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RSF Review

RSF Review

How Did Children and Families Fare During the Great Recession?

August 24, 2016

Many working families continue to struggle in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the deepest and longest economic downturn since the Great Depression. A new book from RSF, Children of the Great Recession, explores in depth the effects of the recession on parents and young children. The book is now available in full for free download from the foundation.

In Children of the Great Recession, a group of leading scholars draw from the Fragile Families & Child Wellbeing Study, a unique survey of nearly 5,000 economically and ethnically diverse families in twenty cities. By exploring the discrepancies in outcomes between these families—particularly between those headed by parents with college degrees and those without—this timely book shows how the most disadvantaged families have continued to suffer as a result of the Great Recession.

For example, in their chapter, Irwin Garfinkel and Natasha Pilkauskas examine changes in families’ household income, poverty levels, and economic insecurity throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century. They estimate the relationship between the local unemployment rates for parents in the study and their economic well-being, then use this estimate to predict what the economic well-being of these families would be given an increase

Peter Orszag on the Affordable Care Act After Six Years

August 22, 2016

In 2010 the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, passed after a contentious battle in Congress, representing the most significant reform of the U.S. health care system in decades. Six years after its implementation, how has this landmark legislation changed the nature of health care in America?

In a new video filmed for the 2016 meeting of the American Sociological Association, RSF trustee Peter Orszag (Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Investment Banking at Lazard) discusses some of the outcomes of the ACA. He finds that several of the initial worries regarding the rollout of the ACA—including fears that employer-sponsored health care would collapse, or that patients’ out-of-pocket costs would skyrocket—have been unfounded. He also explores why the political and media response to the ACA over the last half decade has not mirrored the response to past health care legislation.

Watch the video in full below:

New Fall 2016 Books from RSF

August 10, 2016

Below is a first look at new and forthcoming books from the Foundation for Fall 2016. The list includes Abandoned Families, a study of how increasing economic and residential segregation has led to the social isolation of many low-income workers; Hard Bargains, an investigation of how the expansion of punitive federal drug sentencing has exacerbated mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system; Framing Immigrants, a look at the way the mainstream media frames the issue of immigration and how these discussions influence public opinion and the creation of new immigration policies; and Children of the Great Recession, a volume that draws from a study of nearly 5,000 economically and ethnically diverse families in twenty cities to analyze the effects of the Great Recession on parents and young children.

Four new issues of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences will also be released this fall, and include “A Half Century of Change in the Lives of American Women,” which investigates women’s changing work and family roles and the implications of these shifts for gender equality; “The Coleman Report and Educational Inequality Fifty Years Later,” which analyzes ongoing barriers to educational opportunity today in the context of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1966 Equality of Educational Opportunity Report (EEO); “Wealth Inequality: Economic and Social Dimensions,” which examines the causes of contemporary wealth inequality and its consequences for social mobility, racial equity, education, and more; and “Big Data in Political Economy,” which investigates how the proliferation of “big data” since the 1980s can help social scientists gain new insights into such issues as social inequality, political polarization, and the influence of money in politics.

To request a printed copy of our Fall 2016 catalog, please contact Bruce Thongsack at, or view the complete list of RSF books on our publications page.

Book Symposium on The Asian American Achievement Paradox

August 1, 2016

The current issue of the Ethnic and Racial Studies journal contains a symposium on the RSF book The Asian American Achievement Paradox by Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou. The symposium is available in full online, and includes reviews from five leading sociologists, plus a response by authors Lee and Zhou.

The Asian American Achievement Paradox, published in 2015, is the winner of three Section Awards from the American Sociological Association. In the book, 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.

New Working Group: Computational Social Science

July 26, 2016

At its June 2015 meeting, RSF’s board of trustees approved the creation of a new working group on computational social science that will explore how “big data” can expand our understanding of social issues and improve research methods in the social sciences.

Rapid technological advances over the last few decades have increased access to large and comprehensive data sources, such as public and private administrative databases, as well as new sources of information, including online transactions, social media interactions, and internet searches. This proliferation of “big data” makes it possible for social scientists to empirically analyze the political and economic behavior of far greater numbers of individuals and firms, over much longer periods of time, than ever before. This data boom has allowed researchers to gain new insights into such issues as social inequality, political polarization, and the influence of money in politics.

RSF’s Computational Social Science working group will support innovative research that brings new forms of data and analysis and new methods to questions of interest in the foundation’s core programs in Social Inequality, Behavioral Economics, Future of Work, and Race, Ethnicity and Immigration. A call for proposals is scheduled to be released in fall 2016.

Howard Raiffa, 1924–2016

July 25, 2016

The Russell Sage Foundation is saddened to report the passing of mathematician and economist Howard Raiffa, who served on the foundation’s board of trustees and on the advisory committee of the foundation’s Behavioral Economics program in the 1980s.

Raiffa, a pioneer in the field of decision analysis, was the Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Managerial Economics at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School. He was also a founding director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, he taught at Columbia University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, his master’s in statistics and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

From Academic Research to National Education Policy

July 22, 2016

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.

At a time when opinions on education policy are often sharply divided, how do legislators and the public move past rhetoric to craft effective initiatives? Prudence Carter, dean of the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley, examined the belief systems that shape educational policy‐making during her time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation. Using the results of a multi-method qualitative study, she investigated how student success is framed in public discourse by the mainstream media and how policymakers use research to shape policies designed to enhance student and school success. Below, Carter discusses some of her ongoing research in an interview with the foundation:

Q. Part of your current research investigates the role that the media plays in shaping both policymakers' and the public's conceptions of student success. You outlined several “theories of action” that guide how journalists and policymakers tend to discuss academic achievement. What are the theories of action that commonly surface in mainstream publications, and which have arisen as the dominant frameworks for talking about schools and education?

Summer 2016 Awards Approved in RSF Programs

July 13, 2016

Several new research projects in the Russell Sage Foundation’s programs on Behavioral Economics, Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration, and Social Inequality were funded at the foundation’s June 2016 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Behavioral Economics:

What We Know About Economic Inequality and Social Mobility in the United States

July 12, 2016

A new research brief from the Russell Sage Foundation’s Social Inequality program draws on research on economic mobility by economists, sociologists, and political scientists funded by the foundation over the last decade.

The brief seeks to address some of the unresolved questions regarding the extent to which rising inequality affects social mobility. Is upward mobility still a defining characteristic of American society or has increased inequality diminished opportunity and weakened social mobility? How likely is it that children born into the bottom of the income distribution will be able to move up the economic ladder? What factors contribute to a more mobile society? To what extent can public policies foster greater economic mobility?

New Presidential Authority Awards

July 11, 2016

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in four primary program areas—Behavioral Economics; Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; and Social Inequality—as well as two conferences for upcoming issues of the RSF journal.

Supplemental funding has also been awarded to an ongoing study of stereotype threat cues and an ongoing study of how employment ties between government and private industry affect regulation policies.