Friday, December 17, 2010

"Culturomics," Google Labs Ngram and "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books"

I'd like to close out the year by spreading the word on Google Labs' new tool for searching its digital storehouse of words and phrases and mapping how they appear over time in literature.

You may have seen the original paper published in Science Magazine:

Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books

We constructed a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed. Analysis of this corpus enables us to investigate cultural trends quantitatively. We survey the vast terrain of "culturomics", focusing on linguistic and cultural phenomena that were reflected in the English language between 1800 and 2000. We show how this approach can provide insights about fields as diverse as lexicography, the evolution of grammar, collective memory, the adoption of technology, the pursuit of fame, censorship, and historical epidemiology. "Culturomics" extends the boundaries of rigorous quantitative inquiry to a wide array of new phenomena spanning the social sciences and the humanities.

Or yesterday's article in the New York Times:
In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture

"...represents the first time a data set of this magnitude and searching tools are at the disposal of Ph.D.’s, middle school students and anyone else who likes to spend time in front of a small screen. It consists of the 500 billion words contained in books published between 1500 and 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.

The intended audience is scholarly, but a simple online tool allows anyone with a computer to plug in a string of up to five words and see a graph that charts the phrase’s use over time — a diversion that can quickly become as addictive as the habit-forming game Angry Birds."

I agree that it can be addictive and a huge time suck - I was almost late for work today comparing the popularity of dog vs. cat or Mickey Mouse vs. Abraham Lincoln.

The tool can be accessed via:
The raw data is downloadable, and you can read more about the tool at:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Older women, breast cancer, and social support

One in ten women over the age of 65 will develop breast cancer. Despite this high incidence of breast cancer among older women, social support for them is often inadequate. This paper describes a qualitative study of the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis on older women from racially/ethnically diverse populations and their subsequent need for social support. Forty-seven older African American, Asian American, Caucasian and Latina women between the ages of 65 to 83 participated in a larger study examining the impact of breast cancer on women from racially/ethnically diverse populations and the meaning and nature of social support. The women completed an in-depth qualitative interview on the psychosocial impact of breast cancer and the meaning and nature of social support. The results indicate that there are variations in reactions to a breast cancer diagnosis among older women, and that these reactions impact their experiences with seeking social support at diagnosis and during treatment. Respondents were concerned about their aging bodies, potential dependency on others, and loss of autonomy. At the same time, the severity of cancer treatment and existing co-morbidities often meant they needed to learn to receive support, and to reach out if they had no support. The implications of these findings underscore the older cancer patient’s need to strengthen her supportive networks at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, and post-treatment.

Source: Postprints, UC San Francisco [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online record

Census Bureau Reports on Women-Owned Firms

In 2007, women owned 7.8 million businesses and accounted for 28.7 percent of all businesses nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners. These firms generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, about 3.9 percent of all business receipts nationwide.

Source: Census Bureau

Link to press release and links to downloadable data tables.

Beauty Queens and Battling Knights: Risk Taking and Attractiveness in Chess

We explore the relationship between attractiveness and risk taking in chess. We use a large international panel dataset on chess competitions which includes a control for the players' skill in chess. This data is combined with results from a survey on an online labor market where participants were asked to rate the photos of 626 expert chess players according to attractiveness. Our results suggest that male chess players choose significantly riskier strategies when playing against an attractive female opponent, even though this does not improve their performance. Women's strategies are not affected by the attractiveness of the opponent.

Source: Institute on the study of Labor

Download full pdf publication
| Link to Institute on the Study of Labor

Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading

Writing to Read is a new Carnegie Corporation report published by the Alliance for Excellent Education which finds that while reading and writing are closely connected, writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills and content learning. Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading identifies three core instructional practices that have been shown to be effective in improving student reading.

Source: Carnegie Corporation [via docuticker]

Download full pdf publication | Link to more Carnegie Publications

The Foundation Years: Preventing Poor Children Becoming Poor Adults.

There are huge class differences in the range of children’s abilities measurable on their first day at school. For many poor children life’s race is by then already effectively over.

The report has two overarching recommendations. To prevent poor children from becoming poor adults the Review proposes establishing a set of Life Chances Indicators that will measure how successful we are as a country in making life’s outcomes more equal for all children.

To drive this policy of raising life chances the Review proposes establishing the first pillar of a new tripartite education system: the Foundation Years, covering the period conception to five. The Foundation Years will then lead into the school years, leading to further, higher and continuing education.

Source: (UK)Commissioned by the Prime Minister, the report is published by the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances

Download full pdf publication
| Link to Poverty Review website

Monday, December 13, 2010

After Foreclosure: The Displacement Crisis and the Social and Spatial Reproduction of Inequality

The current foreclosure crisis has led to large-scale displacement of former homeowners and their families. From 2005-2010, this crisis has produced a wave of displacement, which still shows little sign of slowing, and is predicted to continue until 2012. Research shows that those who have been the most heavily impacted by foreclosure are people of color, homeowners with low educational attainment, the elderly, and women homeowners. This paper engages the foreclosure and displacement literatures and discusses five pilot interviews to examine the ways in which households have been impacted, at the level of the individual and the household. While the popular press and academic literature have focused on the impacts of foreclosures on the financial and mortgage industries, the impacts of foreclosure and displacement on families and neighborhoods continue to be profound and are silently undermining stability and producing deep social uncertainty. The literature on displacement due to natural disaster, urban renewal, and gentrification foregrounds the ways the current foreclosure crisis may operate differently from past large-scale displacements, and provides insight into the social and equity implications of the foreclosure crisis. Interviews with individuals who have been foreclosed upon, and church pastors from communities with high rates of foreclosure, show how displacement contributes to uncertainty and hardship for many families. This paper examines the variety of realms affected by foreclosure, from the social to the spatial, and analyzes the ways in which the foreclosure crisis is becoming a displacement crisis that may be reproducing social inequalities.

Source: ISSC Fellows Working Papers, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online abstract

An analytical review: 10 years on from the adoption of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol

The United Nations and key relevant international organizations launched a first joint publication detailing recommendations for coordinated future action to combat trafficking in persons during the 6 th meeting of the Inter-agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT).

The relevant organizations are members of the Inter- Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), established by the United Nations General Assembly

The publication, entitled 'An analytical review: 10 years on from the adoption of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol' , is significant as it not only provides an overview of mandates and activities of all ICAT member organizations, but provides gap analysis within the various fields of work related to trafficking in persons undertaken over the last 10 years. The publication additionally, offers recommendations for coordinated future action to combat trafficking in persons.

The report's recommendations address the following (four) key areas: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnerships.

Source: United Nations

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online summary and information

The Great Winter Break Workbook

Natalie M. Houston from the University of Houston and ProfHacker Blogger created a free downloadable guide for getting what you want out of your Winter Break.

... for anyone whose schedule and responsibilities will change during the winter break and who wants to be able to honestly say in January “yes, I had a great break!”

Read more on her post

Download "The Great Winter Break Workbook" (pdf - registration required)

Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information

The recent online publication of classified defense documents and diplomatic cables by the organization WikiLeaks and subsequent reporting by the New York Times and other news media have focused attention on whether such publication violates U.S. criminal law. The Attorney General has reportedly stated that the Justice Department and Department of Defense are investigating the circumstances to determine whether any prosecutions will be undertaken in connection with the disclosure. This report identifies some criminal statutes that may apply, but notes that these have been used almost exclusively to prosecute individuals with access to classified information (and a corresponding obligation to protect it) who make it available to foreign agents, or to foreign agents who obtain classified information unlawfully while present in the United States. Leaks of classified information to the press have only rarely been punished as crimes, and we are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it. ...

Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf publication | Link to online summary

Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists

Considerable effort has been devoted to understanding the process of violent Islamist radicalization, but far less research has explored the equally important process of deradicalization, or how individuals or groups abandon extremist groups and ideologies. Proactive measures to prevent vulnerable individuals from radicalizing and to rehabilitate those who have already embraced extremism have been implemented, to varying degrees, in several Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and European countries. A key question is whether the objective of these programs should be disengagement (a change in behavior) or deradicalization (a change in beliefs) of militants. Furthermore, a unique challenge posed by militant Islamist groups is that their ideology is rooted in a major world religion. An examination of deradicalization and counter-radicalization programs in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe assessed the strengths and weaknesses of each program, finding that the best-designed programs leverage local cultural patterns to achieve their objectives. Such programs cannot simply be transplanted from one country to another. They need to develop organically in a specific country and culture.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf publication | Link to RAND Corp. Record

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Least Developed Countries Report 2010

From the Description:
The global financial and economic crisis highlight the urgent need to move beyond business as usual and, through concerted international action, foster more stable and inclusive global development. The crisis has been a sober reminder that economic and social imbalances and inequalities, both within and between countries, if left to correct themselves, are likely to produce damaging and destructive outcomes, particularly for vulnerable countries and communities. This Report focuses on the boombust cycle of the past decade in the least developed countries (LDCs) and offers alternatives for the coming decade.

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Download full pdf publication | Link to report web page

Managing Information Overload: Examining the Role of the Human Filter

With the increasing processing power and plummeting costs of multimedia technologies, our ability to ubiquitously access and disseminate information continues to become indefinitely easier. However, emerging research shows that we are struggling to process information as fast as it arrives. The problem of information overload is a significant one for contemporary organisations as it can adversely affect productivity, decision-making, and employee morale. To combat this problem, organisations often resort to investing in technical solutions such as business intelligence software or semantic technologies. While such technical approaches can certainly aid in making sense of information overload, less attention has been directed at understanding how social behaviours within inter-personal networks – the primary conduit of information – have evolved to deal with the surge of digital information. Using social network analysis and interview evidence from two information intensive firms, this study finds a small number of information specialists who emerge to filter useful information into and around the intra-organizational network. The article concludes with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

Source: SSRN

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| Link to online abstract

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Rise of College Student Borrowing

Undergraduate college student borrowing has risen dramatically in recent years. Graduates who received a bachelor’s degree in 20081 borrowed 50% more (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than their counterparts who graduated in 1996, while graduates who earned an associate’s degree or undergraduate certificate in 2008 borrowed more than twice what their counterparts in 1996 had borrowed, according to a new analysis of National Center for Education Statistics data by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project.

Source: Pew Research Center

Download full pdf publication | Link to online overview

The State of Our Unions

From Executive Summary:
In middle America, marriage is in trouble. Among the affluent, marriage is stable and appears to be getting even stronger. Among the poor, marriage continues to be fragile and weak.

But the newest and perhaps most consequential marriage trend of our time concerns the broad center of our society, where marriage, that iconic middle-class institution, is foundering. Among Middle Americans, defined here as those with a high-school but not a (four-year) college degree, rates of nonmarital childbearing and divorce are rising, even as marital happiness is falling. This "moderately educated" middle of America constitutes a full 58 percent of the adult population. When Marriage Disappears argues that shifts in marriage mores, increases in unemployment, and declines in religious attendance are among the trends driving the retreat from marriage in Middle America.

The State of Our Unions monitors the current health of marriage and family life in America. Produced annually, it is a joint publication of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.

Download full pdf publication
| Link to National Marriage Project Home Page

Socioeconomic Rights and Theories of Justice


This paper considers the relation between theories of justice (like John Rawls’s theory) and theories of socio-economic rights. In different ways, these two kinds of theory address much the same subject-matter. But they are quite strikingly different in format and texture. Theories of socio-economic rights defend particular line-item requirements: a right to this or that good or opportunity (e.g., housing, health care, education, social security). Theories of justice tend to involve a more integrated normative account of a society’s basic structure (though they differ considerably among themselves in their structure). So how exactly should we think about their relation? The basic claim of the paper is that we should strive to bring these two into closer relation with one another, since it is only in the context of a theory of justice that we can properly assesses the competition that arises between claims of socio-economic right and other claims on public and private resources.

Source: New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 245.

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Basic Facts About Low-income Children

Children represent 25 percent of the population. Yet, they comprise 36 percent of all people in poverty. Among children, 42 percent live in low-income families and approximately one in every five live in poor families. Winding up in a low-income or poor family does not happen by chance. There are significant factors related to children’s experiences with economic insecurity, such as race/ethnicity and parents’ education and employment. This fact sheet describes the demographic, socio-economic, and geographic characteristics of children and their parents – highlighting the important factors that appear to distinguish low-income and poor children from their less disadvantaged counterparts.

Download full pdf fact sheet | Link to online description and graphs

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

UNAIDS Report - 2010 Edition

The 2010 edition of the UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic includes new country by country scorecards on key issues facing the AIDS response. Based on the latest data from 182 countries, this global reference book provides comprehensive analysis on the AIDS epidemic and response. For the first time the report includes trend data on incidence from more than 60 countries.

Source:United Nations

Download full pdf report | Link to UNAIDS site

Persistence and Attainment of 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After Six Years

This First Look report provides a brief description of the persistence and degree attainment of a nationally representative sample of students who began postsecondary education for the first time in the 2003-04 academic year. The report provides a first look at the experience of these students over six academic years, from 2003-04 to 2008-09, and provides information about the rates at which students completed degrees, transferred to other institutions, and left postsecondary education without attaining degrees. It provides direct comparisons of the institutional retention and completion rates of undergraduates at the first institution attended versus the persistence and attainment rates of the same group of students anywhere in postsecondary education after six years. Findings show that 49 percent of students who began postsecondary education in 2003-04 earned a credential by June 2009, ranging from an educational certificate to a bachelors degree. Another 15 percent remained enrolled, but had not yet completed a program of study; and about one-third (36 percent) left postsecondary education without a credential of any kind by June 2009.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online description

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Preparing for the Future of HIV/AIDS in Africa: A Shared Responsibility

HIV/AIDS is a catastrophe globally but nowhere more so than in sub-Saharan Africa, which in 2008 accounted for 67 percent of cases worldwide and 91 percent of new infections. The IOM recommends that the United States and African nations move toward a strategy of shared responsibility such that these nations are empowered to take ownership of their HIV/AIDS problem and work to solve it.

