View in Browser/Mobile June 2015

IPR enews

Eszter Hargittai presents her research on digital inequality at a Capitol Hill briefing with Ellen Wartella and David Figlio.


Education in the Digital Age

The pros and cons of online classes, the worrying gap in young people's Internet skills, and a dramatic increase in preschool iPad use were just a few of the topics broached during IPR's May 19 policy research briefing on Capitol Hill. Communication studies researchers and IPR associates, Ellen Wartella and Eszter Hargittai, joined IPR Director and education economist David Figlio to discuss technology's impact in education, point out a few misconceptions, and offer suggestions about its effectiveness and use in classrooms. MORE

2014 Year in Review

The 2014 IPR Year in Review is now available for your perusal! It highlights faculty research in IPR's eight subject areas over the course of 2014. You can view the full pdf HERE.

Recent Awards & Honors

IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin was awarded the Weinberg College E. LeRoy Hall Award in recognition of his excellence as an undergraduate teacher.

IPR statistician Bruce Spencer was named to the 2014–15 Faculty and Administration Honor Roll by Northwestern University’s Associated Student Government.

IPR graduate research assistant Zachary Seeskin was awarded a Census Bureau Dissertation Fellowship for the 2015–16 academic year.

IPR work study student Sarah Watson (SESP '15) won the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Prize for Community Service.

Former IPR undergraduate research assistant Alexandria Fredendall (WCAS '15) received the Fletcher Undergraduate Research Grant Prize.

MORE awards and honors

Faculty in the Media
The Washington Post

Study: Nearly third of teens changed health habits based on online search
According to a new report from Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development, led by communication studies researcher and IPR associate Ellen Wartella, 84 percent of adolescents get their health information online—but their largest source of information on health remains their parents. The report explores a variety of questions related to teens and technology, from how satisfied they are with health information gleaned from digital sources to whether this information convinces them to change their behavior.

The New York Times

Inequality troubles Americans across party lines, Times/CBS poll finds
A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News reveals that a “strong majority” of Americans believe that wealth should be more evenly distributed and that the issue of income inequality needs to be urgently addressed. A Times article summarizing the poll’s findings quotes IPR sociologist Leslie McCall who, in her own research, discovered similar patterns of public frustration about inequality in the years following the 1990–91 recession.

U.S. News & World Report
STEM gender stereotypes common across the world
U.S. News & World Report summarizes a study by Northwestern doctoral student David I. Miller and IPR psychologist Alice Eagly. The researchers surveyed nearly 350,000 people in 66 nations on how much they associated science with males or females, discovering that stereotypes associating science with men more than women were prevalent across the world.

How elite students get elite jobs
The article profiles Kellogg management and organizations professor and IPR associate Lauren Rivera's new book, Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs. Rivera found that recruiters at top-tier firms give preferential treatment to upper-class individuals who attended prestigious institutions and took part in expensive extracurricular activities.

Find these and other clips HERE
News & Research

Faculty Spotlight: Mesmin Destin
As a Northwestern undergraduate, IPR social psychologist Mesmin Destin sensed that something was missing from his syllabus. “It felt like social class was not a part of the mix of understanding basic human behaviors and outcomes of young people,” Destin said. This sentiment launched him into research on the issue, and eventually led to a PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan. Since rejoining Northwestern as a faculty member in psychology and education and social policy, Destin continues to seek out interventions to guide high schoolers, middle schoolers, and first-generation college students and that will help address inequities they might face. MORE


Biology and Beyond
Creating complex biopsychosocial models requires new methods that cut across many disciplines. Such circumstances help explain why Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research, now approaching its 10th anniversary, has become an interdisciplinary knowledge hub. The center, directed by IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade, brings together anthropologists, sociologists, physicians, economists, epidemiologists, psychologists, and other social and biomedical scientists to answer a fundamental question: How do socioeconomic, racial, and other types of disparities "get under our skin" to affect human health and development? MORE

The Economics of Human Development
On April 27, more than 180 faculty, students, and members of the public gathered to hear James Heckman, a Nobel laureate and University of Chicago economist, speak about his game-changing work on human potential as the IPR Spring 2015 Distinguished Public Policy Lecturer. Throughout his career, Heckman has examined the efficacy of interventions to boost human development across the life cycle. "James Heckman has dramatically changed the public discourse, the policy debates, and the government decisions, all for the better," said IPR developmental psychologist Lindsay Chase-Lansdale in her introduction. MORE

