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September/October 2006 RNR

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September/October 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.

  1. The Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Multiple Disadvantages and Key Assets for Recovery. Part II. Gender, Race, and Class in the Labor Market.
  2. Kids in the City: Indicators of Child Well-Being in Large Cities from the 2004 American Community Survey
  3. Explorations: The Status of Women Economists
  4. Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race Counties in the States
  5. The Changing Role of Welfare in the Lives of Low-Income Families with Children


1. The Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Multiple Disadvantages and Key Assets for Recovery. Part II. Gender, Race, and Class in the Labor Market.

Erica Williams, Olga Sorokina, Avis Jones-DeWeever, and Heidi Hartmann

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

August 2006

This study is the second in a two-part series on the economic situation of women and people of color in New Orleans and the greater Gulf Coast region affected by the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This most recent installment draws data from federal government sources, including US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates and recently released American Community Survey metro and county-level data. It also draws from IWPR’s series of reports on the status of women in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

  • Prior to the storm, 15.4 percent of working women and 8.2 percent of working men were living below the poverty line in the city of New Orleans, compared with 8.7 percent of working women and 6.3 percent of working men nationally.
  • Earnings disparities by race and gender were stark in New Orleans before the storm. Black women in the city earned less than half (43.9 percent) of what white men earned, and Hispanic women were only slightly better off, receiving slightly over half (52.7 percent) what white men were paid.
  • Nearly half a million (476,000) people 16 or older displaced by Hurricane Katrina were still unable to return home 11 months after the disaster.
  • Since Hurricane Katrina, the size of the population in New Orleans fell by about 40 percent. The current New Orleans population is more white, less Black, higher income, and has higher home ownership rates compared with patterns seen before the storm.
  • Nevertheless, while the New Orleans MSA mean income was $9,000 higher after the hurricane, the number of men and women in the MSA using food stamps almost quadrupled, from 10.3 percent of the population to 38.6 percent.

The authors offer a number of policy recommendations for improving the situations of those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, especially women and people of color, such as expanding training for workers, including non-traditional job training for women, improving access to higher education, and providing child care for workers. The authors conclude that the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast can create positive lasting change in the area if policy makers acknowledge and confront the longstanding economic and social disparities by race and gender that the region continues to combat.

The full article is available at

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2. Kids in the City: Indicators of Child Well-Being in Large Cities from the 2004 American Community Survey

Alan Berube, William Frey, Audrey Singer, Mark Mather, and Kerri Rivers

The Brookings Institution

This study investigates levels of child poverty in the 50 largest cities in the country, and how family structure, labor force participation, and education relate to variation in child poverty rates across cities and city types. The authors utilize data from the 2004 American Community Survey to examine trends in urban child poverty among demographically similar cities and across the country as a whole.

Some of the report’s major findings include:

  • In 2004, the child poverty rate in the nation’s 50 largest cities was 28 percent, much higher than the national child poverty rate of 18 percent.
  • Sixteen cities saw a statistically significant increase in child poverty between 1999 and 2004 and only one— Los Angeles—saw a significant decline.
  • Across large cities, a lower proportion of children with parents in the labor force was closely associated with higher child poverty rates.
  • Cities with high child poverty rates also had high proportions of single parent households as well. Of the 17 cities in the high-child-poverty category 14 (82 percent) rank among the highest on the percentage of children living with one parent.
  • Cities that witnessed population outflows during the 1990’s and have large proportions of whites and African Americans, but few Latinos, such as Baltimore and Cleveland, had the highest rates of child poverty and children living in single-parent families. Cities with the lowest child poverty rates were largely white and witnessed population increases throughout the 1990’s. While a significant share of single-parent families were also found in these cities, the authors observed that relatively high educational levels and rates of work among parents in such cities helped raise the well-being of the child.

The authors conclude that continued analysis of the annual socioeconomic data published by the American Community Survey will allow researchers to examine and document various factors related to child poverty and help inform public policy makers.

The full report can be found online at

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3. Explorations: The Status of Women Economists

Joyce P. Jacobsen (ed.), Roberta Edgecombe Robb, Jonathan Burton, David H. Blackaby, Jane Humphries, Heather Joshi, Xiaobo Wang, Xiao-yuan Dong

Feminist Economics, Volume 12.

July 2006

This article presents a collection of investigations by four different authors into the current status of female economists in four countries: Canada, China, the US, and the UK. Each report analyzes a set of country-specific surveys that offer a look into how women fare within the field of economics. From these surveys, the authors are able to observe how and when women have made gains in the field over time in each country.

