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Health & Safety

Health and 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.

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

Latest Reports from IWPR

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The Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Prenatal Care
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (June 2005)

#B220, Research in Brief, 4 pages
$5.00
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The Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Prevention, Screening, and Treatment for Osteoporosis
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (June 2005)

#219, Research in Brief, 5 pages
$5.00
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The Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Screening and Treatment of Mental Illness
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (June 2005)

#B218, Research in Brief, 5 pages
$5.00
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The Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Family Planning and Abortion Services
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (June 2005)

#B217, Research in Brief, 5 pages
$5.00
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Valuing Good Health in Massachusetts: An Estimate of Costs and Savings for the Paid Sick Days Act
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (April 2005)

The Paid Sick Days Act (PSDA) would ensure that all Massachusetts workers have a minimum of seven days of paid time off annually to take care of their own health needs and those of members of their families. This report presents an estimate of the cost of that Act and of certain cost savings it would provide to employers, to workers and their families, and to the broader community (Table 1). Several other likely benefits for which we currently lack estimation data are also discussed. Of course, the overall purpose of the Act is to reduce economic hardship of workers when they, or their family members, have medical care needs, and we are unable to calculate the value of that benefit.

 

Valuing Good Health: An Estimate of Costs and Savings for the Healthy Families Act
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (March 2005)

#B248, 21 pages
$10.00
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Valuing Good Health: An Estimate of Costs and Savings for the Healthy Families Act
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (March 2005)

The Healthy Families Act (HFA) would ensure that all eligible workers have a minimum of seven days of paid time off annually to take care of their own health needs and those of members of their families. This report presents an estimate of the cost of that Act and of certain cost savings it would provide to employers, to workers and their families, and to the broader community (Table 1). Several other likely benefits for which we currently lack estimation data are also discussed. Of course, the overall purpose of the Act is to reduce economic hardship of workers when they, or their family members, have medical care needs, and we are unable to calculate the value of that benefit.

 
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Work Supports, Job Retention, and Job Mobility Among Low-Income Mothers
by Sunhwa Lee (November 2004)

#B247P, 67 pages
$10.00
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A New Full-Time Norm: Promoting Work-Life Integration Through Work-Time Adjustment*
by Cynthia Negrey (July 2004)

(Cynthia Negrey is an Associate Professor Sociology Department, University of Louisville) This paper is an argument for a new, shorter, full-time work norm in the United States. It examines the context of “time famine” as a product of women’s increased labor force participation and an increase in household total employment hours, a caregiving gap, bifurcation of aggregate work hours, and a gap between workers’ actual and ideal work hours. Inadequacies of current alternative work-time arrangements and the Family and Medical Leave Act are addressed and some international comparisons are discussed. Following Appelbaum et al. (2002), the author argues for a “shared work/valued care” model of work-time allocation.

 
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Expanded Sick Leave Would Yield Substantial Benefits to Business, Employers, and Families
by Vicky Lovell, Barbara Gault and Heidi Hartmann (June 2004)

#B243, 3 pages
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No Time To Be Sick: Why Everyone Suffers When Workers Don’t have Paid Sick Leave
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (June 2004)

Expansion of paid sick leave and integration of family caregiving activities into authorized uses of paid sick leave are crucial work and health supports for workers, their families, employers, and our communities at large.

#B242, 27 pages
$10.00
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Policy Update on Safe and Legal Abortion, 30 Years after Roe v. Wade
by Deanna Bruce and Sarah Benatar (October 2003)

In the three decades since the decision, Roe v. Wade has had far-reaching effects on women’s health and economic well-being. Today, however, a number of political efforts threaten to overturn the basic tenets of the decision.

#B241, 4 pages
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The Fiscal Viability of New Jersey Family Leave Insurance
by Michelle Naples and Meryl Frank (December 2001)

The private needs of the family are now at the forefront of the national political agenda as a result of changes in the workforce and in family demographics. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is the cornerstone of the family policy movement. This act allows an unpaid leave of absence for employed family members who need to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child, or a seriously ill relative. Its benefits to working families are well documented (US DOL 1996; Cantor et al. 2000).

 

Family Leave for Low-Income Working Women: Providing Paid Leave through Temporary Disability Insurance, The New Jersey Case
by Michele I. Naples (October 2001)

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provided for unpaid time off from work to care for sick relatives or a newborn or adopted child, guaranteeing leave-takers’ jobs when they returned to work. Low-wage workers and single parents, however, cannot fully benefit from the FMLA because it offers no replacement income. In families that depend on women’s earnings to maintain living standards, unpaid time off from work threatens family finances that are already strained by the costs of bearing and providing for a new child, or the costs of health care for a sick family member. To ensure that those most in need of the protections of the FMLA can take advantage of the law, New Jersey is one among several states considering legislation to provide Family-Leave Insurance (FLI): paid leave to care for newborn babies and adopted children (BAA), and paid family-disability leave (FDL) to care for an ill child, spouse, or elderly parent. This Research-in-Brief summarizes a research project conducted by Michele I. Naples and Meryl Frank that examined proposals in New Jersey for paid family and medical leave programs. It discusses the policy context in which these programs are being considered and details the technical considerations behind estimating the cost of providing family leave insurance.

 

The Widening Gap: A New Book on the Struggle to Balance Work and Caregiving
by Hedieh Rahmanou (September 2001)

This Research-in-Brief is based on selected findings from a new book by Jody Heymann, Director of Policy at the Harvard Center for Society and Health. Published by Basic Books in 2000, The Widening Gap: Why America’s Working Families are in Jeopardy and What Can Be Done About It reveals the failure of our nation’s employer-based support system to help families meet their caregiving responsibilities. Copyright permission was granted by Perseus Books LLC.

 
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Living With or Dying From Breast Cancer a Matter of Race
by IWPR (May 2001)

 
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The Influence of Income, Education, and Work Status on Women's Well Being (Published by Women's Health Issues)
by Holly Mead, Kristine Witkowski, Barbara Gault, and Heidi Hartmann (May 2001)

 
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Making Birth Control More Accessible to Women: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Over-the-Counter Oral Contraceptives
by Holly Mead, Bethany Snyder (February 2001)

Evaluates costs and benefits of switching birth control pills to over-the-counter status to improve women's access to contraceptives.

 

Paid Family and Medical Leave: Supporting Working Families in Illinois
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (September 2000)

 
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The Safety of Silicone Breast Implants
by Diana Zuckerman (August 1998)

Outlines the history of the use of silicone for breast enlargements to the present. Details the absence of manufacturers' proof of safety and efficacy and summarizes known and unknown health risks. An estimated one million U.S. women have breast implants.

 
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