July 2017

Schanzenbach Named as IPR Director

Prominent economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach has been appointed director of the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at Northwestern University, effective September 1. A current IPR fellow and Northwestern University professor, she is concluding a two-year directorship of The Hamilton Project in Washington, D.C. Schanzenbach, who is known for her work on poverty reduction, early education interventions, and school accountability measures, will replace David Figlio, who will become dean of the School of Education and Social Policy. MORE

Research and Working Papers

Faculty Spotlight: Beth Redbird

IPR sociologist Beth Redbird is studying how groups affect inequality by controlling social resources, whether affluence creates social segregation, and what speeches by political elites might tell us about inequality. She also explores inequality and boundaries in Native American life and institutions. MORE

Your Brain on Reward

Why would someone choose to gamble away $700,000 of his or her life savings at a Vegas poker table rather than save it for retirement? For psychologist and IPR associate Robin Nusslock, this choice is an example of a larger and more fundamental question, "To what extent do basic reward systems in the brain inform the decisions—both healthy and unhealthy—that we make in our life?" MORE

How Do Preemies Perform in School?

Parents of prematurely born babies often fear their children might go on to struggle in school, but findings from a new large-scale study by pediatrician and IPR associate Craig Garfield and his colleagues should reassure parents: Two-thirds of babies born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time. MORE

Working to Preserve and Restore Fertility

Oncofertility specialist and IPR associate Teresa Woodruff is making great gains in the field of women’s reproductive health that could help preserve women’s fertility—and even restore the fertility of women affected by cancer. MORE

Teachers Benefit from Proximity

Teachers have long been portrayed as independent contractors, working alone and behind closed doors. However, a study by education professor and IPR associate James Spillane suggests teachers might benefit from the chance encounters that stem from working near one another inside the school building. MORE

IPR Working Papers

Birth Order and Delinquency: Evidence from Denmark and Florida (WP-17-02)

Sanni Breining, Joseph Doyle, Jr., David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, and Jeffrey Roth

Research has shown birth order has a large influence on educational attainment, yet much less is known about the role of birth order on delinquency outcomes such as disciplinary problems in school, juvenile delinquency, and adult crime. The researchers use rich datasets from Denmark and the state of Florida to examine these outcomes and explore potential mechanisms, finding that in families with two or more children, second-born boys are 20 to 40 percent more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system versus first-born boys, even when comparing siblings.

Consistent and Cautious: Congressional Campaigning on the Web in 2016 (WP-17-01)

James Druckman, Martin Kifer, and Michael Parkin

Did the unique nature of the 2016 election cause those involved with the creation and maintenance of congressional campaign websites to alter their approach to online campaigning? Using data from a survey of campaign insiders, the researchers find that the factors that influence how congressional campaigns view and use their websites were largely impervious to the unique electoral environment. Overall, the results suggest that congressional campaigning on the web is primarily driven by stable factors that transcend technological advancements and shifts in the political environment.

Accelerator or Brake? Cash for Clunkers, Household Liquidity, and Aggregate Demand (WP-16-26)

Daniel Green, Brian Melzer, Jonathan Parker, and Arcenis Rojas

The 2009 Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) allowed people who traded in old, fuel-inefficient vehicles to receive up to $4,500 in credit to purchase or lease a new, more fuel-efficient car. The researchers compare purchases by owners of CARS-eligible vehicles with those of ineligible vehicles just above program cutoffs. They show that the large response to the CARS credits was amplified by the liquidity it provided; with the credit in hand, people could meet the down payment for a car loan. For future programs, the authors suggest that immediate credits are important to maximize take-up of durable goods subsidies.

Read more IPR working papers

Infographic: Early Childhood Environments and Adult Health


A study by IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade and IPR colleagues breaks new ground in helping to understand how our bodies "remember" experiences in infancy and carry them forward to shape inflammation and health in adulthood.  MORE

Awards & Honors

IPR Business Administrator Eric Betzold (l.) received Northwestern University's 2017 Employee of the Year award from University President Morton Schapiro on June 6.

Sociologist and IPR associate John Hagan was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in May.

Read about other awards

Faculty in the Media


Is it a good idea to pay villagers not to chop down trees?

IPR development economist Seema Jayachandran finds that paying people not to cut down trees is a cost-effective way to fight deforestation.

The Huffington Post

Cancer doesn't care how we vote

Health disparities scholar and IPR associate Melissa Simon calls for bipartisan "input and partnership" in crafting a more inclusive healthcare bill.

Inside Higher Ed

The dehumanities

University President and IPR economist Morton Schapiro and Northwestern's Gary Saul Morson argue that the humanities have a key role to play in education.

The Washington Post

The Confederate flag largely disappeared after the Civil War. The fight against civil rights brought it back.

Political scientist and IPR associate Thomas Ogorzalek and his colleagues find that the historical "rediscovery" of Confederate symbols is related to a desire to maintain whites' position in society.


Junk food ads reach children despite food industry self-regulation

Communication studies researcher and IPR associate Ellen Wartella explains that most foods marketed to children are unhealthy, and marketing influences the foods that children request and eat.

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