Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales

From Summary:
States vary widely in where they set their student proficiency standards in 4th and 8th grade reading and mathematics, according to a new report released today by the National Center for Education Statistics. The report compares proficiency standards of states using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) as the common yardstick.

The report, "Mapping State Proficiency Standards onto NAEP Scales: 2005-2007," uses NAEP to provide context for understanding the relative stringency of state standards given that each state has its own assessment system and standards for proficiency. The study compared the range of state standards in both 2005 and 2007 and measured changes in the rigor of state proficiency standards when new state standards were set after key aspects of the state assessment system changed.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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| Link to NAEP Studies

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Study Details Complex Health Care Needs of Medicaid's Highest-Need, Highest-Cost Populations

While creating better systems of care for aged, blind, and disabled beneficiaries is a priority within Medicaid, it is a challenge given the vast heterogeneity of this complex population. The Faces of Medicaid III: Refining the Portrait of People with Multiple Chronic Conditions provides insights for targeting efforts to improve care and control spending for the program's highest-need, highest-cost beneficiaries.

Source: Kaiser Permanente

Download full pdf publication
| Download pdf executive summary | Link to online summary

Community Colleges Pave the Way to Upward Economic Mobility for Millions of Americans, Particularly Low-Income Students

Community colleges are an important avenue to upward mobility no matter the students' background, income level, or high school accomplishments. This report finds that an associate degree is particularly meaningful for low-income, high-achieving high school students--over half of whom transfer to a four-year college, and, of those who transfer, three-quarters earn a bachelor's degree. In a time of high unemployment, community colleges are a critical stepping stone for people to increase their skills and earnings potential. The colleges also provide resources, including career counseling, to educate students about the classes and fields of study that have the potential for higher returns, such as health care and computer science.

Source: Pew Economic Mobility Project

Download full pdf publication | Link to Economic Mobility Project

Profile of Intimate Partner Violence Cases in Large Urban Counties

Examines the characteristics and processing of 3,750 cases of intimate partner violence, filed in the state courts of 16 large urban counties in May 2002. Topics covered include the types of charges filed against defendants, incident-specific information such as victim injury, defendant weapon use, evidence obtained, adjudication outcomes, and sentences imposed on convicted defendants. The report also examines the impact of various case characteristics on the likelihood of conviction.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Download pdf publication | Download spreadsheets | Link to Bureau of Justice Statistics

Women are Taking the Risk of Swine Flu More Seriously Than Men

"A new American Red Cross poll shows that while concerns about exposure to the H1N1 (swine flu) virus remain high, women are more likely than men to make extra efforts to cover coughs and sneezes with tissue, wash their hands more carefully and use hand sanitizer more often. "

Source: American Red Cross

Link to online report

Reducing child imprisonment in England and Wales – lessons from abroad

"...examines policies and programmes in countries with effective youth justice systems. The report also looks at how policymakers in Canada and New York responded to costly and damaging levels of youth custody by completely rethinking their approach to dealing with youth crime. "

Source: Prison Reform Trust, UK

Download full pdf publication | Link to Prison Reform Trust, UK

Iran Sanctions

From summary:
Iran is subject to a wide range of U.S. sanctions, restricting trade with, investment, and U.S. foreign aid to Iran, and requiring the United States to vote against international lending to Iran. Several laws and Executive Orders authorize the imposition of U.S. penalties against foreign companies that do business with Iran, as part of an effort to persuade foreign firms to choose between the Iranian market and the much larger U.S. market. Most notable among these sanctions is a ban, imposed in 1995, on U.S. trade with and investment in Iran. That ban has since been modified slightly to allow for some bilateral trade in luxury and humanitarian-related goods. Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms remain generally exempt from the trade ban since they are under the laws of the countries where they are incorporated.

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online summary

Updated Demographic Profiles of U.S. Hispanics by Country of Origin

The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center,... released five additional demographic profiles of Hispanic populations in the United States by country of origin: Guatemalan, Colombian, Honduran, Ecuadorian and Peruvian.These five follow the release earlier this year of demographic profiles for the five largest Hispanic populations: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, and Dominican.

