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June 2008 RNR

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Below is the newest installation of Research News Reporter (RNR) Online. Previous editions can be viewed in the Archives.

June 2008


IWPR’s Research News Reporter is distributed to highlight informative, innovative, and sometimes controversial research related to women and their families.

Research Making News

Research Reports

Research Making News _____________________________

Each selection includes a short excerpt, link to the news article, and link to the research cited:


“Girls Gains Have Not Cost Boys, Report Says”

By Tamar Lewin
The New York Times
May 20, 2008

Citing:  Where the Girls Are: The Facts About Gender Equity in Education by Christianne Corbett, Catherine Hill, and Andresse St. Rose of the American Association of University Women.

“The American Association of University Women, whose 1992 report on how girls are shortchanged in the classroom caused a national debate over gender equity, has turned its attention to debunking the idea of a ‘boys’ crisis.’

‘Girls’ gains have not come at boys’ expense,’ says a new report by the group, to be released on Tuesday in Washington. Echoing research released two years ago by the American Council on Education and other groups, the report says that while girls have for years graduated from high school and college at a higher rate than boys, the largest disparities in educational achievement are not between boys and girls, but between those of different races, ethnicities and income levels. In examining a range of standardized test scores, the report finds some intriguing nuggets about the interplay of family income, race, ethnicity and academic performance. For example, it finds that while boys generally outperform girls on both the math and verbal parts of the SAT, the male advantage on the verbal test is consistent only among low-income students, and that among black students, there was no consistent advantage by sex from 1994 to 2004. […] The report points out that a greater proportion of men and women than ever before are graduating from high school and earning college degrees. But, it says, ‘perhaps the most compelling evidence against the existence of a boys’ crisis is that men continue to outearn women in the workplace.’ Linda Hallman, who became executive director of the university women’s group in January, when the work was well under way, said the report was an effort to refocus attention on what she said were the real problems of education for poor and minority children, and away from a distracting debate about a so-called boys’ crisis. Ms. Hallman said the group’s members were concerned about arguments by conservative commentators that boys had become disadvantaged and were being discriminated against in schools intended to favor girls.” For the full article, visit The New York Times online.

To view Where the Girls Are: The Facts About Gender Equity in Education, click here:

“Path to Retirement has Pitfalls for Women”

USA Today
By Christine Dugas
May 9, 2008

Citing:  The 2008 Retirement Confidence Survey Issue Brief by Ruth Helman, Matthew Greenwald and Associates, Jack VanDerhei, and Craig Copeland of the Employee Benefit Research Institute; and Baby Boomer Women: Secure Futures or Not? by the Harvard Generations Policy Program and the Global Generations Policy Institute.

“The economic slowdown has made it harder for many people to keep up their pace of saving for retirement. But women, especially, can find it difficult in tough times to invest enough to ensure a secure retirement.

After all, even under ideal circumstances, women face steeper obstacles than men in building a proper retirement nest egg. They live longer, for example, so they must pay for longer retirements. Their job histories are typically shorter, too, which translates into smaller 401(k) accounts. And, compared with men, studies show that on average, women have lower savings rates and are more likely to invest too conservatively, putting themselves at risk of outliving their money.

What's more, as home values have dropped and lending standards have tightened, it's become harder to obtain home-equity loans or other products, such as reverse mortgages, that can help ease the financial weight of retirement.

It's true that women have narrowed the gap in education and pay levels. Yet they're far more likely than men to interrupt their careers to care for children or parents and to retire earlier than men.

All of which helps explain why about 25% of women have no savings at all for retirement, according to a survey by Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Co. Institute. Women from the baby boom generation are reaching retirement age and ‘waking up to the fact that they'll need more money than they thought to live comfortably in their later years,’ a study by the Harvard Generations Policy Program found.

To view the full article, visit USA Today online.

To view The 2008 Retirement Confidence Survey, click here:

To view the major findings and overview of Baby Boomer Women: Secure Futures of Not? or to purchase a hard copy, click here:


“Abuse Victims Face Bias, Study Says”

The Washington Post
By Sylvia Moreno
May 8, 2008

Citing: No Vacancy: Housing Discrimination Against Survivors of Domestic Violence in the District of Columbia by The Equal Right Center.

A new study has found that victims of domestic abuse are likely to face discrimination when seeking rental housing in the District, despite a law prohibiting such bias.

The investigation was initiated by the Equal Rights Center, a Washington fair-housing advocacy group that has conducted civil-rights testing for 25 years. The study, done in January and February, covered 93 rental properties. It found that in 65 percent of the cases of domestic-abuse victims seeking housing, they were denied it outright or offered disadvantageous conditions to get an apartment.

The study was intended to calculate the extent of the problem one year after a law took effect in the District to protect victims of domestic violence from being denied rental housing, said Rabbi Bruce E. Kahn, the center's executive director. The legislation was designed, in part, to stem homelessness among women and children, who make up about half the city's homeless population. The leading cause of homelessness among women is domestic violence, advocates say.

