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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

Health, Safety, Violence, and Disaster: How Economic Analysis Improves Outcomes for Women and Families
by Susan Martin, Ph.D. and Youngmin Yi (May 2013)

IWPR’s women’s health and safety efforts highlight the social and economic aspects of health, safety, and security issues. Over the past quarter century, the Institute has addressed women’s access to health insurance, the costs and benefits of preventive health services, reproductive health and rights, including the economic benefits of economic freedom, and the link between women’s socioeconomic status and health. IWPR’s examinations of safety issues have drawn attention to domestic violence as well as the effects of terrorism and disasters on women’s well-being. Its research has informed policy decisions by identifying both the limitations on access to health care services and ways to expand access, as well as the gender and racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes. The Institute’s reports and resources have addressed a range of policy issues such as access to paid sick days including analyses of the health benefits of providing paid sick-days, breastfeeding protections under the Affordable Care Act, and in-home services for the elderly and others who need long-term care. For example, IWPR’s fact sheets and briefing papers include a 1994 analysis of the proposed Clinton health care reform o access to health insurance for women of color, a policy update on abortion since the passage of Roe v. Wade, published in 2003, and an estimate in 2012 of potential benefits and cost savings, focused on savings from reduced emergency room use, anticipated with the adoption of mandatory paid sick days in New York City.

 

Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Leave in the United States
by Yuko Hara and Ariane Hegewisch (May 2013)

The United States is one of only four countries globally, and the only high-income country, without a statutory right to paid maternity leave for employees. In all but a few states, it is up to the employer to decide whether to provide paid leave. This briefing paper summarizes employees’ legal rights in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and adoption, and nursing breaks, and examines how far employers are voluntarily moving to provide paid parental leave beyond basic legal rights. It draws on three data sources: leave benefits offered by Working Mother magazine’s “100 Best Companies,” the Family and Medical Leave Act in 2012 Survey, and the National Compensation Survey. This briefing paper finds that the large majority of the “100 Best Companies” provides paid maternity leave, and many provide paid leave for adoption or paternity leave, although only a small minority provides pay during the full 12 weeks of FMLA leave. Among employers more broadly, a third (35 percent) of employees work for an employer offering paid maternity leave, and a fifth (20 percent) paid paternity leave, according to the FMLA 2012 Survey. According to the National Compensation Survey, only 12 percent of employees in the United States have access to paid leave for any care of family members (newborns, adopted children, or ill children or adults). Lower paid workers are least likely to have access to paid leave. International research suggests that the introduction of a statutory right to paid leave for parents would improve the health and economic situations of women and children and would promote economic growth.

 

Access to Earned Sick Days in Oregon
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2013)

An analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reveals that about 596,800 private sector employees in Oregon lack even a single earned sick day. Access to earned sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness,1,2 increasing productivity,3 and supporting work and family balance.4 Earned sick days allow people to take time off work to recover from illness and to tend to family members’ health without the fear of lost pay or other negative consequences. This briefing paper presents estimates of lack of earned sick days access rates in Oregon by occupation, by sex, race and ethnicity, personal annual earnings, and work schedule through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2009–2011 American Community Survey (ACS).

 
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Access to Earned Sick Days in Oregon
by (May 2013)

 

Valuing Good Health in Vermont: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Health Care Time
by Claudia Williams with assistance from Jasmin Griffin and Jeffrey Hayes (April 2013)

The briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Vermont Department of Health, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate costs and benefits of Vermont’s H.208. It estimates how much time off Vermont workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost-savings associated with the policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, prevention of productivity losses from employees working while sick, minimized nursing-home stays, and reduced norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. The study is one of a series of analyses by IWPR examining the effects of earned health care time policies.

 

Valuing Good Health in New York City: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Jeff Hayes, Ph.D. (March 2013)

 

Valuing Good Health in New York City: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

 

Valuing Good Health in Portland: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

The briefing paper uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Oregon Public Health Division, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate costs and benefits of Portland’s “Protected Sick Time Act.” It estimates how much time off Portland workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. This analysis also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate cost savings associated with the policy, through reduced turnover, reduced spread of contagious disease in the workplace, prevention of productivity losses from employees working while sick, minimizing nursing-home stays, and reducing norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes. The study is one of a series of IWPR analyses examining the effects of earned sick days policies.

