How Sequestration Threatens Social and Behavioral Sciences


Newswise — WASHINGTON, DC, November 12, 2013 — Federal investment in social and behavioral science research has improved the health and well-being of Americans for years, but a new report published today shows how reckless discretionary federal funding cuts now threaten important work like this.

The report, “Faces of Austerity,” authored by NDD United, an alliance of more than 3,200 national, state, and local organizations, including the American Sociological Association (ASA), fighting to stop needless cuts to core government functions, goes sector by sector, from public health and science and data to education and workforce development, telling the stories of those who have been affected most by Washington’s failure to protect the programs that keep us healthy, safe, and educated.

“As the House and Senate budget conference committee readies to meet on November 13, the ASA is deeply concerned about the impact of sequestration and other cuts on the federal government’s social and behavioral science research programs—programs that are crucial to our nation’s economic health and infrastructure,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman. “I hope Congress and the Administration take the time to read this critical report, which should inspire them to work in good faith towards a balanced budget agreement that ensures an end to the sequestration and restoration of the nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs’ budgets.”

In addition to adversely affecting social and behavioral science research at universities, the sequestration and other cuts are negatively impacting the work of the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Institute of Justice, and National Center for Health Statistics. The data collected and disseminated by these agencies help our city, state, and county governments make informed decisions about how to distribute resources based on need, address community disparities, and fight crime.

“While we must address our budget problems, we can’t do so on the backs of social and behavioral science,” said Hillsman. “Social and behavioral science research helps us confront our nation’s problems with empirical data, and it helps us consider effective ways to combat future challenges. Drastically cutting programs that impact our country’s future, especially the future of our young people, will not get us out of this fiscal mess, but will lead to additional problems down the road.”

The sequester (i.e., Budget Control Act of 2011) established caps restricting how much funding Congress could allocate to discretionary programs each year over the next decade. As a result, by 2023 these caps will cut $1.6 trillion from defense discretionary and NDD programs combined, relative to the inflation-adjusted 2010 funding levels. Under sequestration these programs—including both defense and nondefense programs—face more than $700 billion in cuts over the next eight years. In two years, NDD spending will equal a smaller percentage of our economy than ever before (with data going back to 1962), if lawmakers do not act to replace sequestration with a more meaningful and comprehensive deficit reduction strategy.

A full copy of the report is available online at


About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

For more information about the report or to speak with Sally T. Hillsman, contact Daniel Fowler, ASA’s Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885

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American Sociological Association

As the national organization for sociologists, the American Sociological Association, through its Executive Office, is well positioned to provide a unique set of services to its members and to promote the vitality, visibility, and diversity of the discipline. Working at the national and international levels, the Association aims to articulate policy and implement programs likely to have the broadest possible impact for sociology now and in the future.

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