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Russell Sage Foundation
Behavioral economics questions the basic underpinnings of economic theory, showing that people often do not act consistently in their own self-interest when making economic decisions. While these findings have important theoretical implications, they also provide a new lens for examining public policies, such as taxation, public spending, and the provision of adequate pensions. How can people be encouraged to save adequately for retirement when evidence shows that they tend to spend their money as soon as they can? Would closer monitoring of income tax returns lead to more honest taxpayers or a more distrustful, uncooperative citizenry? Behavioral Public Finance, edited by Edward McCaffery and Joel Slemrod, applies the principles of behavioral economics to government's role in constructing economic and social policies of these kinds and suggests that programs crafted with rational participants in mind may require redesign. Behavioral Public Finance looks at several facets of economic life and asks how behavioral research can increase public welfare. Deborah A. Small, George Loewenstein, and Jeff Strnad note that public support for a tax often depends not only on who bears its burdens, but also on how the tax is framed. For example, people tend to prefer corporate taxes over sales taxes, even though the cost of both is eventually extracted from the consumer. James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian, and Andrew Metrick assess the impact of several different features of 401(k) plans on employee savings behavior. They find that when employees are automatically enrolled in a retirement savings plan, they overwhelmingly accept the status quo and continue participating, while employees without automatic enrollment typically take over a year to join the saving plan. Behavioral Public Finance also looks at taxpayer compliance. While the classic economic model suggests that the low rate of IRS audits means far fewer people should voluntarily pay their taxes than actually do, John Cullis, Philip Jones, and Alan Lewis present new research showing that many people do not underreport their incomes even when the probability of getting caught is a mere one percent. Human beings are not always rational, utility-maximizing economic agents. Behavioral economics has shown how human behavior departs from the assumptions made by generations of economists. Now, Behavioral Public Finance brings the insights of behavioral economics to analysis of policies that affect us all.
Presents papers which were discussed at the Arden House Conference—a conference held to establish a working relationship between sociologists at the Russell Sage Foundation and journalists of the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University. Both behavioral science and journalism have for a long time been concerned with some of the same major national social problems—juvenile delinquency, urban problems, race and minority group relations, international tensions, and labor relations. These papers touch on some of the barriers to communication and point to possible ways of breaking through those barriers.
Muslims in the United States since 9/11
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, instantly transformed many ordinary Muslim and Arab Americans into suspected terrorists. In the weeks and months following the attacks, Muslims in the United States faced a frighteningly altered social climate consisting of heightened surveillance, interrogation, and harassment. In the long run, however, the backlash has been more complicated. In Being and Belonging, Katherine Pratt Ewing leads a group of anthropologists, sociologists, and cultural studies experts in exploring how the events of September 11th have affected the quest for belonging and identity among Muslims in America—for better and for worse. From Chicago to Detroit to San Francisco, Being and Belonging takes readers on an extensive tour of Muslim America—inside mosques, through high school hallways, and along inner city streets. Jen’nan Ghazal Read compares the experiences of Arab Muslims and Arab Christians in Houston and finds that the events of 9/11 created a “cultural wedge” dividing Arab Americans along religious lines. While Arab Christians highlighted their religious affiliation as a means of distancing themselves from the perceived terrorist sympathies of Islam, Muslims quickly found that their religious affiliation served as a barrier, rather than a bridge, to social and political integration. Katherine Pratt Ewing and Marguerite Hoyler document the way South Asian Muslim youth in Raleigh, North Carolina, actively contested the prevailing notion that one cannot be both Muslim and American by asserting their religious identities more powerfully than they might have before the terrorist acts, while still identifying themselves as fully American. Sally Howell and Amaney Jamal distinguish between national and local responses to terrorism. In striking contrast to the erosion of civil rights, ethnic profiling, and surveillance set into motion by the federal government, well-established Muslim community leaders in Detroit used their influence in law enforcement, media, and social services to empower the community and protect civil rights. Craig Joseph and Barnaby Riedel analyze how an Islamic private school in Chicago responded to both September 11 and the increasing ethnic diversity of its student body by adopting a secular character education program to instruct children in universal values rather than religious doctrine. In a series of poignant interviews, the school’s students articulate a clear understanding that while 9/11 left deep wounds on their community, it also created a valuable opportunity to teach the nation about Islam. The rich ethnographies in this volume link 9/11 and its effects to the experiences of a group that was struggling to be included in the American mainstream long before that fateful day. Many Muslim communities never had a chance to tell their stories after September 11. In Being and Belonging, they get that chance.
