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.

2018 - 2017 - 2016

Black Deaths Matter: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Racial Disparities in Relationship Loss and Health

Debra Umberson, January 2018

Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to experience the premature death of mothers, fathers, siblings, children, and other relatives and friends. In this brief, PRC director Debra Umberson presents a conceptual framework for understanding how disparities in loss launch a lifelong cascade of psychological, social, behavioral, and biological consequences that undermine social connections, health, and well-being over the life course for black Americans.

Perceptions of Shared Power, Gender Conformity, and Marital Quality in Same- and Different-Sex Marriages

Amanda M. Pollitt, Brandon A. Robinson, and Debra Umberson, December 2017

Marriage is a key institutional context for the study of gender and gender inequality. This research brief, led by PRC postdoctoral fellow Amanda Pollitt, examines the relationships between gender conformity (i.e., women embody femininity and men embody masculinity), perceptions of shared power, and marital quality in same- and different-sex marriages.

Parenting Patterns, Racial Discrimination, and African American Adolescents’ Psychological and Academic Outcomes

Fatima Varner, Yang Hou, Tajma Hodzic, Noelle M. Hurd, Sheretta T. Butler-Barnes, and Stephanie J. Rowley, November 2017

Declines in academic engagement and psychological well-being, which are common for many adolescents, may be exacerbated among some African American adolescents because of exposure to racial discrimination. While discrimination can have negative effects on the development of minority children, some develop adaptive qualities to better cope with discrimination. These qualities can contribute to psychological well-being and better academic outcomes. This research brief, by PRC faculty research associate Fatima Varner and colleagues, reports on a study that examined whether there were groups of families with different combinations of parenting, specifically involved-vigilant parenting and parental racial socialization (i.e., messages about race). Next, the researchers examined whether parenting profiles, racial discrimination, and adolescent gender independently or interactively predicted adolescent academic and psychological outcomes.

Women’s Empowerment and Contraceptive Method Use in Egypt

Goleen Samari, October 2017

Egypt’s fertility rate reached a 25-year high of 3.5 births per woman in 2014.It is assumed that women’s empowerment plays an important role in women’s choice of a specific contraceptive method. This research brief, by former PRC postdoctoral fellow Goleen Samari, found that use of long-acting methods fell in Egypt between 2005 and 2014, while use of short-acting methods increased. She also found that women’s empowerment increases the likelihood of contraceptive use in Egypt.

Adolescent E-cigarette Users’ Perceptions of the Harm and Addictiveness of Conventional Cigarette Smoking

Olusegun Owotomo, Julie Maslowsky, and Alexandra Loukas, October 2017

As the popularity of e-cigarettes continues to rise and their link with conventional cigarette smoking becomes clearer, it is important to understand how e-cigarette users compare with non-users, conventional cigarette smokers, and dual users on perceptions of addiction risk of conventional cigarette smoking as well as on other risk factors associated with smoking. PRC graduate student trainee Olusegun Owotomo, PRC faculty research associate Julie Maslowsky, and co-author Alexandra Loukas found that adolescent e-cigarette users endorsed a number of attitudes, perceptions, and characteristics that are risk factors for conventional cigarette smoking. These perceptions may leave them vulnerable to becoming conventional cigarette smokers or dual users in the future and potentially increase their risk for nicotine addiction.

The Impact of the Zika Epidemic on Women’s Reproductive Intentions and Behaviors in Brazil

Letícia J. Marteleto, Abigail Weitzman, Raquel Zanatta Coutinho, and Sandra Valongueiro Alves, October 2017

This research brief, by PRC faculty research associates Leticia Marteleto and Abigail Weitzman and co-authors, reports on a focus group study that explores how and why the Zika virus affects reproductive processes in Brazil. The authors found that both reproductive intentions and behaviors changed as a result of the Zika epidemic among women from low and high socioeconomic status groups in two areas of Brazil. They argue that Brazilian health officials and policymakers should reduce barriers to contraceptive use, address longstanding disparities in reproductive health services that put low-income women at disproportionate risk of an unwanted pregnancy, legalize abortion, and show respect and support to women who actively pursue pregnancy during the Zika epidemic.

The Emergence of Big Data Policing

Sarah Brayne, August 2017

The past decade has seen both the proliferation of surveillance in everyday life and the rise of “big data.” Through extensive qualitative research focusing on the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), PRC faculty research associate Sarah Brayne explores whether and how adopting big data analytics transforms police surveillance practices. This brief demonstrates that, in some cases, the adoption of big data analytics is associated with mere amplifications in prior practices, but in others, it is associated with fundamental transformations in surveillance activities.

What are the Effects of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Depression and Thoughts of Death on Their Children’s Level of Parental Connectedness?

Susan De Luca, Yan Yueqi, and Yolanda Padilla, August 2017

Mental health outcomes such as depression are often passed down in families. While links between the mental health conditions of parents and their children have been established, there is a limited understanding of these outcomes over time and the impact that mothers and fathers have on their children independently. Analyzing data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, PRC faculty research associates Susan De Luca and Yolanda Padilla and co-author Yan Yueqi show that children felt less connected to both mothers and fathers with mental health symptoms, but the effects varied somewhat based on the sex of the parent.

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 by PRC faculty research associate Abigail Weitzman 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 colleagues, 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 former PRC graduate trainee Jennifer Karas Montez and current 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 postdoctoral 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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