More than six-in-ten Hispanics in the U.S. self-identify as being of Mexican origin. Nine of the other 10 largest Hispanic origin groups -- Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, Guatemalan, Colombian, Honduran, Ecuadorian and Peruvian -- account for about a third of the U.S. Hispanic population. There are differences across these 10 population groups in the share of each that is foreign born, citizen (by birth or naturalization), and proficient in English. They are also of varying age, tend to live in different areas within the U.S, and have varying levels of education, homeownership rates, and poverty rates.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Link to download site for each country of origin
| Link to online overview

A System of Excuses: How Criminal Law’s Excuse Defenses Do, and Don’t, Work Together to Exculpate Blameless (And Only Blameless) Offenders

Criminal law excuses are analyzed as a group of analogous doctrines working together to exculpate blameless offenders. The analysis reveals that current law doctrine, although it often is not explicit about the parallel and integrated operation of its excuse defenses, does much to perform this exculpatory function. However, the systematic perspective of excuses also reveals some serious shortcomings of current doctrines.

Source: Scholarship at Penn Law. Paper 292.

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Executive Compensation: Facts

In this paper we describe the important features of executive compensation in the US from 1993 to 2006. Some confirm what has been found for earlier periods and some are novel. Important facts about compensation are that: the compensation distribution is highly skewed; each year, a sizeable fraction of chief executives lose money; the use of equity grants has increased; the income accruing to CEOs from the sale of stock has increased; regardless of the measure we adopt, compensation responds strongly to innovations in shareholder wealth; measured as dollar changes in compensation, incentives have strengthened over time, measured as percentage changes in wealth, they have not changed in any appreciable way.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Download pdf publication | Link to online abstract at NBER

Numbers and Types of Public Elementary and Secondary Local Education Agencies From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2007-08 - First Look

From Press Release:
While the largest school districts represented less than 1 percent of all districts during the 2007-08 school year, they served 12.5 percent of public school students. The National Center for Education Statistics has released "Numbers and Types of Public Elementary and Secondary Local Education Agencies From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2007-08." This report presents selected findings on the numbers and types of public elementary and secondary local education agencies in the United States and the territories in the 2007-08 school year, using data from Public Elementary/Secondary Local Education Agency Universe Survey of the Common Core of Data survey system.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf publication | Browse publication online

Monday, October 19, 2009

Census Data online

USA Counties features over 6,500 data items for the United States, States and counties from a variety of sources. Files include data published for 2008 estimates and many items from the 2000 Census of Population and Housing, the 1990 census, the 1980 census and the 2002, 1997, 1992, 1987, 1982 and 1977 economic censuses.

Information in USA Counties is derived from the following general topics: age, agriculture, ancestry, banking, building permits, business patterns, crime, earnings, education, elections, employment, government, health, households, housing, income, labor force, manufactures, population, poverty, retail trade, social programs, veterans, vital statistics, water use, and wholesale trade.

Files contain a collection of data from the U. S. Census Bureau and other Federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Social Security Administration.

Link to Census Bureau Database

A National Report Card on Legal Representation For Abused & Neglected Children

From the Press Release:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 900,000 children are determined to have been abused and neglected each year. Most of them will go through court proceedings that will determine their lives and futures. Yet while the state and the allegedly abusive or neglectful parent stands in court with an attorney by their side, the child often stands alone and silent, or is excluded entirely from these critical hearings.

This Second Edition of our groundbreaking report evaluates whether and how each state’s laws provide for the legal representation of abused and neglected children.

Source: Source: First Star and Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law

Download full pdf publication | Link to Press Release

Fiscal Stimulus, Job Creation, and the Economy: What Are the Lessons of the New Deal?

