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RSF Author and Scholar Rubén G. Rumbaut Elected to AAAS

May 22, 2015

RSF author and former Visiting Scholar Rubén G. Rumbaut (UC Irvine) has been elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As one of the founding members of the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative, Rumbaut is internationally known and widely cited for his research on children and young adults raised in immigrant families of diverse nationalities and socioeconomic classes. Rumbaut, who testified before the U.S. Congress at hearings on comprehensive immigration reform, was elected in 2013 to the National Academy of Education in recognition of his outstanding contributions in educational research and policy development.

Rumbaut is the co-editor of the 2003 RSF book Immigration Research for a New Century and a contributor to several RSF volumes on immigration, including The New Second Generation (1996), Handbook of International Migration (1999), and The Changing Face of Home (2006). In his time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation during the academic year of 1997-98, Rumbaut studied the participation of children of immigrants in American educational, social and economic life. Drawing upon large bodies of research in San Diego and Miami, Rumbaut focused on the progress of Latin, Asian, and Caribbean youth. His work provided a nuanced and cross-group understanding of how these second-generation youth varied in their language and ethnic identity, school aspirations and achievement, and psychological well-being. He also explored how their adaptation was shaped by family, school, and factors like racial discrimination.

New Report: The Transmission of Educational Attainment Within Immigrant Families

May 13, 2015

Second Generation Trajectories, a project funded under the Foundation’s past Immigration program, focused on the long-term prospects of second generation immigrants—or children of post-1965 immigrants who were born in the United States or were brought from abroad at an early age. Sociologists Roger Waldinger (UCLA) and Renee Reichl Luthra (University of Essex) studied ethnicity, politics, and socio-economic mobility among the contemporary immigrant second generation, drawing on data from three large original data-collection projects funded by the Russell Sage Foundation: the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), the Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA) study, and the Immigrant Second Generation in Metropolitan New York (ISGMNY) study. The investigators examined the data in concert to analyze the variation in second generation outcomes and assess whether immigrant offspring moved beyond, moved ahead, or simply reproduced their parents’ socioeconomic status.

Luthra’s most recent report, published in the latest issue of Demography, examines the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment between parents and children. The abstract states:

One in five U.S. residents under the age of 18 has at least one foreign-born parent. Given the large proportion of immigrants with very low levels of schooling, the strength of the intergenerational transmission of education between immigrant parent and child has important repercussions for the future of social stratification in the United States. We find that the educational transmission process between parent and child is much weaker in immigrant families than in native families and, among immigrants, differs significantly across national origins. We demonstrate how this variation causes a substantial overestimation of the importance of parental education in immigrant families in studies that use aggregate data. We also show that the common practice of "controlling" for family human capital using parental years of schooling is problematic when comparing families from different origin countries and especially when comparing native and immigrant families. We link these findings to analytical and empirical distinctions between group- and individual-level processes in intergenerational transmission.

New Report: Gatekeepers of the American Dream

May 5, 2015

The journal Social Science Research recently published a new paper co-authored by RSF grantee Chandra Muller (University of Texas, Austin) and Sarah Blanchard. In her 2006 RSF project, Muller explored how schools facilitated the integration of immigrant youth into civic society through exposure to civics related curricula. She also examined how the retention or loss of a native language affected young immigrants’ integration into civic society, and whether having peers who spoke the same native language affected their integration.

In her most recent paper, Muller draws from this research to look specifically at how teachers' perceptions of their immigrant, language-minority students affects those students' academic achievement. The abstract of the paper states:

High school teachers evaluate and offer guidance to students as they approach the transition to college based in part on their perceptions of the student's hard work and potential to succeed in college. Their perceptions may be especially crucial for immigrant and language-minority students navigating the U.S. educational system. Using the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), we consider how the intersection of nativity and language-minority status may (1) inform teachers' perceptions of students' effort and college potential, and (2) shape the link between teachers' perceptions and students' academic progress towards college (grades and likelihood of advancing to more demanding math courses). We find that teachers perceive immigrant language-minority students as hard workers, and that their grades reflect that perception. However, these same students are less likely than others to advance in math between the sophomore and junior years, a critical point for preparing for college. Language-minority students born in the U.S. are more likely to be negatively perceived. Yet, when their teachers see them as hard workers, they advance in math at the same rates as nonimmigrant native English speaking peers. Our results demonstrate the importance of considering both language-minority and immigrant status as social dimensions of students' background that moderate the way that high school teachers' perceptions shape students' preparation for college.

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.

New Spring 2015 Books from RSF

February 5, 2015

Below is a first look at new and forthcoming books from the Foundation for Spring 2015. The list includes Beyond Obamacare, a major new analysis of how to reorient the broken health care system in the U.S.; The Asian American Achievement Paradox, an investigation of the “model minority” stereotype and why certain immigrant groups succeed; Too Many Children Left Behind, a comparative study across four countries of the socioeconomic achievement gap among grade-school children; and Gender and International Migration, a historical evaluation of the changes in gendered migration patterns over several centuries.