Career Paths for the Forgotten Half
In a society where everyone is supposed to go to college, the problems facing high school graduates who do not continue their education are often forgotten. Many cannot find jobs, and those who do are often stuck in low-wage, dead-end positions. Meanwhile employers complain that high school graduates lack the necessary skills for today's workplace. Beyond College for All focuses on this crisis in the American labor market. Around the world, author James E. Rosenbaum finds, employers view high school graduates as valuable workers. Why not here? Rosenbaum reports on new studies of the interaction between employers and high schools in the United States. He concludes that each fails to communicate its needs to the other, leading to a predictable array of problems for young people in the years after graduation. High schools caught up in the college-for-all myth, provide little job advice or preparation, leading students to make unrealistic plans and hampering both students who do not go to college and those who start college but do not finish. Employers say they care about academic skills, but then do not consider grades when deciding whom to hire. Faced with few incentives to achieve, many students lapse into precisely the kinds of habits employers deplore, doing as little as possible in high school and developing poor attitudes. Rosenbaum contrasts the situation in the United States with that of two other industrialized nations-Japan and Germany-which have formal systems for aiding young people who are looking for employment. Virtually all Japanese high school graduates obtain work, and in Germany, eighteen-year-olds routinely hold responsible jobs. While the American system lacks such formal linkages, Rosenbaum uncovers an encouraging hidden system that helps many high school graduates find work. He shows that some American teachers, particularly vocational teachers, create informal networks with employers to guide students into the labor market. Enterprising employers have figures out how to use these networks to meet their labor needs, while students themselves can take steps to increase their ability to land desirable jobs. Beyond College for All suggests new policies based on such practices. Rosenbaum presents a compelling case that the problems faced by American high school graduates and employers can be solved if young people, employers, and high schools build upon existing informal networks to create formal paths for students to enter the world of work.
Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era
Nearly a half century after the civil rights movement, racial inequality remains a defining feature of American life. Along a wide range of social and economic dimensions, African Americans consistently lag behind whites. This troubling divide has persisted even as many of the obvious barriers to equality, such as state-sanctioned segregation and overt racial hostility, have markedly declined. How then can we explain the stubborn persistence of racial inequality? In Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era, a diverse group of scholars provides a more precise understanding of when and how racial inequality can occur without its most common antecedents, prejudice and discrimination. Beyond Discrimination focuses on the often hidden political, economic and historical mechanisms that now sustain the black-white divide in America. The first set of chapters examines the historical legacies that have shaped contemporary race relations. Desmond King reviews the civil rights movement to pinpoint why racial inequality became an especially salient issue in American politics. He argues that while the civil rights protests led the federal government to enforce certain political rights, such as the right to vote, addressing racial inequities in housing, education, and income never became a national priority. The volume then considers the impact of racial attitudes in American society and institutions. Phillip Goff outlines promising new collaborations between police departments and social scientists that will improve the measurement of racial bias in policing. The book finally focuses on the structural processes that perpetuate racial inequality. Devin Fergus discusses an obscure set of tax and insurance policies that, without being overtly racially drawn, penalizes residents of minority neighborhoods and imposes an economic handicap on poor blacks and Latinos. Naa Oyo Kwate shows how apparently neutral and apolitical market forces concentrate fast food and alcohol advertising in minority urban neighborhoods to the detriment of the health of the community.
Life, Death, and Social Policy
Health care spending in the United States today is approaching 20 percent of GDP, yet levels of U.S. population health have been declining for decades relative to other wealthy and even some developing nations. How is it possible that the United States, which spends more than any other nation on health care and insurance, now has a population markedly less healthy than those of many other nations? Sociologist and public health expert James S. House analyzes this paradoxical crisis, offering surprising new explanations for how and why the United States has fallen into this trap. In Beyond Obamacare, House shows that health care reforms, including the Affordable Care Act, cannot resolve this crisis because they do not focus on the underlying causes for the nation’s poor health outcomes, which are largely social, economic, environmental, psychological, and behavioral.
House demonstrates that the problems of our broken health care and insurance system are interconnected with our large and growing social disparities in education, income, and other conditions of life and work, and calls for a complete reorientation of how we think about health. He concludes that we need to move away from our misguided and almost exclusive focus on biomedical determinants of health, and to place more emphasis on addressing social, economic, and other inequalities.
House’s review of the evidence suggests that the landmark Affordable Care Act of 2010, and even universal access to health care, are likely to yield only marginal improvements in population health or in reducing health care expenditures. In order to rein in spending and improve population health, we need to refocus health policy from the supply side—which makes more and presumably better health care available to more citizens—to the demand side—which would improve population health though means other than health care and insurance, thereby reducing need and spending for health care. House shows how policies that provide expanded educational opportunities, more and better jobs and income, reduced racial-ethnic discrimination and segregation, and improved neighborhood quality enhance population health and quality of life as well as help curb health spending. He recommends redirecting funds from inefficient supply-side health care measures toward broader social initiatives focused on education, income support, civil rights, housing and neighborhoods, and other reforms, which can be paid for from savings in expenditures for health care and insurance.
A provocative reconceptualization of health in America, Beyond Obamacare looks past partisan debates to show how cost-efficient and effective health policies begin with more comprehensive social policy reforms.
Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration
Migration between Mexico and the United States is part of a historical process of increasing North American integration. This process acquired new momentum with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, which lowered barriers to the movement of goods, capital, services, and information. But rather than include labor in this new regime, the United States continues to resist the integration of the labor markets of the two countries. Instead of easing restrictions on Mexican labor, the United States has militarized its border and adopted restrictive new policies of immigrant disenfranchisement. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors examines the devastating impact of these immigration policies on the social and economic fabric of the Mexico and the United States, and calls for a sweeping reform of the current system. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors shows how U.S. immigration policies enacted between 1986–1996—largely for symbolic domestic political purposes—harm the interests of Mexico, the United States, and the people who migrate between them. The costs have been high. The book documents how the massive expansion of border enforcement has wasted billions of dollars and hundreds of lives, yet has not deterred increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants from heading north. The authors also show how the new policies unleashed a host of unintended consequences: a shift away from seasonal, circular migration toward permanent settlement; the creation of a black market for Mexican labor; the transformation of Mexican immigration from a regional phenomenon into a broad social movement touching every region of the country; and even the lowering of wages for legal U.S. residents. What had been a relatively open and benign labor process before 1986 was transformed into an exploitative underground system of labor coercion, one that lowered wages and working conditions of undocumented migrants, legal immigrants, and American citizens alike. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors offers specific proposals for repairing the damage. Rather than denying the reality of labor migration, the authors recommend regularizing it and working to manage it so as to promote economic development in Mexico, minimize costs and disruptions for the United States, and maximize benefits for all concerned. This book provides an essential "user's manual" for readers seeking a historical, theoretical, and substantive understanding of how U.S. policy on Mexican immigration evolved to its current dysfunctional state, as well as how it might be fixed.
Labor Rights, Human Rights, and Transnational Activism
As the world economy becomes increasingly integrated, companies can shift production to wherever wages are lowest and unions weakest. How can workers defend their rights in an era of mobile capital? With national governments forced to compete for foreign investment by rolling back legal protections for workers, fair trade advocates are enlisting consumers to put market pressure on companies to treat their workers fairly. In Beyond the Boycott, sociologist Gay Seidman asks whether this non-governmental approach can reverse the “race to the bottom” in global labor standards. Beyond the Boycott examines three campaigns in which activists successfully used the threat of a consumer boycott to pressure companies to accept voluntary codes of conduct and independent monitoring of work sites. The voluntary Sullivan Code required American corporations operating in apartheid-era South Africa to improve treatment of their workers; in India, the Rugmark inspection team provides ‘social labels’ for handknotted carpets made without child labor; and in Guatemala, COVERCO monitors conditions in factories producing clothing under contract for major American brands. Seidman compares these cases to explore the ingredients of successful campaigns, as well as the inherent limitations facing voluntary monitoring schemes. Despite activists’ emphasis on educating individual consumers to support ethical companies, Seidman finds that, in practice, they have been most successful when they mobilized institutions—such as universities, churches, and shareholder organizations. Moreover, although activists tend to dismiss states’ capabilities, all three cases involved governmental threats of trade sanctions against companies and countries with poor labor records. Finally, Seidman points to an intractable difficulty of independent workplace monitoring: since consumers rarely distinguish between monitoring schemes and labels, companies can hand pick monitoring organizations, selecting those with the lowest standards for working conditions and the least aggressive inspections. Transnational consumer movements can increase the bargaining power of the global workforce, Seidman argues, but they cannot replace national governments or local campaigns to expand the meaning of citizenship. As trade and capital move across borders in growing volume and with greater speed, civil society and human rights movements are also becoming more global. Highly original and thought-provoking, Beyond the Boycott vividly depicts the contemporary movement to humanize globalization—its present and its possible future.
Story of Sensitivity Training and the Encounter Movement
Sensitivity training, T-Groups, and encounter groups have become a way of life. Beyond Words traces the history of this movement, the background of its successes, its varieties, and its failures. Dr. Back's approach is neither one of wide-eyed admiration nor hostility. Instead, he has written a book that provides the first long, hard look at sensitivity training as a social phenomenon.
From its fortuitous beginnings the movement is followed through its developments at Bethel, its growth across the country, its new centers in California, its spread to Europe. The novelty of this movement, an almost religious exercise based on the scientific ethos, is related to the peculiar conditions of the last quarter century. The movement has acquired its own mythos. Dr. Back examines the interplay of the conflicting aims of self-expression and change, and shows how these contradictory aims have affected the ramifications of the movement in theory, in management, in recreation, and in education. Results emerging from studies on effects of sensitivity training indicate a recurrent pattern of great immediate emphasis followed by little permanent beneficial effect.
Finally, Beyond Words assesses the overall impact of the movement, its relation to science, its possible changes, and its portent as a symptom of the state of society.
Dr. Back examines the interplay of the conflicting aims of self-expression and change, and shows how these contradictory aims have affected the ramifications of the movement in theory, in management, in recreation, and in education.
This lively and erudite essay, now available in paperback, addresses a broad, central question: How can we improve our understanding of the large-scale social and political changes that transformed the world of the nineteenth century and are transforming our world today? "In this short, brilliant book Tilly suggests a way to think about theories of historical social change....This book should find attentive readers both in undergraduate courses and in graduate seminars. It should also find appreciative readers, for Tilly is a writer as well as a scholar." —Choice