Informing policy. Inspiring change. Improving lives.
1200 18th Street NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20036
202 785-5100
iwpr@iwpr.org

February 2008 RNR

RNR Logo

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

February 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
1. “Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds”
2. "Your Golden Year for Social Security"
3. “In Gaps at School, Weighing Family Life”

Research Reports
1. An Overview of Abortion in the United States
2. The New Orleans Index: Tracking Recovery in the Region
3. I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions
4. Keeping Moms on the Job: The Impacts of Health Insurance and Child Care on Job Retention and Mobility among Low-Income Mothers
5. The Economic Security of Older Women and Men in the United States
6. The Impact
of Late-Career Health and Employment Shocks on Social Security and Other Wealth
7. Supporting Families, Nurturing Young Children: Early Head Start Programs in 2006
8. The Economic Mobility of Men and Women

 

Research Making News _____________________________

 

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

“Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds”

The Washington Post
By Shankar Vedantam 
January  20, 2008

Citing:

“Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies” by Alexandra Kalev, University of California, Berkeley; Frank Dobbin, Harvard University; and Erin Kelly, University of Minnesota

“Cracking the Glass Cages? Work Teams, Cross-Training and Management Diversity,” by Alexandra Kalev, University of California

“Most diversity training efforts at American companies are ineffective and even counterproductive in increasing the number of women and minorities in managerial positions, according to an analysis that turns decades of conventional wisdom, government policy and court rulings on their head.

A comprehensive review of 31 years of data from 830 mid-size to large U.S. workplaces found that the kind of diversity training exercises offered at most firms were followed by a 7.5 percent drop in the number of women in management. The number of black, female managers fell by 10 percent, and the number of black men in top positions fell by 12 percent. Similar effects were seen for Latinos and Asians.

The analysis did not find that all diversity training is useless. Rather, it showed that mandatory programs—often undertaken mainly with an eye to avoiding liability in discrimination lawsuits—were the problem. When diversity training is voluntary and undertaken to advance a company's business goals, it was associated with increased diversity in management.

[...] Today, U.S. businesses spend from $200 million to $300 million a year on diversity training, but the new study is one of the first attempts to systematically analyze its impact. What it found is that programs work best when they are voluntary and focus on specific organizational skills, such as establishing mentoring relationships and giving women and minorities a chance to prove their worth in high-profile roles.

‘When attendance is voluntary, diversity training is followed by an increase in managerial diversity,’ said Alexandra Kalev, a sociologist at the University of Arizona, who led the research. ‘Most employers, however, force their managers and workers to go through training, and this is the least effective option in terms of increasing diversity. . . . Forcing people to go through training creates a backlash against diversity.’

[...] Kalev's latest research, which is not yet published, is the second comprehensive analysis that she and her colleagues have done. Her initial study, published in 2006 in the American Sociological Review when she was at the University of California at Berkeley, was the first systematic assessment of diversity training. It found that such training had minimal benefits.
Her new work sought to tease apart what works from what does not. Both studies compared reports that companies filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about the number of women and people of color in management positions with survey data about whether the firms offered diversity training.”

For the full article, go to The Washington Post online. To view a copy of the 2006 study (originally published in the American Sociological Review) "Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies," click here: http://rwj.berkeley.edu/akalev/papers/Kalev-Dobbin-Kelly-2006.pdf

To view a draft copy of Alexandra Kalev’s most recent, unpublished study, “Cracking the Glass Cages? Work Teams, Cross-Training and Management Diversity,” click here: http://rwj.berkeley.edu/akalev/papers/Kalev-teams-Feb06.pdf

 

“Your Golden Year for Social Security”

The Washington Post
By Martha M. Hamilton
December 30, 2007

Citing:

“Why Companies are Freezing Their Pensions?” by Alicia H. Munnell and Mauricio Soto of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

“Why Do Married Men Claim Social Security Benefits So Early?  Ignorance or Caddishness?” by Steven A. Sass, Wei Sun, and Anthony Webb of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

“Next year the first wave of baby boomers turns 62, making them eligible to claim Social Security benefits—and many of them will.

The temptation seems hard to resist. In 2005, 53.3 percent of all women and 48.6 percent of men opted to take the money as soon as they could.

But should they?

The decision, it turns out, is complicated by both gender and marital status. Your timing can have a major bearing on your finances in retirement.
If a boomer grabs benefits at age 62, the Social Security check will be smaller than it would be later. But it's money in hand.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has crunched the numbers. Its research shows that many single women do better to wait until age 70, while married women may want to claim benefits right away. Married men, meanwhile, may want to resist the temptation to take benefits early because waiting would  provide their widows with more money in old age.


[...]Women tend to live longer than men, so they are more likely to beat the clock and benefit from higher payments taken later. And that's what single women should do if they can afford to. As with single men, however, how much past 62 they want to wait may be influenced by both family medical history and how long they expect to keep working.

