Thursday, February 12, 2015

Abortion Legislation in Europe

This report summarizing laws on abortion in selected European countries shows diverse approaches to the regulation of abortion in Europe.

A majority of the surveyed countries allow abortion upon the woman’s request in the early weeks of pregnancy, and allow abortion under specified circumstances in later periods. Some countries impose a waiting period of a certain number of days following counseling. Some require consultation with medical personnel before an abortion may be performed. Several countries require that medical personnel certify the abortion is for a reason permitted by law. The most restrictive country surveyed here, Ireland, allows abortion only when there is a real and substantial risk to the woman’s life.
Source: Law Library of Congress

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The Changing Role of Criminal Law in Controlling Corporate Behavior

Abstract:
What should be the role of the criminal law in controlling corporate behavior, and how can the execution of that role be improved? On the one hand, corporations have enormous power, and, when a corporation causes harm, there is a natural instinct to apply criminal sanctions, society's most serious expression of moral disapproval. In the wake of a harm in which a corporation had a prominent role, there are often calls for an increased use of the criminal law to tame corporate excesses. On the other hand, criminal liability has historically usually required criminal intent, a concept that applies oddly to a legal construction, such as a corporation. And more recently, critics have decried what they have termed the overcriminalization of corporate behavior, suggesting that there has been an overreliance on the use of criminal law in this context.
To provide guidance to policymakers on the proper role of criminal sanctions in this context, RAND Corporation researchers (1) measure the current use of criminal sanctions in controlling corporate behavior, (2) describe how the current regime developed, and (3) offer suggestions about how the use of criminal sanctions to control corporate behavior might be improved.
Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf publication | Read abstract online

Congressional Research Service Report: Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States: Overview and Issues for Congress (January 28, 2015)

The trafficking of individuals within U.S borders is commonly referred to as domestic human trafficking, and it occurs in every state of the nation. One form of domestic human trafficking is sex trafficking. Research indicates that most victims of sex trafficking into and within the United States are women and children, and the victims include U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike. Recently, Congress has focused attention on domestic sex trafficking, including the prostitution of children, which is the focus of this report.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Improving U.S. Educational Outcomes

From the introduction
This study addresses a key challenge confronting the United States—how to promote both widely shared and faster economic growth. It does so by analyzing and describing the effects of raising educational achievement, especially for those not at the top of the economic ladder.The results of this analysis, which are consistent with a large body of research across a variety of academic disciplines, demonstrate that improving the education of future workers accelerates economic growth and can promote more equal opportunity over the long run. The result: stronger, more broadly shared economic growth, which in turn raises national income and increases government revenue, providing the means by which to invest in improving our economic future.
Source: Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Download full pdf publication | Download pdf of  "Fast Facts"

Americans overestimate social class mobility

Abstract:
In this research we examine estimates of American social class mobility—the ability to move up or down in education and income status. Across studies, overestimates of class mobility were large and particularly likely among younger participants and those higher in subjective social class—both measured (Studies 1–3) and manipulated (Study 4). Class mobility overestimates were independent of general estimation errors (Study 3) and persisted after accounting for knowledge of class mobility assessed in terms of educational attainment and self-ratings. Experiments revealed that mobility overestimates were shaped by exposure to information about the genetic determinants of social class—a faux science article suggesting genetic constraints to economic advancement increased accuracy in class mobility estimates (Study 2)—and motivated by needs to protect the self—heightening the self-relevance of class mobility increased overestimates (Study 3). Discussion focused on both the costs and benefits of overestimates of class mobility for individuals and society.
Source: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

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Political Party Affiliation, Political Ideology, and Mortality

Abstract:
Background: Ecological and cross-sectional studies have indicated that conservative political ideology is associated with better health. Longitudinal analyses are needed. Political beliefs, assessed by an individual’s political party affiliation or political ideology, may be predictive of health and longevity.

Methods: Data were derived from the 2008 General Social Survey-National Death Index dataset. Cox proportional analysis models were used to determine whether political party affiliation or political ideology were associated with risk for mortality. Also, we attempted to identify whether self-reported happiness and self-rated health acted as mediators between political beliefs and risk for mortality.

