“The Power of the Pygmalion Effect”

I worked together with my colleagues Megan Wilhelm and Robert Hanna on a report for the Center for American Progress called the Power of the Pygmalion Effect, which was released last week, and we found that what an educator believed a student could achieve turned out to be a deeply strong predicator of what that student did actually achieve. The study was featured in The Root and Huffington Post. Here is our major finding. I bolded the text: All else equal, 10th grade students who had teachers with higher expectations were more than three times more likely to graduate from college than students who had teachers with … Read More

Why Society Needs To Build Cohesion–And The Awkwardness Of Writing A Book On Trust

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When I told people I was working on a book about our faith in others, they sometimes seemed to think I was an aspiring self-help guru. Strangers would confess to me about the times that they lost-or gained-the faith of others. One woman explained to me over drinks how she met her first husband. As I remember the story, she met the man on an airplane, and after the flight, he drove her to her home. (They later divorced.) At a birthday party, a man told me about the time that he got scammed in New York City and lost … Read More

What Government Can Do To Improve Our Faith In Others


There’s a lot that policymakers can do to improve our trust in others. In fact, federal, state, and local governments might be able to do more than anyone to rebuild a feeling of social cohesion and civic unity. My book on social trust is coming out in a few weeks, and as part of the release, I’ve put together a guide for policymakers, which gives some suggestions and ideas on how government can build a grassroots sense of community. Here’s a snippet from the guide: -Support housing initiatives that rebuild cities and town in ways that emphasize socially and economically diverse … Read More

Educational Equity and Effectiveness


School finance reformers have long been divided into two camps. On one side, there are the advocates who argue for increased fiscal equity. They believe the primary issue concerning school finance is funding fairness and point to an abundance of evidence that shows high-poverty districts with needier students receive far less money than their wealthier counterparts.   On the other side of the debate are those who argue for increased fiscal efficiency. These advocates believe that school districts do not do nearly enough with the dollars they have. Stanford University’s Eric A. Hanushek—seen as the intellectual grandfather of this camp—put … Read More

Clarifications, Corrections, etc. for The Leap

Here’s a list of clarifications, corrections, and other post-release explainers for my book on social trust: -I misspelled Caitlin Kelly’s name. It’s is Caitlin Kelly, not Caitlin Kelley. I regret the error. -There’s an endnote missing on page 128. The endnote should appear after the words “don’t know.” The endnote should read: Harford, The Economics of Trust. For a somewhat more skeptical take on the connection between political and social trust, see Putnam, Bowling Alone, page 466. -On page 91, I write that “in areas with high political trust, there’s also less crime and a larger proportion of people own … Read More