Socioeconomic Inquality and Work
Although demographers have not always examined socioeconomic inequality as a population problem, rapidly increasingly inequality in income and assets is one of the most critical problems facing the U.S. population, with current levels exceeding those of any other advanced, developed nation. In contrast to previous eras, however, inequality today is more highly associated with salary differentials deriving from work and labor market stratification rather than being primarily determined by the ownership of capital assets. PRC researchers are making significant contributions in two key areas: (1) how new forms of work facilitate or retard growing earnings inequality between workers, and (2) how best to theorize and measure the processes leading to gender, race/ethnic and other group differentials in earnings and job quality. The rise in American inequality correlates with two interrelated processes -- (1) globalization and technological change in the production of goods and services in an increasingly integrated global economy, and (2) changes in organizational practices and new forms of work that have emerged from these technological advances and competitive pressures. Yet, not much is well understood about the dynamics of these processes, how they contribute to inequality and for whom, and how they might be altered by public policy or behavioral changes to generate more positive outcomes for American society. This thematic area aims to critically address the shortage of theoretical paradigms and empirical work in this area. Center researchers are focusing on the impact of new organizational forms and practices on gender and race/ethnic inequality in the labor market, the incorporation of new waves of immigrants into the labor market, and the relevance of training and career preparation strategies for disadvantaged workers. All of these processes either directly or indirectly relate to fertility, health and mortality and migration patterns, so researchers increasingly need to incorporate these socioeconomic variables into their analyses into to better understand the causes and consequences of fundamental demographic processes.
High School and Beyond: Human Capital over the Life Cycle as a Foundation for Working Longer
Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Co-Principal Investigators: Sandra E. Black, Eric Grodsky (University of Wisconsin), and John Robert Warren (University of Minnesota)
Additional Investigators: Robert Hummer, Kelly Raley, Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Debra Umberson
Funded by: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
This project is re-contacting and studying the lives of the nationally representative High School and Beyond (HSB) sophomore sample members just before most turn 50 years old. Rich information about respondents' cognitive and non-cognitive skills and other aspects of their lives collected in the high school and postsecondary years will be linked to newly collected information about their current cognitive and non-cognitive skills, work, health, family roles, and retirement planning at midlife. The new database will be used to study a number of issues related to the consequences for midlife labor force participation of adolescent and early adult circumstances and characteristics. The project will increase our knowledge of the relationships among work, aging, and cognitive and non-cognitive functioning over the life cycle. The historical period occupied by the HSB cohort provides a unique opportunity to study the effects of labor market demand shocks (including the Great Recession) and technological change and computerization on employment patterns for different population subgroups. Re-contacting respondents will provide crucial proof-of-concept and baseline measures for future data collection as respondents' age. The new data infrastructure, composed of a robust database and a multidisciplinary community of users, will support cutting-edge research in a broad set of disciplines, from economics, sociology and demography to health and aging, family studies, education, organizational behavior, psychology, and even extending to more distal fields of genetics, medicine (general and disease specific), criminology and other areas that touch on labor force concerns among older workers.
Using O*NET to Investigate Sources of Educational and Racial Variation in Marriage
Principal Investigator: Kelly Raley
Funded by: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Educational and racial differences in a variety of health related outcomes are large and as yet unexplained. Work characteristics, such as stress, recognition, and autonomy, serve as under-explored mechanisms that may connect education and race to wide-ranging aspects of well being such as mental health, family stability, physical health, and mortality. The newly revamped Dictionary of Occupational Titles (now called O*NET), linked to a data source with measures of health-related outcomes, provides an opportunity to evaluate the utility of occupational characteristics for understanding the mechanisms underlying health disparities. As a test case, we propose to investigate the potential for work characteristics to explain educational and racial disparities in marriage and cohabitation by linking data from the O*NET, 2000 Census, and the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. First, this project will use these sources to create a data set describing work demands, rewards, and demographic composition that can be linked to the NLSY using 2002 census codes. Second, it will link these data to the NLSY to document racial and educational in occupational characteristics in early adulthood. Third, the project will investigate the association between occupational characteristics and women's union formation and whether attributes of occupations are linked to educational and/or racial disparities in marriage and cohabitation. Finally, after having refined our data set through the specific aims 1-3, we will make data set describing occupational demands, rewards, and demographic composition publicly available through the NLSY. This project will serve as a foundation for a larger study exploring the influence of men's and women's work characteristics on family formation and stability.