2013 NEWS ARCHIVE
Win-Win Partnerships to Improve Education
School districts today operate in a rapidly changing environment of rising expectations and are constantly implementing new programs and policies to improve student achievement. Yet they often lack information about what is effective. That is why many of IPR’s education experts are currently working in partnership with several districts, including the Chicago Public Schools, to conduct high-quality, randomized experiments and evaluations of school policies and programs.
Faculty Spotlight: Sandra Waxman
IPR psychologist Sandra Waxman studies how infants establish links between language and cognition and identifies how young children from diverse cultures reason about the natural world, hoping to elucidate the intricate interactions between “nature and nurture”—the twin engines of development.
Social Security: Public Opinion, Guerilla Tactics, and a Policymaking Dilemma
In an IPR working paper on the evolution of public opinion and elite opinion about Social Security, Fay Lomax Cook and IPR graduate research assistant Rachel Moskowitz describe how a conservative “guerilla” strategy of political rhetoric and issue counterframing has tried to chip away at the wall of public support for the program.
The Politicization of Science
IPR associate director and political scientist James Druckman, with IPR social policy professor Fay Lomax Cook and Toby Bolsen of Georgia State University, finds that politicization negatively affects support for an emerging technology—in this case, nuclear energy, selected because of a renewed U.S. focus on building nuclear plants.
IPR Economist Provides Ideas to Improve Food Assistance
Amid debate over funding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, IPR economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach authored a report that indicates how slashing the program will increase food insecurity in the United States, which is now at an all-time high.
IPR Faculty Tackle Urban Challenges at Global Conference
By 2050, the United Nations projects that more than two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants will live in major urban centers, rising from more than half today. At a recent international conference, several IPR faculty led and participated in sessions exploring how university research could address some of the major structural challenges to living in an increasingly urbanized world.
Hedges Wins Statistician of the Year Award
The Chicago Chapter of the American Statistical Association (ASA) named IPR education researcher and statistician Larry V. Hedges 2013-14 Statistician of the Year for his prominent accomplishments. He was chosen from a field of distinguished applicants “for outstanding, lifelong work on statistical methods in meta-analysis and their applications in evidence-based policy and education.”
The State of Healthcare
At a time when healthcare has been high on the public’s radar, more than 90 people turned out to hear Harvard’s Katherine Baicker, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush, discuss the Affordable Care Act and her work on the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment at IPR’s Fall 2013 Distinguished Public Policy Lecture.
Faculty Spotlight: Emma Adam
IPR developmental psychologist Emma Adam studies the real-life effects of everday events and emotions on human health and development. Her research shows how dealing with seemingly mundane social events—for example, feeling rejected by your peers or having an argument with your spouse or parent—lead to changes in biology that increase vulnerability to outcomes such as depression and cardiovascular disease.
Linking Birth Weight and Breast-Feeding with Adult Disease
In a new study investigating links between breast-feeding, birth weight, and chronic inflammation in early adulthood, IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade and his colleagues find that both lower birth weights and shorter durations of breast-feeding predict higher levels of inflammation in young adults, and thus higher disease risk.
Unearthing the Foundations of Health
The recently launched Foundations of Health Research Center, led by IPR psychologists Edith Chen and Greg Miller, seeks to expand knowledge of the connection between low socioeconomic status and higher risk for disease and mortality, and the underlying biological mechanisms.
"Black Picket Fences," Revisited
Recently, sociologist and IPR associate Mary Pattillo released the second edition of her ground-breaking book Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class—one of only a few ethnographic studies of a black middle-class neighborhood. In the 2013 edition, she revisited the same topics discussed in the 1999 original—namely the economy, crime, and housing—and put them in context with the economic downturn and the foreclosure crisis.
Matching Administrative Data to Inform Policy
On October 10 and 11, more than 50 academics, policymakers, and practitioners gathered at Northwestern University for a first-of-its-kind meeting that seeks to establish an interdisciplinary network connecting these three groups around building state-level matched data sets.
Who Cares About Inequality? Americans Do
Most research asserts that Americans generally care little about, or even ignore, income inequality and dislike redistributive policies. But in her latest book, The Undeserving Rich: American Beliefs About Inequality, Opportunity, and Redistribution, IPR sociologist Leslie McCall is upending conventional wisdom on the topic.
The Impact of Tenure-Track Faculty on Student Learning
Tenure in American higher education is on the wane. In the mid-1970s, more than 50 percent of faculty held tenure, dropping to 30 percent by 2009. A new working paper by IPR education economists David Figlio and Morton Schapiro with consultant and recent alumnus Kevin Soter compares learning outcomes for undergraduates in classes with tenure-track and nontenure-track faculty.
