October 14, 2011

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

>> News and Research

> IPR Announces New Director for 2012
Education economist David Figlio, an IPR fellow, will become the Institute's sixth director in September 2012, taking over from current director Fay Lomax Cook. A leading scholar on education policies and interventions, Figlio came to IPR/Northwestern from the University of Florida in 2008.

> Three New Faculty Join Institute
IPR welcomes sociologist Quincy Thomas Stewart and political scientists Georgia Kernell and Daniel Galvin, who joined the Institute as faculty fellows this fall.

> Fathers Wired to Provide Care for their Children
A new, widely reported Northwestern University study, co-authored by two IPR anthropologists Christopher Kuzawa and Thomas McDade with doctoral student Lee Gettler, a former IPR graduate research assistant, provides compelling evidence that human males are biologically wired to care for their offspring, conclusively showing for the first time that fatherhood lowers a man’s testosterone levels.

> Food Stamps Seen as Efficient, Can Improve Health
Research by IPR economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and her colleagues provides some of the first direct evidence that poor families using food stamps can see substantial benefits, especially for newborns and their health. Their research also indicates that food stamps are an economically efficient safety net program.

> Better Food Labeling for Better Health
As chair of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Study Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols, communication studies researcher and IPR associate Ellen Wartella is leading a national effort to review current nutritional information labeling on food packages and suggest improvements to help consumers make healthier food choices.

> Recognizing the Extent of Uncertainty in Policymaking
Should politicians and journalists be deeply skeptical of analysts in academia, think tanks, and government agencies who seem unwavering in their policy predictions? In a recent journal article, IPR economist Charles F. Manski urges policy analysts to improve the credibility of their studies by being upfront about the uncertainty of their predictions.

> IPR's Founding Director Raymond Mack Dies at 84
Sociologist and former Northwestern Provost Raymond "Ray" Mack died on August 25 in Chapel Hill, N.C. He was 84. He was one of the driving forces behind the founding of the Institute for Policy Research (then known as the Center for Urban Affairs) in 1968.

>> New Books

> “After-School Centers and Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure”
A new book co-authored by education and social policy professor Barton Hirsch, an IPR associate, presents findings from an intensive study of three after-school centers that differed dramatically in quality and examines how and why young people thrive in good programs and suffer in weak ones.

> “Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine’s Simple Solutions”
Three Shots at Prevention, co-authored by sociologist and IPR associate Steven Epstein, explores the contentious disputes surrounding the controversial vaccine intended to protect against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection.

>> New IPR Working Papers

For the complete list of IPR working papers, go to:

“The Prevalence of Smartphone Use Among a Wired Group of Young Adults” (WP-11-01)
IPR communication studies researcher Eszter Hargittai and Northwestern colleague Su Jung Kim look at the prevalence and predictors of cell phone usage for a varied set of activities among young adults and find results suggesting that African Americans adopt most features at higher rates than others and that mobile devices seem to supplement traditional access to the Internet rather than replacing it.

“Overwhelmed and Underinformed? How Americans Keep Up with Current Events in the Age of Social Media” (WP-11-02)
This working paper, also co-authored by Eszter Hargittai, reports on a study of new media adopters’ perceptions of—and reactions to—the shift from push broadcasting and headlines to the pull dynamics of online search. Their research finds that skills in using digital media do matter when it comes to people’s attitudes and uses of these new opportunities.

“How Do the Elderly Fare in Medical Malpractice Litigation, Before and After Tort Reform? Evidence from Texas, 1988-2007” (WP-11-03)
The elderly account for a disproportionate share of medical spending, but little attention has been paid to how they are treated by the medical malpractice system, and how that treatment is affected by tort reform. Northwestern law and finance professor Bernard Black, an IPR associate, and his colleagues compare paid medical malpractice claims (other than nursing home claims) brought by elderly and nonelderly plaintiffs in Texas from 1988 to 2007, finding little evidence of a disparate impact on the elderly after the 2003 tort reforms.

“Information Is Not Enough: Cultural Capital, Cultural Capital Translators, and College Access for Disadvantaged Students” (WP-11-04)
Analyzing ethnographic data collected at two low-income public high schools, this working paper by IPR education researcher James Rosenbaum and Northwestern doctoral student Michelle Naffziger seeks to understand subtle cultural elements that impede disadvantaged students, how school staff in a new program try to identify and overcome these cultural barriers, and how students respond.

“Candidate Preferences and Expectations of Election Outcomes: Evidence from the American Life Panel” (WP-11-05)
IPR economist Charles F. Manski and Adeline Delavande of RAND analyze election data from the American Life Panel, contributing new empirical evidence for the false consensus effect, the empirical regularity that our preferences tend to be positively associated with perceptions of social preferences. It does so by using new measures of preferences and perceptions that enable respondents to flexibly express uncertainty.

“Can High Schools Reduce College Enrollment Gaps with a New Counseling Model?”

By following nearly all Chicago public high school seniors through the fall after high school, IPR education researcher James Rosenbaum and Jennifer Stephan of the American Institutes of Research examine whether, how, and for whom a new counseling model aimed at creating social capital improves college enrollment.

“Interviewing Wealthy Americans” (WP-11-07)
Together with a number of colleagues, IPR associate and political scientist Benjamin Page has launched a Survey of Economically Successful Americans and the Common Good to better understand the sociopolitical attitudes and behavior of the top 1 percent of U.S. wealth holders. This working paper discusses the methodological challenges the authors faced and the resulting research design.

>> Faculty Awards and Honors

IPR political scientist James Druckman and IPR associate Dennis Chong received two awards from the American Political Science Association (APSA) for their paper,  “Dynamic Public Opinion: Communication Effects over Time.” Druckman was also named chair of APSA's political psychology section.

For additional faculty awards and honors, please visit,

>> Faculty in the Media

A study providing evidence that men are biologically wired for fatherhood was featured on the front page of The New York Times, as well as The Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Scientific American, and many others. It was co-authored by IPR anthropologists Christopher Kuzawa and Thomas McDade and graduate student Lee Gettler. IPR education economist David Figlio discussed the effectiveness of merit pay for teachers in public schools on the Freakonomics blog. Tavis Smiley interviewed IPR law professor Dorothy Roberts about her book, Fatal Invention. A study conducted by a team of IPR/C2S researchers, including IPR psychobiologist Emma Adam and IPR graduate research assistant Lindsay Till Hoyt, found that teens with a positive disposition were less likely to engage in problem behaviors such as drug use, binge drinking, and smoking as young adults. It was covered by Fox News, The Atlantic, Chicago Sun-Times, and others. IPR social demographer Christine Percheski spoke about her research investigating Americans’ ideas of marriage with Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight. The New York Times’ Room for Debate featured an opinion piece written by Mary Pattillo, an IPR associate, sociologist, and African American studies researcher, about how the loss of public sector jobs affects black middle-class families disproportionately.

For these and other media clips, go to http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/media/media.html.

>> Upcoming Events

> IPR Fall Events
IPR’s fall schedule includes presentations on “Party Priorities, Agenda Content, and Bipartisan Cooperation in Congress” by IPR political scientist Laurel Harbridge, "Deterrence and the Death Penalty: Partial Identification Analysis Using Repeated Cross Sections" by IPR economist Charles F. Manski, and “Single-Sex Schools, Student Achievement, and Course Selection: Evidence from Rule-Based Student Assignments in Trinidad and Tobago” by IPR labor economist Kirabo Jackson.

See IPR’s calendar for all of the listings:http://planitpurple.northwestern.edu/calendar/815

>> Keep Up with IPR!

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