What is the social problem that you are going to study? What kind of inequality does it produce? Racial inequality? Income inequality?

In your paper, address the following questions:

  • What is the social problem that you are going to study? Remember, a “problem” is different than a “policy”.
  • How is it defined and what are the mechanisms through which it operates? PROVIDE EVIDENCE.
  • What kind of inequality does it produce? Racial inequality? Income inequality? Etc.
  • Explain the spatial/geographic component. Is it unique to cities? Certain areas of cities? Or maybe it just operates differently in cities than elsewhere?
  • What is the public policy approach that you argue would be a good solution, and why? PROVIDE EVIDENCE.
  • What are some alternative solutions and why do you argue for this one? PROVIDE EVIDENCE.
  • What evidence exists to support this approach? This is key: your proposed approach does not— and perhaps should not—be original. It should be grounded in evidence.

 Paper Advice:

  • Get to your question within the first paragraph. Provide citations for alternate explanations
  • READ MORE. You all need to read more. This is an in-depth paper. I am not necessarily an expert on your topic – You need to show me you’re an expert.
  • Debates around concepts are very important. Make sure you thoroughly investigate the critiques of your proposed plan Be specific about the problem (outcome), the mechanism, and the proposed solution
  • A politically feasible solution isn’t necessarily the best solution. You should be explicit about what factors you take into account. I care more about the empirical case you make than the political one.
  • Focus on outlining your argument rather than your opinions/beliefs
  • Avoid statements like: “its is imperative that we…” or “I believe that…”
    WHAT DOES THE EVIDENCE SAY? You don’t have to make an entirely novel argument – let the research do that for you.

 Introduction

  • Identify your topic and frame it as an empirical puzzle. Define your social problem. Provide descriptive statistics and evidence to show that it exists.
  • Provide an overview of your theory of action. In other words, provide a preview of how is this social problem is produced? What are the mechanism(s) through which it operates?
  • Provide a summary of your argument and proposed policy intervention.

Literature Review & Mechanisms

  • Carefully discuss and review the existing research and evidence on this topic. Explain what research strategies are used and what mechanisms explain your puzzle.
  • Evaluate this evidence. Discuss the methods used and consider how well suited they are to explain the social problem. Discuss any blind spots in the literature. Consider which research to weigh more heavily and why.
  • Make an argument outlining the mechanism(s) that is (are) most key to understanding how this problem is produced. Include references to research papers to support your argument.

Policy Intervention

  • Propose a policy approach, intervention, or solution that relates to your explanation(s).
  • Think through what kind of intervention it is, and what theory of action guides its implementation. Explain how the approach is related to your mechanism.
  • What evidence exists to support this approach? This is key: your proposed approach does not—and perhaps should not—be original. It should be grounded in evidence. Provide evidence for the efficacy for this (type of) solution (if it exists). You may draw on evidence related to the type of solution used in other contexts if it doesn’t exist for your situation.
  • Draw on theories we have learned about this semester: What theories of segregation, inequality, and urban areas help you understand/construct this puzzle and solution?
  • What are some alternative solutions and why do you argue for this one?

Format

  • 8-10 pages, double-spaced (not counting references). Times New Roman, size 12 font, 1 inch margins, pages numbers, name on first page.
  • Bibliography on separate page. Use any standard notation style – either parenthetical or footnotes or endnotes are fine. Include a list of full references at the end.
  • Include relevant publications. These should be published articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, reports from government agencies or think-tanks (for example: GAO, RAND, Mathematica, MDRC, Brookings, Urban Institute, etc.) You may use newspaper articles or periodicals to inform yourself on the topic, these do not count toward the five.
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