Sociological Science: Recent Research

Why is the Pack Persuasive? The Effect of Choice Status on Perceptions of Quality

Freda B. Lynn, Brent Simpson, Mark H. Walker, Colin Peterson

Sociological Science, April 8, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a12


The logic of social proof and related arguments posits that decision makers interpret an actor’s sociometric position (such as popularity) as a signal for quality, especially when quality itself is difficult to ascertain. Although prior work shows that market-level behavioral patterns are consistent with this micro-level account, we seek to explicitly examine the extent to which (and the conditions under which) sociometric status information actually triggers assumptions about an actor’s underlying quality. We introduce two new web-based experiments to investigate how popularity impacts the selection of teammates. We find that the presence of popularity information creates a surprisingly robust quality halo around candidates in some situations but has no effect at all in others. Namely, consistent with Strang and Macy’s (2001) theory of adaptive emulation, choice status appears to affect quality perceptions as part of the rationalization for making attachments, but the halo disappears post-adoption. The implications of these results are discussed in the conclusion.

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Freda B. Lynn: Department of Sociology, University of Iowa  Email:

Brent Simpson: Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina Email:

Mark H. Walker: Department of Sociology, Louisiana State University E-mail:

Colin Peterson: Department of Sociology, Stanford University E-mail:

Acknowledgements: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1058236. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We wish to thank Sarah Harkness and Michael Sauder for their helpful comments on study 1. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual Group Processes conference in 2014.

  • Citation: Freda B. Lynn, Brent Simpson, Mark H. Walker, and Colin Peterson. 2016. “Why is the Pack Persuasive? The Effect of Choice Status on Perceptions of Quality.” Sociological Science 3: 239-263.
  • Received: July 16, 2015.
  • Accepted: July 23, 2015.
  • Editors: Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a12

Viral Altruism? Charitable Giving and Social Contagion in Online Networks

Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, Angelo Mele

Sociological Science, March 24, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a11


How do social media affect the success of charitable campaigns? We show that, despite the promise of online platforms to generate social network effects in generosity through social contagion or peer effects, these platforms may instead stimulate costless (and less impactful) forms of involvement. Online social contagion might thus be limited when it comes to contributing real money to charities. This study relies on both individual-level longitudinal data and experimental evidence from a social media application that facilitates donations while broadcasting donors’ activities to their contacts. We find that broadcasting is positively associated with donations, although some individuals appear to opportunistically broadcast a pledge and then delete it. Furthermore, broadcasting a pledge is associated with more pledges by a user’s contacts, suggesting the presence of network effects or social contagion. However, results from a field experiment where broadcasting of the initial pledges was randomized suggest that the observational findings were likely due to homophily rather than genuine contagion effects. The experiment also shows that, although the campaigns reached approximately 6.4 million users and generated considerable attention in the form of clicks and “likes,” only 30 donations were made. Finally, an online survey experiment indicates that both the presence of an intermediary and a fee contributed to the low donation rate.

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Nicola Lacetera: Institute for Management and Innovation, University of Toronto  Email:

Mario Macis: Johns Hopkins University Email:

Angelo Mele: Johns Hopkins University  Email:

Acknowledgements: We thank Ehren Foss and Vanessa Swesnik at HelpAttack! and Casey Neese at Heifer International for their help and collaboration. We also thank Michael Price and participants at the ASSA Meetings in Philadelphia for useful comments. Financial support from the NET Institute ( and the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Small Grants Program is acknowledged. The study was conducted with approvals from the Homewood Institutional Review Board at the Johns Hopkins University and from the Office for Research Ethics at the University of Toronto.

  • Citation: Lacetera, Nicola, Mario Macis and Angelo Mele. 2015. “Viral Altruism? Charitable Giving and Social Contagion in Online Networks.” Sociological Science 3: 202-238.
  • Received: September 10, 2015.
  • Accepted: October 8, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Delia Baldassarri
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a11

Can Incarceration Really Strip People of Racial Privilege?