Source: Committee on Envisioning a Strategy for the Long-Term Burden of HIV/AIDS: African Needs and U.S. Interests; Institute of Medicine [via National Academies Press]

Download pdf summary
| Download Report in Brief (pdf) | Download full report (requires login)

Cycling in the Complexity of Early Societies

Warfare is commonly viewed as a driving force of the process of aggregation of initially independent villages into larger and more complex political units that started several thousand years ago and quickly lead to the appearance of chiefdoms, states, and empires. Here we build on extensions and generalizations of Carneiro’s (1970) argument to develop a spatially explicit agent-based model of the emergence of early complex societies via warfare. In our model polities are represented as hierarchically structured networks of villages whose size, power, and complexity change as a result of conquest, secession, internal reorganization (via promotion and linearization), and resource dynamics. A general prediction of our model is continuous stochastic cycling in which the growth of individual polities in size, wealth/power, and complexity is interrupted by their quick collapse. The model dynamics are mostly controlled by two parameters, one of which scales the relative advantage of wealthier polities in between and within-polity conflicts, and the other is the chief’s expected time in power. Our results demonstrate that the stability of large and complex polities is strongly promoted if the outcomes of the conflicts are mostly determined by the polities’ wealth/power, if there exist well-defined and accepted means of succession, and if control mechanisms are internally specialized.

Source: Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History, The Institute for Research on World-Systems, UC Riverside [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract at eScholarship Repository

The Long Road from Babylon to Brentwood: Crisis and Restructuring in the San Francisco Bay Area

Communities on the fringes of the American metropolis – exurbs, or exurbia – have recently garnered attention as the centers of the foreclosure crisis and its aftermath. On the one hand, this attention to the urban nature of the crisis is welcome, as the metamorphosis of the mortgage fiasco into a financial crisis cum global economic meltdown turned popular attention away from the urban roots of this calamity. But this emphasis on the exurbs as the site of crisis lends itself to the misconception that they are the sole source of crisis, rather than the restructuring of the metropolis as a whole. Using a mixture of ethnography, history and journalism, this paper weaves together the story of how the San Francisco Bay Area was restructured over the course of the past thirty years in a way that produced not only a new map of urban and exurban segregation, but the roots of the crisis itself. Working across multiple scales, it examines how three interwoven factors – demographics, policy and capital – each reacted to the landscape inherited at the end of the 1970’s, moving about the region in new ways, leaving some places thriving and others struggling with foreclosure, plummeting property values and the deep uncertainty of the current American metropolis.

Source: ISSC Fellows Working Papers, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication | Link to page at eScholarship repository

Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy

An Update of RAND's 1993 Study

At the request of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Secretary of Defense, the RAND Corporation conducted a study on sexual orientation and U.S. military policy in order to provide information and analysis that might be considered in discussing the possible repeal of the law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). The study examined DADT implementation; U.S. public and military opinion about allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military without restriction; and the scientific literature on group cohesion, sexual orientation, and related health issues. RAND conducted focus groups with military personnel and a survey of gay, lesbian, and bisexual military personnel. RAND researchers also examined the comparable experiences of other institutions, domestic agencies, and foreign militaries, as well as how repeal of DADT might affect unit cohesion and military readiness and effectiveness.

Most polling data suggest that a majority of Americans support allowing gay people to serve in the military without restriction. The research concludes that there would be little impact on recruiting and retention of military personnel and on unit cohesion and performance. Current research and the experience during World War II shows that cohesion of combat units comes from the common threat of the enemy, not from prior shared values and attitudes. The majority of gay and lesbian service members who responded to RAND's survey reported that, although they did not talk about their sexual orientation, many unit members already knew that there was a gay service member in their unit. The vast majority indicated that they would remain circumspect in how they make their orientation known to other service members. Many military focus group participants said that they knew gay men and lesbians who were serving and respected their contributions. Many major U.S. allies, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, have allowed gay individuals to serve without restriction for a number of years. They report no effect on unit performance or on their ability to meet recruitment goals. No country provides special accommodations for privacy or special training on sexual orientation. Police and fire departments, as well as federal agencies, major corporations, and colleges, all report that they have integrated gay individuals without serious problems and without negative effects on performance — and without making specific accommodations — by applying a strict policy of nondiscrimination.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf publication | Link to online summary

Also available : RAND's orginial 1993 study

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nationwide Survey on Family Eating Behaviors and Physical Activity

From the Press Release:
In the midst of the childhood obesity epidemic and with a majority of American kids lacking the critical nutrients for healthy growth and development, the preliminary results of a new survey on family eating habits, attitudes and physical activity has been released — outlining positive changes as well as opportunities. The preliminary findings of the American Dietetic Association Foundation's 2010 Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey were released Tuesday, November 9 at ADA's Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Boston.

Following up on a similar survey from 2003, the 2010 study surveyed 1,193 pairs of children (ages 8 to 17) and their parents*, revealing significant positive changes in eating patterns, meal and snack purchases and family patterns that are related to healthier weights in children.

Download pdf fact sheet | Link to online Press Release

Road Trauma in Teenage Male Youth with Childhood Disruptive Behavior Disorders: A Population Based Analysis

Teenage male drivers contribute to a large number of serious road crashes despite low rates of driving and excellent physical health. We examined the amount of road trauma involving teenage male youth that might be explained by prior disruptive behavior disorders (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder).

Source: Public Library of Science : Medicine

Download full pdf publication | Link to PLoS Medicine

How Military Veterans Are Using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Adapting to Life in College

The Post-9/11 GI Bill increased the higher education benefits available to eligible individuals. Offering benefits to nearly 2 million veterans, it is more generous than previous bills but beneficiaries report challenges in using the new benefits.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf Research brief | Link to RAND Corporation

CDC Vital Signs : Access to Health Care

New 2010 estimates show that the number of Americans without health insurance is growing, affecting middle-income Americans as well as those living in poverty. About 50 million adults 18–64 years old had no health insurance for at least some of the past 12 months. People in all income brackets have been affected, not just adults living in poverty, according to a 2009 survey. In the past few years, the number of adults aged 18–64 who went without health insurance for at least part of the past 12 months increased by an average of 1.1 million per year. About half of those additional adults were middle-income.* Adults without consistent health insurance are more likely to skip medical care because of cost concerns, which can lead to poorer health, higher long-term health care costs, and early death.

Source: Center for Disease Control

Download full pdf publication | Link to CDC online overview

Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Family Income of the Unemployed

The unemployment rate averaged 9.3 percent in 2009, more than double what it was in 2007 and the highest it had been since 1983. In 2009, nearly one in four people (including children) lived in a family in which at least one family member was unemployed at some time during the year. Among people living in a family with income below the poverty threshold, one in three lived in a family in which at least one person was unemployed at some point.


CBO examined the role of UI benefits in supporting the income of families in which at least one person was unemployed at some point in 2009. The analysis addressed how that role varied with the amount of family income and the number of weeks of unemployment for all family members. CBO also examined how the poverty rate and related indicators of financial hardship would have differed in the absence of the UI program. Although CBO’s calculations are based on data about individual people, the results are presented in terms of families, both to focus on the effects on families and for ease of exposition.

