RSF-Funded Research on Systemic Racial Inequality

After the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests in the spring and summer of 2020, RSF announced that it would fund research examining systemic racial inequality and the social movements protesting such inequalities. Since that announcement, RSF has funded 46 grants on systemic racism across all RSF program areas, about 29% of all projects funded during this period. Six grants were co-funded by the JBP Foundation (marked with an * before the PI’s name) and one research grant (marked by an exclamation point) and the six Pipeline Grants were funded in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Grantees include communications scholars, economists, historians, political scientists, psychologists, public policy scholars, and sociologists.

Grantees have examined topics such as policing, criminal justice, the racial wealth gap, segregation, the 2020 protests, voting rights, and diversity and inclusion, among other topics.

As the first grants began in summer 2020, most are still ongoing and have not yet produced publications.

Below we present these grant details: authors, titles, program, grant period, amount, and abstracts. Grants are presented in reverse chronological order.

Joshua Pasek, University of Michigan, Fabian Neuner, Arizona State University, and Hakeem Jefferson, Stanford University. Reducing Racial Polarization in Reactions to Police Use of Force: Identifying Mechanisms and Testing Interventions (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period 08/01/22 – 07/31/24; $146,215)
Abstract: This project has two goals. First, it interrogates the reasons why Blacks and Whites differ in their reactions to instances of police use of force against Black people. Second, it tests theory-based interventions aimed at reducing these differences. These involve: 1) presenting objective information about bias in law enforcement and racial crime rates to equalize expectations, 2) providing components of implicit bias training to reduce the potential that racial bias is altering group expectations, and 3) highlighting the likelihood that people bring their own experiences and expectations to their decisions and encouraging individuals to consider each case on its own. These interventions might reduce racial differences in evaluations of the incident and increase the perceived legitimacy of outcomes that differ from the preferences of the respondent.

Robert Mickey, University of Michigan, Jacob Grumbach, University of Washington, and Daniel Ziblatt, Harvard University. Authoritarian Policing and America’s Incomplete Democratization (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period 05/01/22 –04/30/24; $152,614)
Abstract: Why is the U.S. an outlier among democratic countries in its racist and repressive policing? Why has police reform proven so difficult? We draw on comparative politics, political history, law, and economics to explore the historical roots of the current impasse. Conceptualizing cities as having undergone incomplete democratizations from the 1940s to the 1970s, we assess whether and how policy changes during this period, made in response to the growing demands of black and Hispanic citizens, politicians, and movements, insulated policing from democratic accountability. Through a mixed-methods project, we seek to understand the contemporary political power of police—and its consequences of racist, repressive policing and high barriers to reform—as shaped by the democratization of cities in the early postwar period.

John Logan, Brown University. Trajectories of Segregation in the U.S. Metropolis, 1900-1970 (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period 04/01/22 – 03/31/24; $149,881)
Abstract: This is a study of the trajectories of racial/ethnic segregation in the U.S. metropolis from 1900 to the present. It focuses on the extent and timing of 1) the emergence and of urban ghettoes, which were visible by the 1940s, and 2) the restructuring after 1940 that deepened the gap between declining cities and growing suburbs. The persistence of high levels of racial segregation demands attention because it reveals the strength of racial boundaries in society and because it is closely associated with disparities in health, education, crime and policing, environmental quality, and other place-based aspects of opportunity.

James Thomas, University of Mississippi. Whiteness in Crisis? (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period 04/01/22 – 03/31/24; $135,293)
Abstract: This research centers the economic, political, and social transformations of the new century, their relationships to whites’ racial formation, and the relationship between whites’ racial formation and place. We will conduct in-depth qualitative interviews to examine how white southerners between the ages of 18 and 35 years old understand the racial hierarchy and their place within it. This research asks (1) how, in an era where whites’ dominant status is being scrutinized, are white southerners making sense of their dominant racial group status? And (2) what are the contexts and experiences that white southerners draw upon when making sense of their status?

Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, Columbia University. Organizational diversity, peer influences, and partisan effects in policing: Quasi-experimental evidence from seven law enforcement agencies in the US (Program: Decision Making and Human Behavior in Context; Grant Period 04/01/22 – 03/31/24; $130,497)
Abstract: Racial discrimination by police is a pressing domestic policy issue, as police officers’ aggressiveness, misbehavior, and use of force impose burdens on racial and ethnic minorities. We will investigate how peer influences, organizational diversity, and partisan effects impact officers’ behavior when they come into contact with citizens. Using quasi-random variation in the composition of units and shifts arising from exogenous events that change an officer’s set of peers on specific days, we will estimate how the likelihood that an officer stops, searches, arrests, or uses force against a civilian is influenced by these attributes of that officer’s peers: race, gender, party affiliation, and prior record of misconduct or use of force. We will investigate this question in seven law enforcement agencies.

