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Health & Safety

Health and Safety

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About Health & Safety

Women have a set of specific concerns when it comes to health. More often than not, women make the majority of health care-related decisions regarding health issues for their families, are the primary caregivers, and spend more than their male counterparts on health (KFF 2009; Agency for 2004). While women, on average, are more likely than men to have health insurance, they are at special risk of a number of specific health conditions, such as depression and exposure to intimate partner violence. Low-income women and women of color are especially likely to experience poor health outcomes, with African American women, in particular, showing much higher rates of HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, and infants with low birth weight. These realities make consideration of woman-specific issues vitally important to policy decisions in the area of health.

IWPR’s research on women’s health and safety informs policy decisions by identifying gender and racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes and access to health care services in addition to highlighting opportunities for improvement. IWPR’s reports and resources discuss a range of policy issues including access to paid sick days, the relationship between women’s health and socio-economic status, cost-benefit analyses of paid sick days provision, and rates of breastfeeding.

An IWPR fact sheet reported that 44 million workers in the United States lacked paid sick days in 2010, with 77 percent of food service workers lacking access. Preceding the passage of the first state-wide paid sick days legislation in the United States in Connecticut, IWPR estimated that Connecticut taxpayers would save $4.7 million annually in a cost-benefit analysis of universal paid sick days provision.

Recent reports on policy impacts on breastfeeding rates estimate that the breastfeeding protections in the 2010 Affordable Care Act will increase the national rate of breastfeeding through six months of age by four full percentage points, giving more women and their children the opportunity to draw from the health benefits associated with breastfeeding, such as protection from childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome, and diabetes.

Resources

View our external resources page or multimedia page for more information on this topic.

Latest Reports from IWPR

The Status of Women in the States: 2015 (full report)
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

The Status of Women in the States: 2015 provides critical data to identify areas of progress for women in states across the nation and pinpoint where additional improvements are still needed. It presents hundreds of data points for each state across seven areas that affect women’s lives: political participation, employment and earnings, work and family, poverty and opportunity, reproductive rights, health and well-being, and violence and safety. For each of these topic areas except violence and safety, the report calculates a composite index, ranks the states from best to worst, and assigns a letter grade based on the difference between the state’s performance in that area and goals set by IWPR (e.g., no remaining wage gap or the proportional representation of women in political office). The report also tracks progress over time, covers basic demographic statistics on women, and presents additional data on a range of topics related to women’s status. In addition, it gives an overview of how women from various population groups fare, including women of color, young women, older women, immigrant women, women living with a same-sex partner, and women in labor unions. This report builds on IWPR’s long-standing work on The Status of Women in the States, a series of data analyses and reports that for nearly 20 years have provided data on women’s status nationally and for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Status of Women in the States reports have three main goals: 1) to analyze and disseminate information about women’s progress in achieving rights and opportunities; 2) to identify and measure the remaining barriers to equality; and 3) to provide baseline measures for monitoring women’s progress. The data presented in these reports can serve as a resource for advocates, policymakers, and other stakeholders who seek to develop community investments, programs, and public policies that can lead to positive changes for women and families.

 

Workers' Access to Paid Sick Days in the States
by Institute for Women's Policy Research and the National Partnership for Women & Families (May 2015)

Millions of workers in the United States cannot take paid time away from work to recover or seek preventive care when they are sick. Instead, these people often have to risk their jobs or pay when inevitable short-term health and caregiving needs arise. Estimates of the number of workers lacking paid sick days range from 43 to 48 million. Analysis of 2012-2013 data conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), in collaboration with the National Partnership for Women & Families, finds that across the country the percentage of workers without paid sick days varies widely from a high of 49.7 percent in New Mexico to a low of 38.9 percent in New Hampshire.

 
Preview not available

Spring 2015 Newsletter: Annual Report Edition
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

Provides a review of IWPR's activities over the year.

 

The Status of Women in the States: 2015—Health & Safety
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

This report provides data on women’s health status in the U nited States, beginning with a composite index of women’s health that includes nine indicators covering chronic d isease, sexual health, mental health, and physical health. It analyzes data on additional aspects of women’s health, including behavioral measures such as smoking, exercise, and diet, and preventive health care measures such as mammograms, pap tests, and screenings for HIV . In addition, the report examines how women’s health status has improved or declined in these areas in recent years. It also notes places where women’s health status varies by race/ethnicity and age and examines the health status of thos e who identify as a sexual minority .

 

The Status of Women in the States: 2015—Reproductive Rights
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

This report provides information on a range of policies related to women’s reproductive health and rights. It examines abortion, contraception, the access of individuals in same-sex couples to full parental rights, infertility, and sex education. It also presents data on fertility and natality—including infant mortality—and highlights disparities in women’s reproductive rights by race and ethnicity. In addition, the report examines recent shifts in federal and state policies related to reproductive rights. It explores the decision of some states to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA, as well as state policies to extend eligibility for Medicaid family planning services. It also reviews the recognition of same-sex marriage in a growing majority of states across the nation (National Center for Lesbian Rights 2015)—a change that has profound implications for the ability of same-sex couples to create the families they desire.

