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Public Policy

Are Student Loans Worth It?

We asked SOM’s Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, whose current work focuses on assessing the costs and benefits of debtor protection policies and understanding the role that consumer debt plays in the macroeconomy, to put President Biden’s decision to forgive student debt in context.

Graduates at California State University of Los Angeles's 2022 commencement ceremony in May 2022.
  • Is antitrust law keeping up?

    Can laws created to rein in the monopolies of the industrial age still work in the information age? After spending a year as the top antitrust economist at the U.S. Department of Justice, Professor Fiona Scott Morton describes the state of antitrust regulation today.

  • Want to Fix Social Security? Use the Right Wrench

    In a New York Times op-ed, Professor Robert Shiller writes that President Obama’s proposal to change how inflation is measured in Social Security benefit calculations “…solves the wrong problem, and, in doing so, undermines the integrity of the Social Security system.” One alternative, suggests Shiller, is to link retirees’ benefits to GDP per capita, in current dollars, which would align the interests of the retired with those of society as a whole.

  • Yes, We’re Confident, but Who Knows Why

    As housing, unemployment, the stock market, and the overall economy show signs of recovery, Professor Robert Shiller writes in the New York Times that we understand little about how people’s confidence affect these major turning points. "…[P]ublic thinking is inscrutable. We can keep trying to understand it, but we’ll be puzzled again the next time the markets or the economy make major moves."

  • The Language We Speak Predicts Saving and Health Behavior

    Languages differ in how much they distinguish between the present and the future. Professor Keith Chen found that speakers of languages that do not rely on the future tense make more future-oriented choices, including saving more money, retiring with more wealth, and smoking less.

  • Medical School Gift Restriction Policies Affect Doctors' Prescribing Behavior

    Professor Marissa King compared the prescribing patterns of doctors who graduated before and after their medical schools introduced conflict-of-interest policies that restrict industry gifts. Her research showed that doctors who experienced gift restrictions during medical training are less likely to prescribe newly marketed medications.

  • What is environmental security?

    A country runs out of drinkable water. What's its next move? And how will its actions affect neighboring countries? The national security community has developed data, expertise, and plans for responding to threats caused by environmental problems.

  • What has happened to the labor market in the Great Recession?

    With 14 million people out of work in the U.S., labor markets are receiving a lot of attention. Yale SOM's Lisa Kahn did groundbreaking work on the impact of graduating into a bad economy. She offers her take on what's happening now and what to expect.

  • Are our institutions up to the job?

    The massive problems associated with sustainability, from climate change to resource preservation, require coordinated, society-wide responses. Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom argues for the importance of giving local institutions enough power to better manage common resources—though it’s not easy.

  • Do you need a nudge?

    Richard Thaler outlines how principles from behavioral economics can help policymakers and managers achieve better outcomes.

  • How do we manage disasters?

    Healthcare is a field known for its complexity and fragmentation. Managing a massive cross-sectoral healthcare project is always a challenge. Coordinating the healthcare response to a disaster puts a strained system under even more pressure. John Piescik ’81 looked into the way the healthcare system responds to disaster for MITRE a not-for-profit company that operates three federally funded research and development centers. His findings may have implications well beyond healthcare, providing a means to manage solutions to some of the complex problems facing society.