Inequality & Growing Youth Class Gap

The Saguaro Seminar is currently examining the relationship between inequality and social capital. In 2012, Saguaro began examining the work of nationally renowned scholars of economics, politics, and sociology to develop consensus about what we know about American social inequality and to chart an action-oriented agenda aimed at fostering equal opportunity through policy and research.

We are particularly exploring the impact of economic hard times on social capital and civic engagement, as well as some worrying new evidence of a growing "class gap" among American young people, as kids from upper-middle class backgrounds are increasingly well-nested in family, religious, and community networks, whereas kids from the other side of the tracks are increasingly isolated from such connections. This phenomenon is a compound problem, as both changing family structure and income inequality have had a hand in the demise of equal opportunity and the American Dream.

This work is generously supported by
The Spencer Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Gates Foundation
Ford Foundation
Markle Foundation

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Further down this page, please find the following:

New York Times articles about our research
The Powerpoint from Aspen (talk 1)
The video from Aspen panel (talk 2)
A white paper entitled "Growing Class Gaps in Social Connectedness among American Youth"

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NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLES

Robert D. Putnam's "CRUMBLING AMERICAN DREAMS" August 3, 2013

Sean Reardon's "NO RICH CHILD LEFT BEHIND" April 27, 2013

David Brooks' "OUR SECOND ADOLESCENCE" February 26, 2013

David Brooks' "ON THE OPPORTUNITY GAP" July 10, 2012

See all recent press on this research project at Saguaro in the News.

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A PDF VERSION OF A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION GIVEN AT THE 2012 ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL (talk 1)

REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM? UNEQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA
  Evrim Altintas (Nuffield)
  Carl Frederick (Wisconsin/Harvard)
  Thomas H. Sander (Harvard)
  Kaisa Snellman (Stanford/Harvard)
  Matthew Wright (American University)
  Robert D. Putnam (Harvard)

 

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THE VIDEO FROM THE ASPEN PANEL (talk 2)

Are We Really Coming Apart? ASPEN IDEAS FEST, JULY 2012
Two very different scholars of American society look at the United States and the growing gap in values and behaviors among communities and classes within them. What is happening and why? What do we do to restore our sense of common purpose? And most of all, what is at risk? Moderated by David Gergen.

Speakers: Charles Murray, Robert D. Putnam, David Gergen

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THE WHITE PAPER: "Growing Class Gaps in Social Connectedness among American Youth"

Here is a white paper on our research and a brief bibliography of relevant work by other scholars.

Saguaro Report: Growing Class Gaps in Social Connectedness among American Youth

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alon, Sigal. 2009. "The Evolution of Class Inequality in Higher Education." American Sociological Review 74:731-755.

Bailey, Martha J. and Susan M. Dynarski. 2011. "Inequality in Postsecondary Education." In Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances, edited by Greg J. Duncan and Richard Murnane, pp. 117-132. Thousand Oaks, CA: Russell Sage Foundation.

Duncan, Greg J. and Richard Murnane. 2011. Whither Opportunity: Rising Inequality, Schools and Children's Life Chances. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Kaushal, Neeraj, Katherine Magnusen, and Jane Waldfogel. 2011. "How Is Family Income Related to Investments in Children's Learning?" In Whither Opportunity: Rising Inequality, Schools and Children's Life Chances. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Massey, Douglas S. 2007. Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Mazumder, Bhashkar. 2012. "Is intergenerational economic mobility lower now than in the past?" Chicago Fed Letter

McLanahan, Sara and Christine Percheski. 2008. "Family Structure and the Reproduction of Inequalities." Annual Review of Sociology 34:257-276.

Pew Economic Mobility Project

Reardon, Sean F. 2011. "The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations." In Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances, edited by Greg J. Duncan and Richard Murnane, pp. 910-116. Thousand Oaks, CA: Russell Sage Foundation.

Reardon, Sean F. and Kendra Bischoff. 2011. "Growth in the Residential Segregation of Families by Income, 1970-2009." Technical report, Russell Sage Foundation and American Communities Project of Brown University.