Lance Hannon, Robert Defina

Sociological Science, March 18, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a10


We replicate and reexamine Saperstein and Penner’s prominent 2010 study which asks whether incarceration changes the probability that an individual will be seen as black or white (regardless of the individual’s phenotype). Our reexamination shows that only a small part of their empirical analysis is suitable for addressing this question (the fixed-effects estimates), and that these results are extremely fragile. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we find that being interviewed in jail/prison does not increase the survey respondent’s likelihood of being classified as black, and avoiding incarceration during the survey period does not increase a person’s chances of being seen as white. We conclude that the empirical component of Saperstein and Penner’s work needs to be reconsidered and new methods for testing their thesis should be investigated. The data are provided for other researchers to explore.

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Lance Hannon: Department of Sociology, Villanova University. Email:

Robert DeFina: Department of Sociology, Villanova University.  Email:

  • Citation: Lance Hannon and Robert DeFina. 2015. “Can Incarceration Really Strip People of Racial Privilege?” Sociological Science 3: 190-201.
  • Received: October 16, 2015.
  • Accepted: November 28, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a10

Disaster, Disruption to Family Life, and Intimate Partner Violence: The Case of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti

Abigail Weitzman, Julia Andrea Behrman

Sociological Science, March 7, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a9


Natural disasters have inherently social dimensions because they exacerbate preexisting inequalities and disrupt social norms and institutions. Despite a growing interest in the sociological aspects of disasters, few studies have quantitatively explored how disasters alter intrahousehold family dynamics. In this article, we develop and test a conceptual framework that explicates how natural disasters affect an important component of family life: intimate partner violence (IPV). We combine two waves of geocoded Demographic and Health Surveys data, collected before and after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with spatial data on variation in the earthquake’s destruction. Our findings indicate that exposure to earthquake devastation increased the probability of both physical and sexual IPV one to two years following the disaster. These increases were accompanied by substantial changes in family functioning, the household economy, and women’s access to their social networks. Select household-level experiences during and after the earthquake, such as displacement, were also positively associated with IPV. These findings provide new insights into the multidimensional effects of disasters on family life and have important theoretical and policy implications that extend beyond the particular case of Haiti.

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Abigail Weitzman: Population Studies Center, University of Michigan  Email:

Julia Andrea Behrman: New York University  Email:

Acknowledgements: This research was made possible with the generous support of the National Science Foundation (grant 2011117755) and theWilliam and Flora Hewlett Foundation/International Institute for Education (grant 2012-7263). Background support was also provided by the grant “Team 1000+ Saving Brain: Economic Impact of Poverty-Related Risk Factors for Cognitive Development and Human Capital” 0072-03 provided to the grantee, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, by Grand Challenges Canada. We are grateful to Paula England, Jere Behrman, and Dalton Conley for their invaluable feedback on this research. We are also grateful to Himanshu Mistry and New York University’s Data Service Studio for assisting us in our spatial analyses.

  • Citation: Weitzman, Abigail and Julia Andrea Behrman. 2016. “Disaster, Disruption to Family Life, and Intimate Partner Violence: The Case of the 2010 .” Sociological Science 3: 167-189.
  • Received: December 3, 2015.
  • Accepted: December 31, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a9



The Fragmented Evolution of Racial Integration since the Civil Rights Movement

Michael D.M. Bader, Siri Warkentien

Sociological Science, March 2, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a8


We argue that existing studies underestimate the degree to which racial change leads to residential segregation in post-Civil Rights American neighborhoods. This is because previous studies only measure the presence of racial groups in neighborhoods, not the degree of integration among those groups. As a result, those studies do not detect gradual racial succession that ends in racially segregated neighborhoods. We demonstrate how a new approach based on growth mixture models can be used to identify patterns of racial change that distinguish between durable integration and gradual racial succession. We use this approach to identify common trajectories of neighborhood racial change among blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians from 1970 to 2010 in the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston metropolitan areas. We show that many nominally integrated neighborhoods have experienced gradual succession. For blacks, this succession has caused the gradual concentric diffusion of the ghetto; in contrast, Latino and Asian growth has dispersed throughout both cities and suburbs in the metropolitan areas. Durable integration has come about largely in the suburbs.

