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January 2011 RNR

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

January 2011

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. “Breast-feeding opportunities will increase under healthcare reform”
2. “Study Finds Setbacks in Women’s Health”
3. "Employed but Struggling: Report Finds 1 in 3 Working Families Near Poverty"
4. "Report: Women still face pay gap, other hurdles in the workforce"
5. "Birthrate among teens hits record low"

Research Reports
1. Student Parents Face Significant Challenges to Postsecondary Success
2. Separate and Unequal: The Hyde Amendment and Women of Color
3. Child Poverty During the Great Recession: Predicting State Child Poverty Rates for 2010
4. A Profile of Disconnected Young Adults in 2010
5. Recessions, Wealth Destruction, and the Timing of Retirement

Research Making News

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

1. Breast-feeding opportunities will increase under healthcare reform”

By Shari Roan
Los Angeles Times
December 17, 2010

Citing: Better Health for Mothers and Children: Breastfeeding Accommodations under the Affordable Care Act by Robert Drago, PhD, Jeffrey Hayes, PhD, and Youngmin Yi, Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

“Breast-feeding at work should become a lot easier as employers adhere to a provision of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. In a report released Friday, women's health advocates estimate that the provision will increase the breast-feeding rate among U.S. women, a statistic that now ranks well below other developed nations.

Under the new law, employers must provide nursing breaks and a private, sanitary place where mothers of children younger than one who work as nonexempt employees can express breast milk. Salaried women are expected to benefit, as well. Companies with fewer than 50 workers may be exempt from the law. Still, the law should benefit the women who may find it hardest to continue to breast-feed after returning to work: lower-income and lower-educated women. Overall, the provisions in the law cover three-fifths of employed women living in families with incomes less than $50,000 a year.

"It is unfair that the health benefits of breastfeeding have been disproportionately available to mothers and children of high socioeconomic status," the authors of the report, from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, wrote. "The ACA breastfeeding protections, as well as the additional policies discussed in this report, can help to rectify this situation, and make breastfeeding less a matter of privilege and opportunity and more a matter of unconstrained individual choice for new mothers."

Many women return to work within weeks of childbirth, the report notes. However, multiple medical studies suggest that babies should be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life.”

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

2. “Study Finds Setbacks in Women’s Health”

By Roni Caryn Rabin
New York Times
December 9, 2010

Citing: Making the Grade on Women’s Health: A National and State by State Report Card by the National Women’s Law Center and the Oregon Health and Science University.

More women are binge drinking, saying they downed five or more drinks at a single occasion in the past month, and fewer are being screened for cervical cancer. Over all, more women are obese, diabetic and hypertensive than just a few years ago, and more are testing positive for chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease linked to infertility.
The latest health report card for women, issued on Thursday by the National Women’s Law Center and Oregon Health and Science University, paints a dismal picture, giving the United States an overall general grade of Unsatisfactory, with many F’s on specific goals set by the government’s Healthy People 2010 initiative. […]

While screening rates for colorectal cancer and high cholesterol have improved since the last report card was issued in 2007, and fewer women are smoking and dying of stroke or coronary heart disease, obesity continues to be a growing problem, with 26.4 percent of women considered obese, up from 24 percent in 2007. The objective of Healthy People 2010 is to reduce that rate to 15 percent. […]

The report card is the fifth issued since 2000, and it grades and ranks states and the District of Columbia on 26 health-status indicators, depending on how close they came to achieving goals set by the United States Department of Health and Human Services […].

Judy Waxman, vice president of health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center, said the new health care overhaul law had the potential to sharply improve women’s health through its myriad provisions […]. The sharp increase in binge drinking, a behavior not commonly associated with women, was one of the report’s surprises: More than one in 10 women reported having had five or more drinks on at least one occasion in the last month, up from 6.7 percent in the 2007 report. […]

She was at a loss to explain the drop in cervical cancer screening: 78 percent of women ages 18 to 64 had a pap smear in the last three years, down from 84.8 percent in 2007. The Healthy People 2010 goal is 90 percent. […]”

To read the full article, click here. To access the full report card, click here. To learn more about the National Women’s Law Center, visit their website. To learn more about the Oregon Health and Science University, visit their website.

3. “Employed but Struggling: Report Finds 1 in 3 Working Families Near Poverty”

By William Alden
The Huffington Post
December 21, 2010

Citing: Great Recession Hit Hard at America’s Working Poor: Nearly 1 in 3 Working Families in United States Are Low-Income by Brandon Roberts, Deborah Povich, and Mark Mather, Working Poor Families Project.

“[…] In the aftermath of the worst economic downturn since the Depression, much attention has been focused on the 15 million people who are officially out of work, yet even among those who have jobs, livelihoods and living standards have been substantially downgraded. […]

Almost a third of America's working families are now considered low-income, earning less than twice the official poverty threshold, according to a report released Tuesday by the Working Poor Families Project. The recession, which has incited layoffs and wage cuts, reversed a period of improvement: Between 2007 and 2009, […] the percentage of U.S. working families classified as low-income grew from 28 percent to more than 30 percent.

