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July 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.

July 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. “Sizeable Health Disparities Evident in Every State Between Women of Different Racial and Ethnic Groups”
2. “Tracking the War on Women in Darfur”

Research Reports
1. “Paid Sick Days Don’t Cause Unemployment”
2. Health Impact Assessment of the Healthy Families Act of 2009
3. “Random Drug Testing of TANF Recipients is Costly, Ineffective, and Hurts Families”
4. “Medicare’s Role for Women”
5. Changes in New Orleans Metro Area Housing Affordability

Research Making News

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

1. “Sizeable Health Disparities Evident in Every State Between Women of Different Racial and Ethnic Groups”

PR Newswire
June 10, 2009

Citing:  Putting Women’s Health Care Disparities on the Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level, a report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

“A decade after U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher called for the elimination of racial disparities in health, women of color in every state continue to fare worse than white women on a variety of measures of health, health care access and other social determinants of health according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The report, "Putting Women's Health Care Disparities on the Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level," documents the persistence of disparities on 25 indicators between white women and women of color, including rates of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, AIDS and cancer, as well as insurance coverage and health screenings.
It also documents disparities in the factors that influence health and access to care, such as income and education. Women of color fared worse than white women on most measures and in some cases the disparities were stark.

[…] ‘This report demonstrates that disparities in health are not one problem but many and vary from state to state—and that a variety of strategies will be needed if we hope to turn things around,’ said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman.

[…] The report illustrates that there are substantial gaps across the board in some states, whereas in other states the differences among racial groups are narrower. For instance, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and Hawaii all had relatively small disparities between women of color and white women on health outcomes, health care access and the social factors that influence health outcomes and access. In contrast, disparities were larger in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota.

In some states with relatively small disparities, such as Maine, white women and minority women were doing similarly well. In other states, such as Kentucky and West Virginia, they were doing similarly poorly. […]”

To read the full press release on PR Newswire, click here.  To access a PDF of the Kaiser Family Foundation report, click here.

2. “Tracking the War on Women in Darfur”

Boston Globe
By James F. Smith
May 31, 2009

Citing:  Nowhere to Turn, a report by Physicians for Human Rights in partnership with Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

“Seated on a woven mat in a refugee camp in eastern Chad, Dr. Sondra Crosby of the Boston Medical Center listened with mounting distress as the women of Darfur came forward, one by one over 12 days, to tell her their stories of rape, beatings, hunger, and humiliation.

Their suffering had begun in the ravaged villages of their native Darfur in western Sudan after war broke out in 2003, but it didn't stop when they fled across the border into what they hoped would be the safety of refugee camps in eastern Chad. It goes on still, leaving thousands of women facing the specter of sexual assault each time they leave camp to collect firewood or visit the local market.

[…] The study was issued by the Cambridge-based Physicians for Human Rights, partnering with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, two organizations with long track records in investigating rights abuses in conflict areas. While the use of rape as a weapon of war in Darfur has been noted throughout the conflict, the new report provides comprehensive evidence from detailed, structured interviews as well as physical examinations of the victims.

[…] ‘What was very striking is that for many women this was the first time that they have been able to tell their story. It's our sense that sexual violence is extremely underreported,’ Crosby said. ‘And it has torn apart whole communities.’

The report, titled Nowhere to Turn, notes that the data cannot be used to make a quantitative projection of the prevalence of sexual violence. Rather, the goal was to understand in-depth the experiences of women who were raped or otherwise assaulted, and the long-term impact of living in continuing danger. […]”

To read the full article from Boston Globe, click here.  To access a PDF of the full report by Physicians for Human Rights in collaboration with Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, click here.


