PRC Research Brief Series

Welcome to the PRC Research Brief Series, an ongoing selection of research briefs based on PRC publications of special interest to policymakers.

2017 - 2016

Improving Women’s Education Improves Maternal Health: Evidence from Peru

Abigail Weitzman, July 2017

Maternal mortality in Peru declined over 70 percent between 1990 and 2015. Women’s education levels rose during the same period. This brief indicates that Peruvian women’s rising education levels contributed to falling maternal mortality rates by reducing the risk of maternal complications and increasing the use of modern contraception and reproductive healthcare.

Race Gaps in School Trust: Where They Come from and How to Resolve Them

David S. Yeager, Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Sophia Yang Hooper, and Geoffrey L. Cohen, June 2017

Trust in American institutions varies widely among adults from different racial-ethnic backgrounds. This brief, from PRC faculty research associate David Yeager and colleagues demonstrates that unjust treatment causes minority adolescents to lose trust in school, but a respectful "wise feedback" intervention can repair distrust.

The Parenthood “Happiness Penalty”: The Effects of Social Policies in 22 Countries

Jennifer Glass, Robin W. Simon and Matthew A. Andersson, May 2017

A large body of research has established that parents are less happy than nonparents. But is it always true that parents are less happy than nonparents? This research brief by PRC faculty research associate Jennifer Glass and her colleagues Robin W. Simon and Matthew Andersson shows that the “happiness penalty” is entirely explained by the presence or absence of social policies that allow parents to better combine paid work with family obligations.

Open Defecation and Anemia in Children: The Case of Nepal

Diane Coffey, Michael Geruso, and Dean Spears, May 2017

Anemia is typically thought of as a nutritional outcome, with a corresponding policy focus on improving nutrient intake.  PRC faculty research associates Diane Coffey, Michael Geruso, and Dean Spears convincingly show that the disease environment affects nutrient absorption.  Therefore, interventions to address anemia should also focus on reducing parasitic infections that are transmitted through open defecation.  They make the case that policy makers interested in reducing anemia in developing countries should also prioritize reducing open defecation. 

Do Men and Women Both Enjoy a Wage Premium for Working in Finance?

Ken-Hou Lin and Megan Tobias NeelyApril 2017

Over the last three decades, compensation in financial sector jobs has grown dramatically. However, do men and women who work in finance earn a wage premium? That is, do they earn more than their counterparts working in nonfinance jobs?  And do wage premiums vary by gender and parental status?  The authors, PRC faculty research associate Ken-Hou Lin and sociology PhD candidate Megan Tobias Neely, find that women earn a greater wage premium than men in low-wage financial jobs but that almost all of the increase in compensation in high finance has been captured by men, particularly fathers.

Do Gay, Lesbian, and Heterosexual Spouses Differ in the Ways They Care for Each Other During Physical Illness?

Debra Umberson, Mieke Beth Thomeer, Corinne Reczek, Rachel Donnelly, and Rhiannon A. Kroeger, March 2017

Using data collected from surveys and in-depth interviews with same- and different-sex couples, this brief summarizes two studies that analyze gendered marital dynamics around care work for physical illness.  Led by PRC Director Debra Umberson, authors include PRC NICHD Trainee Rachel Donnelly and PRC alumnae Mieke Beth Thomeer, Corinne Reczek, and Rhiannon A. Kroeger.  The authors found differences by gender and union type in the ways women and men give care to and receive care from their spouses in lesbian, gay, and heterosexual marriages.

Do U.S. States’ Socioeconomic and Policy Contexts Shape Differences in Adult Disability?

Jennifer Karas Montez, Mark D. Hayward, and Douglas A. Wolf, March 2017

Using nationally-representative data from the American Community Survey, the authors, including PRC Faculty Research Associate Mark Hayward, apply the World Health Organization’s socio-ecological framework to determine if differences in adult disability exist across states and, if so, what are possible explanations for those differences. The research finds that disparities in adult disability across U.S. states are substantial, and a significant fraction of disparities arises from economic or social policies at the state level.

