Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Submission Deadlines: See upcoming deadlines

The Russell Sage Foundation launched its program on Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in the spring of 2015. This program seeks investigator-initiated research proposals on the social, economic, and political effects of the changing racial and ethnic composition of the U.S. population, including the transformation of communities and ideas about what it means to be American. We are especially interested in innovative research that examines the roles of race, ethnicity, nativity, and legal status in outcomes for immigrants, U.S.-born racial and ethnic minorities, and native-born whites.


For more than 20 years, RSF has supported a wide range of research projects in the areas of cultural contact and immigration. Under the Immigration program, major research projects examined intergenerational progress, identity and diversity, civic and political incorporation, and migration to new destinations. The Cultural Contact program addressed issues of inter-group relations—in the context of schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and other key institutional settings—and made significant theoretical and methodological advances in the study of stereotype threat, procedural justice, social identity, racial bias, and the content of stereotypes. Insights gained from these two long-standing programs inform our new program on Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration, which replaces the earlier two separate programs.

A primary goal of the new program 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 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.

Proposals may raise a variety of research questions about any one or more of the three topics encompassed by this program—race, and/or ethnicity, and/or immigration. Examples of the kinds of topics and questions that are of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

The Effects of Stratification by Race, Ethnicity, and Immigrant Status on Social, Economic, and Political Outcomes of Different Groups

  • Have patterns of racial and ethnic stratification changed as a result of recent demographic changes and in what ways have they changed?
  • To what extent has the prospect of a "majority-minority" population triggered racially-conservative politics among whites or more active participation by ethnic minorities?
  • How do race-related beliefs—including concepts of difference, prejudice towards other groups, and attitudes towards race-related policy—evolve in the context of growing ethno-racial diversity? For example, to what extent might the growing Latino population (who has now surpassed the African-American population in numbers) lead to more negative stereotypes of Latinos? Will the rapid growth in the Asian population give it a new political prominence that, in turn, influences not only attitudes towards Asians but also the extent to which racial diversity is associated with cultural difference more broadly?

American Institutions' Response to Increasing Diversity in the Population

  • Ethnic and racial diversity has increased in most advanced countries due to immigration. What has been the response of institutions (for example, labor unions, community- and faith-based organizations, schools, and the criminal justice system) to increasing diversity?
  • What are the effects of institutional responses to diversity on both racial and ethnic minorities' outcomes and on any disparities between the foreign-born and the U.S.-born?

The Role of Legal Status in Immigrant Outcomes

  • In 2014, an estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants resided in the United States. How does the lack of documentation affect labor market pathways for undocumented workers and their families, and for other workers? To what extent does undocumented immigration affect the way employers organize their workforce?
  • What are the long-term effects of deportation, especially on families and children? What are the effects of the implementation of administrative relief policies on immigrant integration outcomes?
  • How do assumptions about the legal status of the foreign-born affect the attitudes and behaviors of both the foreign-born and the native-born?

Ethnic and Racial Socialization and Identity Formation

  • How do parents and other adults transmit information, values, and perspectives about ethnicity and race to children? What are the consequences of these practices for children's development, including social identity, self-esteem, coping with discrimination, academic achievement, political engagement, and psychosocial well-being?
  • In 2010, about one out of seven marriages crossed the major racial and ethnic divisions. The growing incidence of intermarriage might reflect the lowering of traditional racial and ethnic divides and suggest that these divides might continue to decline. How does intermarriage affect identities, interactions, and perceptions of suitable partners, and the multi-ethnic and multi-racial children of the unions?

Immigration, Racial and Ethnic Diversity, and Integration

  • What is the economic value of racial and ethnic diversity? Has it changed in recent years, and if so how and why?
  • Who becomes naturalized and what is the value of naturalization in the labor market, in political and civic life, and in other areas?
  • How are conceptions of race changing with immigration? What social, cultural, and psychological processes underlie racial/ethnic and immigrant identification?
  • What is the impact of generation and legal status on social cohesion and integration?
  • What are the psychological and behavioral consequences of increasing immigration in specific communities for the long-term residents of those communities? How are the attitudes and behaviors of immigrants affected by the attitudinal climate of the community?

Immigration Policy and Immigrant Integration Policies

  • Formally, the federal government exerts plenary power over immigration. In reality, immigrants have been the focus of many local ordinances that attempt to exclude immigrants from access to schools, medical services, housing, and employment, but in other instances attempt to facilitate integration. What are the effects of these sub-federal practices on immigrant outcomes?
  • Ethnicity and race have shaped immigration policy and politics throughout history. What is the impact of recent policies on social and political development? How have these policies impacted public opinion, inter-group relations, and the balance of political power?

Redefinition of Inter-Group Relations

  • Does ethnic diversity strengthen or weaken community inter-ethnic relations? What is the relationship between diversity, segregation and social cohesion in neighborhoods?
  • Under what conditions are disadvantaged African-Americans and Latinos likely to coalesce around shared economic and political interests?
  • What are the sources of conflict, tension and accommodation between newcomers and long-term residents? What factors contribute to better acceptance of the new immigrants and which ones lead to conflict?
  • What is the relationship between newer and older immigrant groups and between first-generation immigrants and citizen co-ethnics? How does the presence of the co-ethnics shape the integration and socialization of new arrivals?

The use of biomarkers and health indicators in modeling social, economic, behavioral and associated outcomes of immigrants and their children

Despite substantial evidence of integration and mobility, some immigrants and their children experience high levels of segregation and housing insecurity, work long hours in hazardous jobs, have low wages and limited access to health care, and face threats to personal safety in the form of arrests, detention and deportation.

  • To what extent does experienced or perceived discrimination have a disparate impact on and among immigrants, affecting stress response systems or resilience? Are these biological effects related to socioeconomic outcomes such as educational achievement or adult earnings?
  • In what ways is the relationship between socioeconomic mobility and, for example, success in education, employment or increased life expectancy, similar to or different from those relationships among the native-born?
  • To what extent do harsh immigration policies affect physiological systems and what are the consequences for socioeconomic outcomes such as academic performance or labor market participation? 

Application Information


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