View in Browser/Mobile December 2014

IPR enews



Racial Disparities in America

Given the difficult history of U.S. race relations—and the ensuing, sometimes imperceptible, effects of race on individuals and society—a significant number of IPR faculty are studying the issue across a wide spectrum of topics, from examining the black/white/Latino test score gap to tracing how the human mind reacts to a person of a different race or ethnicity. While the questions are difficult and the answers never simple, IPR researchers always strive to conduct high-quality research, capable of informing meaningful dialogue and policy. This is the first of two articles covering recent IPR research related to racial disparities in several areas. MORE

Knowledge, Ideology, Polarization, and Global Warming

This infographic from an IPR working paper by social scientists Toby Bolsen of Georgia State University, with James Druckman and Fay Lomax Cook, both of IPR, reveals that increased knowledge does not "depolarize" global warming debates. Rather, partisan polarization increases among citizens who are more knowledgeable. MORE

Patient Centered Outcomes: Do We Need a New Paradigm for Biomedical Research?

Robert Kaplan, Chief Science Officer, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and professor emeritus of Health Policy and Management at the University of California, Los Angeles, will give a Distinguished Public Policy Lecture on February 9 at IPR/Northwestern University. MORE

Faculty in the Media
Boston Globe

What Ivy League ties to slavery say about redemption
IPR social psychologist Jennifer Richeson writes about her lab's research showing that when individuals engage in a process of reflecting on past acts of devastation, such as the bombing of Hiroshima, and the possible lessons learned, this could mitigate defensive reactions and provide a potential foundation for reconciliation.

Fox News
Heavier birth weight tied to better academic performance, study finds
A study by IPR economists David Figlio and Jonathan Guryan with postdoctoral fellow Krzysztof Karbownik and the University of Florida's Jeffrey Roth, a pediatrician, is "the first to analyze the association of school quality and the relationship between birth weight and children’s cognitive development."

New York Times
Seeking new tools to address a wage gap
An article discussing methods to reduce growing income inequality featured research by IPR sociologist Leslie McCall on voters' attitudes about inequality and who they believe is responsible for fixing it.

National Geographic
Why it's crucial to get more women into science
Oncofertility specialist and IPR associate Teresa Woodruff gives insight into the gender disparity for subjects of scientific and medical research and why the National Institutes of Health's policy changes aimed at correcting it are so important for women's health.

Huffington Post

How to help teens reduce stress in high-anxiety times and always
IPR psychobiologist Emma Adam penned an op-ed on the lessons learned from her research and others' about adolescents and stress, how teenagers can prevent damaging consequences of stress, and how parents and other adults can help.

Find these and other clips HERE.
News & Research

Faculty Spotlight: Edith Chen
A pivotal professional moment that shaped IPR health psychologist Edith Chen’s career came when she received an opportunity to do a postdoctoral fellowship with health pioneer Karen Matthews at the University of Pittsburgh. “I wanted to do work that could make a difference in young people's lives,” Chen recalled, by "for example, trying to understand why health disparities exist and what could possibly help to make things better." MORE


Viability of Crowdsourcing for Population Research
“A problem with survey experiments is that they’ve long been understood as a good idea, but they’re hard and expensive to actually field,” said IPR sociologist Jeremy Freese. He and his collaborators are investigating the populations participating in two different crowdsourcing platforms (Amazon's Mechanical Turk and Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences, which he co-directs) to see if both produced similar experimental results. MORE

Human Speech's Surprising Influence on Young Infants
Recent years have seen a rise in educational initiatives aiming to narrow the achievement gap by teaching young children more words. In a forthcoming article, IPR psychologist Sandra Waxman and New York University's Athena Vouloumanos broaden the issue's scope by assessing the impact of human speech on infant cognition in the first year of life. MORE

Paying to Increase Use of Electronic Medical Records
Policy analysts have suggested that widespread adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) in hospitals could increase efficiency and decrease expenditures in the U.S. healthcare system. In 2009, Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which provides $27 billion in incentive payments to hospitals adopting EMR. In a recent working paper, healthcare economist and IPR associate David Dranove and his colleagues measure HITECH’s effectiveness in spurring EMR adoption.

