Skip to Navigation

RSF Review

RSF Review

Fall 2015 Awards Approved in Russell Sage Foundation’s Core Programs

December 14, 2015

Several new research projects in three of the Russell Sage Foundation’s core programs were funded at the Foundation’s November meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Future of Work:

Fast Food Franchises and Low-Wage Work
Rosemary Batt and Wilma B. Liebman (Cornell University)

Batt, Liebman, and a group of multi-disciplinary collaborators will extend a previous study on fast food franchises to investigate how the franchising business model affects job quality, pay, and labor law compliance, and how franchises are currently shaping low-wage work.

Visiting Scholar Prudence Carter Appointed Dean of the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley

December 10, 2015

RSF Visiting Scholar Prudence Carter has been appointed Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Her new position will begin on June 30, 2016.

Carter is currently the Jacks Family Professor of Education and Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, where she teaches a range of courses on racial and ethnic relations, social and cultural inequality, the sociology of education, urban schooling, and research methods. She is also the Faculty Director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities and a former co-director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity in Policy in Education. Carter is the author of Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White (2005) and Stubborn Roots: Race, Culture, and Inequality in U.S. and South African Schools (2012), and co-editor of Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give All Children an Even Chance (2013).

The Historical Roots of New York City’s Growing Tech Economy

December 4, 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.

It may be Silicon Valley that has become synonymous with technological innovation, but over the last decade, some of the most high-profile and successful tech companies—including Tumblr, Venmo, Birchbox, and Etsy—have made their home across the country, in New York City. Now the second largest in the U.S., Manhattan’s tech economy flourished unexpectedly in the wake of the Great Recession, at a time when many Silicon Valley firms were struggling. What factors account for the surprising growth of a tech industry in a city better known as a center of finance, media, and real estate?

During his time in residence, Visiting Scholar Victor Nee (Cornell University) is analyzing data from a three-year research project on the emergence of the new tech industry in lower Manhattan following the Great Recession. Among other factors, he is investigating how the high level of immigrant involvement in this industry has shaped its rapid expansion, as well as the ways in which political and economic institutions aided the growth of the Manhattan tech economy.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Nee discussed the historical precedents of New York’s tech boom and how norms of cooperation among tech workers and entrepreneurs helped jumpstart a new tech economy.

Q. Your current research explores the growth of a new tech economy in lower Manhattan, which you have identified as a bottom-up phenomenon that now makes up the second largest tech economy in the U.S. What factors gave rise to the relatively rapid emergence of these startups? Why was New York an ideal spot for tech firms to prosper, especially in the wake of the recession?

New Report from Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity

December 3, 2015

Fourteen months ago, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Brookings Institution convened a working group of experts from across the political spectrum in order to craft a comprehensive plan for addressing poverty and economic mobility in the U.S. today. Now, after over a year of work, the group has succeeded in creating a non-partisan policy report drawn from the best ideas proposed by an interdisciplinary group of researchers. The report, which addresses the domains of family, work, and education simultaneously, is based on common values supported by nearly all Americans: opportunity, responsibility, and security.

Members of the joint Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity include RSF president Sheldon Danziger, and a number of RSF authors, scholars, and grantees, including Lawrence Aber (New York University), David Ellwood (Harvard University), Judith Gueron (MDRC), Ron Haskins (Brookings Institution), Harry Holzer (Georgetown University), Lawrence Mead (New York University), Ronald Mincy (Columbia University), and Jane Waldfogel (Columbia University).

Authors of RSF Book The Long Shadow Win Grawemeyer Award in Education

December 3, 2015

Authors Karl Alexander, the late Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson have been named winners of the 2016 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education for their 2014 RSF book The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood. In their study, the authors followed nearly 800 Baltimore-area urban youths from first grade through adulthood and found that socioeconomic status trumps education when it comes to life outcomes. Their research spans nearly three decades and challenges the idea that access to public education means equal opportunity.

“Studies of this depth and breadth that include Census data, historical narratives, personal interviews, race, gender, family background, neighborhood and school conditions and social mobility over a lifetime are quite rare,” said award director Melissa Evans-Andris. The research featured in The Long Shadow has been profiled by outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, the Baltimore Sun, and Education Week.

New RSF Journal Issues on Severe Deprivation in America in the News

November 30, 2015

On November 17 the Foundation officially launched a new open-access, peer-reviewed journal, RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences. The inaugural double issue, edited by sociologist Matthew Desmond (Harvard University), focuses on families experiencing "severe deprivation," or acute, compounded, and persistent economic hardship. In the two issues, poverty scholars from multiple disciplines examine how the Great Recession, plus factors such as rising housing costs, welfare reform, mass incarceration, suppressed wages, and pervasive joblessness have contributed to deepening poverty in America.

Journalist Eduardo Porter cited research from RSF in an article for the New York Times on Americans living in deep poverty—or those whose incomes are more than 50% below the poverty line. Porter notes, “What’s perhaps most surprising is how the apparatus of government assistance has turned its back on these people, not just failing to offer new strategies to help overcome the deepest deprivation but even removing critical programs that used to keep many of them afloat.” As Liana Fox and colleagues find in their RSF article, governmental transfers reduce the risk of deep poverty, but the shift over the last few decades from cash assistance to in-kind nutrition assistance and tax refunds for the poor has tended to benefit those who are employed, rather than the deep poor who are likely to experience long stretches of unemployment.

