This research project began nearly a decade ago with an unusually perceptive undergraduate term paper by Rebekah Crooks (now Rebekah Crooks Horowitz). Rebekah’s key insight was that while intense civic engagement was characteristic of her Harvard classmates, it was not characteristic of the working class kids in her high school. I encouraged her to test her ideas on some empirical data, and in her subsequent senior thesis her insight proved more broadly true that even she had initially conceived. Rebekah herself moved on to a career in a different field, but with her blessing, my research team and I pursued her idea with mounting interest and concern, as we uncovered more and more evidence in support of her central hypothesis of a growing class gap among American youth.
This project became ever more thoroughly a team product, since I benefited from the extraordinary intelligence and commitment of a close-knit and dedicated group of pre-doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. Members of this group (listed in full in the Acknowledgements in Our Kids) produced wide-ranging, detailed reviews of vast bodies of literature, they searched far and wide for relevant sources of data and then explored those data with the most sophisticated techniques available.
I’ve never worked with a sharper, more conscientious group of colleagues.
Jen Silva was the star of our field research team, with help from Jasmin Sandelson. In the culminating three years of the research, the core team was composed of the fabulous five: Evrim Altintas, Carl Frederick, Jen Silva, Kaisa Snellman, and Queenie Zhu. Without them, Our Kids would not have been written.
I am most indebted to the scores of parents and young adults who so generously entrusted us with the details of their lives. Their voices bravely told of the burdens and opportunities facing young people today and helped bring the statistical trends to life. Unfortunately, professional ethics and our strict commitment to anonymity preclude us from thanking them by name. But without their voices I would be dumb.