Masha Krupenkin, Boston College. Immigrant Attitudes Toward Racial Inequality (Program: Immigration and Immigrant Integration; Grant Period: 04/01/22 – 03/31/24; $20,275)
Abstract: Immigrants have more negative attitudes towards Black Americans than do the native-born of the same racial/ethnic group. These differences persist after controlling for income, education, and party identification. Among white, Latino, and Asian immigrants, these differences are larger among citizens than non-citizen immigrants, suggesting that the attitudes are acquired in the US. This book project examines the origins and consequences of anti-Black attitudes among the foreign-born. I examine potential explanations for these anti-Black attitudes and examine the role that anti-Black attitudes play in candidate choice among immigrants.

Jennifer Vonk, Oakland University, and Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Oakland University. When Police Officers Use Force Against Citizens: Not just a Black-and-White Issue (Program: Decision Making and Human Behavior in Context; Grant Period: 04/01/22 – 03/31/23; $34,274)
Abstract: Anyone with internet access can access recordings of altercations between police officers and citizens. In response, researchers have analyzed issues underlying racial disparities in the use of force among police officers. This study examines factors that influence individuals' evaluation of both parties and focuses on the associations that dangerous and competitive social worldviews have with perceptions of citizens and police officers involved in ambiguous altercations. It will also examine whether ideological attitudes and perceived threat mediate these associations as well as potential moderation by race of participants and citizens.

*Erica Chenoweth, Harvard University, and Jeremy Pressman, University of Connecticut. The Origins and Effects of the Antiracism Uprisings of 2020 (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period 02/01/22 – 01/31/23; $164,485)
Abstract: The protests after the killing of George Floyd may be the largest and broadest mobilization in history. This project explores variation in the geography of these racial justice protests, developing a comprehensive dataset of where protests, counter-protests, and repression have taken place. We also examine how the protests affected electoral outcomes nationally. Finally, we will collect data on political impacts in ten cities to explore the effects of mobilization and countermobilization. We will develop a catalogue that captures variation in local, state, and national concessions and policy changes made to in response to demands from Black-led protests and countermobilization to it. Such efforts may help us better understand how and why protests yield meaningful change as opposed to symbolic reform alone.

Melinda Miller, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and Matthew Gregg, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Migration and Economic Mobility: Evidence from the Federal Indian Relocation Act (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 02/01/22 –01/31/24; $50,000)
Abstract: We contribute to the literature on the later-life outcomes of migration by examining a federal policy that subsidized the rural to urban migration of American Indians from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. Residents of reservations were encouraged to move to twelve preselected industrial cities. The program generated administrative records deposited at National Archives locations but have been largely ignored by researchers. Digitizing these records and linking them to other data sources, including restricted-use census and administrative data, will generate a rich dataset that documents the intergenerational effects of migration on members of a historically disadvantaged racial minority and allows for the analysis of issues related to their economic status, health outcomes, and cultural identity formation.

!Ellora Derenoncourt, Princeton University, Moritz Schularick, University of Bonn, Moritz Kuhn, University of Bonn, and Chi Hyun Kim, Free University of Berlin. The Racial Wealth Gap, 1850-2020 (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period 01/01/22 –12/31/23; $145,000)
Abstract: Little is known about the evolution of the racial wealth gap prior to 1968. This project analyzes Census data, the Census of Agriculture, and state level tax records from the late 19th and early 20th centuries to document the racial wealth gap from 1850 onwards. We will produce a harmonized series of Black and white wealth from 1850 to the present. The data suggest that despite income convergence in the latter half of the 20th century, racial wealth convergence stalled by 1920s. We hypothesize that vastly different starting conditions and diverging wealth-to-income ratios have led to persistence in racial wealth inequality. Our project will consider the efficacy of policies such as of wealth redistribution and reparations in accelerating convergence.

Crystal Yang, Harvard University, Marcella Alsan, Harvard University, and Damon Jones, University of Chicago. Reducing Racial Health Care Gaps via Physician Solidarity Signals (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period 01/01/22 – 12/31/23; $115,000)
Abstract: A half century after the civil rights movement, racial inequity remains a defining feature of society. This project focuses on the consequences of discrimination in criminal justice, a key institution generating inequality and an issue of pressing public policy, on healthcare demand because the medical system plays an important role in addressing racial health inequality. In an experiment, we investigate whether counter signals made by healthcare professionals to indicate racial solidarity enhance actual healthcare demand. These findings will guide approaches for actors, specifically institutions, to proactively address the effects of structural racism.

