Social Inequality

Submission Deadlines: See upcoming deadlines

The Russell Sage Foundation's program on Social Inequality supports innovative research on whether rising economic inequality has affected social, political, and economic institutions, and the extent to which increased inequality has affected equality of opportunity, social mobility, and the intergenerational transmission of advantage. We seek investigator-initiated research projects that will broaden our understanding of the causes and consequences of rising economic inequalities in the United States.

Examples of the kinds of questions that are of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Economic Well-Being, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility

  • How have increased inequality in income and wealth affected equality of opportunity and intergenerational mobility?
  • Have the barriers to social mobility changed over time?
  • Have government policies ameliorated or exacerbated economic inequality and its consequences?

The Political Process and the Resulting Policies

  • Has rising inequality affected legislative performance, political voice, political responsiveness, polarization, or government actions and reforms?
  • Has rising economic inequality allowed economic elites greater access to and influence on the policy process and policy outcomes at the national and subnational levels?

Psychological and/or Cultural Change

  • Has increased inequality affected beliefs, values, and behaviors, including young people's career or educational aspirations?
  • How have attitudes and values about social institutions and government changed?
  • What are the psychological consequences of income scarcity and what does it mean for people's lives and their everyday ability to function and make decisions?


  • Has rising inequality affected educational opportunities?
  • Is increased inequality related to educational achievement or attainment, or the educational aspirations of youth?
  • Do high-performing individuals at the bottom of the income distribution fare as well as their peers at the top?

Labor Markets

  • How are changes in the labor market and occupational structure related to changes in economic inequality? And what are the implications of these labor market shifts and occupational changes for equality of opportunity and individuals’ social mobility?
  • How has rising inequality affected the retirement decisions of older workers and the labor market opportunities of those just entering the labor market?

Child Development and Child Outcomes

  • As income and wealth inequality have grown, is a family's economic status more strongly related to children's development and outcomes in areas such as cognitive or behavioral development, academic achievement, and educational attainment?
  • Are intergenerational resources (e.g. resources of parents and grandparents) playing a more important role now than in the past?

Neighborhoods and Communities

  • Has increased economic inequality contributed to changes in economic or racial segregation in neighborhoods and communities? How do these spatial inequalities affect the opportunities and life chances of residents?

Families, Family Structure, and Family Formation

  • How do recent trends in income and wealth inequality relate to trends in family formation and family structure?
  • To what extent are changes in family formation and family structure contributing to changes in economic inequality, and to what extent are they a consequence of those changes?

Other Forms of Inequality

  • How does race/ethnicity, gender, immigrant status, or disability interact with economic inequality? Is growing economic inequality affecting other types of inequality?

Application Information


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


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