January 15, 2010

The Institute for Policy Research (IPR) is an interdisciplinary public policy research institute founded in 1968-69 at Northwestern University. Our mission is to stimulate and support excellent social science research on significant public policy issues and to disseminate the findings widely—
to students, scholars, policymakers, and the public. www.northwestern.edu/ipr

>> Upcoming Events

> Obama Economic Adviser Goolsbee to Deliver IPR Distinguished Lecture
IPR will welcome Austan Goolsbee as its Distinguished Public Policy Lecturer on April 26. Goolsbee is Staff Director and Chief Economist of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which provides an independent voice to the president on economic issues. IPR distinguished lecturers discuss the challenges of bringing academic social science research to bear on current social problems. Goolsbee is also the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.
Past lectures can be viewed at http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/events/lectures/dpplectures.html.

> IPR Winter Colloquia and Events
Colloquia will cover probabilistic polling, gender and judicial decisions, and the effects of the Internet on local wages, among others. These free, interdisciplinary talks take place from now until March 15 and are open to the public.

>> News and Research

> Study Finds No Child Left Behind Raises Math Achievement
A new study is the first to establish a causal link between the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and improvements in student achievement. IPR education researchers Manyee Wong, Thomas D. Cook, and Peter Steiner find a statistically significant positive effect on students' fourth- and eighth-grade math scores.
Article: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2010/01/nclb.html
Paper: http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/workingpapers/wpabstracts09/wp0911.html

> The Graduation Gap
Writing for the American Prospect about how America must do a better job of keeping students in college, especially the less advantaged, Harvard sociologist Christopher Jencks cites two IPR studies. He summarizes findings by IPR education professor James Rosenbaum on attendance and graduation rates at two-year public colleges, in additon to research by Wong, Cook, and Steiner on achievement gains resulting from No Child Left Behind (see above).
> Rosenbaum was also interviewed by public radio's Marketplace on the challenges that minorities face in attending community colleges.

> Endowment for a Rainy Day
Despite sizable increases in the endowments of nonprofits over recent decades, most organizations have opted to cut programs and personnel rather than dip into their holdings during the current economic crisis. Based on their extensive research, IPR economist Burton Weisbrod and researcher Evelyn Asch explain in the Stanford Social Innovation Review why nonprofits should treat their endowments as rainy day funds.

> Letting Baby Get Dirty to Stay Healthy
A widely reported study, led by IPR/C2S anthropologist Thomas McDade with colleagues including Christopher Kuzawa, finds evidence that young children who are exposed to germs and other pathogens experience a decreased risk of chronic inflammation—and by extension, serious health conditions such as heart disease—later in life.

> Effects of Health on Wealth
In a recently published study on major illness and financial catastrophe, health economist and IPR associate David Dranove and his colleagues find that uninsured individuals between 51 and 64 years old with a major health setback, such as heart disease, cancer, or a stroke, could lose up to half of their household assets in paying their medical expenses.

> Policy Perspective: Why Child Welfare Is a Civil Rights Issue
IPR law professor Dorothy Roberts traces the evolution of child welfare in the United States, arguing that the system’s inherent racial imbalance can only be corrected by linking it to social justice.

> Quantifying Rape as a "Weapon of War"
Sociologist and IPR associate John Hagan led the first peer-reviewed study to not only measure incidences of sexual violence in war zones but also make a case for recognizing state-sanctioned rape as a "weapon of war."

> The Power of Belief—Right or Wrong
Some Americans still cling to a belief that Saddam Hussein was somehow responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks—despite clear evidence to the contrary in the ensuing years. IPR sociologist Monica Prasad led a study that looks at how such beliefs persist in face of the facts.

> The Paradox of Partisanship
Research by IPR political scientist Laurel Harbridge was featured in a Weekly Standard column lamenting the trend of increasing partisanship in Congress since the 1970s—despite public opinion that seems to favor more bipartisan efforts. Harbridge and her colleague’s research shows that Americans evaluate their own representatives differently from how they evaluate Congress as a whole.

> Measuring Performance in Nonprofits
A multidisciplinary series of seminars on performance measurement in nonprofit organizations shows how hospitals, schools, foundations, and museums face many of the same issues in trying to improve measures and incentives. Organized by IPR economist and nonprofit specialist Burton Weisbrod, the series brings together leading experts from around the nation.

> IPR Media Highlights
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman cites carbon-tax research by IPR sociologist Monica Prasad in writing about the Copenhagen climate treaty talks. The Times also reports on new criteria for diversity in Chicago Public Schools, consulting IPR education economist David Figlio about key barriers to a school’s racial integration. A study by IPR anthropologists Thomas McDade and Christopher Kuzawa and their colleagues on how childhood exposure to germs can influence adult health was picked up by hundreds of media outlets around the world, including the Guardian, Time, CNN, UPI, and AFP. IPR state tax specialist Therese McGuire co-wrote an editorial supporting Chicago's property tax system but calling for reforms in the Chicago Sun-Times. Health economist and IPR associate Leemore Dafny explains how "insufficient" competition in the insurance industry has led to rising healthcare costs in the Los Angeles Times. USA Today and others covered a study by assistant professor of psychology and IPR associate Joan Chiao showing that a culture based on collective values can buffer individuals against a genetic predisposition to depression. In Inside Higher Ed, IPR social policy and education professor James Rosenbaum explains why for-profit schools are better at helping students get financial aid. See these and other press clips at:

>> New Working Papers

> New IPR Working Papers
Three new IPR working papers are available on probabilistic polling, achievement effects of No Child Left Behind for fourth- and eighth-graders in math and reading, and ignorable nonresponse in surveys.

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