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Future of Work

New Presidential Authority Awards

July 11, 2016

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in four primary program areas—Behavioral Economics; Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; and Social Inequality—as well as two conferences for upcoming issues of the RSF journal.

Supplemental funding has also been awarded to an ongoing study of stereotype threat cues and an ongoing study of how employment ties between government and private industry affect regulation policies.

RSF Grantees and Authors Discuss U.S. Labor Market

March 31, 2016

A number of RSF grantees and authors recently appeared in the news to discuss ongoing shifts in the U.S. labor market. Following the release of the February jobs report, Harry Holzer, co-author of the 2011 RSF book, Where Are All the Good Jobs Going?, spoke to several outlets about the addition of 242,000 new jobs to the economy. “I view this mostly as a good report. The job creation number was very good,” he told NBC News. In an interview with the Washington Post, he added that middle-aged workers who had dropped out of the workforce during the recession were starting to re-enter in significant numbers. Their re-entry, he said, has been “going on consistently since October. So it doesn’t look like a blip anymore. That seems important to me.”

Yet, longer-term changes to the labor market have presented cause for concern. The New York Times highlighted research by RSF trustee Lawrence Katz and former trustee Alan Kreuger that shows that the percentage of workers in “alternative work arrangements”—or contract and temporary workers—has increased by over 5 percent in the last decade. Katz told the Times that in addition to high unemployment rates during the recession, new technology has likely played a role in accelerating the rise of temporary, “flexible” work arrangements. “Call center workers can be at home. Independent truck drivers can be monitored for the efficiency of their routes. Monitoring makes contracting more feasible,” he said.

RSF Trustee Bo Cutter Co-Authors New E-Book, The Good Economy

March 4, 2016

The Roosevelt Institute and the Kauffman Foundation have jointly released a new e-book, The Good Economy, co-authored by Russell Sage Foundation trustee and Roosevelt Senior Fellow Bo Cutter, Kauffman Vice President Dane Stangler, and Council on Foreign Relations Adjunct Senior Fellow Robert Litan. The book explores different economic scenarios facing the United States and describes a future in which innovation could produce the strongest economic boom since the 1950s while also promoting broader opportunity and equity.

The Good Economy envisions an economic resurgence beginning in 2020 driven by factors such as the continued growth of freelancing platforms like Uber and Etsy coupled with the development of new advances like nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. The authors further forecast the rise of a new political dynamic as the federal government breaks free from political paralysis and cities and states serve as hubs of experimentation. However, they also caution that without a comprehensive overhaul of business, labor rights, government spending and other issues, such shifts would entail more risk and instability for workers.

“By 2040, our definitions of ‘work’ and ‘job’ may be very different,” said Cutter. “Changes in the economy could force average workers to become entrepreneurs, making use of new technologies and services to acquire skills and opportunities while taking on more responsibility for their own health care and retirement.” But, he added, “if they can manage the transition, they will be able to find more work even as more jobs become automated.”

Spring 2016 Presidential Awards

February 23, 2016

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in three program areas—Future of Work; Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; and Social Inequality—as well as a conference for an upcoming issue of the RSF journal. The Foundation is also co-funding two new projects on the Affordable Care Act with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

RSF Journal Conference:

The Underground Gun Market
Philip J. Cook (Duke University) and Harold A. Pollack (University of Chicago)

For an upcoming issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, economist Philip J. Cook and public policy expert Harold A. Pollack will organize a symposium featuring nine invited articles based on the findings of the Multi-City Gun Project, a multi-disciplinary group of experts studying the sources of guns to criminal offenders.

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?

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