Workers who once focused on career advancement now live paycheck to paycheck. The American middle class, in effect, is eroding. […]

Last year, 45 million people, including 22 million children, lived in low-income households, according to the report. As breadwinners lost jobs or suffered pay cuts, the report notes, the number of low-income families grew to 10 million last year, an increase of almost a quarter-million from 2008. The problem is worse among minorities: 43 percent of America's working families with a minority parent are low-income, the report finds, compared to 22 percent of white working families. […]

The crisis extends beyond the struggling breadwinners. Children in low-income families suffer from diminished educational opportunities and compromised health care, according to the new report. Nationwide, 35 percent of children in working families are living in low-income households, the report finds, and childhood poverty tends to persist into adulthood. […]”

To read the full article, click here. To download a free PDF of the full policy brief, click here. To learn more about the Working Poor Families Project, visit their website.

4. “Report: Women still face pay gap, other hurdles in the workforce”

Vicki Needham
The Hill
December 17, 2010

Citing: Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy by the Majority Staff of the U.S. Joint Economic Committee

“Lower pay for working single women and mothers, lack of representation in top corporate jobs and inflexible work arrangements and expensive childcare are hampering women's contribution to the economy, according to a report released Friday.

The Joint Economic Committee's examination of women in the workforce found that women face a pay gap, earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, about the same as it was nearly 10 years ago, and that women are provided little work-based support for family responsibilities.

The cost of full-time, center-based childcare for an infant is nearly half (49 percent) of the annual income of a two-parent family living at the federal poverty threshold ($18,310/year in 2009). […]

More women with children are working. In 2008, 64.3 percent of mothers with a child under age 6 worked outside the home, an increase from 39.6 percent in 1975. […]

Through the years, a women's paycheck has grown as the share of all household income. In the typical married household, where both spouses work, the wife’s paycheck accounts for over one third (36 percent) of the family’s income, an increase from 26.6 percent in 1970.

In 2009, women were the sole breadwinners in one in three (34 percent) families with children. And among all working wives in 2008, 38.1 percent earned as much or more as their husbands, compared to 18.7 percent in 1967. […]

The report suggests several policy options for consideration in the next Congress, including a fair pay bill and a measure that would provide employees with the right to ask for a more flexible work schedule. […]

New data in the report show that older women experience the largest pay gap, with full-time working women age 50 and older earning 75 percent of that earned weekly by full-time working men the same age, while all women age 16 and older earn 80 percent of their male counterparts’ weekly wages. […]”

To read the full article, click here. To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, visit their website.

5. “Birthrate among teens hits record low”

By Rob Stein
The Washington Post
December 22, 2010

Citing: Births: Preliminary Data for 2009 by Brady E. Hamilton, PhD, Joyce A. Martin, M.P.H., and Stephanie J. Ventura, M.A., National Center for Health Statistics Division of Vital Statistics.

The rate at which U.S. women are having babies continued to fall between 2008 and 2009, federal officials reported Tuesday, pushing the teen birthrate to a record low and prompting a debate about whether the drop was caused by the recession, an increased focus on encouraging abstinence, more adolescents using birth control or a combination of those factors.

The birthrate among U.S. girls ages 15 to 19 fell from 41.5 to 39.1 births per 1,000 teens - a 6 percent drop to the lowest rate in the nearly 70 years the federal government has been collecting reliable data, according to a preliminary analysis of the latest statistics. […]

The reason for the record low remains unclear, but some experts attributed it to the recession, noting that the overall fertility rate as well as the total number of births in the United States fell a second straight year in 2009 as well. […]

The general fertility rate fell from 68.6 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 44 to 66.7 in 2009, and the total number of births fell from 4,247,694 to 4,131,019, That direction appears to be continuing into 2010, according to early statistics collected between January and June. The overall drop pushed the fertility rate to about 2.01, a 4 percent decrease from 2008. […]

The birthrate for women in their early 20s fell 7 percent, which is the largest decline for this age group since 1973, according to the report. The rates also fell for women in their late 20s and 30s, although it continued to increase for women in their early 40s. […]”

To read the full article, click here. To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Division of Vital Statistics, visit their website.


Research Reports

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

1. Student Parents Face Significant Challenges to Postsecondary Success

Kevin Miller, PhD
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
December 2010

“Parents of dependent children now make up almost one in four students pursuing postsecondary education in the United States, as parents seek postsecondary credentials to increase their incomes and improve the status of their families. However, student parents, especially single parents, face significant challenges to success in postsecondary programs. Barriers to success in postsecondary programs for student parents can be identified in data from the 2008 National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey, administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Indicators show that basic literacy skills of student parents lag behind those of students without children. Upon arriving at postsecondary institutions, student parents are more likely than non-parents to have SAT Verbal scores of less than 400 (or equivalent ACT scores) and to have taken fewer than four years of high school English classes. Once enrolled, student parents are also more likely to take remedial classes than are students without children. These comparisons are true for both single and married student parents, but are even more dramatic for single parents.”

