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December 2009 RNR

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

December 2009

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

Research Making News
1. “Survey Finds Deep Shift in the Makeup of Unionsy”
2. “Is Motherhood Keeping Good Scientists Down? How to Fix Research’s ‘Mommy Gap’”
3. “Economy Is Forcing Young Adults Back Home in Big Numbers, Survey Finds”

Research Reports
1. The Need for Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees
2.State Medicaid Coverage of Family Planning Services: Summary of State Survey Findings
3.State Medicaid of Perinatal Services: Summary of State Survey Findings
4. Work Ability and the Social Insurance Safety Net In the Years Prior to Retirement

Research Making News

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

1. “Survey Finds Deep Shift in the Makeup of Unions ”

By Steven Greenhouse
New York Times
November 10, 2009

Citing:  The Changing Face of Labor: 1983-2008 by John Schmitt and Kris Warner, Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“A study has found that just one in 10 union members is in manufacturing, while women account for more than 45 percent of the unionized work force.

The study, by the Center for Economic Policy Research, a Washington-based group, found that union membership is far less blue-collar and factory-based than in labor’s heyday, when the United Automobile Workers and the United Steelworkers dominated. […]

The study found that white men represent just 38 percent of all union members and that women will come to represent more than half of all union members during the next decade. About 48.9 percent of union members are in the public sector, up from 34 percent in 1983. About 61 percent of unionized women are in the public sector, compared to 38 percent for men.


Elizabeth Shuler, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s new secretary treasurer, said she found the study encouraging because of the increased female membership in unions. ‘It shows that the diversity initiatives we’ve been pushing have made a difference,’ she said. ‘Unions have been pushing hard to open their doors.’


[…] The study found that 38 percent of union members had a four-year college degree or more, up from 20 percent in 1983. Just under half of female union members (49.4 percent) have at least a four-year degree, compared with 27.7 percent for male union members.

[…] 12.2 percent of the unionized work force, up from 5.8 percent in 1983. Immigrants represent 12.6 percent of union members, up from 8.4 percent in 1994. […]

Blacks represent 13 percent of the unionized work force, which has remained relatively steady over the last quarter-century. During that time, the unionization rate for blacks has fallen steeply, to 15.5 percent, from 31.7 percent in 1983.[…]

The percentage of men in unions has dropped sharply, to 14.5 percent in 2008, from 27.7 percent in 1983, while the percentage for women dropped more slowly, to 13 percent last year, from 18 percent in 1983. For the work force over all, the percentage of workers in unions dropped to 12.4 percent last year, from 20.1 percent in 1983.”

To read the full article, click here.  To download a free copy of the report click here and to learn more about the Center for Economic and Policy Research, visit their website.

2. “Is Motherhood Keeping Good Scientists Down? How to Fix Research’s ‘Mommy Gap’”

By Jeneen Interlandi
Newsweek
November 19, 2009

Citing:  Staying Competitive: Patching America’s Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences by Marc Goulden, Karie Frasch, and Mary Ann Mason, Center for American Progress.

“[…] Last week, the Center for American Progress (CAP) reported that family obligations (read: child rearing) are still pushing young female researchers out of science. The findings build on a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report from earlier this year that also dissected the biases against women in science, but concluded that much progress was being made. Taken together, the two studies suggest that the stumbling block for women researchers is not being a woman but being a mother.


The NAS study found that although women are still underrepresented in the applicant pool for faculty positions in math, science, and engineering, women who do apply are hired at rates equal to or higher than men.[...] But according to the CAP study, which compared not only women to men, but parents to those without children, married women with children were 35 percent less likely to secure a tenure-track position than married men with children, and 33 percent less likely to do so than single women without children.

[…] The CAP recommends providing financial support to labs to offset the productivity loss when a scientist takes family leave, and providing women who are pregnant or have newborns with special funds to hire a technician to help them out in the lab.

And the NAS and others have endorsed "stopping the tenure clock" for faculty members who want to start families. Tenure-track scientists have a certain number of years to establish themselves—which means publishing as many influential papers in as many prestigious journals as possible, usually over the first decade of their employment. Stopping the clock means adding an extra year or two to that time frame to allow for a less productive year after the birth of a child. [...]

[…] Some suggestions: Pay female scientists as much as their male counterparts, so that when scientist couples plan for a family, the woman isn’t automatically compelled to ditch her career simply because she earns less and he earns more. Have paternity leave on par with maternity leave; if you’re going to stop the tenure clock for child rearing, extend that offer to new fathers as well as new mothers.[…]”

To read the full article, click here.  To download a copy of the report, click here. To learn more about the Center for American Progress, visit their website.

3. “Economy is Forcing Young Adults Back Home in Big Numbers, Survey Finds”

By Sam Roberts
New York Times
November 24, 2009

Citing:  Home for the Holidays…And Every Other Day: Recession Brings Many Young People Back to the Nest by the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project

“For more young adults, there is no place like home for the holidays, and for the rest of the year, too. Ten percent of adults younger than 35 told the Pew Research Center that they had moved back in with their parents because of the recession.


