Sociological Science: Recent Research

Defending the Decimals: Why Foolishly False Precision Might Strengthen Social Science

Jeremy Freese

Sociological Science, December 8, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a29

Social scientists often report regression coefficients using more significant figures than are meaningful given measurement precision and sample size. Common sense says we should not do this. Yet, as normative practice, eliminating these extra digits introduces a more serious scientific problem when accompanied by other ascendant reporting practices intended to reduce social science’s long-standing emphasis on null hypothesis significance testing. Coefficient p-values can no longer be recovered to the degree of precision that p-values have been abundantly demonstrated to influence actual research practice. Developing methods for detecting and addressing systematically exaggerated effect sizes across collections of studies cannot be done effectively if p-values are hidden. Regarding what is preferable for scientific literature versus an individual study, the costs of false precision are therefore innocuous compared to alternatives that either encourage the continuation of practices known to exaggerate causal effects or thwart assessment of how much such exaggeration occurs.
Jeremy Freese: Northwestern University E-mail:

  • Citation: Freese, Jeremy. 2014.“Defending the Decimals: Why Foolishly False Precision Might Strengthen Social Science.” Sociological Science 1: 532-541.
  • Received: June 13, 2014
  • Accepted: July 3, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Delia Baldassarri
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a29

New Dimensions of Tolerance: A Case for a Broader, Categorical Approach

Darin M. Mather, Eric Tranby

Sociological Science, November 24, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a28

Most social scientific research on tolerance rests upon two assumptions: 1) that tolerance is mainly concerned with the extension of political rights, and 2) that the concept is best understood as a unidimensional continuum of attitudes that are more or less tolerant. We argue that to have a fuller understanding of tolerance, we must transcend these two assumptions to develop a concept that is multidimensional. We use latent class analysis and confirmatory factor analysis to uncover new patterns of tolerant responses to least liked groups. Our results reveal four different profiles, which describe four different approaches to objectionable groups. These are generally intolerant, politically tolerant, generally tolerant and privately tolerant. Our profiles provide a fuller, more nuanced description of tolerant and intolerant attitudes than traditional approaches. These profiles can be used to help social scientists refine existing theories on the mechanisms of tolerance.
Darin M. Mather: Crown College E-mail:

Eric Tranby: University of Delaware  E-mail:

  • Citation: Mather, Darin M. and Eric Tranby. 2014. “New Dimensions of Tolerance: A Case for a Broader, Categorical Approach.” Sociological Science 1:512-531.
  • Received: March 10, 2014
  • Accepted: July 24, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a28

“Trivial” Topics and Rich Ties: The Relationship Between Discussion Topic, Alter Role, and Resource Availability Using the “Important Matters” Name Generator

Matthew E. Brashears

Sociological Science, November 10, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a27

This paper uses a nationally representative dataset of discussion relationships to determine what Americans consider to be an important matter, whether some topics are predominantly discussed with certain types of associates, and if the topic of discussion or the role of the discussant predicts the availability of social support. Results indicate that some topics are pursued or avoided with particular types of alters, and that the role of the discussant, but not the topic of discussion, predicts the availability of support from our discussion partners. This implies that some differences in measured network structure may be due to variations in topics discussed, but that topic says little about the supportiveness of the tie once we are dealing with important matters discussants.
 Matthew E. Brashears: Cornell University  E-mail:

  • Citation: Brashears, Matthew E. 2014. “‘Trivial’ Topics and Rich Ties: The Relationship Between Discussion Topic, Alter Role, and Resource Availability Using the ‘Important Matters’ Name Generator.” Sociological Science 1: 493-511.
  • Received: June 30, 2014
  • Accepted: August 7, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Delia Baldassarri
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a27

Secrets and Misperceptions: The Creation of Self-Fulfilling Illusions

Sarah K. Cowan

Sociological Science, November 3, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a26

This study examines who hears what secrets, comparing two similar secrets — one which is highly stigmatized and one which is less so. Using a unique survey representative of American adults and intake forms from a medical clinic, I document marked differences in who hears these secrets. People who are sympathetic to the stigmatizing secret are more likely to hear of it than those who may react negatively. This is a consequence not just of people selectively disclosing their own secrets but selectively sharing others’ as well. As a result, people in the same social network will be exposed to and influenced by different information about those they know and hence experience that network differently. When people effectively exist in networks tailored by others to not offend then the information they hear tends to be that of which they already approve. Were they to hear secrets they disapprove of then their attitudes might change but they are less likely to hear those secrets. As such, the patterns of secret-hearing contribute to a stasis in public opinion.
 Sarah K. Cowan: New York University  E-mail:

  • Citation: Cowan, Sarah K. 2014. “Secrets and Misperceptions: The Creation of Self-Fulfilling Illusions” Sociological Science 1: 466-492.
  • Received: July 22, 2014
  • Accepted: August 31, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a26

The Community College Effect Revisited: The Importance of Attending to Heterogeneity and Complex Counterfactuals

Jennie E. Brand, Fabian T. Pfeffer, Sara Goldrick-Rab

Sociological Science, October 27, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a25

Community colleges are controversial educational institutions, often said to simultaneously expand college opportunities and diminish baccalaureate attainment. We assess the seemingly contradictory functions of community colleges by attending to effect heterogeneity and alternative counterfactual conditions. Using data on postsecondary outcomes of high school graduates of Chicago Public Schools, we find that enrolling at a community college penalizes more advantaged students who otherwise would have attended four-year colleges, particularly highly selective schools; however, these students represent a relatively small portion of the community college population, and these estimates are almost certainly biased. On the other hand, enrolling at a community college has a modest positive effect on bachelor’s degree completion for disadvantaged students who otherwise would not have attended college; these students represent the majority of community college-goers. We conclude that discussions among scholars, policymakers, and practitioners should move beyond considering the pros and cons of community college attendance for students in general to attending to the implications of community college attendance for targeted groups of students.
Jennie E. Brand: University of California – Los Angeles. E-mail:

Fabian T. Pfeffer: University of Michigan. E-mail:

Sara Goldrick-Rab: University of Wisconsin – Madison. Email: 

  • Citation: Brand, Jennie E., Fabian T. Pfeffer, and Sara Goldrick-Rab 2014. “The Community College Effect Revisited: The Importance of Attending to Heterogeneity and Complex Counterfactuals.” Sociological Science 1: 448-465.
  • Received: August 22, 2014
  • Accepted: September 16, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Stephen L. Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a25

Explaining Why More Americans Have No Religious Preference: Political Backlash and Generational Succession, 1987-2012

Michael Hout, Claude S. Fischer

Sociological Science, October 13, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a24

Twenty percent of American adults claimed no religious preference in 2012, compared to 7 percent twenty-five years earlier. Previous research identified a political backlash against the religious right and generational change as major factors in explaining the trend. That research found that religious beliefs had not changed, ruling out secularization as a cause. In this paper we employ new data and more powerful analytical tools to: (1) update the time series, (2) present further evidence of correlations between political backlash, generational succession, and religious identification, (3) show how valuing personal autonomy generally and autonomy in the sphere of sex and drugs specifically explain generational differences, and (4) use GSS panel data to show that the causal direction in the rise of the “Nones” likely runs from political identity as a liberal or conservative to religious identity, reversing a long-standing convention in social science research. Our new analysis joins the threads of earlier explanations into a general account of how political conflict over cultural issues spurred an increase in non-affiliation.
Michael Hout: New York University.  E-mail:

Claude S. Fischer: University of California, Berkeley. E-mail:

  • Citation: Hout, Michael, and Claude S. Fischer. 2014. “Explaining Why More Americans Have No Religious Preference: Political Backlash and Generational Succession, 1987–2012.” Sociological Science 1: 423-447.
  • Received: July 8, 2014
  • Accepted: July 16, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a24

Mexican Ancestry, Immigrant Generation, and Educational Attainment in the United States

Stephen L. Morgan, Dafna Gelbgiser

Sociological Science, September 29, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a23

After introducing alternative perspectives on assimilation and acculturation, we use the 2002-2012 waves of the Education Longitudinal Study to model differences in educational attainment for students sampled as high school sophomores in 2002.  We focus on patterns observed for the growing Mexican immigrant population, analyzing separately the trajectories of 1st, 1.5th, 2nd, and 3rd+ generation Mexican immigrant students, in comparison to 3rd+ generation students who self-identify as non-Hispanic whites and students who self-identify as non-Hispanic blacks or African Americans.  The results suggest that the dissonant acculturation mechanism associated with the segmented assimilation perspective is mostly unhelpful for explaining patterns of educational attainment, especially for the crucial groups of 1.5th and 2nd generation Mexican immigrant students.  Instead, standard measures of family background can account for large portions of group differences in bachelor’s degree attainment, with or without additional adjustments for behavioral commitment to schooling, occupational plans, and educational expectations.  The broad structure of inequality in the United States, as well as the rising costs of bachelor’s degrees, should be the primary source of concern when considering the prospects for the incorporation of the children of recent Mexican immigrants into the mainstream.

Stephen L. Morgan: Johns Hopkins University and Cornell University.  E-mail:

Dafna Gelbgiser: Cornell University. Email:

  • Citation: Morgan, Stephen L. and Dafna Gelbgiser 2014. “Mexican Ancestry, Immigrant Generation, and Educational Attainment in the United States.”Sociological Science 1: 397-422
  • Received: June 19, 2014
  • Accepted: July 14, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a23

The Handover in Hong Kong: Impact on Business Formation

Glenn R. Carroll, Mi Feng, Jeroen G. Kuilman

Sociological Science, September 15, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a22

Although the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China was a major political transformation, its impact on new business formation has not been fully scrutinized. Theory suggests contradictory forces may operate before, during, and after such a transformation: either a decline due to uncertainty or an increase due to opportunities created. To determine which force dominated, we first decomposed the analysis by the size of major affected social groups, then analyzed the expected impact. This led us to predict an aggregate depression of business formation, although this effect likely showed great variation and attenuated over time. Our empirical assessment relied on detailed monthly records of business registrations from 1975 to 2013, using GARCH time series modeling to analyze total registrations as well as the proportions for local and non-local businesses. Controlling for macro socioeconomic conditions, we find the registration rate dropped significantly throughout the post-handover era, implying a dominance of uncertainty. Further, new registrations displayed higher volatility following the 1984 announcement of the handover, reflecting shifting public sentiment in the interim about Hong Kong’s economic prospects. We also find a post-handover preference for forming non-local firms with higher asset mobility; this preference diminishes with time.

Glenn Carroll: Stanford University. E-mail:

Mi Feng: Peking University. Email:

Jereon G. Kuilman: Tilburg University. Email:

  • Citation: Carroll, Glenn R., Mi Feng, and Jeroen G. Kuilman 2014. “The Handover in Hong Kong: Impact on Business Formation.” Sociological Science 1: 366-396.
  • Received: January 13, 2014
  • Accepted: May 2, 2014
  • Editors: Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a22

Age Trajectories of Poverty During Childhood and High School Graduation

Dohoon Lee

Sociological Science, September 1, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a21

This article examines distinct trajectories of childhood exposure to poverty and provides estimates of their effect on high school graduation. The analysis incorporates three key insights from the life course and human capital formation literatures: (1) the temporal dimensions of exposure to poverty, that is, timing, duration, stability, and sequencing, are confounded with one another; (2) age-varying exposure to poverty not only affects, but also is affected by, other factors that vary with age; and (3) the effect of poverty trajectories is heterogeneous across racial and ethnic groups. Results from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth show that any extended exposures to poverty substantially lower children’s odds of graduating from high school. Persistent, early, and middle-to-late childhood exposures to poverty reduce the odds of high school graduation by 77 percent, 55 percent, and 58 percent, respectively, compared to no childhood exposure to poverty. The findings thus suggest that the impact of poverty trajectories is insensitive to observed age-varying confounders. These impacts are more pronounced for white children than for black and Hispanic children.

Dohoon Lee:New York University. E-mail:

  • Citation: Lee, Dohoon. 2014. “Age trajectories of poverty during childhood and high school graduation.” Sociological Science 1: 344-365.
  • Received: May 22, 2014
  • Accepted: June 12, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen L. Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a21

An Ecology of Social Categories

Elizabeth G. Pontikes, Michael T. Hannan

Sociological Science, August 18, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a20

This article proposes that meaningful social classification emerges from an ecological dynamic that operates in two planes: feature space and label space. It takes a dynamic view of classification, allowing objects’ movements in both spaces to change the meaning of social categories. The first part of the theory argues that agents assign labels to objects based on perceptions of their similarities to existing members of a category. The second part of the theory shows that an object’s perceived similarity to members of other categories reduces its typicality in a focal category. This means that for categories with a high degree of overlap with other categories in label space (lenient categories), the link between feature-based similarities and labeling weakens. The findings suggest that social classification will likely evolve to contain both constraining and lenient categories. The theory implies that this process is self-reinforcing, so that constraining categories become more constraining, whereas lenient categories become more lenient.

Elizabeth G. Pontikes: University of Chicago. E-mail:

Michael T. Hannan: Stanford University. Email:

  • Citation: Pontkes, Elizabeth G. and Michael T. Hannan. 2014. “An Ecology of Social Categories.” Sociological Science 1: 311-343.
  • Received: April 15, 2014
  • Accepted: May 28, 2014
  • Editors: Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a20

Comparing Data Characteristics and Results of an Online Factorial Survey between a Population-Based and a Crowdsource-Recruited Sample

Jill Weinberg, Jeremy Freese, David McElhattan

Sociological Science, August 4, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a19

Compared to older kinds of sample surveys, online platforms provide a fast and low-cost platform for factorial surveys, as well as a more demographically diverse alternative to student samples. Two distinct strategies have emerged for recruitment: using panels based on population-based samples versus recruiting people actively seeking to complete online tasks for money. The latter is much cheaper but prompts various concerns about data quality and generalizability. We compare results of three vignette experiments conducted using the leading online panel that uses a population-based paradigm (Knowledge Networks, now GfK) and the leading platform for crowdsource recruitment (Amazon Mechanical Turk). Our data show that, while demographic differences exist, most notably in age, the actual results of our experiments are very similar, especially once these demographic differences have been taken into account. Indicators of data quality were actually slightly better among the crowdsource subjects. Although more evidence is plainly needed, our results support the accumulating evidence for the promise of crowdsource recruitment for online experiments, including factorial surveys.

Jill D. Weinberg: Northwestern University: American Bar Foundation. E-mail:

Jeremy Freese: Northwestern University. Email:

David McElhattan: Northwestern University. Email:

  • Citation: Weinberg, Jill D., Jeremy Freese, and David McElhattan 2014. “Comparing Data Characteristics and Results of an Online Factorial Survey between a Population-Based and a Crowdsource-Recruited Sample.” Sociological Science 1: 292-310.
  • Received: April 23, 2014
  • Accepted: May 22, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Delia Baldassarri
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a19

Market Transition Theory Revisited: Changing Regimes of Housing Inequality in China, 1988-2002

Xi Song, Yu Xie

Sociological Science, July 21, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a18

This paper revisits the market transition theory of Nee (1989), using housing as an alternative to income as a measure of socioeconomic attainment. We argue that housing space is a better outcome variable by which to evaluate Nee’s market transition theory because it is a more consistent measure of socioeconomic success than income before and after the economic reform. Using three waves of a national household survey in 1988, 1995, and 2002, we compare temporal changes in the role of market and redistributive determinants for income and housing space. In support of a weak form of the theory, our results show that market determinants replaced redistributive determinants over time as the most significant predictors of housing space. In contrast, parallel analyses of income show mixed results for market and redistributive determinants.

Xi Song: Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles. E-mail:

Yu Xie: Department of Sociology, University of Michigan and Peking University. Email:

  • Citation: Song, Xi and Yu Xie 2014. “Market Transition Theory Revisited: Changing Regimes of Housing Inequality in China, 1988-2002.” Sociological Science 1: 277-291.
  • Received: May 7, 2014
  • Accepted: June 3, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a18

Friend Effects and Racial Disparities in Academic Achievement

Jennifer Flashman

Sociological Science, July 7, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a17

Racial disparities in achievement are a persistent fact of the US educational system. An often cited but rarely directly studied explanation for these disparities is that adolescents from different racial and ethnic backgrounds are exposed to different peers and have different friends. In this article I identify the impact of friends on racial and ethnic achievement disparities. Using data from Add Health and an instrumental variable approach, I show that the achievement characteristics of youths’ friends drive friend effects; adolescents with friends with higher grades are more likely to increase their grades compared to those with lower-achieving friends. Although these effects do not differ across race/ethnicity, given differences in friendship patterns, if black and Latino adolescents had friends with the achievement characteristics of white students, the GPA gap would be 17 to 19 percent smaller. Although modest, this effect represents an important and often overlooked source of difference among black and Latino youth.

Jennifer Flashman: Center for Research on Educational Opportunity, University of Notre Dame. E-mail:

  • Citation: Jennifer Flashman. 2014. “Friend Effects and Racial Disparities in Academic Achievement.” Sociological Science 1: 260-276.
  • Received: March 27, 2014
  • Accepted: April 29, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen L. Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a17

When Forecasts Fail: Unpredictability in Israeli-Palestinian Interaction

Charles Kurzman, Aseem Hasnain

Sociological Science, June 23, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a16

This article explores the paradox that forecasts may be most likely to fail during dramatic moments of historic change that social scientists are most eager to predict. It distinguishes among four types of shocks that can undermine the predictive power of time series analyses: effect shocks that change the size of the causal effect; input shocks that change the causal variables; duration shocks that change how long a causal effect lasts; and actor shocks that change the number of agents in the system. The significance of these shocks is illustrated in Israeli–Palestinian interactions, one of the contemporary world’s most intensely scrutinized episodes, using vector autogression analyses of more than 15,000 Reuters news stories over the past three decades. The intervention of these shocks raises the prospect that some historic episodes may be unpredictable, even retrospectively.

Charles Kurzman: Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. E-mail:

Aseem Hasnain: Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. E-mail:

  • Citation:Kurzman, Charles and Aseem Hasnain. 2014. “When Forecasts Fail: Unpredictability in Israeli-Palestinian Interaction.” Sociological Science 1: 239-259.
  • Received: March 7, 2014
  • Accepted: April 23, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Delia Baldassarri
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a16

Finding Cultural Holes: How Structure and Culture Diverge in Networks of Scholarly Communication

Daril A. Vilhena, Jacob G. Foster, Martin Rosvall, Jevin D. West, James Evans, Carl T. Bergstrom

Sociological Science, June 9, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a15

Divergent interests, expertise, and language form cultural barriers to communication. No formalism has been available to characterize these “cultural holes.” Here we use information theory to measure cultural holes and demonstrate our formalism in the context of scientific communication using papers from JSTOR. We extract scientific fields from the structure of citation flows and infer field-specific cultures by cataloging phrase frequencies in full text and measuring the relative efficiency of between-field communication. We then combine citation and cultural information in a novel topographic map of science, mapping citations to geographic distance and cultural holes to topography. By analyzing the full citation network, we find that communicative efficiency decays with citation distance in a field-specific way. These decay rates reveal hidden patterns of cohesion and fragmentation. For example, the ecological sciences are balkanized by jargon, whereas the social sciences are relatively integrated. Our results highlight the importance of enriching structural analyses with cultural data.

Daril A. Vilhena: Department of Biology, University of Washington. E-mail:

Jacob G. Foster: Department of Sociology, University of California-Los Angeles. E-mail:

Martin Rosvall: Department of Physics, University of Umea. E-mail:

Jevin D. West: Information School, University of Washington. E-mail:

James Evans: Department of Sociology, University of Chicago. E-mail:

Carl T. Bergstrom: Department of Biology, University of Washington. E-mail:

  • Citation: Vilhena, Daril A., Jacob G. Foster, Martin Rosvall, Jevin D. West, James Evans, and Carl T. Bergstrom. 2014. “Finding Cultural Holes: How Structure and Culture Diverge in Networks of Scholarly Communication.” Sociological Science 1: 221-238.
  • Received: December 20, 2013
  • Accepted: February 8, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Delia Baldassarri
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a15

High Stakes in the Classroom, High Stakes on the Street: The Effects of Community Violence on Student’s Standardized Test Performance

Patrick Sharkey, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Johanna Lacoe

Sociological Science, May 27, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a14

This article examines the effect of exposure to violent crime on students’ standardized test performance among a sample of students in New York City public schools. To identify the effect of exposure to community violence on children’s test scores, we compare students exposed to an incident of violent crime on their own blockface in the week prior to the exam to students exposed in the week after the exam. The results show that such exposure to violent crime reduces performance on English language arts assessments and has no effect on math scores. The effect of exposure to violent crime is most pronounced among African Americans and reduces the passing rates of black students by approximately 3 percentage points.

Patrick Sharkey: Department of Sociology, New York University.

Amy Ellen Schwartz: Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University.

Ingrid Gould Ellen: Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University.

Johanna Lacoe: Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California.

  • Citation: Sharkey, Patrick, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Johanna Lacoe. 2014. “High stakes in the classroom, high stakes on the street: The effects of community violence on students’ standardized test performance.” Sociological Science 1: 199-220.
  • Received: October 29, 2013
  • Accepted: December 20, 2013
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen L. Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a14

Asymmetries in Experiential and Vicarious Feedback: Lessons from the Hiring and Firing of Baseball Managers

David Strang, Kelly Patterson

Sociological Science, May 12, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a13

We examine experiential and vicarious feedback in the hiring and firing of baseball managers. Realized outcomes play a large role in both decisions; the probability that a manager will be fired is a function of the team’s win–loss record, and a manager is quicker to be rehired if his teams had won more in the past. There are substantial asymmetries, however, in the fine structure of the two feedback functions. The rate at which managers are fired is powerfully shaped by recent outcomes, falls with success and rises with failure, and adjusts for history-based expectations. By contrast, hiring reflects a longer-term perspective that emphasizes outcomes over the manager’s career as well as the most recent campaign, rewards success but does not penalize failure, and exhibits no adjustment for historical expectations. We explain these asymmetries in terms of the disparate displays of rationality that organizations enact in response to their own outcomes versus those of others. Experiential feedback is conditioned by a logic of accountability, vicarious feedback by a logic of emulation.

David Strang: Cornell University. E-mail:

Kelly Patterson: University of Southern California. E-mail:

  • Citation: Strang, David and Kelly Patterson. 2014. “Asymmetries in Experiential and Vicarious Feedback: Lessons from the Hiring and Firing of Baseball Managers.” Sociological Science 1: 178-198.
  • Received: October 9, 2013
  • Accepted: October 14, 2013
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a13

Job Mobility and the Great Recession: Wage Consequences by Gender and Parenthood

Youngjoo Cha

Sociological Science, May 2, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a12

This study examines how inter-organizational mobility affects earnings inequality based on gender and parenthood under different macroeconomic conditions. Fixed effects regression analysis of Survey of Income and Program Participation data from 2004 to 2012 shows that earnings growth after quitting jobs for work-related reasons (e.g., to improve one’s job situation) is greater for women than for men pre-recession, but the trend is driven by childless women, and mothers of children under six benefit the least among all groups of workers. However, this motherhood wage penalty disappears in the 2008 recession, as a result of the decline of wage returns to mobility for childless women. The analysis also shows that across economic conditions, the rate of layoffs or displacement is higher among men than women, but once laid off, women experience greater earnings losses than men. No motherhood penalty is found for this mobility type. These findings help us understand the longitudinal process by which the motherhood wage penalty is generated, and conditions under which a motherhood-based or gender-based wage gap becomes more pronounced.

Youngjoo Cha: Indiana University. E-mail:

  • Citation: Cha, Youngjoo. 2014. “Job Mobility and the Great Recession: Wage Consequences by Gender and Parenthood.” Sociological Science 1: 159-177.
  • Received: October 31, 2013
  • Accepted: January 19, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a12