Results: In this analysis of 32,830 participants, we find that political party affiliation and political ideology are both associated with mortality. However, with the exception of Independents (adjusted hazards ratio [AHR]=0.93, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]=0.90,0.97) political party differences are explained by the participants’ underlying sociodemographic characteristics. With respect to ideology, conservatives (AHR=1.06, 95% CI=1.01,1.12) and moderates (AHR=1.06, 95% CI=1.01,1.11) are at greater risk for mortality during follow-up than liberals.

Conclusion: Political party affiliation and political ideology appear to be different predictors of mortality. Key words: Political party affiliation, political ideology, mortality, survival analysis
Source: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

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Minimum wages in the EU


Minimum wages are meant to support household incomes and protect those with low wages from drifting into poverty. Moreover, they are seen as a means to reduce income inequality. Striking a balance between the needs of a worker and economic factors is their main aim according to the ILO. At the same time, they can be described as a moral value defining the lowest threshold under which employment is not acceptable.

The right of a worker to gain an equitable wage is laid down in the European Social Charter, ratified by all EU Member States. The EU itself has no legal competences on pay. Minimum wages are exclusively defined at national level. However, the discussion on a common European threshold (for example 60% of the national median wage) has gained momentum in recent years. European Commission president Juncker spoke in favour of a European minimum wage in 2013 and again in 2014. The European Parliament has also called for a common European minimum wage in several resolutions.

This keysource is a collection of research on national minimum wage systems and a common European minimum wage policy.

Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Read full article and analysis

The Politics of Selecting the Bench from the Bar: The Legal Profession and Partisan Incentives to Politicize the Judiciary

Abstract:
The American judiciary, like other branches of government, has increasingly come under attack as both ideologically driven and politicized. Using an original dataset that captures the ideological positioning of nearly half a million judges and lawyers who have made campaign contributions, we present empirical evidence showing politicization through various tiers of judicial hierarchy. Specifically, we show that, the higher the court, the more conservative and more polarized it becomes, in contrast with the broader population of attorneys, who tend to be liberal. These findings suggest that political actors not only rely on ideology in the selection of judges onto courts, but that they do so strategically, prioritizing higher courts. As explanation for these findings, we present a model of judicial politicization that formulates the ideological composition of the judiciary as a function of the ideological distributions of attorneys and politicians. To our knowledge, our study is the first to provide a direct ideological comparison across tiers of the judiciary and between judges and lawyers, and also the first to document how -- and why -- American courts are politicized
Source: Harvard University

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Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System


A new publication from The Sentencing Project provides a comprehensive review of programs and policies across the nation and identifies a broad range of initiatives that can address racial disparities at all levels of the criminal justice system. Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System highlights initiatives in more than 20 states designed to address the criminal justice system’s high rate of contact with people of color.

Source: The Sentencing Project

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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Open Data Barometer Report

As the UN leads a conversation on the need for a Data Revolution to support the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, our research highlights the lack of open and accessible data on the performance of key public services. If the political and social impacts of open data are to be realised, work to increase the supply of datasets from right across government will be needed, alongside sustained investment in capacity building, training and support for effective data use.
Source: World Wide Web Foundation

Human Trafficking in America’s Schools

Human trafficking is modern slavery. It involves exploiting a person through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of forced labor, commercial sex, or both. Victims of human trafficking include men, women, boys, girls, and transgender individuals lured by the promise of a better life in the United States and adults and children who were born and raised in the United States.

The International Labour Organization estimated, in 2012, that children represented 26 percent (or 5.5 million) of the 20.9 million victims worldwide.1 Both U.S. citizen and foreign national children are trafficked for sex and labor in the United States.2 In fact, many child victims of human trafficking are students in the American school system. School administrators and staff need to be aware that cases of child trafficking are being reported in communities throughout the nation. No community—urban, rural, or suburban—school, socioeconomic group, or student demographic is immune.
This guide was developed to help school officials
  • understand how human trafficking impacts schools
  • recognize the indicators of possible child trafficking
  • develop policies, protocols, and partnerships to address and prevent the exploitation of children
Source: American Institutes for Research

Download the guide | Read more online

New Study Reveals “Double Jeopardy” Faced by Women of Color in STEM

This report examines whether the four distinct patterns of gender bias that have been documented in experimental social psychologists’ labs reflect what is actually occurring at work for women in the STEM fields, and particularly for women of color. The study documented by this report shows that gender bias exists, and it exists for women of color: 100% of the scientists interviewed reported encountering gender bias at work.

