In the Spotlight

Nathan Wilmers
PhD Candidate in Sociology, Harvard University

Many businesses compete to attract dollars from the most affluent. But an innovative study finds that industries catering more to the wealthy have higher wage gaps, raising the prospect of a self-reinforcing cycle of inequality propelling wider pay gaps in the future.

Charles Hankla
Associate Professor of Political Science, Georgia State University

For decades, Congress has granted presidents expedited authority to shape trade agreements. But legislators now want more say – as the Transpacific Partnership and other pending pacts raise issues of acute concern to labor and environmentalists as well as businesses.

Almost weekly, pundits intone last rites for the Tea Party. But GOP officeholders have bolted far right on almost every issue. And primary election surprises keep happening – like the ouster of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the bare survival of Republican Senate war horse Thad Cochran. SSN scholars Christopher Parker, Robert Boatright, Vanessa Williamson, Amy Fried, Daniel Paul Franklin, and Theda Skocpol debate what it all means for Republicans in state and national politics.

Amy Blackstone
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Maine

After decades of progress, why do working women still earn less and hold too few positions of authority? It has become fashionable to point at women's lack of self-confidence. That may be part of the problem, but deeper economic and cultural forces also prevent working women from realizing their full potential.

Jenni W. Owen
Director of Policy Initiatives, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University

Across America, schools frequently use suspension as the preferred way to handle misbehaving students. But those suspended are isolated, lose learning time, and can become a danger in the community. Better alternatives can improve safety and help offending students succeed at school.

Jeffrey Clemens
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego

Medical innovations prolong life and improve wellbeing – and they are influenced by public policies. After probing the impact of social insurance on incentives, Clemens finds that the new health reform law could spur medical innovations that facilitate the delivery of quality care at lower cost.

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