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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).

Does Skin Color Influence How Minorities Will Vote?

October 2, 2014

In a recent article for the Washington Post, political scientist Spencer Piston argued that lighter-skinned Latinos and Asians in the U.S. are more likely to vote Republican. Noting that party identification among these two groups has been weaker than that of whites and African Americans, Piston suggests that lighter-skinned Asian Americans and Latinos may be less likely to experience racial discrimination, and therefore less likely to automatically align themselves with the Democratic Party, which has historically been thought to better represent minorities that face discrimination. He references several graphs that indicate trends toward GOP support in lighter-skinned minorities, and states, “For example, in the 2012 election for Senate, the darkest-skinned Latinos are estimated to have a 98 percent chance of voting for the Democrat, whereas the lightest-skinned Latinos are estimated to have a 43 percent chance.”

Former RSF Visiting Scholar Karthick Ramakrishnan responded to these claims in a follow-up piece for the Post, arguing that light-skinned minorities are unlikely to grow the ranks of the Republican Party. While confirming that light-skinned Latinos have historically been more predisposed toward the GOP than their darker-skinned counterparts, Ramakrishnan says there is “no evidence of a net migration of light-skinned Latinos toward the Republican Party.” He further states, “In addition to losing on party identification, Republicans have also lost on presidential vote choice among Latinos and Asian Americans, regardless of skin tone.”

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.

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.

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