As the nation watches the impact of the recent stimulus bill on job creation and economic growth, a group of academics continues to dispute the notion that the fiscal and job creation programs of the New Deal helped end the Depression. The work of these revisionist scholars has led to a public discourse that has obvious implications for the controversy surrounding fiscal stimulus bills. Since we support a new stimulus package—one that emphasizes jobs for the 9.8 percent of the workforce currently unemployed—we have been concerned about this debate. With Congress, the White House, pundits, and the press riveted on the all-important health care debate, we worry that they are also distracted by skirmishes over economic theory and history, while millions wait for a new chance to do meaningful work and effective, if imperfect, policy tools are readily at hand.

Source: Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

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| Link to online abstract

Economic Crisis Is Devastating For World's Hungry

From Press Release:

The sharp spike in hunger triggered by the global economic crisis has hit the poorest people in developing countries hardest, revealing a fragile world food system in urgent need of reform, according to a report released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Download full pdf report | Link to WFP

Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact: Preparation at the Local Level

Describes strategies that States and communities can use to reduce disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system. This bulletin is a companion to the latest edition of OJJDP's Disproportionate Minority Contact Technical Assistance Manual. It includes useful "how to" information drawn from the manual and presents important background on the context in which local preparation takes place—media coverage and public attitudes about crime, race, and youth.

Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

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| Link to online abstract

Is Posner Right? An Empirical Test of the Posner Argument for Transferring Health Spending from Old Women to Old Men

Posner (1995) proposes the redistribution of health spending from old women to old men to equalize life expectancy. His argument is based on the assumption that women's utility is higher if they are married. Thus, extending the lifespan of men would benefit women. Using life satisfaction data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), we conduct an empirical test of this assumption. We apply a two-step estimation strategy: first, we use a propensity score matching approach to generate a control group of non-widowed women. The average level of life satisfaction in the control group serves as a reference to measure the degree of adaptation to widowhood. In the second step, the life satisfaction trajectories of both groups are estimated using penalized spline regressions. The results suggest bereavement has no enduring effect on life satisfaction, and that falsifies Posner's assumption.

Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

Download full pdf publication | link to Institute for the Study of Labor

Income and Poverty Among Older Americans in 2008

From the Summary

Older Americans are an economically diverse group. In 2008, the median income of individuals aged 65 and older was $18,208 but incomes varied widely around this average. One-fourth of Americans 65 and older had incomes of less than $11,139 in 2008, while another one-fourth had incomes of $33,677 or more. Older Americans receive income from a variety of sources, including earnings, pensions, personal savings, and public programs such as Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. This report provides information from the March 2009 Current Population Survey on the number of elderly individuals and households who received income from each of these sources in 2008 and the amount of income received by individuals and households.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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| Link to online summary

"Gang of Four" Congressional Intelligence Notifications

"Gang of Four" intelligence notifications generally are oral briefings of certain particularly sensitive non-covert action intelligence activities, including principally, but not exclusively, intelligence collection programs, that the Intelligence Community typically limits to the chairmen and ranking members of the two congressional intelligence committees, and at times, but not always, to their respective staff directors. Gang of Four notifications are not based in statute but have constituted a practice generally accepted by the leadership of the intelligence committees and that is employed when the Intelligence Community believes a particular intelligence activity to be of such sensitivity that a restricted notification is warranted in order to reduce the risk of disclosure, inadvertent or otherwise. Intelligence activities viewed as being less sensitive typically are briefed to the full membership of each committee. In either case--whether a given briefing about non-covert action intelligence activities is limited to the Gang of Four, or provided to the full membership of the intelligence committees--the current statute conditions the provision of any such information on the need to protect from unauthorized disclosure classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters. Congress has said that its intent in this regard is that in extremely rare circumstances a need to preserve essential secrecy may result in a decision not to impart certain sensitive aspects of operations or collection programs to the intelligence oversight committees in order to protect extremely sensitive intelligence sources and methods. With regard to the phrase "other exceptionally sensitive matters," Congress has said its intent in using this phrase is to refer to other extremely sensitive categories of classified information such as information concerning the operational details of military deployment and extraordinarily sensitive diplomatic contacts, which the intelligence committees do not routinely require to satisfy their responsibilities. This report reviews the history of Gang of Four notification process and compares this procedure with that of the "Gang of Eight" notification procedure. The "Gang of Eight" procedure is statutorily based and provides that that the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the intelligence committee, along with the Speaker and minority leader of the House, and Senate majority and minority leaders--rather than the full membership of the intelligence committees--are to receive prior notice of particularly sensitive covert action programs, if the President determines that limited access to such programs is essential to meet extraordinary circumstances affecting vital U.S. interests.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