Source: Congressional Budget Office

Download full pdf publication
| Link to CBO

The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families

From the executive summary:
The transformative trends of the past 50 years that have led to a sharp decline in marriage and a rise of new family forms have been shaped by attitudes and behaviors that differ by class, age and race, according to a new Pew Research Center nationwide survey, conducted in association with TIME magazine, and complemented by an analysis of demographic and economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Source: Pew Research Center

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

Immigration Reform Issues in the 111th Congress

There is a broad-based consensus that the U.S. immigration system is broken. This consensus erodes, however, as soon as the options to reform the U.S. immigration system are debated. The number of foreign-born people residing in the United States is at the highest level in U.S. history and has reached a proportion of the U.S. population--12.6%--not seen since the early 20th century. Of the 38 million foreign-born residents in the United States, approximately 16.4 million are naturalized citizens. According to the latest estimates by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about 10.8 million unauthorized aliens were living in the United States in January 2009. The Pew Hispanic Center recently reported an estimate of 11.1 million unauthorized aliens in March 2009, down from a peak of 12 million in March 2007. Some observers and policy experts maintain that the presence of an estimated 11 million unauthorized residents is evidence of flaws in the legal immigration system as well as failures of immigration control policies and practices. The 111th Congress is faced with strategic questions of whether to continue to build on incremental reforms of specific elements of immigration (e.g., employment verification, skilled migration, temporary workers, worksite enforcement, and legalization of certain categories of unauthorized residents) or whether to comprehensively reform the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). President Barack Obama has affirmed his support for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes increased enforcement as well as a pathway to legal residence for certain unauthorized residents. This report synthesizes the multi-tiered debate over immigration reform into key elements: legal immigration; legalization; immigration control; refugees, asylees, and humanitarian migrants; and alien rights, benefits, and responsibilities.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf publication | Link to online summary

An Unlucky Feeling: Overconfidence and Noisy Feedback

How does overconfidence arise and how does it persist in the face of experience and feedback? In an experimental setting, we examine how individuals’ beliefs about their own performance on a quiz react to noisy, but unbiased feedback. In a control treatment, each participant expresses her beliefs about another participant’s performance, rather than her own. On average, they express accurate posteriors about others’ scores, but they overestimate their own score, believing themselves to have received ‘unlucky’ feedback. However, this driven by overconfident priors, as opposed to biased information processing. We also find that, while feedback improves estimates about the performance on which it is based, this learning does not translate into improved estimates of related performances. This suggests that people use performance feedback to update their beliefs about their ability differently than they do to update their beliefs about their performance, which may contribute to the persistence of overconfidence.

Source: Departmental Working Papers, Department of Economics, UCSB, UC Santa Barbara [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online abstract [eScholarship Repository]

U.K. Social Trends

An established reference source, Social Trends draws together social and economic data from a wide range of government departments and other organisations; it paints a broad picture of UK society today, and how it has been changing.

There are 13 chapters each focusing on a different social policy area, described in tables, figures and text: population, households and families, education and training, labour market, income and wealth, expenditure, health, social protection, crime and justice, housing, environment, transport, lifestyles and social participation.

Source: U.K. Office for National Statistics

Download full pdf publication | Link to online overview and links to data tables.

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010

A joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Center for Education Statistics, this annual report examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school. It provides the most current detailed statistical information to inform the Nation on the nature of crime in schools. This report presents data on crime at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population from an array of sources--the National Crime Victimization Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety and the School and Staffing Survey. Data on crime away from school are also presented to place school crime in the context of crime in the larger society.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online overview

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

College Home Listing Report shows how college towns stack up in home price affordability

To see how college towns stack up in home price affordability, Coldwell Banker Real Estate released its new College Home Listing Report (College HLR) today, which provides the average home listing price of four-bedroom, two-bathroom properties listed for sale between April and September 2010 on in markets home to the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Link to Rankings | Link to full data chart

Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act of 2010

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes several provisions that promise to stem the rapidly rising tide of uninsured young adults, one of the largest uninsured segments of the population. These include the ability to enroll in a parent’s health plan up to age 26, beginning in September 2010; significant expansion in eligibility for Medicaid, beginning in 2014; and the creation of health insurance exchanges with subsidized private insurance for people with low and moderate incomes, also beginning in 2014. Of the 14.8 million uninsured young adults, up to 12.1 million may gain subsidized insurance once all the law’s provisions go into effect in 2014: 7.2 million may gain coverage under Medicaid and 4.9 million may gain subsidized private coverage through the insurance exchanges. In addition, about 1 million uninsured young adults are expected to join their parents’ policies over the next three years.

Source: The Commmonwealth Fund

Download pdf issue brief | Download pdf chartpak | Link to The Commmonwealth Fund

2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy

Through an ongoing research partnership with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which began in 2006, the 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy reveals significant shifts as well as consistent trends in the attitudes and giving behaviors of wealthy donors, including which nonprofit sectors they support, how they direct their largest gifts, what motivates them to give and to discontinue support for a nonprofit organization, where and how often they volunteer, and who they turn to for advice about philanthropy. The latest study also examines new areas of research, including how charitable decisions are made within households, investment risk tolerance as it pertains to donors’ philanthropic assets, and how wealthy individuals respond to disaster relief.

This biennial study has become a significant resource for understanding the motives and methods of giving among wealthy Americans and is used to inform the practices of nonprofit organizations and to foster peer learning among donors themselves. The study also provides key insights for those who advise the wealthy on their charitable giving strategies.

Download full pdf publication | Link to online summary

Flexible working time arrangements and gender equality - A comparative review of 30 European countries

Increased flexibility of working time arrangements and promotion of gender equality are two important elements in the EU’s employment policy. In many instances, increased flexibility has a positive effect on gender equality, although this is not always the case. This review from the EU Expert Group on Gender and Employment sets out the relationship between working time flexibility and gender equality and compares the state of play in 30 European countries (EU-27 and EEA/EFTA). It gives an overview of working time flexibility throughout Europe as well as in-depth analysis of flexibility in terms of length and organisation of working time. Information is also provided on the regulatory framework and recent policy developments in the field. In addition, the review comprises a detailed statistical annex. This publication is available in English only, with French and German summaries.

Source: Link to EU Commission on Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Gender equality

Download full pdf publication
| Link to EU Commission on Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Gender equality

Pulling Back the Curtain on College-Level Literacy Skills

This article outlines the benefits of self-reflection and skill-building exercises in freshman-intensive courses, with particular focus on reading assessment activities. As literacy practices are critical to one’s sense of academic community, all instructors have a responsibility to address writing style, organization and reading skills applicable to a given discipline. This is of particular importance to freshman, first-generation and transfer students who are making the most intensive transition to university life. Prior knowledge assessment benefits instructors in determining skills needs, with students also gaining voice and confidence. Part of the “pulling back the curtain” concept is explaining expectations (via rubrics) and modeling successful practices. This article concludes with an affective reading survey and best practices list.

Source: Center for Research on Teaching Excellence, UC Merced [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication | Link to online summary at eScholarship Repository

Changing Places: How Communities Will Improve the Health of Boys of Color

The challenges shaping the life chances of boys and young men of color are well-documented but still shocking. This book draws attention to the urgent need—both economic and moral—to better understand the policy and community-based factors that serve as incentives or barriers to young men and boys of color as they make critical life decisions. This volume draws attention to the potential of a public policy focus on young men and boys of color as a high-leverage strategy for promoting an agenda for equitable, sustainable, healthy communities in California and across the Nation.

Source: Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, UC Berkeley [via eScholarship Repository]

Link to full-text online at eScholarship Repository

National Latino Leader? The Job is Open

By their own reckoning, Latinos living in the United States do not have a national leader. When asked in an open-ended question to name the person they consider "the most important Latino leader in the country today," nearly two-thirds (64%) of Hispanic respondents said they did not know. An additional 10% said "no one."

