April 2016

Major Awards Recognize Work of Two IPR Researchers

Two IPR fellows received competitive awards from two of the country's leading foundations in recognition of their achievements and promise as researchers: IPR labor economist Kirabo Jackson was named as an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and IPR social psychologist Mesmin Destin as a William T. Grant Foundation Scholar. MORE

Research and Working Papers

Faculty Spotlight: Bruce Spencer

As one of the world's leading experts on statistical accuracy, IPR statistician Bruce Spencer is empowering policymakers and governmental agencies around the world to make better policy decisions on issues ranging from census data to earthquake hazard predictions. MORE

Can Chicago Restore Public Trust in Police?

IPR political scientist Wesley G. Skogan was one of 46 experts on the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, which released its 190-page report on the Chicago Police Department earlier this month. The report documents widespread racial disparities, excessive use of force, accountability failures, and inadequate recruitment and training. It also makes more than 100 recommendations to address the current ills facing the department that were informed, in part, by a 2015 survey that Skogan led. MORE

Back-of-the-Envelope Estimates for Better Policy

What do earthquakes and water heaters, and bathtub spills and terrorist attacks, have in common? They concern policy issues that can be evaluated with a Fermi estimate, according to geophysicist and IPR associate Seth Stein and IPR graduate research assistant Edward Brooks. The two used such an estimate to examine whether a recent Illinois recommendation to secure waterheaters in case of earthquakes makes sense in the state. MORE

Women, Work, and Worship in Lincoln's Midwest

IPR legal scholar John Heinz's new book draws on a trove of letters from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to provide an unusual glimpse into the lives of ordinary women in mid-19th century, rural America. "Letters written by women who lack wealth or position seldom survive," he explains. The book was co-edited with Anne Heinz, a former assistant dean at the University of Chicago. MORE

IPR Working Papers

Government Old-Age Support and Labor Supply: Evidence from the Old Age Assistance Program (WP-16-02)

Daniel Fetter and Lee Lockwood

Many major government programs transfer resources to older people and tax their labor relative to that of younger people, suggesting that such programs reduce the number of older people working. The researchers shed new light on the labor-supply effects of these programs by investigating the Old Age Assistance Program (OAA), a means-tested and state-administered pension program created by the Social Security Act of 1935. Using newly available census data on the entire U.S. population in 1940, they use state differences in OAA programs to estimate its labor-supply effects. Their estimates imply that OAA reduced the labor force participation rate among men aged 65-74 by 5.7 percentage points, or nearly half of its 1930-40 decline. Estimating a structural model of labor supply, they find only small welfare costs to recipients of the high tax rates implicit in OAA's earnings test. Predictions based on their reduced-form estimates and the estimated model both suggest that Social Security could account for at least half of the large decline in late-life work from 1940-60.

School Quality and the Gender Gap in Educational Achievement (WP-16-01)

David Autor, David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth, and Melanie Wasserman

Recent evidence suggests that the quantity and quality of family inputs received in childhood affects boys and girls differently. Autor, Figlio, and their colleagues assess whether this is also true for schooling inputs. Using matched Florida birth and school administrative records, they estimate the causal effect of school quality on the gender gap in educational outcomes by contrasting brothers and sisters who attend the same sets of schools and leveraging within-family variation in school quality arising from family moves. Looking at middle school test scores, absences, and suspensions, they find that attending higher-quality schools benefits boys more than girls.

First in the Class? Age and the Education Production Function (WP-15-28)

Elizabeth Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Cascio and Schanzenbach estimate the effects of having older peers in a classroom using data from an experiment where children of the same age were randomly assigned to different kindergarten classrooms. They use this experimental variation along with variation in expected kindergarten entry age to account for negative selection of some of the older students. They find that students exposed to older kindergarten classmates had higher test scores up to eight years after kindergarten; they were also less likely to be held back a grade and more likely to take a college-entry exam. These findings are consistent with broader peer-effects literature that show the positive effects of having higher-scoring peers and suggest that, holding a student's age constant, it is not beneficial to be older relative to one's peers.

Read more IPR working papers

"Ready for School, Ready for Life"

Register for D.C. Policy Research Briefing on Early Education


Join four IPR experts as they discuss early-education research and program implementation and designs on Tuesday, May 17, on Capitol Hill. To attend, register online by May 12. MORE


Why Do Legislators "Hold Out"?


How likely are legislators to "hold out," or vote "no" on a policy that is closer to their ideal policy than what currently exists? IPR political scientist Laurel Harbridge surveyed state legislators to look at legislative holdouts. MORE

Faculty Awards & Honors

The Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness recognized IPR statistician and education researcher Larry V. Hedges by naming a lecture in his honor. Hedges gave the inaugural lecture on March 3 in Washington, D.C.

Celeste Watkins-Hayes, IPR sociologist and African American studies researcher, gave the Doris P. Slesinger Lecture on March 8 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

IPR Director and education economist David Figlio delivered the March 17 Presidential Address at the 41st annual conference of the Association for Education Finance and Policy.

Law professor and IPR associate Max Schanzenbach was invested as the Seigle Family Chair of Law at Northwestern's Pritzker School of Law on April 7.

Read about other faculty awards

Faculty in the Media

Pacific Standard

The lifelong health toll of schoolyard racism

IPR researchers, including psychobiologist Emma Adam, social psychologist Jennifer Richeson, and health psychologists Edith Chen and Greg Miller, study how discrimination affects long-term health.

Scientific American

How cultural differences affect autism diagnoses

IPR psychologist Sandra Waxman's op-ed highlights how cultural perspective should be accounted for in diagnosing autism.


Do ethicists hinder HIV prevention research?

Professor of medical social sciences and IPR associate Brian Mustanski explains why gay and bisexual adolescents are often left out of HIV prevention studies.

Education Week

FCC expands 'lifeline' program to bridge the digital divide

IPR communication studies researcher Eszter Hargittai calls for more data collection on an FCC program that expands broadband access.

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