Thursday, February 12, 2015

Abortion Legislation in Europe

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

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

Download full pdf publication

The Changing Role of Criminal Law in Controlling Corporate Behavior

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

Download full pdf publication | Read abstract online

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

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

Download full pdf publication

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

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

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

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

Americans overestimate social class mobility

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

Download full pdf publication

Political Party Affiliation, Political Ideology, and Mortality

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

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

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

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

Download full pdf publication

Minimum wages in the EU

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

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

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

Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Read full article and analysis

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

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

Download full pdf publication

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

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

Source: The Sentencing Project

Download full pdf publication

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Open Data Barometer Report

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

Human Trafficking in America’s Schools

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

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

Download the guide | Read more online

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

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

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

Source: Hastings School of Law, University of California

Read report overview | Signup to receive pdf of report

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

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

Download full pdf publication 

Special Collection on Women’s Heart Health

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

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

Source: Women's Health Issues

Link to collection of articles.

Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Law Enforcement

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

Source: National Institute of Justice

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

Highlights of women’s earnings in 2013

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

Download full pdf report 

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

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

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Download full pdf publication | Link to abstract at NBER

NBER Paper: Age and the Trying Out of New Ideas

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

Download full pdf publication | Read Abstract at NBER