Skip to Navigation

RSF Review

RSF Review

Visiting Scholar Sean Reardon on “Neighborhood Gap” and Educational Achievement Disparities

June 29, 2015

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted a new study by Visiting Scholar Sean Reardon (Stanford) on the persistence of a “racial neighborhood income gap” in many metropolitan areas in the U.S. As Reardon and his colleagues found, while middle-class whites and Asian Americans in tend to live in neighborhoods where the median income matches or exceeds their own, black middle-class families tend to live in distinctly lower-income places. Because children who grow up in more affluent neighborhoods have been shown to fare better as adults than their counterparts in lower income neighborhoods, this study holds sobering implications for black children in the U.S., even those who belong to middle-class families.

Among the disadvantages associated with residing in a lower income area is lack of access to high quality public education. During his time in residence at the Foundation, Reardon has researched educational achievement gaps in the U.S., looking in particular at racial and socioeconomic inequalities. In a new interview with the Foundation, he discussed the widening of the economic achievement gap and the troubling persistence of racial disparities by neighborhood.

Q. Your current research examines the factors behind racial and economic achievement gaps in US public education. While the racial achievement gap appears to be on the decline, the economic achievement gap has increased over the last few decades. What accounts for this divergence?

Visiting Scholars Discuss the Changing Nature of Racial Identity in the U.S.

June 26, 2015

Several RSF Visiting Scholars recently appeared in the news to discuss the evolution of racial identity in the U.S. In a June op-ed for the New York Times, Visiting Scholar Richard Alba (CUNY Graduate Center) discussed a new report from the Pew Research Center that highlighted the rapid increase of the number of Americans who identify as multiracial. As racial and ethnic diversity has continued to grow due to increased immigration and interracial unions, many have assumed that the U.S. is becoming a “post-racial” society. Yet, Alba cautioned, “We will seem like a majority-white society for much longer than is believed.”

As he explained, while the number of multiracial Americans has indeed grown over the last several decades, race continues to socially constrain many groups. Citing The Diversity Paradox by Jennifer Lee and Frank Bean, Alba noted that while mixed-race individuals of white-Latino or white-Asian backgrounds generally enjoyed freedom in choosing their identities, this was not the case for multiracial individuals with a black parent. As Alba noted, “They experienced racial barriers, showing that visible African ancestry is still the great exception when it comes to the mainstream.”

Visiting Scholar Aliya Saperstein (Stanford) echoed some of these sentiments in an interview with the Washington Post on the new Pew study, for which she was consulted. Though the multiracial population in the U.S. is projected to triple by 2060, Saperstein stated of the latest Pew report, “I don’t think that I would describe the report as saying that we’ve reached a tipping point in seeing ourselves as a nation of multiracial people.”

Hirokazu Yoshikawa Joins RSF Board of Trustees

June 22, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Hirokazu Yoshikawa to its board of trustees. Yoshikawa is currently the Courtney Sale Ross Professor of Globalization and Education at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and a University Professor at NYU. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation during the academic year of 2008-2009, and is the author of the RSF book Immigrants Raising Citizens (2011) and co-editor of the RSF book Making It Work: Low-Wage Employment, Family Life, and Child Development (2006).

As a community and developmental psychologist, Yoshikawa studies the effects of public policies and programs related to immigration, early childhood, and poverty reduction on children’s development. He has also conducted research on culture, sexuality and youth and young adult development in the contexts of HIV risk and prevention and gay/straight alliances.

Yoshikawa obtained his PhD in Psychology from NYU in 1998. He has previously served as the Academic Dean and the Walter H. Gale Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is currently a member of Leadership Council and Co-Chair of the early childhood development and education workgroup of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He also serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Integration of Immigrants into American Society, the National Academy of Sciences Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally, and the boards of the Foundation for Child Development, the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report, and the Open Society Foundations Early Childhood Development Program. He is also a member of the National Board for Education Sciences and the National Academy of Education.

