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July/August 2006 RNR

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July/August 2006

IWPR’s Research News Reporter is distributed monthly to highlight informative, innovative, and sometimes-controversial research related to women and their families. Each selection includes a short description of the research and either a link to the report itself or a citation. We sometimes include short pieces in their entirety.

In this edition:

  1. Making the Right Call: Jobs and Diversity in the Communications and Media Sector
  2. Valuing Good Health in San Francisco: The Costs and Benefits of a Proposed Paid Sick Days Policy
  3. Insurance Coverage and Health Care Use Among Near-Elderly Women
  4. America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2006
  5. State of the World’s Mothers 2006
  6. The Power of the Purse: Allocative Systems and Inequality in Couple Households


1. Making the Right Call: Jobs and Diversity in the Communications and Media Sector

Vicky Lovell, Heidi Hartmann and Jessica Koski

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

July 2006

This report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research evaluates the status of non-supervisory women and workers of color in the Communications and Media Sector. This sector has been a source of stable, well-paid jobs for women and workers of color, especially in Wired Telecommunications, in part because of a strong union presence. Representation of diverse perspectives through ownership, employment, and content in the sector has historically been viewed as critical to democratic discourse. Intense industry restructuring, fast-paced technological innovation, relaxation of Federal Communications Commission oversight, and new rules governing market-share ownership, however, threaten the sector’s diversity and job quality.

The report uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to analyze current employment outcomes as well as trends over the last 15 years. The report’s major findings include:

Women are losing jobs in Wired Telecommunications, an industry that is shrinking overall. Employment growth in expanding industries such as Wireless and Other Telecom favors men over women, so women’s share of jobs in the sector as a whole is falling.

  • The only Communications and Media industry in which the share of women is increasing is Newspaper Publishers, which is the lowest-paid industry for full-time workers.
  • Unions continue to make a substantial difference in job quality in this sector. Forty-one percent of Wired Telecom employees belong to a union, and that industry has the highest pay in the sector. Union members earn 47.5 percent more than their non-union co-workers in Wired Telecom, or $15,600 more annually. Unionization is lower in in Wireless, at 29 percent, but the union wage premium is even higher: 58 percent, or an average of $17,630 per year.
  • Women and minorities face a wage gap in all Communications and Media industries. These gaps are the highest in the industries with the highest wages. Wired and Wireless Telecommunications pay 76 cents and 79 cents to minorities, respectively, for every dollar paid to whites, and 71 cents and 72 cents, respectively, to women for every dollar men earn.

The authors urge policy makers to pay close attention to the impact of legislative, regulatory, and technological changes in this sector on job quality and diversity.

The full report is available at:

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2. Valuing Good Health in San Francisco: The Costs and Benefits of a Proposed Paid Sick Days Policy

Vicky Lovell

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

July 2006

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a report that analyzes the costs and benefits of a proposed paid sick days policy in San Francisco. Under the plan, workers would accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work. All firms would be covered by the policy, with the maximum number of days required under the proposal set higher for larger firms (nine days) than for those with 10 or fewer employees (5 days per year). Leave could be used for workers’ own illness, injury, health conditions, and medical appointments and to care for family members.

The report uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the California Employment Development Department to estimate how much time off workers would take under the plan and how much they would be paid for that leave. It concludes that a paid sick days policy in San Francisco would save employers money by decreasing involuntary job turnover, avoiding low productivity, reducing the spread of disease at work, and reducing expenditures for short-term nursing home stays.

The report’s major findings include:

Nearly one of every four private-sector workers in San Francisco (23.3 percent) would be covered by the proposed plan.

  • The per-worker weekly cost for providing San Francisco workers with paid sick leave would be $5.56. The savings from implementing such a proposal would be $7.64 per worker per week.
  • Analysis of the 2004 National Health Interview Survey predicts that workers in firms with more than 10 employees would use an average of 1.8 paid sick days per year under the proposed plan, while those in smaller firms would use 1.2 days per year on average. Nationally, half of all workers with paid sick days do not take a single sick day in a given year.
  • The most substantial savings from the proposed policy would be from reduced worker turnover: $41.9 million annually. This is more than the estimated cost of the plan, which would be $33.5 million per year in wages, payroll taxes, and administrative expenses.
  • Having paid sick days would reduce costs related to the spread of disease in the workplace and improve public health.

The author concludes that San Francisco’s proposed paid sick days policy would provide overall savings while promoting healthier citizens. The paper discusses other benefits that may be measured when data become available, including lower use of health-care resources, avoidance by workers of wage losses for suspension for missing work, reduced expenditures on public assistance, and increased financial stability.

The full report can be found at:

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3. Insurance Coverage and Health Care Use Among Near-Elderly Women

Xiao Xu, Divya A. Patel, Anjel Vahratian and Scott B. Ransom

Women’s Health Issues , Volume 16.

May/June 2006

This study examines the status of near-elderly women’s health insurance coverage in the United States and how it influences their use of health care services. Using data from the 2002 wave of the Health and Retirement Study, the authors evaluate the impact of insurance coverage on the use of outpatient services, inpatient services, and prescription medication over a 2-year period for women ages 55-64. The main findings of the study include:

  • 9.4% of near-elderly women in the United States were uninsured in 2002.
  • Compared to insured women, those without health insurance were significantly more likely to be unmarried, black or Hispanic, and to have completed fewer years of education.
  • Compared to women with some insurance coverage, those without any coverage were significantly less likely to use outpatient services, inpatient services, and prescription medication. When they did use these services, they tended to use less of them.
  • Near-elderly women with insurance coverage for physician visits were 6.7 times more likely to report having a visit during the past 2 years than women without coverage.
  • Among near-elderly women who were regularly taking prescription medications, their level of coverage for medication costs significantly affects their timeliness in filling prescriptions.