How Survey Non-Responses Affect U.S. Poverty Rates and Understandings of Inequality

November 20, 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.

This fall, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the official national poverty rate as 14.8%, a number virtually unchanged from the year prior. Many poverty scholars, including RSF president Sheldon Danziger, have long debated the accuracy of this official measure, pointing out that it does not take into account non-cash benefits such as food stamps and housing subsidies, and therefore fails to reflect the importance of the social safety net for low-income families.

Current RSF Visiting Scholar James Ziliak (University of Kentucky) has identified yet another factor that affects the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure, which is calculated based on responses to earnings questions on the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). In his ongoing research, Ziliak has observed a non-response rate to ASEC earnings questions of over 30%. These missing figures present a significant obstacle to our understanding of poverty and inequality—if, for example, a significant percentage of ASEC non-respondents are low-income, the national poverty rate would be much higher than the Census Bureau’s current estimate.

While the Census has in place a process for accounting for ASEC non-responses, Ziliak has also identified shortcomings with their approach. To obtain more accurate income data for non-respondents, Ziliak instead links the Current Population Survey to tax records. In a new interview with the Foundation, Ziliak discussed his work and its ramifications for the way we measure and understand poverty.

Q. Your research at the Foundation examines the rise of non-responses to earnings questions in the Current Population Survey and its effect on our understanding of poverty in the US. How does the Census Bureau currently account for non-respondents? What are the shortcomings of their approach?

Fall 2015 Presidential Authority Awards

November 19, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in three of its program areas—Future of Work, Social Inequality, and Behavioral Economics—as well as three conferences for upcoming issues of the RSF journal.

RSF Journal Conferences:

The Coleman Report at 50: Its Legacy and Enduring Value
Karl Alexander and Stephen Morgan (Johns Hopkins University)

For an upcoming issue of RSF, Karl Alexander and Stephen Morgan organized a symposium featuring fourteen invited articles for the fiftieth anniversary of the quality of the 1966 Educational Opportunity Report, or “Coleman Report,” which assessed the lack of equal educational opportunities for minority children in the U.S. The issue will examine the Report’s methods and its substantive conclusions through the lens of advances over the past half century across several social science disciplines.

Undocumented Immigration
Roberto G. Gonzales (Harvard University) and Steven Raphael (University of California, Berkeley)

For an upcoming issue of RSF, Roberto Gonzales and Steven Raphael organized a symposium featuring nine articles that examine the effects of federal, state, and local policy on immigrants’ experience of living undocumented and explore how undocumented status affects social mobility and civic participation.

Wealth Inequality
Fabian Pfeffer and Robert Schoeni (University of Michigan)

For an upcoming issue of the RSF, Fabian Pfeffer and Robert Schoeni organized a symposium featuring nine articles that examine the determinants of high and rising levels of wealth inequality, its economic and social consequences, and potential policy responses.

Announcing the Launch of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

November 17, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of its new social science journal, RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences. RSF will promote cross-disciplinary collaborations on timely topics of interest to social scientists and other academic researchers, policymakers, and the public at large.

Of the new journal RSF president Sheldon Danziger says, "RSF builds upon the foundation's long history of publishing and disseminating rigorously evaluated social science research. As a peer-reviewed, open-access publication, RSF provides a prestigious outlet for original empirical research by both established and emerging scholars."

The inaugural double issue of RSF, edited by sociologist Matthew Desmond (Harvard University), focuses on families experiencing "severe deprivation," or acute, compounded, and persistent economic hardship. In this issue, a distinguished roster of poverty scholars from multiple disciplines examine how the Great Recession, plus factors such as rising housing costs, welfare reform, mass incarceration, suppressed wages, and pervasive joblessness have contributed to deepening poverty in America. Click here to read the full open-access issue online.

A number of issues of RSF are scheduled for publication, including "The Elementary and Secondary Education Act at Fifty and Beyond," edited by David A. Gamson (Pennsylvania State University), Kathryn A. McDermott (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and Douglas S. Reed (Georgetown University), which will be released in December.

RSF Announces Spring 2016 Visiting Journalists

November 16, 2015

The Foundation has named Carole A. Carmichael and Eyal Press as Visiting Journalists for Spring 2016. Carmichael, who is Assistant Managing Editor at The Seattle Times, will investigate the outcomes of black and Hispanic recipients of a 1968 scholarship to New York University, tracing how this educational opportunity has affected recipients’ economic and social capital over more than four decades. Press, a contributor to the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Review of Books, and other publications, will complete a book which explores “society’s most thankless, morally compromising jobs,” including immigrants working in meatpacking plants, maximum-security prison guards, and military drone operators.

Visiting Journalists work at RSF on projects related to the Foundation's core programs for a period of 1-3 months alongside resident Visiting Scholars. The next deadline for applications is May 2, 2016 for residency in the fall of 2016.