RSF Author Jennifer Lee Named Chair-Elect of ASA Section on International Migration

June 17, 2015

RSF author and former Visiting Scholar Jennifer Lee (UC Irvine) has been selected as chair-elect of the American Sociological Association Section on International Migration. One of 52 special interest groups within the association, the International Migration section aims to stimulate, promote, and reward the development of original theory and research on international migration. During her term, Lee aims to make scholarly research in the field of international migration more accessible to the public audience by connecting it to pressing policy debates.

Lee was a Visiting Scholar at the Foundation during the academic year of 2011-2012. She is co-author with Frank Bean of the RSF book The Diversity Paradox (2010), and co-author with Min Zhou of the newly released RSF book The Asian American Achievement Paradox (2015). In The Asian American Achievement Paradox, Lee and Zhou offer a compelling account of the academic achievement of the children of Asian immigrants—which pundits have long attributed to unique cultural values. Drawing on in-depth interviews with the adult children of Chinese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees and survey data, Lee and Zhou bridge sociology and social psychology to correct this myth and explain how immigration laws, institutions, and culture interact to foster high achievement among certain Asian American groups.

Lee's one-year term as chair of the ASA Section on International Migration begins in August 2015.

Mass Deportations and the Future of Latino Partisanship

June 15, 2015

With support from the Russell Sage Foundation, political scientists Alex Street and Chris Zepeda-Millán, in collaboration with Michael Jones-Correa, conducted an online survey of more than 1,200 second generation Latinos to test whether socialization experiences are shaped by the responses of parents, children, and other political actors to the unique situation of U.S. citizens with undocumented parents. Among other consequences, they explore the effects of knowledge of deportations among second generation Latinos, especially on the evaluations of Democratic and Republican parties.

They discuss their findings in a new article for Social Science Quarterly. The abstract states:

The U.S. government continues to deport large numbers of undocumented Latino immigrants. In this new article, authors Alex Street, Chris Zepeda-Millan, and Michael Jones-Correa address the likely effects of these policies on Latino partisanship. Usiung a survey experiment to test the effects of information about mass deportations on partisan evaluations among young second-generation Latinos, the authors find that young U.S.-born Latinos view the Democratic Party as less welcoming when informed that deportations have been higher under President Obama than under his predecessor. Because most young U.S.-born Latinos are either weak partisans or political independents, there is wide scope for information effects among these potential voters. The authors find that mass deportation policies have the potential to reshape the partisanship and politics of Latinos for years to come.

How Federal Drug Laws Shape Local Courts and Prison Sentencing

June 9, 2015

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

The recent deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police in cities such as Ferguson and Baltimore have renewed a national discussion on the racial inequalities that permeate law enforcement and the judicial system. Yet, while most have focused attention on excessive police force in black communities, Visiting Scholar Mona Lynch (UC Irvine) presents compelling new evidence that federal prosecutors have been a crucial part of the driving force behind mass incarceration—in particular, following the federal crackdown on drugs in the 1980s. As she wrote recently in an op-ed for the New York Times, "For decades, our federal court system has been quietly perpetrating some of the deepest injustices in the name of the war on drugs."

During her time in residence at the Foundation, Lynch is writing a book on how ongoing changes in federal drug sentencing laws have manifested at the local court level. Among other topics, she is examining the ways in which entrenched norms, practices, and incentives within federal courts contribute to racial disparities in drug sentencing. In a new interview, Lynch discussed her ongoing research on how drug cases are adjudicated in trial-level federal courts.

RSF Merton Scholar Robert Solow Discusses Inequality with Paul Krugman

May 28, 2015

Robert Solow, the Russell Sage Foundation’s Robert K. Merton Scholar and Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT, joined New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and moderator Janet Gornick (Director of the Luxembourg Income Study Center and a former RSF Visiting Scholar) at the Foundation for a conversation on Inequality: What Can Be Done?, a new book by British inequality scholar Anthony B. Atkinson. In the book, Atkinson argues that economic inequality has reached unacceptable levels in many countries and lays out an agenda for reducing inequality. His policy proposals span five areas: technology, employment, the sharing of capital, taxation, and social security.