Kasey Henricks, University of Tennessee Knoxville. Manufactured Disorder: Race, Policing, and Erroneous Ticketing in Chicago (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 01/01/22 – 12/31/22; $16,696)
Abstract: This case study of Chicago examines parking tickets written under false pretenses. Using multiple sources of public data leveraged against one another, preliminary results find that more than 1 in 8 tickets are erroneously issued. The analysis will use multivariate models to answer these questions: 1) Are erroneous tickets more likely to be issued in neighborhoods with more Black or Latinx residents? 2) Are they more likely to be issued by patrol officers or parking enforcement officers, and 3) Does ethnoracial composition moderate the relationship between tickets errored tickets and differential policing authorities?

*John Anders, Trinity University, and Craig Carpenter, Michigan State University. Can Education Fight Inherited Inequity? Using Administrative Data to Measure the Direct, Intergenerational, and Interactive Impacts of Redlining and Education (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period 12/01/21 – 11/30/23; $170,881)
Abstract: This project will use linkable federal administrative data to measure the causal impact of a parent's place of birth on their adulthood labor market and health outcomes, and their children's adulthood labor market and health outcomes. By observing place of birth and linking children to parents, we leverage variation in early life exposure to housing and education to identify interactive causal effects. We focus on variation in housing and education access generated from redline mapping in the 1930s, the expansion of colleges across the country in the 1960s and 1970s (leveraging both time and regional variation in college access for Black individuals), and the rollout of Head Start in the late 1960s and 1970s. Using regression discontinuity and difference-in-difference methods, this project will provide interactive causal estimates of the long-run and intergenerational effects of housing and education.

*Martin Gilens, University of California Los Angeles. Changing Dominant Carceral Attitudes: A Deep Canvass Field Experiment (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period 12/01/21 – 11/30/23; $142,531)
Abstract: Decarceration policies are necessary to address the racial inequalities exacerbated by mass incarceration. We lack real-world field-based evidence of the influences on carceral attitudes and interventions that shape those attitudes and associated racialized prejudices. Deep canvassing, a method for discussing political issues by sharing personal stories, is effective in both durably reducing prejudice and increasing support for other equity policies. Utilizing this approach, this study is a large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled field experiment to investigate the effects of deep canvass organizing on a decarceration policy proposal. The study aims to assess the effectiveness of this approach in shaping attitudes toward decarceration policies and associated racialized attitudes. Complier Average Causal Effect estimates will be used to analyze the effect of the intervention on attitude and policy opinion outcomes among voters contacted by a canvasser.

Elizabeth Cascio, Dartmouth College, and Ethan Lewis, Dartmouth College. Bridging the Gap(s)? Legal Activism, State Action, and Race Differences in School Resources and School Enrollment, 1940-1960 (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 12/01/21 – 11/30/23; $34,862)
Abstract: Research suggests that legal actions in the 1970s and beyond to reduce school spending disparities have had profound consequences for affected students. However, modern methods have not been applied to study the later-life impacts of the striking reductions in race gaps in school resources in the South before school desegregation began. This project will assemble and harmonize county-level panel data on school resources by race for 11 southern states through 1960, building on and extending existing data from 1910 to 1940. We will examine: (1) why racial gaps in school resources narrowed between 1940 and 1960, focusing on legal activism led by the NAACP and state legislation; and (2) whether policy-induced reductions in Black-white resource gaps contributed to reductions in the race gap in school enrollment rates of teenagers between 1940 and 1960.

Lori Hoggard, Rutgers University, Danielle Beatty Moody, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Jamein Cunningham, University of Memphis. Police Exposure and Socioeconomic Well-being among African American men (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period 11/01/21 – 10/31/23; $161,140)
Abstract: This project will examine how aspects of police exposure influence socioeconomic outcomes among a representative sample of African American men. With regard to law enforcement exposure, we will examine involuntary encounters (e.g., police stops, searches, arrests, and lethal and non-lethal force) that are both directly and vicariously experienced, with vicarious experiences including encounters relayed via relatives, friends, neighbors, and the news/social media. Police exposure will include the assessment of zip code-level homicides involving police officers. Socioeconomic outcomes include current socioeconomic status (SES), subjective standing, system avoidance, and perceptions of prospects for changes in SES (longitudinal survey), and daily functioning and decision-making (e.g., daily diary assessment). We also examine personal growth initiative and distrust in institutions as mechanisms.

