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Future of Work

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.

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?

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.

Spring 2015 Presidential Authority Awards

July 6, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in the Future of Work program, the Social Inequality program, and one non-program project.

Awards approved in the Future of Work program:

The Future of the American Worker
Steven Greenhouse, Journalist

Former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse will write a book investigating the future of the American worker. He will examine broad issues affecting the labor market, including the rise and decline of traditional labor unions and the growth of alternative, non-union worker advocacy groups.

Long-Run Adaptation to Workplace Technological Change
Miguel Morin (University of Cambridge) and Rowena Gray (University of California, Merced)

Economists Miguel Morin and Rowena Gray will analyze the changing structure of American jobs between 1900 and 1940 in response to the spread of electrification. They will produce a comprehensive data series that will shed light on how workers are affected by new technologies.

Improving Wages and Job Quality for Home Care Aides

April 27, 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.

Paul Osterman (MIT) is co-author of the 2011 RSF book Good Jobs America and a current Visiting Scholar. During his time in residence, Osterman is examining strategies for improving job quality in the low-wage labor market, specifically through initiatives that encourage employers to improve their human resource policies. In order to aid the development of policies that lead to better wages and benefits in the private sector, he will investigate the conditions that incentivize firms to improve their employment practices, focusing on the health care and manufacturing industries.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Osterman focused on low-wage home care aides, discussing the existing barriers to increasing their pay, and offering solutions for improving job quality for this group in the future.

Q. Your current research examines the plight of low-wage home care aides. What makes this group of workers especially vulnerable in ways that other professions in the medical industry are not?

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.:

New Research Collaborations with the W.K. Kellogg and MacArthur Foundations

March 12, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has launched several research collaborations with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Over the last year, seven projects have been co-funded with the Kellogg Foundation and nine projects have been co-funded with the MacArthur Foundation.

RSF president Sheldon Danziger remarked, “I am extremely pleased that the Russell Sage Foundation has been able to collaborate with the Kellogg Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.” He added, “We receive many high-quality social science research proposals and these partnerships allow us to fund a greater number of projects than we could support with our own funds.”

Winter 2015 Presidential Authority Awards

March 9, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in several programs, including Future of Work, Social Inequality, Cultural Contact, and Immigration programs.

Awards approved in the Future of Work program:

Living at the Minimum: Low-Wage Workers with Children During Seattle's Minimum Wage Increase
Heather D. Hill and Jennifer Romich (University of Washington)
Jointly funded with the MacArthur Foundation

Human development and social policy experts Heather Hill and Jennifer Romich will carry out an in-depth, qualitative study of Seattle workers with children before and after the implementation of the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 per hour starting in April 2015.

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