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RSF Review

New Reports Investigate the Effects of Recession on Parenting, Private Safety Net, and Public Assistance

March 30, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation recently completed a major initiative to assess the effects of the Great Recession on the economic, political, and social life of the country. Officially over in 2009, the Great Recession is now generally acknowledged to be the most devastating global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Prolonged economic stagnation is likely to transform American institutions and severely erode the life chances of many Americans. To understand these effects across a broad swath of social and economic life, the Foundation identified 15 areas of inquiry—such as retirement, education, income and wealth—and funded proposals for innovative projects from a distinguished team of scholars.

Three new Recession Briefs summarizing research from the Great Recession initiative now are available for download. These reports use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) in order to analyze the effects of the Recession on families in the U.S.:

Students Who Start School Late More Likely to Drop Out, Commit Crimes

March 23, 2015

New research by Visiting Scholar Philip J. Cook (Duke University) shows that children who started kindergarten late are more likely as teenagers to drop out of school and commit serious crimes than their peers. The study—which Cook co-authored with Songman Kang of Hanyang University in South Korea—compared North Carolina public school students born 60 days before and 60 days after the school cutoff date. He noted, “This research provides the first compelling evidence of a causal link between dropout and crime. It supports the view that crime outcomes should be considered in evaluating school reforms.”

Because earlier studies have established that children who enter school at an older age perform better academically than their younger classmates, a growing number of parents have delayed enrolling their children whose birthdays fall shortly before the cutoff date, seeking to gain academic and social advantages. According to Cook’s research, older students were also less likely to engage in delinquent behavior up until age 16.

However, his latest study found that after age 16, those outcomes were reversed. The students who had started school later were more likely to drop out and be convicted of a felony before age 20. As Cook explained, the explanation for this seeming contradiction lies in the age at which students may legally withdraw from school, which is 16 in North Carolina. Cook added, “If [students] were born before the cutoff date, they have just 19 months between their 16th birthday and graduation to be tempted to drop out. If they were born just after and enter school later, they have 31 months, and for some of them, it is an irresistible temptation.”

RSF President Sheldon Danziger and RSF Scholars to Speak at Legacies of the Great Society Conference

March 16, 2015

Later this month Russell Sage Foundation president Sheldon Danziger and former visiting scholars Jane Waldfogel and Julian Zelizer will speak at Legacies of the Great Society: War, Poverty and Voting Rights, a two-day conference hosted by the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College to be held on March 24th and 25th, 2015.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson's wave of Great Society legislation gave historic momentum to greater economic and racial equality. Much of that progress is embedded in society today, and yet the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans is the largest since the Great Depression, racial tensions continue to polarize society, and gender equality remains a struggle. Panels of scholars, practitioners, experts and advocates will assess the impact of the Vietnam War, the effects of War on Poverty programs, and the consequences—then and now—of the Voting Rights Act.

Danziger, who co-edited the RSF book Legacies of the War on Poverty with Martha J. Bailey, will present the keynote speech titled “Fighting Racial Discrimination, Poverty and Disadvantage: From Then to Now” on Tuesday, March 24th. Former RSF visiting scholars Julian Zelizer and Jane Waldfogel, who is also co-author of the forthcoming RSF book Too Many Children Left Behind, will both participate in the panel discussion “How to Conquer Poverty and Inequality Today?” on Wednesday, March 25th.

New Research Collaborations with the W.K. Kellogg and MacArthur Foundations

March 12, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has launched several research collaborations with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Over the last year, seven projects have been co-funded with the Kellogg Foundation and nine projects have been co-funded with the MacArthur Foundation.

RSF president Sheldon Danziger remarked, “I am extremely pleased that the Russell Sage Foundation has been able to collaborate with the Kellogg Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.” He added, “We receive many high-quality social science research proposals and these partnerships allow us to fund a greater number of projects than we could support with our own funds.”

Investigating the Networks that Supply Guns to Gangs

March 10, 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.

During his time in residence at RSF, Visiting Scholar Philip J. Cook (Duke University) is completing a series of articles based on research in four cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston) that examines the sources of guns to gang members. He argues that a better understanding of the social networks and other underground sources of guns will inform strategic interventions to disrupt supply and reduce gun violence.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Cook discussed the social costs of gun violence, and offered strategies for law enforcement to disrupt the tightly knit networks that supply guns to gangs.

