Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Adolescent Brain: new research and its implications for young people transitioning from foster care

From the Executive Summary

Many disciplines have contributed to the knowledge base regarding what enables young people in foster care to succeed. Now, neuroscience has added critical data to that base by revealing that in adolescence, the brain experiences a period of major development comparable to that of early childhood.

Among the implications of the new data is this: Adolescents must take on distinct developmental tasks in order to move through emerging adulthood and become healthy, connected, and productive adults—and young people in foster care often lack the supports needed to complete these tasks.

Source: Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative

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The Adolescent Brain: new research and its implications for young people transitioning from foster care.

Adapting work processes and working environments in retail commerce to older workers’ needs

Longer and generally healthier lives represent one of the major achievements of modern societies. Yet, paradoxically, population ageing – a consequence of extended life spans – is one of the most pressing challenges confronting countries around the world, promising serious social, economic and labour market repercussions. Although this demographic trend is universal, its pace and magnitude vary considerably across regions and countries within regions. 1 The process is already at an advanced stage in developed countries and is projected to progress rapidly in developing ones in a few decades.


This paper presents ideas on what retailers, the sectoral social partners and governments could do to boost the industry’s ability to attract and retain older workers in order to compensate for the predicted shrinkage in the sector’s traditional labour base of young workers. It starts by outlining the current work processes and the associated working environment in the sector, as well as the age, gender, occupational and skills profiles and employment characteristics of the current workforce, in order to identify what changes could be made to make jobs in the sector more attractive to older workers. The focus then shifts to the demographic and labour force issues affecting the sector, which will challenge retailers’ ability to satisfy their future workforce requirements. Possible policy responses to those challenges are then presented.

Source: International Labour Organization

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What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?

Would people choose what they think would maximize their subjective well-being (SWB)? We present survey respondents with hypothetical scenarios and elicit both choice and predicted SWB rankings of two alternatives. While choice and predicted SWB rankings usually coincide in our data, we find systematic reversals. We identify factors - such as predicted sense of purpose, control over one’s life, family happiness, and social status - that help explain hypothetical choice controlling for predicted SWB. We explore how our findings vary by SWB measure and by scenario. Our results have implications regarding the use of SWB survey questions as a proxy for utility.

Source: Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 32-2011 [via SSRN]

Download pdf publication : What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?

Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2011 Current Population Survey

From the Executive Summary:

This Issue Brief provides historical data through 2010 on the number and percentage of nonelderly individuals with and without health insurance. Based on EBRI estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2011 Current Population Survey (CPS), it reflects 2010 data. It also discusses trends in coverage for the 1994–2010 period and highlights characteristics that typically indicate whether an individual is insured.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute

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Assessing 21st Century Skills: Summary of a Workshop

From the description:
The National Research Council (NRC) has convened two prior workshops on the topic of 21st century skills. The first, held in 2007, was designed to examine research on the skills required for the 21st century workplace and the extent to which they are meaningfully different from earlier eras and require corresponding changes in educational experiences. The second workshop, held in 2009, was designed to explore demand for these types of skills, consider intersections between science education reform goals and 21st century skills, examine models of high-quality science instruction that may develop the skills, and consider science teacher readiness for 21st century skills. The third workshop was intended to delve more deeply into the topic of assessment. The goal for this workshop was to capitalize on the prior efforts and explore strategies for assessing the five skills identified earlier. The Committee on the Assessment of 21st Century Skills was asked to organize a workshop that reviewed the assessments and related research for each of the five skills identified at the previous workshops, with special attention to recent developments in technology-enabled assessment of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In designing the workshop, the committee collapsed the five skills into three broad clusters as shown below:

Cognitive skills
: nonroutine problem solving, critical thinking, systems thinking
Interpersonal skills: complex communication, social skills, team-work, cultural sensitivity, dealing with diversity
Intrapersonal skills: self-management, time management, self-development, self-regulation, adaptability, executive functioning

Assessing 21st Century Skills provides an integrated summary of the presentations and discussions from both parts of the third workshop.

Source: National Academies Press

Download pdf summary: Assessing 21st Century Skills

How People Learn About Their Local Community

While local TV news remains the most popular source for local information in America, adults rely on it primarily for just three subjects -- weather, breaking news and to a lesser extent traffic. And for all their problems, newspapers (both print and on the web) are the source Americans turn to most for a wider range of information than any other source. These are some of the findings of a new study produced by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Internet & American Life Project in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Read the full report for a detailed breakdown of the top sources of information for 16 different local topics. You'll also find information on what the most popular local topics are, the use of mobile devices, the impact of social media and differences among demographic groups when it comes to what interests them and where they find their information.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life project

Download full pdf report: How People Learn About Their Local Community

The Toll of the Great Recession

From the overview:
The spread of poverty across the United States that began at the onset of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and accelerated last year hit one fast-growing demographic group especially hard: Latino children.

More Latino children are living in poverty—6.1 million in 2010—than children of any other racial or ethnic group. This marks the first time in U.S. history that the single largest group of poor children is not white. In 2010, 37.3% of poor children were Latino, 30.5% were white and 26.6% were black.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download complete pdf report : The Toll of the Great Recession

How computer scientists can empower journalists, democracy's watchdogs, in the production of news in the public interest.

From the article
Researchers and journalists are exploring new methods, sources, and ways of linking communities to the information they need to govern themselves. A new field is emerging to promote the process: computational journalism. Broadly defined, it can involve changing how stories are discovered, presented, aggregated, monetized, and archived.

Source: Communications of the ACM

Citation: Computational Journalism :How computer scientists can empower journalists, democracy's watchdogs, in the production of news in the public interest.
Sarah Cohen, James T. Hamilton, Fred Turner
Communications of the ACM
Vol. 54 No. 10, Pages 66-71

Download Computational Journalism in pdf format

Looking the Part: Social Status Cues Shape Race Perception

It is commonly believed that race is perceived through another's facial features, such as skin color. In the present research, we demonstrate that cues to social status that often surround a face systematically change the perception of its race. Participants categorized the race of faces that varied along White–Black morph continua and that were presented with high-status or low-status attire. Low-status attire increased the likelihood of categorization as Black, whereas high-status attire increased the likelihood of categorization as White; and this influence grew stronger as race became more ambiguous (Experiment 1). When faces with high-status attire were categorized as Black or faces with low-status attire were categorized as White, participants' hand movements nevertheless revealed a simultaneous attraction to select the other race-category response (stereotypically tied to the status cue) before arriving at a final categorization. Further, this attraction effect grew as race became more ambiguous (Experiment 2). Computational simulations then demonstrated that these effects may be accounted for by a neurally plausible person categorization system, in which contextual cues come to trigger stereotypes that in turn influence race perception. Together, the findings show how stereotypes interact with physical cues to shape person categorization, and suggest that social and contextual factors guide the perception of race.

Source: PLoS ONE [via Institute for Research in the Social Sciences)

Download pdf of "Looking the Part: Social Status Cues Shape Race Perception"

Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women

Background Caffeine is the world's most widely used central nervous system stimulant, with approximately 80% consumed in the form of coffee. However, studies that analyze prospectively the relationship between coffee or caffeine consumption and depression risk are scarce.

Methods A total of 50 739 US women (mean age, 63 years) free of depressive symptoms at baseline (in 1996) were prospectively followed up through June 1, 2006. Consumption of caffeine was measured from validated questionnaires completed from May 1, 1980, through April 1, 2004, and computed as cumulative mean consumption with a 2-year latency period applied. Clinical depression was defined as self-reported physician-diagnosed depression and antidepressant use. Relative risks of clinical depression were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression models.

