america works thoughts on an exceptional u s labor market a russell sage foundation centennial volume

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America Works

Author : Richard B. Freeman
ISBN : 9781610442176
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 35. 71 MB
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The U.S. labor market is the most laissez faire of any developed nation, with a weak social safety net and little government regulation compared to Europe or Japan. Some economists point to this hands-off approach as the source of America’s low unemployment and high per-capita income. But the stagnant living standards and rising economic insecurity many Americans now face take some of the luster off the U.S. model. In America Works, noted economist Richard Freeman reveals how U.S. policies have created a labor market remarkable both for its dynamism and its disparities. America Works takes readers on a grand tour of America’s exceptional labor market, comparing the economic institutions and performance of the United States to the economies of Europe and other wealthy countries. The U.S. economy has an impressive track record when it comes to job creation and productivity growth, but it isn’t so good at reducing poverty or raising the wages of the average worker. Despite huge gains in productivity, most Americans are hardly better off than they were a generation ago. The median wage is actually lower now than in the early 1970s, and the poverty rate in 2005 was higher than in 1969. So why have the benefits of productivity growth been distributed so unevenly? One reason is that unions have been steadily declining in membership. In Europe, labor laws extend collective bargaining settlements to non-unionized firms. Because wage agreements in America only apply to firms where workers are unionized, American managers have discouraged unionization drives more aggressively. In addition, globalization and immigration have placed growing competitive pressure on American workers. And boards of directors appointed by CEOs have raised executive pay to astronomical levels. Freeman addresses these problems with a variety of proposals designed to maintain the vigor of the U.S. economy while spreading more of its benefits to working Americans. To maintain America’s global competitive edge, Freeman calls for increased R&D spending and financial incentives for students pursuing graduate studies in science and engineering. To improve corporate governance, he advocates licensing individuals who serve on corporate boards. Freeman also makes the case for fostering worker associations outside of the confines of traditional unions and for establishing a federal agency to promote profit-sharing and employee ownership. Assessing the performance of the U.S. job market in light of other developed countries’ recent history highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the free market model. Written with authoritative knowledge and incisive wit, America Works provides a compelling plan for how we can make markets work better for all Americans. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series

The Roaring Nineties

Author : Alan B. Krueger
ISBN : 9781610443418
Genre : Business & Economics
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The positive social benefits of low unemployment are many—it helps to reduce poverty and crime and fosters more stable families and communities. Yet conventional wisdom—born of the stagflation of the 1970s—holds that sustained low unemployment rates run the risk of triggering inflation. The last five years of the 1990s—in which unemployment plummeted and inflation remained low—called this conventional wisdom into question. The Roaring Nineties provides a thorough review of the exceptional economic performance of the late 1990s and asks whether it was due to a lucky combination of economic circumstances or whether the new economy has somehow wrought a lasting change in the inflation-safe rate of unemployment. Led by distinguished economists Alan Krueger and Robert Solow, a roster of twenty-six respected economic experts analyzes the micro- and macroeconomic factors that led to the unexpected coupling of low unemployment and low inflation. The more macroeconomically oriented chapters clearly point to a reduction in the inflation-safe rate of unemployment. Laurence Ball and Robert Moffitt see the slow adjustment of workers' wage aspirations in the wake of rising productivity as a key factor in keeping inflation at bay. And Alan Blinder and Janet Yellen credit sound monetary policy by the Federal Reserve Board with making the best of fortunate circumstances, such as lower energy costs, a strong dollar, and a booming stock market. Other chapters in The Roaring Nineties examine how the interaction between macroeconomic and labor market conditions helped sustain high employment growth and low inflation. Giuseppe Bertola, Francine Blau, and Lawrence M. Kahn demonstrate how greater flexibility in the U.S. labor market generated more jobs in this country than in Europe, but at the expense of greater earnings inequality. David Ellwood examines the burgeoning shortage of skilled workers, and suggests policies—such as tax credits for businesses that provide on-the-job-training—to address the problem. And James Hines, Hilary Hoynes, and Alan Krueger elaborate the benefits of sustained low unemployment, including budget surpluses that can finance public infrastructure and social welfare benefits—a perspective often lost in the concern over higher inflation rates. While none of these analyses promise that the good times of the 1990s will last forever, The Roaring Nineties provides a unique analysis of recent economic history, demonstrating how the nation capitalized on a lucky confluence of economic factors, helping to create the longest peacetime boom in American history. Copublished with The Century Foundation