Conrad Miller, University of California Berkeley, Heather Sarsons, University of Chicago, and Benjamin Feigenberg, University of Illinois Chicago. The rise of punitive criminal justice policy in the wake of the Great Migration (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period 09/01/21 – 08/31/23; $138,171)
Abstract: This study estimates the causal relationship between historical racial composition changes and criminal justice severity in the non-southern urban areas, addressing the relationship between punitive policy and community demographics and the effects of punitive policy on economic inequality. We use administrative court records for nine northern and western states and estimate the effects of criminal court jurisdictions on defendant outcomes, including within-defendant models, to construct measures of jurisdiction severity. We then relate these measures to exogenous variation in historical Black in-migration during the Great Migration and to income, employment, and intergenerational outcomes for different racial groups.

Jeffrey Flory, Claremont McKenna College, John List, University of Chicago, and Brent Hickman, Washington University in St. Louis. Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: A Field Experiment on Who Cares and Why it Matters (Program: Future of Work; Grant Period: 08/01/21 – 07/31/22; $39,322)
Abstract: We will conduct a field experiment on the effects of workplace diversity and inclusivity on worker behavior and employee composition. We will evaluate how knowledge by applicants of a workplace’s level of diversity and inclusivity affects the types of applicants for a short-term job in terms of their productivity and demographic characteristics. We will also assess how experiencing various workplace attributes impacts worker behavior, independent from selection effects that occur at the application stage. We will estimate the hiring stage treatment impacts on productivity characteristics for workers, the work-stage treatment impacts on work behavior, and the hiring-stage treatment impacts on characteristics of applicants.

Will Dobbie, Harvard University. Reducing Racial Disparities in Bail Decisions (Program: Decision Making and Human Behavior in Context; Grant Period: 07/01/21 – 06/30/23; $170,327)
Abstract: Racial disparities exist at every stage of the criminal justice system, especially in the setting of bail. In this project, we collaborate with courts from around the country to test the effectiveness of three interventions that can reduce racial disparities in bail decisions. The first provides objective information on the pretrial risk of white and non-white defendants to judges to correct inaccurate stereotypes that exaggerate the relative danger of non-white defendants. The second provides a simple bench card (or checklist) to judges to slow down and systematize decision-making. The third provides feedback to judges on their own outcomes over time, giving them the motivation, information, and tools for reducing racial disparities in their decisions.

Katherine Eriksson, University of California Davis, Vellore Arthi, University of California Irvine, Gary Richardson, University of California Irvine. Explaining Black Socioeconomic Mobility After the Great Depression (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/01/21 – 06/30/23; $122,045)
Abstract: Few studies have examined the Great Depression’s role in Black socioeconomic mobility to the present day. Using new archival data and large-scale linked life-course microdata, we offer new evidence on the evolution of the racial wealth gap over the 20th century. Our study will help us understand Black experiences of the Depression, and the origins of racial wealth differentials today.

*Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia University, and Charles Branas, Columbia University. Racial Inequality in Police Violence: Injuries and Fatalities from Police Use of Force (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/01/21 – 06/30/23; $171,050)
Abstract: National attention has focused on police killings of African Americans and other minorities. However, there are no nationwide reporting databases for non-lethal police use of force. This gap complicates estimates of the extent of police use of force and estimates of the medical and social “distance” between non-lethal and lethal force. This project has three phases. First, we will develop and integrate national medical and criminal justice databases that record both fatal and non-fatal police use of force. Second, we will analyze the relative risks of police-caused injury or death by civilian race, institutional contexts of police agencies and actions, and population demography. Third, we will analyze these data to respond to two related dimensions of racial threat. We will include measures of policing to explain how policing itself contributes to use of lethal and non-lethal force.

Martin Fiszbein, Boston University. Migration and the Geography of Racism in the United States (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period: 07/01/21 – 06/30/22; $111,184)
Abstract: This project examines the origins of racist institutions and ideologies, focusing on how white migration from the postbellum Confederacy changed the trajectory of racial norms elsewhere in the country at a time of westward expansion and frontier settlement. With the upheaval after the Civil War came significant pressure---both economic and cultural---on many white Southerners to seek new lives elsewhere. Through a novel combination of historical data, we will connect these migrants' experiences with slaveholding and Confederate army service to the short- and long-run prevalence of racism outside the South. We will examine the role of migrants in the early days of law enforcement and criminal justice and show how migration shaped the diffusion of racist norms and practices at a critical juncture of history.

Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi, University of Virginia, and Shigehiro Oishi, University of Virginia. Racial Inequality at the Brink: How Economic Inequality Exacerbates Racial Prejudice and the Potential Alleviating Role of Policies Which Provide Basic Economic Resources (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/1/21 –06/30/23; $43,576)
Abstract: Few studies investigate how inequality impacts individuals’ psychological processing and, in turn, exacerbates prejudice. And almost no work investigates the impact of economic inequality on racial minorities. This project puts forth the inequality group-competition hypothesis: that inequality increases perceived intergroup competition for limited resources and exacerbates prejudice. Inequality may also exacerbate intergroup prejudice between racial minority groups, stifling coalition building. Providing basic economic resources, under some circumstances, may mitigate the impact of higher inequality on increasing prejudice by assuaging people’s fears of competing for limited resources.

Anna Gunderson, Louisiana State University, and Laura Huber, University of Mississippi. Breaking the Brass Ceiling: Do Female and Non-White Police Executives Change Police Behavior? (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/01/21 –06/30/22; $34,994)
Abstract: A common proposal for police reform is to increase the diversity of police under the assumption that female and non-white police act differently than their male, white counterparts. This data collection project will create a dataset of police chiefs of all cities from 1980 on, along with a dataset of police scandals. We will then explore the patterns where female and nonwhite police chiefs are appointed, whether these chiefs are more likely to be appointed when the police face accusations of corruption or scandal, and whether female and non-white chiefs alter police behavior, by linking this new data with arrest rate data.

Zoltan Hajnal, University of California San Diego. Addressing America’s Uneven Democracy: Local Election Timing and Its Impact on Representation (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/01/021 – 06/30/23; $17,020)
Abstract: Voter turnout in local elections is low and skewed along race, class, and age lines. This project assesses the degree to which a shift in the dates of local elections changes that. Using new data, I can determine how the composition of the electorate, the success rate for racial and ethnic minority candidates, and city spending patterns change within the same city as election timing shifts. The data set includes all city elections in Florida and California over a 15-year period, I employ city and year fixed effects and difference-in-difference analysis to get at causality. Preliminary results show that moving local elections to the same date as Presidential contests radically alter the makeup of the vote and leads to a more representative electorate.

Michael Light, University of Wisconsin Madison. Colorism and Criminal Case Processing (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/01/21 – 06/30/22; $46,781)
Abstract: Punishment research treats “races” as distinct categories and rarely acknowledges heterogeneity within racial groups. As a result, we know little about the extent to which skin tone disparities accumulate throughout the criminal justice system or how political, economic, or social conditions contribute to skin tone inequality in punishment outcomes. This project analyzes comprehensive information on all arrests in Texas between 2006 and 2018 that tracks cases from arrest to sentencing and 1) investigates skin color inequality at key stages in case processing, and 2) analyzes variation in the punishment of arrestees with different skin colors by characterizing the jurisdictional factors that produce disparate outcomes.

Matthew Ross, Claremont Graduate University. Does More Training Mitigate Disparities in Police Use of Force? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from New Linked Data (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/01/21 – 06/30/22; $29,178)
Abstract: Training is considered an effective way to reduce police violence and disparate treatment. However, there is little evidence on the impact of training on the incidence of force. This analysis will build a linked dataset containing detailed course-level training records for all Dallas Police Department officers with the universe of nearly three million 911 calls, use of force reports, and arrests. The 911 data contain detailed dispatcher notes describing the context of the incident and force applications by officers. and the sequence of events. We will focus on required training in de-escalation, crisis intervention, and use-of-force protocol. We leverage quasi-random variation in the assignment of officers to calls within patrol beats and estimate event study models on the impact of training on use of force overall and on minorities.

*Alford Young Jr., University of Michigan, and Earl Lewis, University of Michigan. The Dignity of Fragile Essential Work in a Pandemic: Perspectives of African American Employees on Race, Respect, and Relations at Work (Program: Future of Work; Grant Period: 06/01/21 –05/31/23; $121,402)
Abstract: We will study lower-tier food service workers, gig drivers, grocery and retail workers, and health care assistants. Our focus is on employees who were identified in the state of Michigan as essential workers, but who lack the credentials, certifications, and educational backgrounds of those with white-collar or professional status. These individuals hold jobs that are classified as minimally-skilled. We explore and assess their value orientation to the kind of work they do. We focus on what they consider to be the social utility of their work in what is now a technologically inclined world of work. This project involves a subjective exploration of the meaning attached to forms of work that are below the bar of what is considered to be higher-tier employment.