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Michael D.M. Bader: Department of Sociology, American University  Email:

Siri Warkentien: Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University

  • Citation: Bader, Michael D. M., and Siri Warkentien. 2016. “The Fragmented Evolution of Racial Integration since the Civil Rights Movement.” Sociological Science 3: 135-166.
  • Received: February 13, 2015.
  • Accepted: May 31, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a8

Life in a Crime Scene: Stop, Question, and Frisk Activity in New York City Neighborhoods in the Aftermath of Homicides

Johanna Lacoe, Patrick Sharkey

Sociological Science, February 24, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a7


An incident of extreme violence, such as a homicide, disrupts daily life not only through the incident itself but also through the chaos and disruption that emerge in the aftermath of violence. This article presents descriptive evidence about how communities are affected by increased police activity—specifically, stop, question, and frisk (SQF) activity—following an incident of extreme violence. Our results show that SQF activity in a block group increases in the week following a homicide in New York City, with the largest increases in neighborhoods with high crime rates. Furthermore, neighborhoods with different racial and ethnic compositions have differential levels of average SQF activity and also experience differential responses from the police in the aftermath of a homicide. African American residents have a higher probability of being stopped following a homicide than do nonblack residents across neighborhoods of all types.

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Johanna Lacoe: Mathematica Policy Research  Email:

Patrick Sharkey: New York University Email:

  • Citation: Lacoe, Johanna and Patrick Sharkey. 2016. “Life in a Crime Scene: Stop, Question, and Frisk Activity in New York City Neighborhoods in the Aftermath of Homicides.” Sociological Science 3: 116-134.
  • Received: September 11, 2015.
  • Accepted: December 3, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a7

The Missing Main Effect of Welfare State Regimes: A Comment

David L. Weakliem

Sociological Science, February 17, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a6


This article discusses Nate Breznau’s critique of Brooks and Manza’s “Social Policy Responsiveness in Developed Democracies.” Brooks and Manza found that public opinion influenced welfare state spending, but Breznau argued that this conclusion was an artifact of their model, which included an interaction between opinion and welfare state type but omitted the main effect of welfare state type. Breznau is correct in saying that interactions should not be used without including the main effect, except in rare circumstances which do not apply in this case. However, the classification of welfare state type is made partly on the basis of the dependent variable, welfare spending, so it should not be used as an independent variable. There is, however, a case for including a variable for the type of legal system (common law or civil law), which is correlated with welfare state type. The estimates from a regression including both main and interaction effects support Brooks’s and Manza’s original conclusions about the effect of public opinion. The paper concludes by discussing the strength of the evidence provided by the data.

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David L. Weakliem: Department of Sociology, University of Connecticut  Email:

  • Citation: David L. Weakliem. 2016. “The Missing Main Effect of Welfare State Regimes: A Comment”. Sociological Science 3: 109-115
  • Received: November 10, 2015
  • Accepted: December 2, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a6

The End of Symbolic Exclusion? The Rise of “Categorical Tolerance” in the Musical Tastes of Americans: 1993–2012

Omar Lizardo, Sara Skiles

Sociological Science, February 11, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a5


In this article, we aim to contribute to recent work in the sociology of taste on the role of cultural dislikes as resources for symbolic exclusion and identity construction. We merge a new data set that replicates musical taste (patterns of likes and dislikes) items from the 1993 GSS with a new data source, resulting in the first repeated cross-section on patterns of likes and dislikes in the U.S. population. Our key finding is that there has been a dramatic shift in the way that people from the United States use cultural dislikes for purposes of symbolic exclusion: namely, the rise of a significant segment of the population that refuses to use culture for this purpose. To shed further light on this pattern, we deploy a statistical model that allows us to distinguish respondents who could have expressed dislikes but did not from those who were predisposed to not dislike any cultural form from the very beginning. The results show that the main drivers of the shift towards “refusing to dislike” are very likely cohort replacement and the increasing “browning” of the American population.

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Omar Lizardo: Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame  Email:

Sara Skiles: Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame Email:

Acknowledgements: This research was made possible by funding from NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Award ID SES-1203426) awarded to the second author (with the first author as PI) and a University of Notre Dame Institute for Scholarship in Liberal Arts Graduate Student Research Award awarded to the second author.


