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Health & Safety

Health and Safety







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.


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

Latest Reports from IWPR

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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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The Costs of Domestic Violence
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (May 1997)

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Measuring the Costs of Domestic Violence Against Women and the Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions: An Initial Assessment and Proposals for Further Research
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Louise Laurence, Roberta Spalter-Roth, and Diana M. Zuckerman (April 1997)

This review paper was prepared by the Institute for Women's Policy Research as part of a joint project with Victim Services, Inc. and the Domestic Violence Training Project.

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Measuring the Costs of Domestic Violence Against Women
by Stacey Friedman, Jackie Chu, and Heidi Hartmann (December 1996)

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Employment and Women's Health
by Joan Kuriansky, Christine Owens, Heidi Hartmann (October 1996)

This analysis of the Commonwealth Fund 1993 of Women's Health examines whether working women are healthier. Finds that employed women are healthier, particularly those with health insurance, than women who are not employed. Discusses policy implications for older women and part-time workers. Published in Women's Health: The Commonwealth Fund Survey, Marilyn M. Falik and Karen Scott Collins, 1996.

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Providing Paid Family Leave: Estimating the Cost of Expanding California's Disability Insurance Program
by Stephanie Aaronson (June 1995)

Testimony before the U.S. Comission on Family and Medical Leave, San Francisco, CA. Estimates teh cost of expanding California's Temporary Disability INsurance Program and examines the feasibility of using the temporary disability insurance model to provide paid family leave to workers. Argues that paid family and medical elave is economically feasible.

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Summary Chart of Documented Cost Savings of Selected Women's Health Services
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (August 1994)

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Impact of an Employer Mandate on Women's Access to Health Care
by Young-Hee Yoon and Robin Dennis (July 1994)

President Clinton's proposed Health Security Act (HSA) guarantees all Americans health insurance coverage regardless of their marital status, employment status, or socioeconomic status. A new report by IWPR, Women's Access to Health Insurance, estimates how the workplace guarantee-- or employer mandate-- proposed by the President would affect women's access to health insurance.


Women's Health Insurance Costs and Experiences
by Women's Research and Education Institute (June 1994)

This report is part of the Join Project on Women's Health Care Policy Research of the Women's Research and Education Institute and the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The project was funded by the Kaiser Family Foundation, as part of the Kaiser Health Reform Project. This report focuses on health insurance coverage and expenditures for reproductive and preventive services among women of childbearing age (age 15 to 44). It provides the latest and most comprehensive measures of' the adequacy of women's health insurance coverage for all health care services and for reproductive and preventive health services in particular. Measurements of the adequacy of health insurance coverage used in this report include: 1) the percent of total expenditures covered by health insurance; 2) the level of out-of-pocket expenditures; and 3) out-of-pocket expenditures in relation to income.


Women's Access to Health Insurance: Excerpts
by (June 1994)

Overall, women are more likely than men to have insurance coverage. Our findings show that in 1990, 15 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 64, or 12 million women, are uninsured compared to 19 percent, or 14 million men. Women are less likely to have insurance through their own employers (direct employer-based insurance) than are men.


Women’s Access to Health Insurance
by (June 1994)

Women have a unique relationship to the health care system in the United States that needs to be taken into account in health care reform. Compared with men, women use more health care services and pay more for them as a proportion of their income. They are also responsible for facilitating their families' use of health care and for ensuring the health of infants and children.

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Women of Color and Access to Women's Health Care
by Young-Hee Yoon, Stephanie Aaronson, Heidi Hartmann, Lois Shaw, and Roberta Spalter-Roth (June 1994)

#A116, Briefing paper, 8 pages
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Women's Access to Health Insurance (Testimony)
by Heidi Hartmann, Young-Hee Yoon, Stephanie Aaronson, Lois Shaw, Roberta Spalter-Roth (April 1994)

Testimony before the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, on the IWPR report Women's Access to Health Insurance. Using data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, the testimony presents factors that affect women's access and lack of access to health insurance and focuses on the characteristics of women who are uninsured.

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Women’s Access to Health Insurance: Executive Summary
by (April 1994)

The Institute's study analyzes data from the January and March 1991 Current Population Surveys, monthly surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The study focuses on adult women of working age, 18 to 64, examines the factors affecting their access to health insurance, and assesses the impact of the proposed Health Security Act on women's health insurance coverage. It compares and contrasts the experiences of women and men whenever relevant.


The Health Benefits and Potential Savings from Screening and Intervention for Domestic Violence
by Stephanie Aaronson and Nicoletta Karam (January 1994)

#B216, Research in Brief, 4 pages
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Science and Politics and the "Dual Vision" of Feminist Policy Research: The Example of Family and Medical Leave
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Ph.D, and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D (September 1991)

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Unnecessary Losses:Costs to Americans for the Lack of Family and Medical Leave
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Ph.D, and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D (May 1991)

Unnecessary Losses concludes that the costs to workers and taxpayers of the current lack of national policy are many times greater than the cost to business of having a national policy. Having a national leave policy would reduce the costs to workers and society of the socially necessary tasks of childbirth, child care and eldercare, or of illness, because having the right to return to their jobs would reduce unemployment and earnings losses for workers who must be absent for these reasons.


Unnecessary Losses to African American Workers
by (April 1990)

When a person temporarily leaves their employment because of the arrival of a child, illness of a family member, or her or his own illness, economic costs arise for three groups: workers, employers, and society. Workers in the U.S. lose enormous amounts in earnings from absence due to illness and family care-- an estimated $100 billion annually. Of these losses, at least $12 billion can be attributed to the lack of job protected leave. In addition, there are substantial outlays by taxpayers for unemployment compensation, welfare payments, Supplemental Security Income, etc. when workers do not have the right to return to their jobs-- an estimated $4.3 billion.

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