Seanna Leath, University of Virginia. A Mixed Methods Investigation of Black Parents’ Socialization on Gendered Racism and Misogynoir against Black Women and Girls (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 06/01/21 – 05/31/23; $49,522)
Abstract: This study will identify if and how Black parents use socialization messages on gender and race to foster developmental competencies among their daughters through an exploratory sequential mixed methods investigation. The first goal is to explore Black parents' awareness of gendered racism and misogynoir in relation to their parenting practices through a series of semi-structured interviews with Black mothers and fathers. The second goal is to create a survey measure of gendered racism, and to test relationships between parents’ beliefs and experiences with misogynoir, their concerns regarding their daughters’ experiences with gendered racism, and their parental socialization competencies and coping strategies. The study will reframe mainstream theories of family dynamics by privileging the voices and experiences of Black parents.

Heather Schoenfeld, Boston University, and Michael Campbell, University of Denver. 21st Century Justice: The Struggle to Decarcerate in the U.S. States (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 06/01/21 – 05/31/22; $35,000)
Abstract: This project examines what political and social factors contribute to policy changes that would reduce incarceration. For years social scientists have demonstrated that high levels of imprisonment do not reduce crime and contribute to extreme racial inequality. The project seeks to understand why some reform efforts succeed; who gets included and excluded in the reform process; and why lawmakers support only certain policy solutions. The project uses a matched-pair comparative research design to compare case studies of criminal justice reform efforts from 2000 to 2020 in three pairs of states (six states total). Case study data include newspaper articles, legislative material, official records and interviews. The project promises to answer how recent mobilization intersects with legislative criminal justice reform activity and to what effect.

Nathan Kelly, University of Tennessee Knoxville, and Jana Morgan, University of Tennessee Knoxville. Racial Inequality, Pandemic, and Democracy: COVID-19 and Unequal Citizenship in Times of Crisis (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 05/01/21 – 10/31/22; $37,630)
Abstract: The questions motivating this study are: 1) How does encountering structural inequality influence the ways people across the hierarchy think about the democratic system, the processes and outcomes it produces, and their place in it? 2) To what extent do government actions that combat or reproduce inequalities operate as antidote or accelerant to the consequences of marginalization? The pandemic provides a context in which structural inequalities are readily perceived. We conduce a survey experiment to gain insight into the ways that exposure to structural inequalities and the policy responses to them have consequences for how people think about democratic processes and their outcomes, both for those situated at the bottom of entrenched hierarchies and across society as a whole.

*Kenneth Andrews, University of North Carolina, Neal Caren, University of North Carolina, and Rashawn Ray, University of Maryland. Protest, Policy, and Racial Justice: The Impact of Black Lives Matter on Policing Reforms (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period: 04/01/21 – 03/31/23; $155,868)
Abstract: Our project focuses on the wave of protest in response to the death of George Floyd and traces the development of protest, movement organizations, and police reform from 2013 to 2020 in the 89 largest cities. We will also conduct eight case studies to trace sequences of protest, advocacy and reform to identify key mechanisms that facilitate or obstruct change. We focus on three areas of institutional change: transparency and accountability, policing practices and techniques, and shifts to community-based solutions. Our project will generate high quality, publicly available data on protest and policing, and we will assess changes in policing.

Lee Ann Banaszak, Pennsylvania State University, Christopher Fowler, Pennsylvania State University, Dane Mataic, North Dakota State University, and John McCarthy, Pennsylvania State University. The Reproduction of Social Inequality through Routine Voter Maintenance (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 04/01/21 –03/31/23; $96,918)
Abstract: Routine voter maintenance for infrequent voting removes many eligible voters from the rolls each year. We will examine the degree to which these procedures differentially disenfranchise minority, poor, and younger voters and explore whether the discriminatory impact of these processes are exacerbated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on local communities. Our data consists of voter registration records between 2017 and 2021 combined with individual voter characteristics; these will be merged with state and county political data, information about state voter maintenance procedures, socioeconomic inequality measures at the tract level, and county level indicators of Covid-19 and its economic disruptions. Pilot work, linking commercial voter data with Pennsylvania voting records during recent Presidential election cycles provides evidence of heightened inequality and illustrates our analytical strategy.

Laurel Eckhouse, University of Denver, Jennifer Doleac, Texas A&M University, Ariel White, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Allison Harris, Yale University. Registering Returning Citizens to Vote (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 04/01/21 – 03/31/23; $166,865)
Abstract: Millions are eligible to vote despite past felony convictions, but their voter participation rates are extremely low. Efforts to register and mobilize them have foundered. We use administrative data to find contact information for people with past convictions, contact a random subsample with registration help, then track their registration and voting behavior. Through pilots conducted in North Carolina, we have established a method for finding and contacting people with felony convictions who are eligible to vote but unregistered. Early results suggest our intervention successfully increases their registration/voting rates. The proposed field experiment tests this on a larger scale, with a refined set of treatment arms. We also test whether effects vary across subgroups.