These findings emerge from the 2010 National Survey of Latinos, a bilingual national survey of 1,375 Hispanic adults conducted prior to this month's mid-term elections by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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| Link to online summary

China's Currency: An Analysis of the Economic Issues

Over the past several years, the Chinese government has maintained a policy of intervening in currency markets to limit or halt the appreciation of its currency, the renminbi (RMB) against other major currencies, especially the U.S. dollar. This policy appears to be largely intended to keep China's export industries competitive internationally and to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), which have been major factors behind China's rapid economic growth. Critics charge that this policy constitutes a form of currency manipulation that is intended to make Chinese exports cheaper, and imports into China more expensive, than they would be under a floating exchange system. Some claim that China's currency policy is a major cause of the large U.S. trade imbalance with China and the loss of numerous U.S. jobs. Many Members of Congress have urged the Obama Administration to designate China as a "currency manipulator" in order to pressure it to let the RMB appreciate, and several bills have been introduced (including H.R. 2378, S. 1254, S. 1027, and S. 3134) which seek to address China's currency policy.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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The 2007-2009 Recession: Similarities to and Differences from the Past

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the U.S. economy was in a recession for 18 months from December 2007 to June 2009. It was the longest and deepest recession of the post-World War II era. The recession can be separated into two distinct phases. During the first phase, which lasted for the first half of 2008, the recession was not deep as measured by the decline in gross domestic product (GDP) or the rise in unemployment. It then deepened from the third quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009. The economy continued to contract slightly in the second quarter of 2009, before returning to expansion in the third quarter. The recent recession features the largest decline in output, consumption, and investment, and the largest increase in unemployment, of any post-war recession.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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| Link to online Summary

Title Are Corporations “Subjects” of International Law?

Courts and scholars often attempt to draw legal conclusions from the status of entities, whether states, international organizations or corporations. Debates concerning whether corporations are “subjects” of international law and the legal conclusions that supposedly follow from this are particularly vociferous within Alien Tort Claims litigation in U.S. courts. Using the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United as a cautionary tale, the author argues that drawing legal conclusions from the fact of “subject-hood” is fraught with peril, particularly in the case of corporations. He argues that such top-down approaches are likely to lead to unintended consequences and that corporations, like international organizations, should more properly be seen as “participants” than “subjects.”

Source: New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 238.

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Monday, November 08, 2010

World Social Science Report, 2010: “Knowledge divides”

Social science from Western countries continues to have the greatest global influence, but the field is expanding rapidly in Asia and Latin America, particularly in China and Brazil. In sub-Saharan Africa, social scientists from South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya produce 75% of academic publications. In South Asia, barring some centres of excellence in India, social sciences as a whole have low priority. These are a few of the findings from World Social Science Report, 2010: “Knowledge divides”.

Source: UNESCO

Download full pdf publication | Link to online overview

Disparities in Trauma and Mental Health Service Use

A burgeoning literature suggests that significant disparities in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) risk may exist, especially for racial-ethnic minorities and women. Individuals with PTSD report more barriers to care than those with other anxiety disorders, and only about half of those with PTSD receive even minimally adequate treatment. However, little is known about the interaction of race-ethnicity and gender in trauma and PTSD or about PTSD treatment patterns and preferences by demographic group. This study examined racial-ethnic and gender disparities in trauma and PTSD, barriers to mental health care, and mental health service utilization.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf publication | Link to online overview

United Nations Human Development Report 2010

The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development

For the first time, the Report looks back rigorously at the past several decades and identifies often surprising trends and patterns with important lessons for the future. These varied pathways to human development show that there is no single formula for sustainable progress—and that impressive gains can be achieved even without consistent economic growth.

Source: United Nations

Download full pdf publication | Link to overview site

Rwanda: Background and Current Developments

In 2003, Rwanda held its first multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections in decades. President Paul Kagame of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) won 95% of the votes cast, while his nearest rival, Faustin Twagiramungu, received 3.6% of the votes cast. In the legislative elections, the ruling RPF won 73% in the 80-seat National Assembly, while the remaining seats went to RPF allies and former coalition partners. In September 2008, Rwanda held legislative elections, and the RPF won a majority of the seats. Rwandese women are now the majority in the National Assembly. In October 2008, the National Assembly elected Ms. Mukantabam Rose as the first female speaker of the Assembly. In August 2010, Rwanda held its general elections and President Kagame won 93% of the votes cast. In Rwanda, events of a prior decade are still fresh in the minds of many survivors and perpetrators.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf publication | Link to full online overview

The Latino Vote in the 2010 Elections

Tuesday's midterm elections were historic for Hispanics. For the first time ever, three Latino candidates-all of them Republicans-won top statewide offices. In New Mexico, voters elected the nation's first Latina governor, Republican Susana Martinez. In Nevada, Republican Brian Sandoval won the governor's race and became Nevada's first Hispanic governor. And in Florida, Republican Marco Rubio won the U.S. Senate race.

Despite these big top-of-the-ticket wins for Republican Hispanic candidates, Latino voters continued their strong support for Democratic candidates nationwide. National exit poll results show that Democrats had a nearly two-to-one advantage-64% versus 34%-over Republicans in U.S. House races among Latino voters. In other statewide races, Democratic candidates won the Latino vote, usually by wide margins.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download full pdf Report | Link to online overview

You've Come a Long Way, Baby ... or Maybe Not: Why Women are Losing Ground on Wall Street

The recession has not been kind to women on Wall Street. Consider these recent reports in the financial press: Even though women hold a minority of financial sector jobs, five times as many women as men were laid off after the start of the recession, according to Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, the pay gap between men and women in the industry, Bloomberg adds, actually widened between 2000 and 2007. The result is that while women in the broader work force have made significant progress toward pay and opportunity parity, they have actually lost ground on Wall Street.According to The Wall Street Journal, 9.6% more men are working in finance now than 10 years ago, but 2.6% fewer women. Among young workers, the numbers are even starker: 16.5% fewer women aged 20 to 35 and 21.8% fewer women aged 20 to 24.

In short, the number of women even choosing to work on Wall Street has dropped, and many of those who do start out there are deciding to leave or are being pushed out.

Source: Knowledge@Wharton

Download article in pdf format | Link to online article

The Corruption Perceptions Index Report

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries according to the perception of corruption in the public sector. The CPI is an aggregate indicator that combines different sources of information about corruption, making it possible to compare countries.

The 2010 CPI draws on different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions. It captures information about the administrative and political aspects of corruption. Broadly speaking, the surveys and assessments used to compile the index include questions relating to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.

Source: Transparency International

Download full pdf report
| Link to Transparency International

Data Table Federal Justice Statistics, 2008- Statistical Tables

Describes criminal case processing in the federal justice system, including arrest and booking through sentencing and corrections. These statistical tables present the number of suspects arrested and booked by the U.S. Marshals Service, suspects in matters investigated and prosecuted by U.S. attorneys, defendants adjudicated and sentenced in U.S. district court, and characteristics of federal prisoners and offenders under federal supervision.

