2012 News Archive

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Using Mentors to Prevent Dropouts
IPR economist Jonathan Guryan and his team of researchers are implementing a new program called Check & Connect that matches students with adult mentors in an effort to increase school attendance and student engagement at 24 public elementary and middle schools in Chicago. Dropping out is not something that happens when kids are 15 to 17, Guryan points out, but is the end point of a developmental process that starts earlier and presents itself as truancy or chronic school absences.

Fathers' Work and Child Well-Being
Despite more mothers going to work, what a father earns still remains crucial to a child’s well-being. A new report, co-authored by IPR sociologist Christine Percheski, examines how becoming a father affects men's employment levels and outlines the ways that public policies could help fathers in various kinds of family situations better support their children.

Ending the AIDS Epidemic
As World AIDS Day approaches, IPR sociologist and African American studies researcher Celeste Watkins-Hayes explains how AIDS has become “increasingly a disease of economic inequality.” Efforts to end the epidemic, she says, should target low-income populations, with better socioeconomic data collection needed to ensure their success. Additionally, prevention strategies need to address larger issues as such as healthcare, drug, and criminal justice policies.


Stress, Health, and Wealth
An October 23 symposium, co-sponsored by Feinberg’s department of Medical Social Sciences (MSS), IPR’s C2S, and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, brought together a multidisciplinary cadre of experts to review the links between stress and health, and how they affect people across the life span. Participants included IPR faculty Thomas McDade, Lauren WakschlagEmma Adam, Greg Miller, Edith ChenDavid Cella, and Frank Penedo.

Preparing Disadvantaged Students for Selective Colleges
At an unprecedented workshop, more than 30 higher education and K–12 leaders from across the nation discussed how they can work together to significantly increase the number of academically prepared students from underrepresented groups choosing to enroll in selective colleges—and how they can keep them there. IPR economists Morton Schapiro, Kirabo Jackson and David Figlio were among the participants. 

The Neighborhood Effect
A quarter of a century after its publication, William Julius Wilson's groundbreaking book The Truly Disadvantaged is still being debated. Leading social scientists, including sociologist and IPR associate Mary Pattillo, gathered at Harvard University for a conference to discuss the impact of the book on how researchers think about and conduct research on inner cities and the urban poor in the post-civil rights era.

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.


Three IPR Faculty Inducted into AAAS
Three IPR faculty were inducted in to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) at a ceremony held on October 6. Political scientist James Druckman, social psychologist Alice Eagly, and legal scholar and psychologist Shari Seidman Diamond are among 220 new fellows and 17 foreign honorary members designated by the AAAS as leaders in research, scholarship, business, the arts, and public affairs.

New HIV Test for Babies in Africa
Residents in Maputo, Mozambique, will participate in the first clinical trial of an HIV test that was developed at Northwestern University and will deliver a diagnosis in less than an hour. Daniel Diermeier, a professor of managerial economics and decision sciences and IPR associate, is a co-founder of the Northwestern Global Health Foundation, which works to develop health solutions for infectious diseases in the developing world.

Psychiatric Disorders Persist After Youths Leave Detention
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.


A Framework for Nutritional Intervention
In a new working paper, IPR anthropologist Christopher Kuzawa and his co-author point to the need to consider nutritional interventions as an integral component of strategies to improve nutritional experiences, birth outcomes, and the long-term metabolic programming of future generations.


Information Overload
"Information overload" may 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

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. 

New IPR Working Papers
Two new working papers co-authored by IPR political scientist James Druckman examine the political preferences and attitudes of elite party members. In WP-12-13, Druckman and IPR graduate research assistants Samara Klar and Joshua Robison review relevant research on why elites frame particular issues the way they do and how aspects of the political environment influence their political preferences. WP-12-14 presents stark evidence that elite polarized environments fundamentally change how citizens make decisions, and in the authors' estimation, make for lower quality opinions.

Income Tax and Labor Supply
Conservatives argue that lower tax rates push high earners to work harder, liberals counter that high earners do not adjust their efforts in response to tax rates. In a column for Vox, IPR economist Charles F. Manski weighs in on the debate, citing that it's time for economists to acknowledge that they do not have the empirical research to determine whether the labor supply increases or decreases in response to changes in tax rates.


Give Colleges More Credit
"We take comfort in the fact that for more than a century predictions about the impending demise of classic higher education have met the same fate: They have been utterly wrong," writes Northwestern University President and economist Morton Schapiro, an IPR fellow, in an opinion piece explaining why doomsayers are wrong in their claims that America's higher-education model is broken. 


Sixteen Years of 'Onward & Upward'
After 16 years of leading IPR, Fay Lomax Cook will step down as the Institute's director this August. Since assuming the position in 1996, she has been the driving force behind many of IPR's most innovative changes and creations. 