It is understood that women of color face “double jeopardy” because they encounter race as well as gender bias. Much less discussed is that women of color often experience gender bias in ways that differ significantly by race. This study explores how the experience of gender bias differs by race. The report also introduces a new approach to organizational change to interrupt gender bias, called Metrics-Based Bias Interrupters.

Source: Hastings School of Law, University of California

Read report overview | Signup to receive pdf of report

Sociology Faculty Salaries Appear to Be Better Off 2013 – 2014: Faculty Salary Brief for Sociology and Other Social Science Disciplines

For the first time since the end of the Great Recession, sociology faculty salaries (across ranks) in current dollars increased faster than the rate of inflation, according to annual surveys by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and surveys by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). In fact, the average sociology faculty salary in AY 2013-2104 increased by 2.7% from the previous year (AY 2012-2013) in current dollars. This average increase was 1.2 percentage points above the rate of inflation, the highest since the AY 2009-2010 recession years, and was higher than the 2.2% increase in current dollars for all full-time faculty members across disciplines, according to the annual AAUP survey (Curtis and Thornton 2014; Flaherty 2014) and the 2.1% raise as measured by CUPA-HR (CUPA-HR 2014). Although the percent increase in salaries was higher than average, when compared to other social science disciplines, sociology faculty had the lowest salaries, on average.
Source: American Sociological Association

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Special Collection on Women’s Heart Health

For American Heart Month 2015, the editorial team at Women’s Health Issues has assembled a special collection of research on women’s cardiovascular health published in the journal since mid-2011, following the release of updated American Heart Association guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women. The articles address healthcare services for women at risk for cardiovascular disease; social determinants of health; and physical activity in specific populations of women.

 These articles will be accessible for free during the month of February 2015 so that they are available to a wider interested audience.

Source: Women's Health Issues

Link to collection of articles.

Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Law Enforcement

Introduction:
In a sample of police departments surveyed in 2013, approximately 75 percent of them reported that they did not use body-worn cameras. The survey was funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). PERF’s report about the survey notes a number of perceived benefits for using body-worn cameras, including better evidence documentation and increased accountability and transparency. But the report also notes many other factors that law enforcement executives must consider, such as privacy issues, officer and community concerns, data retention and public disclosure policies, and financial considerations. The costs of implementing body-worn cameras include not only the cost of the cameras, but also of any ancillary equipment (e.g., tablets that let officers tag data in the field), data storage and management, training, administration, and disclosure.

Source: National Institute of Justice

Link to the collection of studies and abstracts at the National Institute of Justice

Highlights of women’s earnings in 2013

From the introduction:
 In 2013, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings of $706. On average in 2013, women made 82 percent of the median weekly earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers ($860). In 1979, the first year for which comparable earnings data are available, women earned 62 percent of what men earned. This report presents earnings data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a national monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Information on earnings is collected from one-fourth of the CPS sample each month. It is important to note that the comparisons of earnings in this report are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences. See the accompanying technical notes section for more information, including a description of the source of the data and an explanation of the concepts and definitions used in this report.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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NBER Paper: Motivation and Incentives in Education: Evidence from a Summer Reading Experiment

Abstract:
For whom and under what conditions do incentives work in education? In the context of a summer reading program called Project READS, we test whether responsiveness to incentives is positively or negatively related to the student’s baseline level of motivation to read. Elementary school students were mailed books weekly during the summer, mailed books and also offered an incentive to read, or assigned to a control group. We find that students who were more motivated to read at baseline were more responsive to incentives, suggesting that incentives may not effectively target the students whose behavior they are intended to change.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Download full pdf publication | Link to abstract at NBER

NBER Paper: Age and the Trying Out of New Ideas

Abstract:
Older scientists are often seen as less open to new ideas than younger scientists. We put this assertion to an empirical test. Using a measure of new ideas derived from the text of nearly all biomedical scientific articles published since 1946, we compare the tendency of younger and older researchers to try out new ideas in their work. We find that papers published in biomedicine by younger researchers are more likely to build on new ideas. Collaboration with a more experienced researcher matters as well. Papers with a young first author and a more experienced last author are more likely to try out newer ideas than papers published by other team configurations. Given the crucial role that the trying out of new ideas plays in the advancement of science, our results buttress the importance of funding scientific work by young researchers.
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Download full pdf publication | Read Abstract at NBER

