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]

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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

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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

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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)

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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; √Čilis 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]

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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

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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