For married women, the equation is more complicated. A married woman may choose whether to draw benefits based on her own earnings or her husband's. If the wife's earnings are lower than her husband's, she can start receiving benefits at age 62 based on those earnings. If she does, she won't be stuck with reduced benefits for life, as a single woman would, according to a paper by Alicia H. Munnell and Mauricio Soto of the Center for Retirement Research. That's because she may collect benefits based on her husband's earnings as a widow. When her husband dies, she qualifies for a survivor benefit equal to 100 percent of her husband's higher benefit.

For the best result, the husband has to do his part. That means he ought to postpone drawing his benefits.

‘As many elderly widows have very low incomes, early claiming by married men is a major social problem,’ said researchers Steven A. Sass, Wei Sun and Anthony Webb of the Center for Retirement Research who produced a paper in October titled: ‘Why Do Married Men Claim Social Security Benefits So Early? Ignorance or Caddishness?’

The best formula for households on average, they found, was for the husband to claim at 66 and the wife at 62. For women who survive to an advanced age, a husband's holding off on benefits can mean the difference between poverty or not.

For the full article, go to The Washington Post online.

To view the paper, “Why Companies are Freezing Their Pensions?,” click here: http://crr.bc.edu/images/stories/Working_Papers/wp_2007-22.pdf

To view the paper, “Why Do Married Men Claim Social Security Benefits So Early?  Ignorance or Caddishness?,” click here: http://crr.bc.edu/images/stories/Working_Papers/wp_2007-17.pdf

 

“In Gaps at School, Weighing Family Life”

The New York Times
By Michael Winerip
December 9, 2007

Citing:

“The Family: America’s Smallest School” by Paul E. Barton and Richard J. Coley of the Educational Testing Service

“The federal No Child Left Behind law of 2002 rates schools based on how students perform on state standardized tests, and if too many children score poorly, the school is judged as failing.
But how much is really the school's fault?

A new study by  the Educational Testing Service—which develops and administers more than 50 million standardized tests annually, including the SAT—concludes that an awful lot of those low scores can be explained by factors that have nothing to do with schools. The study, ‘The Family: America's Smallest School,’ suggests that a lot of the failure has to do with what takes place in the home, the level of poverty and government's inadequate support for programs that could make a difference, like high-quality day care and paid maternity leave.


The E.T.S. researchers took four variables that are beyond the control of schools: The percentage of children living with one parent; the percentage of eighth graders absent from school at least three times a month; the percentage of children 5 or younger whose parents read to them daily, and the percentage of eighth graders who watch five or more hours of TV a day. Using just those four variables, the researchers were able to predict each state's results on the federal eighth-grade reading test with impressive accuracy.

‘Together, these four factors account for about two-thirds of the large differences among states,’ the report said. In other words, the states that had the lowest test scores tended to be those that had the highest percentages of children from single-parent families, eighth graders watching lots of TV and eighth graders absent a lot, and the lowest percentages of young children being read to regularly, regardless of what was going on in their schools.

Which gets to the heart of the report: by the time these children start school at age 5, they are far behind, and tend to stay behind all through high school.  There is no evidence that the gap is being closed.

[...]  The report describes how much we rely on child care from an early age—half of 2-year-olds are in some kind of nonparental care—and how much worse that care is for poor and minority children. According to the report, poor children are twice as likely to be in low quality care as middle and upper class  children, black children more than twice as likely as white children. “

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

To view “The Family: America’s Smallest School,” click here: http://www.ets.org/Media/Education_Topics/pdf/5678_PERCReport_School.pdf

[ top ]

Research Reports _________________________________

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

An Overview of Abortion in the United States

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health and the Guttmacher Institute
January 2008

This slide presentation presents the facts on abortion in the United States, developed by the Guttmacher Institute and Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

“Objectives: provide an overview of unintended pregnancy and abortion in the United States; review the incidence of pregnancy and abortion; identify who has abortions, why and when in pregnancy; review the safety of abortion; discuss provision of and access to abortion services; provide a comparative international perspective on abortion.”

To view the full presentation, click here: http://www.guttmacher.org/presentations/abort_slides.pdf

To view state-by-state presentations on trends in abortion, click here: http://www.guttmacher.org/presentations/state_ab_pt.html

The New Orleans Index: Tracking Recovery in the Region

Amy Liu
The Brookings Institution and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center
January 2008

“As 2008 begins and Governor Jindal takes office, greater New Orleans is making economic strides, but slowing population recovery could jeopardize them. The ability to attract and retain skilled and entry level workers to bolster key industries remains dependent upon federal, state, and local leaders working closely together to deliver on housing, infrastructure, and quality public services.

This quarter’s New Orleans Index finds that jobs continue to grow in the region and unemployment rates hit a three-year low. But extreme worker shortages exist for skilled recovery-related jobs, such as architecture and home repairs, and in key hospitality-related occupations such as cooks and restaurant servers. This shortage in part reflects the notable slowdown in the region’s population recovery, the first in nearly two years.”

