Below is the newest installation of Research News Reporter (RNR) Online. Previous editions can be viewed in the Archives.
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 or a citation.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research
This executive summary of a forthcoming report shares findings gathered from a series of interviews held with a diverse group of women from the Gulf Coast region about their experiences post-Hurricane Katrina. It points to women’s increased vulnerability during natural disasters and lays out policy recommendations that pinpoint how best to address those needs in the wake of this particular disaster, and in anticipation of those to come. The summary also provides an overarching race, class, and gender analysis of the post-Katrina experiences of women, with a special emphasis on what they are doing now to rebuild their lives, reconstruct their homes, restore their families, and reclaim their communities.
Key findings laid out in the executive summary include:
In conclusion, the research prompted several policy suggestions to better address the needs of women in times of natural disaster. These suggestions include making affordable housing a top priority, incorporating women in the rebuilding of the region’s economy through non-traditional training and enforcement of antidiscrimination laws, increasing the availability and quality of child care and schools, and better addressing the physical and mental health care needs of women. The final recommendation is to include women in decision-making processes around rebuilding and future disaster planning.
The executive summary is available at http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/GulfCoastExecutiveSummary.pdf
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The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Prepared by Karen Pollitz and Mila Kofman of Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute and Alina Salganicoff and Usha Ranji of the Kaiser Family Foundation
This report examines coverage of maternity care under consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs). Specifically, it estimates the costs of maternity care in three different clinical scenarios—an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, an uncomplicated Cesarean delivery, and a pregnancy with considerable complications. Using these three scenarios, the study compares the level of coverage and costs associated with a traditional insurer and various types of CDHPs.
The report found the following:
The report concludes that pregnant women face high out-of-pocket costs under CDHPs, particularly when complications arise. With the various CDHPs, women and families might be left with thousands of dollars in medical expenses resulting from the high deductibles and cost sharing requirements of the plans. The report also emphasizes that, in general, coverage for maternity care in the individual insurance market is extremely limited. In comparison to traditional health plans, CDHPs have created more financial responsibility for patients for the cost of their medical care.
The full report is available at http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/upload/7636.pdf
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Center for Women's Policy Studies
This state-by-state analysis examines the efforts of state legislators to confront international trafficking of women and girls into the United States. The report analyzes each state’s laws in terms of its responsiveness to the legislative suggestions the Center for Women’s Policy Studies included in their Resource Guide for State Legislators in 2005. Each state received a letter grade in the following categories laid out in the 2005 guide: criminalization, victim protection and services, statewide interagency task force, regulation of marriage brokers, and regulation of travel service providers that promote sex tourism. Since 2002, more than half of the states have enacted some form of anti-trafficking legislation. States that had not yet enacted such laws as of December 31, 2006 received a grade of “F”.
Some of the key findings of the report include:
The report emphasizes the importance of continued legislative efforts to respond to the international trafficking of women and girls and calls on states that have not enacted laws to prevent trafficking to join these efforts.
The full report is available at http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/documents/ReportCardonStateActiontoCombatInternationalTrafficking.pdf
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Heidi Hartmann, Ariane Hegewisch, and Vicky Lovell
Institute for Women’s Policy Research as part of the Economic Policy Institute’s Agenda for Shared Prosperity
This Briefing Paper sets out a comprehensive framework to construct a more family-friendly US economy. According to the authors, the makeup of the typical American family has been redefined over the past few decades, as the most common family type with children today is the two-earner couple (47% in 2005). At the same time, the standard workweek for two-parent families increased their annual work schedules by 500 hours between 1970 and 2000. As family and workplace dynamics have changed drastically, US economic policies have failed to keep up. In fact, the US has far fewer family-friendly policies than most nations with advanced economies.
Major findings include:
The Briefing Paper concludes that a comprehensive family policy program is needed to make the US more family-friendly and to enable workers to combine work and family responsibilities more easily. The suggested program would be part of a new social contract spreading the cost of family care beyond the nuclear family structure and helping to redistribute the burden of care between men and women within the family. The plan laid out sets priorities for the next ten years in three policy areas: those that subsidize the cost of care; those that provide income replacement while workers are providing care; and those that leademployers to change their behavior and make the jobs they offer more family-friendly. IWPR and the Economic Policy Institute argue that following this plan would help to expand and modernize our social contract and bring badly needed reform to our outdated and inadequate public policy.
The full report is available at http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/bp190familyfirst.pdf.
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Writers Guild of America, West
In May, the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) released the 2007 Hollywood Writers Report, the sixth in a series examining employment earnings and earnings trends for writers in Hollywood film and television industries. The report combined data from the WGAW’s computer database of membership earnings and recent trends in hiring for television series to highlight three groups of writers who have been traditionally underrepresented on the basis of gender, ethnicity, and age. According to the report, the gender gap between female and male television writers was nearly eliminated, dropping from over $4000 in 1999 to just under $300 in 2005. While the television sector has become increasingly open to female participation, the film sector has not followed the same trend, nearly doubling the gender gap over the same period. Hollywood, and in particular the film industry, remains primarily dominated by white males. The recent report shows there are few signs that the overarching industry dominance of white males is fading and call for increased measures to speed along proportional representation and pay equity.
Some of the findings include:
The report concludes with an appeal to rethink business as usual and calls for a new paradigm to promote industry diversity. The Writers Guild of America, West identifies opportunities for change that might be seized in the future, with hopes of institutionalizing forward-thinking approaches that may become the new standard of employment.
The full report is available at http://www.wga.org/uploadedFiles/who_we_are/HWR07.pdf.
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American Association of University Women
The American Association of University Women recently released Behind the Pay Gap, a report detailing the current effects of the gender pay gap for college graduates. While controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors, the report finds that college-educated women earn less than their male counterparts. Although there has been a dramatic increase in women’s participation in higher-level education, the gender gap has only slightly narrowed. Choices such as area of study and selectivity of the college attended factor into level of earnings, but do not account for the full discrepancy in pay between men and women. The study finds a substantial pay gap in the initial years after college among educated, full-time workers, suggesting that educational achievement alone will not solve the problem. Despite the progress that women have made, pay equity remains an issue in need of public attention and federal reform.
The study’s findings include:
The authors conclude with a series of policy suggestions aimed at narrowing the pay gap and eliminating pay discrimination, including family-friendly work policy like paid family and medical leave and child care assistance. They suggest that women and young girls should continue to take advantage of higher-education opportunities and should be encouraged to pursue “nontraditional” majors such as mathematics, science, and engineering. Within the workplace, women should be trained to negotiate for higher pay and take action at work to ensure equitable policies.
The full report is available at http://www.aauw.org/research/behindPayGap.pdf.
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