Food Stamps, Redshirting, and Universal Pre-K
IPR economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach had three important research studies thatshe co-authored covered overthe same week. New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman wrote about her research on the positive impact of food stamps on children on September 22. Brookings released a study about the effects of introducing universal preschool programs on September 19. Also on September 19, The New Yorker discussed a randomized study on "redshirting," which indicates that more mature students did worse academically when compared with their younger, less mature peers.
Hometown Solutions for National Issues
While IPR faculty lead and conduct policy-relevant research in sites throughout the United States and abroad, they also work on innovative projects that test and evaluate important social policies in their home community of Evanston, Illinois.
Universal Preschool Increases Enrollment, but Crowds Out Private Preschool for the Well-Off
IPR economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach co-authored a study examining the effects of the introduction of universal preschool programs in Georgia and Oklahoma in the 1990s; the results have implications for President Obama's "Preschool for All" initiative.
Primate Calls, Like Human Speech, Can Help Infants Form Categories
A study of how infants respond to human and non-human calls, co-authored by IPR psychologist Sandra Waxman, sheds light on origins of speech and cognition.
IPR labor economist Kirabo Jackson discusses how he uses quantitative tools and natural experiments to drill down into the complex interactions between school children, parents, workers, and policymakers, examining how certain policies affect their actions, interactions, and eventually individual education and job outcomes.
A CAREER-Enhancing Award
IPR development economist Lori Beaman received a highly competitive National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award that will further her research on how social networks affect economic behavior in developing countries in two key areas—labor markets and agricultural technology adoption.
Pre-K Rating Systems Should Focus on Teacher-Child Interactions
A study published in Science finds that preschool ratings should focus on the quality of teacher-student interactions in evaluating classrooms. IPR postdoctoral fellow Terri Sabol led the study.
A "Know" Vote
At the 2013 Chicago Area Behavior Workshop, keynote speaker Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan discussed voter knowledge and civic competence, in addition to presentations on gender, inequality, and voter mobilization from other social scientists, including IPR sociologist Leslie McCall.
Chase Lansdale Named Associate Provost
IPR developmental psychologist Lindsay Chase-Lansdale will become Associate Provost for Faculty at Northwestern University on September 1. She was also named as the Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, in recognition of her teaching and scholarship.
Pioneering Two-Generation Solutions
A $100,000 grant from Ascend at the Aspen Institute will jump-start an innovative two-generation education initiative for low-income parents and their young children in Evanston. IPR developmental psychologist Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and senior research scientist Teresa Eckrich Sommer will direct a research study of a pilot program that will be implemented and run by the Evanston Community Foundation.
The Enduring Neighborhood Effect
Harvard University’s Robert Sampson presented an in-depth study of the social transformations that have occurred across the city of Chicago over the past 40 years. The May 17 event included a panel discussion featuring IPR economist Jonathan Guryan, IPR political scientist Wesley G. Skogan, and sociologist and African American studies scholar Mary Pattillo, an IPR associate.
Why Concentrated Poverty Matters
IPR biological anthropologist Thomas McDade and his co-authors discuss their findings from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized mobility experiment, which suggest that concentrated poverty does have extremely important impacts, but on outcomes not anticipated by most previous research—such as on physical and mental health.
Students Can Rebound from School Closings
In an editorial published in the Chicago Tribune, IPR economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach discusses research showing that the announced school closings are unlikely to cause long-term harm to students.
Social Media Expert Named to Chair
Communications studies researcher and IPR associate Eszter Hargittai became the Delaney Family Research Professor in a ceremony on April 29.
Cecilia Rouse: Economist, Presidential Adviser, Dean, and Mom
Economist Cecilia Rouse, dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, discussed her experiences working in the White House as IPR’s spring 2013 Distinguished Public Policy Lecturer on April 8 at Northwestern University.
James Spillane Named Ver Steeg Research Fellow
Education professor and IPR associate James Spillane has been awarded Northwestern's 2013 Van Steeg Research Fellowship, which supports the research and scholarship of a tenured Northwestern professor that enhances the national and international reputation of the University.
Faculty Spotlight: Daniel Galvin
IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin studies how the American presidency and political parties have changed over time and what this means for the nation's political process. His latest book project, Rust Belt Democrats: Party Legacies and Adaptive Capacities in Postindustrial America, will examine the factors that have facilitated or frustrated party adaptation in those states hit hardest by trends related to globalization.
Zeroing in on Teen Stress
All parents know that stress affects their kids, yet there is little information about the specific ways in which this happens, mainly due to a lack of of comprehensive measures. IPR psychobiologist Emma Adam's many projects are zeroing on exactly how daily and long-term stress affect children and teens.
IPR economist Jonathan Guryan is leading a research team studying how to strengthen student engagement in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by providing hundreds of students with such adult mentors through a program called Check & Connect.