Andra Gillespie, Emory University. Surveys at the Intersection of COVID and Police Protests (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 04/01/21 – 03/31/22; $50,000)
Abstract: I propose five survey projects which use random assignment to test the relationship between attitudes toward protests and other mass rallies on attitudes toward COVID mitigation, mask style on respondent willingness to wear masks, linked fate on minority citizen's attitudes toward mask wearing and data literacy and attitudes toward public health policies intended to mitigate COVID-19.

Brendan O’Flaherty, Columbia University, Jose Luis Montiel Olea, Columbia University, Rajiv Sethi, Columbia University. The Disparate Impact of Police Homicides (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period: 04/01/21 – 03/31/23; $47,986)
Abstract: We study the disparate impact in police homicides to look at results rather than motives; to observe police departments rather than individual officers; to concentrate on the victims of police homicide rather than the perpetrators. The questions we address include: What is the disparate impact by race and ethnicity of police homicides? Where and in what sort of place is the disparate impact greatest or least? To what extent is the disparate impact tied to measures of police contact with civilians like arrests? We have already assembled an almost complete data set of police homicides from 2013 to the present (by consolidating four crowdsourced data sets); linked each homicide to the law enforcement agency (or agencies) involved and some of their characteristics; and for those agencies with particular populations served, some characteristics of that population.

Jorg Spenkuch, Northwestern University, Ethan Kaplan, University of Maryland College Park, and Cody Tuttle, Princeton University. Understanding the Long-Run Effects of School Desegregation on Political and Social Preferences (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 04/01/21 – 03/31/23; $50,000)
Abstract: Busing was a primary way through which public schools were desegregated in the post-Civil Right era but was also the source of intense racial and political conflict. Prior research has not assessed the impact of forced school desegregation on individuals' ideological views, social preferences, racial attitudes, or attitudes towards social welfare policies and redistribution. Drawing on hand-collected data from a natural experiment in Louisville, KY and in conjunction with a large-scale custom survey of the individuals in these data, the proposed project aims to fill this gap.

Stephane Mechoulan, Dalhousie University, and Yujung Hwang, Johns Hopkins University. How the Law Shapes our Beliefs (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period: 03/01/21 – 08/31/22; $43,705)
Abstract: Banning affirmative action may alter citizens’ views on racial relations – as well as other attitudes. This project investigates how affirmative action bans have affected millions of college students’ views using data collected by the Higher Education Research Institute which assesses the opinions, experiences, and attitudes of college and university students. We will leverage the fact that a large fraction of students come from out of state. Thus, we will study not only how students originally living and studying in the same state change their mindset when their state enacts an affirmative action ban, but also how students coming from a state that has enacted a ban but studying in a state that has not react differently – and conversely, how students coming from a state that has not enacted a ban and studying out of state are affected when the state in which they study passes such a ban.

Devyn Benson, Davidson College, and Danielle Clealand, University of Texas Austin. Black Migration in a White City: Power, Privilege, and Exclusion in Cuban America (Program: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Grant Period: 10/01/20 – 09/30/22; $50,000)
Abstract: We analyze original oral histories, census, and archival data from Afro-Cubans in the U.S. to examine the different socioeconomic status, educational trajectories, political attitudes, and voting behaviors of black Cubans who have been excluded from the white Cuban enclave in South Florida. We find racial differences in wealth where black Cubans are less likely to own homes, build savings in bank accounts and have a lower net worth when compared to whites. We map the racial exclusion of black Cubans, while highlighting how they resist, cope with, experience and sometimes fail to overcome these challenges. We contribute to conversations about intra-Latino racism, whiteness and anti-black policies that foster urban segregation and exclusion.

Ann Owens, University of Southern California, and sean reardon, Stanford University. The Segregation Lab: Building Research Capacity for Addressing Inequality (Program: Social, Political, and Economic Inequality; Grant Period: 07/01/20 – 06/30/22; $175,000)
Abstract: Residential and school segregation are key barriers to social mobility and equal opportunity. A first step in tackling segregation is an accurate accounting of its trends and patterns, but we currently lack a centralized segregation data resource. We propose creating the Segregation Lab, a publicly-available, comprehensive, longitudinal database of estimates of residential and school segregation by race/ethnicity and economic status. Our segregation database and associated suite of data products will provide improved source data, tools for addressing boundary issues, and protocols for reducing estimation bias. The Segregation Lab will build capacity for research on the role of segregation in producing and exacerbating social inequality in the lives of children and families, supporting the mission of the Russell Sage Foundation’s program on Social, Political, and Economic Inequality.


