poor will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about poverty and what can be done about it.

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Brian J. McCabe and Ingrid Gould Ellen
04/05/2016

Problem, research strategy, and findings: A number of studies have examined the property value impacts of historic preservation, but few have considered how preservation shapes neighborhood composition. In this study, we ask whether the designation of historic districts contributes to changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of New York City neighborhoods. Bringing together data on historic districts with a panel of census tracts, we study how neighborhoods change after the designation of a historic district. We find little evidence of changes in the racial composition of a neighborhood, but report a significant increase in socioeconomic status following historic designation.
Takeaway for practice: Our research offers empirical evidence on changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of neighborhoods following the designation of a historic district. It suggests that historic preservation can contribute to economic revitalization in urban neighborhoods, but that these changes risk making neighborhoods less accessible to lower-income residents. Planners should consider ways that the city government can work to preserve the highly valued amenities of historic neighborhoods while mitigating the potential for residential displacement.

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City
2016. Journal of the American Planning Association, 82(2): 134-146.

Ingrid Gould Ellen and Brian J. McCabe
01/10/2016

A number of studies have examined the property value impacts of historic preservation, but few have considered how preservation shapes neighborhood composition.  In this study, we ask whether the designation of historic districts contributes to changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of New York City neighborhoods.  Bringing together data on historic districts with a panel of census tracts, we study how neighborhoods change after the designation of a historic district.  We find little evidence of changes in the racial composition of a neighborhood, but report a significant increase in socioeconomic status following historic designation.

Credit is Not a Right

Credit is Not a Right
in Microfinance, Rights, and Global Justice (edited by Tom Sorell and Luis Cabrera). Cambridge University Press.

Gershman, John and Jonathan Morduch
08/01/2015

Muhammad Yunus, the microcredit pioneer, has proposed that access to credit should be a human right. We approach the question by drawing on fieldwork and empirical scholarship in political science and economics. Evidence shows that access to credit may be powerful for some people some of the time, but it is not powerful for everyone all of the time, and in some cases it can do damage. Yunus’s claim for the power of credit access has yet to be widely verified, and most rigorous studies find microcredit impacts that fall far short of the kinds of empirical assertions on which his proposal rests. We discuss ways that expanding the domain of rights can diminish the power of existing rights, and we argue for a right to non-discrimination in credit access, rather than a right to credit access itself.

 

Does Small High School Reform Lift Urban Districts? Evidence From New York City

Does Small High School Reform Lift Urban Districts? Evidence From New York City
Educational Researcher, Vol. XX No. X, pp. 1–12. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X15579187

Leanna Stiefel, Amy Ellen Schwartz, and Matthew Wiswall
04/29/2015

Research finds that small high schools deliver better outcomes than large high schools for urban students. An important outstanding question is whether this better performance is gained at the expense of losses elsewhere: Does small school reform lift the whole district? We explore New York City’s small high school reform in which hundreds of new small high schools were built in less than a decade. We use rich individual student data on four cohorts of New York City high school students and estimate effects of schools on student outcomes. Our results suggest that the introduction of small schools improved outcomes for students in all types of schools: large, small, continuously operating, and new. Small school reform lifted all boats.

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