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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.

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

Latest Reports from IWPR

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.

#B307, Report, 35 pages
$10.00
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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.

 

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

In New York City, 50 percent of working New Yorkers, or approximately 1,580,000 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 New York City. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in New York City.

 

Paid Sick Days and Health: Cost Savings from Reduced Emergency Department Visits
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Claudia Williams, and Youngmin Yi (November 2011)

Many states and localities, as well as the U.S. Congress, have considered legislation or ballot measures requiring that employers provide paid sick days to their workers. Such laws have been approved in the state of Connecticut, the cities of San Francisco and Seattle, and the District of Columbia. There has been much debate about the merits of such laws—which could affect the lives of the two-fifths of private sector employees without access to paid sick days—particularly regarding the costs and benefits for affected employees and businesses, as well as health effects for employees. This report focuses on the potential impact of paid sick days on the health of employees and their families and presents the following findings.

#B301, Report, 41 pages
$10.00
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Denver Paid Sick Days Would Promote Children’s School Success
by Sarah Towne, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Barbara Gault, Ph.D. (October 2011)

Paid sick days for working parents can enhance children’s school success. Parents face a difficult choice if their children get sick when they lack paid sick days: staying home with the child and missing pay (and possibly facing discipline at work); sending the child to school sick, which compromises their school performance and spreads illness to others; leaving the child at home alone, putting the child at risk; leaving the child with an older sibling who in turn must stay home from school; or trusting the child to a temporary caregiver. Each of these scenarios has potential costs for schools or for child well-being. The negative effects of inadequate sick days coverage disproportionately affect people of color and low-income adults in Denver, because they are less likely than other Denver residents to be able to earn paid sick days. This paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) addresses how children's school success can be improved when working parents have access to paid sick days by reviewing published research, Denver Public Schools data, and information provided in interviews and surveys of Denver Public Schools personnel.1

#B300, Briefing Paper, 12 pages
$5.00
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Valuing Good Health in Denver: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (October 2011)

Voters in Denver will consider a referendum on the 2011 ballot regarding the issue of requiring employers to provide paid sick days. Using the parameters of the proposed law and publicly available data, this paper estimates the anticipated costs and some of the anticipated benefits of the law for employers providing new leave, as well as some of the benefits for employees. Employees of businesses with ten or more employees are estimated to use an average of 2.5 days annually out of a maximum of 9 that may be accrued, while employees at smaller businesses are estimated to use an average of 2.1 days annually out of a maximum of 5 accrued. The anticipated cost of the law for employers due to lost productivity and increased wages is equivalent to a 20 cent-per-hour increase in wages for employees receiving new leave. The anticipated savings for employers, notably a reduction in costly employee turnover, are expected to have a wage equivalent of a savings of 22 cents per hour. Annually, businesses in Denver are expected to expend $22.8 million in providing new paid sick days for employees. Providing new paid sick days is expected to yield benefits of $24.2 million annually, for a net savings for Denver employers of $1.4 million annually.

#B298, Briefing Paper, 25 pages
$5.00
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Paid Sick Days in Denver Would Improve Health Outcomes, Reduce Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities, And Help Control Health Care Costs
by Claudia Williams and Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (October 2011)

In Denver, 41 percent of the private-sector workforce, or 107,407 workers, lack access to paid sick days. In the present research, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates the improvements in access to health care and health outcomes that Denver workers without paid sick days and their families would experience if they were to gain access to paid sick days.

 

San Francisco Employment Growth Remains Stronger with Paid Sick Days Law Than Surrounding Counties
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Sarah Towne (September 2011)

 

Paid Sick Days and Employer Penalties for Absence
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Robert Drago, Ph.D., and Claudia Williams (July 2011)

 

Paid Sick Days in Connecticut Would Improve Health Outcomes, Help Control Health Care Costs
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Robert Drago, Ph.D., and Claudia Williams (May 2011)

 

Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Leave in the United States
by Annamaria Sundbye and Ariane Hegewisch (May 2011)

 

Access to Paid Sick Days in the States, 2010
by Claudia Williams, Robert Drago, Ph.D., Kevin Miller, Ph.D., and Youngmin Yi (March 2011)

 

Paid Sick Day Access Rates by Gender and Race/Ethnicity, 2010
by IWPR (March 2011)

 

San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees
by Robert Drago, Ph.D. and Vicky Lovell, Ph.D. (February 2011)

This study examines the effects of San Francisco’s recent paid sick days legislation on employees and employers.

#A138, report, 44 pages
$10.00
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44 Million U.S. Workers Lacked Paid Sick Days in 2010: 77 Percent of Food Service Workers Lacked Access
by Claudia Williams, Robert Drago, Ph.D., and Kevin Miller, Ph.D. (January 2011)

 

Better Health for Mothers and Children: Breastfeeding Accommodations under the Affordable Care Act
by Robert Drago, Ph.D., Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D., and Youngmin Yi (December 2010)

This study examines new workplace protections for nursing mothers under federal law. We report current patterns of breastfeeding, and provide the first estimates of coverage rates under the law, as well as the first projections of the likely effect of the new protections on increasing rates of breastfeeding in the United States. The research represents part of a broader body of work undertaken by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on balancing work and family commitments. The research was made possible by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

#B292, Report, 28 pages
$10.00
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The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
by Robert Drago, Ph.D. (July 2010)

 

Focus on Morocco Topic Brief: Health Care Access
by International Foundation for Electoral Systems and Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2010)

 
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