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RSF Review

RSF Trustee Bartels and Former RSF Visiting Scholar Tetlock Named Carnegie Fellows

April 23, 2015

RSF trustee Larry M. Bartels (Vanderbilt University) and former RSF Visiting Scholar Philip E. Tetlock (University of Pennsylvania) were recently named 2015 Andrew Carnegie Fellows. They will join an inaugural class of 30 other scholars, journalists, and authors as part of the Carnegie Corporation’s annual fellowship program that provides support for researchers in the social sciences and humanities.

Larry Bartels is currently May Werthan Shayne Chair of Public Policy and Social Science at Vanderbilt University. His scholarly work focuses on American democracy, including public opinion, electoral politics, public policy, and representation. His most recent book, Unequal Democracy (2008), was cited by Barack Obama on the campaign trail and appeared on the New York Times’ list of economics books of the year. Bartels is also a contributor to the RSF book Inequality and American Democracy (2007) and continues to serve on the RSF board of trustees.

Philip Tetlock is currently Leonore Annenberg University Professor of Psychology and Management at the University of Pennsylvania. During his time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation (2005-2006), Tetlock studied the political implications of the ways in which people make decisions and systematically err in judgment. His work explored the decision-making of political experts, the ways in which a society’s moral boundaries limit new thinking, and how a person’s willingness to consider historical counterfactuals relates to their understanding of the past and the future.

RSF Author Becky Pettit on the 1.5 Million “Missing” Black Men

April 22, 2015

A sobering new report in the New York Times reveals the disproportionate number of black men “missing” from their communities due to incarceration or early deaths. The Times found that black women between the ages of 25 to 54 who are not incarcerated outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million. Furthermore, about 900,000 fewer black men than women are alive today due to high mortality rates caused by homicide, heart disease, and respiratory disease—conditions that afflict black men more than any other demographic group.

Topping the list of places with the highest proportion of these “missing” black men was Ferguson, Missouri, the site of the racially charged police shooting of Michael Brown last November. As the authors of the article put it, “More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life.”

The Times quoted Russell Sage Foundation author Becky Pettit (University of Texas-Austin), who stated, “The numbers are staggering.” Her book Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress, published in 2012 by the Russell Sage Foundation, explores the extent to which mass incarceration has excluded scores of black men from national surveys, thereby concealing decades of racial inequality. As Pettit shows, because prison inmates are not included in most survey data, statistics that seem to indicate a narrowing black-white racial gap—on educational attainment, work force participation, and earnings—instead fail to capture persistent racial, economic, and social disadvantage among African Americans.

Announcing the Margaret Olivia Sage Scholars Program

April 21, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation is very pleased to announce the establishment of the Margaret Olivia Sage Scholars program, which provides the opportunity for distinguished social scientists to spend brief periods in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation. The program is named in honor of RSF’s founder, Margaret Olivia Sage. Margaret Olivia Sage (MOS) Scholars are selected by the Foundation's Board of Trustees on the basis of their outstanding career accomplishments. While in residence at RSF, they will pursue their own research and participate in the intellectual activities of the Foundation through mentoring the annual class of Visiting Scholars and advising the President and program officers about both new and ongoing research initiatives.

Robert M. Solow continues as the Foundation’s Robert K. Merton Scholar, a position he has held since 2001. The Merton Scholar recognizes the enduring contributions of an eminent scholar to the social sciences. Solow, Institute Professor Emeritus at M.I.T., was Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1987.

In addition, each year RSF selects a class of 16-17 Visiting Scholars based on external peer review of submitted applications.

We are pleased to announce the first group of Margaret Olivia Sage Scholars who will be visiting the Foundation during the next several academic years:

The Lens of Race

April 15, 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.

Ann Morning (New York University) is currently collaborating with Marcello Maneri (University of Milan-Bicocca) to investigate the ways that Americans and Italians assess group differences such as race and nationality. In her time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation, she is researching how national conceptions of culture and biology shape individuals’ beliefs about what distinguish descent-based groups from one another. As non-white immigration to the U.S. increases, are Americans’ conceptions of racial difference are coming to resemble those held by Italians and other Western Europeans?

In a new interview with the Foundation, Morning discussed the changing nature of racial perceptions in both the U.S. and Italy, and how a cross-national comparative approach to thinking and talking about race could aid policy efforts to combat racial inequality.

Q. Your current research compares perceptions of race in the US and Italy and assesses the claim that racial attitudes in the US are coming to resemble those found in Western Europe. To start with, what did you find in your interviews with students in the US? How were they most likely to talk about group differences?

Announcing the RSF Visiting Scholar Class of 2015-2016

April 9, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of sixteen leading social scientists as Visiting Scholars for the 2015-2016 academic year. During their time in residence, they will pursue research and writing projects that reflect the Foundation's commitment to strengthening the social sciences and conducting research "for the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States."

The Visiting Scholars program, now in its thirtieth year, provides a unique opportunity for scholars to pursue their research and writing while in residence at the Foundation, and is an important part of the Foundation's effort to analyze and understand the complex and shifting nature of social, political, and economic life in the United States.

Several incoming scholars will undertake research in socioeconomic and racial inequality, such as an analysis of the factors that drive racial wealth disparities, and an investigation of how increases in economic inequality have affected voter turnout in congressional elections. Others will work on projects related to the changing nature of work and the labor force, including a study of a new immigrant-driven tech economy in lower Manhattan. The incoming class of scholars also includes two working groups, one of which will examine the connections between low-income fathers’ earnings and financial support and their children’s cognitive and behavioral outcomes. The other group will use data from the Texas Twin Project, a study of over 1,000 twins, to examine the relationship between genetic and social factors in adolescent development and academic achievement.

Color-Blindness and Diversity: New Report By Former Visiting Scholar Natasha Warikoo

April 3, 2015

In a new paper co-authored with Janine de Novais, former Visting Scholar Natasha Warikoo (Harvard) explores college students' perspectives on affirmative action, analyzing how "diversity" and "color-blindness" frames shape the ways that students perceive different ethnic and racial groups on campus. The abstract states:

In this paper we bring together the literatures on frame analysis, the meaning of race and campus racial climate to analyse the race frames—lenses through which individuals understand the role of race in society—held by white students attending elite US universities. For most, the elite university experience coincides with a strengthening or emergence of the diversity frame, which emphasizes the positive benefits of cultural diversity. Still, many also hold a colour-blind frame, which sees race groups as equivalent and racial identities as insignificant. We highlight the ambivalence that these divergent frames create for student perspectives on affirmative action and interracial contact on campus. Our findings demonstrate the mutability of race frames. We also highlight the impact that institutions may have on individuals' race frames. The paper is based on in-depth interviews with forty-seven US-born white undergraduates attending Brown University and Harvard University.

The Clash of Professional Autonomy and Regulatory Compliance

April 2, 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.

Drawing from ten years of ethnographic research, Visiting Scholar Susan Silbey (MIT) is writing a book that examines the growing tensions between federal law and laboratory science. She is investigating the ways in which federal lab regulations and audits, often implemented in the name of safety, are perceived to threaten the autonomy of scientific practice within both the academy and other specialized industries.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Silbey discussed the factors that have given rise to breaches of regulatory compliance in academic and laboratory settings, including industry-specific hierarchies of labor, as well as larger cultural shifts in attitudes about workplace governance.

Q. In your research you have examined the 2009 UCLA laboratory tragedy that sparked the first criminal prosecution over an accident in an academic lab. What does this event, and others like it, reveal about the difficulties of ensuring regulatory compliance in academic lab settings?

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.