Scrutinizing Views and the Vote
In an election year with a particularly charged climate, the sixth annual Chicago Area Political and Social Behavior Workshop took place on May 11 to examine research on how race, personality, affluence, scientific literacy, and social groupings can affect voters. Presenters included Jennifer Hochschild of Harvard University and political scientist and IPR associate Benjamin Page.


White House, AAAS, and Others Honor Faculty
Ten IPR faculty have received distinguished awards and honors recently, including three new faculty members who were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and two who were recognized by President Barack Obama. 

Faculty Spotlight: David Figlio, A Voice on Vouchers
Although the first school voucher program was launched more than 20 years ago, researchers are only now beginning to garner solid, quantifiable evidence on the effects of these programs. IPR education economist David Figlio has amassed an important body of evidence on one of the nation’s largest and most expansive school voucher programs, the Florida Tax-Credit Scholarship Program.

Examining the Power of Place—Housing, Desegregation, and Opportunity
At a recent IPR policy research briefing in Chicago, four national experts explored the pernicious persistence of segregation on socioeconomic outcomes, improving residential choice voucher programs to better serve their holders—in particular, poor black families—and the complex relationship between tearing down public housing and crime rates. Watch the video or view the slides here (PDF)


Death Penalty Studies Contain “Fundamental Flaws”
Available research on the effects of the death penalty is fundamentally flawed and thus, cannot be used to determine whether it affects murder rates, said a National Research Council committee, which included IPR economist Charles F. Manski, in an April 18 report. Read the report brief


Redefining Race
At a February 29 lecture sponsored by IPR and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, IPR law professor Dorothy Roberts discussed her most recent book, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century, and underscored key points from her research, including how race is being used in reproductive science, DNA-based criminal databases, and drug marketing.

Putting More Science into Political Science
In many scientific disciplines, most breakthroughs and advances come through experiments, but using experimental methods in political science research is relatively new. In a recent Science article and handbook, IPR political scientist James Druckman documents the rise of experiments in political science and shows how they are helping to transform the field. 

Examining America's Elite Lawyers
A recent study by IPR legal scholar John Heinz and his colleagues indicates why elite lawyers on the right hold a distinct advantage over their Democratic counterparts in terms of agenda setting and legislative lobbying. It could also shed light on other aspects of politics such as why, for example, Republican-leaning Super PACs attract more money than Democratic ones. 


Voters Overrate Favorite Candidates
A new study co-authored by IPR economist Charles F. Manski found that no matter what the polls show, voters think their preferred candidate will win. Said Manski, "People thought their preferred candidate had a higher chance of winning, in every election, no matter in which state they live, no matter who was running, no matter which political party."

Delivering Warmth for Afghan Babies
Thanks to Northwestern Medicine pediatrician and IPR associate Craig Garfield, 14,000 silver mylar blankets—the kind typically handed out to runners after a marathon—are headed to Afghanistan to help children in danger of freezing to death this winter in scarcely heated refugee camps. More than 20 Afghan children have already died from the cold in the past month. 

What Shields Gay Youth from Suicide?
New research by medical social scientist and IPR faculty associate Brian Mustanski is the first to show what happens over time to LGBT teens who are bullied and victimized, finding that being bullied and experiencing low levels of support from others boost the risk that they will become suicidal or try to harm themselves.

Aspen Institute Taps IPR Fellow for Ascend Program
IPR developmental psychologist P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale was named one of 20 inaugural Ascend Fellows by the Aspen Institute. An expert on the interface between research and social policy for children and families, she joins a select group of leaders and researchers from around the nation who are pioneering dual-generation approaches to move families out of poverty. Find out more about its Family Economic Security Program.

Better Measure for Racial Disparities in Causes of Death
IPR social demographer Quincy Thomas Stewart proposes a supplemental method for estimating and comparing death rates that could lead to a better understanding of the racial gap in causes of death. His "cause-deleted index" might help to pinpoint the leading causes of death with much greater accuracy and lead to more targeted prevention policies for diseases such as cancer and heart disease. 


Politics Catches Up with Views on Income Inequality
IPR sociologist Leslie McCall combs through two decades of public opinion research to explain why popular movements and presidential speeches are catching up with what Americans have long thought about income inequality. The public’s concerns about income inequality have remained constant, she argues, but what’s new is how the black box of business practices has been opened to public scrutiny and deliberation. 

Women in Power Can Help Girls Dream Bigger
A new study, co-authored by IPR economist Lori Beaman, examines the impact of an affirmative action law in India that reserves leadership positions for women in village councils. Published in Science, the research shows that such laws can increase girls' career aspirations and erase the gender gap in adolescent educational attainment.