March 2017

Living on Less than $2 a Day

At IPR's Winter 2017 Distinguished Public Policy Lecture, Johns Hopkins sociologist Kathryn Edin shared her research and the stories of individuals who live on less than $2 a day. How did these people end up in this kind of extreme poverty, how do they survive, and what role might policy play in alleviating their situation? MORE

Research and Working Papers

Faculty Spotlight: Burton Weisbrod

From his early studies in chemical engineering, IPR economist Burton Weisbrod found the "blanks" between elements in the periodic table intriguing. This idea of blanks stuck with him when he switched over to studying economics in college, and he has spent his career filling in the blank between private enterprise and government with studies of a third sector—nonprofits. MORE

A Contemporary Understanding of Human Trafficking

The public and political elites agree that human trafficking is "reprehensible," according to IPR research associate professor Tabitha Bonilla, but they generally equate human trafficking with forced sex, rather than forced labor. Bonilla studies how this misconception could lead to a misguided or incomplete policy response. MORE

Are Boycotts Effective?

Kellogg's, Pepsi, Uber, L.L. Bean. In recent months, a number of high-profile companies have been the targets of boycotts, many of which have taken on a distinct political tone. Yet the question remains—are these boycotts effective? IPR associate Brayden King finds boycotts rarely hurt revenues, but can still threaten corporate reputations. MORE

Studying Water Insecurity Across the World

An estimated two billion people drink unsafe water around the globe. Now, under a new grant from the U.K.-funded Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) research initiative, IPR anthropologist Sera Young and an international team of researchers seek to develop a cross-cultural scale of perceived household water insecurity. MORE

IPR Working Papers

Partisan Group Identity and Belief in Human-Caused Climate Change (WP-16-21)

Toby Bolsen and James Druckman

When individuals learn of the scientific consensus about human-caused climate change, do their opinions move in the direction of that consensus? Although such a scientific consensus has existed for over a decade, the U.S. public is starkly divided along partisan lines over whether human behavior is the dominant cause. The researchers develop a framework that generates hypotheses about the impact of a scientific consensus statement on climate change on public opinion. They test their predictions with a survey experiment conducted on a nationally representative sample in the United States. They find that the impact of this information is conditional on partisan group identity and individuals' knowledge levels. Low-knowledge partisans shift their opinion toward the scientific consensus, while high-knowledge partisans polarize. Further, when the consensus statement is "politicized," the aforementioned effect on low-knowledge partisans disappears. The findings accentuate the highly contingent nature of climate change communication effects.

The Marginal Propensity to Consume Over the Business Cycle (WP-16-20)

Tal Gross, Matthew Notowidigdo, and Jialian Wang

This paper estimates how the marginal propensity to consume (MPC) varies over the business cycle by exploiting exogenous variation in credit card borrowing limits. Ten years after an individual declares Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the record of the bankruptcy is removed from his or her credit report, generating an immediate and persistent increase in credit score. The researchers study the effects of "bankruptcy flag" removal using a sample of over 160,000 bankruptcy filers whose flags were removed between 2004 and 2011. They document that in the year following flag removal, credit card limits increase by $780 and credit card balances increase by roughly $290, implying an "MPC out of liquidity" of 0.37. They find a significantly higher MPC during the Great Recession, with an average MPC roughly 20–30 percent larger between 2007 and 2009 compared with surrounding years. They find no evidence that the counter-cyclical variation in the average MPC is accounted for by compositional changes or by changes over time in the supply of credit following bankruptcy flag removal. These results are consistent with models where liquidity constraints bind more frequently during recessions.

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Infographic: School Shootings Linked to Higher Unemployment

Examining data over the past 25 years, sociologist and IPR associate John Hagan and a team of Northwestern researchers find that times of economic hardship predict increases in U.S. school shootings. MORE

Faculty Awards & Honors

IPR Director David Figlio and Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, both IPR education economists, were elected to the prestigious National Academy of Education.

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Faculty in the Media

The Christian Science Monitor

Four steps to improve U.S. schools that (almost) everyone supports

IPR labor and education economist Kirabo Jackson discovers that increased school spending could reduce the achievement gap between poor and non-poor students.


Treat gun violence like a public health crisis, one program says

Research from IPR political scientist Wesley Skogan shows that Chicago violence prevention program CeaseFire reduced crime in the city.

Tampa Bay Times

On race and criminal sentencing, prosecutors escape blame

In an op-ed, IPR sociologist and legal scholar Heather Schoenfeld argues that prosecutors should be held accountable for racial disparities in criminal sentencing.


Trump may have lost on Obamacare yet still controls its fate

IPR associate Craig Garthwaite, associate professor of strategy, discusses potential changes to the health insurance markets.

NPR Illinois

Illinois issues: The great pension chasm

Law professor and IPR associate Max Schanzenbach explains how the Illinois Supreme Court has almost entirely removed the state's retirement systems from traditional contract law.

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