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

May 2008 RNR

RNR Logo

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

May 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. “Nutritional Changes to WIC Program will allow Low-Income Mothers to Buy Fruits and Vegetables”
2. “Single Parenting: Some Richer, Some Poorer”
3.“Women Pathfinders of the '70s, Falling in a Pension Gap”

Research Reports
1. Status of Girls in Minnesota
2. Women in the Wake of the Storm: Examining the Post-Katrina Realities of the Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Cost
3. Valuing Good Health in California: The Costs and Benefits of the Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act of 2008
4. Building on the Promise: State Initiatives to Expand Access to Early Head Start for Young Children and their Families
5. The Implications of Career Lengths for Social Security

Research Making News _____________________________

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

 

“Nutritional Changes to WIC Program will allow Low-Income Mothers to Buy Fruits and Vegetables”

Los Angeles Times
By Susan Bowerman
April 28, 2008

Citing:  WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change by the Institute of Medicine; “Is Price a Barrier to Eating More Fruits and Vegetables for Low-Income Families?” by Diana Cassidy, Karen M. Jetter, and Jennifer Culp in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, November 2007

“As food prices spiral higher, the quality of a diet can really suffer. Starchy, sugary, fatty foods are filling and relatively inexpensive compared with fruits, vegetables and lean meats. The effects of a tight budget on food choices are particularly concerning for people who may find healthful foods difficult to afford: low-income mothers and their children.

Soon, they will be getting some overdue help.

For the first time in its 35-year history, the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program—which provides food vouchers to millions of households nationwide—will, starting October 2009, allow participants to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and soy-based products.

[…] In 2003, concerned by rising obesity rates and WIC participants' poor diet quality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture commissioned the Institute of Medicine (which advises the government on medical matters) to suggest modifications to the existing food packages. The institute's report, released in 2005, recommended sweeping changes in the food program. They were approved by the USDA in December.

[…] By far the most significant change will be the provision of cash-value vouchers, redeemable at regular grocery stores and farmers markets, that can be used to buy fruits and vegetables—items that often go by the wayside when a food budget is stretched to the limit.

Only about 10% of Americans consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.

A typical American family spends 15% to 18% of its food budget on produce. But, according to a survey published in November in the Journal of the American Dietetic Assn., a low-income family would need to spend 43% to 70% of its food budget on fruits and vegetables to meet the dietary guidelines.”

For the full article, visit the Los Angeles Times online.

To view and purchase WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change, click here http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11280

To view “Is Price a Barrier to Eating More Fruits and Vegetables for Low-Income Families?” click here http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0002-8223/PIIS0002822307016252.pdf

 

“Single Parenting: Some Richer, Some Poorer”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat
April 24, 2008

Citing:  “The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income and Poverty of Women with Children,” by Guy Michaels and Elizabeth O. Ananat, forthcoming in the Journal of Human Resources; The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing, by Benjamin Scafidi for The American Values Institute

“A report funded by a variety of ‘family values’ groups made splashy headlines last week such as: ‘Single Parenthood Costs Taxpayers $112 Billion.’

The report lists two big reasons for these costs. One is increased welfare expenditures on poor families ($70 billion). The other is increased government spending to deal with the social problems caused by poor kids when they grow up ($42 billion).

When I first heard about the report, I thought that those numbers had to be wrong. My own research suggests that the first of those costs is essentially zero, not $70 billion. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the report, by the Institute for American Values, claims its numbers are based heavily on research by my colleague Guy Michaels and me.

[…] Our research does find that divorce has a big impact on society—but it's not welfare, it's inequality. When you get married young, as most of the people we studied did, you don't know much about your economic future. Instead, you promise to support each other "for richer or poorer." When the women we studied stayed in their first marriages, their families had a typical income of $48,108 (in 2007). The worst-off 5 percent had incomes below $18,000, and 5 percent earned more than $83,000.

By contrast, among mothers who divorced, the average was about the same, but the bottom 5 percent had incomes below $4,000, while the top 5 percent had incomes above $171,000. A full 40 percent of moms whose first marriage ends have incomes outside the $18,000-to-$83,000 range into which the vast majority of intact families fall.

