Monthly Archives

December 2023

Research Findings

Are millennials worse off than baby boomers? That’s the wrong question.

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December 28, 2023

The question of whether Millennials are doing better or worse than previous generations remains a highly debated subject. Millennials are often positioned as the victims of changes in American society that have made employment and family life less stable, rendering them, according to some observers, “the first generation that is worse off than their parents”. A recent article challenged the “myth of the broke Millennial”, however, claiming that they are actually thriving.

Framing the question in this way is somewhat misleading. It suggests that there is a typical or average Millennial, who we can compare to the average Baby Boomer. Millennials are so different from one another, however, that it is not particularly meaningful to talk about the ‘average’ Millennial experience. There are some Millennials who are doing extremely well—think Mark Zuckerberg and Sam Altman—while others are struggling.

The Baby Boomers are similarly internally divided: those who went to university and found middle class jobs had very different experiences and life outcomes compared to those in working class occupations. Comparing generations in terms of their average economic outcomes overlooks the vast discrepancies within generations. Instead, we should ask which Millennials were better or worse off than previous generations.

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Research Findings

It takes more than a ‘body count’ to make diversity matter on corporate boards

December 21, 2023

Corporate boards shape strategy and decision-making, rendering their composition highly consequential. Such boards have been, and still are, predominantly composed of individuals from similar demographic backgrounds – notably white men. This is an issue, as homogeneity is known to lead to groupthink, and suggests that some needed talent is excluded from the board room.

Calls for diversity, notably gender diversity, grow louder, and some countries have legal targets or quotas. Corporate boards, not least in large, publicly-traded firms in the Global North where power and money concentrate, are thus in the hot seat. However, research findings are mixed when it comes to the outcomes of having more diversity on boards.

In a recent study of corporate board diversity, our starting rationale was that simply adding more ‘diverse directors’ to the mix wouldn’t necessarily translate into them having influence – and indeed, we found that increasing the ‘diversity count’ by adding women or foreign directors doesn’t inherently reshape the power dynamics in the corporate elite.

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Research Findings

White Parents Discriminate Against Schools with More Asian Students

December 7, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic increased public attention to anti-Asian discrimination and bias in the United States. Even though media coverage of the subject has grown recently, Asian Americans have been civically and socially ostracized by white Americans throughout U.S. history. Existing research has shown that Asian Americans today face discrimination in the workplace and in a range of contemporary social settings.

In a recent study published in Sociology of Education, we find pervasive anti-Asian sentiments among white parents with different backgrounds. This bias is strong among parents with higher and lower levels of education, and among both liberal and conservative parents. The results of our study span the COVID-19 pandemic, and we found similar levels of anti-Asian biases in our experiment both before and after the pandemic began. These results demonstrate that anti-Asian bias in educational settings is not only a recent phenomenon and pre-dates the uptick in anti-Asian sentiment that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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