Text/Mobile Version | View in Browser November 2012

IPR enews

Alan Krueger (left), chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, and IPR Director David Figlio talk on stage following a broad conversation that covered the economy, education, public policy, and working in government.

Nation's Top Economist Tackles the Economy, Policy, and Research

In a wide-ranging conversation that covered the state of the economy, the role of education, the policymaking process, and his job, among others, Alan Krueger—the nation’s top “economic consultant”—spoke to a crowd of nearly 350 students, faculty, community members, and local high school students as IPR’s 2012 Distinguished Public Policy Lecturer on October 8 at Northwestern University. MORE

Faculty Awards & Honors 
figlio
IPR political scientists James Druckman and Daniel Galvin (pictured above) both received prominent awards from the American Political Science Association this August. MORE
 

IPR social psychologist Thomas D. Cook will receive the 2012 Peter H. Rossi Award for contributions to the theory or practice of program evaluation from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management on November 9. MORE
 

Three IPR faculty were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on October 7: psychologist Alice Eagly, social psychologist and law professor Shari Seidman Diamond, and political scientist James Druckman. MORE
 
MORE faculty awards & honors.

Faculty in the Media
Chicago Tonight
Campaign 2012 in the final stretch
IPR political scientist Georgia Kernell appeared on Chicago Tonight to weigh in on how the Democratic and Republican campaigns are spending their resources and reaching out to voters in the final days before the 2012 presidential election.
 
Los Angeles Times

Working in America: The myth of men in decline
The most effective manager, it's believed, is the "transformational" leader, who gains the trust and confidence of followers, mentoring and empowering them to reach their full potential. IPR psychologist Alice Eagly and her colleagues found that female managers were slightly more "transformational" than men. Both sexes, it seems, are capable of leadership that enables employees to reach their full potential.

 
New Scientist
America 2050: Population change threatens the dream
IPR education economist David Figlio's research showing that spending on school is lower where there is a large racial mismatch between the school-age population and the elderly lends support to New Scientist's recent analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. It revealed large and persistent wealth and education disparities between whites and Hispanics.
 
U.S. News & World Report
Psychiatric disorders often persist in younger offenders
New research led by behavioral scientist and IPR associate Linda Teplin shows that five years after serving time in a juvenile correction facility, more than 45 percent of males and nearly 30 percent of females had one or more psychiatric disorders.
 
Find these and other clips HERE.
News & Research
IPR Welcomes New Fellows
IPR welcomed two new fellows this fall, psychologists Edith Chen and Greg Miller, experts in understanding the biological links and psychosocial pathways that can affect human health and life trajectories. They will deepen the Institute's expertise in understanding the physiological mechanisms through which social contexts shape health over a person's life. MORE

IPR Policy Research Briefing on the Wealthy and Taxes
On December 7, IPR will hold a policy research briefing on Capitol Hill that will examine the front-page issue of taxing the wealthy. Panelists will be IPR sociologist Monica Prasad, William Gale of the Brookings Institution, and Charles Varner of Princeton University. MORE

Groundbreaking Workshop on College Access, Inclusion
At an unprecedented two-day workshop co-sponsored by IPR, more than 30 higher education and K-12 leaders from across the nation gathered to discuss how to work together to significantly increase the number of minority high school students choosing to enroll in selective colleges—and how to keep them there. It was led by IPR Director David Figlio, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, both education economists, with Evanston Township High School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. MORE

Information Overload?
“Information overload” might be an exaggerated way to describe today’s always-on media environment. In fact, very few Americans seem to feel bogged down or overwhelmed by the volume of news and information at their fingertips and on their screens, according to a new study led by communication studies researcher and IPR associate Eszter Hargittai. MORE

When to Worry About Kids' Temper Tantrums
A team of researchers led by IPR clinical and developmental psychologist Lauren Wakschlag has developed an easy-to-administer questionnaire specifically designed to distinguish the typical misbehavior of early childhood from more concerning misbehavior. It will enable early identification and treatment of emerging mental health problems, which is key to preventing young children struggling with their behavior from spiraling downward into chronic mental health problems. MORE

New IPR Working Papers
Find the complete list of 2012 IPR working papers HERE.