[…] In calls to leasing agents of multifamily rental properties, one tester posed as an advocate seeking housing for a client who was a domestic violence victim. The second tester simply said she was looking for housing for herself. The domestic-violence victim advocate initiated the call; the second, or control, tester called the same leasing agent at least 30 minutes later but within the same day.

The center found that 65 percent of the test applicants seeking housing on behalf of domestic violence victims were denied housing or offered less advantageous terms and conditions than the control group. Of the 65 percent, 9 percent were denied housing and 56 percent were offered adverse terms or conditions.

To view the full article, visit The Washington Post online.

To view No Vacancy: Housing Discrimination Against Survivors of Domestic Violence in the District of Columbia, click here:


Research Reports_________________________________

Each selection includes a short excerpt from the research and a link to the report:

Statutory Routes to Workplace Flexibility in Cross-National Perspective

Ariane Hegewisch and Janet C. Gornick
Institute for Women’s Policy Research and
Center for WorkLife Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law
May 2008

“U.S. employers are faced with a dramatic increase in the share of older workers and a significant slowdown in labor force growth, even if demographic trends in the United States are less dramatic than in most other high-income countries. The growth in mothers’ labor force participation, a major source of additional labor in recent decades, has stalled and U.S. labor force participation for women has fallen behind in cross-national comparison. Demand for more diverse work arrangements is high, yet workplace change is lagging behind changing workforce demographics.

Flexible working statutes strengthen the ability of individual employees to find solutions that allow work-life reconciliation, but in a manner that takes account of employers’ business and operational requirements. Of 20 high-income coun­tries examined in comparison with the United States, 17 have statutes to help parents adjust working hours, 6 help with family care giving responsibilities for adults; 12 allow change in hours to facilitate lifelong learning; 11 support gradual retirement; and 5 countries have statutory arrangements open to all employees, irrespective of the reason for seeking different work arrangements. Evaluation of statutes supporting flexible working hours shows that the laws have caused few problems for employers, and that gender equality improves most where laws are interpreted broadly, not narrowly focused on part-time work.

Finally, the report discusses the U.S. legal framework regarding flexible work arrangements, and suggests that an explicit right to request flexible work can play an important role in preparing the U.S. economy for the future.”

To view the full reports, click here:

Women at Greater Risk of Economic Insecurity: A Gender Analysis of the Rockefeller Foundation’s American Worker Survey

Vicky Lovell, Heidi Hartmann, and Claudia Williams
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
May 2008

“In February 2007, the consulting firm Yankelovich fielded a survey to explore Americans’ sense of economic security and insecurity. Yankelovich analyzed data from this nationally representative survey to identify some of the key findings and to compare responses among whites, African Americans, and Hispanics, as well as among individuals with different levels of household income.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has taken a second look at these valuable data using a gender lens. We also compared responses of workers with those of non-workers. This second cut at the American Worker Survey (AWS) explores differences along several dimensions that are salient for understanding the American people and for crafting public policy supports: aggregate differences between women and men; comparisons of workers and those not in the labor force or not employed; and important diversity among women, including racial and ethnic identity, class, and level of education. This report presents a comprehensive analysis of the concerns of women and men across America about economic issues that affect them, their communities, and their families, both now and as we move into the future.”

To view the full report, click here:


Meaningful Investments in Pre-K: Estimating the Per-Child Costs of Quality Programs

Barbara Gault, Anne W. Mitchell, and Erica Williams with Judy Dey and Olga Sorokina
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
May 2008

“Policy makers around the country, seeing the far-reaching benefits of quality pre-kindergarten (pre-k) for three, four, and five-year-olds, are committing substantial resources to expanding these programs. They are beginning to recognize that public investments in early learning can be as important as those made in elementary education. Positive outcomes of pre-k investments are especially great when participating programs uphold high-quality standards, including high teacher-to-child ratios and small class sizes, and when they employ experienced, well-compensated teachers with good credentials.

Faced with an array of possible program design parameters, policy makers, school administrators and program directors need information on the costs of developing or expanding high-quality programs that will maximize the benefits of pre-k for children. This study estimates the financial investments needed by states to support pre-k in both public and private settings at differing levels of quality. The report also discusses, in conceptual terms, the benefits associated with different levels of investment in pre-k quality, provides examples of high-quality state programs, and recommends increased investments in pre-k along with investments in other components of our nation’s early care and education system.”

To view the full report, click here:


Working Families and Economic Insecurity in the States: The Role of Job Quality and Work Supports

Shawn Fremstad, Rebecca Ray, and Hye Jin Rho
Center for Economic and Policy Research
May 2008

“This report provides information on job quality and the economic security of working families in the states and the District of Columbia in the first half of the current decade. It also quantifies the important role that public work supports—benefits for workers such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care assistance—play in helping workers make ends meet. Using a new approach to measuring economic insecurity—one that improves on the relatively arbitrary federal poverty measure—we find that about one in five people in working families are economically insecure. Similarly, using a novel measure of job quality that takes both wages and benefits into account, we find that only about one in four jobs are ‘good jobs’ in the typical state.”