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Richard Nixon-Frank Gannon Interviews Transcribed and Searchable Online

Description:
The Richard Nixon-Frank Gannon Interviews consist of more than 30 hours of a videotaped oral history with former president Richard Nixon. The interviews took place nearly a decade after Nixon's resignation, and were conducted with the benefit of some historical perspective and without media hype. They were made in four groups of two- and three-day sessions spread over seven months in 1983. Each interview was organized around a specific topic or topics. Issues discussed included Nixon's early political career, Vietnam, China, the Soviet Union, the Middle East, the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation as president, U.S. domestic policy, U.S. presidents, and foreign leaders. These interviews, conducted by Frank Gannon, a former employee and trusted friend of Richard Nixon, represent Nixon's most substantial and lengthy post-presidency interview. The interviews were donated by Jesse Raiford, president of Raiford Communications.

All interviews are viewable with synchronized and searchable transcripts and subject indexes via the OHMS Viewer.
Source:University of Georgia Special Collections
 Access the Richard Nixon-Frank Gannon Interviews

Lessons from the Local Level: DACA's Implementation and Impact on Education and Training Success

Since its launch in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has brought together immigration policy and the education and career-training fields in an unprecedented manner. Applicants for DACA must meet the program's educational requirements in order to qualify for relief from deportation and work authorization, relying on schools to furnish transcripts as evidence. For those who lack a high school diploma or equivalent, DACA carves out a role for adult education programs to help unauthorized immigrants meet the educational requirements to qualify for protection. And schools at K-12, adult education, and postsecondary levels have played an important role in outreach and sharing of information about DACA. Furthermore, college completion is particularly important for this group, as future DREAM Act-type legislation could be predicated on a postsecondary education requirement.

This report examines the ways in which local educational institutions, legal service providers, and immigrant youth advocates have responded to the first phase of DACA. Based on extensive interviews with stakeholders in seven states—California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Texas—the report identifies initiatives undertaken by educational institutions and other community stakeholders to support DACA youth’s education and training success, and examine the impact of deferred action on grantees’ academic and career pursuits. It provides examples of promising practices, additional challenges, and key takeaways at the high school, postsecondary, and adult education levels, as well as an exploration of the nature and scope of DACA legal outreach initiatives.
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Download full pdf publication | View online overview

Raising The Global Ambition for Girls' Education

Introduction:
In 1948, the world’s nations came together and agreed that “everyone has a right to education,” boys and girls and rich and poor alike. This vision set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been reinforced over the decades and today the girls who still fight to be educated are not cases for charity but actively pursuing what is rightfully theirs. In recent years, girls’ education has also received attention because, in the words of the United Nations, “education is not only a right but a passport to human development.” Evidence has been mounting on the pivotal role that educating a girl or a woman plays in improving health, social, and economic outcomes, not only for herself but her children, family, and community. Educating girls helps improve health: one study published in The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, found that increasing girls’ education was responsible for more than half of the reduction in child mortality between 1970 and 2009. The economic benefits are clear: former chief economist at the World Bank and United States Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers concluded that girls’ education “may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world” due to the benefits women, their families and societies reap. And because women make up a large share of the world’s farmers, improvements in girls’ education also lead to increased agricultural output and productivity.
Source: Brookings Institution

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Health Reform Not Causing Significant Shift to Part-Time Work; But Raising Threshold to 40 Hours a Week Would Make a Sizeable Shift Likely

Recent data provide scant evidence that health reform is causing a significant shift toward part-time work, contrary to the claims of critics.  The number of part-time workers who would rather be working full time is shrinking.  And there’s every reason to believe that health reform will have only a small effect on the part-time share of total employment. 

More important, raising the law’s threshold from 30 hours a week to 40 hours would make a shift toward part-time employment much more likely — not less so.  That’s because only a small share of workers today — 7 percent — work 30 to 34 hours a week and thus are most at risk of having their hours cut below health reform’s threshold.  In comparison, 44 percent of employees work 40 hours a week, and another several percent work 41 to 44 hours a week.  Thus, raising the threshold to 40 hours would place many more workers at risk of having their hours reduced.  In short, it’s the present legislation, not health reform, that threatens the traditional 40-hour work week the legislation’s sponsors say they want to protect.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

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'Competitiveness' Has Nothing to Do With It

Abstract:

The recent wave of corporate tax inversions has triggered interest in what motivates these tax-driven transactions now. Corporate executives have argued that inversions are explained by an "anti-competitive" U.S. tax environment, as evidenced by the federal corporate tax statutory rate, which is high by international standards, and by its "worldwide" tax base. This paper explains why this competitiveness narrative is largely fact-free, in part by using one recent articulation of that narrative (by Emerson Electric Co.’s former vice-chairman) as a case study.