In other words, divorce makes you more likely to become rich or poor—some women get great jobs, marry successful men, or both; others find out their skills aren't worth much on the labor market and marry men who are also struggling.

[…] Measured correctly, the cost of divorce doesn't come from welfare payments but from increasing inequality. Of course, many other trends—uneven school funding and cuts to the estate tax in place of increases in the earned income tax credit, to name two—
are also increasing inequality in our society.

To view the full article, visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution online.

To view Benjamin Scafidi’s rebuttal in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 29, 2008, click here http://www.ajc.com/print/content/printedition/2008/04/29/scafadied.html

To view “The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income and Poverty of Women with Children” click here http://personal.lse.ac.uk/michaels/Ananat_Michaels_Marital_Breakup.pdf

To view and purchase The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing, click here http://www.americanvalues.org/html/coff_mediaadvisory.htm

 

“Women Pathfinders of the '70s, Falling in a Pension Gap”

The Washington Post
By Martha M. Hamilton
April 20, 2008

Citing: Retirement Security for Women: Progress to Date and Policies for Tomorrow by Leslie E. Papke, Lina Walker, and Michael Dworsky for the Retirement Security Project, supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts in partnership with Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute and the Brookings Institute.
Institution
“Women on the leading edge of the baby-boom generation are also at the forefront of other trends—ones that may work to their detriment in retirement.

[…] Both men and women in their 50s and 60s got caught in the shift from one kind of pension plan to another. There was a gap between the time defined-benefit pensions started disappearing and widespread adoption of defined-contribution pensions. I often hear from readers who say that the employers they worked for did not offer a retirement savings plan until they were in their late 40s. That means they missed the benefit of beginning to save early for retirement and the years of compound growth.

In the past, when traditional pensions were more widespread, men were more likely to be covered by them, since they were often offered at unionized, industrial workplaces. But they were common for government workers, too, including teachers, and many women received traditional pension benefits as survivors of their husbands.

A recent report by the Retirement Security Project, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts in partnership with Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and the Brookings Institution, argues that their disappearance ‘hurts women more than men because women tend to live longer and benefit more from the protection that guaranteed lifetime income provides against outliving their resources.’

Women in general, not just leading-edge baby-boom women, are more likely than men to be poor in retirement. Notwithstanding gains in education and employment, women still tend to spend more time out of the workplace and to work in part-time jobs and low-paying fields.

To view the full article, visit The Washington Post online.

To view Retirement Security for Women: Progress to Date and Policies for Tomorrow, click here http://www.retirementsecurityproject.org/pubs/File/RSP-PB_Women_FINAL_4.2.2008.pdf

 

Research Reports _________________________________

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


Status of Girls in Minnesota

Erica Williams
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
For The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
April 2008

“The Status of Girls in Minnesota represents a collaborative effort by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) to provide detailed information on the status of girls in Minnesota. With the data and policy implications outlined in this report, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota will engage fifteen communities as part of its statewide Road to Equality Tour in 2008. In each community, the Women’s Foundation will hold a public meeting to introduce the research and focus groups with community, business, and political leaders. Information gathered from the Tour will inform the Foundation’s future public policy priorities and focus.

Both the Women’s Foundation and IWPR hope that this report will serve as a tool for advocates, researchers, and policy makers in developing a set of interventions that will ensure girls’ economic, social, and political equality.

The Status of Girls in Minnesota draws on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Minnesota Student Survey Interagency Team, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Education, and other sources to examine the economic, social, physical, and psychological well-being of girls in the state. Each chapter introduces key issues and data related to girls in Minnesota, as well as a set of recommendations for policy change, program improvement, and advocacy efforts to improve the status of Minnesota’s girls.”

To view the full report, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/R342mn.pdf
For the Research Overview, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/R341mn.pdf

 

Women in the Wake of the Storm: Examining the Post-Katrina Realities of the Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast

Avis Jones-DeWeever
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Funded by the Soroptimist International of the Americas, Inc.
April 2008

“Today, women are doing much of the healing work associated with life after Katrina. They are comforting children still traumatized by the memory of this life-changing event. They are taking care of elders who are still mourning the loss of a lifetime of memories washed away with the storm. They are themselves disproportionately the aged, who now in the twilight of their lives are forced to begin again. They also make up most of those who head families essentially barred from returning home due to the impending destruction of the majority of public housing units within the city of New Orleans. And, on-the-ground, women make up a sizeable mass of community leaders left with the charge of bringing people together and demanding action more directly focused on those needs still left to be met for those tomorrows still to come.