 
Preview not available

Access to Paid Sick Time in Los Angeles, California
by Jessica Milli, Ph.D and Daria Ulbina (April 2015)

This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick time in Los Angeles by sex, race/ethnicity, occupation, part/full-time employment status, and personal earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2011–2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Access to Paid Sick Time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
by (April 2015)

This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick time in Pittsburgh by sex, race/ethnicity, occupation, part/full-time employment status, and personal earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2011–2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in Louisiana
by Jenny Xia (March 2015)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that approximately 41 percent of all workers (45 percent of private sector workers, compared with 17 percent of public sector workers) living in Louisiana lack even a single paid sick day. This lack of access is even more pronounced among low-income and part-time workers. Access to paid sick days promotes safe and healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness1 and workplace injuries,2 reduces health care costs, and supports children and families by helping parents meet their children’s health needs.3 This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick days in Louisiana by sex, race and ethnicity, occupation, hours worked, and personal earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2011–2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS).

 
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Valuing Good Health in Maryland: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (January 2015)

This briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate the costs and benefits of Maryland’s Earned Sick Days Act. It estimates how much time off Maryland workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that earned sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost-savings associated with the proposed policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, increased productivity, minimized nursing-home stays, and reduced norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. This study is one of a series of analyses conducted by IWPR examining the effects of earned sick leave policies.

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in Maryland
by Salina Tulachan and Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (January 2015)

This briefing paper presents estimates of private sector workers’ access to paid sick days in Maryland by sex, race and ethnicity, occupation, part/full-time employment status, personal earnings and county of residence through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the 2010–2012 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in Oregon
by Jessica Milli, Ph.D. and Sweta Joshi (January 2015)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that approximately 47 percent of private sector workers living in Oregon lack even a single paid sick day (these figures exclude workers in Portland and Eugene, which both have paid sick days ordinances). This lack of access is even more pronounced among low-income and part-time workers. Access to paid sick days promotes safe and healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness and workplace injuries, reduces health care costs, and supports children and families by helping parents to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities. This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick days in Oregon by sex, race and ethnicity, occupation, hours worked, and personal earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2011–2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Paid Sick Time Access in Minnesota Varies by County of Residence
by Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (September 2014)

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in California
by Salina Tulachan and Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (August 2014)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that approximately 44 percent of workers living in California lack even a single paid sick day. This lack of access is even more pronounced among low-income and part-time workers and shows considerable variability across counties in California. Access to paid sick days promotes safe and healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness and workplace injuries, reduces health care costs, and supports children and families by helping parents to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities. This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick days in California by sex, race and ethnicity, occupation, part/full-time employment status, personal earnings and county of residence through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in Orange County, Florida
by Salina Tulachan and Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (August 2014)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that approximately 45 percent of workers living in Orange County, Florida lack even a single paid sick day. This lack of access is even more pronounced among low-income and part-time workers. Access to paid sick days promotes safe and healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness and workplace injuries, reduces health care costs, and supports children and families by helping parents to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities. This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick days in Orange County by sex, race and ethnicity, industry, part/full-time employment status, and personal earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the 2010–2012 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in San Jose
by Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (August 2014)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reveals that about 35 percent of private sector employees in San Jose lack even a single paid sick day. Access to paid sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness, , increasing productivity, and supporting work and family balance. This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick days in San Jose by sex, race and ethnicity, industry, occupation, earnings, and family status through analysis of government data sources, including the 2011–2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2009–2011 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days (Testimony before the Mayor's Task Force on Paid Sick Leave of Philadelphia)
by Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (August 2014)

Testimony of Jessica Milli, Ph.D., before the Mayor’s Task Force on Paid Sick Leave of Philadelphia (August 6, 2014)

 
Preview not available

Access to Paid Sick Days in North Carolina
by Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (August 2014)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates that 39 percent of private sector employees working in North Carolina lack even a single paid sick day. This lack of access is even more pronounced among healthcare support workers who provide direct care: 49 percent currently lack access to paid sick days. Paid sick days can promote healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness, increasing productivity by allowing workers to avoid coming to work sick, reducing workplace injuries, and supporting work and family balance. This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick days in North Carolina by sex, race and ethnicity, occupation, hours worked, and earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2011–2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Paid Sick Days Access Varies by Race/Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, and Job Characteristics
by Rachel O'Connor, Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., Barbara Gault, Ph.D. (July 2014)

Paid sick days bring multiple benefits to employers, workers, families, and communities at large. The economic and public health benefits of paid sick leave coverage are substantial, including safer work environments; reduced spread of contagion; and reduced health care costs. Access to this important benefit, however, is still too rare, and is unequally distributed across the U.S. population, with substantial differences by race and ethnicity, occupation, earnings levels, and work schedules. New data also reveals differences by sexual orientation, especially for men.

 

As Foreign-Born Worker Population Grows, Many Lack Paid Sick Days
by Alex Wang, Jeffrey Hayes, and Liz Ben - Ishai (July 2014)

Research demonstrates that low-wage workers and people of color are least likely to have access to paid sick days.This brief builds on previous research to provide an analysis of immigrant access to sick days using data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

 

Access to Paid Sick Leave in Oakland, California
by Jessica Milli (June 2014)

This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick leave in Oakland by age, sex, race and ethnicity, industry, and hourly earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2011–2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS).

 
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