The recent surge in interest in inversion transactions is explained primarily by U.S. based multinational firms’ increasingly desperate efforts to find a use for their stockpiles of offshore cash (now totaling around $1 trillion), and by a desire to "strip" income from the U.S. domestic tax base through intragroup interest payments to a new parent company located in a lower-taxed foreign jurisdiction. These motives play out against a backdrop of corporate existential despair over the political prospects for tax reform, or for a second "repatriation tax holiday" of the sort offered by Congress in 2004.
Source: Social Science Research Network

View abstract at SSRN | Download full pdf publication 

Smithsonian’s First Complete Digitized Collection Available for Public Use


Open F|S, the complete digitized collections of the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the Freer Study Collection. With more than 40,000 works being made available for high-resolution download—expanding regularly with our new acquisitions—you can explore the Smithsonian's museums of Asian art from anywhere in the world, whenever you like. Images can be used for all non-commercial purposes, from desktop wallpapers to artistic gifts for family and friends.
Accessible via Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Open F|S

Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014

This report, funded by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with additional support from Pearson, examines the attitudes, opinions, and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) among teaching faculty in U.S. higher education. Some of the key findings:
  • Faculty are not very aware of open educational resources. Depending on the strictness of the awareness measure, between two-thirds and three-quarters of all faculty classify themselves as unaware on OER.
  • Faculty appreciate the concepts of OER. When presented with the concept of OER, most faculty say that they are willing to give it a try.
  • Awareness of OER is not a requirement for adoption of OER. More faculty are using OER than report that they were aware of the term OER. Resource adoption decisions are often made without any awareness of the specific licensing of the material, or its OER status.
  • Faculty judge the quality of OER to be roughly equivalent to that of traditional educational resources. Among faculty who do offer an opinion, three-quarters rank OER quality as the same as or better than traditional resources.
  • The most significant barrier to wider adoption of OER remains a faculty perception of the time and effort required to find and evaluate it. The top three cited barriers among faculty members for OER adoption all concern the discovery and evalua- tion of OER materials.
  • Faculty are the key decision makers for OER adop- tion. Faculty are almost always involved in an adoption decision and — except for rare instances — have the primary role. The only exceptions are in a minority of two-year and for-profit institutions, where the administration takes the lead.
Source: Babson Survey Research Group

Financial Crisis and Increase in Income Inequality Across Cities

This paper investigates why the level of income inequality differs across U.S. cities. We also explore why some cities experienced faster increases in the level of inequality than others. Using the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) from 1980 to 2011, we explore whether the disparities in the level and the changes in the level of inequality can be explained by MSA characteristics, including labor market conditions, skill distribution, residential mobility, racial concentration, industrial composition and unionization. We also examine how state level policies such as unemployment insurance benefits and minimum wage level is associated with income inequality.

Our findings shows that negative labor market conditions, concentration of skilled workers and racial segregation are positively associated with the level of income inequality. The level of inequality in these cities also tends to rise grow at a faster pace. While the minimum wage do not seem to have any association with income inequality, we find some evidence that the unemployment insurance benefit and percent of union members lower the increase in the income inequality.
Source: Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

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Why Has Urban Inequality Increased?

