November 19, 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.

>> Research

> The Party Brand—Perk or Poison?
In a recent study,  IPR political scientist Laurel Harbridge examines how party popularity affects legislative behavior. She finds that members of Congress add up the costs of party loyalty, and for some, the tally can lead to short-term, bipartisan behavior.

> Can Quotas Raise the Number of Women Legislators?
Today, more than 100 countries have enacted affirmative action policies to boost female representation in government. Taking the case of West Bengal in India, IPR economist Lori Beaman and her colleagues provide some of the first evidence of how well such policies work and their impact on voter attitudes.

> Probabilistic Polling
In a study published in Public Opinion Quarterly,  IPR economist Charles F. Manski and his colleague Adeline Delavande compare the effectiveness of traditional polls with probabilistic polling methods, which ask respondents to describe the likelihood of future events in percent-chance terms.

> Breastfeeding in the Fight Against Obesity
A new study by IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade and graduate student Molly Metzger shows that breastfed babies are on average 14 pounds lighter in adolescence when compared with their formula-fed siblings. This within-family difference is a major step forward for obesity research and holds important policy implications for programs such as the federally funded Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

> Live Fast, Die Young: Violent Death Among High-Risk Youth
As part of the Northwestern Juvenile Project, behavioral scientist and IPR associate Linda Teplin and her colleagues began following 1,829 high-risk youth locked in juvenile detention between 1995 and 1998. In October, 102 were dead, with 62 of them losing their lives to a bullet—a rate that is four times higher than normal for 15- to 19-year-olds.

> Policy Perspective: Do Vouchers for Poor Children Hurt Public Schools?
IPR education economist David Figlio shares findings from his ongoing study of Florida’s school voucher program, indicating that while vouchers are no “silver bullet” for low-income students, they appear more likely to help than hurt—at least when the program is relatively small.

>> New Publications

> New IPR Working Papers
The latest additions to IPR's working paper series examine solidarity and the optimal fiscal federal structure (WP-10-05), school accountability and teacher mobility (WP-10-06), and policy analysis wtih incredible certitude (WP-10-07).

> Book: Oncofertility—Ethical, Legal, Social, and Medical Perspectives
Helping cancer patients with impaired fertility has largely been studied as a research phenomenon, but as the field advances, there is a growing need to examine the social, legal, and ethical forces of the science. In this volume co-edited by IPR associate Teresa Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, top oncologists, fertility specialists, policymakers, and social scientists, including IPR law professor Dorothy Roberts, carry out an interdisciplinary discussion of these recent developments.

>> Faculty Awards and Recent Grants

> Faculty Awards and Honors
IPR social psychologist Jennifer Richeson became Weinberg College Board of Visitors Research and Teaching Professor at Northwestern this fall. IPR political scientist James Druckman received two best paper awards from the American Political Science Association at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., September 1-5. IPR sociologist Celeste Watkins-Hayes was recognized as one of four local women leaders by the Northshore YWCA for her "outstanding commitment to women's empowerment, racial justice, and social change" on October 14 in Evanston. Current IPR postdoctoral fellow Vivian Wong was named the 2010 Outstanding Predoctoral Fellow by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education on June 30 in Washington, D.C.

> Recent Grants
IPR faculty have received nine new grants to look at a variety of issues including juvenile delinquency, congressional campaigns and websites, placenta and birth weight, what affluent Americans think about the common good, the effects of closing failing schools on students, paths to teaching and teacher preparation, and prenatal exposure to cigarettes. Funders include the National Science Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, and National Institute on Drug Abuse, among others.

>> Upcoming Events

> IPR Forum on Effects of Midterm Elections to Start Winter Series, Jan. 10 - March 7
IPR will kick off its winter colloquium series with a January 10 forum examining the effects of midterm elections on the 112th Congress. Political scientist emeritus Kenneth Janda will discuss the Tea Party, IPR political scientist Laurel Harbridge will talk about partisanship and policymaking, and healthcare economist and IPR associate David Dranove will speak on healthcare reform. Check back soon for more information on IPR’s Monday colloquia, as well as talks on social disparities and health, quantitative methods, labor and education policy, and performance measurement.

> IPR Distinguished Public Policy Lecture with Census Director, Dr. Robert Groves
IPR will welcome Dr. Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, as its 2011 Distinguished Public Policy Lecturer on Monday, May 2, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. on the Evanston Campus.

>> Keep Up with IPR!

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