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  1. Study Finds EITC Bolsters Recipients’ Self-Respect While Helping Them Financially

    America's welfare state is quietly evolving from needs-based to an employment-based safety net that rewards working families and fuels dreams of a better life, indicates a new study led by a Michigan State University (MSU) scholar.

    The major reason: the little-known Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a $65 billion federal tax-relief program for poor, working families. The program has been expanded dramatically during the past 25 years, while cash welfare has been sharply curtailed.

  2. Defining the State from within: Boundaries, Schemas, and Associational Policymaking

    A growing literature posits the importance of boundaries in structuring social systems. Yet sociologists have not adequately theorized one of the most fraught and consequential sites of boundary-making in contemporary life: the delineation of the official edges of the government—and, consequently, of state from society. This article addresses that gap by theorizing the mechanisms of state boundary formation. In so doing, we extend culturalist theories of the state by providing a more specific model of how the state-society boundary is produced.

  3. States With Punitive Justice Systems Have Higher Rates of Foster Care, Study Finds

    The number of children in foster care across the country is driven not solely by child abuse and neglect, but by states' varying politics and approaches to social problems, a new University of Washington (UW) study finds.

    States with more punitive criminal justice systems tend to remove children from their homes far more frequently than those with generous welfare programs — meaning that two states with similar rates of child abuse and neglect could have very different rates of foster care entry.

  4. Why Worry about Evolution? Boundaries, Practices, and Moral Salience in Sunni and Evangelical High Schools

    Previous work on conservative Protestant creationism fails to account for other creationists who are much less morally invested in opposition to evolution, raising the sociological question: What causes issues’ moral salience? Through ethnographic fieldwork in four creationist high schools in the New York City area (two Sunni Muslim and two conservative Protestant), I argue that evolution is more important to the Christian schools because it is dissonant with their key practices and boundaries.

  5. A Hand Up for Low-Income Families

    by Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Laura Tach, Kathryn Edin, and Jennifer Sykes

    Welfare queens driving Cadillacs. Food stamp kings buying filet mignon. The stereotypes are rife. What if there was a way to support lower-income families without the stigma? There is. And it comes from an unexpected source: the Internal Revenue Service.

  6. Do Millionaires Move Across States to Avoid Taxes?

    The view that the rich are highly mobile has gained much political traction in recent years and has become a central argument in debates about whether there should be "millionaire taxes" on top-income earners. But a new study dispels the common myth about the propensity of millionaires in the United States to move from high to low tax states.

  7. Study Finds Couples’ Division of Paid and Unpaid Labor Linked to Risk of Divorce

    A new study suggests that financial factors, including couples’ overall resources and wives’ ability to support themselves in the event of a divorce, are not predictive of whether marriages last. Rather, it is couples’ division of labor — paid and unpaid — that is associated with the risk of divorce.     

  8. The Origins of Race-conscious Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of Institutional Change in Higher Education

    What explains the rise of race-conscious affirmative action policies in undergraduate admissions? The dominant theory posits that adoption of such policies was precipitated by urban and campus unrest in the North during the late 1960s. Based on primary research in a sample of 17 selective schools, we find limited support for the dominant theory. Affirmative action arose in two distinct waves during the 1960s. A first wave was launched in the early 1960s by northern college administrators inspired by nonviolent civil rights protests in the South.

  9. Supporting Policy through Social Science

    The American Sociological Association (ASA) recently played a key role in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2016 ruling in the affirmative action case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The judgement allowed the university to continue using race as a factor in admissions decisions.

    “Scientific research shows that having a diverse student body leads to a number of educational benefits, including a decline in prejudice, improvements in students’ cognitive skills and self-confidence, and better classroom environments,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman.