American Academy of Social and Political Science

Rebecca Blank is the 2015 Moynihan Prize Winner

Moynihan Prize honors individuals who use sound analysis and social science research to inform public policy, while also contributing to the public discourse on society’s most pressing issues. During her time at the Department of Commerce Blank promoted economic development while connecting research and innovation with job creation and economic growth. Dr. Blank’s impressive career in public service extends beyond her time at the agency. She was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999 during the Clinton administration; she was also a fellow at the Brookings Institution before joining the Department of Commerce. After leaving Washington DC, Blank held several positions at institutions of higher education. From 1999 to 2008, Blank served as dean and professor of public policy and economics in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and she has held faculty positions at Northwestern University and Princeton University. Dr. Blank’s Moynihan Lecture on Social Science and Public Policy�“What Drives American Competitiveness”�is open to the public.� It will be delivered on afternoon of May 7, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

AAPSS Welcomes 2015 Fellows Cohort

Through its Fellows program, each year the AAPSS recognizes outstanding scholars and/or public servants who have made significant contributions to public policy and social science. This year, the Academy welcomes four new fellows: Claude Fischer, professor of sociology at the University of California Berkeley; Ira Katznelson, professor of political science and history at Columbia University; John Laub, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland; and Cecilia Rouse, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. In keeping with the noteworthy achievements of the other 107 Academy fellows, each of these fellows� careers exemplifies the connection between academic research and policymaking. They will be officially inducted into the Academy on May 7, 2015, at our gala dinner in Washington, D.C.

AAPSS Fellows Explore the Shifts in the Institution of Marriage

The extreme levels of income inequality in our country have been well documented; the pronounced chasm between the wealthiest Americans and poorest Americans has become clear. There has been an outpouring of research and commentary about what this phenomenon means for America’s economy and global competitiveness. But how does income inequality influence our nation’s social institutions? How do stark wealth disparities shape the lives of children and families? By analyzing the linkages between socioeconomic status and marriage, AAPSS Fellows, Andrew Cherlin and Isabel Sawhill, confront these difficult questions directly in their recent books.

Among other theories, the decline in what has been traditionally understood as the nuclear family has been attributed to increasing work opportunities for women and changing social values. Cherlin’s work, Labor’s Love Lost, offers another theory. He argues that declining marriage rates in America are the result of the economy and lack of low-level jobs; those who are less-educated face fewer job options and experience less financial stability, which prompts them to delay marriage or forgo it altogether.

Like Cherlin, Sawhill notes that marriage is changing in America and she tracks the exigencies of this shift. In Generation Unbound, Sawhill advocates for changing “drifters”, those who are having unplanned children early and outside of marriage, into “planners”, those who are delaying parenthood until they marry.� By applying fundamentals of behavioral economics, Sawhill argues that it is possible to move from a culture that accepts a high number of unplanned pregnancies to a culture in which adults only have children when they are ready to be parents.

AAPSS and Brookings Partner for Seminar on Family Complexity

On November 20, 2014, AAPSS and the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution co-sponsored a seminar on family complexity in the United States. The July 2014 volume of the ANNALS, “Family Complexity, Poverty, and Public Policy,” co-edited by Daniel Meyer and Marcy Carlson, both from the University of Wisconsin�Madison, provided the framework for the event.  The theme of the seminar, which gathered policy-makers, was “Family Complexity and Public Policy: Should We Consider Changes to Policy in Light of Contemporary Family Patterns?”

Research has demonstrated that children's experiences of family over the last 50 years have shifted dramatically. In the United States there are more nonmarital births, more instability in partnering among parents, and more children splitting their time between parents following separation or divorce than ever before. Dr. Meyer opened the event with an overview of these recent changes to the family structure and the associated pressures they put on public policy.� Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia and the National Marriage Project followed with a response, which in turn led to an open discussion with seminar attendees. The event underscored the Academy’s commitment to strengthening the link between rigorous academic research and policymaking.

Postsecondary Educational Attainment: Practical Pathways to Improvement

The Lumina Foundation has agreed to convene and host a conversation between state policy-makers and researchers that is based on findings presented in The ANNALS, Volume 655: "The Role of State Policy in Promoting College Access and Success,” co-edited by Laura Perna and Michael McLendon. The ANNALS volume presents research that examines the extent to which various state policies do and do not advance the attainment agenda. The Lumina event will be held on February 19�20 in Washington DC, and the discussion will focus on ways to increase postsecondary attainment by strengthening connections between research and state policy.

AAPSS Board Member Takes on a New Role

David Thornburgh was named the Chief Executive Director of the Committee of Seventy, one of Philadelphia�s premier civic organizations. Prior to this post, Thornburgh was the Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania�s Fels Institute of Government. At Fels, David created the highly successful Public Policy Challenge; this initiative has grown from a Penn-focused competition to a national event that drew participation in 2014 from twelve teams representing MPA programs around the country. David will continue his term on the AAPSS Board. Please join us in wishing him well in his new role.

Coming Up in The ANNALS:

“The Politics of Science: Political Values and the Production, Communication, and Reception of Scientific Knowledge.” The volume focuses on how scientific findings can be and are politicized and how personal political values and beliefs affect one’s communication and understanding of scientific findings. The volume is already garnering public attention and contributors Erika Franklin Flower and Sarah Gollust have written pieces featuring their contribution and the volume for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog and the Scholars Strategy Network.