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Fall 2007 RNR

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

Fall 2007

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

Research Making News ________________________________________________

 

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

Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare

The New York Times
By Elisabeth Rosenthal
October 11, 2007

“A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it.
Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women's deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, and there are 31 abortions for every 100 live births, the study said. 
The results of the study, a collaboration between scientists from the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York, a reproductive rights group, are being published Friday in the journal Lancet.
[… ] The data also suggested that the best way to reduce abortion rates was not to make abortion illegal but to make contraception more widely available, said Sharon Camp, chief executive of the Guttmacher Institute.
[…] The study indicated that about 20 million abortions that would be considered unsafe are performed each year and that 67,000 women die as a result of complications from those abortions, most in countries where abortion is illegal.
[…]  Worldwide, the annual number of abortions appeared to have declined between 1995, the last year such a broad study was conducted, and 2003, from an estimated 46 million to 42 million, the study concluded. The 1995 study, by the Guttmacher Institute, had far less data on countries where abortion was illegal.”

 

For the full article, go to The New York Times online.

For the Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide, by the Guttmacher Institute, click here: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html

 

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College Women Still Face Many Obstacles in Reaching Their Full Potential

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Linda J. Sax
September 28, 2007

“I have had the opportunity to examine shifts in college enrollment through the data collected by the nationwide Freshman Survey, housed at The Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles. Since 1966 the survey has annually polled hundreds of thousands of entering college students on a variety of topics, such as their family and academic backgrounds, interest in certain fields, intellectual and social self-confidence, political attitudes, and expectations for college and life after graduation. I have found that although women have become much more likely to attend college, they still encounter many old challenges and also face some new obstacles.
Despite earning better grades and being more likely to complete a college degree than men, women evaluate themselves lower than men do on nearly every assessment of their academic abilities. When asked to rate their intellectual self-confidence compared to that of their peers, for example, nearly two-thirds of male first-year college students put themselves in the top two categories -- "above average" or "highest 10 percent" -- compared to less than half of the women. Similarly, women rate their mathematical abilities significantly lower than do men.
[…] Women enter college with higher levels of stress and depression, and with lower ratings of their own emotional and physical health, and those gender differences persist over four years of college. The gaps are partly a function of differences in how women and men choose to spend their time. Men in college spend more time than women do playing sports, partying, watching television, and playing video games. Women spend more time than men do studying, meeting with instructors, joining student groups, doing volunteer work, and performing household or family chores.
In other words, men spend more time on activities that can be considered ways to relieve stress, while women devote themselves to a range of responsibilities that tend to induce stress, at least as they attempt to balance them all.
[…] Women's financial situation as they enter college is an obvious cause of stress, but it naturally affects more than their emotional health. Although median family incomes for college students are on the rise for both genders, the gap between men's and women's family income has increased over the past 40 years.”

For the full article, go to The Chronicle of Higher Education online.

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey can be purchased from The Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles online.

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A Reversal in the Index of Happy

The New York Times
By David Leonhardt
September 26, 2007

“Last year, a team of researchers added a novel twist to something known as a time-use survey. Instead of simply asking people what they had done over the course of their day, as pollsters have been doing since the 1960s, the researchers also asked how people felt during each activity. Were they happy? Interested? Tired? Stressed? 
[…] Two new research papers, using very different methods, have both come to this conclusion. Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, economists at the University of Pennsylvania (and a couple), have looked at the traditional happiness data, in which people are simply asked how satisfied they are with their overall lives. In the early 1970s, women reported being slightly happier than men. Today, the two have switched places.
[…] Mr. Krueger, analyzing time-use studies over the last four decades, has found an even starker pattern. Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They now work less and relax more.
Over the same span, women have replaced housework with paid work -- and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don't enjoy as in the past. Forty years ago, a typical woman spent about 23 hours  a week in an activity considered unpleasant, or 40 more minutes than a typical man. Today, with men working less, the gap is 90 minutes.
[…] But researchers who have looked at time-use data say the second-shift theory misses an important detail. Women are not actually working more than they were 30 or 40 years ago. They are instead doing different kinds of work. They're spending more time on paid work and less on cleaning and cooking.
What has changed—and what seems to be the most likely explanation for the happiness trends—is that women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did (including helping their aging parents). They can't possibly get it all done, and many end up feeling as if they are somehow falling short.”

To read the full article, go to The New York Times online.

For the report, Paradox of declining female happiness, by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, click here: http://bpp.wharton.upenn.edu/betseys/papers/Paradox%20of%20declining%20female%20happiness.pdf

 

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A Wife's Silence isn't Golden in Marital Spats

The Los Angeles Times
By Denise Gellene
September 24, 2007

“Married women who keep silent during marital disputes have a greater chance of dying from heart disease and other conditions than women who speak their minds, new research shows.
But the same can't be said of married men who keep disagreements to themselves. They had the same life expectancy during the 10-year study as men who spoke out.
The research, which spanned from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, was the latest to show that how couples fight affects not only their relationship but their health.
[…] Recently, researchers studying married couples have identified certain behaviors that appear to worsen health risks, particularly for women.”

