Alan Krueger to Deliver 2017 Moynihan Lecture on Social Science and Public Policy: “Independent Workers: What Role for Public Policy?”

Alan B. Krueger of Princeton University is the 2017 Moynihan Prize Winner. Each year The AAPSS awards the Moynihan Prize to social scientists or public officials who have used research to bear on issues of importance to the social good. Since 2013, the Moynihan Prize winners have also delivered a major public policy lecture. This year, Krueger will deliver a lecture on Capitol Hill on Thursday, May 18 at 4 p.m.

Krueger’s talk will focus on independent workers—a growing share of the workforce. This category includes independent contractors, self-employed workers, freelancers, and gig economy workers. Independent workers choose where, when, whether, and how to work; they typically are not connected to a particular employer.

These workers do not receive the legal benefits and protections of traditional W-2 employees.  Independent workers are responsible for providing for their own safety net and are not covered by labor laws such as the Civil Rights Act and National Labor Relations Act. While some independent workers work through an intermediary, such as Uber or Handy, most do not. Krueger’s lecture will discuss trends in the independent workforce, reasons for the growth of independent work, and policy proposals (including tax, labor law, and benefits) to address inefficiencies and inequities associated with the independent work sector. 

Webinar on Big Data and Public Policy

The Academy and Sage Publications co-hosted a February 27 webinar, based on content from the January 2017 volume of The ANNALS, which focused on using data—administrative data, social media and smartphone data, and census information—to promote good public policy. The webinar explored the nexus of actionable analysis and big data from public, private, and research sources.  

Emilio Moran of Michigan State University opened the event by noting the challenges that the volume raised, in particular the growing difficulty in the social and behavioral fields in coping with the growth of new data, much of which is unfamiliar to social science disciplines. These new data, coupled with rapid social change, can prove to be difficult to measure effectively.  

Christopher Browning of The Ohio State University, Barbara Entwisle of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Elizabeth Fussell of Brown University also participated. Fussell discussed her research linking population change to environmental hazards while Browning used his work with the Adolescent Health and Development in Context initiative to chart the effects of exposure to high levels of violence. Entwisle then led the discussion of regional data centers—the Social Observatory Coordinating Network—that would make sense of these data and serve as storehouses.

You can view the archived webinar here.

Richard Clarke on Terrorism
In the Trump Era

University of Pennsylvania alumnus Richard Clarke visited the Penn campus at AAPSS’s invitation on March 16 to headline two events tied to the contents of the November 2016 ANNALS volume, which he co-edited. Clarke is a national security policy expert who served under three consecutive U.S. presidents over a 30-year period. He was Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs, Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace, and National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism.

At the first Penn event—a small round-table discussion with Penn students—Clarke focused on his role as a national security policy expert. He discussed his time in the Bush administration, specifically during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the policies that developed afterward, from the Iraq War to torture.

The evening event, attended by more than 100 and kicked off by AAPSS Chair Janice Madden, focused more on the arguments in the volume, having to do with countering violent extremism and regional transition in the Middle East. Clarke outlined what he sees as the challenges that lay ahead for the Trump administration. Read more.

Academy Remembers AAPSS Fellow, Civil Rights Leader Roger Wilkins

Academy Fellow Roger Wilkins, whose decades long career traversed public service and academia, passed away on March 26, 2017, at the age of 85. 
Wilkins began his career in public service during the Kennedy administration as an assistant to the head of USAID. In that administration, he played a role in the development and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He went on to be the point-person on urban and racial issues in the Johnson administration and became the Assistant Attorney General at the age of 33, at which point he was one of the highest ranking African Americans in the executive branch. 
Upon leaving public service in 1969, Wilkins joined the Ford Foundation, where he oversaw funding for job training and drug rehabilitation programs and education grants. Following the Ford Foundation, he joined The Washington Post in 1972, where, in 1973, he earned a Pulitzer Prize.  Read more.


Regulation is often viewed as a two-party relationship between a regulator (R) and the target (T) of its regulation. In the March 2017 volume of The ANNALS, special editors Kenneth Abbott, David Levi-Faur, and Duncan Snidal propose regulation as a three-party system, where diverse intermediaries (I) provide assistance to regulators and/or the target by drawing on their own capabilities, authority, and legitimacy. The editors refer to this system as the “RIT model.”
The volume introduces examples of regulation that support the RIT model and examples that extend and build on the model. The RIT model is not limited to the activities of regulatory agencies, or even of the state. Rather, it characterizes all forms of regulation. Some of the cases discussed in this volume include food safety regulation, credit rating agencies, regulation of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and rule intermediaries in global labor governance.

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Coming up in the May 2017 volume of The ANNALS special editors Laura W. Perna (University of Pennsylvania) and Nicholas Hillman (University of Wisconsin–Madison) bring together experts from across disciplines to explore student loan debt in the U.S. Using new empirical research, the authors address who borrows, why students borrow, and the consequences of borrowing.

Executive Director's Corner

Whither the social sciences in a national and political environment that is increasingly neutral to evidence and in some ways even hostile to so-called knowledge elites? This seems to be the million-dollar question among leaders of societies like AAPSS. If you have not yet read AAPSS President Ken Prewitt’s piece in the last edition of this Dispatch, you should give it a look. In it, Ken suggests that a 60-year understanding between the federal government and the national science enterprise may well be coming apart. If Ken is right, such a large and disruptive occurrence demands action among organizations like ours that is not simply self-preservative. 
But what to do?
Of course, the broad science community needs to double-down on its efforts to make a clear and compelling case that social science is essential to understanding population dynamics and therefore a vital ingredient to democratic progress. Certainly, we need to defend the national social data infrastructure, which has been critical to our research enterprise and instrumental to policymaking at least since the progressive era. And yes, we need to be better equipped and more adept at meeting policymakers of all political persuasions with evidence that informs the most important questions that they are attempting to address.
From my perspective, none of us has yet developed a satisfactory answer to the central question of how scientific organizations should adapt to an environment in which evidence and rational case-making are not exactly central to conversation and policymaking. That is the bad news. 
The good news is that it is not for lack of trying. Professional societies nationwide are talking, collaborating, and working toward an actionable understanding of the “new normal.”  AAPSS is active too, of course, and I look forward to reporting in the months ahead about some of the work that we will be undertaking to convene science leaders and shepherd a strategic conversation about the future of the social scientific enterprise.

Thomas Kecskemethy
Executive Director

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Call for 2018 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize Nominations

We are accepting nominations for the 2018 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize. The Moynihan Prize recognizes social scientists, public officials, and other leaders in the public arena who champion the use of informed judgment to improve public policy.  

Candidates must be able to accept the award in person at a ceremony to be held the following spring as well as deliver a major public policy address on a topic of his/her choosing. Please click here for more information and to submit a nomination.