2009 Nation's Report Card in Mathematics

The Nation's Report Card presents results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 4th and 8th graders in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools, and the nation as a whole. Significant results for mathematics in 2009 include:

* For the first time since the assessment began, 4th graders showed no overall increase at the national level, although they scored significantly higher in 2009 than when the assessment began in 1990. For 8th graders, scores in 2009 were higher when compared to both 2007 and 1990. These nationwide patterns also held for most student subgroups. Findings regarding students performing at or above the NAEP achievement levels mirror those of the scale scores at both grades.

* Compared to 2007, five states and jurisdictions made gains at both grades 4 and 8, three states increased at grade 4 only, and ten increased at grade 8 only. Scores declined in four states at grade 4, while no state declined at grade 8.

The NAEP reading results, traditionally released with the mathematics results, will be released later, after planned analyses are completed to transition to the new 2009 Reading frameworks and assessments.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf report
| Link to Nation's Reportcard site

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When the Boss Feels Inadequate: Power, Incompetence and Aggression (PDF)

From the Press Release:
Bosses who are in over their heads are more likely to bully subordinates. That's because feelings of inadequacy trigger them to lash out at those around them, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.

In a new twist on the adage "power corrupts," researchers at UC Berkeley and USC have found a direct link among supervisors and upper management between self-perceived incompetence and aggression. The findings, gleaned from four separate studies, are published in the November issue of the journal Psychological Science.

With more than one-third of American workers reporting that their bosses have sabotaged, yelled at or belittled them, the new study challenges previous assumptions that abusive bosses are solely driven by ambition and the need to hold onto their power.

Download full pdf publication | Link to press release [via UC Berkeley]

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population

From Executive Summary

A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion.

While Muslims are found on all five inhabited continents, more than 60% of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20% is in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries.

Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

The Global Consumer In A Post-Recession World

From Nielsen Blog Post
With hopes for a full economic recovery accelerating in 26 out of the 28 major global markets surveyed as part of the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index in late June, consumers around the world might be expected to return to their previous spending patterns. But according to a new report from Nielsen, some consumers may find it hard to shake recessionary habits. The severity of the recession has brought about a change in consumer values, spending habits and lifestyle choices in some parts of the world, and the indication is some consumers in the West will continue to refrain from excessive or unnecessary spending across all aspects, at least in the short term.

Download full pdf publication | Link to Nielsen

Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey

Presents findings from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, the most comprehensive survey to date of children’s exposure to violence in the United States. The survey was conducted between January and May 2008, and surveyed more than 4,500 children or their parents or adult caregivers regarding their past-year and lifetime exposure to violence. This Bulletin discusses the survey’s findings regard children’s direct and indirect exposure to specific categories of violence, how exposure to violence changes as children grow up, and the prevalence and incidence of multiple and cumulative exposures to violence. It also discusses the implications of the survey findings for policymakers, researchers, and practitioners who work with juvenile victims of violence.

Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, USDOJ.

Download full pdf publication
| Link to download site

Letter Report to the U.S. Department of Education on the Race to the Top Fund

This report examines the Race to the Top initiative--a $4.35 billion grant program included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to encourage state-level education reforms. The report strongly supports rigorous evaluations of programs funded by the Race to the Top initiative. The initiative should support research based on data that links student test scores with their teachers, but should not prematurely promote the use of value-added approaches, which evaluate teachers based on gains in their students' performance, to reward or punish teachers. The report also cautions against using the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal assessment that helps measure overall U.S. progress in education, to evaluate programs funded by the Race to the Top initiative.