For the full article, go to The Los Angeles Times online.

To purchase this study, entitled Marital Status, Marital Strain, and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease or Total Mortality: The Framingham Offspring Study, by Elaine D. Eaker, ScD; Lisa M. Sullivan, PhD; Margaret Kelly-Hayes, EdD, RN; Ralph B. D’Agostino, Sr, PhD; and Emelia J. Benjamin, MD, ScM—From the Eaker Epidemiology Enterprises, LLC (E.D.E.), Gaithersburg, Maryland; Department of Mathematics and Statistics (L.M.S., R.B.D.), Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; Departments of Neurology (M.K.-H.), and Cardiology (E.J.B.), Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts; and The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institutes’ Framingham Heart Study (L.M.S., M.K.-H., R.B.D., E.J.B.), Framingham, Massachusetts, click here:  http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/abstract/69/6/509

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Research Reports _________________________________

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

Title I and Early Childhood Programs: A Look at Investments in the NCLB Era

Danielle Ewen and Hannah Matthews
Center for Law and Social Policy
October 2007

“This paper explores the wide range of ways in which school districts are using Title I funds
for early education through kindergarten and examines how the implementation of  NCLB [No Child Left Behind Act] has impacted those investments. It also makes recommendations for LEAs [local educational agencies] interested in creating Title I-funded early education programs or thinking about how to sustain these types of investments in the face of policy and funding challenges.”

http://www.clasp.org/publications/ccee_paper2.pdf

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Medicaid’s Role in Family Planning

Rachel Benson Gold and Cory Richards
Guttmacher Institute
Usha R. Ranji and Alina Salganicoff
Kaiser Family Foundation
October 2007

“This Issue Brief reviews the role of Medicaid in financing and promoting access to family planning services for low-income women.  Specifically, it examines the extent to which women of reproductive age rely on Medicaid for their care; the special status and range of services covered under the rubric of family planning; reviews the different approaches and the cost-effectiveness of the 26 state-initiated Medicaid family planning expansions as well as their impact in reducing unintended pregnancies and births, as well as abortions; and, highlights recent changes in Medicaid policy, particularly passage of the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) and their potential effects on provision of family planning services.”
http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/IB_medicaidFP.pdf

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State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed

Karen Schulman and Helen Blank
National Women’s Law Center
September 2007

“The data in this report were collected by the National Women’s Law Center from state child care administrators in the fifty states and the District of Columbia [.... The Center concluded that] a number of states made modest improvements in their child care assistance policies between February 2006 and February 2007, and several states had implemented, or planned to implement, further improvements later in 2007. However, given continuing gaps in policies on income eligibility limits, waiting lists, copayments, and reimbursement rates, states have many additional steps to take in order to provide low-income parents and their children the support they need.”
http://www.nwlc.org/pdf/StateChildCareAssistancePoliciesReport07Web.pdf

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Meeting Responsibilities at Work and Home: Public and Private Supports

Pamela Winston
The Urban Institute
September 2007

“This paper summarizes what is known about the need for—and availability of—work-family benefits among working families broadly and low-income working families in particular. It describes employer experiences with many of these benefits and highlights a number of private and public approaches to providing greater support. Finally, it poses several questions to spur discussion about possible ways to move forward.”

http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411537_meeting_responsibilities.pdf

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Opportunity at Work: Improving Job Quality

Elizabeth Lower-Basch
Center for Law and Social Policy
September 2007

“In this paper, the Center for Law and Social Policy describes the state of job quality in the U.S. today and makes the case that improving job quality is a critical part of the agenda for reducing poverty, supporting families, rewarding effort, and expanding opportunity for all.”

http://www.clasp.org/publications/oaw_paper1_full.pdf

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Blueprint for Gulf Renewal: The Katrina Crisis and a Community Agenda for Action

Chris Kromm and Sue Sturgis
The Institute for Southern Studies
August/September 2007

“In preparing Blueprint for Gulf Renewal, the Institute analyzed reams of government reports, media coverage, and statistical indicators. [They] also interviewed 40 community leaders, from New Orleans to Biloxi, Mississippi, about the challenges they face, and their message to the nation.

The statistics and the voices of the Gulf Coast leaders tell the same story: The Katrina recovery is failing.

[…] For this report [the Institute] also conducted an in-depth analysis of the      latest data available on federal spending for the Gulf Coast.”

http://www.southernstudies.org/gulfblueprint.pdf

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Unions and Upward Mobility for Low-Wage Workers

John Schmitt, Margy Waller, Shawn Fremstad, and Ben Zipperer
Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Inclusion
August 2007

“This paper examines the impact of unionization on the pay and benefits in 15 important low-wage occupations.  The data suggest that even after controlling for differences between union and non-union workers—including such factors as age and education level—unionization substantially improves the pay and benefits offered in what are otherwise low-paying occupations.”

http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/UnionsandUpwardMobility.pdf

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