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

2. Separate and Unequal: The Hyde Amendment and Women of Color

Jessica Arons and Madina Agénor
Center for American Progress
December 2010

“There is a direct connection between the present state of women of color’s reproductive and sexual health and restrictive U.S. policies around reproductive and sexual health. The U.S. government’s claim of economic stake and authority over women of color’s bodies spans a history that includes the slave master’s ownership of black women and their offspring, the forced sterilization of black and Latina women during the 1960s and 1970s, and the forced and coercive use of contraceptive technology during the 1980s through today. Much of this has been accomplished through punitive state and national policies that target women of color, and black women in particular. This report details in a broader political context how policies such as welfare reform, access to contraceptives and other family planning services, the debate on abortion, the war on drugs, and the criminalization of black women who use drugs serve to further an agenda that is still very much intent upon controlling the childbearing of black women and other women of color. […] The Hyde Amendment, is, perhaps, the most punitive and inhumane regulation imposed upon the reproductive lives of low-income women. Each day, scores of low-income women are forced to make a choice between using scarce resources to take care of themselves and their families or use those dollars to pay for an abortion. […]”

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

3. Child Poverty During the Great Recession: Predicting State Child Poverty Rates for 2010

Julia B. Isaacs
Brookings Institution
December 2010

“The country is slowly emerging from the Great Recession, the longest period of economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As unemployment rates have risen, poverty also has risen. […] Between June 2009 and June 2010, the number of people receiving nutrition assistance (food stamp) benefits increased by 21 percent, or 7 million people, as monthly caseloads averaged over the first six months of the year skyrocketed from 33.5 to 40.3 million participants. This increase in nutrition assistance caseloads was widespread, affecting almost all states. In addition, unemployment rates remain high, and the average for 2010 to date is actually higher than the average for 2009 in most states. From a model that combines current data on nutrition assistance and unemployment, [Julia B. Isaacs] predicts that most states will see a rise in child poverty in 2010, with the increase averaging 1.3 percentage points across the states. According to these predictions, half the states (26 states) will have child poverty rates of 20 percent or higher in 2010, almost double the number of states (14) with poverty of 20 percent or higher in the pre-recessionary period of 2000-2007. Nationally, the number of poor children is predicted to rise by nearly 1 million, from 14.7 million in 2009 to 15.6 million children in 2010. The national child poverty rate is estimated to increase 20.0 in 2009 to 21.3 in 2010. These predictions are subject to uncertainty, but provide an early glimpse of how children are continuing to be affected by the lingering effects of the Great Recession.”

To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Brookings Institution, visit their website.

4. A Profile of Disconnected Young Adults in 2010

Vanessa R. Wright, Michelle Chau, Yumiko Aratani, Susan Wile Schwarz, and Kalyani Thampi
National Center for Children in Poverty
December 2010

“The purpose of this report is to highlight a growing segment of the population who are arriving at young adulthood disconnected from the main pathways leading to economic independence. Arriving at young adulthood in a state of disconnection can have consequences for both young adults and the larger society. Young adults who have low
educational attainment or who are out of school or unemployed for extended periods of time may be more likely to engage in delinquent behavior, turn to illegal activities as a source of income, and be incarcerated. The consequences of disconnection may also result in long-term penalties, such as underemployment and lower earnings over the life course. Young adults disconnected for three or more years are about 14 times more likely to be poor and earn about two and one half times less in earnings and are about two to three times less likely to be employed full-time than young adults who had never been disconnected. Disconnectedness experienced during young adulthood may also have serious health consequences. Research shows that different components of disconnectedness, such as having less than high school education or being unemployed is associated with suboptimal health and mental health outcomes. Furthermore, disconnected young adults are more likely to rely on some form of public assistance. Thus, the costs of disconnection to government can include increased transfer payments and social support expenses as well as a decrease in tax revenues from their lack of participation in the labor market. […]”

To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the National Center for Children in Poverty, visit their website.

5. Recessions, Wealth Destruction, and the Timing of Retirement

Barry P. Bosworth and Gary Burtless
Center for Retirement Research, Boston College
December 2010

“Recessions affect the timing of retirement through two channels, a weaker job market and losses in household wealth. The two phenomena have opposite effects. A weaker economy causes employers to increase permanent job separations and reduce new hires, accelerating retirements that would otherwise have occurred later. Falling household wealth reduces the resources available to pay for retirement, discouraging older workers from leaving the workforce. [The researchers] use aggregate and micro-census data on old-age labor supply as well as time series data on unemployment, stock and bond returns, and house appreciation to estimate business cycle effects on Social Security benefit acceptance and labor force exit. Trailing real stock and bond returns and house price appreciation have statistically significant but very small effects on old-age labor force participation. High prime-age unemployment has only a small impact on benefit acceptance and labor force participation among older women, but the effects on older men are greater. [The researchers] estimate that the 4.6 percentage-point increase in prime-age unemployment between 2007 and 2009 reduced the participation rate of 60-74 year-old men by between 0.8 and 1.7 percentage points. This effect has offset the impact of declining household wealth on old-age labor force participation.”

To download a free PDF of the full report, click here. To learn more about the Center for Retirement Research, visit their website.

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