Q. What are the social costs of gun violence and how are they unequally distributed across the population?

Winter 2015 Presidential Authority Awards

March 9, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in several programs, including Future of Work, Social Inequality, Cultural Contact, and Immigration programs.

Awards approved in the Future of Work program:

Living at the Minimum: Low-Wage Workers with Children During Seattle's Minimum Wage Increase
Heather D. Hill and Jennifer Romich (University of Washington)
Jointly funded with the MacArthur Foundation

Human development and social policy experts Heather Hill and Jennifer Romich will carry out an in-depth, qualitative study of Seattle workers with children before and after the implementation of the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 per hour starting in April 2015.

Developing a Racial Mobility Perspective for the Social Sciences

March 3, 2015

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

We tend to think of race as a part of one’s identity that stays fixed throughout their lifetime—unlike socioeconomic status, which has the potential to change. But new research by current Visiting Scholar Aliya Saperstein (Stanford) offers a provocative new perspective on the mutability of race today.

During her time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation, Saperstein is completing a book that examines the ways in which an individual’s racial status can shift based on changes to their social status. Her research focuses on the fluidity of racial perceptions, including how people self-identify racially, how they are classified by others, and how conceptions of race change both within and across generations.

In a new interview, Saperstein discussed how using a “racial mobility perspective” can help social scientists conceptualize the complex interactions between race and socioeconomic status today.

Q. What is a racial mobility perspective? How does it build upon what social scientists already understand about status attainment and socioeconomic mobility to highlight important features of racial inequality in the US?

New Awards Approved in Future of Work, Social Inequality, and Cultural Contact Programs

March 2, 2015

Seven new research projects were funded at the Foundation’s February 2015 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

The Foundation’s Future of Work program examines the causes and consequences of the declining quality of jobs for less- and moderately-educated workers in the U.S. economy and the role of changes in employer practices, the nature of the labor market and public policies on the employment, earnings, and the quality of jobs of American workers. The following project was recently funded under the program:

Minimum Wage Policies and Low-Wage Work: An Assessment of New Methods and Measures
Arindrajit Dube (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Jointly funded with the MacArthur Foundation

Economist Arindrajit Dube, who has been at the forefront of new minimum wage research, will assess the contradictory findings in the recent literature on whether increasing the minimum wage raises labor costs and leads to fewer jobs at the bottom of the labor market.

New Reviews of RSF Books Unequal Time and The Long Shadow

February 25, 2015

Unequal Time, a 2014 RSF book by Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel, was recently reviewed by Matthew M. Piszczek in ILR Review: The Journal of Work and Policy. Piszczek praised the book as “an interesting and much-needed expansion on the conceptualization of work schedules that aptly recognizes the limitations of more typical perspectives.” In Unequal Time, Clawson and Gerstel the ways in which social inequalities permeate the workplace, reverberating through a web of time in which the schedules of one person shape the schedules of others in ways that exemplify and often exacerbate gender and class differences. Focusing on four occupations in the health sector—doctors, nurses, EMTs, and nursing assistants—the authors show how all of these workers experience the effects of schedule uncertainty but do so in very distinct ways, largely shaped by the intersection of gender and class.

As Piszcek points out in his review, the book deftly demonstrates how workplace scheduling is a collective, rather than individual, affair. He concludes, “I recommend this book for anyone interested in the broad area of gender and class in the workplace, but especially for those interested in moving forward the work schedule and working-time research domains.”

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Joins RSF as Visiting Researcher

February 23, 2015

Google Data Scientist and New York Times op-ed contributor Seth Stephens-Davidowitz will join the Russell Sage Foundation as a Visiting Researcher for the spring term, starting in February 2015.

Stephens-Davidowitz received a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in 2013. His work focuses on using big-data sources to uncover previously hidden behaviors and attitudes. During his time in residence at the Foundation, Stephens-Davidowitz will work on a book tentatively titled Needles and Haystacks: The Smart Way to Use New Data, to be published by Harper Collins. Based primarily on Stephens-Davidowitz’s original research, the book will be a popular introduction to new big-data sets, including studies on how much racism cost Obama in elections, whether bad weather causes depression, how a bad economy affects crime, and whether advertising works, among other topics.