Results During 10 years of follow-up (1996-2006), 2607 incident cases of depression were identified. Compared with women consuming 1 or less cup of caffeinated coffee per week, the multivariate relative risk of depression was 0.85 (95% confidence interval, 0.75-0.95) for those consuming 2 to 3 cups per day and 0.80 (0.64-0.99; P for trend <.001) for those consuming 4 cups per day or more. Multivariate relative risk of depression was 0.80 (95% confidence interval, 0.68-0.95; P for trend = .02) for women in the highest (≥550 mg/d) vs lowest (<100 mg/d) of the 5 caffeine consumption categories. Decaffeinated coffee was not associated with depression risk.

Conclusions In this large longitudinal study, we found that depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption. Further investigations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption can contribute to depression prevention.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health
Citation: Michel Lucas, PhD, RD; Fariba Mirzaei, MD, MPH, ScD; An Pan, PhD; Olivia I. Okereke, MD, SM; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH; Éilis J. O’Reilly, ScD; Karestan Koenen, PhD; Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH
Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(17):1571-1578. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.393

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preventing Violence Against Women and Children: Workshop Summary

From the Description:
Violence against women and children is a serious public health concern, with costs at multiple levels of society. Although violence is a threat to everyone, women and children are particularly susceptible to victimization because they often have fewer rights or lack appropriate means of protection. In some societies certain types of violence are deemed socially or legally acceptable, thereby contributing further to the risk to women and children. In the past decade research has documented the growing magnitude of such violence, but gaps in the data still remain. Victims of violence of any type fear stigmatization or societal condemnation and thus often hesitate to report crimes. The issue is compounded by the fact that for women and children the perpetrators are often people they know and because some countries lack laws or regulations protecting victims. Some of the data that have been collected suggest that rates of violence against women range from 15 to 71 percent in some countries and that rates of violence against children top 80 percent. These data demonstrate that violence poses a high burden on global health and that violence against women and children is common and universal.

Preventing Violence Against Women and Children focuses on these elements of the cycle as they relate to interrupting this transmission of violence. Intervention strategies include preventing violence before it starts as well as preventing recurrence, preventing adverse effects (such as trauma or the consequences of trauma), and preventing the spread of violence to the next generation or social level. Successful strategies consider the context of the violence, such as family, school, community, national, or regional settings, in order to determine the best programs.

Source: National Academies Press

Download full workshop report in pdf format: Preventing Violence Against Women and Children

Cross-National Evidence on Generic Pharmaceuticals: Pharmacy vs. Physician-Driven Markets


This paper examines the role of regulation and competition in generic markets. Generics offer large potential savings to payers and consumers of pharmaceuticals. Whether the potential savings are realized depends on the extent of generic entry and uptake and the level of generic prices. In the U.S., the regulatory, legal and incentive structures encourage prompt entry, aggressive price competition and patient switching to generics. Key features are that pharmacists are authorized and incentivized to switch patients to cheap generics. By contrast, in many other high and middle income countries, generics traditionally competed on brand rather than price because physicians rather than pharmacies are the decision-makers. Physician-driven generic markets tend to have higher generic prices and may have lower generic uptake, depending on regulations and incentives.

Using IMS data to analyze generic markets in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, U.K., Italy, Spain, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil over the period 1998-2009, we estimate a three-equation model for number of generic entrants, generic prices and generic volume shares. We find little effect of originator defense strategies, significant differences between unbranded and unbranded generics, variation across countries in volume response to prices. Policy changes adopted to stimulate generic uptake and reduce generic prices have been successful in some E.U. countries.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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Can Healthcare IT Save Babies?

The US has a higher infant mortality rate than most other developed nations. Electronic medical records (EMR) and other healthcare information technology (IT) improvements could reduce that rate, by standardizing treatment options and improving monitoring. We empirically quantify how healthcare IT improves neonatal outcomes. We identify this effect through variations in state medical privacy laws that distort the usefulness of healthcare IT. We find that adoption of healthcare IT by one additional hospital in a county reduces infant mortality in that county by 13 deaths per 100,000 live births. Rough cost-effectiveness calculations suggest that healthcare IT is associated with a cost of $450,140 per infant saved.

Source: MIT Sloan School of Management Working Paper;4686-08

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Toward A Brain-Based Theory of Beauty

We wanted to learn whether activity in the same area(s) of the brain correlate with the experience of beauty derived from different sources. 21 subjects took part in a brain-scanning experiment using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Prior to the experiment, they viewed pictures of paintings and listened to musical excerpts, both of which they rated on a scale of 1–9, with 9 being the most beautiful. This allowed us to select three sets of stimuli–beautiful, indifferent and ugly–which subjects viewed and heard in the scanner, and rated at the end of each presentation. The results of a conjunction analysis of brain activity showed that, of the several areas that were active with each type of stimulus, only one cortical area, located in the medial orbito-frontal cortex (mOFC), was active during the experience of musical and visual beauty, with the activity produced by the experience of beauty derived from either source overlapping almost completely within it. The strength of activation in this part of the mOFC was proportional to the strength of the declared intensity of the experience of beauty. We conclude that, as far as activity in the brain is concerned, there is a faculty of beauty that is not dependent on the modality through which it is conveyed but which can be activated by at least two sources–musical and visual–and probably by other sources as well. This has led us to formulate a brain-based theory of beauty.

Citation: Ishizu T, Zeki S, 2011 Toward A Brain-Based Theory of Beauty. PLoS ONE 6(7): e21852. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021852

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Military Service Members and Veterans: A Profile of Those Enrolled in Undergraduate and Graduate Education

This Statistics in Brief uses nationally representative data to determine the representation of military students in undergraduate and graduate education and to examine how their demographic and enrollment characteristics compare with their nonmilitary peers.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Military Service Members and Veterans: A Profile of Those Enrolled in Undergraduate and Graduate Education in 2007–08

Social Media and Disasters: Current Uses, Future Options, and Policy Considerations

From the introduction
In the last five years social media have played an increasing role in emergencies and disasters. Social media sites rank as the fourth most popular source to access emergency information. They have been used by individuals and communities to warn others of unsafe areas or situations, inform friends and family that someone is safe, and raise funds for disaster relief. Facebook supports numerous emergency-related organizations, including Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM), The Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Project, as well as numerous universities with disaster-related programs.

This report summarizes how social media have been used by emergency management officials and agencies. It also examines the potential benefits, as well as the implications, of using social media in the context of emergencies and disasters.
This report will be updated as events warrant.

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Social Media and Disasters: Current Uses, Future Options, and Policy Considerations

The Link Between Intimate Partner Violence, Substance Abuse and Mental Health in California

This policy brief presents findings on the linkages between intimate partner violence (IPV), emotional health and substance use among adults ages 18-65 in California. Among the 3.5 million Californians who have ever been victimized by IPV as adults, over half a millionreport serious psychological distress (SPD) in the past year. Almost half of all adult IPV victims indicate that their partner was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs during the most recent incident. Two-fifths of adult IPV victims report past-year binge drinking and 7% report daily or weekly binge drinking. One in three IPV victims expressed a need for mental health, alcohol or other drug (AOD) services and almost one-fourth used mental health or AOD services during the past year. These disturbing findings can aid strategies to identify, intervene with and assist IPV victims who experience emotional and/or substance use problems.

UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, UC Los Angeles [via eScholarship repository]

Download pdf of The Link Between Intimate Partner Violence, Substance Abuse and Mental Health in California

Link to eScholarship repository record

Birds of a Feather? Peers, Delinquency and Risk

From the Abstract
This paper is based on interviews with thirty-eight young adults about their experiences from ages 13-24 in a low-income neighborhood of Oakland, California. In the year 2000, the population of the neighborhood was approximately one-third Asian American, one-third Latino, 20% African American and 20% white. Over half the population was foreign-born. The young adults who have succeeded academically and obtained jobs maintain friendships with peers of different ethnic backgrounds and also with those who have varying life experiences (for example those who are in a gang, those who are pursuing higher education, and so forth). For these young people, “delinquent peers” help them move through their neighborhood safely and help them feel anchored to their community even when they seem poised to leave it by attending college. Growing up in a site of global capital accumulation and disinvestment in the era of neoliberalism, they challenge us to re-examine risk.