To view the full report, click here:


A Collective Responsibility, A Collective Work: Supporting the Path to Positive Life Outcomes for Youth in Economically Distressed Communities

Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt
Center for Law and Social Policy
May 2008

“This paper presents a picture of risk and challenge for youth in distressed communities and outlines how these communities can band together to create a continuum of supportive activities to bolster youth’s success in school and life.

As youth grow and develop, individualized support and exposure to new experiences has a significant impact on their life trajectory. Youth in economically distressed communities deserve to have access to these types of opportunities, which are much more readily available to their peers in other communities. This investment in youth can have a positive effect on academic success, future life earnings, family stability, and the livelihood of the community.

This paper may be helpful in guiding a community’s thinking about how to get started in creating a sustainable support system for all of its youth.”

To view the full paper, click here:

Helping Disconnected Single Mothers

Rebecca M. Blank and Brian Kovak
Center on Children and Families
for The Brookings Institute
May 2008

“Recent research has identified a growing number of low-income single mothers who tend to be very poor and face serious barriers to achieving economic self-sufficiency for their families. This group includes long-term welfare recipients as well as those who left welfare without stable employment, often referred to as ‘the disconnected.’

Those remaining on welfare are a heterogeneous group, including short- and long-term recipients whose low wages or limited hours do not disqualify them from TANF as well as families who use the program during short-term economic disruptions in their lives. However, about 40 to 45 percent of the caseload is made up of long-term recipients who are not working or who work very sporadically.

Compared to women who left welfare and are working, the disconnected tend to have more barriers to employment, with less education, younger children, higher rates of mental and physical health problems, higher rates of substance abuse, and a greater history of domestic violence.

This brief recommends the development of a Temporary and Partial Work Waiver Program (TPWWP) to assist disconnected single mothers who face multiple barriers to securing and sustaining employment. A TPWWP would link families to medical and economic supports to prevent extreme poverty while providing more intensive case work assistance to ease the severity and duration of employment barriers.”

To view the full brief, click here:

Child Care Centers, Child Care Vouchers, and Faith-Based Organizations

Monica Rohacek, Gina Adams, and Kathleen Snyder
The Urban Institute
May 2008

“Relatively little is known about the role of faith-based organizations in the delivery and support of child care services, or their role in the provision of services to children receiving publicly funded child care subsidies. Relying on a blend of quantitative and qualitative data, this report examines the relationship between child care centers and faith-based organizations in five counties across the United States. The data show that faith-based organizations play an important part in our child care system, though their role varies across and within counties. The data also show a substantial share of centers reporting affiliations with faith-based organizations are serving children whose fees are subsidized through child care vouchers, typically at similar rates as other centers. Further, interviews with experts and faith-based child care providers in these counties suggest there are few barriers to working with voucher programs that stem specifically from a center’s faith affiliation. Respondents did suggest, however, that some faith-based centers may be more likely than other centers to have certain characteristics that affect their willingness to care for children receiving vouchers. These include such factors as not having the administrative capacity to manage subsidy procedures, which can act as a barrier to participation, and whether a center has a mission or goal of serving low-income families, which can facilitate participation.”

The paper is one of several being produced as part of the Urban Institute’s Child Care Providers and the Child Care Voucher System project.

To view the full paper, click here:

Child Care Vouchers and Unregulated Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care

Kathleen Snyder, Sara Bernstein, and Gina Adams
The Urban Institute
May 2008

“Many families receiving publicly-funded child care vouchers choose legally unregulated family friend and neighbors (FFN) to care for their children while they work. This paper focuses on the experiences of these providers with the voucher system in selected communities. This paper discusses findings from interviews with subsidy agency staff and administrators in five sites, and focus groups with unregulated providers in three of these sites, in 2004. It examines the voucher subsidy policies developed for unregulated FFN caregivers, the perspectives of both agency staff and of providers with these policies, and the experiences of both staff and providers in working together.”

“Key findings from this study include the following seven points:

  • Family, friend, and neighbor caregivers in the voucher system are not a homogeneous group.
  • Entering the voucher system can be complicated for family, friend, and neighbor caregivers.
  • Family, friend, and neighbor providers have varied perspectives on the voucher payment.
  • While many family, friend, and neighbor caregivers are not interested in becoming licensed, at least some are.
  • Issues around level of payment are more complex for family, friend, and neighbor caregivers.
  • Once in the voucher system, family, friend, and neighbor caregivers care about many of the same issues as licensed providers.
  • Unlicensed family, friend, and neighbor caregivers can pose challenges for voucher agencies.”  ­­

The paper is one of several being produced as part of the Urban Institute's Child Care Providers and the Child Care Voucher System project.

To view the full paper, click here:

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