Some of the most significant findings include:

  • In the US, the proportion of female full professors in economics tripled between 1972 and 2004 from 3 percent to 9 percent, and the number of female associate professors quadrupled from 5 percent to 23 percent. In that same time period, the proportion of female PhD candidates more than doubled, from 12 percent to 29 percent.
  • In the UK, women hold 13.5 percent and 18.4 percent of full professorships in the fields of business management and social studies respectively, while holding only 5.8 percent of full professorships in economics.
  • In Canada between 1990 and 1999, 20 percent of authors with articles in Canadian Public Policy were female, as were 13 percent of authors in the Canadian Journal of Economics. These figures compare favorably with the 8 percent and 7 percent figures reported respectively for the prior decade. However, in 1999, women economists still earned only 81 to 91 percent of men’s salaries at a comparable rank.
  • In China, female faculty on average teach 7.98 lecture hours per week, a full 1.8 hours more than the average male faculty members. Women faculty also attend on average 1.53 conferences and present .9 papers at the conferences each year, while men attend an average of 2.84 conferences and present 2.09 papers.

While the authors’ conclusions varied, common themes arose around the idea of creating a more hospitable climate for female economists and remaining mindful of the stark gender contrasts that persist within the field.

The full article can be found in the July 2006 issue of Feminist Economics, Vol. 12.

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4. Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race Counties in the United States

Christopher J. L. Murray, Sandeep C. Kulkarni, Catherine Michaud, Niels Tomijima, Maria T. Bulzacchelli, Terrell J. Iandiorio, Majid Ezzati

Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine Online Journal, Volume 3.

September 2006

This study merges racial and regional statistics to investigate disparities in mortality rates across the country in what the authors refer to as the “eight Americas.” The divisions for the eight Americas are based on data from the US Census Bureau population estimates and the National Center for Health Statistics bridged-race population estimates and mortality statistics. The authors use this data to asses and compare the mortality rates of different demographic groups across varying geographic regions.

The investigation finds that:

  • Asian Americans have the highest life expectancy rates among the eight Americas followed by “northland” low-income, rural, white populations.
  • The life expectancy gap between the highest risk group, black urban males, and the lowest risk group, Asian females, is 20.7 years.
  • Young (ages 15-44) and middle-aged (ages 45-64) blacks living in high-risk urban areas have mortality rates more similar to those in the Russian Federation and sub-Saharan Africa than to those in Japan or the United Kingdom.
  • There is a wide variation in life expectancy rates between white Americans living in different regions, despite similar income levels. Low-income white men and women in the northland have a 4.2 and 3.8 year advantage over their low-income counterparts in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley.

The authors conclude that a wide variety of interventions are required to eradicate the large disparities in mortality rates in America and urge the creation of more systematic analyses to identify effective and cost-effective interventions for high-risk demographic groups.

The full article can be obtained online at

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5. The Changing Role of Welfare in the Lives of Low-Income Families with Children

Pamela Loprest and Sheila Zedlewski

The Urban Institute

August 2006

This study investigates the effects of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PROWRA) of 1996, which transformed welfare from an entitlement program to a block-grant, on low-income families in the United States. Using data from the National Survey of America’s Families for the years 1997, 1999, and 2002, the authors look at how employment status, average income, and family structure have shifted over the last decade for three low-income demographics: families receiving welfare benefits, families that recently transitioned off of welfare, and families that never received welfare benefits.

The main findings of the study include:

  • Work among current welfare recipients increased considerably, from 20.9% in 1997 to 29.2% in 2002. In contrast, employment declined among recent welfare leavers (from 63.4% to 59.4%) and families not on welfare (from 55.5% to 51.1%) over that same period.
  • Over half of current welfare recipients in 2002 were in service jobs, compared with around 41% in 1997.
  • About 1 in 10 low-income families outside the welfare system remains disconnected from work or cash government assistance.
  • While one intention of PROWRA was to promote two-parent families and marriage, marriage declined among current welfare recipients, recent welfare leavers, and those never on welfare between 1997 and 2002. Cohabitation nearly doubled among both current welfare recipients and those never having received welfare benefits.
  • Among recent welfare leavers, the percentage of parents reporting high levels of stress tripled during this period, indicating the struggles of these mostly single parents attempting to make it without welfare.

Overall, the study finds that outcomes among the groups are greatly mixed. Between 1997 and 2002, current welfare recipients saw an improvement in their level of employment and wages, and a decrease in poverty and deep poverty. Circumstances have remained relatively stagnant for recent welfare leavers, however, and have deteriorated for families with no welfare experience over that same time period. Given the discouraging picture for the poor outside of the welfare system, the authors conclude that work supports remain essential to all low-income families, and suggest that policymakers look to more comprehensive poverty alleviation approaches and increase outreach and education efforts to low-income and poor families on available services.

Information on the full article is available at:

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