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

Download pdf of "Birds of a Feather? Peers, Delinquency and Risk"

The Revolutions Were Tweeted: Information Flows During the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions

This article details the networked production and dissemination of news on Twitter during snapshots of the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions as seen through information flows—sets of near-duplicate tweets—across activists, bloggers, journalists, mainstream media outlets, and other engaged participants. We differentiate between these user types and analyze patterns of sourcing and routing information among them. We describe the symbiotic relationship between media outlets and individuals and the distinct roles particular user types appear to play. Using this analysis, we discuss how Twitter plays a key role in amplifying and spreading timely information across the globe.

Citation: Gilad Lotan, Erhardt Graeff, Mike Ananny, Devin Gaffney, Ian Pearce, and danah boyd (2011). "The Revolutions Were Tweeted: Information Flows during the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions." International Journal of Communications 5, Feature 1375-1405.

PDF of "The Revolutions Were Tweeted: Information Flows during the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions."

Author Danah Boyd's website with data and visualization tools.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gain and Loss Learning Differentially Contribute to Life Financial Outcomes


Emerging findings imply that distinct neurobehavioral systems process gains and losses. This study investigated whether individual differences in gain learning and loss learning might contribute to different life financial outcomes (i.e., assets versus debt). In a community sample of healthy adults (n = 75), rapid learners had smaller debt-to-asset ratios overall. More specific analyses, however, revealed that those who learned rapidly about gains had more assets, while those who learned rapidly about losses had less debt. These distinct associations remained strong even after controlling for potential cognitive (e.g., intelligence, memory, and risk preferences) and socioeconomic (e.g., age, sex, ethnicity, income, education) confounds. Self-reported measures of assets and debt were additionally validated with credit report data in a subset of subjects. These findings support the notion that different gain and loss learning systems may exert a cumulative influence on distinct life financial outcomes.

Citation: Knutson B, Samanez-Larkin GR, Kuhnen CM (2011) Gain and Loss Learning Differentially Contribute to Life Financial Outcomes. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24390. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024390

Download : Gain and Loss Learning Differentially Contribute to Life Financial Outcomes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ten Years after 9/11 : United in Remembrance, Divided over Policies

From the online overview:

Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the events of that day retain a powerful hold on the public’s collective consciousness. Virtually every American remembers what they were doing at the moment the attacks occurred. Substantial majorities say that 9/11 had a profound personal impact and that the attacks changed the country in a major way.

Yet the public continues to be divided over many of the anti-terrorism policies that arose in the wake of Sept. 11, and these differences extend to opinions about whether U.S. wrongdoing prior to 9/11 may have motivated the attacks: 43% say yes, while 45% disagree. In late September 2001, 33% said U.S. wrongdoing might have motivated the attacks, compared with 55% who said it did not.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Aug. 17-21 among 1,509 adults, finds that the public offers generally positive ratings of the government’s response to the terrorist threat. Yet when asked why there has not been another major attack on the U.S., 43% credit government policies while only somewhat fewer (35%) say it is because the country has been lucky so far.

Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press
Download full pdf report of United in Remembrance, Divided over Policies
Download pdf topline questionnaire

How Does Growth in Health Care Costs Affect the American Family?

Health care costs nearly doubled between 1999 and 2009, which left the average 2009 family with only $95 more per month than in 1999. If costs had matched the consumer price index's rise, the average family would have an additional $450 per month.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download pdf of Research Brief: How Does Growth in Health Care Costs Affect the American Family?

The Size and Burden of Mental Disorders in Europe

This major landmark study prepared by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) and the European Brain Council (EBC), under the co-ordination of ECNP vice-president Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, sheds new light on the state of Europe’s mental and neurological health. The study demonstrates the degree to which mental disorders have become Europe’s largest health challenge in the 21st century and that the majority remain untreated. Taken together with the large and increasing number of “disorders of the brain,” the true size and burden is even significantly higher.

This study covers 30 countries (the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway), with a combined population of 514 million people, and encompasses all major mental disorders, including (amongst others) depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, insomnia, addiction and schizophrenia, as well as several neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

The study also identifies the critical challenges to improved basic and clinical research on mental and neurological disorders in the region.

Source: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Download pdf report: The Size and Burden of Mental Disorders in Europe

Workless households for areas across the UK in 2010

Report introduction:
In 2010, there were three areas across the UK where more than three out of every 10 households had no-one in work, according to sub-regional data on working and workless households. These were:

• Liverpool (31.9 per cent);

• Nottingham (31.6 per cent) and

• Glasgow City (30.7 per cent).

This was the second consecutive year that these three areas had the highest percentage of workless households, although for Liverpool and Glasgow City the percentage fell, from 32.1 per cent and 31.1 per cent respectively. In Nottingham the percentage of workless households increased from 31.3 per cent. Over the seven years since 2004 that data are available, Liverpool has had the highest percentage of workless households in five of the years, with it being in the top three in the other two years.

There were differences in the reasons why members of workless households in the top three said they were not working. Being sick or disabled (at 28 per cent) was the main reason for such people nationally to not be in work, and this was also the percentage in Liverpool, while 33 per cent gave this reason in Glasgow. However in Nottingham, partly because of its multiple universities, 43 per cent of people in workless households gave study as their reason, compared with 12 per cent nationally.

Source: United Kingdom Office for National Statistics

Download pdf report: Workless households for areas across the UK in 2010
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.

Education Impacts Work-Life Earnings Five Times More Than Other Demographic Factors

From the Press Release:
According to a new U.S. Census Bureau study, education levels had more effect on earnings over a 40-year span in the workforce than any other demographic factor, such as gender, race and Hispanic origin. For example, a worker with a professional degree is expected to make more than a worker with a eighth grade education or lower.

Some groups, such as non-Hispanic white males, Asian males and Asian females, benefit more from higher levels of education than other groups over a 40-year career for those with a professional degree. White males with a professional degree make more than double (about $2.4 million more) than that of Hispanic females with the same level of education.

(Note: Hispanics may be any race. All references in this news release to race groups such as black or white exclude Hispanic members of the race group in question; that is, all are “non-Hispanic.”)

Many factors, such as race and Hispanic origin, gender, citizenship, English-speaking ability and geographic location do influence work-life earnings but none had as much impact as education. The estimated impact on annual earnings between a professional degree and an eighth grade education was about $72,000 a year, roughly five times the impact of gender, which was $13,000.

These findings come from the report Education and Synthetic Work-Life Earnings, [PDF] which looks at the economic value of educational attainment by estimating the amount of money that people might earn over the course of a 40-year work-life given their level of education. The report also looks at the effect of other factors, such as race and gender groups and other characteristics with regard to this relationship.

“This analysis shows that there is a clear and well-defined relationship between education and earnings,” said Tiffany Julian, an analyst in the Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. “The overall economic value of educational attainment in this report supports the belief that higher levels of education are well-established paths to better jobs and higher earnings.”

Source: Census Bureau

Report: Education and Synthetic Work-Life Earnings, [PDF]

Sources of information on Health Insurance Coverage from the U.S. Census Bureau

From the Press Release:
Few issues unite Americans as much as the desire to have good health insurance coverage for themselves and their families.

The nation looks for solutions in coping with the rising costs of health care. The U.S. Census Bureau provides key information to measure the extent of health insurance coverage in America. In this fact sheet, we explore the various Census Bureau sources of data on health insurance coverage.