They also blamed the economy for other lifestyle decisions. Twelve percent had gotten a roommate to share expenses. Fifteen percent said they had postponed getting married, and 14 percent said they had delayed having a baby.

In the Pew study, 13 percent of parents with grown children said one of their adult sons or daughters had moved back home in the past year. According to Pew, of all grown children who lived with their parents, 2 in 10 were full-time students, one-quarter were unemployed and about one-third said they had lived on their own before returning home.

According to the census, 56 percent of men 18 to 24 years old and 48 percent of women were either still under the same roof as their parents or had moved back home.


A smaller share of 16-to-24-year-olds — 46 percent — is currently employed than at any time since the government began collecting that data in 1948.

Meanwhile, the portion of adults 18 to 29 who lived alone declined to 7.3 percent in 2009 from 7.9 percent in 2007, according to the Current Population Survey. A decline that big was recorded only twice before over three decades, in the early 1980s and the early 1990s during or after recessions.

To read the full article, click here.  To download a free copy of the report, click here. To learn more about the Pew Research Center, visit their website.


Research Reports

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

1. The Need for Paid Parental Leave For Federal Employees: Adapting to a Changing Workforce

By Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Allison Suppan Helmuth, and Robin Farabee-Siers
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
November 2009

“The federal government, unlike many large private employers, does not provide paid parental leave to its employees. The federal government is the largest single employer in the United States, but federal employees are significantly older and better educated than private sector workers and have already begun retiring at an increasing rate. The departure of many baby boomers from the federal workforce will require the government to recruit and retain younger workers, who expect more job flexibility than workers from previous generations. The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act would provide four weeks of paid leave for federal workers who adopt, foster, or have a child. This report discusses the role that providing paid parental leave to federal employees could play in addressing federal workforce challenges. Providing paid parental leave for federal workers is expected to improve recruitment and retention of young workers, preventing $50 million per year in costs associated with employee turnover.”

To download a free PDF of the complete report, click here. To learn more about the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, visit our website.

2. State Medicaid Coverage of Family Planning Services: Summary of State Survey Findings

By Usha Ranji, M.S., and Alina Salganicoff, Ph.D.
Kaiser Family Foundation
November 2009

“Over the past two decades, Medicaid has played a central and growing role in financing and providing access to family planning services for low-income women. Today, Medicaid is the single largest source of public dollars supporting family planning services and supplies nationwide. About two-thirds of women covered by Medicaid are of childbearing age and for this group of women, access to family planning services fills a key health need. This brief outlines selected findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation/ George Washington University State Survey of Reproductive Health Services Under Medicaid, and examines coverage of family planning services in states across the nation.”

To access a free PDF of the full research brief, click here.  To learn more about the Kaiser Family Foundation, visit their website.

3. State Medicaid Coverage of Perinatal Services: Summary of State Survey Findings

By Usha Ranji, M.S., and Alina Salganicoff, Ph.D.
Kaiser Family Foundation
November 2009

“Over the past two decades, Medicaid has evolved into the nation’s largest payor of maternity related services. Medicaid, the nation's principal safety-net health insurance program, covers health and long-term care services for 59 million low-income Americans, including children and parents, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and seniors. Today, nearly two-thirds of adult women covered by Medicaid are of childbearing age. Coverage of maternity-related care for low-income women is a central function of the Medicaid program, and the range and scope of perinatal services that Medicaid covers has major implications for maternal health and birth outcomes. Today, Medicaid pays for more than four in ten births nationwide, and in several states, covers more than half of total births. The Medicaid program is jointly financed between the federal and state governments. Each state administers its own program and determines which specific benefits will be covered under broad federal guidelines. There is considerable state to state variation in eligibility policy and scope of coverage. This brief highlights selected findings from the 2007/2008 Kaiser Family Foundation/George Washington University State Survey of Reproductive Health Services Under Medicaid, and examines coverage of perinatal services in states across the nation.”

To download a free PDF of the full research brief, click here.  To learn more about the Kaiser Family Foundation, visit their website.

4. Work Ability and the Social Safety Net in the Years Prior to Retirement

By Richard W. Johnson, Melissa M. Favreault, and Corina Mommaerts
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
November 2009

“A patchwork of public programs—primarily Social Security Disability Insurance (DI), workers’ compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and veterans’ benefits— provides income supports to people unable to work. Yet, questions persist about the effectiveness of these programs. This report examines the economic consequences of disability for a sample of Americans observed from age 51 to 64. The results underscore the precarious financial state for most people approaching traditional retirement age with disabilities. Disability rates roughly double from age 55 to 64. Fewer than half who meet our disability criteria ever receive disability benefits in their fifties or early sixties. Benefit receipt rates are much higher among those with the most severe disabilities, suggesting that benefits are targeted to those least able to work. However, even when models control for disability severity, women are less likely than men to receive benefits. Those with cancer and heart problem diagnoses are more likely to receive DI, suggesting that DI favors workers with certain medical diagnoses. Poverty rates for people who collect disability benefits in their fifties and early sixties more than triple following benefit receipt.”

To read the full report, click here.  To learn more about the Center for Retirement Research, visit their website.

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