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RSF Review

Peter Orszag Appointed to RSF Board of Trustees

September 4, 2014

The Russell Sage Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Peter R. Orszag to its board of trustees. Orszag, who will officially join the board in November, is currently Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking, Chairman of the Public Sector Group, and Chairman of the Financial Strategy and Solutions Group at Citigroup.

Orszag received an A.B. in Economics (summa cum laude) from Princeton University in 1991, and his M.Sc. in 1992 and Ph.D. in 1997, both in Economics from the London School of Economics, where he was a Marshall Scholar. In addition to his work at Citigroup, he is a contributing columnist at Bloomberg View, and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama (2009-2010) and has also served as Director of the Congressional Budget Office (2007-2008). During the Clinton administration, Orszag was Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and then Senior Economist and Senior Advisor on the Council of Economic Advisers. As a Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, Orszag was the Founding Director of The Hamilton Project, guiding its launch in 2006.

Announcing RSF Visiting Scholars for 2014-2015

September 2, 2014

The Russell Sage Foundation welcomes seventeen leading social scientists as Visiting Scholars for the 2014-2015 academic year. During their time in residence, these scholars will pursue research and writing projects that reflect the Foundation’s commitment to strengthening the social sciences and applying research more effectively to important social problems.

Several of the forthcoming scholars will pursue research in socioeconomic and racial inequality. Mona Lynch of UC Irvine will explore how racial imbalances in drug sentencing persist despite changes in federal laws aimed at reducing uneven sentencing. Judd Kessler of the University of Pennsylvania (working with Andrew Schotter) will examine the different decision-making processes between the rich and the poor. Ann Morning of New York University (working with Marcello Maneri) will compare Americans’ and Italians’ differing conceptions of racial and ethnic identity. Sean Reardon of Stanford University will analyze academic achievement gaps in the U.S. by race and class. Aliya Saperstein of Stanford University will explore the fluidity of racial perception by tracing the ways in which concepts of race change both within and across generations. Arden Morris will complete a series of articles on the racial and socioeconomic barriers to cancer care in the U.S.

New Fall 2014 Books from RSF

August 29, 2014

Below is a first look at new and forthcoming books from the Foundation for Fall 2014. The list includes Labor’s Love Lost, a major new study on the rise and fall of the American working class by former Visiting Scholar Andrew Cherlin; Unequal Time, an in-depth look at how employment schedules reproduce social inequalities in the health care sector; and Redefining Race, a historical analysis of the processes through which “Asian American” became a panethnic label and identity in the U.S. To request a hard copy of the full catalog, please contact Bruce Thongsack at, or click here to visit our publications page.

RSF Grantees and Scholars at International Migration Review Symposium

August 27, 2014

On September 30, 2014, several RSF grantees and scholars will deliver remarks at a symposium marking the fiftieth anniversary of the International Migration Review. Symposium participants include former RSF visiting scholar Jennifer Lee (UC Irvine), incoming scholar Richard Alba (CUNY Graduate Center), grantee Nancy Foner (CUNY Graduate Center and Hunter College), and grantee Katharine Donato (Vanderbilt).

Co-edited by Jennifer Lee, the anniversary issue of IMR features a collection of multidisciplinary articles that explore persisting and emerging topics and trends in the field of international migration. At the all-day symposium, Lee will moderate a panel discussion, “Diversity of Outcomes in Destination Societies,” where participants Alba, Foner, and Donato will present papers on a range of topics including a comparative study of immigration to North America and Western Europe and an investigation of how gender and marital status affect the global labor force.

Spotlight on Racial Bias in Policing

August 25, 2014

Over the last two decades, public scrutiny of racial bias in policing has increased significantly. Several high-profile cases in recent years have detailed the use of excessive force and racial profiling by police, including the fatal choking of Eric Garner by NYPD this year and the controversial “stop and frisk” policies that have disproportionately targeted young black and Latino men and. These incidents have made national headlines and prompted community leaders to call for greater accountability and transparency from law enforcement. In 2013, for example, New York mayor Bill de Blasio ran on a platform that included a promise to end the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy. Yet, recently a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, triggering a wave of community protests and clashes with the police that continued for over a week.

The Russell Sage Foundation’s working group on Racial Bias in Policing was formed in 2009 to research the effects of U.S. police departments’ disparate use of force in dealing with minorities, especially young black men. Blacks, and to a certain extent Latinos, are overrepresented on the receiving end of the criminal justice system, especially in jails and prisons, with significantly negative consequences for the life chances of these groups, and for the future of their communities. The law enforcement system has enormous discretionary power in determining who is stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, and how punishment is dispensed.

The American Non-Dilemma Winner of the 2013 C. Wright Mills Award

August 22, 2014

The Society for the Study of Social Problems named Nancy DiTomaso’s book The American Non-Dilemma the winner of the prestigious C. Wright Mills Award at its annual meeting on August 16, 2014 in San Francisco. Selected from 77 nominated books, The American Non-Dilemma explores the ways in which racial inequality in the post-Civil Rights era plays out in today's economic and political context.

In addition to winning the C. Wright Mills Award, this month The American Non-Dilemma was also named the winner of the 2014 Outstanding Book Award from the Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility Section of the American Sociological Association, as well as the runner-up for the George R. Terry Book Award by the Academy of Management, in which 65 books were nominated.

Drawing from her interviews with working, middle, and upper-class whites, The American Non-Dilemma shows that while the vast majority of whites profess strong support for civil rights and equal opportunity regardless of race, they continue to pursue their own group-based advantage, especially in the labor market where whites tend to favor other whites in securing jobs protected from market competition. This "opportunity hoarding" leads to substantially improved life outcomes for whites due to their greater access to social resources from family, schools, churches, and other institutions with which they are engaged.

As DiTomaso finds, most whites see themselves as part of the solution rather than part of the problem with regard to racial inequality. Yet they continue to harbor strong reservations about public policies—such as affirmative action—intended to ameliorate racial inequality.

Breaking Bad: Social Influence and the Path to Criminality in Juvenile Jails

August 15, 2014

In a new working paper supported by the Foundation, Megan Stevenson (University of California, Berkeley) investigates the extent to which peer influence in juvenile correctional facilities affects the rate at which youth offenders are reconvicted. Nationwide, between 40-45% of adults released from prison are incarcerated again within three years, with similar numbers for juveniles.

Though several previous studies have examined other societal factors that may lead to the high number of repeat offenders, there has been very little empirical research on whether the social experience of incarceration affects future criminal activity. As Stevenson states in her abstract:

Using detailed administrative data and quasi-random cohort-level variation, I find that exposure to high risk peers while in a juvenile correctional facility has a large impact on future crime. I consider three mechanisms to explain this effect: criminal skill transfer, the formation of criminal networks which persist after release, and the social contagion of crime-oriented attitudes and non-cognitive traits. I find evidence consistent with the social contagion mechanism in residential correctional facilities. Exposure to peers from unstable and/or abusive homes leads to increased aggression, impulsivity and anti-societal attitudes, as well as increased criminal activity.

New Chartbooks on Social Inequality Available on RSF Website

August 12, 2014

The Foundation has recently added several new chartbooks on Social Inequality to the website, including new data on income and earnings, educational attainment and achievement, and the rise of economic inequality in the U.S. through 2012.

In each section, the Foundation has assembled a broad set of indicators of social and economic trends that reflect powerful and consequential divisions within the U.S. population. Some of the charts are drawn from government sources, some from published articles and books, and some are based directly on in-house calculations of publicly available data by Russell Sage Foundation staff.

The chart below, for instance, shows changes in family income between two periods in the U.S. Between 1947 and 1975, a period of national economic prosperity, growth in family income was relatively evenly distributed among all income groups giving credence to the adage "a rising tide lifts all boats". Between 1975 and 2012 however, income growth has been differentially distributed among different income categories, with each successively higher income category experiencing significantly greater gains.

RSF President Sheldon Danziger to Deliver Keynote Address

August 11, 2014

Russell Sage Foundation president Sheldon Danziger will deliver the keynote address, “After the Great Recession: Poverty, Inequality and Public Policies,” at the Innovative Programmatic and Policy Responses to Poverty conference on August 18, 2014.

One of the leading poverty scholars in the United States, Danziger is also co-editor of the 2014 RSF publication Legacies of the War on Poverty. The book—published on the fiftieth anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of an unconditional war on poverty—evaluates the success of the anti-poverty programs established during Johnson’s administration, many of which still form the basis of the social safety net in the U.S. today.

Additional panels at the IPPRP conference will focus on economic security and workforce development; social entrepreneurship and social purpose businesses; wealth generation and asset building; innovative policy responses; and innovative funding alternatives such as social impact bonds, funding collaborative and crowdfunding. Click here to read more and to register for the conference.

Nancy DiTomaso Runner-Up for George R. Terry Book Award

August 7, 2014

On August 3, at its 74th annual meeting, the Academy of Management named The American Non-Dilemma by Nancy DiTomaso (Rutgers) the runner-up for the 2014 George R. Terry Book Award. This award is granted annually to the book judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to the global advancement of management knowledge during the last two years.

The American Non-Dilemma convincingly argues that America's enduring racial divide is sustained more by whites' preferential treatment of members of their own social networks than by overt racial discrimination. Drawing on research from sociology, political science, history, and psychology, as well as her own interviews with a cross-section of non-Hispanic whites, DiTomaso provides a comprehensive examination of the persistence of racial inequality in the post-Civil Rights era and how it plays out in today's economic and political context.