Categorically Unequal

Author : Douglas S. Massey
ISBN : 9781610443807
Genre : Social Science
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The United States holds the dubious distinction of having the most unequal income distribution of any advanced industrialized nation. While other developed countries face similar challenges from globalization and technological change, none rivals America’s singularly poor record for equitably distributing the benefits and burdens of recent economic shifts. In Categorically Unequal, Douglas Massey weaves together history, political economy, and even neuropsychology to provide a comprehensive explanation of how America’s culture and political system perpetuates inequalities between different segments of the population. Categorically Unequal is striking both for its theoretical originality and for the breadth of topics it covers. Massey argues that social inequalities arise from the universal human tendency to place others into social categories. In America, ethnic minorities, women, and the poor have consistently been the targets of stereotyping, and as a result, they have been exploited and discriminated against throughout the nation’s history. African-Americans continue to face discrimination in markets for jobs, housing, and credit. Meanwhile, the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border has discouraged Mexican migrants from leaving the United States, creating a pool of exploitable workers who lack the legal rights of citizens. Massey also shows that women’s advances in the labor market have been concentrated among the affluent and well-educated, while low-skilled female workers have been relegated to occupations that offer few chances for earnings mobility. At the same time, as the wages of low-income men have fallen, more working-class women are remaining unmarried and raising children on their own. Even as minorities and women continue to face these obstacles, the progressive legacy of the New Deal has come under frontal assault. The government has passed anti-union legislation, made taxes more regressive, allowed the real value of the federal minimum wage to decline, and drastically cut social welfare spending. As a result, the income gap between the richest and poorest has dramatically widened since 1980. Massey attributes these anti-poor policies in part to the increasing segregation of neighborhoods by income, which has insulated the affluent from the social consequences of poverty, and to the disenfranchisement of the poor, as the population of immigrants, prisoners, and ex-felons swells. America’s unrivaled disparities are not simply the inevitable result of globalization and technological change. As Massey shows, privileged groups have systematically exploited and excluded many of their fellow Americans. By delving into the root causes of inequality in America, Categorically Unequal provides a compelling argument for the creation of a more equitable society. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series

Social Science For What

Author : Alice O'Connor
ISBN : 9781610444309
Genre : Social Science
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Much like today, the early twentieth century was a period of rising economic inequality and political polarization in America. But it was also an era of progressive reform—a time when the Russell Sage Foundation and other philanthropic organizations were established to promote social science as a way to solve the crises of industrial capitalism. In Social Science for What? Alice O’Connor relates the history of philanthropic social science, exploring its successes and challenges over the years, and asking how these foundations might continue to promote progressive social change in our own politically divided era. The philanthropic foundations established in the early 1900s focused on research which, while intended to be objective, was also politically engaged. In addition to funding social science research, in its early years the Russell Sage Foundation also supported social work and advocated reforms on issues from child welfare to predatory lending. This reformist agenda shaped the foundation’s research priorities and methods. The Foundation’s landmark Pittsburgh Survey of wage labor, conducted in 1907-1908, involved not only social scientists but leaders of charities, social workers, and progressive activists, and was designed not simply to answer empirical questions, but to reframe the public discourse about industrial labor. After World War II, many philanthropic foundations disengaged from political struggles and shifted their funding toward more value-neutral, academic social inquiry, in the belief that disinterested research would yield more effective public policies. Consequently, these foundations were caught off guard in the 1970s and 1980s by the emergence of a network of right-wing foundations, which was successful in promoting an openly ideological agenda. In order to counter the political in-roads made by conservative organizations, O’Connor argues that progressive philanthropic research foundations should look to the example of their founders. While continuing to support the social science research that has contributed so much to American society over the past 100 years, they should be more direct about the values that motivate their research. In this way, they will help foster a more democratic dialogue on important social issues by using empirical knowledge to engage fundamentally ethical concerns about rising inequality. O’Connor’s message is timely: public-interest social science faces unprecedented challenges in this era of cultural warfare, as both liberalism and science itself have come under assault. Social Science for What? is a thought-provoking critique of the role of social science in improving society and an indispensable guide to how progressives can reassert their voice in the national political debate. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series

