Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Submission Deadlines: See upcoming deadlines

The Russell Sage Foundation program on Race, Ethnicity & Immigration 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.

A primary goal of the program is to encourage researchers from different social science traditions studying issues of race, ethnicity, and immigration to work together 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

  • To what extent has the prospect of a "majority-minority" population triggered racially-conservative politics among whites and/or more active participation by ethnic minorities?
  • Will the rapid growth in the Asian population give it greater political prominence that, in turn, might influence not only attitudes towards Asians but also the extent to which racial diversity is associated with cultural difference more broadly?
  • To what extent does immigration enforcement affect the receipt of public assistance such as Medicaid, WIC, SNAP or other government assistance? How does this in turn affect aspirations and opportunities for mobility for immigrants and their children?
  • To what extent does having high-achieving immigrant groups affect the educational aspirations and norms of achievement for native-born Whites, Blacks, and Latinos?

American Institutions' Response to Increasing Diversity in the Population

  • How have institutions such as labor unions, community- and faith-based organizations, schools, and the criminal justice system responded or failed to respond 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 2016, about 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 wellbeing?
  • Over the last forty years there has been  more than a five-fold increase in intermarriage, suggesting the lowering of traditional racial and ethnic divides. 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

  • 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 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. However,  many state and local ordinances attempt to restrict the access of immigrants to schools, medical services, housing, and employment, but in other instances attempt to facilitate access and integration. What are the effects of sub-federal practices on immigrant outcomes?
  • Ethnicity and race have long shaped immigration policy and politics. How have recent changes in immigrant policies affected immigrant outcomes, public opinion, inter-group relations, and the balance of political power?
  • There is a growing consensus among policy analysts that a points-based system is likely to be preferable to an immigration management system built solely around family reunification. However this conclusion has not been supported by rigorous evidence or evaluations. What are the relative merits of family-based vs merit/skills/points-based immigration policies? 

Redefinition of Inter-Group Relations

  • 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?
  • What are the consequences of the rise of nativism for the ability of poor immigrants and ethnoracial minorities to move out of poverty?
  • 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  lead to more negative stereotypes of Latinos?
  • What are the perceptions of opportunity and experiences of discrimination among youth of color, and how are they different from those of young whites and older generations of people of color?

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

Despite 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?

Links to Computational Social Science

The foundation has a strong interest in projects linked to Computational Social Science, specifically how digital, large volume and complex data and new computational methods can further our understanding of the social, economic, and political effects of the evolving racial and ethnic composition of the population.

Application Information

Funding is available for secondary analysis of data or for original data collection. We are especially interested in novel uses of existing data, as well as analyses of new or under-utilized data. Proposals to conduct laboratory or field experiments, in-depth qualitative interviews, and ethnographies are also encouraged. Smaller projects might consist of exploratory fieldwork, a pilot study, or the analysis of existing data.

The Foundation encourages methodological variety and inter-disciplinary collaboration. All proposed projects must have well-developed conceptual frameworks and research designs. Analytical models must be specified and research questions and hypotheses (where applicable) must be clearly stated.

Awards are available for research assistance, data acquisition, data analysis, and investigator time for conducting research and writing up results. Trustee Grants are generally capped at $175,000, including 15% indirect costs, over a two-year period. Presidential Awards are capped at $35,000 (no indirect costs). PIs may request up to $50,000 (no indirect costs) when the proposed research project has special needs for gathering data (e.g.: qualitative research) or gaining access to restricted-use data.

RSF receives so many applications for its limited funding that it no longer considers submissions that make use of publicly-available data, such as the Current Population Survey, American Community Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, National Longitudinal survey of Youth, etc. However, if the project addresses a pressing issue or uses these data in an innovative way, RSF may consider such proposals as Presidential grants with a maximum budget of $35,000.

A brief letter of inquiry (4 pages max. excluding references) must precede a full proposal to determine whether the proposed project is in line with the Foundation's program priorities and available funds. All applications must be submitted through the Foundation's online submission system. Questions should be sent to Aixa Cintrón-Vélez, Program Director, at programs@rsage.org.

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