The increase in wage inequality since 1980 in the United States has been more pronounced in larger cities, even after accounting for differences in the composition of the workforce across locations. Using Census of Population and Census of Manufacturers data aggregated to the local labor market level, this paper examines the importance of changes in the factor bias of agglomeration economies, capital-skill complementarity, changes in the relative supply of skilled labor, and mutual interactions for understanding the more rapid increases in wage inequality in larger cities between 1980 and 2007. Parameter estimates of a production function that incorporates each of these mechanisms indicate strong evidence of capital-skill complementarity, increasing skill bias of agglomeration economies and declining capital bias of agglomeration economies. Immigration shocks serve as a source of exogenous variation across metropolitan areas in changes to the relative supply of skilled labor versus unskilled labor. The direct relative demand effects of the changing factor biases of agglomeration economies rationalize 77-82 percent of the more rapid increases in wage inequality in more populous local labor markets. Interactions between capital-skill complementarity and changes in the factor bias of agglomeration economies have generated outward and inward shifts in the relative demand for skilled labor in larger cities that approximately offset.
Source: Brown University (and others)

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Migration of Professionals to the U.S.; Evidence from LinkedIn data

We investigate trends in the international migration of professional workers by analyzing a dataset of millions of geolocated career histories provided by LinkedIn, the largest online platform for professionals. The new dataset confirms that the United States is, in absolute terms, the top destination for international migrants. However, we observe a decrease, from 2000 to 2012, in the percentage of professional migrants, worldwide, who have the United States as their country of destination. The pattern holds for persons with Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD degrees alike, and for individuals with degrees from highly-ranked worldwide universities. Our analysis also reveals the growth of Asia as a major professional migration destination during the past twelve years. Although we see a decline in the share of employment-based migrants going to the United States, our results show a recent rebound in the percentage of international students who choose the United States as their destination.
Source: LinkedIn

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Major administrative datasets of the U.S. government — all in one place


From the description:
An immense number of U.S. government agencies play a central role in the collection of a wide array of public data — vital statistics on health, transportation, commerce, finance, agriculture, and more. Much of this information is gathered by the 13 principal statistical agencies, but smaller organizations — for example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Army Corps of Engineers and USAID — also gather important information.

...links to data sources and tools from a broad range of federal agencies, courtesy of Katherine R. Smith, executive director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS).
Source: Journalist’s Resource

Get links to datasets

Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 114th Congress

Introduction:

When the new, 114th Congress is sworn in on Jan. 6, 2015, Republicans will control both chambers of the legislative body for the first time since the 109th Congress (2005-2006). Yet, despite the sea change in party control, there is relatively little change in the overall religious makeup of Congress, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. More than nine-in-ten members of the House and Senate (92%) are Christian, and about 57% are Protestant, roughly the same as in the 113th Congress (90% and 56%, respectively). About three-in-ten members (31%) are Catholic, the same as in the previous Congress.

Source: Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project

Read online at Pew Research

U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release Joint Guidance to Ensure English Learner Students Have Equal Access to High-Quality Education

From the Press Release:

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) today released joint guidance reminding states, school districts and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.
  • A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools' obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students can participate meaningfully and equally in school.
  • A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools' obligations under federal law to communicate information to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand.
  • A toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students, prepared by the Education Department's Office of English Language Acquisition. This is the first chapter in a series of chapters to help state education agencies and school districts meet their obligations to English learner students.
This is the first time that a single piece of guidance has addressed the array of federal laws that govern schools' obligations to English learners. The guidance recognizes the recent milestone 40th anniversaries of Lau v. Nichols and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), as well as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOA, similar to Lau, requires public schools to take appropriate action to help English learner students overcome language barriers and ensure their ability to participate equally in school.

Source:  The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Depression in the U.S. Household Population

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012


  • During 2009–2012, 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and over had depression (moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks). Depression was more prevalent among females and persons aged 40–59.
  • About 3% of Americans aged 12 and over had severe depressive symptoms, while almost 78% had no symptoms.
  • Persons living below the poverty level were nearly 2½ times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty level.
  • Almost 43% of persons with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home, and social activities.
  • Of those with severe symptoms, 35% reported having contact with a mental health professional in the past year.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rape and Sexual Assault Among College-age Females, 1995-2013

Description:
Compares the characteristics of rape and sexual assault victimization against females ages 18 to 24 who are enrolled and not enrolled in college. This report examines the relationship between the victim and offender, the involvement of a weapon, location of the victimization, reporting to police, perceived offender characteristics, and victim demographics. Data are from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which collects information on nonfatal crimes, reported and not reported to the police, against persons from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. The report also discusses methodological differences between the NCVS and other surveys that measure rape and sexual assault victimization and the impact of these difference on rape and sexual assault estimates.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Download full pdf publication | Read the Press Release

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

How Young Adults Today Compare With Previous Generations in Neighborhoods Nationwide

From the Press Release:
Five years of data collected between 2009 and 2013 provide statistics on more than 40 economic, housing and social topics, such as commuting, educational attainment and home value. As the nation’s largest ongoing household survey, the American Community Survey produces statistics at all levels of geography, down to the block group level. Today, for the first time users can access block group level statistics on the census.gov tool rather than via a separate FTP site.