This Fact Sheet from the U.S. Census Bureau provides links to 6 sources of data on Health Insurance Coverage in the United States.

The Fact Sheet is also available as a pdf download

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Gender Bias in Wikipedia and Britannica


Is there a bias in the against women’s representation in Wikipedia biographies? Thousands of biographical subjects, from six sources, are compared against the English-language Wikipedia and the online Encyclopedia Britannica with respect to coverage, gender representation, and article length. We conclude that Wikipedia provides better coverage and longer articles, that Wikipedia typically has more articles on women than Britannica in absolute terms, but Wikipedia articles on women are more likely to be missing than articles on men relative to Britannica. For both reference works, article length did not consistently differ by gender.

Source: International Journal of Communication

Download pdf paper: Gender Bias in Wikipedia and Britannica

New Report: The Digital Revolution and Higher Education

College Presidents, Public Differ on Value of Online Learning

From the Online Overview,

As online college courses have become increasingly prevalent, the general public and college presidents offer different assessments of their educational value. Just three-in-ten American adults (29%) say a course taken online provides an equal educational value to one taken in a classroom. By contrast, fully half of college presidents (51%) say online courses provide the same value.

These findings are from a pair of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in spring 2011. One is a telephone survey taken among a nationally representative sample of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. The other is an online survey, done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, among the presidents of 1,055 colleges and universities nationwide.1

More than three-quarters of the nation’s colleges and universities now offer online classes, according to the survey of college presidents, and about one-in-four college graduates (23%) have taken a course online, according to the general public survey. Among those who have graduated in the past decade, the figure rises to 46%. Adults who have taken a course online have a somewhat more positive view of the value of this learning format: 39% say a course taken online provides the same educational value as one taken in person, a view shared by only 27% of those who have not taken an online course.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

Download full pdf publication: The Digital Revolution and Higher Education

New Pew Report: Gender and Higher Education

Women See Value and Benefits of College; Men Lag on Both Fronts, Survey Finds
From the Executive Summary:

At a time when women surpass men by record numbers in college enrollment and completion, they also have a more positive view than men about the value higher education provides, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center survey. Half of all women who have graduated from a four-year college give the U.S. higher education system excellent or good marks for the value it provides given the money spent by students and their families; only 37% of male graduates agree. In addition, women who have graduated from college are more likely than men to say their education helped them to grow both personally and intellectually.

Soure: Pew Research Center

Download full pdf report: Gender and Higher Education

Hispanic College Enrollment Spikes, Narrowing Gaps with Other Groups

From Online Overview:

Driven by a single-year surge of 24% in Hispanic enrollment, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds attending college in the United States hit an all-time high of 12.2 million in October 2010, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of newly available Census Bureau data. From 2009 to 2010, the number of Hispanic young adults enrolled in college grew by 349,000, compared with an increase of 88,000 young blacks and 43,000 young Asian Americans and a decrease of 320,000 young non-Hispanic whites.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download pdf report

Online overview at the Pew Hispanic Center

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Neurobehavioral Disorders Among Children in the United States

From the Abstract:
Objectives: The association between parent-reported postnatal secondhand tobacco smoke exposure in the home and neurobehavioral disorders (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, and conduct disorders) among children younger than 12 years in the United States was examined using the 2007 National Survey on Children's Health. Excess neurobehavioral disorders attributable to secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the home in 2007 were further investigated.

Source: Pediatrics

Download pdf of "Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Neurobehavioral Disorders Among Children in the United States"

Link to online abstract at Pediatrics

Links Between Obesity and Addiction

Researchers have made great progress identifying the brain circuits involved in eating and appetite in the last decade. Now, with the increasing prevalence of obesity, much of that focus has shifted to studying unhealthy eating behaviors.

Recent research suggests a convergence between obesity and drug addiction. During a press conference at Neuroscience 2010, neuroscientists presented leading research that explores the overlap between the two. Session moderator Ralph DiLeone of Yale University School of Medicine noted both food and drugs have the ability to impart long-lasting — and potentially devastating — cellular and behavioral changes in people.

Source: Neuroscience Quarterly

Link to online article: "Links Between Obesity and Addiction"

The Toll of the Great Recession

The Pew Research report provides the first look at how the Great Recession impacted household wealth. It finds that plummeting house values were the principal cause of the erosion in wealth among all groups. However, because Hispanics derived nearly two-thirds of their net worth in 2005 from home equity and a disproportionate share reside in states that were in the vanguard of the housing meltdown, Hispanics were hit hardest by the housing market downturn.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download complete pdf report "The Toll of the Great Recession"

Link to online executive summary at Pew Research Center

Graduate and First-Professional Students: Who They Are and How They Pay for Their Education

This Statistics in Brief focuses on graduate and first-professional students, exploring the types of programs in which they are enrolled, costs associated with those programs, and how those costs are financed via aid and work.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download pdf publication of "Graduate and First-Professional Students: Who They Are and How They Pay for Their Education"

Link to record at NCES

Optogenetic disruption of sleep continuity impairs memory consolidation

Memory consolidation has been proposed as a function of sleep. However, sleep is a complex phenomenon characterized by several features including duration, intensity, and continuity. Sleep continuity is disrupted in different neurological and psychiatric conditions, many of which are accompanied by memory deficits. This finding has raised the question of whether the continuity of sleep is important for memory consolidation. However, current techniques used in sleep research cannot manipulate a single sleep feature while maintaining the others constant. Here, we introduce the use of optogenetics to investigate the role of sleep continuity in memory consolidation. We optogenetically targeted hypocretin/orexin neurons, which play a key role in arousal processes. We used optogenetics to activate these neurons at different intervals in behaving mice and were able to fragment sleep without affecting its overall amount or intensity. Fragmenting sleep after the learning phase of the novel object recognition (NOR) task significantly decreased the performance of mice on the subsequent day, but memory was unaffected if the average duration of sleep episodes was maintained at 62–73% of normal. These findings demonstrate the use of optogenetic activation of arousal-related nuclei as a way to systematically manipulate a specific feature of sleep. We conclude that regardless of the total amount of sleep or sleep intensity, a minimal unit of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for memory consolidation.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Download pdf of "Optogenetic disruption of sleep continuity impairs memory consolidation"

Link to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Monday, July 25, 2011

Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09): A First Look at Recent College Graduates

This report describes the enrollment and employment experiences of a national sample of college graduates one year after their 2007-08 graduation.

Data presented include education financing; postbaccalaureate enrollment; student loan repayment; and employment, particularly employment in teaching.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download pdf of : Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09): A First Look at Recent College Graduates

Link to NCES

Children’s Risky Play from an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences

This theoretical article views children’s risky play from an evolutionary perspective, addressing specific evolutionary functions and especially the anti-phobic effects of risky play. According to the non-associative theory, a contemporary approach to the etiology of anxiety, children develop fears of certain stimuli (e.g., heights and strangers) that protect them from situations they are not mature enough to cope with, naturally through infancy. Risky play is a set of motivated behaviors that both provide the child with an exhilarating positive emotion and expose the child to the stimuli they previously have feared. As the child’s coping skills improve, these situations and stimuli may be mastered and no longer be feared. Thus fear caused by maturational and age relevant natural inhibition is reduced as the child experiences a motivating thrilling activation, while learning to master age adequate challenges. It is concluded that risky play may have evolved due to this anti-phobic effect in normal child development, and it is suggested that we may observe an increased neuroticism or psychopathology in society if children are hindered from partaking in age adequate risky play.