How Elite Partisan Polarization Affects Public Opinion Formation
(WP-12-14)
James Druckman, Erik Peterson, and Rune Slothuus

Does the rising party polarization of the past 25 years help or hinder the democratic process and voter decision making? Previous studies have found some positive effects of party polarization on voters. But a new study by IPR political scientist James Druckman and his colleagues uncovers a grimier reality: That polarization can blind party loyalists to better ideas and bias their reasoning. The researchers looked at how participants process support for two hot-button, national issuesimmigration and energy. To vary the conditions, the researchers paired pro and con frames of opposite strengths, in addition to adding information on party support and polarization.

Take the case of drilling for oil: When Democrats received a strong, Republican-endorsed pro frame (it creates jobs and lowers gas prices) and the weaker Democratic con frame (regulatory agencies are overwhelmed), they preferred the weaker frame and their support for drilling dropped 13 percent. But in a non-polarized environment, Democrats picked the stronger pro-economic frame more often, despite the Republican endorsement, and their support rose by 15 percent. This amounts to a 28 percent swing in opinion due to polarization. Similar findings were seen for Republicans. These experiments underscore the key finding that in highly polarized times, partisans of either party opt to follow the party line, shutting out better information. Druckman with Northwestern undergraduate Erik Peterson, a former IPR summer research assistant, and Aarhus University professor Rune Slothuus point to the irony that such intense party competition, which has been touted as strengthening the democratic process, might in fact harm, rather than help, public opinion formation.

“Epigenetic Embodiment of Health and Disease:
A Framework for Nutritional Intervention”
(WP-12-15)
Christopher Kuzawa and Zaneta Thayer

The finding that fetal nutrition and stress can have long-term impacts on health and on outcomes related to human capital, such as educational performance or adult wages, has been of growing interest recently. Is it possible to improve these long-term outcomes in future generations by improving the health and diet of present-day mothers-to-be? A new working paper by IPR biological anthropologist Christopher Kuzawa and Northwestern doctoral student Zaneta Thayer explores this question through the lens of evolutionary biology. As placental mammals, human mothers have evolved elaborate means to buffer the fetus against environmental stressors. However, this does not work with equal strength for all stressors, and the authors identify several pathways by which environmental factors can influence fetal development to varying degrees.

One extreme involves 21st-century toxic compounds, such as lead, tobacco smoke, and air pollution, against which a mother’s body can do little to shield the fetus, and a reduction in which will typically have immediate benefits for both mothers and their fetuses. The other extreme involves biological responses in the mother’s body that have evolved over millennia to protect the fetus from deficits in her diet and in essential nutrients. For common nutrients like energy and protein, supplementing women during pregnancy may not reap the full potential benefits of nutritional improvement because the mother’s body buffers the fetus against changes in her dietwhether negative or positive. The researchers suggest that improving the early life nutrition of future mothers might be the best means of improving fetal, and thus later adult, health. They propose a model designed to help implement such interventions, which hold promise to help improve the fetal nutrition, epigenetic profiles, and long-term well-being of future generations.


Upcoming Events
11/5/12 - "The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Cognitive Development" by David Figlio (IPR/SESP)
11/8/12 - "School Choice and Educational Mobility: Lessons from Secondary School Applications in Ghana" by Kehinde Ajayi (Boston U.)
11/12/12 - "Reflections on the 2012 Election" with Daniel Galvin (IPR/Political Science), Monica Prasad (IPR/Sociology), and Benjamin Page (IPR/Political Science). Moderated by James Druckman (IPR/Political Science)
11/19/12 - "Grandfathers Matter(ed): Occupational Mobility Across Three Generations in the United States and Britain, 1850-1910" by Joseph Ferrie (IPR/Economics)
11/20/12 - "Assessing the Generalizability of Randomized Trials in Public Health and Education Research" by Elizabeth Stuart (Johns Hopkins)

Find the complete calendar HERE.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
Please e-mail ipr@northwestern.edu.

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