How Greater Travel Distance Due to Clinic Closures Reduced Access to Abortion in Texas

Daniel Grossman, Kari White, Kristine Hopkins, and Joseph E. Potter, February 2017 

Texas Policy Evaluation Project investigators demonstrate that increases in travel distance to the nearest abortion clinic caused by clinic closures between 2012 and 2014 were closely associated with decreases in the official number of abortions in Texas. Counties where the distance to the nearest facility increased 100 miles or more between 2012 and 2014 saw a 50% decline in abortions. Meanwhile, counties that did not have an abortion provider in 2014 and did not experience a change in distance to the nearest facility had essentially no change in the number of abortions.

How Losing Family Members Earlier than Expected Adds to Racial Disadvantage for U.S. Blacks 

Debra Umberson, January 2017

PRC Director Debra Umberson uses nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the Health and Retirement Study to estimate the differences by race in the likelihood that Blacks will be exposed to more deaths of close family members than Whites throughout their lives. The data shows that Black Americans experience more family member deaths than Whites overall, and specific losses occur earlier in life. Studying this question is important because it could reveal an added layer of racial disadvantage suffered by Blacks that is not captured by differences in life expectancy or mortality alone.

Irish and Northern Irish Women's Experiences with At-Home Medical Abortion Using Online Telemedicine

Abigail R. A. Aiken, December 2016

PRC Faculty Research Associate Abigail Aiken reports on work with colleagues in which they analyzed six years of data from Irish and Northern Irish women who requested and accessed abortion pills using the online telemedicine service Women on Web (WoW). The aim of the study was to learn about who requests and accesses abortion using online services and their experiences both with their unwanted pregnancies and their abortions. This brief was submitted to the Irish Citizens' Assembly, where it is currently being considered as key evidence in the decision about whether to call a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution. 

Addressing Homophobic Bullying in Schools: Punitive Versus Supportive Strategies

Jack Day, November 2016

This brief, based on PRC Faculty Research Associate Stephen Russell's and Post-Doctoral Fellow Jack Day and colleague's article in Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity entitled, "Supportive, Not Punitive, Practices Reduce Homophobic Bullying and Improve School Connectedness," highlights the best practices preventing homophobic bullying in schools, an important issue as U.S. states consider how to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (the replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act). The brief shows that schools with supportive practices, such as counseling services and a case-by-case approach to discipline, have better outcomes than schools with punitive, “zero tolerance” practices. 

Cohabitating Couples With Lower Education Levels Marry Less. Is This Because They Do Not Want To?

Kelly Raley, August 2016

This brief, based on PRC Associate Director Kelly Raley's co-authored article in Demography entitled “Diverging Patterns of Union Transition Among Cohabitators by Race-Ethnicity and Education: Trends and Marital Intentions,” addresses the decline in marriage among co-habitating couples by examining marriage intention and structural barriers.

How Do Potential New Employers Evaluate Workers in Part-Time Jobs, "Temp" Jobs, or Jobs Beneath Their Skill Level?

David Pedulla, April 2016

This brief, based on PRC Faculty Research Associate David Pedulla's article "Penalized or Protected? Gender and the Consequence of Nonstandard and Mismatched Employment Histories” recently published in the American Sociological Review, examines the consequences of having a history of part-time work, “temp” agency employment, or a job beneath one’s skill level when applying for a new position. 

How Can Improving Data Collection and Reporting Advance the Civil Rights of LGBT Students?

Stephen Russell, March 2016

This brief, based on the article “Documenting Disparities for LGBT Students: Expanding the Collection and Reporting of Data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” published in March in Discipline Disparities: A Research-to-Practice Collaborative, focuses on the importance of collecting data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. PRC Faculty Research Associate Dr. Stephen Russell is a co-author of this article and editor of the journal.


The PRC Research Brief Series is organized and edited by Kristine Hopkins. Contact her with research brief ideas, questions or comments.

2016 PRC Research Brief Series organized and edited by Laura Dixon.


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