Encouraging Interdisciplinary Dialogue
The ninth annual Chicago Area Political and Social Behavior (CAB) Workshop previewed some cutting-edge social and political science research to the 80-plus faculty and graduate students at Northwestern University on May 8. The conference melded scholars from a host of disciplinary backgrounds, including those outside of political science, all of whom who used an array of methodological approaches to produce thought-provoking research. The conference’s variety “made it truly reflective of IPR’s interdisciplinary and multi-method foundation,” said IPR political scientist and associate director James Druckman, who organized the workshop. MORE 

To Reduce Mass Incarceration, Recognize Humanity
Today, about 1.6 million people are serving time in a state or federal prison in the United States. When including those on parole, awaiting trial, serving short sentences, or under other forms of correctional supervision, that number rises to 7 million. Harvard sociologist Bruce Western, who has pioneered research on America’s “prison boom,” described the latest research findings in the field, depicted the struggles of former prisoners, and pointed to mass incarceration’s pernicious and widespread effects during the Social Inequality and Difference Lecture on May 7. MORE

New IPR Working Papers

Find all IPR working papers HERE.

“Does Medical Malpractice Law Improve Healthcare Quality?” (WP-15-04)

Michael Frakes and Anupam Jena

The researchers estimate the relationship between medical liability forces and healthcare quality using clinically validated measures of treatment quality rather than the coarse measures previously relied upon by scholars. Drawing upon remedy-focused tort reforms—e.g., damage caps—they estimate that current liability rules only modestly improve quality. They contend that this limited independent impact may reflect the structural nature of the present system of rules, which hold physicians to standards determined according to industry customs. They find evidence suggesting, however, that physician practices might respond more significantly to substantive reforms, which alter the standards against which physicians are judged.

“Who Gets to Look Nice and Who Gets to Play? Effects of Child Gender on Household Expenditure” (WP-15-03)

Krzysztof Karbownik and Michal Myck

The researchers examine the relationship between a child’s gender and family expenditures using data from the Polish Household Budget Survey. Having a first-born daughter as compared with a first-born son increases the share of household expenditures related to children’s and adult females’ clothing, but reduces spending on games, toys and hobbies, and kindergarten. These expenditure patterns suggest an as-so-far unexamined role of gender in child development: Parents seem to pay more attention to how girls look, while favoring boys with respect to human capital investment. This could have consequences in adult life and contribute to sustaining gender inequalities.

“The Effect of Hospital Acquisitions of Physician Practices on Prices and Spending” (WP-15-02)

Cory Capps, David Dranove, and Christopher Ody

From 2007 to 2013, nearly 10 percent of physicians in the researchers’ sample were acquired by a hospital, increasing the share of physicians that are hospital owned by more than 50 percent. Supporters of hospital-physician integration argue that it offers the promise of significant cost savings while opponents raise concerns that integration will result in higher prices. Despite the heightened interest in hospital-physician integration, the research evidence is mixed and of questionable quality. Prior studies suffer from significant data problems that the researchers overcame by using administrative claims data provided by one or more anonymous insurer(s) operating in a number of states. With their data, they are able to (a) identify physician integration at the level of the individual practice, (b) study provider transaction prices before and after integration, and (c) examine broader medical spending. Capps, Dranove, and Ody find that, on average, physician prices increase nearly 14 percent post-integration—roughly a quarter of this increase is attributable to the exploitation of payment rules—and that price increases are larger when the acquiring hospital has a larger share of its inpatient market. They find no evidence that integration leads to reductions in spending, even four years post-integration.

Upcoming Events

7/20–7/30/15 - Summer Training Institute on Cluster-Randomized Trials, sponsored by the National Center for Education Research in the Institute of Education Sciences and organized by Larry Hedges (IPR/Statistics/Education & Social Policy/Psychology)*

8/3–8/14/15 - Workshop on Quasi-Experimental Design and Analysis, sponsored by the Institute for Education Sciences and led by Thomas D. Cook (IPR/Sociology/Psychology/Education & Social Policy).
*Enrollment for these workshops has closed.

Find the complete calendar HERE.

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