Source: National Academies Board on Testing and Assessment; National Research Council

Download full pdf publication | Link to the National Academies Press

Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar

The protection of cyberspace, the information medium, has become a vital national interest because of its importance both to the economy and to military power. An attacker may tamper with networks to steal information for the money or to disrupt operations. Future wars are likely to be carried out, in part or perhaps entirely, in cyberspace. It might therefore seem obvious that maneuvering in cyberspace is like maneuvering in other media, but nothing would be more misleading. Cyberspace has its own laws; for instance, it is easy to hide identities and difficult to predict or even understand battle damage, and attacks deplete themselves quickly. Cyberwar is nothing so much as the manipulation of ambiguity. The author explores these in detail and uses the results to address such issues as the pros and cons of counterattack, the value of deterrence and vigilance, and other actions the United States and the U.S. Air Force can take to protect itself in the face of deliberate cyberattack.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf publication | Download pdf executive summary | Link to online abstract

Brookings Inst. Report : Customer-Driven Medicine: How to Create a New Health Care System

Health care today is dominated by physicians, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies, and government agencies. Patients seek to navigate their health care by moving across a variety of providers, ordering prescription drugs from pharmacies, and seeking reimbursement from either public or private insurance plans. They spend hours connecting the dots and working out the best health care for themselves and their families. If they are fortunate to have good providers and effective follow-through, they receive high-quality health care.

Source: Brookings Institution

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

U.S.-Latin America Trade: Recent Trends and Policy Issues

From Online Summary

Trade is one of the more enduring issues in contemporary U.S.-Latin America relations. Latin America is far from the largest U.S. regional trade partner, but it is the fastest growing one, with the current exception of Africa, which has had strong export growth based largely on the rise of petroleum prices through mid-2008. Latin American countries have made noted progress in trade liberalization, reducing tariffs significantly and entering into their own regional agreements over the past two decades, although the pace has slowed of late. Over the last 15 years, the United States has implemented multiple free trade agreements (FTAs) with the region, which are more comprehensive than FTAs that include only Latin American countries. Many of the largest economies in South America, however, are not part of U.S. FTAs and have resisted a region-wide agreement, the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA). The main problems involve disagreements over what trade disciplines should be included. The inability to consummate an FTAA, the growing skepticism of U.S. bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), both abroad and in the United States, trade disputes, and the anxiety over the global economic downturn all contribute to a sense of uncertainty over the future path of hemispheric economic integration. The result in the Western Hemisphere has been the expanding system of disparate bilateral and plurilateral agreements, which are widely understood to be a second best solution for reaping the benefits of trade liberalization. The bilateral option may also have run its course for the United States. The United States has implemented FTAs with Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic, Chile, and Peru, and signed agreements with Panama and Colombia that await congressional action. The prospects for an FTA with Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, by contrast, seem unlikely. Alternatives to a new round of currently unpopular FTAs are being debated. In the United States, it has been suggested, for example, that FTAs be revised, enhancing controversial environment, labor, and other chapters.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf publication | Link to online summary


Online privacy and behavioral profiling are of growing concern among both consumers and government officials. In this report, we examine both the data handling practices of popular websites and the concerns of consumers in an effort to identify problematic practices. We analyze the policies of the 50 most visited websites to better understand disclosures about the types of data collected about users, how that information is used, and with whom it is shared. We also look at specific practices such as sharing information with affiliates and third-party tracking. To understand user concerns and knowledge of data collection we look at surveys and polls conducted by previous privacy researchers. We look at records of complaints and inquiries filed with privacy watchdog organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, The California Office of Privacy Protection, and TRUSTe. Finally, to gain some insight into what aspects of data collection users are being made aware of, we look at news articles from three major newspapers for topics related to Internet privacy. Based on our findings we make recommendations for website operators, government regulators, as well as technology developers.

Source: U.C. Berkeley iSchool Papers

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Majority Continues to Support Civil Unions

Most Still Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

A clear majority of Americans (57%) favors allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples, a status commonly known as civil unions. This finding marks a slight uptick in support for civil unions and appears to continue a significant long-term trend since the question was first asked in Pew Research Center surveys in 2003, when support for civil unions stood at 45%.

Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

Download full pdf report
| Download topline questionnaire | Link to online summary

Latinos and Education: Explaining the Attainment Gap

From overview:
Nearly nine-in-ten (89%) Latino young adults ages 16 to 25 say that a college education is important for success in life, yet only about half that number-48%-say that they themselves plan to get a college degree, according to a new national survey of 2,012 Latinos ages 16 and older by the Pew Hispanic Center conducted from Aug. 5 to Sept. 16, 2009.

The biggest reason for the gap between the high value Latinos place on education and their more modest aspirations to finish college appears to come from financial pressure to support a family, the survey finds.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download full pdf publication | Link to online overview

Monday, October 05, 2009

Health Information Technology Strengthens Care in Rural Communities

A Success Story in American Health Care: Using Health Information Technology to Improve Patient Care in a Community Health Center in Washington

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a report on how health information technology can improve health care for Americans living in rural communities. The report examines how the Columbia Basin Health Association in Othello, Wash., uses health information technology to improve health care quality and patient safety as well as promote care coordination and continuity.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Download report in pdf format
| Link to online report

U.S. Census Bureau : America’s Families and Living Arrangements

From Wall Street Journal Article:
New government data on at-home mothers has stirred up an old hornet’s nest, showing such mothers are younger, poorer and less educated, on average, than other mothers.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Download full pdf publication

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Download pdf report | Link to online press release

Pew Reports : Support for Abortion Slips

Broad-based Decline in Support for Legal Abortion

Recently, Americans have become more opposed to legal abortion. New analysis of combined Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the past three years shows that in 2007 and 2008, supporters of abortion rights clearly outnumbered opponents of abortion (those saying it should be illegal in most or all cases) by a 54%-40% margin. By contrast, in two major surveys conducted in 2009 among a total sample of more than 5,500 adults, views of abortion are about evenly divided, with 47% expressing support for legal abortion and 44% expressing opposition.

Republicans and Republican-leaning political independents have each become less pro-choice and more pro-life in recent polling. Democrats have also become less pro-choice, though by a somewhat smaller margin (four points less supportive of legal abortion). Democrats have not become more opposed to abortion; rather, they are now more likely to be undecided about the issue as compared with 2007/2008.

Source: Pew Forum

Download full pdf publication
| Download pdf topline questionnaire | Link to online overview

What is Good for Goldman Sachs is Good for America The Origins of the Present Crisis

Robert Brenner outlines the long-term causes of the present economic crisis. Rather than understanding the current downturn as merely a function of financial incompetence and miscalculation, he demonstrates that the US economy and that of the G7 has been slower growth in most of the major indices with each passing business cycle since the 1970s. In the last two cycles, asset bubbles inclined US consumers to take on more debt in order to spend and achieve limited GDP growth. Brenner outlines in detail how and why the financial sector played a key role in the creation and inflation of debt bubbles with new financial instruments. The implications for the US and the global economy are also outlined including the US current account deficit, trade imbalances, the rise of China and the East Asian economies as well as declining investment in the real economy and overcapacity in manufacturing worldwide.

Source: UCLA Center for Social Theory and Comparative History. Paper 2009-1.

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract via eScholarship repository

Friday, October 02, 2009

Travel In the ’Hood: Ethnic Neighborhoods and Mode Choice

Many urban planners promote mixed-use developments as one component of a broader sustainable development strategy. Scholars and advocates argue that these neighborhoods have the potential to reduce traffic congestion by promoting fewer trips, shorter travel distances, and alternative modes of travel.

With their mix of ethnic residents, businesses, services, and community institutions, many ethnic neighborhoods are mixed-use neighborhoods. We hypothesize, therefore, that residents of these ethnic neighborhoods will exhibit different travel behavior than those living outside of ethnic neighborhoods. Drawing on data from the 2000 U.S. Census, we examine whether residents of ethnic neighborhoods are more likely to commute by carpool and public transit than other workers. We find a significant relationship between residential location in ethnic clusters and travel behavior. The findings provide insight into the relationship among social networks, land use, and travel behavior.