Divided We View
IPR mass communications scholar Rachel Davis Mersey takes a look at why Americans have become so polarized in their news consumption. She uncovers several factors, including how the public responds to news.
In Memoriam: Paul Friesema
H. Paul Friesema, professor emeritus of political science, IPR faculty emeritus, and a leader in environmental and urban policy studies, died on March 8 at age 77 in Evanston, Ill.
Policymakers: Caveat Emptor for Research
IPR economist Charles F. Manski discussed his new book, Public Policy in an Uncertain World: Analysis and Decisions, at a March 27 lecture co-sponsored by the British Academy and the Economic and Social Research Council's Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice. Watch the video.
The Future of Healthcare
At the IPR/John H. Hollister Lecture, MIT's Jonathan Gruber—one of the nation’s top healthcare economists—retraced the challenges of passing and implementing the nation’s most sweeping reform of healthcare since the 1965 passage of Medicaid and Medicare.
Chase-Lansdale Selected as AAAS Featured Fellow
In honor of the 40th anniversary of their Science & Technology Policy Fellowship, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is choosing one fellow from each class to highlight as part of its commemoration, including IPR developmental psychologist Lindsay Chase-Lansdale as the featured fellow for the 1981-82 class.
Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Richeson
IPR social psychologist Jennifer Richeson celebrated her investiture as the MacArthur Chair on February 15 at Northwestern University, fitting for this 2006 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, popularly known as a "genius grant." Richeson studies how group memberships such as race and gender affect how people think, feel, and behave.
The Death Penalty and Deterrence
Does the death penalty deter murder? At a January 9 event, co-sponsored by IPR and Northwestern School of Law’s Searle Center, Carnegie Mellon criminologist Daniel Nagin, chair of the 2012 National Research Council Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty discussed its evaluation of death penalty research. The event also featured commentary by IPR economist Charles F. Manski and law professor and IPR associate Max Schanzenbach.
Chase-Lansdale Named to National Academy
IPR developmental psychologist Lindsay Chase-Lansdale was one of 12 scholars elected to the National Academy of Education this February. A highly selective organization, members are elected on the basis of their scholarship in the field of education and are recognized for the extraordinary influence that they have had on education in the United States and abroad.
From “Open Doors” to Fisher
As the Supreme Court contemplates Fisher v. University of Texas, ongoing research by IPR sociologist Anthony Chen and sociologist Lisa Stulberg of New York University is filling out our understanding of how race-conscious affirmative action programs came to be instituted. The researchers have unearthed some unexpected findings, challenging major aspects of the conventional wisdom.
Harnessing Big Data for Policy Research
With support from the National Science Foundation, IPR director and education economist David Figlio is leading a project that teams IPR scholars with colleagues at Duke University to examine construction of “next-generation” data sets. These large-scale, national sets will link administrative data, such as welfare and school records, to population data and could permit quicker evaluations of early childhood investments and interventions.
Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences
Now under the leadership of two IPR fellows—sociologist Jeremy Freese and political scientist James Druckman—the online data collection platform TESS will expand its array of free survey services with renewed support from the National Science Foundation. Launched in 2001, TESS offers faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers opportunities to test their experimental ideas on large, diverse, randomly selected subject populations.
The Land of Too Much
In her latest book, The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty, IPR sociologist Monica Prasad explores the puzzle of why the United States has the most progressive tax system of the advanced industrial world, yet one of the world’s smallest public welfare states. She argues that a strong tradition of government intervention undermined the development of a European-style welfare state, which led to economic growth that met citizen needs through private credit rather than through social welfare policies and resulted in higher poverty, a backlash against taxation and regulation, and a housing bubble fueled by “mortgage Keynesianism.”
Naming a Child Policy Czar
In an editorial, IPR economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach calls for the appointment of a “dedicated child policy czar"—an expert who can watch out for the needs of all American children by elevating and coordinating policy across different agencies. Citing some of the tough policy decisions that lie ahead for Congress, she shows how by using policy-relevant research, like her own on No Child Left Behind, such a person could help policymakers better identify the consequences of, for example, social spending cuts on children.
Taxing the Wealthy: What Does the Research Show?
In the recently concluded negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff, a higher tax rate for top earners was one of the biggest sticking points between Republicans and Democrats. A December 7 IPR policy research briefing on Capitol Hill brought together three national experts to cut through some of the verbal sparring on the topic. Panelists were IPR sociologist Monica Prasad, economist William Gale of the Brookings Institution, and rising scholar Charles Varner of Stanford University.
Faculty Spotlight: Thomas McDade
Using biomarkers from finger-stick blood spot samples and data from around the globe, IPR biological anthropologist Thomas McDade is revolutionizing the way population-based biological data is collected and studied. Specifically, he looks at how social and physical environments contribute to variation in human health and affect immune function and inflammation, which contribute to disease risk.