Latinas And African American Women At Work

Author : Irene Browne
ISBN : 9781610440943
Genre : Social Science
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One of Choice magazine's Outstanding Academic Books of 1999 Accepted wisdom about the opportunities available to African American and Latina women in the U.S. labor market has changed dramatically. Although the 1970s saw these women earning almost as much as their white counterparts, in the 1980s their relative wages began falling behind, and the job prospects plummeted for those with little education and low skills. At the same time, African American women more often found themselves the sole support of their families. While much social science research has centered on the problems facing black male workers, Latinas and African American Women at Work offers a comprehensive investigation into the eroding progress of these women in the U.S. labor market. The prominent sociologists and economists featured in this volume describe how race and gender intersect to especially disadvantage black and Latina women. Their inquiries encompass three decades of change for women at all levels of the workforce, from those who spend time on the welfare rolls to middle class professionals. Among the many possible sources of increased disadvantage, they particularly examine the changing demands for skills, increasing numbers of immigrants in the job market, the precariousness of balancing work and childcare responsibilities, and employer discrimination. While racial inequity in hiring often results from educational differences between white and minority women, this cannot explain the discrimination faced by women with higher skills. Minority women therefore face a two-tiered hurdle based on race and gender. Although the picture for young African American women has grown bleaker overall, for Latina women, the story is more complex, with a range of economic outcomes among Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Central and South Americans. Latinas and African American Women at Work reveals differences in how professional African American and white women view their position in the workforce, with black women perceiving more discrimination, for both race and gender, than whites. The volume concludes with essays that synthesize the evidence about racial and gender-based obstacles in the labor market. Given the current heated controversy over female and minority employment, as well as the recent sweeping changes to the national welfare system, the need for empirical data to inform the public debate about disadvantaged women is greater than ever before. The important findings in Latinas and African American Women at Work substantially advance our understanding of social inequality and the pervasive role of race, ethnicity and gender in the economic well-being of American women.

Working In A 24 7 Economy

Author : Harriet B. Presser
ISBN : 9781610444590
Genre : Business & Economics
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An economy that operates 24/7—as ours now does—imposes extraordinary burdens on workers. Two-fifths of all employed Americans work mostly during evenings, nights, weekends, or on rotating shifts outside the traditional 9-to-5 work day. The pervasiveness of nonstandard work schedules has become a significant social phenomenon, with important implications for the health and well-being of workers and their families. In Working in a 24/7 Economy, Harriet Presser looks at the effects of nonstandard work schedules on family functioning and shows how these schedules disrupt marriages and force families to cobble together complex child-care arrangements that should concern us all. The number of hours Americans work has received ample attention, but the issue of which hours—or days—Americans work has received much less scrutiny. Working in a 24/7 Economy provides a comprehensive overview of who works nonstandard schedules and why. Presser argues that the growth in women's employment, technological change, and other demographic changes over the past thirty years gave rise to the growing demand for late-shift and weekend employment in the service sector. She also demonstrates that most people who work these hours do so primarily because it is a job requirement, rather than a choice based on personal considerations. Presser shows that the consequences of working nonstandard schedules often differ for men and women since housework and child-rearing remain assigned primarily to women even when both spouses are employed. As with many other social problems, the burden of these schedules disproportionately affects the working poor, reflecting their lack of options in the workplace and adding to their disadvantage. Presser also documents how such work arrangements have created a new rhythm of daily life within many American families, including those with two earners and absent fathers. With spouses often not at home together in the evenings or nights, and parents often not at home with their children at such times, the relatively new concept of "home-time" has emerged as primary concern for families across the nation. Employing a wealth of empirical data, Working in a 24/7 Economy shows that nonstandard work schedules are both highly prevalent among American families and generate a level of complexity in family functioning that demands greater public attention. Presser makes a convincing case for expanded research and meaningful policy initiatives to address this growing social phenomenon.