Data are from the Federal Justice Statistics Program (FJSP), which collects comprehensive information describing suspects and defendants processed in the federal criminal justice system, and annual data on workload, activities, and outcomes associated with federal criminal cases. The data presented in these tables were collected from the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC), U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC), and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

Released: Nov. 2010

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Link to site with downloadable tables

Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009, and Salaries of Full-Time Instructional Staff, 2009-10

This First Look presents data from the Winter 2009-10 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), including data on the number of staff employed in Title IV postsecondary institutions in fall 2009 by primary function/occupational activity, length of contract/teaching period, employment status, salary class interval, faculty and tenure status, academic rank, race/ethnicity, and gender.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf publication | Link to online overview at NCES

Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States

This annual report provides basic information from the Common Core of Data about the nation's largest public school districts in the 2008-09 school year. The data include such characteristics as the number of students and teachers, number of high school completers and the averaged freshman graduation rate, and revenues and expenditures. Findings include: In 2008-09, these 100 largest districts enrolled 22 percent of all public school students, and employed 22 percent of all public school teachers. The districts produced 20 percent of all high school completers (both diploma and other completion credential recipients) in 2007-08. Three states -- California, Florida, and Texas -- accounted for almost half of the 100 largest public school districts. Current per-pupil expenditures in fiscal year 2008 ranged from a low of $6,363 in the Granite District, Utah to a high of $23,298 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf publication
| Link to NCES

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children

In response to the need for systematic evaluations of promising current school-based programs and to provide rigorous evidence of their efficacy, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), National Center for Education Research and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control established the Social and Character Development Research Program. Under a competitive application process, applicants proposed programs to be evaluated so long as the programs: a) had either preliminary evidence of success or a history of previous implementation in schools, b) aimed to influence social development and behavior outcomes, and c) utilized a universal approach to be implemented in all elementary school classrooms. Applications submitted to IES were peer reviewed, and seven research institutions were funded under cooperative agreements for a three-year evaluation of seven universal school-based programs intended to improve students' social and character development. At each of seven sites, one research team randomized 10 to 18 schools to either continue their current practice or implement a coherent program targeting social and behavioral outcomes. The programs employed activities to promote six social and character development goals (character education, violence prevention and peace promotion, social and emotional development, tolerance and diversity, risk prevention and health promotion, and civic responsibility and community service) as well as behavior management. The programs were coherent in that their activities were integrated and logically organized based on a theory of action (that differed among the programs), school-based in that they were implemented in the schools using school personnel, and universal in that they were to be implemented for all students in all elementary classrooms.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf publication | Link to NCES

Monday, October 25, 2010

United Nations Report : The World's Women 2010

The World’s Women 2010 shows that progress towards gender equality has been made in some areas, such as school enrolment, health and economic participation. At the same time the report shows that much more needs to be done to close the gender gap in critical areas such as power and decision-making and violence against women.

...highlights the differences in the status of women and men in eight areas – population and families, health, education, work, power and decision-making, violence against women, environment and poverty. Analyses are based mainly on statistics from international and national statistical sources.

Source: United Nations: Statistics Division

Download full pdf publication | Link to "The world's women" webside at the U.N.

The Browne Review UK: Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education

England has an internationally respected system of higher education. There are now a record number of people enrolled, studying an increasingly varied range of subjects at a diverse set of higher education institutions (‘HEIs’). Graduates go on to higher paid jobs and add to the nation’s strength in the global knowledge based economy. For a nation of our scale, we possess a disproportionate number of the best performing HEIs in the world, including three of the top ten...

Source: Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance

Download full pdf publication | Download pdf Executive Summary | Link to online summary

Network Neutrality 101 - Why the Government Must Act to Preserve the Free And Open Internet

The Internet has become a deeply ingrained in the lives of most Americans. It looms so large, in fact, it is easy to imagine that it is immune to change — that it will always remain the free and open medium that it is now. But there are no such guarantees. The Internet is a human institution, operated by real individuals and companies, and like most human institutions it is not static and unchanging. In fact, the history of the Internet as a mass public communications medium has been marked by two stages — and ongoing changes to the underlying architecture of the Internet, combined with a recent landmark court decision, may now be bringing us into a third stage.

Source: ACLU

Download full pdf publication | Link to ACLU Network Neutrality

Kroll Global Fraud Report

In a true sign of the times, companies participating in this year’s Global Fraud Survey reported that information theft is now the most common form of fraud. With 27% of companies reporting incidents within the past year, the theft of information surpassed the theft of physical property for the first time in the four-year history of the Survey. Some industry sectors were particularly hard hit, foremost among them financial services (42%, up from 23% the previous year), professional services (40%, up from 23%), and Technology, Media and Telecoms (37%, up from 15%). And while companies clearly recognize the increasing severity of the problem, to some extent they feel unprepared to deal with it: 77% of respondents believe that their companies are vulnerable to information theft.

Source: Kroll information and Security

Download full pdf report
| Link to online overview

Memory, brain and aging: The good, the bad and the promising

A large body of evidence converges on the conclusion that episodic memory (the recollection of personally experienced events) is the only long-term memory system that shows significant age-related deficits. Moreover, the brain regions most likely to show age-related volume loss are those most critically involved in episodic memory. Older adult brains may have much greater plasticity (capacity to change) than once believed; for example, neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons), increases in cognitive (includ-ing memory) performance, and increases in regional brain volume have all been shown to occur in older adulthood, as a result of physical or mental activity/training. The next wave of research will enhance our understanding of brain plasticity in adulthood and enable specific guidelines for lifestyle or pharmacological treatments that optimize brain and memory functioning well into late adulthood.

Source: California Agriculture, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Communication Services, UC Office of the President [via eScholarship Repository]

Download pdf publication
| Link to online overview at eScholarship Repository

Effects of stress on health and aging: Two paradoxes

Although older adults are thought to experience more stress and to be more vulnerable to its adverse effects, they often report less stress than younger adults and sometimes show more resilience. Paradoxically, while stress sometimes has long-term positive effects on well-being, studies differ as to whether this increases or decreases with age. We conclude that older individuals have learned to appraise and cope differently with stress.

Source: California Agriculture, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Communication Services, UC Office of the President [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online overview at eScholarship Repository

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card

From the introduction:
“Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card” posits that fairness depends not only on a sufficient level of funding for all students, but also the provision of additional resources to districts where there are more students with greater needs.

The National Report Card rates the 50 states on the basis of four separate, but interrelated, “fairness indicators” – funding level, funding distribution, state fiscal effort, and public school coverage. Using a more thorough statistical analysis, the report provides the most in-depth analysis to date of state education finance systems and school funding fairness across the nation.

Source: Education Law Center

Download full pdf report | Link to Report website

Cognitive and motivational factors support health literacy and acquisition of new health information in later life

Health literacy refers to the ability to read, understand and use health information to maintain or improve one’s health. Health literacy skills have been linked to outcomes such as medication adherence, improved health and decreased health-care costs. Health literacy is particularly low among older adults. Given demographic projections that 20% of the U.S. population will be over age 65 by 2030, there is a pressing need to understand health literacy in later life. We present such a framework, as well as data from two studies that show how cognitive and motivational factors support one aspect of health literacy, namely, the acquisition of new health information. A clearer understanding of these issues will provide insight for targeting educational interventions designed to increase health literacy among aging adults.

Source: California Agriculture, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Communication Services, UC Office of the President [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication | Link to eScholarship

“The Silence Itself is Enough of a Statement”: Unintended Consequences of Silence as an Awareness-Raising Strategy

The strategy of silence for voice, as seen in the Day of Silence, deploys silence in order to draw attention to the ways in which an individual or group has been silenced and to establish possibilities for voice. The Day of Silence is a nation-wide day of action aimed at addressing anti-LGBTQ bias and harassment in schools. This ethnographic study of a high school gay-straight alliance (GSA) club examines the unintended consequences of silence as an awareness-raising strategy during events related to the Day of Silence and how students and teachers handle these consequences. Silence makes students more defenseless in the face of verbal harassment, makes it more difficult to engage in discussion with others of opposing views, and makes it more challenging for teachers to lead their classes and for students to learn. What remains unheard at MacArthur High are the institutional silences LGBTQ students experience when they find themselves not represented in the curricula and they find critical discussion of heterosexism and hegemonic masculinity absent from classroom and school discourse. While the Day of Silence calls for students to engage in intentional silences in order to raise awareness about anti-LGBTQ bias, it does not necessarily lead others to take more responsibility for their ignorance or to address silences around gender and sexuality. This study makes suggestions for implementing change regarding silences of LGBTQ issues in the curricula, pedagogy, and schooling practices.

