Archive for the 'In the News' Category

PSC Researchers In the News

Daniel Eisenberg discusses U-M program offering mental health services to student athletes. Huffington Post, 1/28/2015. Related journal article. See also Athletes Connected.

William H. Frey says current minority college completion rates predict decline in college-educated Americans. National Journal, 1/14/2015.

Miles Kimball and an anonymous co-author discuss male bias in economics in an article for Quartz.

Lloyd Johnston discusses the decline in teens’ smoking cigarettes and their increasing use of e-cigarettes in several media outlets. Steve Forbes has a different perspective, calling out Johnston specifically in a Forbes commentary.

Martha Bailey and Susan Dynarski’s work cited in story on sending teams of poor kids to college. The Atlantic, 12/11/2014. Related journal article.

Yu Xie’s work on Asian-American children’s school performance cited in story on parenting styles. Deseret News National. 12/08/2014. Related journal article

David Lam says improving U.S. economy may spur higher fertility, but if not, we shouldn’t worry. NPR – Marketplace. 12/04/2014.

Bill Frey says politics are being reshaped by four demographic trends in the U.S. Washington Post. 11/29/2014.

Apoorva Jadhav comments on recent government-sponsored sterilizations in India. “India sterilization deaths spark outcry for change” – CBC Radio. 11/25/2014. Listen to interview: Apoorva at 18:03.

New Rules for Human-Subject Research Remain a “Priority” But Continue to Be Delayed

By: Christopher Shea
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services had floated some ideas for changes in the rules governing such research. The aim was both to better protect the subjects and to reduce the much-resented bureaucratic burden on professors and university staff members.

… Today, more than two years after the conference, the regulations remain just where they were in 2011: still under development.

Full article

Russell Sage announcing new journal: RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

The Russell Sage Foundation announced the launch of a new social science journal, RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences. “RSF is intended to promote cross-disciplinary collaborations on timely topics of interest to social scientists and other academic researchers, policymakers, and the public at large. Each issue will be thematic in nature and will focus on a specific research question or area of interest. The introduction to each issue will provide an accessible, broad, and synthetic overview of the research question under consideration and the current thinking from various fields. RSF will be a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research by both established and emerging scholars. The first issue is scheduled to be published in fall 2015.”

Demolition as an Urban Strategy

Via The New York Times
by: Timothy Williams

Large-scale destruction is well known in Detroit, but it is also underway in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo and others at a total cost of more than $250 million. Officials are tearing down tens of thousands of vacant buildings, many habitable, as they seek to stimulate economic growth, reduce crime and blight, and increase environmental sustainability.

Full NYT story
Brookings Report (2012)
Berkeley Report (published in 2012 in the Yale Law Journal)

PubMed Commons: Comments Welcome

pmc logo

PubMed Commons has been implemented on a trial basis. This feature will allow researchers to comment on any article indexed at PubMed and read the comments of others. Eligibility is limited to those with an NIH or Wellcome Trust grant or to those who are listed as an author on any publication listed in PubMed. The latter group has to get an invitation from the former.

Read more here:

Join Pub Med’s Revolution in Post Publication Peer Review
James Coyne | PlosOne blog
October 22, 2013

And, for further background on the impetus for this feature:

Stanford professor’s pivotal role in bringing commenting capability to PubMed
Rosanne Spector | School of Medicine News [Stanford]
October 29, 2013

Janet Yellen, Economic Demographer

Janet Yellen was nominated as the first female head of the Federal Reserve yesterday [note, that Rand Paul has put a hold on the nomination] . Here is a paper she and her husband George Ackerloff wrote almost 20-years ago on the increase in unmarried childbearing:

An Analysis of Out-Of-Wedlock Births in the United States
George Ackerloff and Janet Yellen | Brookings Review
Fall 1996
This Policy Brief was prepared for the Fall 1996 issue of the Brookings Review and adapted from “An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States,” which appeared in the May 1996 issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Also of interest is a news story about Ackerloff in the mid-1980s on “efficiency wages” based on their experience hiring babysitters:

Why Unemployment Sometimes Lingers On Stirs Renewed Interest
Alan Murray | Wall Street Journal
December 26, 1985
Note that a young Larry Summers (age 30) is mentioned in this piece. Sticky wages are also mentioned in this summary of her appointment in the New York Times:

Yellen’s Path From Liberal Theorist to Fed Voice for Jobs
Binyamin Appelbaum | New York Times
October 9, 2013
As thorough as this piece is, it fails to mention that Charlie Brown was a teaching assistant for her at Harvard.

Scientific version of insider trading

This is not within demography, but here’s a snippet that every researcher shudders to think about:

[From the Retraction Watch website]

Case Western dermatology department hit with second ORI sanction within 6 months

The charge:

“engaged in research misconduct by plagiarizing significant portions from research grant application R21 AR061881 that she had reviewed for NIAMS, NIH, and inserting that text into her submitted grant application R01 AR062378-01. Respondent also plagiarized significant portions of text from the following scientific articles and one U.S. patent application available on the Internet.”

Family Demography in the News

Below is a compilation of posts about family formation and childbearing. The last piece is less on marriage and childbearing and instead focuses on the “mom penalty” in academia.

How to Live in a World Where Marriage Is in Decline
Philip Cohen | The Atlantic
June 4, 2013
This piece examines trends in marriage over time in the US and discusses the policy implications of this to the “marriage movement” promoters.

Rising Trend of Births Outside Marriage
Carl Haub | Population Reference Bureau
April 2013
This short piece examines international trends and concludes “What we can say for certain is that this new household structure is quite unlikely to revert to times past.”

