Hout, Michael 1950-

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Hout, Michael 1950-


Born May 14, 1950. Education: University of Pittsburgh, B.A.; Indiana University, M.A., Ph.D. Religion: Catholic.


Office—Survey Research Center, University of California at Berkeley, 2538 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94720-5100. E-mail—[email protected]


University of Arizona, Tempe, faculty member, c. 1978-85; University of California, Berkeley, professor of sociology, 1985—, chair of graduate group in sociology and demography.


American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences.


Has earned awards for Social Class: How Does It Work? and U.S.A.: A Century of Difference.


Mobility Tables, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1983.

Following in Father's Footsteps: Social Mobility in Ireland, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1989.

(With Claude S. Fischer, Martin Sanchez Jankowski, Samuel R. Lucas, Ann Swidler, and Kim Voss) Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth, Princeton University Press, 1996.

(With Claude S. Fischer) Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years, Russell Sage Foundation (New York, NY), 2006.

(With Andrew Greeley) The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.

Contributor to Inequality by Design, Princeton University Press, 1996. Contributor to journals, including the American Journal of Sociology and the American Sociological Review.


Sociology professor Michael Hout is especially expert at data analysis and for his writings on the evidence for inequality demonstrated in the statistics he uncovers. Hout "uses demographic methods to study social change in inequality, religion, and politics," as a profile posted on the University of California at Berkeley Department of Sociology Web site phrased it. The emphasis in his publications has mostly been in presenting the data as evidence of certain trends or conditions in society, though he and his coauthors occasionally offer some analysis of the data, as well.

In Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years, written with Claude S. Fischer, Hout discusses the dramatic changes that took place in the American economy, demographics, and culture during the twentieth century. Arranged into ten "tightly focused chapters that furnish a concise survey of a century's worth of data," according to Alethia E. Jones in Historical Methods, the authors provide information on how immigration, living standards, education, and the family have changed due to a shift from a manufacturing, products-oriented economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy. One of the main consequences of this revolution in the economy has been a greater need for a better-educated work force, and the authors note that the number of years in school expected from employees about doubled, from seven-point-four years to thirteen-point-eight years, over the course of the last century. Meanwhile, while the wage gap between men and women decreased, and more African Americans joined the skilled-labor workforce, the elderly, foreign-born, and those with relatively poor educations took steps backward in wage earning. On the positive side, Hout and Fischer's data show a dramatic decrease in racial prejudice as generations with more racial views died and were replaced by their more liberal-minded children and grandchildren. Statistics is the emphasis in this book, but Hout and Fischer do recommend that minorities and the poor be provided with better educational opportunities in order to heal the disparities that exist today. Jones felt that the authors, however, do not recognize the problem of segregated housing between whites and minorities, adding: "Nor do Fischer and Hout consider the role of community colleges and for-profit proprietary schools in the higher education field. Finally, they do not address the consequences of ignoring their recommendations." Jones further concluded: "Fischer and Hout's clear structure and straightforward recommendations better fit those policy briefs used by foundation officers, advocacy organizations, and others who influence the policy process and social priorities. Unfortunately, the abundant data do not effectively provide answers to the larger questions facing society so as to emerge from a crowded marketplace of ideas and capture the public's imagination. Overall, … [Century of Difference offers] … excellent compilations" and is "incredibly useful" for describing "where the United States has been and where it is heading."

The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe, written with Andrew Greeley, provides some startling evidence that discounts many assumptions liberal Americans have about conservative Christian beliefs and their influence in politics. As Christian Smith observed in Christianity Today: Hout and Greeley "find that conservative Protestants are not that much more Republican than mainline Protestants; are more internally divided politically than most people realize; comprise a lot of diversity in their views on social issues; are only marginally different in social demographics from other Americans; are less distinct from most other Americans on issues of sexual morality, family, and gender relations than stereotypes suggest; and are among the happiest of Americans. The authors also helpfully underscore the lack of necessary connection between conservative theology and conservative politics." Smith found several revelations that were startling to him, including the vast range of social classes within those groups describing themselves as conservative Christians, the statistical evidence that conservatives are growing in number more because of higher birth rates than mainstream Christians than because of religious conversions, and finally that there is "significant anti-Catholic sentiment lingering among ordinary conservative Protestant believers." Smith had some points of disagreement with the authors, such as the belief that Hout and Greeley do not recognize the diversity among conservative Protestants enough, but praised the book for its effort to dispel liberal myths about conservative Christians. Further adding that he did not believe the book was likely to change many people's minds about their beliefs, Smith nevertheless found that the book is worthwhile because "one has to believe that our best understanding of the truth of reality is worth learning and stating." Catholic BooksReview Web site contributor James R. Kelly felt that the authors "downplay both the reality of and the political significance of any ‘culture war’ that prompts such an ecumenical social conservative alliance," while asserting that the "timely and readable account" is at its best when the authors "prioritize class over religion with regard to voting."



American Journal of Sociology, July, 1991, Hiroshi Ishida, review of Following in Father's Footsteps: Social Mobility in Ireland, p. 229; July, 1997, James E. Rosenbaum, review of Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth, p. 237.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February, 2007, C. Hendershott, review of The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe, p. 1002.

Christianity Today, November-December, 2006, Christian Smith, "Social Science, Ideology, and American Evangelicals," review of The Truth about Conservative Christians.

Civil Rights Journal, fall, 1997, Ken Carlson, review of Inequality by Design.

Commonweal, October 20, 2006, "PBS Watchers," p. 22.

Contemporary Sociology, January, 1991, Robert L. Miller, review of Following in Father's Footsteps, p. 13; May, 1997, Melvin L. Kohn, review of Inequality by Design, p. 311.

Cross Currents, winter, 1997, Stanley Wolf, review of Inequality by Design.

Historical Methods, fall, 2007, Alethia E. Jones, "Social Facts versus Social Realities in the New Millennium," review of Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years, pp. 174-175.

Intelligence, June, 2002, John B. Carroll, review of Inequality by Design, p. 214.

Journal of Social History, spring, 1992, Hartmut Kaelble, review of Following in Father's Footsteps.

Journal of the American Statistical Association, September, 1985, Thomas W. Pullum, review of Mobility Tables, p. 778; March, 1999, James Sconing, review of Inequality by Design, p. 335.

Library Journal, October 15, 2006, George Westerlund, review of The Truth about Conservative Christians, p. 67.

Philosophy of the Social Sciences, March, 1999, Lesley A. Jacobs, review of Inequality by Design, p. 121.

Political Science Quarterly, summer, 1997, Lawrence Bobo, review of Inequality by Design.

Social Forces, March, 1991, Raymond Sin-Kwok Wong, review of Following in Father's Footsteps, p. 970; December, 1997, Francois Nielsen, review of Inequality by Design, p. 701.

Social Science Quarterly, December, 1990, Jon Lorence, review of Following in Father's Footsteps, p. 881.

Times Literary Supplement, February 9, 2007, "Myths of the Baptists," p. 26.


Catholic Books Review Web site,http://catholicbooksreviews.org/ (February 25, 2008), James R. Kelly, review of The Truth about Conservative Christians.

University of California at Berkeley Department of Sociology Web site,http://sociology.berkeley.edu/ (February 25, 2008), faculty profile of Michael Hout.

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