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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

Women and Paid Sick Days: Crucial for Family Well-Being
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (January 2007)

#B254, Fact Sheet, 4 pages
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Women and Paid Sick Days: Crucial for Family Well-Being
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (January 2007)

Balancing work with personal and family health-care concerns is a major stressor for many working women. Women continue to be overrepresented in part-time and low-wage positions, those least likely to offer employer benefits such as paid sick days. Nevertheless, working women remain our families’ primary caregivers. For too many women, being sick or having an ill family member presents an untenable choice: stay at work when you shouldn’t, or lose pay (and perhaps a job) by staying home.

 

Keeping Moms on the Job: The Impacts of Health Insurance and Child Care on Job Retention and Mobility among Low-Income Mothers
by Sunhwa Lee, PhD (January 2007)

Since the 1996 welfare reform legislation, government support programs for low-income families have emphasized “work-first” strategies, viewing employment as the primary route to self-sufficiency. The employment situations of welfare leavers and other low-wage workers, however, show considerable instability. Most welfare leavers, for instance, find jobs, but many lose their jobs fairly quickly and experience a substantial period of unemployment before finding another job. While job changes can lead to improved earnings for some workers, this does not seem to be the case for most low-skilled workers or former welfare recipients. For these workers, job retention is crucial for accumulating work experience and improving earnings over time. Yet, for many low-wage workers or welfare leavers who are single mothers facing the dual responsibilities of work and family, sustaining employment and earning a living wage pose a tremendous challenge.

#C360, 81 pages
$15.00
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Valuing Good Health in San Francisco: The Costs and Benefits of a Proposed Paid Sick Days Policy
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (June 2006)

Policy makers across the country are increasingly concerned about the adequacy of paid sick days policies. Time off with pay for workers who are sick or have other health problems could have significant benefits in terms of workers’ health outcomes, while keeping them from being fired when illness forces them to stay home from work. It would also allow them to take care of their families when needed and get preventive health care and reduce the spread of disease at work. And it offers substantial savings to employers by reducing turnover and minimizing absenteeism.

 
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Solving the Nursing Shortage Through Higher Wages
by Vicky Lovell (March 2006)

#C363a, Report, 38 pages
$10.00
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Paid Sick Days Improve Public Health by Reducing the Spread of Disease
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (January 2006)

#B250
$10.00
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Paid Sick Days Improve Public Health by Reducing the Spread of Disease
by Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (January 2006)

Paid sick days can reduce the spread of disease at work and in child-care settings, creating signifi cant public health benefi ts and a more productive workforce.1 That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that workers with the fl u stay home.2 Yet many workers cannot do so without losing income or their job.

 
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The Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Screening and Treatment for Cervical Cancer
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (June 2005)

#B215, Research in Brief, 4 pages
$5.00
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The Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Breast Cancer Screening
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (June 2005)

 
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The Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Screening for and Treating Sexually Transmitted Diseases
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (June 2005)

#B221, Research in Brief, 4 pages
$5.00
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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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