The New American Reality

Author : Reynolds Farley
ISBN : 9781610441940
Genre : Social Science
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"A fascinating and authoritative account of American social history since 1960 as viewed through the prism of government statistics....[Farley] uses publicly available data, straight forward methods, and modest...language, to provide more information and insight about recent social trends than any other volume in print." —American Journal of Sociology "A brilliant piece of work. Farley is absolutely masterful at taking tens of thousands of national survey statistics and weaving from them a fascinating and beautifully illustrated tapestry of who we are." —Barry Bluestone, Frank L. Boyden Professor of Political Economy, University of Massachusetts, Boston The New American Reality presents a compelling portrait of an America strikingly different from what it was just forty years ago.Gone is the idealized vision of a two-parent, father-supported Ozzie and Harriet society. In its place is an America of varied races andethnic backgrounds, where families take on many forms and mothers frequently work outside the home. Drawing on a definitive analysis of the past four U.S. censuses, author Reynolds Farley reveals a country that offers new opportunities for a broader spectrum of people, while at the same time generating frustration and apprehension for many who once thought their futures secure. The trends that have so transformed the nation were kindled in the 1960s, a watershed period during which many Americans redefined their attitudes toward the rights of women and blacks. The New American Reality describes the activism, federal policymaking, and legal victories that eliminated overtracial and sexual discrimination. But along with open doors came new challenges. Divorce and out-of-wedlock births grew commonplace, forcing more women to raise children alone and—despite improved wages—increasing their chances of falling into poverty. Residential segregation, inadequate schooling, and a particularly high ratio of female-headed families severely impaired the economic progress of African Americans, many of whom were left behind in declining central cities as businesses migrated to suburbs. A new generation of immigrants from many nations joined the ranks of those working to support families and improve their prospects, and rapidly transformed the nation's ethnic composition. In the 1970s, unprecedented economic restructuring on a global scale created unexpected setbacks for the middle class. The long era of postwar prosperity ended as the nation's dominant industry shifted from manufacturing to services, competition from foreign producers increased, interest rates rose, and a new emphasis on technology and cost-cutting created a demand for more sophisticated skills in the workplace. The economic recovery of the 1980s generated greater prosperity for the well-educated and highly skilled, and created many low paying jobs, but offered little to remedy the stagnant and declining wages of the middle class. Income inequalitybecame a defining feature in the economic life of America: overall, the rich got richer while the poor and middle class found it increasingly difficult to meet their financial demands. The New American Reality reports some good news about America. Our lives are longer and healthier, the elderly are much better off than ever before, consumer spending power has increased, and minorities and women have many more opportunities. But this book does not shy away from the significant problems facing large portions of the population, and provides a valuable perspective on efforts to remedy them. The New American Reality offers the information necessary to understandthe critical trends affecting America today, from how we earn a living to how and when we form families, where we live, and whether or not we will continue to prosper. A Volume in the Russell Sage Founadtion Census Series

Low Wage Work In Germany

Author : Gerhard Bosch
ISBN : 9781610440769
Genre : Business & Economics
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In recent years, the German government has intentionally expanded the low-wage work sector in an effort to reduce exceptionally high levels of unemployment. As a result, the share of the German workforce employed in low-paying jobs now rivals that of the United States. Low Wage Work in Germany examines both the federal policies and changing economic conditions that have driven this increase in low-wage work. The new “mini-job” reflects the federal government’s attempt to make certain low-paying jobs attractive to both employers and employees. Employers pay a low flat rate for benefits, and employees, who work a limited number of hours per week, are exempt from social security and tax contributions. Other factors, including slow economic growth, a declining collective bargaining system, and the influx of foreign workers, also contribute to the growing incidence of low-wage work. Yet while both Germany and the United States have large shares of low-wage workers, German workers receive health insurance, four weeks of paid vacation, and generous old age support—benefits most low-wage workers in the United States can only dream of. The German experience offers an important opportunity to explore difficult trade-offs between unemployment and low-wage work. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies

America S Newcomers And The Dynamics Of Diversity

Author : Frank D. Bean
ISBN : 9781610440356
Genre : Social Science
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The attacks of September 11, 2001, facilitated by easy entry and lax immigration controls, cast into bold relief the importance and contradictions of U.S. immigration policy. Will we have to restrict immigration for fear of future terrorist attacks? On a broader scale, can the country's sense of national identity be maintained in the face of the cultural diversity that today's immigrants bring? How will the resulting demographic, social, and economic changes affect U.S. residents? As the debate about immigration policy heats up, it has become more critical than ever to examine immigration's role in our society. With a comprehensive social scientific assessment of immigration over the past thirty years, America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity provides the clearest picture to date of how immigration has actually affected the United States, while refuting common misconceptions and predicting how it might affect us in the future. Frank Bean and Gillian Stevens show how, on the whole, immigration has been beneficial for the United States. Although about one million immigrants arrive each year, the job market has expanded sufficiently to absorb them without driving down wages significantly or preventing the native-born population from finding jobs. Immigration has not led to welfare dependency among immigrants, nor does evidence indicate that welfare is a magnet for immigrants. With the exception of unauthorized Mexican and Central American immigrants, studies show that most other immigrant groups have attained sufficient earnings and job mobility to move into the economic mainstream. Many Asian and Latino immigrants have established ethnic networks while maintaining their native cultural practices in the pursuit of that goal. While this phenomenon has led many people to believe that today's immigrants are slow to enter mainstream society, Bean and Stevens show that intermarriage and English language proficiency among these groups are just as high—if not higher—as among prior waves of European immigrants. America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity concludes by showing that the increased racial and ethnic diversity caused by immigration may be helping to blur the racial divide in the United States, transforming the country from a biracial to multi-ethnic and multi-racial society. Replacing myth with fact, America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity contains a wealth of information and belongs on the bookshelves of policymakers, pundits, scholars, students, and anyone who is concerned about the changing face of the United States. A Volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology

American Memories

Author : Joachim J. Savelsberg
ISBN : 9781610447492
Genre : Political Science
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In the long history of warfare and cultural and ethnic violence, the twentieth century was exceptional for producing institutions charged with seeking accountability or redress for violent offenses and human rights abuses across the globe, often forcing nations to confront the consequences of past atrocities. The Holocaust ended with trials at Nuremberg, apartheid in South Africa concluded with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Gacaca courts continue to strive for closure in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Despite this global trend toward accountability, American collective memory appears distinct in that it tends to glorify the nation’s past, celebrating triumphs while eliding darker episodes in its history. In American Memories, sociologists Joachim Savelsberg and Ryan King rigorously examine how the United States remembers its own and others’ atrocities and how institutional responses to such crimes, including trials and tribunals, may help shape memories and perhaps impede future violence. American Memories uses historical and media accounts, court records, and survey research to examine a number of atrocities from the nation’s past, including the massacres of civilians by U.S. military in My Lai, Vietnam, and Haditha, Iraq. The book shows that when states initiate responses to such violence—via criminal trials, tribunals, or reconciliation hearings—they lay important groundwork for how such atrocities are viewed in the future. Trials can serve to delegitimize violence—even by a nation’s military— by creating a public record of grave offenses. But the law is filtered by and must also compete with other institutions, such as the media and historical texts, in shaping American memory. Savelsberg and King show, for example, how the My Lai slayings of women, children, and elderly men by U.S. soldiers have been largely eliminated from or misrepresented in American textbooks, and the army’s reputation survived the episode untarnished. The American media nevertheless evoked the killings at My Lai in response to the murder of twenty-four civilian Iraqis in Haditha, during the war in Iraq. Since only one conviction was obtained for the My Lai massacre, and convictions for the killings in Haditha seem increasingly unlikely, Savelsberg and King argue that Haditha in the near past is now bound inextricably to My Lai in the distant past. With virtually no criminal convictions, and none of higher ranks for either massacre, both events will continue to be misrepresented in American memory. In contrast, the book examines American representations of atrocities committed by foreign powers during the Balkan wars, which entailed the prosecution of ranking military and political leaders. The authors analyze news accounts of the war’s events and show how articles based on diplomatic sources initially cast Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in a less negative light, but court-based accounts increasingly portrayed Milosevic as a criminal, solidifying his image for the public record. American Memories provocatively suggests that a nation’s memories don’t just develop as a rejoinder to events—they are largely shaped by institutions. In the wake of atrocities, how a state responds has an enduring effect and provides a moral framework for whether and how we remember violent transgressions. Savelsberg and King deftly show that such responses can be instructive for how to deal with large-scale violence in the future, and hopefully how to deter it. A Volume in the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series in Sociology.

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