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Research Programs

The Russell Sage Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the social sciences as a means of achieving more informed and rational social policy. The Foundation's agenda includes research on the causes and consequences of various social problems, as well as basic research aimed at improving the methods, data, and theoretical foundation of social science.

The Foundation currently pursues five principal programs:

  • A program on Social Inequality, focused on the social effects of rising economic inequality, with particular attention to the ways in which the U.S. political and educational systems have responded to growing economic disparities.
  • A program of research on Behavioral Economics which incorporates the insights of psychology and other social sciences into the study of economic behavior.
  • A program of research on the Future of Work concerned principally with the causes and consequences of changes in the quality of low-wage work in the United States and other advanced economies. 
  • A program of research on current U.S. Immigration aimed at discovering how well immigrants and their children are adapting socially, politically, and economically to life in the United States, particularly as they move beyond the traditional immigrant gateway cities.
  • A program on Cultural Contact concerned with understanding and improving relations between racial and ethnic groups in schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and other key institutional settings.

Our principal programs feature a number of working groups:

  • A working group in the Social Inequality program examining the mechanisms through which economic elites influence politics, and the relationship between money, politics, and inequality.
  • A working group in the Cultural Contact program on the impact of racial, ethnic, and gender-based attitudes on law enforcement. The group is working with metropolitan police departments across the U.S. to develop policies to reduce racial bias in law enforcement.
  • A working group in the Behavioral Economics program exploring consumers' financial decision-making and how government regulation might protect them from financial products and services that endanger their financial well-being.
  • A working group in the Cultural Contact program examines immigrant life outside of customary gateway cities such as New York, Miami, or Los Angeles, with an emphasis on the cultural frictions resulting from the rapid growth of the foreign-born population in the United States at a time of high economic uncertainty and political polarization.
  • A working group in the Future of Work program on the social and economic implications of how care (child care, elder care, care for the disabled) is provided to dependent populations in the United States today.

In addition to the activities sponsored under our main programs, the Foundation also supports a range of special initiatives focused on other issues of current importance:

  • A website that reports on the social and economic condition of the country as revealed by the 2010 census and related national surveys.
  • A special project to track and analyze the social consequences of the Great Recession.
  • A working group on the Obama administration's efforts to reorient U.S. public policies in a number of key areas, such as health care, education, and financial regulation.