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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 five main research areas: the Future of Work, Immigration, Cultural Contact, Social Inequality, and Behavioral Economics. 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 now channels much of its support for behavioral economics through the Behavioral Economics Roundtable, a consortium of leading researchers in the field which provides a small grants program for exploratory research, a two-week summer workshop for younger scholars, and a book series for major works in behavioral economics. The program’s current major initiative is a working group on consumer finance, which aims to use behavioral economics methods to analyze consumer financial decision-making.

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The Foundation’s Cultural Contact program is concerned with understanding and improving relations between racial and ethnic groups in schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and other key institutional settings. Founded in 1992, the program has examined the effectiveness of diversity training and affirmative action in work places and on college campuses. It has also sponsored a series of working groups looking at how the American legal, education, and health care systems are responding to increased ethnic and cultural diversity. The current working groups address two new areas: the interaction between police and minorities, and the cultural frictions between immigrants and local residents in new areas of immigrant settlement.

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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. More recently, the Foundation commissioned a series of industry surveys and case studies of low-wage work in the United States and Europe to gain a more detailed picture of how changing competitive pressures are affecting the organization of work within firms and the quality of jobs available to high school educated workers. The current major research initiative funds an in-depth examination of the provision of care to children and the elderly, an expanding field of low-wage work in the U.S.

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Since 1991, the Foundation’s Immigration program has looked beyond the immediate costs and benefits of immigration to the United States to examine how well immigrants and their children are adapting socially, politically, and economically. To assess the long-range progress of today’s immigrants, the program sponsored three large-scale surveys of second-generation immigrants to address a series of questions, including English proficiency, job history, and marriage patterns. Currently, the program has turned to two new areas of research: one on the entry of immigrants into the civic and political life of the nation, and another exploring how immigrants fare as they settle in new destinations outside traditional gateway cities.

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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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