Source: ISSC Fellows Working Papers, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication | Link to eScholarship Repository

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal

This research provides the first support for a possible psychological universal: human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending). Analyzing survey data from 136 countries, we show that prosocial spending is consistently associated with greater happiness. To test for causality, we conduct experiments within two very different countries (Canada and Uganda) and show that spending money on others has a consistent, causal impact on happiness. In contrast to traditional economic thought—which places self-interest as the guiding principle of human motivation—our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts.

Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Download full pdf publication
| Link to HBS Working papers listing

Demographic Profiles of Latino Eligible Voters in 27 States

Press Release:
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, today released statistical profiles of the Latino eligible voter populations in 27 states. Derived from the 2008 American Community Survey, these profiles provide key demographic and socioeconomic information about Latino eligible voters and all eligible voters (U.S. citizens ages 18 and older). They also contain Latino population estimates for congressional districts in the 27 states.

The Center also launched a new feature on its website called Mapping the Latino Electorate. This interactive feature provides key eligible voter statistics in the nation's 50 states and the District of Columbia along with Hispanic population estimates in 435 congressional districts.

The state fact sheets... contain data on the size and social and economic characteristics of the Hispanic and non-Hispanic eligible voter populations. These fact sheets are based on the Center's tabulations of the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey. Eligible voters are defined as U.S. citizens ages 18 and older.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Link to State Fact Sheets at the Pew Hispanic Center

Monday, October 18, 2010

Resource Brief | Breast Cancer Info Center, Encyclopedia of Chicago, the Livingroom Candidate

Resources Mentioned in Resource Brief podcast Episode #2

ebrary Breast Cancer Searchable Information Center

Online Encyclopedia of Chicago

The livingroomcandidate site is part of the “Museum of the Moving Image” and can be found at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cutting to the bone: How the economic crisis affects schools

They’re calling it “The Great Recession.” Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has the United States gone through such an economic meltdown—huge increases in unemployment, steep drops in housing prices, and tight credit for even the most financially sound. These events have taken their toll on the country’s economic output and unemployment rate, and they have affected just about every classroom in the nation as well.

Education is usually one of the last budget areas to be cut, but most districts today are suffering declines in both state and local funding. At the same time, many are also facing dramatic increases in costs ranging from utilities to pension funds. With decreasing revenues and rising costs, school districts are forced to make tough decisions if they are to balance their budgets and still meet the needs of their students.

Some districts are finding ways to grapple with rising costs and limit the impact on students—for the time being. But what will be the long-term impact of this economic crisis on our next generation of students? This paper will describe what districts are up against and what the long-term impact might be.

Source: (U.S.) Center for public Education

Link to full online article

A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States

A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States presents findings from data collected for the 2005-2006 academic year from more than 5,000 doctoral programs at 212 universities. This report also includes illustrations of how the data can be used to produce rankings of doctoral programs based on measures important to faculty, students, administrators, funders, and other stakeholders.

Source: National Academies Press

Download pdf report brief (free) | Download full report (requires login)

Hold the Vegetables: How 'Now vs. Later' Affects Customer Choice

Paper Abstract:
How do decisions made for tomorrow or 2 days in the future differ from decisions made for several days in the future? We use data from an online grocer to address this question. In general, we find that as the delay between order completion and delivery increases, grocery customers spend less, order a higher percentage of “should” items (e.g., vegetables), and order a lower percentage of “want” items (e.g., ice cream), controlling for customer fixed effects. These field results replicate previous laboratory findings and are consistent with theories suggesting that people’s should selves exert more influence over their choices the further in the future outcomes will be experienced. However, orders placed for delivery tomorrow versus 2 days in the future do not show this want/should pattern, and we discuss a potential explanation

Source: Marketing Letters via Knowledge@Wharton

Read the discussion paper online at Knowledge@Wharton

Read the full pdf from Marketing Letters (subscription required)

European Union Mental Health Survey

A poll released to mark World Mental Health Day reveals that during the 12 months preceding the survey, 15% of respondents across EU Member States sought professional help for psychological or emotional problems and 7% took antidepressants, mostly for depression or anxiety. According to the results, there is still stigma attached to mental disorders, with 22% of those surveyed saying they would find it difficult to speak to a person with a "significant mental disorder". This issue and the other results will be discussed during the next thematic conference under the European Pact for Mental Health and Well-being.

Source: Public Opinion Analysis sector of the European Commission

Download full pdf publication | Link to Public Opinion Analysis sector of the European Commission

European Union : E-Communications Household Survey

Europeans are becoming increasingly "digital" according to a European Commission Eurobarometer survey which questioned 27,000 households throughout the EU on their use of internet, telephones and TV. More Europeans are subscribing to broadband internet and digital television in fixed-cost bundled 'packages'. Increased broadband take-up means even more Europeans are going online with 35% now using social networking websites. However, they have concerns about cost, quality of service and security, as well as online freedom. One fifth of fixed and mobile internet users reveal that they have experienced problems with blocked content and applications. The Commission's May 2010 Digital Agenda for Europe not only sets ambitious targets to bring broadband internet to all of Europe's citizens but also outlines measures to boost competition, trust and security.

Source: Public Opinion Analysis sector of the European Commission.

Download full pdf publication
| Download pdf summary

The House of Representatives Apportionment Formula: An Analysis of Proposals for Change and Their Impact on States


In preparation for the reallocation of Representatives among the states based on the 2010 Census, it may prove helpful to examine the current House of Representatives apportionment formula. In addition, some members of the statistical community have, in the recent past, urged Congress to consider changing the current apportionment formula. Consequently, an examination of other methods that could be used to apportion the seats in the House of Representatives may contribute to a deeper understanding of the apportionment process. Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated by a formula known as "the Hill," or equal proportions, method. If Congress decided to change it, there are at least five alternatives to consider. Four of these are based on rounding fractions and one, on ranking fractions. The current apportionment system (codified in 2 U.S.C. 2a) is one of the rounding methods. The Hamilton-Vinton method is based on ranking fractions. First, the population of 50 states is divided by 435 (the House size) in order to find the national "ideal size" district. Next, this number is divided into each state's population. Each state is then awarded the whole number in its quotient (but at least one). If fewer than 435 seats have been assigned by this process, the fractional remainders of the 50 states are rank-ordered from largest to smallest, and seats are assigned in this manner until 435 are allocated. The rounding methods, including the Hill method currently in use, allocate seats among the states differently, but operationally the methods only differ by where rounding occurs in seat assignments. Three of these methods--Adams, Webster, and Jefferson--have fixed rounding points. Two others--Dean and Hill--use varying rounding points that rise as the number of seats assigned to a state grows larger. The methods can be defined in the same way (after substituting the appropriate rounding principle in parentheses). The rounding point for Adams is (up for all fractions); for Dean (at the harmonic mean); for Hill (at the geometric mean); for Webster (at the arithmetic mean, which is 0.5 for successive numbers); and for Jefferson (down for all fractions). Substitute these phrases in the general definition below for the rounding methods: Find a number so that when it is divided into each state's population and resulting quotients are rounded (substitute appropriate phrase), the total number of seats will sum to 435. (In all cases where a state would be entitled to less than one seat, it receives one anyway because of the constitutional requirement.) Fundamental to choosing an apportionment method is a determination of fairness. Each apportionment method discussed in this report has a rational basis, and for each, there is at least one test according to which it is the most equitable. The question of how the concept of fairness can best be defined, in the context of evaluating an apportionment formula, remains open. Which of the mathematical tests discussed in this report best approximates the constitutional requirement that Representatives be apportioned among the states according to their respective numbers is, arguably, a matter of judgment, rather than an indisputable mathematical test.

Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of congress

Download full pdf publication | Link to online summary at Open CRS

Video calling and video chat

From Overview:
Almost a fifth of American adults – 19% – have tried video calling either online or via their cell phones. These figures translate into 23% of internet users and 7% of cell phone owners who have participated in video calls, chats, or teleconferences.

Video calling has become increasingly available as camcorders have spread through the online environment, cameras have been built into smart phones, and as video-chat services like Skype, Google Talk, and Apple iChat have become a feature of the online and smart phone environment. Teleconferencing is also becoming more embedded in the business environment.

This summer, in a nationally-representative telephone survey using landlines and cell phones, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Project asked for the first time about the prevalence of video calling both online and on cell phones.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

Download full pdf report | Link to online overview

In Search of Copyright’s Lost Ark: Interpreting the Right to Distribute in the Internet Age

Prior to the emergence of peer-to-peer technology, the Copyright Act’s distribution right was largely dormant. Most enforcement actions were premised upon violations of the reproduction right. The relatively few cases invoking the distribution right involved arcane scenarios. During the past several years, direct enforcement of the Copyright Act against file sharers has brought the scope of the distribution right to center stage. Whereas the 1909 Act expressly protected the rights to “publish” and “vend,” the 1976 Act speaks of a right to “distribute.” Interpreting “distribute” narrowly, some courts have held that copyright owners must prove that a sound recording placed in a peer-to-peer share folder was actually downloaded to establish violation of the distribution right. Other courts hold that merely making a sound recording available violates the distribution right. The ramifications for copyright enforcement in the Internet age are substantial. Under the narrow interpretation, the relative anonymity of peer-to-peer transmissions in combination with privacy concerns make enforcement costly and difficult. A broad interpretation exposes millions of peer-to-peer users to potentially crushing statutory damages. Drawing upon the historical development of copyright law and the legislative history of the Copyright Act of 1976, this article explains why Congress selected the term “distribute” in its last omnibus revision of copyright law, shows unequivocally that Congress intended to encompass broadly the 1909 Act rights to “publish” and “vend” within the right to distribute, and rejects the position that Congress required proof of “actual distribution” to prove violation of the distribution right. This critical legislative history has been notably absent from treatise accounts and briefing on the liability standard in the file sharing cases, leaving courts without a compass to navigate this statutory terrain. This article traces the origins of the key legislative terms to elucidate the scope of the distribution right in the Internet age.

Source: U.C. Berkeley Program in Law and Economics, Working Paper Series [via eScholarship Repository]

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract [eScholarship Repository]

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Support For Same-Sex Marriage Edges Upward

From Online Overview

Majority Continues to Favor Gays Serving Openly in Military

Polls this year have found that more Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally than did so just last year. In two polls conducted over the past few months, based on interviews with more than 6,000 adults, 42% favor same-sex marriage while 48% are opposed. In polls conducted in 2009, 37% favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally and 54% were opposed. For the first time in 15 years of Pew Research Center polling, fewer than half oppose same-sex marriage.

Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Monday, October 11, 2010

The Reversal of the College Marriage Gap

In a reversal of long-standing marital patterns, college-educated young adults are more likely than young adults lacking a bachelor's degree to have married by the age of 30.

In 2008, 62% of college-educated 30-year-olds were married or had been married, compared with 60% of 30-year-olds who did not have a college degree.

Throughout the 20th century, college-educated adults in the United States had been less likely than their less-educated counterparts to be married by age 30. In 1990, for example, 75% of all 30-year-olds who did not have a college degree were married or had been married, compared with just 69% of those with a college degree.

As those numbers attest, marriage rates among adults in their 20s have declined sharply since 1990 for both the college-educated and those without a college degree. But the decline has been much steeper for young adults without a college education.

Source: Pew Research Center

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A Field Training Guide for Human Subjects Research Ethics

Summary Points
* Community trials of interventions to address major global causes of illness and death are often located in low-resource settings, where research findings will be most directly applicable.
* Although investigators delegate research activities involving human subject contact to local field workers, they retain ultimate responsibility for human subject protection and scientific integrity.
* To train every cadre of field worker in research ethics requires simplified training guidelines that can be easily translated and adapted for use in a wide variety of settings and cultural frameworks, especially where field workers have limited formal education.
* Field workers need appropriate training materials, tailored to varying levels of human subject responsibility, that focus on basic principles of community research.
* We have produced a Field Training Guide for Human Subjects Research Ethics, which is freely available to the public. In this article we address how to identify field training needs and meet high standards of research ethics at every level of human subject interaction.

Source: A Field Training Guide for Human Subjects Research Ethics. PLoS Med 7(10): e1000349. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000349

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Murder by numbers: monetary costs imposed by a sample of homicide offenders

Prior research on the monetary costs of criminal careers has neglected to focus on homicide offenders and tended to minimize the public costs associated with crime. Drawing on expanded monetization estimates produced by Cohen and Piquero, this study assessed the monetary costs for five crimes (murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary) imposed by a sample of (n 1⁄4 654) convicted and incarcerated murderers. The average cost per murder exceeded $17.25 million and the average murderer in the current sample posed costs approaching $24 million. The most violent and prolific offenders singly produced costs greater than $150–160 million in terms of victim costs, criminal justice costs, lost offender productivity, and public willingness-to-pay costs.

Source: The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology
Vol. 21, No. 4, August 2010, 501–513

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Mexico-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

From the Summary
The United States and Mexico have a close and complex bilateral relationship, with extensive economic linkages as neighbors and partners under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In recent years, security issues have dominated U.S.-Mexican relations, as the United States has supported Mexican President Felipe Calderón's campaign against drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) through bilateral security cooperation initiatives including the Mérida Initiative, an anti-crime and counterdrug assistance package first funded in FY2008. Immigration and border security have also returned to the forefront of the bilateral agenda since Arizona enacted a controversial state law against illegal immigration (S.B. 1070) on April 23, 2010. In late July 2010, a federal judge blocked large parts of S.B. 1070 from taking effect pending the results of a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. In response to rising concerns about border security, President Obama has deployed 1,200 National Guard troops to support law enforcement efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border and Congress has approved $600 million in supplemental funds for border security (P.L. 111-230). Now in the fourth year of his six-year term, President Calderón of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) is focused on restarting the Mexican economy, which contracted by 7% in 2009 (largely as a result of the U.S. recession), and combating drug traffickers and organized criminal groups.

Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress [via openCRS]

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