Source: Journal of Evolutionary Psychology

Download pdf of Children's Risky Play form an Evolutionary Perspective

Link to Evolutionary Psychology Website

With a Little Help from My (Random) Friends: Success and Failure in Post-Business School Entrepreneurship

To what extent do peers affect our occupational choices? This question has been of particular interest in the context of entrepreneurship and policies to create a favorable environment for entry. Such influences, however, are hard to identify empirically. We exploit the assignment of students into business school sections that have varying numbers of classmates with prior entrepreneurial experience. We find that the presence of entrepreneurial peers strongly predicts subsequent entrepreneurship rates of students without an entrepreneurial background, but in a more complex way than the literature has previously suggested: A higher share of entrepreneurial peers leads to lower rather than higher subsequent rates of entrepreneurship. However, the decrease in entrepreneurship is entirely driven by a significant reduction in unsuccessful entrepreneurial ventures. The effect on the rate of successful post-MBA entrepreneurs, instead, is insignificantly positive. In addition, sections with few prior entrepreneurs have a considerably higher variance in their rates of unsuccessful entrepreneurs. The results are consistent with intra-section learning, where the close ties between section-mates lead to insights about the merits of business plans.

Source: Harvard Business School Faculty Working Papers

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Link to Harvard Business School Working Papers

Proper nutrition can prevent negative health outcomes in young female athletes

Since the onset of Title IX, opportunities have dramatically increased for female athletes, largely to their benefit. However, some negative health outcomes such as disordered eating, chronic menstrual disturbances and low bone mass have been associated with high-level competition among some female athletes, particularly in sports such as gymnastics and cross-country running, where a slender physique or lean body build is important. Adolescent female athletes, in a rapid growth and development phase, may be at greatest risk. We sought to identify athletes at risk, understand the origin of possible negative outcomes and recommend behavioral modifications that promote participation in competitive sports while supporting lifetime health. This review discusses the development and impact of disordered eating and menstrual dysfunction on bone mass in young, competitive, female athletes and provides nutrition recommendations for their energy, carbohydrate, protein, vitamin and mineral intake.

Source: University of California Office of the President

Download pdf of Proper nutrition can prevent negative health outcomes in young female athletes

Link to online abstract of "Proper nutrition can prevent negative health outcomes in young female athletes"

Psychopathology, trauma and delinquency: subtypes of aggression and their relevance for understanding young offenders

From the Abstract:
Objective To examine the implications of an ontology of aggressive behavior which divides aggression into reactive, affective, defensive, impulsive (RADI) or "emotionally hot"; and planned, instrumental, predatory (PIP) or "emotionally cold." Recent epidemiological, criminological, clinical and neuroscience studies converge to support a connection between emotional and trauma related psychopathology and disturbances in the emotions, self-regulation and aggressive behavior which has important implications for diagnosis and treatment, especially for delinquent populations.

Source: University of California, Berkeley

Download full pdf document: Psychopathology, trauma and delinquency

Link to online abstract at eScholarship repository

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

College students and technology

From the Overview

By every key measurement, college students lead the way in tech and gadget use. But community college students do not use digital tools as much as four-year college students and graduate students.

The data in this report come from Pew Internet Project surveys conducted throughout 2010, which were bundled together to collect a statistically meaningful population of those who said they attended community college, four-year schools, and graduate schools. For more information about the samples, please see the Methodology section at the end of this report.

Source: Pew internet and American life project

View the entire Pew Internet "College students and technology" report online

Personality and Obesity Across the Adult Life Span

From the Press Release:
People with personality traits of high neuroticism and low conscientiousness are likely to go through cycles of gaining and losing weight throughout their lives, according to an examination of 50 years of data in a study published by the American Psychological Association.

Impulsivity was the strongest predictor of who would be overweight, the researchers found. Study participants who scored in the top 10 percent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 lbs. more than those in the bottom 10 percent, according to the study

Source: American Psychological Association

Download pdf of Personality and Obesity Across the Adult Life Span

Link to APA Press release summary

The Nation's Report Card: Geography

Nationally representative samples of about 7,000 fourth-graders, 9,500 eighth-graders, and 10,000 twelfth-graders participated in the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in geography. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge of geography in the context of space and place, environment and society, and spatial dynamics and connections. Comparing the results from the 2010 assessment to the results from previous assessments in 1994 and 2001 shows how students’ knowledge and skills in geography have changed over time.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf of The Nation's Report Card: Geography

Link to the Nation's Report Card Geography website

Monday, July 18, 2011

Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update - The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving

From the introduction:
Family support is critical to remaining in one’s home and in the community, but often comes at substantial costs to caregivers themselves, to their families, and to society. If family caregivers were no longer available, the economic cost to the U.S. health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS) systems would increase astronomically.

This Insight on the Issues, part of the Valuing the Invaluable series on the economic value of family caregiving, updates national and individual state estimates of the economic value of family caregiving using the most current available data. In 2009, about 42.1 million family caregivers in the U.S. provided care to an adult with limitations in daily activities at any given point in time, and about 61.6 million provided care at some time during the year.

The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $450 billion in 2009, up from an estimated $375 billion in 2007. The report also explains the contributions of family caregivers, details the costs and consequences of providing family care, and provides policy recommendations to better support caregiving families.

Source: AARP Public Policy Institute

Download full pdf report : Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update - The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving

Link to introduction and other supporting documents at AARP Public Policy Institute

What Matters Most? The Perceived Importance of Ability and Personality for Hiring Decisions

From the Executive Summary:
This study examined the emphasis hiring managers placed on general mental ability (GMA) and personality—agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and extraversion—when evaluating applicant profiles for servers for a national restaurant chain. GMA was framed as either “intelligence” or the “ability to learn and solve problems.” Under both conditions, GMA was valued, but less than agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, even though GMA has been demonstrated to be the strongest predictor of employee performance. Framed as the “ability to learn and solve problems,” GMA was more highly valued, but still less than personality.

Source: Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (Cornell School of Hotel Administration)

Download pdf : What Matters Most? The Perceived Importance of Ability and Personality for Hiring Decisions (free registration required)

Link to Cornell Hospitality Quarterly Online

Telework 2011: A Special Report from WorldatWork

From the Introduction
Technology companies have been predicting that telework — performing work from home or another remote location — soon will become the most common mode of work for American workers. (Lister 2010; Scheid 2009) And while some assert that technology alone will make this possible (Diana, A. 2010), barriers remain for both employers and employees that have more to do with psychology than technology.

This special report provides a view of telework from both the employee and the employer perspec- tives, and creates a useful picture of how telework is playing out in the United States today.

Source: WorldatWork [via Knowledge@Wharton]

Download pdf : Telework 2011: A Special Report from WorldatWork

Related: Commentary from Knowledge@Wharton

Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis

Authored by Kenneth V. Lanning and produced in cooperation with the FBI, the fifth edition of this book is an investigative tool for law-enforcement officers and child-protection professionals handling cases of children who are sexually exploited. It provides investigative strategies, the characteristics of a pedophile, and the difficulties often encountered in cases of sexual exploitation. It introduces a typology that places sex offenders on a continuum, from preferential to situational, and combines the information from the previous editions of this title with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's former publication titled Child Sex Rings: A Behavioral Analysis. 212 pp.

Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Download full pdf of Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis for Professional Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children

Link to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Post-Foreclosure Experience of U.S. Households

Despite the recent flood of foreclosures on residential mortgages, little is known about what happens to borrowers and their households after their mortgage has been foreclosed. We study the post-foreclosure experience of U.S. households using a unique dataset based on the credit reports of a large panel of individuals to from 1999 to 2010. Although foreclosure considerably raises the probability of moving, the majority of post-foreclosure migrants do not end up in substantially less desirable neighborhoods or more crowded living conditions. These results suggest that, on average, foreclosure does not impose an economic burden large enough to severely reduce housing consumption.

