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Special Initiatives

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.

With the support of the Foundation, political scientists Theda Skocpol (Harvard University) and Lawrence Jacobs (University of Minnesota) formed a working group to track the course and fate of Obama's efforts to reorient domestic policy during 2009 and 2010. Members traced developments in eight specific policy areas: health reform, financial regulation, energy and climate change, tax policy, higher education funding, primary and secondary school reform, immigration policy, and labor law reform. Employing a variety of data sources, including interviews with key actors, the scholars in this project highlight the institutional and political constraints that channel and limit changes, especially changes intended to mitigate social and economic inequalities in the United States.

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The Russell Sage Foundation has recently completed a major initiative to assess the effects of the Great Recession on the economic, political, and social life of the country. Officially over in 2009, the Great Recession is now generally acknowledged to be the most devastating global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Prolonged economic stagnation is likely to transform American institutions and severely erode the life chances of many Americans. To understand these effects across a broad swath of social and economic life, the Foundation identified 15 areas of inquiry—such as retirement, education, income and wealth—and funded proposals for innovative projects from a distinguished team of scholars.

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 represents the most significant reform of the U.S. health care system in decades. It was enacted with the goals of increasing access to health insurance, enhancing the quality of care and moderating the growth in costs. The new law is likely to have far reaching effects, beyond the way health insurance markets operate and beyond its impact on population health outcomes. It is those other social, economic and political effects of the ACA that we seek to understand.

For sixty years, the Russell Sage Foundation has produced authoritative research on trends and changes in U.S. society using information from the decennial census. U.S. 2010: America After the First Decade of the New Century continued this tradition by reporting on key social and economic trends during the previous decade. Between 2000 and 2010, the United States experienced dramatic political, social, and economic changes and events. From two wars abroad during the course of the decade, to the "Great Recession" and the election of the country's first African-American president, the first ten years of the twenty-first century provide an interesting barometer of prior trends and future directions.