  • Citation: Lizardo, Omar, and Sara Skiles. 2016. “The End of Symbolic Exclusion? The Rise of “Categorical Tolerance” in the Musical Tastes of Americans: 1993 – 2012.” Sociological Science 3: 85-108.
  • Received: July 26, 2015.
  • Accepted: August 3, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a5

The Social Context of Racial Boundary Negotiations: Segregation, Hate Crime, and Hispanic Racial Identification in Metropolitan America

Michael T. Light, John Iceland

Sociological Science, February 08, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a4


How the influx of Hispanics is reshaping the U.S. racial landscape is a paramount question in sociology. While previous research has noted the significant differences in Hispanics’ racial identifications from place to place, there are comparatively few empirical investigations explaining these contextual differences. We attempt to fill this gap by arguing that residential context sets the stage for racial boundary negotiations and that certain environments heighten the salience of inter-group boundaries. We test this argument by examining whether Hispanics who live in highly segregated areas and areas that experience greater levels of anti-Hispanic prejudice are more likely to opt out of the U.S. racial order by choosing the “other race” category in surveys. Using data from the American Community Survey and information on anti-Hispanic hate crimes from the FBI, we find support for these hypotheses. These findings widen the theoretical scope of the roles segregation and prejudice play in negotiating racial identifications, and have implications for the extent to which Hispanics may redefine the U.S. racial order.

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Michael T. Light: Purdue University.  Email:

John Iceland: Department of Sociology and Criminology, Pennsylvania State University. Email:

Acknowledgements: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting for the Population Association of America in San Francisco in 2012. The authors thank Sal Oropesa for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We also thank Andrew Raridon for his research assistance.


  • Citation: Michael T. Light and John Iceland. 2016. “The Social Context of Racial Boundary Negotiations: Segregation, Hate Crime, and Hispanic Racial Identification in Metropolitan America”. Sociological Science 3: 61-84.
  • Received: October 20, 2015.
  • Accepted: November 28, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Mario Small
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a4

How Much Scope for a Mobility Paradox? The Relationship between Social and Income Mobility in Sweden

Richard Breen, Carina Mood, Jan O. Jonsson

Sociological Science, February 4, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a3


It is often pointed out that conclusions about intergenerational (parent–child) mobility can differ depending on whether we base them on studies of class or income. We analyze empirically the degree of overlap in income and social mobility; we demonstrate mathematically the nature of their relationship; and we show, using simulations, how intergenerational income correlations relate to relative social mobility rates. Analyzing Swedish longitudinal register data on the incomes and occupations of over 300,000 parent–child pairs, we find that social mobility accounts for up to 49 percent of the observed intergenerational income correlations. This figure is somewhat greater for a fine-graded micro-class classification than a five-class schema and somewhat greater for women than men. There is a positive relationship between intergenerational social fluidity and income correlations, but it is relatively weak. Our empirical results, and our simulations verify that the overlap between income mobility and social mobility leaves ample room for the two indicators to move in different directions over time or show diverse patterns across countries. We explain the circumstances in which income and social mobility will change together or co-vary positively and the circumstances in which they will diverge.

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Richard Breen: Nuffield College, Oxford University; Department of Sociology, Oxford University.  Email:

Carina Mood: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University; Institute for Futures Studies.  Email:

Jan O. Jonsson: Nuffield College, Oxford university; Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University.  Email:

Acknowledgements: Thanks to participants at the RC28 meeting at the University of Virginia, August 2012, and particularly Mike Hout and Matt Lawrence, for comments on an earlier draft. Mood and Jonsson acknowledge financial support from the Swedish Council for Health, Working Life, and Welfare (FAS 2009-1320; FORTE 2012-1741) and from the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ P12-0636:1).


  • Citation: Breen, Richard, Carina Mood and Jan O. Jonsson. 2015. “How Much Scope for a Mobility Paradox? The Relationship between Social and Income Mobility in Sweden.” Sociological Science 3: 39-60.
  • Received: March 20, 2015.
  • Accepted: April 16, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a3

Maternal Age and Infant Mortality for White, Black, and Mexican Mothers in the United States

Philip N. Cohen

Sociological Science, January 25, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a2


This paper assesses the pattern of infant mortality by maternal age for white, black, and Mexican mothers using the 2013 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Public Use File from the Centers for Disease Control. The results are consistent with the “weathering” hypothesis, which suggests that white women benefit from delayed childbearing while for black women early childbearing is adaptive because of deteriorating health status through the childbearing years. For white women, the risk (adjusted for covariates) of infant death is U-shaped—lowest in the early thirties—while for black women the risk increases linearly with age. Mexican-origin women show a J-shape, with highest risk at the oldest ages. The results underscore the need for understanding the relationship between maternal age and infant mortality in the context of unequal health experiences across race/ethnic groups in the US.