This study concludes that insurance coverage for near-elderly women significantly affects the utilization rates of essential health care services. They suggest that in this era of an aging population, the health care of near-elderly women without adequate insurance coverage deserves more attention.

Information on the full article is available at:

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4. America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2006

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

July 2006

This brief summarizes key findings from the Forum on Child and Family Statistics’ annual report on the economic status, health and social well-being of children and families in the United States. The data in the report and brief describe basic demographics and 26 indicators of child and family well-being and are derived from twenty federal agencies including the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Some of the important findings summarized in this brief include:

  • The proportion of children covered by private health insurance decreased from 74 percent in 1987 to 66 percent in 2004, while the proportion covered by government health insurance increased from 19 percent in 1987 to 30 percent in 2004.
  • In 2003-2004, 25 percent of non-Hispanic Black girls ages 6-17, 17 percent of Mexican American girls, and 16 percent of non-Hispanic White girls were overweight.
  • In 2005, 57 percent of children 3 to 5 years of age were enrolled in a center-based early care and education program, up from 53 percent in 1991 but down from 60 percent in 1999.
  • The proportion of infants with low birth weight has increased to 8.1 percent in 2004, up from 6.8 percent in 1980.

The report is available at:

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5. State of the World’s Mothers 2006

Save the Children

May 2006

In this report, Save the Children details challenges to and factors that promote maternal and newborn survival. Data from the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the World Health Organization were used to create composite scores and rankings for 125 countries around the world on mother and newborn mortality. In addition to assigning countries scores and ranks, the report also highlights countries that are working to lower mortality rates among poor women and newborns and gives recommendations for improving the safety of mothers and newborns.

This report finds that:

  • Newborn death rates are highest in the regions where maternal death rates are the highest.
  • Babies born to mothers in the poorest fifth of a population were almost 30 percent more likely to die than those in the richest fifth.
  • The 10 countries with the highest numbers of newborn deaths account for 66 percent of the global total of newborn deaths and 61 percent of the global total of maternal deaths.
  • The report describes a number of factors that contribute to mother and infant mortality, including complications of childbirth, infections, a lack of medical care during birth and inadequate access to education.
  • Among other causes, the timing of births, such as giving birth too young or too soon after a previous birth, contributes to mortality among mothers and newborns.
  • A cycle of malnourishment also contributes to the problem. Low birthweight babies become stunted children and adolescents who then fail to gain enough weight during pregnancy and give birth to underweight, malnourished babies.
  • The United States is tied with Malta, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia for second to last place among the industrialized world for newborn mortality with an average rate of 7 per 1,000 births, despite having more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care beds per person than other higher ranking countries.

This report concludes that lowering mortality rates among newborns and mothers across the world will require vaccinating mothers before birth; providing skilled care at the birth of a child; encouraging breast feeding; and asking mothers to adopt new care giving practices. The report also recommends that countries think seriously about low-cost, low-tech solutions to improve conditions for mothers and newborns.

This report is available on the Save the Children website:

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6. The Power of the Purse: Allocative Systems and Inequality in Couple Households

Catherine T. Kenney

Gender & Society, Volume 20, Number 3

July 2006

In The Power of the Purse: Allocative Systems and Inequality in Couple Households, author Catherine Kenney asserts that earning money does not necessarily lead to controlling income in couple households. This study uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine systems for income control, pooling, and allocation in two person households with young children. The study sample is representative of an urban population and is limited to heterosexual couples that were either married or cohabitating between March 2002 and December 2003. Individual level data was collected for an assortment of household and individual characteristics. In addition, variables were created from survey questions to assess what type of financial control exists in each household. The types of income control include separate accounts with female control, separate accounts with male control, separate accounts with equal control, shared account with female control, shared account with male control, and shared account with equal control.

Results from the analysis include:

  • Households with women who earned between 40 and 60 percent of household income were evenly divided in their use of systems of equally controlled joint accounts, of equally controlled separate accounts, and of woman-controlled joint accounts.
  • In couples where the woman earned 60 to 100 percent of household income the system used most often was a system of woman-controlled separate accounts (used by 41 percent).
  • Thirty-five percent of non-Hispanic white and 15% non-Hispanic black couples use a joint account.
  • Thirty-five percent of non-Hispanic black couples and 10% non-Hispanic white couples use a system of woman-controlled separate accounts. Income Pooling controlled by men was most common among Asian origin and Mexican origin women.
  • Higher levels of male-partner participation in child care are associated with a greater likelihood of a system with equal access to joint accounts.

The study concludes that there is substantial complexity in systems of pooling resources among couples, and that many women with relatively low earnings have little control over their money, which often exacerbates existing disadvantage. Increased labor force participation and financial contributions to household income by women does not necessarily result in equal pooling or equal control of household income. While increased labor force participation among women has increased their contributions to household income, this alone does not determine fiscal independence.

An abstract of this report and information about ordering can be found at:

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