Source: University of California Transportation Center. Paper 891_fall_2009 [via eScholarship repository]

Download full pdf publication | Link to eScholarship repository

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Teacher Strategies to Help Fourth-Graders Having Difficulty in Reading: An International Perspective

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assesses the reading achievement of fourth-graders and collects data on their teachers’ reading instruction practices and strategies. Presenting data from the United States and the 44 other jurisdictions that participated in PIRLS 2006, this Statistics in Brief describes international patterns in the strategies reported by teachers to help fourth-graders falling behind in reading. These strategies include: (a) waiting to see if performance improves with maturation, (b) spending more time working on reading individually with that student, (c) having other students work on reading with the student having difficulty, (d) having the student work in the regular classroom with a teacher-aide, (e) having the student work in the regular classroom with a reading specialist, (f) having the student work in a remedial reading classroom with a reading specialist, (g) assigning homework to help the student catch up, (h) and asking the parents to help the student with reading. Asking the parents to help the student was among the most commonly cited strategies in 44 of the 45 jurisdictions. Working with a reading specialist in a regular classroom was among the least commonly cited strategies in 40 jurisdictions.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf Report | Link to online abstract

Barriers to the Broad Dissemination of Creative Works in the Arab World


Many analysts have examined the media that violent extremists use to communicate their core messages. Far less research, however, has been devoted to the growing body of creative works produced by Arab authors and artists that counter the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of violent extremism. Unfortunately, many of these works are not widely disseminated, marginalizing the influence of these alternative voices. This monograph examines the barriers to the broad dissemination of such works, with a focus on Arabic literature, and suggests ways in which nongovernmental organizations, international allies, and the U.S. government can assist Arab writers and artists in overcoming these barriers.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf publication
| Download pdf Summary | Link to RAND

How to Deal with Missing Data and Galton’s Problem in Cross-Cultural Survey Research: A Primer for R

Multiple imputation (MI) has become the preferred method for dealing with missing data in survey research. MI involves three steps: creating m multiply imputed complete datasets; estimating models on each of the m datasets using any standard statistical procedure; combining the resulting multiple estimates of each statistic of interest. This paper provides R programs for MI, and offers some advice for employing MI with data drawn from the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS). A second set of R programs combines estimates from the m imputed data sets, and also deals with the problem of network autocorrelation effects, i.e., Galton’s Problem or the non-independence of cases, using two-stage instrumental variables (IV) regression. The objective of the paper is to provide programs, advice and explanations that will help researchers employing cross-cultural survey data, especially the SCCS, to deal with the twin problems of missing data and network autocorrelation effects, using the open source statistical package R. The paper is intended to complement a recent suite of publications by Dow and Eff where both theoretical and empirical issues underlying these two problems are discussed in detail.

Source: Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences: Vol. 3: No. 3, Article 1. [via eScholarship repository]

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Between Two Worlds: Hmong Youth, Culture, and Socio-Structural Barriers to Integration

Studies on the children of post 1965 immigrants recognize that there are various paths to incorporation due to race and class barriers and suggest that a strong adherence to traditional immigrant culture and values helps contemporary immigrants achieve integration. These studies acknowledge that there is not a single core culture of American society into which these immigrants are assimilating. The concept of segmented assimilation has been used to suggest that the process of assimilation is not as linear, simple or inevitable as classical assimilation suggests. Despite its important contribution to the theoretical debates on immigrant integration, segmented assimilation continues to use a cultural argument, suggesting that immigrant culture can explain and account for immigrant integration. Regardless of whether immigrant culture is present to buffer and mediate youth behaviors, some youth still take a path toward downward assimilation due to race, class and gender barriers. Based on data from a survey distributed to Hmong youth at a youth conference and interviews with community members, this study examines the role of race, class and gender and their impact on the incorporation of Hmong youth into American society. The Hmong community, whose migration to the United States was a direct consequence of their participation and involvement in the Vietnam War as U.S. allies, provides an important lens to understand the broader conditions that contribute to the incorporation of other racialized, poor immigrants into American society.

Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_38.

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