Source: Federal Reserve Board

Download full pdf report: The Post-Foreclosure Experience of U.S. Households

Link to online abstract at the Federal Reserve Board

The Mexican-American Boom: Births Overtake Immigration

From Overview:
Births have surpassed immigration as the main driver of the dynamic growth in the U.S. Hispanic population. This new trend is especially evident among the largest of all Hispanic groups-Mexican-Americans, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Mexican-American population grew by 7.2 million as a result of births and 4.2 million as a result of new immigrant arrivals. This is a change from the previous two decades when the number of new immigrants either matched or exceeded the number of births.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download pdf report: The Mexican-American Boom: Births Overtake Immigration

Link to online overview at Pew Hispanic Center

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Event Detection in Twitter

Twitter, as a form of social media, is fast emerging in recent years. Users are using Twitter to report real-life events. This paper focuses on detecting those events by analyzing the text stream in Twitter. Although event detection has long been a research topic, the characteristics of Twitter make it a non- trivial task. Tweets reporting such events are usually overwhelmed by high flood of meaningless "babbles". Moreover, event detection algorithm needs to be scalable given the sheer amount of tweets. This paper attempts to tackle these challenges with EDCoW (Event Detection with Clustering of Wavelet-based Signals). EDCoW builds signals for individual words by applying wavelet analysis on the frequency-based raw signals of the words. It then filters away the trivial words by looking at their corresponding signal auto- correlations. The remaining words are then clustered to form events with a modularity-based graph partitioning technique. Experimental studies show promising result of EDCoW. We also present the design of a proof-of-concept system, which was used to analyze netizens' online discussion about Singapore General Election 2011.

Source: HP Labs Technical Reports

Download full pdf report : Event Detection in Twitter | Link to online abstract at HP

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Resource Brief No. 4 | National Academy Database, Art from British Museums, Harry Potter’s World

The impact of the Internet on the brain

This publication aims to highlight what the field of neuroscience can tell us about the implications of using interactive technologies on young people’s brains, behaviours and attitudes. It brings together the latest research from this emerging area, not only to understand its implications, but to recognize the limitations of the existing evidence. By doing so, we hope to highlight what is known about ‘safe uses’ of interactive technologies, but also what is not known, i.e. what cannot be claimed or needs to be researched in more detail. If we are to develop effective and safe practices that use digital technologies, we need to be clear about the evidence that we build upon and ask more nuanced questions to determine where future research should be focused.

Source: Nominet Trust

Download pdf of The impact of the Internet on the brain | Link to online summary at Nominet Trust

Two Years of Economic Recovery: Women Lose Jobs, Men Find Them

From the Summary:

The recovery from the Great Recession is not off to a good start for women. From June 2009, when the recession ended, to May 2011, women have lost 218,000 jobs, with their employment level falling from 65.1 million to 64.9 million. Men, however, are finding new jobs in the recovery. Their employment level increased from 65.4 million in June 2009 to 66.1 million in May 2011, a gain of 768,000 jobs. Since 1970, this is the first two-year period into an economic recovery in which women have lost jobs even as men have gained them.

The contrasting trends for men and women in the recovery are reopening the gender gap in employment. At the start of the recession, in December 2007, men held 3.4 million more jobs than women. In the recession, job losses for men were more severe than for women and by the end, in June 2009, men held only 223,000 more jobs than women. This gap stretched out to 1.2 million in May 2011, two years into the economic recovery.

Source: Pew Research Center

Download full report - Employment in the Recovery
| Link to Pew Research Center Summary

The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (updated)

From the Summary:
Total debt of the federal government can increase in two ways. First, debt increases when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and acquire the financial resources needed to meet its obligations. This increases debt held by the public. Second, debt increases when the federal government issues debt to certain government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds, in exchange for their reported surpluses. This increases debt held by government accounts. The sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts is the total federal debt. Surpluses reduce debt held by the public, while deficits raise it. Total federal debt outstanding was $14,344 billion on June 29, 2011. The U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced that the federal debt reached its statutory limit on May 16, 2011, and that he had declared a debt issuance suspension period, allowing certain extraordinary measures to extend Treasury’s borrowing capacity until early August 2011. Since May 16, debt subject to limit has been held just below $14,294 billion. Funding federal operations could soon become complicated without a debt limit increase. A bill (H.R. 1954) to raise the debt limit to $16.7 trillion was introduced on May 24 and was defeated in a May 31, 2011, House vote

Source: Congressional Research Service

Download pdf of The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases

Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2011 - City rankings

Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates for the second year running, according to Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey. Tokyo remains in second position and N'Djamena in Chad in third place. Moscow follows in fourth position with Geneva in fifth and Osaka in sixth. Zurich jumps one position to rank seventh, while Hong Kong drops down to ninth.

New entries in the top 10 list of the costliest cities in the world are Singapore (8), up from 11, and São Paolo (10), which has jumped 11 places since the 2010 ranking. Karachi (214) is ranked as the world’s least expensive city, and the survey found that Luanda, in top place, is more than three times as costly as Karachi. Recent world events, including natural disasters and political upheavals, have impacted the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services and volatility in accommodation prices.

Down one place from last year, London (18) is the UK’s most expensive city, followed by Aberdeen (144), Glasgow (148) and Birmingham (150). Belfast (178) is ranked as the UK’s least expensive city.

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against New York. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The cost of housing – often the biggest expense for expatriates – plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked.

Source: Mercer

Link to Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2011 - City rankings list

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CEO Compensation and Corporate Risk-Taking: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Our paper sheds new light on the theoretically ambiguous effect of stock options on managerial incentives for risk-taking by analyzing how equity-based incentives affect firms’ responses to an unanticipated and exogenous increase in risk. The particular risk we study is an increase in liability and regulatory risk arising from workers’ exposure to newly identified carcinogens. We find that compensation contracts with high sensitivity to stock prices, low sensitivity to volatility, and options that are deep in-the-money reduce managers’ risk-taking incentives after risk increases. While options increase compensation’s sensitivity to both stock prices and volatility, on net, they encourage risk taking in our setting. We find that variation in managerial stock and option holdings causes meaningful differences in corporate decisions. Our findings underline the importance of corporate boards structuring and maintaining compensation plans properly in order to achieve their desired corporate strategy.

Source: Social Science Resource Network [via Knowledge@Wharton]

Download pdf publication | Link to SSRN Abstract

Economic Development in Africa Report 2011

From the Highlight summary:
The Economic Development in Africa Report (EDAR) 2011 examines the status of industrial development in Africa with a focus on the identification of "stylized facts" associated with African manufacturing. It also provides an analysis of past attempts at promoting industrial development in the region and the lessons learned from these experiences. Furthermore, it offers policy recommendations on how to foster industrial development in Africa in the new global environment characterized by changing international trade rules, growing influence of industrial powers from the South, the internationalization of production, and increasing concerns about climate change.

The Report argues that a new industrial policy is needed to induce structural transformation and engender development in African economies.

The Report advocates a strategic approach to industrial policy-making which is based on an industrial diagnosis and proposes a framework for industrial strategy design which takes account of the heterogeneity of African economies and is also tailored to country-specific circumstances.

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Download full pdf publication
| Link to UNCTAD

Intimacy, Manipulation, and the Maintenance of Social Boundaries at San Quentin Prison

San Quentin is an infamous prison in US history, the subject of myths, cautionary tales, and cable network specials. And yet ask the men living inside its walls, and they will insist San Quentin is the best place to do time in California. Beginning in the mid-1990s, San Quentin’s gates were opened to volunteers from the San Francisco Bay Area interested in providing educational and therapeutic programs. The implementation of these programs disrupted the routines and norms governing social relations within San Quentin and provided a rich window into the daily operation of the prison as it responds to pressure. In this paper, I identify and analyze three narratives which surface in the official discourse used by institutional actors to describe the prison environment and compare these narratives with observations of daily life behind San Quentin’s walls. Ultimately, I argue that in contrast to popular portrayals of prisons, which depict prisoners and officers as locked in depraved and antagonistic relationship patterns, the very structure of San Quentin, and perhaps prisons more generally, is highly conducive to the development of intimate bonds between these groups.