Solow and Krugman examined the desirability, viability, and feasibility of Atkinson’s policy recommendations, including whether his solutions could be achieved in the United States.

RSF Author and Scholar Rubén G. Rumbaut Elected to AAAS

May 22, 2015

RSF author and former Visiting Scholar Rubén G. Rumbaut (UC Irvine) has been elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As one of the founding members of the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative, Rumbaut is internationally known and widely cited for his research on children and young adults raised in immigrant families of diverse nationalities and socioeconomic classes. Rumbaut, who testified before the U.S. Congress at hearings on comprehensive immigration reform, was elected in 2013 to the National Academy of Education in recognition of his outstanding contributions in educational research and policy development.

Rumbaut is the co-editor of the 2003 RSF book Immigration Research for a New Century and a contributor to several RSF volumes on immigration, including The New Second Generation (1996), Handbook of International Migration (1999), and The Changing Face of Home (2006). In his time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation during the academic year of 1997-98, Rumbaut studied the participation of children of immigrants in American educational, social and economic life. Drawing upon large bodies of research in San Diego and Miami, Rumbaut focused on the progress of Latin, Asian, and Caribbean youth. His work provided a nuanced and cross-group understanding of how these second-generation youth varied in their language and ethnic identity, school aspirations and achievement, and psychological well-being. He also explored how their adaptation was shaped by family, school, and factors like racial discrimination.

Toward Socioeconomic Policy as Health Policy

May 19, 2015

Beyond Obamacare: Life, Death, and Social Policy (2015), a new book by sociologist and public health expert James S. House, advances a provocative new analysis of America’s health care crisis. How is it possible that the United States spends more than any other nation on health care and insurance, yet has simultaneously witnessed a decline in population health relative to other wealthy—and even some developing—nations? In Beyond Obamacare, House shows that health care reforms, including the Affordable Care Act, cannot resolve this crisis because they do not focus on the underlying causes for the nation’s poor health outcomes, which are largely social, economic, environmental, psychological, and behavioral. And it is these poor health outcomes that drive America’s unparalleled spending on health care, now approaching 20% of GDP.

As House notes, socioeconomic determinants such as education and income have significant consequences for individuals’ health outcomes. For example, though mortality rates declined for the population as a whole between 1960 and 1986, they declined more rapidly among the highly educated. As the figure below shows, educational differences in death rates grew for both men and women during this time period. And, House points outs, “Analyses in Canada found much the same, even after a quarter-century of national health insurance.”

New Report: The Transmission of Educational Attainment Within Immigrant Families

May 13, 2015

Second Generation Trajectories, a project funded under the Foundation’s past Immigration program, focused on the long-term prospects of second generation immigrants—or children of post-1965 immigrants who were born in the United States or were brought from abroad at an early age. Sociologists Roger Waldinger (UCLA) and Renee Reichl Luthra (University of Essex) studied ethnicity, politics, and socio-economic mobility among the contemporary immigrant second generation, drawing on data from three large original data-collection projects funded by the Russell Sage Foundation: the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), the Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA) study, and the Immigrant Second Generation in Metropolitan New York (ISGMNY) study. The investigators examined the data in concert to analyze the variation in second generation outcomes and assess whether immigrant offspring moved beyond, moved ahead, or simply reproduced their parents’ socioeconomic status.

Luthra’s most recent report, published in the latest issue of Demography, examines the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment between parents and children. The abstract states:

One in five U.S. residents under the age of 18 has at least one foreign-born parent. Given the large proportion of immigrants with very low levels of schooling, the strength of the intergenerational transmission of education between immigrant parent and child has important repercussions for the future of social stratification in the United States. We find that the educational transmission process between parent and child is much weaker in immigrant families than in native families and, among immigrants, differs significantly across national origins. We demonstrate how this variation causes a substantial overestimation of the importance of parental education in immigrant families in studies that use aggregate data. We also show that the common practice of "controlling" for family human capital using parental years of schooling is problematic when comparing families from different origin countries and especially when comparing native and immigrant families. We link these findings to analytical and empirical distinctions between group- and individual-level processes in intergenerational transmission.