To view the Executive Summary, click here: http://www.gnocdc.org/NOLAIndex/ESNOLAIndex.pdf

To view the full report, click here: http://www.gnocdc.org/NOLAIndex/NOLAIndex.pdf

I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions

Amy Caiazza
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
December 2007

“This report is designed to remedy women’s lower levels of representation in leadership by promoting women’s activism within unions across the country at the local, state, regional, and national levels.  Women’s increased activism can lead to higher levels of leadership as they gain the skills, confidence, and networks to embrace positions of authority and break down obstacles to their advancement in union work.”

To view the full report, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/I917.pdf

To order the report, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/store/Details.cfm?ProdID=195&category=15

Keeping Moms on the Job: The Impacts of Health Insurance and Child Care on Job Retention and Mobility among Low-Income Mother

Sunhwa Lee
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
December 2007

“[...]this report examines factors related to job retention and labor market advancement among low-wage workers, and suggests effective policy strategies for improving their labor market outcomes. Using data from a national longitudinal survey, The Survey of Income and Program Participation, the report assesses the importance of various factors that facilitate or hinder job retention among low-income mothers. It also investigates what happens when they leave a job: are they moving to a better job, and if so, what helps or hinders their move to a better-paying job? Since a majority of welfare leavers and low-wage workers are women, particularly single mothers, the study pays special attention to work supports that can be important for job stability among working mothers, such as employer-provided health insurance, child care subsidies, and child care arrangements. Other major factors considered in the study are: personal/family characteristics (race/ethnicity, education, marital status, health status, presence of young children, etc.) and job characteristics (full-time status, occupation, hourly wages, union membership, etc.).”

To view the full report, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/C360KeepingMoms.pdf

To order the report, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/store/Details.cfm?ProdID=203&category=

The Economic Security of Older Women and Men in the United States

By Tori Finkle, Heidi Hartmann, and Sunhwa Lee
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
December 2007

“This briefing paper summarizes findings from a larger study on the income sources, marital patterns, and living arrangements of older Americans across racial and ethnic groups conducted by Sunhwa Lee, “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Women’s Retirement Security,” forthcoming in Women in the Retirement Years: New Sources of Diversity, edited by Heidi Hartmann and Sunhwa Lee. The empirical analysis is based on data from the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, 2002-2005 Annual Social and Economic Supplements (formerly Annual Demographic March Supplements), covering the calendar years 2001-2004. Several years of the Annual Supplement are merged to secure sufficient numbers of women and men from different racial and ethnic groups for analysis. The study focuses on those aged 65 and older who are non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic African Americans, Hispanics (of any race), and Asian Americans (Native Americans are not analyzed separately due to their small numbers).”

To view the full briefing paper, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/BPD480.pdf

To order the briefing paper, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/store/Details.cfm?ProdID=196&category=

The Impact of Late-Career Health and Employment Shocks on Social Security and Other Wealth

Richard W. Johnson, Gordon Mermin, and Dan Murphy
The Urban Institute
November 2007

“About one-quarter of workers age 51 to 55 in 1992 developed health-related work limitations and about one-fifth were laid off from their jobs before age 62. Although late-career health and employment shocks often derail retirement savings plans, Social Security’s disability insurance, spouse and survivor benefits, and progressive benefit formula provide important protections. In fact, health shocks increase Social Security’s lifetime value, primarily because the system’s disability insurance allows some disabled workers to collect benefits before age 62. However, if the system’s disability insurance program did not exist, the onset of health-related work limitations would substantially reduce Social Security wealth.”

To view the full paper, click here: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411591_impact_social_security.pdf

Supporting Families, Nurturing Young Children: Early Head Start Programs in 2006

Elizabeth Hoffman and Danielle Ewen
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
December 2007

“This [policy] brief provides information on Early Head Start programs, staff, and participants; including young children, pregnant women, and their families.  It updates a similar brief that CLASP published analyzing data from 2003-2004. The data in this brief come from the 2005-2006 Program Information Reports (PIR), which each Early Head Start grantee is required to submit to HHS [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] annually.

To view the full policy brief, click here: http://www.clasp.org/publications/ehs_brief9.pdf

This is the ninth brief in a series of CLASP analyses of Head Start Program Information Report data.  All are available at http://childcareandearlyed.clasp.org.

 

The Economic Mobility of Men and Women

Julia B. Isaacs
The Brookings Institute
November 2007

“This report describes and compares men and women’s economic success and income mobility across the generations: How have men and women fared economically over the past few decades? How do their incomes compare with incomes of their own parents? Do parents pass along their economic advantage or disadvantage to their sons and daughters in the same way?

To address these questions, the analysis focuses on a sample of 1,271 women and 1,096 men whose family incomes have been monitored from childhood to adulthood through the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).”

To view the full report, click here: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/papers/2007/11_menwomen_isaacs/11_menwomen_isaacs.pdf

 

 

[ top ]

Go to Home Page