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 at eScholarship repository

Monday, July 11, 2011

Supplier Responses to Wal-Mart's Invasion of Mexico

This paper examines the effect of Wal-Mart's entry into Mexico on Mexican manufacturers of consumer goods. Guided by firm interviews that suggested substantial heterogeneity across firms in how they responded to Wal-Mart's entry, we develop a dynamic industry model in which firms decide whether to sell their products through Walmex (short for Wal-Mart de Mexico), or use traditional retailers. Walmex provides access to a larger market, but it puts continuous pressure on its suppliers to improve their product's appeal, and it forces them to accept relatively low prices relative to product appeal. Simulations of the model show that the arrival of Walmex separates potential suppliers into two groups. Those with relatively high-appeal products choose Walmex as their retailer, whereas those with lower appeal products do not. For the industry as a whole, the model predicts that the associated market share reallocations, adjustments in innovative effort, and exit patterns increase productivity and the rate of innovation. These predictions accord well with the results from our firm interviews. The model's predictions are also supported by establishment-level panel data that characterize Mexican producers' domestic sales, investments, and productivity gains in regions with differing levels of Walmex presence during the years 1994 to 2002.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Gender Law Library

The Gender Law Library is a collection of national legal provisions impacting women's economic status in 183 economies. The database facilitates comparative analysis of legislation, serves as a resource for research, and contributes to reforms that can enhance women’s full economic participation. We update the collection regularly but do not guarantee that laws are the most recent version, nor is the library exhaustive.

The materials are generally organized into categories including geographic region, income level grouping, legal topic, and type of law. Categories may be accessed individually or via a selection of a combination thereof. The more efficient manner by which to access materials, however, is through six unique indicators located on the left side of the homepage. The indicators were deliberately designed by the database creators to organize its contents in a more practical manner. They group the laws according to women’s legal abilities in the following categories: “accessing institutions,” “using property,” “getting a job,” “dealing with taxes,” “building credit,” and “going to court.” Selecting a single indicator will in turn create a list of more narrow topics from which to choose. Ultimately, all queries are conducted through a selection of indicators and categories; no search feature is available for entering customized search terms. As a result, some browsing may be necessary to locate a specific document, but the system is very efficient overall. Materials are typically provided in searchable PDF documents, but occasionally the database links the researcher to an outside website.

Source: World Bank [via Cornell Law Library]

Link to online database.

Friday, July 08, 2011

America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011 is a compendium of indicators depicting both the promises and the challenges confronting our Nation's young people. The report, the 15th in an ongoing series, presents 41 key indicators on important aspects of children's lives. These indicators are drawn from our most reliable statistics, are easily understood by broad audiences, are objectively based on substantial research, are balanced so that no single area of children's lives dominates the report, are measured regularly so that they can be updated to show trends over time, and are representative of large segments of the population rather than one particular group.

Seventeen years ago, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) joined with six other Federal agencies to create the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Formally chartered in April 1997 through Executive Order No. 13045, the Forum's mission is to develop priorities for collecting enhanced data on children and youth, improve the communication of information on the status of children to the policy community and the general public, and produce more complete data on children at the Federal, state, and local levels. Today the Forum, which now has participants from 22 Federal agencies and partners in several private research organizations, fosters coordination, collaboration, and integration of Federal efforts to collect and report data on children and families and calls attention to needs for new data about them.


Download full pdf publication
| Link to

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Structural and Cultural Dynamics of Neighborhood Violence

Considerable attention has given to identifying the neighborhood-level structural and social-interactional mechanisms which influence an array of social outcomes such as crime, educational attainment, collective action, mortality, and morbidity. Cultural mechanisms are often overlooked in quantitative studies of neighborhood effects, largely because of outdated notions of culture. This study explores the origins of legal cynicism, as well as the consequences of cynicism for neighborhood violence. Legal cynicism refers to a cultural frame in which people perceive the “law” as illegitimate, unresponsive, and ill-equipped to ensure public safety. Four objectives are addressed: 1) The correlates of legal cynicism. 2) The cross-sectional relationship between neighborhood violence and legal cynicism, as well as the relationship between neighborhood violence and tolerant attitudes toward violence and deviant behavior. 3) If legal cynicism predicts the change in neighborhood violence over time, net of changes to the structural conditions of a given neighborhood. 4) If legal cynicism makes all types of violence more likely or just certain forms, we compare whether the neighborhood predictors of gang versus non-gang homicide are the same. Findings reveal that tolerant attitudes toward deviance and violence have little bearing on neighborhood rates of violence. Legal cynicism, however, has both a near-term and enduring influence on violence, net of neighborhood structural characteristics and social processes such as collective efficacy. Neighborhood culture is a powerful determinant of neighborhood violence, and partially accounts for why rates of violence remained stable (and even increased) in some Chicago neighborhoods during the 1990s despite declines in poverty and drastic declines in violence city-wide. Findings also indicate that cynicism of the law has a general effect on violence, and that collective efficacy substantially mediates the association between legal cynicism and homicide. Legal cynicism undermines the collective efficacy that is vital to the social control of neighborhood violence.

Source: National Criminal Justice Reference Service

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| Link to online abstract

New Research Shows More Low-Income Young Adults Begin Their Higher Education Experience at For-Profit Colleges

While attention from policymakers, higher education leaders, nonprofit groups, and the business community remains focused on college completion and loan debt, where students start their studies in large part determines the likelihood of completing a degree program and chances of facing long-term financial distress. In a new brief, Portraits: Initial College Attendance of Low-Income Young Adults, experts at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) suggest that poverty still matters a great deal in terms of the types of institutions at which young adults are initially enrolling. In particular, they find that low-income students—between ages 18 and 26 and whose total household income is near or below the federal poverty level—are likely to be overrepresented at for-profit institutions and are likely to be underrepresented at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions.

According to the brief, from 2000 to 2008, the percentage of low-income students enrolling at for-profits increased from 13 percent to 19 percent, while the percentage enrolling in public four-year institutions declined from 20 percent to 15 percent. Portraits also includes facts pointing to the significant differences by race and gender as low-income females on the whole were twice as likely as low-income males to start at a for-profit institution. For example, data from the brief show that more Black and Hispanic females from low-income backgrounds started at for-profit institutions than at both public and private four-year institutions combined.

Source: Institute for higher education policy

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Republican Candidates Stir Little Enthusiasm

From the online overview:
The emerging Republican presidential field draws tepid ratings. Just a quarter of voters (25%) have an excellent or good impression of the possible GOP candidates, and a separate survey conducted jointly with The Washington Post finds that negative descriptions of the field far outnumber positive ones. Asked for a single word to describe the GOP field, the top response is “unimpressed.”

Source: Pew Research center for people and the press

Related post:

Are Republicans Ready Now for a Mormon President?

Download full pdf publication
| Download pdf questionnaire

Class Size: What Research Says and What it Means for State Policy

Class size is one of the small number of variables in American K-12 education that are both thought to influence student learning and are subject to legislative action. Legislative mandates on maximum class size have been very popular at the state level. In recent decades, at least 24 states have mandated or incentivized class-size reduction (CSR).

The current fiscal environment has forced states and districts to rethink their CSR policies given the high cost of maintaining small classes. For example, increasing the pupil/teacher ratio in the U.S. by one student would save at least $12 billion per year in teacher salary costs alone, which is roughly equivalent to the outlays of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the federal government’s largest single K-12 education program.