Pipeline Grants

Jelani Ince, University of Washington Seattle, and Fabio Rojas, Indiana University Bloomington. The Impact of Black Lives Matter on Political Mobilization and Antiracist Discourse (Grant Period: 06/01/22 – 05/31/23; $29,162)
Abstract: Black Lives Matters (BLM) is one of the largest and most prominent progressive social movements since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Even though BLM has received media attention given its focus on racialized police violence, not as much social science research has investigated how BLM activism may lead to discursive change in society. This project will analyze how BLM has impacted the ways that Americans talk about racism, police violence, and the role that movement behavior has on reform efforts.

Shelley Liu, University California Berkeley, and Tony Cheng, University of California Irvine. How Online Media Shapes Polarization Towards Policing (Grant Period: 06/01/22 –05/31/23; $30,000)
Abstract: Perceptions towards police are correlated with variables like race, but time invariant factors cannot sufficiently explain dynamic sentiments across time and space. This project asks: What dimensions of online content shape polarization towards police? We draw on three data sources: (1) novel community sentiment data collected by NYC, Chicago, and LA, (2) engagement data with media articles across online platforms, and (3) an original priming survey experiment. Initial analyses of community sentiments in NYC from 2016-2020 reveal that, as the 2018 midterm elections approached, polarization across precincts increased dramatically towards both police trust and community safety. We hypothesize that online media can drive moments of polarization during electoral cycles by amplifying politicization of criminal justice issues.

Hajar Yazdiha, University of Southern California. “Racism is a Pandemic Too”: Tracing Youth Racial Justice Activism in Los Angeles in the Age of COVID-19 (Grant Period: 06/01/22 –05/31/23; $30,000)
Abstract: Social disasters generate a shock that unsettles the political-cultural system, generating opportunities for groups mobilizing for systemic change. Yet social disasters also amplify existing social inequalities, as in the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on Black and Brown youth. This project combines interviews with student activists and participant observation of two Los Angeles student activist organizations. I ask: 1) How do youth activists perceive the pandemic as a threat or opportunity for systemic change and how are perceptions patterned across their social locations? 2) How do perceptions shape activists’ strategic actions?

Abhay Aneja, University of California Berkeley, and Guo Xu, University of California Berkeley. The Costs of Employment Segregation: Evidence from the Federal Government under Wilson (Grant Period: 06/01/21 – 05/31/22; $24,600)
Abstract: Segregation within the workplace is at the heart of racial inequality in wages and employment. Segregation also carries unintended costs to organizations by leading to the misallocation of worker talent. The costs of racial segregation, however, remain poorly measured. This project will estimate the impact of racial segregation by analyzing a racial separation policy. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson issued a directive to segregate all workers within the federal government according to race. Using a newly-created dataset on all federal government employees, this project will study how state-sanctioned discrimination contributed to black-white earnings inequality. Using data on government performance, we will also consider if discrimination within the bureaucracy impeded the efficient functioning of government.

Brielle Bryan, Rice University. Locked out of Place: How Felony Conviction History Shapes Residential Opportunity and Racial Segregation (Grant Period: 06/01/21 – 05/31/22; $28,869)
Abstract: Due to felony conviction, individuals can be denied housing, employment, and the right to vote for years after they complete their sentences. Researchers have examined the consequences of incarceration for subsequent life chances, but 2/3 of felons have never been imprisoned and their outcomes have been overlooked. Given that criminal background checks are a routine part of rental applicant screening, I propose an experimental study to uncover how felony conviction history shapes renters’ choice set in the housing market. This study will conduct a nationwide analysis of how much discrimination those with felony records face and, what types of neighborhoods they are channeled into as a result.

Aradhya Sood, University of Toronto, and Milena Almagro, University of Chicago. The Effects of Discrimination in Housing Markets: Evidence from Historical Racial Covenants in Minneapolis (Grant Period: 06/01/21 – 05/31/22; $26,000)
Abstract: Racially restrictive covenants, which prevented sale and rental of housing to several racial and ethnic minorities, were a common phenomenon in the first half of the 20th century in many northern cities. In Minneapolis and suburbs, they were first used in 1911 and gained popularity between the 1920s and 1948, when the U.S. Supreme Court made them unenforceable. We study what Minneapolis and suburbs would have looked like in 1940 if racial and ethnic covenants had not been in place to understand how much they contributed to sorting, segregation, and inequality between Whites and Blacks and to what extent they contributed to the temporal persistence in the geography of economic outcomes across demographic groups.


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.


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