Research Reports

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

1. “Paid Sick Days Don’t Cause Unemployment”

By John Schmitt, Hye Jin Rho, Alison Earle, and Jody Heymann
Center for Economic and Policy Research
June 2009

“Critics of legislation requiring employers to provide paid sick days frequently argue that these measures will lead to job loss and raise the national unemployment rate.  In previous work, we have analyzed whether there is any relationship between whether a country offers paid sick leave and national unemployment rates. Using data on over 100 countries around the world, we found no relationship between the availability of paid sick leave and either unemployment or competitiveness.  However, the question remained whether the duration of sick leave was critical to the impact on unemployment. The recent completion of a detailed analysis of leave duration and funding mechanisms in 22 affluent countries now makes such an analysis possible. In this issue brief, we use internationally comparable data to examine the relationship between the national unemployment rate and the length of government-mandated or government-funded short-term paid sick days and longer-term paid sick leave. We find no statistically significant effect of mandated paid sick days or leave on national unemployment rates. […]”

To access a free PDF of the complete issue brief, click here.  To learn more about the Center for Economic and Policy Research, click here.

2. Health Impact Assessment of the Healthy Families Act of 2009

By Won Kim Cook, Jonathan Heller, Rajiv Bhatia, and Lili Farhang
Human Impact Partners and San Francisco Department of Public Health
June 2009

“[…] Almost all available data and evidence we reviewed was consistent with the hypothesis that a requirement for paid sick days would protect and enable worker health, worker care for sick dependents, and the reduction of communicable disease transmission in community settings.  Overall, research examining paid sick days benefits in relation to illness vulnerability or the need for medical or dependent care clearly demonstrates that the availability of paid sick days is lower for populations with greater need for medical and dependent care. We also found that the benefits of paid sick days would be greater for these more vulnerable subpopulations. The most specific and persuasive research of the benefits of paid sick days appears to come from studies of community mitigation strategies for pandemic flu and data on the burden of communicable disease associated with ill food service workers. Importantly, no published research suggested that paid sick days would harm health. […]”

To access a free PDF of the full report, click here.

3. “Random Drug Testing of TANF Recipients is Costly, Ineffective, Hurts Families”

By Matt Lewis
Center for Law and Social Policy
June 2009

“Over the past year, legislators in at least 10 states have proposed requiring that parents applying for assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program be tested for drug use.  In some cases the legislation also proposes testing for recipients of unemployment insurance, medical assistance and food assistance. Similarly, during the debate over the federal FY 2010 budget resolution, Senator David Vitter (R‐LA) offered an amendment to impose mandatory drug testing on TANF recipients and deny them eligibility if they failed a second test after treatment. […] Proposals for mandatory drug testing of TANF recipients are grounded not in evidence, but in stereotypes. […] Moreover, random drug testing is a costly, flawed and inefficient way of identifying recipients in need of treatment. Better alternatives exist and are already being implemented to address drug abuse among TANF beneficiaries. Because sanctions for noncompliance put vulnerable children at risk, state and federal policymakers should not enact more barriers to a safety net program that protects low‐income children and families, especially during an historic economic downturn and decline in the labor market.”

To access a free PDF of the full briefing paper, click here.  To learn more about the Center for Law and Social Policy, click here.

4. “Medicare’s Role for Women”

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
June 2009

Medicare is the nation’s health insurance program for 45 million Americans age 65 and older and younger adults with permanent disabilities. For women, who are disproportionately low-income, with fewer resources and more chronic conditions than men, Medicare is a particularly critical source of retirement security. More than half (56%) of all Medicare beneficiaries are women; among the oldest old (ages 85 and older), 70% are women. As policymakers consider changes to Medicare, women have much at stake in the outcome of discussions about the program’s future.”

To access a free PDF of the complete fact sheet, click here.  To learn more about the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, click here.

5. Changes in New Orleans Metro Area Housing Affordability

By Alison Plyer, Joy Bonaguro, Elaine Ortiz, and Kathy Pettit
June 2009

“One of the most talked about problems in the New Orleans area post-Katrina has been the increase in housing costs. Anecdotes abound that homeowners insurance rates have skyrocketed making homeownership unaffordable, and that low income workers cannot afford the escalated rents. At the same time, post-Katrina increases in income may have helped residents to bear higher housing costs.  This report provides the first picture of the increase in all housing costs relative to income changes from 2004 to 2007. The Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey (ACS) provides same-source data on household incomes and housing costs, including the cost of insurance, taxes and utilities, and allows for valid comparisons with the nation and other cities. This analysis is critical for a better understanding of housing affordability challenges in the New Orleans metropolitan area within the national context. […]”

To read more about the study, click here.  To access a PDF of the full report, click here.

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