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Philip N. Cohen: University of Maryland, College Park.  Email:


  • Citation: Philip N. Cohen. 2016. “Maternal Age and Infant Mortality for White, Black, and Mexican Mothers in the United States”. Sociological Science 3: 32-38.
  • Received: November 17, 2015.
  • Accepted: December 31, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a2

Unequal Hard Times: The Influence of the Great Recession on Gender Bias in Entrepreneurial Financing

Sarah Thébaud, Amanda J. Sharkey

Sociological Science, January 6, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a1


Prior work finds mixed evidence of gender bias in lenders’ willingness to approve loans to entrepreneurs during normal macroeconomic conditions. However, various theories predict that gender bias is more likely to manifest when there is greater uncertainty or when decision-makers’ choices are under greater scrutiny from others. Such conditions characterized the lending market in the recent economic downturn. This article draws on an analysis of panel data from the Kauffman Firm Survey to investigate how the Great Recession affected the gender gap in entrepreneurial access to financing, net of individual and firm-level characteristics. Consistent with predictions, we find that women-led firms were significantly more likely than men-led firms to encounter difficulty in acquiring funding when small-business lending contracted in 2009 and 2010. We assess the consistency of our results with two different theories of bias or discrimination. Our findings shed light on mechanisms that may contribute to disadvantages for women entrepreneurs and, more broadly, highlight how the effects of ascribed status characteristics (e.g., gender) on economic decision-making may vary systematically with macroeconomic conditions.

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Sarah Thébaud: Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara.  Email:

Amanda J. Sharkey: Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.  Email:

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Fellowship and the Center for the Study of Social Organization at Princeton University. We thank Paul DiMaggio, Heather Haveman, Michael Jensen, Johan Chu, Elizabeth Pontikes, Chris Yenkey, seminar participants at Cornell, the Kauffman Foundation, Princeton, and the University of Michigan, and Deputy Editor Olav Sorenson for helpful comments and feedback.

  • Citation: Thébaud, Sarah and Amanda J. Sharkey. 2016. “Unequal Hard Times: The Influence of the Great Recession on Gender Bias in Entrepreneurial Financing.” Sociological Science 3: 1-31.
  • Received: June 12, 2015.
  • Accepted: August 21, 2015.
  • Editors: Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a1

A Comparative Analysis of Corporate and Independent Foundations

Justin Koushyar, Wesley Longhofer, Peter W. Roberts

Sociological Science, December 15, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a28


Notwithstanding some visible debates, systematic evidence about the implications of greater corporate involvement in the social sector is sparse. We provide some of this evidence by examining one channel of corporate influence within the nonprofit sector–company sponsorship of philanthropic foundations. Our analysis shows that corporate foundations raise more funds and distribute grants with lower overhead than similar independent (i.e., non-corporate) foundations. However, their grantmaking is also more dispersed and less relational, and they tend to be governed by more ephemeral groups of officers and trustees. These findings suggest that corporate foundations benefit from having access to the resources of the companies that sponsor them but are constrained by their additional market-based motivations. The findings also update and refine what nonprofits might expect from corporate foundations relative to their more traditional independent counterparts.
Justin Koushyar: Goizueta Business School, Emory University  Email:

Wesley Longhofer: Goizueta Business School, Emory University  Email:

Peter W. Roberts:  Goizueta Business School, Emory University  Email:

Acknowledgements: The authors thank Joe Galaskiewicz, Giacomo Negro, faculty at Georgia State University, and participants at the 2012 EGOS Colloquium, the 2013 Society for the Study of Social Problems Annual Meeting, the 2013 American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, the 2014 Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability Research Conference, and the 2014 Academy of Management Annual Meeting for their insightful feedback and suggestions.

