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RSF Review

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.

Former Visiting Scholar Ramakrishnan Appointed to California Commission on APIA Affairs

August 5, 2014

Former RSF Visiting Scholar and grantee Karthick Ramakrishnan (University of California, Riverside) has just been appointed to the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs. The Commission works to elevate the political, economic, and social issues of Asians and Pacific Islanders by contributing to and strengthening how state government addresses the needs, issues, and concerns of the diverse and complex Asian and Pacific Islander American communities.

In his time in residence at the Foundation, Ramakrishnan examined immigrant civic engagement and its implications for social and political inequality in several U.S. and Canadian cities. He looked at at immigrant participation in mainstream and ethnic organizations, asking whether such behavior serves as a way for immigrants to combat inequality and improve their social position. With Irene Bloemraad, he co-authored the RSF publication Civic Hopes and Political Realities, which explores these same themes.

Ramakrishnan is additionally a former research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and holds memberships in the Association of Asian American Studies and the University of California Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Multicampus Research Program.

New York Times and TIME Magazine Discuss New RSF Research

July 29, 2014

The New York Times and TIME magazine recently covered a new study by Fabian T. Pfeffer, Sheldon Danziger, and Robert Schoeni, released as part of the Russell Sage Foundation’s Recession Trends collaboration with the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. In the study, the authors explore the extent to which the Great Recession altered the level and distribution of American families’ wealth. Their research concludes that for typical American households, net worth fell by about a third between 2003 and 2013. Yet, as Anna Bernasek notes in the NYT, “The Russell Sage study also examined net worth at the 95th percentile. (For households at that level, 95 percent of the population had less wealth.) It found that for this well-do-do slice of the population, household net worth increased 14 percent over the same 10 years.” In other words, the study uncovers not just the losses sustained by American households during the Recession, but also the troubling and still-growing increase in wealth inequality in the U.S.

The New York Times also recently highlighted new research by Andrew Cherlin, a former Visiting Scholar and the author of Labor’s Love Lost (to be published by the Russell Sage Foundation in December 2014). In his forthcoming book, Cherlin offers a new historical assessment of the rise and fall of working-class families in America, demonstrating how momentous social and economic transformations have contributed to the collapse of this once-stable social class and what this seismic cultural shift means for the nation’s future. As Cherlin explained to the Times, in the 50s and 60, most working class families were sustained by a male breadwinner. But the collapse of industrial blue-collar jobs and the increase in the number of women in the workforce have eroded this family structure.

Legacies of the War on Poverty Panel at ASA

July 28, 2014

A panel session at the upcoming American Sociological Association (ASA) will feature a discussion of the 2014 Russell Sage Foundation publication, Legacies of the War on Poverty, co-edited by RSF president Sheldon Danziger and Martha J. Bailey (University of Michigan). 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.

While some accounts portray the War on Poverty as a costly experiment that failed, the contributors featured in Legacies draw from fifty years of empirical evidence to show that this view is too simplistic and document many ways that War on Poverty programs improved the educational attainment, incomes and health of the poor and the elderly.

The panelists at the upcoming ASA talk are Legacies co-editor Sheldon Danziger and contributors Kathleen McGarry (UCLA) and Harry Holzer (Georgetown), in conversation with David B. Grusky (Stanford).