Highlighting some of the topics available from the American Community Survey, the Census Bureau released “Young Adults: Then and Now,” a new edition of the interactive mapping tool Census Explorer. The tool illustrates characteristics of the young adult population (age 18-34) across the decades using data from the 1980, 1990 and 2000 Censuses and the 2009-2013 American Community Survey. The American Community Survey, which is a part of the decennial census, replaced the “long form” questionnaire soon after the 2000 Census.
Explore Interactive Map and Tool

AIDSinfo HIV/AIDS Drug Database From NLM, A New Health Reference App Available for Android and iOS

From the Description:

AIDSinfo, a collaboration of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US National Library of Medicine, announces the release a new app, the AIDSinfo Drug App. Using data from the AIDSinfo Drug Database, the drug app provides information on more than 100 HIV-related approved and investigational drugs. The information, in English and Spanish, is tailored to meet the needs of both health care providers and consumers. The app is designed to automatically refresh the content when the user is connected to a wireless or cellular data network. The auto update feature eliminates the need to manually update the app to view the most current drug information. In addition, the app works offline, ensuring that health care providers and consumers can access vital drug information anywhere—even in health care facilities that may not have an Internet connection.

Health care providers surveyed on the AIDSinfo Web site indicated that access to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels for HIV-related drugs would be a useful feature of a drug app. Thus FDA drug labels pulled from DailyMed are integrated into the app in an easy-to-navigate format. This feature, coupled with the auto update feature, makes it easy for health care providers to quickly find the latest drug information when seeing patients. In addition, information from the FDA labels is condensed in easy-to-understand summaries in English and Spanish for consumers. The app also includes information on HIV-related investigational drugs for both health care providers and consumers.
Available for both iOS and Android devices
Source: National Library of Medicine

"Nature" now open to non-subscribers

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Under the new policy, subscribers to 49 journals published by the Nature Publishing Group and collected on Nature’s website can create and share links to full-text versions of all of that content. About 100 media outlets also can include free links in news reports that reference articles in the group’s journals.

Nature’s new system falls short of open-access ideals in various ways, including that it restricts nonsubscribers to "read only" versions of articles. That prevents independent repositories from reformatting the articles for long-term storage, and it limits researchers’ ability to search or index the documents.
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No True Bill: A Grand Jury’s Refusal to Indict, CRS Legal Sidebar

The constitutional rights of a grand jury target or potential defendant aside, the courts afford prosecutors enormous discretion over the question of when and whether to prosecute. One state Supreme Court has observed that, “[i]n our criminal justice system, the decision whether to prosecute, and if so on what charges, is a matter ordinarily within the discretion of the duly elected prosecutor. The decision whether to bring charges is at the heart of the prosecutorial function. 

Source: Congressional Research Service

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The Global Gender Gap Report 2014

Description:
The Global Gender Gap Report 2014 emphasizes persisting gender gap divides across and within regions. Based on the nine years of data available for the 111 countries that have been part of the report since its inception, the world has seen only a small improvement in equality for women in the workplace. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2014, launched today, the gender gap for economic participation and opportunity now stands at 60% worldwide, having closed by 4% from 56% in 2006.
Source: World Economic Forum

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Executive Compensation at Private Colleges

About the data:
These data show the compensation received by 537 chief executives at 497 private nonprofit colleges in the United States during the 2012 calendar year. For our analysis, we reviewed data for the private nonprofit baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral institutions with the 500 largest endowments, as reported to the U.S Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or Ipeds. Some nonprofit colleges don’t report the value of their endowments to Ipeds, and those were excluded from our analysis.