 

Testimony Before the Public Health and Human Services Committee of the Philadelphia City Council regarding Bill 130004, Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces
by Claudia Williams (March 2013)

 

Testimony on SB 698: Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

 

Paid Sick Days in Philadelphia Would Lower Health Care Costs by Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

Thirty-four percent of Philadelphia private-sector employees, or approximately 182,629 workers, lack access to paid sick days. This fact sheet reports findings from research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) on how increased access to paid sick days would improve both accesses to health care and health outcomes in Philadelphia. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all private-sector workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in Philadelphia.

 

Access to Earned Sick Days in Maryland
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (February 2013)

A new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reveals that more than 700,000 private sector employees in Maryland lack even a single earned sick day. Access to earned sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illnesses, , increasing productivity, and supporting work and family balance. Earned sick days allow people to take time off work to recover from personal illnesses and to tend to family members’ health without the fear of lost pay or other negative consequences. This briefing paper presents estimates of earned sick days access rates in Maryland by occupation, by sex, race and ethnicity, and personal annual earnings, through analysis of government data sources, including the 2010–2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS).

 

Valuing Good Health in Maryland: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
by Claudia Williams (February 2013)

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

 

Valuing Good Health in Philadelphia: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Clau (January 2013)

Policymakers across the country are increasingly interested in ensuring that workers can take paid time off when they are sick. In addition to concerns about workers’ ability to respond to their own health needs, there is growing recognition that, with so many dual-earner and single-parent families, family members’ health needs also sometimes require workers to take time off from their job. Allowing workers with contagious illness to avoid unnecessary contact with co-workers and customers has important public health benefits. Paid sick days also protect workers from being disciplined or fired when they are too sick to work, help families and communities economically by preventing lost income due to illness, and offer savings to employers by reducing turnover and minimizing absenteeism.

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in Portland, Oregon
by Isela Bañuelos and Claudia Williams (December 2012)

Access to paid sick days promotes healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illnesses, increasing productivity, and supporting work and family balance. Paid sick days allow employees to take time off work to recover from personal illnesses and tend to family members’ health without the fear of monetary or other negative consequences. Despite the importance of paid sick days, a large proportion of workers in the Portland, Oregon, area receive no paid sick time at all. This fact sheet presents paid sick days access rates by occupation, sex, race and ethnicity, and personal income in the Portland area. The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) derived these estimates through analysis of government data sources including the National Health Interview Survey and the American Community Survey.

 

Recommendations for an Evaluation of the District of Columbia’s Paid Sick Days Law
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (September 2012)

This briefing paper presents recommendations for the evaluation and report on the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008.1 One provision of the Act, which mandates that employers in the District of Columbia provide paid sick days to some employees, requires the Auditor of the District of Columbia to prepare and submit a report on the Act’s impact.

 

How Increasing Breastfeeding Rates Will Affect WIC Expenditures: Saving Money While Meeting the Goals of Healthy People 2020
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D., and Youngmin Yi (August 2012)

This report analyzes the cost structure of WIC food packages in relation to breastfeeding, including estimates of total spending on each of the different packages, and estimates of total costs from simulations if Healthy People 2020 breastfeeding goals were reached.

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Valuing Good Health in Massachusetts: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (May 2012)

This report uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate the likely impact of the Massachusetts Act Establishing Earned Paid Sick Time. The study is one of a series of analyses by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) examining the costs and benefits of paid sick days policies. It estimates how much time off Massachusetts workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. It also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate how this leave policy would save money, by reducing turnover, cutting down on the spread of disease at work, helping employers avoid paying for low productivity, holding down nursing-home stays, and reducing norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes.

 

Valuing Good Health in Massachusetts: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days (Executive Summary)
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (May 2012)

This report uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate the likely impact of the Massachusetts Act Establishing Earned Paid Sick Time. The study is one of a series of analyses by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) examining the costs and benefits of paid sick days policies. It estimates how much time off Massachusetts workers would use under the proposed policy and the costs to employers for that sick time. It also uses findings from previous peer-reviewed research to estimate how this leave policy would save money, by reducing turnover, cutting down on the spread of disease at work, helping employers avoid paying for low productivity, holding down nursing-home stays, and reducing norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes.

 

Paid Sick Days in Massachusetts Would Lower Health Care Costs by Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Claudia Williams (May 2012)

Thirty-six percent of working Massachusetts residents, or approximately 910,000 employees, lack access to paid sick days. This fact sheet reports findings from research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) on how increased access to paid sick days would improve both access to health care and health outcomes in Massachusetts. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in Massachusetts.

 
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