December 2016

Top-Read Articles Underline Relevance of IPR Research

One of the oft-heard critiques of academic research is that it is conducted in a vacuum on arcane topics, unconnected to real people or events. Yet many of IPR's top-read research articles over this year challenge this type of thinking. In many cases, the articles were based on bodies of research or single studies that had research findings aligning with some of 2016's biggest headlines—from the water crisis in Flint to the 2016 election, global inequality, and trust in police, to name a few. MORE

Research and Working Papers

Faculty Spotlight: Greg Miller

A child born into economic hardship has a higher risk of heart disease, disability, and even premature mortality than a child born to a higher-class family. While many studies have noted this disparity, IPR health psychologist Greg Miller has spent years unpacking the nuances of how socioeconomic status connects to health.  MORE

Manufacturing a Better Organ Transplant Process

What do organ transplants and manufacturing have in common? According to Jane Holl, pediatrician and IPR associate, a common technique in the manufacturing world—known as a Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)—can also be used to improve complex processes in healthcare such as procuring and transporting organs for transplantation. MORE

Polling by Probabilities?

Only a select few national polls predicted a Donald Trump victory in 2016, in particular the USC/LA Times Daybreak tracking poll, which started forecasting a Trump win four months out from Election Day. Why did this poll get it right? One reason might be that it relied on a method called "probabilistic polling," which IPR economist Charles F. Manski has been researching since the early 2000s. MORE

A Silver Lining for Online Higher Education?

Online classes are a major part of American higher education, but does online education help or hurt the students it serves? IPR Director David Figlio, an education economist, noted in a recent piece for the Brookings Institution that "the overall picture regarding online education is mixed," but recent research presents some cause for optimism. MORE

IPR Working Papers

Long-Run Consequences of Exposure to Natural Disasters (WP-16-17)

Krzysztof Karbownik and Anthony Wray

Can natural disasters have negative long-run consequences for children? The researchers use World War I draft registration cards, historical hurricane paths, and the 1940 U.S. Census to explore whether fetal and early childhood exposure to stress caused by hurricanes affects human capital development and labor market outcomes in adulthood. Difference-in-differences estimates indicate that white males who were born in the South and experienced a hurricane either in utero or as infants had lower income at ages 42 to 53. The results are robust to alternate specifications of either the treatment or outcome variables, as well as changes in the tolerance for imperfectly matched historical data.

Do Disagreeable Political Discussion Networks Undermine Attitude Strength? (WP-16-16)

Joshua Robison, Thomas Leeper, and James Druckman

How attitudes change and affect behavior depends, in large part, on their strength. Strong attitudes are more resistant to persuasion and are more likely to produce attitude-consistent behavior. But what influences attitude strength? In this paper, the researchers explore a widely discussed, but rarely investigated, factor: an individual's political discussion network. The researchers use a novel national representative dataset to explore the relationship between disagreeable networks and attitude strength. They find, perhaps surprisingly, no evidence that disagreements in networks affect political attitude strength. They conclude by discussing likely reasons for the findings, which, in turn, provide a research agenda for the study of networks and attitude strength.

Read more IPR working papers

Infographic: Race and Gender Dynamics in an Urban-to-Suburban Busing Program

In 1966, Diversify, Inc. launched to reduce segregation between school districts by busing mostly minority students from under-resourced urban school districts to more affluent, majority-white suburban schools. Using in-depth interviews with students, IPR education sociologist Simone Ispa-Landa finds that African-American students in Diversify expressed different views of race and gender than students not in the program.  MORE

Faculty Awards & Honors

Six IPR faculty fellows and associates were named to the Northwestern Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll for 2016–17: sociologist and African-American studies researcher Celeste-Watkins Hayes, economist William Rogerson, psychologist Robin Nusslock, mechanical engineering professor Elizabeth Gerber, journalism professor Craig LaMay, and learning sciences professor Matthew Easterday.

Read about other faculty awards

Faculty in the Media

NBC News

Cigarettes and HIV a deadly combination, study finds

IPR sociologist and African-American studies researcher Celeste Watkins-Hayes says smoking might serve as a coping mechanism for people with HIV.


Has Election 2016 been a turning point for the influence of the news media?

IPR associate Pablo Boczkowski, a media, technology, and society researcher, argues the 2016 election will be a turning point in how the news media is connected to political campaigns.


Anthem-Cigna deal seen by U.S. economist as risk to competition

Healthcare economist and IPR associate David Dranove argues the proposed merger between Anthem and Cigna will harm competition and raise insurance prices.

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