Compensation data were compiled from the Internal Revenue Service’s Form 990, which is filed by most nonprofit entities. Some private nonprofit universities cite a religious exemption from filing the Form 990 and were therefore excluded from our analysis. The excluded institutions are Brigham Young University- Idaho, Brigham Young University- Provo, and Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

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Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program – Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary

The Committee makes the following findings and conclusions
#1 The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
#2 The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
#3 The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
#4 The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.
#5 The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
#6 The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
#7 The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.
#8 The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.
#9 The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.
#10 The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
#11 The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
#12 The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.
#13 Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.
#14 CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.
#15 The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.
#16 The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.
#17 The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.
#18 The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
#19 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.
#20 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.
Source: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

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Expert Working Group Report: Native American Traditional Justice Practices

Introduction:
In April 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Access to Justice Initiative (ATJ) and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services – Tribal Justice Support (TJS) jointly convened an Expert Working Group (EWG) on the use of traditional Native American justice interventions to respond to criminal and delinquent behavior.

The meeting was held in furtherance of the Tribal Law and Order Act’s mandate that both Departments work with Tribal court systems to develop a plan to address alternatives to incarceration. The meeting also evidenced the Administration’s commitment to Tribal sovereignty by recognizing and showcasing the importance of traditional Tribal custom.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Department of the Interior

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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Revisiting the Dark Side of Political Deliberation

The Effects of Media and Political Discussion on Political Interest

Abstract:
Citizens’ deliberation and interest in politics are crucial to democracy and have always been understood as positively related. We argue here that political discussion, one of the most common mechanisms of deliberation, might lead to citizens’ political disengagement or lack of interest. Using the Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP), an innovative data set of postelection national surveys, we attempt to ascertain and shed light on these apparently contradictory effects on citizen engagement. The results indicate that political discussions, specifically those involving disagreements, can produce a lower level of interest when citizens are less informed, are strongly partisan, or hold strong social ties with those they disagree with.
Source: Public Opinion Quarterly

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Generating Vocabulary Knowledge for At-Risk Middle School Readers: Contrasting Program Effects and Growth Trajectories

Abstract:
We tested whether urban middle-school students from mostly low-income homes had improved academic vocabulary when they participated in a freely available vocabulary program, Word Generation (WG). To understand how this program may support students at risk for long-term reading difficulty, we examined treatment interactions with baseline achievement on a state standardized test and also differential effects for students with (n = 398) and without (n = 1,395) individualized education plans (IEPs). Students in this unmatched quasi-experiment (5 WG and 4 comparison schools) completed pre- and postvocabulary assessments during the intervention year. We also retested student vocabulary knowledge after summer vacation and the following spring on 11 target words to construct a longitudinally consistent scaled score across 4 waves of data. Growth models show that students experienced summer setback. Although there were no average underlying differences in growth or differences in summer setback for students by baseline achievement, better readers improved more from program participation. IEP status did not predict differential benefits of program participation, and students with IEPs maintained gains associated with participation in WG; however, participation in the program did not change underlying growth trajectories favoring students who did not have IEPs.
Source: U.C. Irvine [via eScholarship Repository]

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Committee against Torture — Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America

From the introduction:
The Committee welcomes the State party’s unequivocal commitment to abide by the universal prohibition of torture and ill-treatment everywhere, including Bagram and Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, as well as the assurances that U.S. personnel are legally prohibited under international and domestic law from engaging in torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment at all times, and in all places. The Committee notes that the State party has reviewed its position concerning the extraterritorial application of the Convention, and stated that it applies to ‘certain areas beyond’ its sovereign territory, and more specifically to ‘all places that the State party controls as a governmental authority,’ noting that it currently exercises such control at ‘the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and over all proceedings conducted there, and with respect to U.S.-registered ships and aircraft.’ The Committee also values the statement made by the State party’s delegation that the reservation to article 16 of the Convention, whose intended purpose is to ensure that existing U.S. constitutional standards satisfy the State party’s obligations under article 16, ‘does not introduce any limitation to the geographic applicability of article 16,’ and that ‘the obligations in article 16 apply beyond the sovereign territory of the United States to any territory under its jurisdiction’ under the terms mentioned above.’

However, the Committee is dismayed that the State party’s reservation to article 16 of the Convention features in various declassified memoranda containing legal interpretations on the extraterritorial applicability of U.S. obligations under the Convention issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) between 2001 and 2009, as part of deeply flawed legal arguments used to advise that interrogation techniques, which amounted to torture, could be authorized and used lawfully. While noting that these memoranda were revoked by Presidential Executive Order 13491 to the extent of their inconsistency with that order, the Committee remains concerned that the State party has not withdrawn yet its reservation to article 16 which could permit interpretations incompatible with the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.
Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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