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Current Research Programs

The Russell Sage Foundation currently provides support to scholars at other institutions to pursue research projects that advance the Foundation’s objectives in four main research areas: Behavioral Economics, the Future of Work, Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration, and Social Inequality. 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. For more detailed information on each of these programs, please choose your area of interest below.

The Foundation’s Behavioral Economics program supports research that incorporates the insights of psychology and other social sciences into the study of economic behavior. Launched jointly with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 1986, the program was instrumental in the development of this new interdisciplinary field. The Foundation supports the Behavioral Economics Roundtable, a consortium of leading researchers which provides a small grants program for exploratory research, a two-week summer workshop for younger scholars, research grants, and a book series for major works in behavioral economics.

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The Future of Work program examines the causes and consequences of the deteriorating quality of low-wage jobs in the United States. Projects sponsored by the program have examined a wide range of causal factors, from foreign outsourcing and immigration to the decline of unions and technological change, that may have depressed wages of low-education workers. Current research under this program includes a new investigation to re-assess how minimum wage increases affect employment and the broader labor market; a new study of the extent of offshoring of production by U.S. firms and its impact on the economy; and a project that examines the role of job search behaviors on the employment and wage outcomes of women and minorities in the post-recessionary U.S. labor market, among others.

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The Foundation’s newest program on Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration, replaces two previous programs: Immigration and Cultural Contact. Insights gained from these two long-standing programs inform the genesis of the new program on Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration. The new program encourages multi-disciplinary perspectives on questions stemming from the significant changes in the racial, ethnic, and immigrant-origin composition of the U.S. population. A primary goal is to find ways in which researchers from different social science traditions studying issues of race, ethnicity, and immigration may complement one another in productive and innovative ways. We continue to encourage multi-disciplinary perspectives and methods that both strengthen the data, theory, and methods of social science research and foster an understanding of how we might better achieve the American ideals of a pluralist society.

Since 2001, the Foundation’s Social Inequality program has examined the social and political consequences of rising economic inequality. The program has investigated a variety of areas of social life, from education and health care to intergenerational mobility, to determine whether the increasing financial gap between the rich and poor has also exacerbated social inequalities of the kind that amplify and entrench economic differences. Recently, the program has turned to in-depth examinations of two key institutions the United States relies on to counteract market-driven inequality: public education and the democratic electoral system.

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