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Russell Sage Foundation

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They say cut back, we say fight back! Welfare activism in an era of retrenchment

Individual Author: 
Reese, Ellen

In 1996, President Bill Clinton hailed the “end of welfare as we know it” when he signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. The law effectively transformed the nation’s welfare system from an entitlement to a work-based one, instituting new time limits on welfare payments and restrictions on public assistance for legal immigrants. In They Say Cutback, We Say Fight Back, Ellen Reese offers a timely review of welfare reform and its controversial design, now sorely tested in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Immigrants raising citizens: Undocumented parents and their children

Individual Author: 
Yoshikawa, Hirokazu

There are now nearly four million children born in the United States who have undocumented immigrant parents. In the current debates around immigration reform, policymakers often view immigrants as an economic or labor market problem to be solved, but the issue has a very real human dimension. Immigrant parents without legal status are raising their citizen children under stressful work and financial conditions, with the constant threat of discovery and deportation that may narrow social contacts and limit participation in public programs that might benefit their children.

Child skills and behaviors in intergenerational inequality

Individual Author: 
Duncan, Greg J.
Bergman, Lars
Duckworth, Kathryn
Kokko, Katja
Lyyra, Anna-Liisa
Metzger, Molly
Pulkkinen, Lea
Simonton, Sharon

Under what conditions can parents succeed in passing their socioeconomic advantages on to their children by boosting their children’s job-related skills and behaviors? In equal opportunity societies, institutions and other policies boost the skills and behaviors of low-socioeconomic status (SES) children in ways that fully offset the skill and behavioral advantages imparted by parent efforts.

Good jobs, bad jobs: The rise of polarized and precarious employment systems in the United States, 1970s-2000s

Individual Author: 
Kalleberg, Arne L.

Good Jobs, Bad Jobs provides an insightful analysis of how and why precarious employment is gaining ground in the labor market and the role these developments have played in the decline of the middle class. Kalleberg shows that by the 1970s, government deregulation, global competition, and the rise of the service sector gained traction, while institutional protections for workers—such as unions and minimum-wage legislation—weakened. Together, these forces marked the end of postwar security for American workers.

Where are all the good jobs going?: What national and local job quality and dynamics mean for U.S. workers

Individual Author: 
Holzer, Harry J.
Lane, Julia I.
Rosenblum, David B.
Andersson, Frederik

Deindustrialization in the United States has triggered record-setting joblessness in manufacturing centers from Detroit to Baltimore. At the same time, global competition and technological change have actually stimulated both new businesses and new jobs. The jury is still out, however, on how many of these positions represent a significant source of long-term job quality and security. Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? addresses the most pressing questions for today’s workers: whether the U.S.

Persistence, privilege, and parenting: The comparative study of intergenerational mobility

Individual Author: 
Smeeding, Timothy M.
Erickson, Robert
Jantti, Markus

Americans like to believe that theirs is the land of opportunity, but the hard facts are that children born into poor families in the United States tend to stay poor and children born into wealthy families generally stay rich. Other countries have shown more success at lessening the effects of inequality on mobility—possibly by making public investments in education, health, and family well-being that offset the private advantages of the wealthy. What can the United States learn from these other countries about how to provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds an equal chance in life?

Old assumptions, new realities: Ensuring economic security for working families in the 21st century

Individual Author: 
Plotnick, Robert D.
Meyers, Marcia K.
Romich, Jennifer
Rathgeb Smith, Steven

The way Americans live and work has changed significantly since the creation of the Social Security Administration in 1935, but U.S. social welfare policy has failed to keep up with these changes. The model of the male breadwinner-led nuclear family has given way to diverse and often complex family structures, more women in the workplace, and nontraditional job arrangements.

L.A. story: Immigrant workers and the future of the U.S. labor movement

Individual Author: 
Milkman, Ruth

Recent developments in southern California—often a harbinger of national trends—suggest that reports of organized labor’s demise may be exaggerated. In Los Angeles, where inequality by both class and nativity is so stark that the city is routinely compared to the Third World, the dynamics that generated the janitors’ 1990 victory sparked a decade-long resurgence of union organizing and community-based economic justice campaigns—highlighting the possibility that labor might become an agent of social transformation once again.

Categorically unequal: The American stratification system

Individual Author: 
Massey, Douglas S.

Over the past thirty years, markets in the United States have been restructured institutionally to produce rising levels of inequality with respect to income, wealth, and social well-being. The United States is now vastly more unequal than it was in 1975 and vastly more unequal than other advanced industrial societies in the world today. This book describes the historical evolution of the categorical mechanisms responsible for this remarkable outcome, focusing on how inequality is generated with respect to the intertwined social categories of race, class, and gender.

Legacies of the war on poverty

Individual Author: 
Bailey, Martha J.
Danziger, Sheldon

The War on Poverty initiated a new era of direct federal involvement in schools, hospitals, labor markets, and neighborhoods. This involvement engendered considerable controversy but has left a large footprint on the conceptualization, design, and implementation of antipoverty, social, and health policies; American politics; racial inequalities; and social science research. The chapters in this volume document many of the War on Poverty’s lasting legacies.