  • Citation: Koushyar, Justin, Wesley Longhofer and Peter W. Roberts. 2015. “A Comparative Analysis of Corporate and Independent Foundations.” Sociological Science 2: 582-596.
  • Received: December 15, 2015.
  • Accepted: February 19, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a28

The Hidden Costs of War: Exposure to Armed Conflict and Birth Outcomes

Florencia Torche, Uri Shwed

Sociological Science, December 7, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a27


Research suggests that prenatal exposure to environmental stressors has negative effects after birth. However, capturing causal effects is difficult because exposed women may be selected on unobserved factors. We use the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah war as a natural experiment and a siblings fixed-effects methodology to address unobserved selectivity by comparing exposed and unexposed births of the same mother. Findings indicate that exposure to war in early and mid-pregnancy lowers birth weight and increases the probability of low birth weight. The effect is not driven by geographic sorting, migration, or increased miscarriages. Given that birth weight predicts health, developmental, and socioeconomic outcomes, prenatal exposure to acute stress may have long-term effects over the life course.
Florenia Torche: Department of Sociology, New York University  Email:

Uri Shwed: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben Gurion University of Negev  Email:

Acknowledgements: The authors thank Dvorit Angel of the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics for preparing the data sets used in this study and Uri Goldstein for excellent research assistantship. We are also grateful to Yinon Cohen and Seymour Spilerman for helpful comments and suggestions.

  • Citation: Torche, Florencia, and Uri Shwed. 2015. “The Hidden Costs of War: Exposure to Armed Conflict and Birth Outcomes.” Sociological Science 2: 558-581.
  • Received: April 15, 2015.
  • Accepted: May 21, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a27

Is There a Caring Class? Intergenerational Transmission of Care Work

Maria Charles, Corrie Ellis, Paula England

Sociological Science, September 30, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a25


Most research on intergenerational social reproduction has been concerned with upward and downward movements across rank-ordered, “big-class” categories or along continuous gradients of status, income, or skill. An exception is the more nominal conceptualization of the social structure offered in recent research that focuses on qualitative differences in life conditions across occupational “micro classes.” The present analysis broadens this nominal approach by considering social reproduction across an important qualitative dimension that bridges multiple occupations: whether or not one’s work centrally involves care. Based on data from the U.S. General Social Surveys, results provide little evidence that care work is transmitted from parents to children. While women and men whose parents worked in care are more likely to do so themselves, this association is attributable to a general tendency for people to work in the same detailed occupation as their parents. Parents pass along their vertical status positions, and sometimes their specific occupations, but not care work as such. Parent–child similarity in caring outcomes likely reflects transmission of values, skills, knowledge, and network ties that are specific to detailed occupations, rather than attributable to care work broadly defined.
Maria Charles: Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara  Email:

Corrie Ellis: Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara  Email:

Paula England: Department of Sociology, New York University  Email:

Acknowledgements: Equal authors, listed alphabetically. This research was funded by a grant to England and Charles from the Russell Sage Foundation (RSF Project #85-12-05). We thank Alicia Cast, Erin Cech, Bridget Harr, Alexandra Hendley, Sarah Thebaud, and Catherine Weinberger for comments and suggestions, and Guadalupe Soto for research assistance.

  • Citation: Charles, Maria, Corrie Ellis, and Paula England. 2015.“Is There a Caring Class? Intergenerational Transmission of Care Work.” Sociological Science 2: 527-543.
  • Received: July 13, 2015.
  • Accepted: July 17, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a25

Revisiting the Data from the New Family Structure Study: Taking Family Instability into Account

Michael J. Rosenfeld

Sociological Science, September 2, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a23


This analysis revisits recent controversial findings about children of gay and lesbian parents, and shows that family instability explains most of the negative outcomes that had been attributed to gay and lesbian parents. Family transitions associated with parental loss of custody were more common than breakups of same-sex couples among family transitions experienced by subjects who ever lived with same-sex couples. The analyses also show that most associations between growing up with a single mother and later negative outcomes are mediated by childhood family transitions. I show that many different types of childhood family transitions (including parental breakup and the arrival of a parent’s new partner) are similarly associated with later negative outcomes.
Michael J. Rosenfeld: Department of Sociology, Stanford University.  Email:

  • Citation: Rosenfeld, Michael J. 2015. “Revisiting the Data from the New Family Structure Study: Taking Family Instability into Account.” Sociological Science 2:478-501.
  • Received: April 17, 2015.
  • Accepted: June 11, 2015.
  • Editors: Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a23