To request a printed copy of our Spring 2015 catalog, please contact Bruce Thongsack at, or view the complete list of RSF books on our publications page.

The Role of Chinatown Bus Lines and Employment Agencies for New Immigrants

January 7, 2015

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the ongoing research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

As an affordable mode of transportation up and down the East Coast, the Chinatown bus lines operating out of New York City have become an increasingly popular service even for those outside of the Chinese immigrant community. Yet, a series of high-profile traffic accidents involving these buses over the last few years have raised concerns about their safety, and in 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began a crackdown on many of the Chinatown buses.

While the closure of such bus lines may present an inconvenience for those looking for cheap vacation transportation, these shutdowns, if continued, could have a far more serious impact on newly arrived Chinese immigrants. Zai Liang (SUNY Albany), who is currently writing a book on the patterns of employment and settlement among recent low-skilled Chinese immigrants, identifies the Chinatown bus lines as a vital component of the job networks for new immigrants. His current research examines the role of both these bus lines and Chinatown’s employment agencies in facilitating immigrant settlement in destinations outside of New York City.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Liang explained how the bus lines and employment agencies help new immigrants find jobs, support their families, and even begin their own businesses outside of New York.

Q. Your current research examines the settlement patterns of recent Chinese immigrants in the US, focusing in particular on the role of New York City Chinatown employment agencies and the Chinatown bus lines. How do these two institutions work together to influence or accommodate the movements of Chinese immigrants?

Political Party Identification Among Latino Immigrants

December 15, 2014

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the ongoing research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

In his time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation, Visiting Scholar James McCann (Purdue University) is writing a book on the effects of political campaigns in fostering partisan identification among Latino immigrants. Though other research on this topic has shown immigrants to be generally estranged from party politics, McCann finds considerable “potential” partisanship among immigrants.

In October, McCann responded to a claim in the Washington Post that suggested that lighter-skinned Latinos were more likely than darker-skinned Latinos to identify as Republican. He rejected this notion, offering a breakdown of the data used to track the correlation between skin color and partisanship, and concluding, “Is there in fact such a relationship? The 2012 American National Election Study offers scant evidence of this.”

In an interview with the Foundation, McCann provided some further remarks on party identification among Latinos, and discussed his research on the political incorporation of new immigrants to the United States.

RSF Authors Discuss Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration

November 25, 2014

On November 21, President Obama delivered an historic executive order to protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. “Today,” he stated, “our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it.” Citing the ongoing political deadlock in Congress as a major barrier to the implementation of meaningful immigration reform, the president announced a set of actions designed to grant temporary relief from deportation to undocumented parents of US-born children, high-skilled immigrant workers and graduate students, and others.

Several RSF authors and immigration experts participated in a recent roundtable discussion on The Conversation about the executive order, which has drawn fire from Republican leaders. Katharine Donato, co-author of the forthcoming RSF publication Gender and International Migration (2015), applauded the president for taking “action that many families have desperately needed.” She continued, “Most of us don’t understand how damaging the fear of deportation is. But for the last two decades, many immigrant parents—with children who are US citizens—have lived with this very real fear every day.”

New Awards Approved in Core RSF Programs

November 19, 2014

Thirteen new research projects in the Russell Sage Foundation’s Behavioral Economics, Social Inequality, Immigration, and the Future of Work programs were recently funded at the Foundation’s November 2014 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

The Foundation’s Behavioral Economics program supports research that incorporates the insights of psychology and other social sciences into the study of economic behavior. The following projects were recently funded under the program:

Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos More Likely to Identify as Republicans?

James McCann, Visiting Scholar
October 3, 2014

In a blog entry earlier this month at the site of the always-engaging Washington Post Monkey Cage, Spencer Piston of Syracuse University suggested that “lighter-skinned Latinos are more likely than darker-skinned Latinos to identify as Republican.” Some days later, Karthick Ramakrishnan of UC Riverside responded that even if skin complexion and partisanship are correlated, Latinos are on the whole Democrats. As he puts it, “the Democratic Party has a sizable net advantage in party identification, even among lighter-skinned Latinos. This is a point that can be easily overlooked when we focus on the direction of the relationship between skin tone and partisanship, without paying attention to absolute levels of partisanship among Latinos.”

In this brief remark, I wish to circle back to the possible correlation between skin tone and partisan identification among Latinos. Is there in fact such a relationship? The 2012 American National Election Study offers scant evidence of this. Approximately 450 self-identified Latinos took part in the face-to-face household portion of this study. At the end of the survey, interviewers noted the skin tone of each of these respondents based on a ten-point scale (1=very fair complexion, 10=very dark complexion). The correlation between skin tone and the standard seven-point measure of party identification is -.065, which implies that Latino citizens with fairer skin lean slightly more towards the Republicans—or, as Karthick Ramakrishnan would have it, are slightly less committed to the Democrats. But this correlation does not rise to the level of statistical significance using standard benchmarks (p=.165). If sampling weights are applied to the data, which the ANES strongly recommends, then the correlation drops to -.038 (p=.585).

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