Monthly Archives

July 2019

Research Findings

The troubling return of workplace racial segregation

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July 17, 2019

The United States struggles with a long history of racial employment segregation.  Exclusionary hiring based on race was only banned in 1964, and enforcement only gained teeth when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) set to work in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

We know that segregation declined significantly during the “long decade of enforcement,” through the early 1980s. Since then, though, progress seems to have stalled. Sociologists have repeatedly studied occupational segregation—how separated races are between different jobs—and found that it has barely moved in more than a generation. Yet even this is too rosy a picture.

There are two broad ways to think about employment segregation. One is occupational, as already mentioned. The other might be called establishment segregation—how separated races are between different workplaces. (An establishment is an individual workplace; think a McDonald’s restaurant, not the McDonalds corporation.) On this dimension, U.S. workplaces have backslid to where they were in the mid-1970s.

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Research Findings

Habermas in the boardroom? Evidence from shareholder engagement

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July 10, 2019

Can dialogue be established between civil society and corporations on social and environmental questions such as climate change? Our study of shareholder engagement at Ford and General Motors suggests that dialogue is possible and socially-conscious shareholders might be able to drive positive change in corporations on climate change.

We also show that overcoming initial adversarial positions take years and, to use the language of Jürgen Habermas, parties need to shift from strategic action. The strategic action is the instrumental pursuit of individual goals, to communicative action: a form of coordinated action where parties achieve a common definition of the situation. Our study shows how these ideas from German philosophy help explain engagement effectiveness, and understand current events in corporate boardrooms.

Dialogue has become central not only for traditional social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and labor unions, but also for shareholders, who are increasingly active on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issue.

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Research Findings

The costs of raising children and the consequences for parental wealth and inequality


July 3, 2019

Children are expensive. Almost any parent will attest to this. For 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that raising a child into adulthood cost approximately $234,000 in total for a middle-income family.

Families face many similar expenses with childrearing, which vary over the child’s lifetime. Upon the birth of a child, there are immediate costs. Parents must purchase food, clothes, and many other items to support their children on a day-to-day basis. Children bring long-term costs, too, as parents often have to save money for their children’s futures, particularly for education.

Although the costs of childrearing may be similar, families have very different resources available to attend to these costs. As a result, higher-income families tend to spend more on their children in absolute dollars, but lower-income families spend a greater proportion of their income on their children, often at a cost to their own financial wellbeing. 

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