Committee on Socioeconomic Status (CSES): 2008 Annual Report

Mission Statement

As approved by APA’s Council of Representatives in August 2006:

The mission of the Committee on Socioeconomic Status (SES) shall be to further the major purpose of the APA –“to advance psychology as a science and a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare”—by ensuring that issues of SES receive the full attention of the Association.  The Committee will identify and act as a catalyst in the Association’s efforts to address issues of SES, and promote appropriate attention to SES in psychological research and practice.  In this regard, the Committee shall:  (a) collect information and documentation concerning SES; (b) promote scientific understanding of the roles of poverty and SES in health, education, and human welfare; (c) develop approaches to the application of psychology that take into account the effects of SES on psychological development and well being; and (d) advocate for social policy that will alleviate or reduce the disparities between SES groups.


Heather Bullock, PhD (Chair); Mathew Diemer, PhD; Sandra Graham, PhD; Mary Jansen, PhD; Suniya Luthar, PhD; Rashmita Mistry, PhD


CSES met in Washington, DC on March 28-30 and September 19-21 for the 2008 spring and fall consolidated meetings.  During the consolidated meetings, in addition to discussing, planning, and initiating activities relevant to the committee’s mission:

  • CSES met with APA CEO, Norman Anderson, PhD; 2008 President Alana Kazdin, PhD; President-elect James Bray, PhD; ED of Public Interest, Gwendolyn Keita, PhD; the Committee on Children Youth and Families; and the Committee on Rural Health to identify and discuss areas of mutual interest and concern.  

  • CSES reviewed, discussed, and prepared corresponding memos for all Cross Cutting Agenda items.  Committee members agreed that as the newest committee at APA, it is important to use the Cross Cutting agenda to increase CSES’ visibility to other committees, boards, and members.  

  • CSES members participated in the following conference committee, open meeting and focus groups held during the Consolidated Meetings: APA Strategic Planning focus group; Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice with Children and Adolescents; Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion; Task Force on Resilience and Strength in Black Children and Adolescents; CEMA: Request for the Creation of an APA Task Force on Multiculturalism and Diversity of the Next Generation of Psychology Faculty; Proposals for Changing the Dues Structures; Early Career Psychologists Survey Summary Report;  Request for Feedback Regarding Ethical Standard 1.02; and Draft APA Resolution on Prevention of Youth Obesity and Disordered Eating and Promotion of Healthy Active Lifestyles for Youth and Their Families. 

  • CSES also recommended nominees for the following call for nominations: Committee on Early Career Psychologists, 2009 Presidential Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness, and the Raymond D. Fowler Award for Outstanding Contributions to APA-Member. 

CSES Activities

2008 APA Convention Programming

CSES co-sponsored the following convention programming for 2008.

  • Title:  Partnering with Community Groups in Advocating for Low-Income Communities
    Co-sponsors:  BAPPI, Division 27, CSES, CWP
    Participants:  Sari H. Dworkin, PhD (chair); Karen Fraser Wyche, PhD; Lydia P. Buki, PhD; Melissa M. Pearrow, PhD; Nancy Guerra, PhD; Heather E Bullock, PhD (discussant) 

  • Title:  Enriching Psychology's Contributions to Public Health by Incorporating Issues of
    Socioeconomic Status into Research, Practice, and Policy
    Co-sponsors:  BAPPI, Division 9, CSES
    Participants:  Mary A Jansen (chair) , PhD; Laura D Kubzansky, PhD; Deborah Belle, EdD; Laura Smith, PhD; Brian D Smedley, PhD; Bernice Lott, PhD (discussant)
    Two additional symposia emphasized the work of the committee titled:  1) Psychologists, Psychology, and Social Activism in the Interest of Promoting Human Welfare and APA and the Task Force on Resources for the Inclusion of SES in Psychology Curricula. 

2009 APA Convention Program Planning

CSES submitted collaborative proposals requesting 2009 convention hours for two 2-hour symposia.  Both proposals were granted the requested hours. 

  • Title:  Innovative Strategies for Reducing Incarceration and Recidivism
    Co-sponsors: BAPPI, CYF, CEMA, CSES, CWP
    Participants: Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD (chair); James Bonta, PhD; Stephanie Covington, PhD; and Jae M. Sevelius, PhD 

  • Title:  Healthcare Career Opportunities: Treating rural and other underserved populations
    Co-sponsors: Division 37, Division 38, CRH, CSES
    Participants:  John O’Brien, PhD (chair); Parinda Khatri, PhD; Eve-Lynn Nelson, PhD; Tina Hoffman, MA; Wendy Williams, PhD; and Matthew Diemer, PhD (discussant)

CSES Leadership Awards

Established in 2008, the CSES Leadership Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of psychologists and friends of psychology who have made significant contributions to the understanding of socioeconomic status and the lives and wellbeing of the poor by:  1) promoting scientific understanding of the roles of poverty and SES in health, education, and human welfare; 2) developing approaches to the application of psychology that take into account the effects of SES on psychological development and well being; and/or 3) Advocating for social policy that will alleviate or reduce the disparities between SES groups. The inaugural recipients included: 

  • Emerging Leadership: Pamela Morris and William Liu 

  • Distinguished Leadership: Edmund Gordon 

  • Organizational Leadership: Class Action, Felice Yeskel, Director

CSES Communications (Network, Listserv, Webpage, Newsletter)

CSES continues to engage in various communication activities to inform the discipline and increase attention and participation among psychologists to social class and SES related issues to include oversight of the annual SES Network Meeting, SES listserv, webpage, and SES Indicator Newsletter.  

SES Measurement

In response to repeated requests to CSES regarding the need to address issues related to measuring socioeconomic status, CSES initiated a communications project to highlight diverse approaches in assessing SES. The project, entitled Spotlight on Socioeconomic Status: Scientists Speak out on Assessment, will outline how SES is measured and used by a diverse group of psychologists & other behavioral and social scientists. The end product is intended to provide a snapshot of how SES is measured with different populations, in different settings, and with varying degrees of complexity to provide options for measuring SES in a more accessible way, and to identify the benefits, barriers, and challenges of using a particular method of assessing SES. The hope is that this compilation will increase interest, discussion, and movement towards a more comprehensive treatment of the issue.

Legislative Priorities and Advocacy Activities

CSES maintained ongoing communication with and provided input throughout the year to Krysta Jones, Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, Public Interest Government Relations Office, related to SES related legislative priorities. 

2008 World Poverty Day

In observance of the 2008 International for the Eradication of Poverty Day, CSES in collaboration with APA’s Public Interest Directorate and Government Relations Office sent a letter to the US Congress on behalf of APA members to draw attention to the magnitude of poverty around the world in general and in the US in particular. The letter stressed the detrimental effects poverty has on psychological well-being and offered APA’s assistance in supporting research and outreach programs on poverty and mental health.

Public Interest’s GRO Advocacy Day

Two CSES members participated in Public Interest’s GRO Federal Advocacy Workshop followed by visits with federal policy makers on Capitol Hill.  Dr. Bullock received advocacy training on the Lifespan Respite Care Act and met with a legislative director from the offices of Representative Sam Farr (D-CA). Dr. Jansen received advocacy training on Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and met with a representative of the office of Senator Ben Carson (D-MD

Consultation to Office on SES (OSES)

CSES continues to provide ongoing consultation and feedback to OSES supported activities.