The substantial expenditures required to sustain smaller classes are justified by the belief that smaller classes increase student learning. We examine “what the research says” about whether class-size reduction has a positive impact on student learning and, if it does, by how much, for whom, and under what circumstances. Despite there being a large literature on class-size effects on academic achievement, only a few studies are of high enough quality and sufficiently relevant to be given credence as a basis for legislative action.

Source: Brookings Institution

Download full pdf publication | Link to online executive summary

For the Public’s Health: Revitalizing Law and Policy to Meet New Challenges

At the request of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the IOM reviewed how statutes and regulations prevent injury and disease, save lives, and improve the health of the population. The IOM examined the legal and regulatory authority for public health activities, identified past efforts to develop model public health legislation, and described the implications of the changing social and policy context for public health laws and regulations. The IOM finds that public health law, much of which was enacted in different eras when communicable diseases were the primary population health threats, warrant systematic review and revision. In addition, the IOM urges government agencies to familiarize themselves with the public health and policy interventions at their disposal that can influence behavior and more importantly change conditions—social, economic, and environmental—to improve health. Lastly, the IOM encourages government and private sector stakeholders to consider health in a wide range of policies and to evaluate the health effects and costs of major legislation.

This report is part of a three-part series requested by RWJF to address major topics in public health. Collectively, the series will offer guideposts on the journey to becoming a healthier nation.

Source: Institute of Medicine, the National Academies

Download full pdf report in brief | Download pdf summary | Link to read entire book online

Women of Tomorrow: A Study of Women Around the World

Women control the majority of purchasing decisions in a household and their influence is growing. Women across the world are expanding beyond traditional roles to influence decisions in the home, in business and in politics. Marketers have a massive opportunity to better connect women with the products they buy and the media technologies they use to make a positive impact both in their lives and in the bottom line.

So what traditional and new media influencers are most successful in driving women’s purchase decisions? Do women in developed countries think and act differently than women in emerging countries? What concerns do women have now and what do they expect for future generations? Do traditional roles still exist or do men and women share responsibilities? Importantly, how can marketers not only reach women more effectively, but how can they create messaging that better speaks to the sentiments and emotions that drive and empower women?

To answer these questions, Nielsen surveyed women across generations and from all corners of both developed and emerging economies. Reaching out to 21 countries representing 78 percent of GDP, this study provides insight into how current and future generations of female consumers shop and use media differently. The findings are both enlightening and surprising. One universal truth prevails: women everywhere believe their roles are changing and they are changing for the better

Source: Nielsen Media

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Exploration of Retirement Planning Attitudes and Behavior

In the fall of 2010, the CRR sponsored a series of qualitative interviews with consumers on a range of retirement issues. The objective was to explore consumers’ attitudes and behavior toward retirement planning, including knowledge gaps, sources of information, and unmet needs. A total of 70 individuals aged 50-65 were interviewed in three cities (Hartford, Cincinnati, and Phoenix). This report summarizes the interview results.

Source: Financial Security Project at Boston College (Center for Retirement Research)

Download full pdf publication | Link to Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

The future of death in America

Population mortality forecasts are widely used for allocating public health expenditures, setting research priorities, and evaluating the viability of public pensions, private pensions, and health care financing systems. Although we know a great deal about patterns in and causes of mortality, most forecasts are still based on simple linear extrapolations that ignore covariates and other prior information. We adapt a Bayesian hierarchical forecasting model capable of including more known health and demographic information than has previously been possible. This leads to the first age- and sex-specific forecasts of American mortality that simultaneously incorporate, in a formal statistical model, the effects of the recent rapid increase in obesity, the steady decline in tobacco consumption, and the well known patterns of smooth mortality age profiles and time trends. Formally including new information in forecasts can matter a great deal. For example, we estimate an increase in male life expectancy at birth from 76.2 years in 2010 to 79.9 years in 2030, which is 1.8 years greater than the U.S. Social Security Administration projection and 1.5 years more than U.S. Census projection. For females, we estimate more modest gains in life expectancy at birth over the next twenty years from 80.5 years to 81.9 years, which is virtually identical to the Social Security Administration projection and 2.0 years less than U.S. Census projections. We show that these patterns are also likely to greatly affect the aging American population structure. We offer an easy-to-use approach so that researchers can include other sources of information and potentially improve on our forecasts too.

Source: Max-Planck institute for demographic research

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| Link to online abstract

Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2011 User Comparative Database Report

Based on data from 1,032 U.S. hospitals, the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2011 User Comparative Database Report provides initial results that hospitals can use to compare their patient safety culture to other U.S. hospitals. In addition, the 2011 report presents results showing change over time for 512 hospitals that submitted data more than once. The report consists of a narrative description of the findings and four appendixes, presenting data by hospital characteristics and respondent characteristics for the database hospitals overall and separately for the 512 trending hospitals.

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

Link to download full report in sections | link to executive summary

Emerging forms of entrepreneurship

The current policy and public debate on the overall topic of ‘entrepreneurship’ pays little attention to more specific or emerging forms of entrepreneurship such as one-person enterprises and self-employment, part-time entrepreneurs, parallel and serial entrepreneurs, and business transfer and successions. This study examines the appearance of these distinct catgeories in public and policy discussions across Europe and gives an overview of the availability of quantitative and qualitative statistical information and of research on emerging forms of entrepreneurship.This study notes that the category of one-person enterprises and self-employment is the one most often included in the debate, whereas the other forms of emerging entrepreneurship receive less attention. However, across Europe growing attention is paid to all these forms as drivers for growth and employment, and they are being recognised as flexible forms that offer a transitional state between employment and business development.

The study was compiled on the basis of individual national reports submitted by the ERM correspondents. The text of each of these national reports is available below. The reports have not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a questionnaire and should be read in conjunction with it.

Source: EuroFound
Download full pdf publication | Download pdf executive summary | Download questionnaire (doc) | Link to online abstract

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

White Kids: Identity Construction, Critical Mass, and Symbolic Exclusion in High School Cliques and other Groups

This ethnographic study explored to what extent white students were able to critically understand the significance of their racial identity in more diverse demographic settings. It further looked at the discourse the students used to describe themselves, their cliques, and other groups with regard to race and racial identities. The participants in this study were students at two public urban high schools in the same district, one where white students have a substantial critical mass but are not the majority and one in which they comprise a small minority. Interview and observation data were analyzed through thematic coding. The emerging themes coded for included boundary work, symbolic exclusion, group rigidity and group options, critical mass, and white consciousness.

Source: Berkeley Review of Education, University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Education, UC Berkeley [via eScholarship Repository]

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| Link to eScholarship repository

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The New Digital Economy: How it will transform business

nternational leaders face an era of unprecedented change. The financial crisis that ended in 2009 caused a seismic shift that has reshaped the global business landscape. The world economy is now characterized by sluggish growth in the West, a shift in power to the East, value-driven customers and rising risks everywhere. At the same time, the downturn has hastened the adoption of new tools that are transforming businesses and sparking a new wave of wealth creation, particularly in the emerging world: Mobility, cloud computing, business intelligence and social media.

Today’s economic realignment and digital transformation are inextricably linked. The current economic conditions are fostering investment in technology as emerging markets ramp up their demand for technology to fuel growth and advanced markets seek new ways to cut costs and drive innovation. This becomes a virtuous circle as digital technologies drive consumer income and demand, education and training, and efficient use of capital and resources—leading to increased economic growth, particularly in emerging markets.

To understand how these shifts will affect the global marketplace over the next five years, we conducted a study of 363 corporate decision-makers, supplemented by interviews and panel discussions with global c-level executives and thought leaders. The report offers a set of imperatives for CEOs to ensure their firms remain competitive. These include the development of a forward-thinking mobile strategy, reversing the traditional approach to innovation, and installing safeguards to protect against greater risks from cyber attacks, piracy and reputational damage, as well as economic volatility.

Source: Oxford Economics

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| Link to online summary at Oxford Economics