This report tells their stories and, in so doing, provides an analysis of women’s increased vulnerability during times of disaster, and discusses how the experiences of women affected by Katrina align with the experiences of women around the world who have experienced other large-scale crises. It also provides a race/class/gendered analysis of women’s post-Katrina experiences, with a special emphasis on what they are doing now to rebuild their lives, reconstruct their homes, restore their families, and reclaim their communities.

This report puts to paper the perspectives of women gathered through a series of semi-structured one-on-one and small group interviews with thirty-eight women in New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana as well as in Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi. The women included in this study ranged in age from 19 to 66 and are of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, including Black, White, Creole, and Latina. Each woman contributed to their communities as volunteers, activists, community organizers, or professionals engaged in public service careers. Many, but not all, were involved with organizations that focused specifically on issues of concern to women. Each sought, in some way, not just to meet immediate needs in the communities where they work, but also to address the long-standing pre-Katrina structures of advantage and disadvantage that ultimately exacerbated the tragedy of the storm’s aftermath.”

To view the full report, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/D481.pdf

 

Valuing Good Health in California: The Costs and Benefits of the Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act of 2008

Vicky Lovell
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
April 2008

“This report uses data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the California Employment Development Department, and the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate the likely impact of California Assembly Bill No. 2716, the Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act of 2008. The study is one of a series of such analyses conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) in the last several years that examine public policy development related to paid sick days. It presents an estimate of how much time off workers would use in California under the proposed legislation and what the costs would be for employers for that sick time. It also employs findings from peer-reviewed research literature to estimate how this leave policy would save money, by reducing turnover, cutting down on the spread of disease at work, helping employers avoid paying for low productivity, holding down nursing-home stays, and reducing norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes.”

To view the full report, click here: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/B259capsd.pdf

 

Building on the Promise: State Initiatives to Expand Access to Early Head Start for Young Children and their Families

Rachel Schumacher, Center for Law and Social Policy
Elizabeth DiLauro, ZERO TO THREE
April 2008
“[This report] examines actions states have taken to build on Early Head Start. Less than 3 percent of babies and toddlers who are eligible for Early Head Start (EHS)—a federal program with promising results—are reached at current federal funding levels. CLASP and ZERO TO THREE found 20 states use mostly one of four main approaches:

  • Extending the day or year of existing EHS services.
  • Expanding the capacity of existing EHS and Head Start programs to increase the number of children and pregnant women served.
  • Providing resources and assistance to child care providers to help them deliver services meeting EHS standards.
  • Supporting partnerships between EHS and center-based and family child care providers to improve the quality of care.

The paper also discusses opportunities and challenges facing state policymakers and provides recommendations for state leaders interested in promoting better futures for at risk children through building on Early Head Start.”
To view the full report, click here: http://www.clasp.org/publications/building_on_the_promise_ehs.pdf

 

The Implications of Career Lengths for Social Security

Melissa M. Favreault and C. Eugene Steurle
The Urban Institute
April 2008

“While growing fiscal pressures and increasing life expectancy have prompted calls to raise retirement ages so that lifetime benefits would be concentrated in older ages, some fear that this change—without other adjustments—might harm long-career, lower-wage workers. Tying retirement benefit eligibility to years of service might protect lower-wage workers if they tend to start their careers relatively early and work more years prior to retirement than higher-wage workers. But higher disability rates and greater employment volatility could offset lower-wage workers’ early labor force starts, and lead to fewer total years of service completed. Using survey data matched to administrative earnings records, we describe variation in work histories for current and near retirees by gender, education, and other important characteristics. We find that years of service are not likely to provide an effective way to protect the lowest-wage workers. Among other reasons, men and women with the least education also work the least.”

To view the full report, click here: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411646_careerlengths.pdf

 

[ top ]

Go to Home Page