Program on Social Inequality
The Russell Sage Foundation’s program on Social Inequality supports research on the social, economic, political, and labor market consequences of rising economic inequalities in the United States. We seek investigator-initiated research projects that will broaden our understanding of the causes and consequences of rising economic inequalities. We are especially interested in projects that might use innovative data or methodologies to address important questions about inequality.
Examples of the kinds of topics and 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 in the U.S. affected the educational opportunities of its citizens? 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?
What are the new dimensions of polarization in jobs, occupations, and earnings, and how have they influenced labor market engagement, family formation, and incomes? 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 school achievement, behavior, or health? 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?
Letters of Inquiry and Proposals
The Foundation is interested in research that is broadly related to analyzing the causes and consequences of increased economic inequality. We encourage methodological variety, but all proposals should have well-developed conceptual frameworks and research designs. Analytical models should be specified and research questions and hypotheses should be clearly stated. Awards are available for research assistance, data acquisition, data analysis, and investigator time for conducting research and writing up results.
Our website has guidelines regarding the application procedure with information about submitting letters of inquiry, proposals and budgets. A brief letter of inquiry (~3 pages in length) must precede a full proposal to determine whether the proposed project is in line with the Foundation’s program priorities and available funds. We will accept letters of inquiry until noon on Friday, January 31, 2014, although we encourage interested investigators to submit letters in advance of the deadline. If a full proposal is invited, the deadline for submitting proposals is March 15, 2014. Proposals should follow the RSF guidelines on our website. Funding decisions will be made at the Foundation’s June 2014 Board of Trustees meeting. Questions about the Social Inequality program should be directed to Dr. James Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.