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Research Findings

Research Findings

Global supply chain factories improve working conditions more when they are unionized, certified, and avoid piece-rate pay

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December 4, 2019

Suppliers to global value chains face formidable efficiency demands to produce ever more cheaply and rapidly. Suppliers in the Global South often compete on labor costs and operate with very low margins, and multinational companies’ (MNCs) demanding sourcing practices magnify these efficiency pressures. This can lead to a “race to the bottom” in labor practices, resulting in sweatshop conditions.

Suppliers to global value chains face formidable efficiency demands to produce ever more cheaply and rapidly. Suppliers in the Global South often compete on labor costs and operate with very low margins, and multinational companies’ (MNCs) demanding sourcing practices magnify these efficiency pressures. This can lead to a “race to the bottom” in labor practices, resulting in sweatshop conditions.

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Research Findings

How neighborhood violence affects employment discrimination


November 27, 2019

Today, employers’ discrimination against black men applying for jobs is notoriously prevalent in the United States. It is commonly accepted that employers’ racial bias explains disparities in how often black versus white men receive job offers. Seeing a black name on a résumé, for example, could activate a range of stereotypes that depict young black men as aggressive, criminal, and violent, which are widely-known in society and deeply rooted in our collective consciousness.

Not only can names on a résumé activate stereotypes – but events that transpire in a neighborhood can also influence people’s reliance on stereotypes, especially right after they happen. For example, after a police officer is shot by a black suspect, other police officers increase their use of force in routine stops with black people.

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Research Findings

The challenge of finding the right neighborhood for mixed-race couples with children

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November 20, 2019

There has been sizable growth in the population of mixed-race couples and their multiracial children in recent decades. Research indicates that these families tend to prefer living in racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods that are relatively affluent. The neighborhood preferences of mixed-race couples with children appear to be largely driven by a desire for their children to live in an area that accepts their children’s multiracial identity while providing them safety and amenities.

However, there is a problem that these families face in finding diverse, higher income neighborhoods –there are not many of them. Indeed, scholars highlight that diverse neighborhoods tend to be lower income. This implies that some mixed-race couples with children encounter trade-offs between diversity and affluence when they are searching for a home in a new neighborhood.

Where these diverse families ultimately choose to live has a number of important consequences. If mixed-race couples with children lean more toward moving to diverse neighborhoods, they can bolster already increasing levels of neighborhood diversity.

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Research Findings

Why East German nurseries may hold the key to addressing the US gender pay gap


November 14, 2019

Like many other Western countries, the US has a substantial gender wage gap, much of which can potentially be attributed to a lack of affordable childcare options which tend to restrict mothers’ work opportunities far more than fathers’. Bethany A. Carter argues that policymakers should look to the former East Germany for potential solutions to this gap. There, she writes, the much smaller gender pay gap can be attributed to the area’s extensive, professional daycare system which has persisted because citizens value it.

During the fourth Democratic debate on October 16th, then presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke confronted Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on one of her key policy proposals: universal childcare. O’Rourke demanded to know whether American families would see a tax increase. Most of the discussion around this issue has centered on the cost of such a plan. And research has mainly focused on the short- and long-term benefits of childcare spending on children (i.e. a “child safety net”). But parents may benefit as much or more as their children.

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Research Findings

A Double Bind for Asian American Women in Leadership?

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November 11, 2019

Women face a double bind when they are in leadership positions. They are expected to be competent and authoritative, but others often see their authoritative behavior as overly dominant, and a violation of gender stereotypes. In other words, women face a “dominance penalty” when they act authoritatively, but they face questions about their competence when they do not act authoritatively. Research has documented this double bind in a number of settings, but these studies have by and large focused on white women. 

Recent research challenges the universality of the dominance penalty, and suggests that race and gender intersect to shape reactions to authoritative behavior. For example, recent studies have shown that in a professional workplace context, black women who demonstrate high levels of competence face less backlash when they behave authoritatively than do comparable white women or black men. 

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Research Findings

Could expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit help fix the housing crisis?

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November 7, 2019

Access to stable housing is critical to the wellbeing of individuals and families. As rents have risen and wages have not kept pace, finding affordable housing in the U.S. has gotten harder. This is especially true for low-income families, who often spend more than half their income on rent.

The U.S. has a number of housing policies, like Housing Choice Vouchers, to help low-income families find and afford housing, but only about 25% of eligible households get assistance. Housing vouchers can also be challenging to use when landlords refuse to accept them. This led us to consider whether a different policy – the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – might help improve families’ housing situations. We wanted to know whether making the EITC more generous for low-income families might be another way to address the housing affordability crisis.

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Research Findings

Letting companies off the hook: How top executives explain away inequality


November 4, 2019

“The question I have is: do we really have a problem? Does [our company] have a problem? From the data I’ve seen, I don’t think so. I think the industry and this country potentially has a problem.”

This is what one high-level executive, Mike (pseudonyms used throughout), told me when I asked him about the causes of gender inequality in the technology industry.

In new research to be published in Gender & Society, I report on a year-long case study of a Silicon Valley technology company implementing a gender equality initiative. I explore how high-level executives’ explanations for inequality impact the change efforts they pursue. I find that executives tend to attribute responsibility to the broader society (as Mike does), or to individuals, rather than the organization.

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Research Findings

In rural India, segregation can make you taller


October 30, 2019

Height is correlated with cognitive achievement, wages, and even lifespan. This is because height in part reflects a person’s early life health environment: children who receive better nutrition and have fewer childhood diseases grow taller, on average, than children who are less well-nourished and more often ill. The relationship between height and cognitive achievement is especially steep in poorer countries, where child health problems are more severe and varied than in richer countries. 

Child height is therefore a useful tool for understanding inequality, both across countries and within countries. Child height in India has received attention from the academics and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) because children in India are shorter than would be predicted by the country’s economic conditions. 

Yet, few have investigated disparities in child height within India. In a recent study, my co-authors Ashwini Deshpande, Jeffrey Hammer, Dean Spears, and I set out to fill this gap by asking the question: does average child height in India vary by caste and tribal status? If so, why?  

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Research Findings

Tackling poverty by repairing a broken American institution with technology

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October 23, 2019

Most disputes in U.S. state courts are minor infractions, such as traffic violations. Yet for Americans living in poverty, a traffic ticket is not merely annoying; it could result in a worst-case scenario of losing a job or being thrown in jail.

A recent study by one of us found that online court software may offer a solution for minor legal disputes by connecting needy defendants to courts, for free, from anywhere with internet access: a public library, a family member’s mobile device, or a shelter. By improving and easing communication, online access can empower poor litigants to seek appropriate forms of relief, facilitate information sharing, and ultimately improve the accuracy of justice system outcomes.

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Research Findings

Do men favor men in recruitment?


October 17, 2019

Research shows that, in general, men have an advantage over women in the labor market: men tend to have higher wages and reach authority positions to a greater extent compared to women. It has been suggested that discriminatory behavior by employers may be one possible reason for the observed gender disparities in career-related outcomes.

While there is a lot of research on gender discrimination in recruitment, conclusive evidence is still lacking. Moreover, little is known about possible gender discrimination by the employer’s gender. Do male employers favor men over women in recruitment? Do female employers prefer recruiting women rather than men?

To answer these questions, a recent study investigates whether the treatment of male and female job applicants differ by the gender of the recruiter. Fictitious job applications in response to real job openings in the Swedish labor market were sent and the employer callbacks, i.e., employers’ responses to the job applications, were observed. Thus, the first stage of the recruitment process (in which the selection of applicants to be contacted for interviews takes place) was studied.

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