View in Browser/Mobile October 2014

IPR enews

Participants in IPR's 2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Assistants Program joined IPR Director David Figlio (front row, left) and IPR education researcher and program director James Rosenbaum (front row, right).

Undergraduates Acquire First-Hand Research Experience at IPR

The summer of 2014 marked the 17th year that IPR has run its Summer Undergraduate Research Assistants (SURA) program. Thirty-three students and 28 faculty members participated in the program, which offers Northwestern undergraduates the opportunity to work on a policy-relevant social science research project alongside IPR faculty mentors. MORE

Faculty Awards & Honors 

The European Economic Association awarded IPR economist Matthew Notowidigdo with the 2014 Hicks-Tinbergen Medal for the article, "What Good Is Wealth Without Health?" The biennial award recognizes outstanding articles published in the Journal of the European Economic Association.

IPR sociologist Lincoln Quillian’s paper, “Segregation and Poverty Concentration: The Role of Three Segregations” won the American Sociological Association's 2014 Jane Addams Award from its Community and Urban Sociology Section.

Find these and other awards HERE.

Faculty in the Media
Why do humans grow so slowly? Blame the brain
IPR biological anthropologist Christopher Kuzawa led a study on glucose uptake and body growth, showing that our bodies grow slowly at a young age because the brain is using massive amounts of energy.

A blood test for depression?
Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and IPR associate Eva Redei led a team that developed a blood test for biological markers of depression in adults. The test also suggests which treatments are likely to work best for patients, allowing for greater customization.

The Atlantic
Would the chance at a cash prize get more people to vote?
IPR economist Kirabo Jackson offers his research-based expertise on cash-for-grades programs, in an article that wonders if a lottery for people who vote in an election might increase turnout.

The New York Times
Generation later, poor are still rare at elite colleges
Morton Schapiro, IPR higher education economist and Northwestern University president, spoke about the need for elite institutions to do more than just increase financial aid to attract greater economic diversity.

Find these and other clips HERE.
News & Research
Faculty Spotlight: Laurel Harbridge
Congress vs. the President. Democrats vs. Republicans. The House vs. the Senate. These days, can any politicians get along or get anything done? Through her research, IPR political scientist Laurel Harbridge seeks to bring clarity to the emotional—sometimes hostile—world of American politics, to understand how and why our leaders behave the way they do. MORE

Four New Fellows Join IPR
Four new fellows joined IPR at the start of the 2014–15 academic year: social psychologist Mesmin Destin, economists Cynthia Kinnan and Matthew Notowidigdo, and health and law scholar Michael Frakes. “Put together, these four early and mid-career scholars represent much of what is so great about Northwestern,” said IPR Director David Figlio. “We are thrilled that they have joined the IPR family.” MORE

Managerial Control and Performance Pay
While widely used in the business world, pay-for-performance is a much, and often hotly, debated topic in education circles. What if there was a better way to boost effort rather than, for example, simply paying teachers according to student test-score improvements? In a recent working paper, IPR economist Kirabo Jackson and Henry Schneider of Cornell University tackle the issue by being among the first to evaluate the role of managerial control in improving employee performance and comparing it with performance pay. MORE

A Long Childhood Feeds the Hungry Human Brain
A five-year-old’s brain is an energy monster. It uses twice as much glucose (the energy that fuels the brain) as that of a full-grown adult, a new study led by IPR biological anthropologist Christopher Kuzawa and colleagues has found. It shows that energy funneled to the brain dominates the human body’s metabolism early in life and is likely the reason why humans grow at a pace more typical of a reptile than a mammal during childhood. MORE

Training a New Generation of Education Researchers
This summer, IPR and Northwestern co-hosted two workshops aimed at developing current researchers’ methodological research skills, including a new workshop specifically designed to boost the grant-seeking capacity of faculty from institutions that have historically served minority students. “Minority-serving institutions [MSIs] tend to be rather under-resourced institutions, but they have had a historic role in providing opportunities for minority students,” wrote IPR education researcher and statistician Larry Hedges, who co-organized the workshops.

New IPR Working Papers

Find all IPR working papers HERE.

“Differential Fertility as a Determinant of Trends in Public Opinion about Abortion in the United States” (WP-14-11)

J. Alex Kevern and Jeremy Freese

In the past four decades, support for abortion rights has flatlined and even reversed, with many individuals arguing for more restrictions on abortions. This shift in attitude stands in contrast to the liberalizing of public opinion on issues such as gay marriage. Why has the liberalizing trend not extended to abortion? In a preliminary study, IPR sociologist Jeremy Freese and Northwestern graduate student Alex Kevern attribute this shift in attitudes toward abortion to a “fertility gap” between pro-life and pro-choice Americans. Previous research—particularly in the context of biological evolution—has shown that differences in fertility can influence popular opinion over time when children share their parents’ beliefs. Using General Social Survey data spanning 1977 (four years after Roe v. Wade) to 2010, the researchers find that the fertility gap does have an impact on opinions toward abortion. Pro-life individuals have 27 percent more children than pro-choice individuals; as more pro-life individuals have more children with pro-life beliefs, these children replace individuals in the population with pro-choice views, and public opinion becomes more conservative. In fact, the researchers suggest that the population as a whole would be five percentage points more pro-choice if fertility did not play a role in Americans’ abortion beliefs. Kevern and Freese conclude that future research on changing public opinion should examine fertility and its impact on cultural change.

Upcoming Events

10/6/14 - "Do We Need Population-Based Survey Experiments? Can We Just Crowdsource It?”                by Jeremy Freese (IPR/Sociology)

10/8/14 - "An Integrated Approach to Providing Access to Confidential Social Science Data" by Jerry Reiter (Duke)

10/13/14 - "Geography, Uncertainty, and Polarization" by Nolan McCarty (Princeton)

10/20/14 - “Affirmative Action in College Admissions: Forgotten Histories, Future Possibilities” by Anthony Chen (IPR/Sociology)

10/22/14 - “Implications of the Affordable Care Act for the 2014 Elections,” a panel event co-sponsored with the Scholars Strategy Network, featuring Larry Jacobs (Minnesota), State Representative Robyn Gabel (D–Evanston), and Colleen Grogan (University of Chicago)

Find the complete calendar HERE.

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