Autumn of the Patriarchs: Traditional demographic patterns are changing astonishingly fast
The Economist
June 1, 2013
This is another international piece, based on statistics from Latin America. It shows trends in fertility rates and childlessness. And it is based on research by our old friend Ron Lesthaeghe and colleagues.

Marriage: More than a Century of Change
Julissa Cruz | National Center for Marriage and Family Research
June 2013
This is a very nice resource based on data from the US Census, American Community Survey, and the Vital Statistics system. It shows trends in marriage rates for women from 1890 to 2010.

Recent Trends in Births and Fertility Rates Through December 2012
Brady Hamilton and Paul Sutton | CDC
June 2013
The recent decline in fertility rates may have reached bottom.

Births Rise as Parents-to-Be Renew Confidence in Economy
Stephanie Armour | Bloomberg News
June 6, 2013
Based on the CDC report, U.S. birth-rate increase a sign of growing confidence in the economy

The Mom Penalty
Colleen Flaherty | Inside Higher Education
June 6, 2013
Do babies matter to academic careers? (Spoiler alert: for moms, “yes.”) based on Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower

Why is Science Behind a Paywall?

This is one of the more thorough pieces on the open data/open access issue. And, it is a timely piece as Pamela Smock takes over the editorship of Demography, which is a Springer product. Springer is mentioned in the piece.

Why is Science Behind a Paywall?
Alex Mayyasi | The priceonomics blog
May 10, 2013

War on Science: Canada

While Political Science has had its major funding source cut for the remainder of this fiscal year [see synopsis] and Congressional Republicans want to tinker with the American Community Survey (ACS) or completely cut its funding [see synopsis], Canada’s experience with governmental interference into scientific research is more drastic. The trend has been to fund “applied” research – sort of like funding MRI machines and not the science that developed the technology. Likewise, government scientists and even librarians are muzzled – not able to speak to the press without clearance.

Some of this has been covered in Nature and Science Insider, but most of the details require reading some Canadian news.

[Muzzling Scientists]
Harper government’s muzzling of scientists a mark of shame for Canada
Jeffrey Hutchins | thestar.coom
March 15, 2013
Notable Quotations
Since 2006 the federal government has been shortening the leash on its scientists. In some departments researchers are now not allowed to speak about their studies without ministerial (meaning political) permission. And in several documented instances that permission has been refused. In February, Fisheries and Oceans Canada raised additional non-science barriers to the publication of scientific research.

Let’s be clear. When you inhibit the communication of science, you inhibit science. The legitimacy of scientific findings depends crucially on unfettered engagement, review, and discussion among interested individuals, including members of the public.

Refreshingly, a Scandinavian with impeccable credentials provides an enlightened perspective. Gro Harlem Brundtland, three times Prime Minister of Norway and chair of the renowned Brundtland Commission on sustainable development, argues that:

“If we compromise on scientific facts and evidence, repairing nature will be enormously costly – if possible at all. Politics that disregard science and knowledge will not stand the test of time.”
If politics that diminish and devalue science should not stand the test of time, then neither should politically motivated barriers to the communication of science.

The Canadian government’s current communication controls are clearly not the hallmark of a confident, mature, and progressive society. We can and should do much, much better.

[Political Interference]
Canada puts commercialization ahead of blue-sky research
Brian Owens | Nature
March 22, 2013
Notable Quotations
But the government’s relentless focus on business innovation does not represent a coherent science strategy, says Paul Dufour, director of Paulicy Works, a science-and-technology consultancy in Gatineau, Quebec. He notes that the budget makes no reference to a national science-and-technology strategy that Harper released in 2007. “We have to assume that it’s dead, and that the government has no strategy,” Dufour says.

Instead, Dufour says, there is a piecemeal approach, with the government “picking winners” and providing new money to the automotive, aerospace, forestry and aquaculture sectors. “It’s very short-term thinking,” he says.

Canadian Budget Targets Industrial Applications
Wayne Kondro | Science Insider
March 22, 2013
Notable Quotations
The new budget promises stiffer competition for a smaller pool of research grants. What little new money is made available will again be funneled into targeted “industry-academic” partnerships.

Program after program [within the councils] is becoming company specific,” he says. “This is all money that’s being squeezed out of what should be going for discovery research. Previous budgets had signaled a shift of priorities from basic research to various collaborations with industry. This budget confirms that.”

The budget reaffirms plans by Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear to revamp the National Research Council, the government’s primary in-house research arm. The goal is to create a “concierge” service that provides one-stop shopping and solutions for industrial needs

The Canadian war on public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information
John Dupuis | Science Blogs
March 22, 2013
This blog entry provides a synopsis of a resolution voted on by the Canadian Parliament:

That, in the opinion of the House: (a) public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making; (b) federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; and (c) the federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to pursue its unique research program.

Which was defeated 157 to 137 – every conservative voted Nay, including Prime Minister Harper.

Closure of Experimental Lakes Area part of assault on science
Stephen Scharper | the
March 29, 2013
Notable Quotations
Last May, scientists were told that the federal government intended to stop funding the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) research facility, a site encompassing 58 lakes which, for more than 40 years, has provided cutting-edge findings on myriad ecological issues, including phosphate and mercury pollution, acid rain and aquatic effects of climate change. They were also told, according to some sources, not to talk about it with the media or other colleagues.

The government claims the move will save $2 million annually, and says it is willing to allow another operator to take over. As of now, no alternative agency has come forward to assume operation of the facility.

According to Cynthia Gilmour, senior scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, the ELA is “the only place in the world” where you can do controlled experiments within a lake ecosystem.