Using Mobility Data to Track Health-Risk Factors
In a recent working paper, professor of medical social sciences and IPR associate Brian Mustanski and his colleagues capitalize on a natural experiment in which families moved from public housing tracts in Mobile, Ala., to more advantaged neighborhoods under a federal relocation program. The resulting longitudinal data is informing another study that investigates the interplay between environments (neighborhoods) and genetic factors, possibly pointing to how a cluster of HIV risk factors might affect African American youth.

Convict Leasing and Road-Camp Prisoners in Florida
Florida incarcerates the third-largest number of people in the United States,” said sociologist and IPR associate Heather Schoenfeld. “And it’s a politically important state.” So when Schoenfeld decided to interrogate penal modernism—the idea that after World War II, the main goal of criminal punishment was the “rehabilitation” and the reform of offenders—the Sunshine State served as an important case study.

For YouTube Comments, Look at Video’s Tone, Topic
While the video-sharing site YouTube has provided new opportunities for political engagement and information, it also raises questions about the quality of such information and whether informed democratic deliberation is taking place. In a recent article, Stephanie Edgerly, a media scholar and IPR associate, seeks to understand the relationship between the tone and focus of a political video and its online comments—and in doing so, asks why an online comment thread might veer from civility. MORE

New IPR Working Papers

Find all IPR working papers HERE.

“Early Life Environment and Racial Inequality in Education and Earnings in the United States” (WP-14-16)

Kenneth Chay, Jonathan Guryan, and Bhashkar Mazumder

In a 2009 study, the researchers found close tracking between an increase in test scores and rates for pre- and postnatal health and hospital access for blacks born in the South from roughly 1961–73. Their 2014 study uses census data, finding a similar pattern for the black-white education and earnings gaps for the same population. The gains in earnings, however, are greater than can be explained by those in education and test scores alone. This suggests other factors also improved across the successive cohorts. The researchers’ cohort-based hypothesis reunites findings in different disciplines, indicating that gains in black earnings resulted from human capital improvements some 25–30 years earlier.

“Saving for a (not so) Rainy Day: A Randomized Evaluation of Savings Groups in Mali” (WP-14-15)

Lori Beaman, Dean Karlan, and Bram Thuysbaert

The researchers examine an alternative approach to traditional microfinance in developing nations—consisting of an improved “technology” for managing informal, collaborative village-based savings groups. In a randomized evaluation in the West African nation of Mali, they find improvements in food security, consumption smoothing, and buffer stock savings for villagers. These and other results are striking because no resources were provided nor legal institutions changed, yet the intervention, guided by a nongovernmental organization, improved informal processes that led to important changes for households.

“Bayes and BOGSAT: Issues in When and How to Revise Earthquake Hazard Maps” (WP-14-14)

Seth Stein, Bruce Spencer, and Edward Brooks

Earthquake hazard maps play an important role in the formulation of building codes throughout the United States and much of the world. An important question is what to do after a major earthquake yields shaking larger than anticipated in a hazard map. Common practice is to revise the map  to show increased hazard in the heavily-shaken area. However, a new map that better describes the past does not necessarily better predict the future. The researchers examine the logic underlying map revision and argue that Bayesian modeling can play a useful role in deciding whether and how to revise the maps to improve forecasting the future.

Upcoming Events

12/11/14 - "Lotto, Addiction, and Problem Gambling" by Ian Walker (Lancaster University, U.K.)

1/12/15 - "Poverty and Children's Health: Protective Psychosocial Factors" by Edith Chen (IPR/Psychology)

1/26/15 - “The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms” by Kirabo Jackson (IPR/HDSP)

2/2/15 - "TBA” by Lauren Rivera (Kellogg/IPR)

2/9/15 - IPR Distinguished Public Policy Lecture by Robert Kaplan (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HHS)

Find the complete calendar HERE.

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