Rethinking Parole

By: Jessica Glazer
Source: FiveThirtyEight

Parole conditions vary widely from state to state and case to case. As states attempt to reduce their prison populations, and as the number of parolees grows — now up to more than 851,000 people nationally — advocates are increasingly concerned that parole rules can be too restrictive for the average parolee, making it too easy to end up behind bars again for technical violations. As states contend with the high cost of incarceration and use parole to cut costs, advocates are calling for consistency in how it’s deployed.

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When Urban Renewal for Millenials Prices Out the Poor

By: Emily Badger
Source: Wonkblog (Washington Post)

For Chicago, the debate over these buildings captures a larger tension that is simultaneously playing out in parts of Los Angeles and New York and Washington: The new owners and tenants moving in bring higher tax dollars, capital to revive old buildings and momentum to draw even more young professionals. But those benefits have come at a cost. Now Chicago is trying to save what amounts to 6,000 remaining SRO units, a small fraction of what once existed in the city as a housing stock of last resort for the poor.

Full story

A Strong Sense of Purpose Can Extend Life

By: Robert Preidt
Source: U.S. News & World Report (HealthDay News)

FRIDAY, Nov. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Another study finds that having a sense of meaning and purpose in your life might do more than just give you focus — it might help you live longer, too.

The study, involving more than 9,000 British people averaging 65 years of age, found that those who professed to feeling worthwhile and having a sense of purpose in life were less likely to die during the more than eight years the researchers tracked them.

Over the study period, 9 percent of people with the highest levels of this type of well-being died, compared with 29 percent of those with the lowest levels, according to the report in the Nov. 7 issue of The Lancet.

The study comes on the heels of similar research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In that study, a team led by Eric Kim of the University of Michigan found that older adults with a strong sense of purpose in life may be particularly likely to get health screenings such as colonoscopies and mammograms.

U.S. News & World Report story
Eric Kim’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article
Lancet article (in press)

You’ll live longer than you think you will [HRS data]

Recent research based on an original question in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) shows how few folks felt they would live to 75 (at age 50). There is also an association with the low probability folks dying earlier than the high probability folks.

Popular press coverage and a Brookings publication below:

You’ll probably live much longer than you think you will
Christopher Ingraham | Washington Post [Wonkblog]
November 10, 2014

Better Financial Security in Retirement? Realizing the Promise of Longevity Annuities
Katharine Abraham and Benjamin Harris | Brookings
November 6, 2014
Abstract | Full Paper

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

Federal Register Notice: Some ACS questions on the chopping block

You can comment on the Census Bureau’s plans to remove some questions from the American Community Survey (marriage history and field of study in college) via the Federal Register:

link to Federal Register Notice

A working paper by Kennedy and Ruggles provides some talking points on the marriage history question: “Breaking up is Hard to Count . . . ” And, quite a number of researchers of the STEM population, including the migration of STEM folks, ought to be interested in the field of study question.

It is interesting to note that questions that were thought to be vulnerable (flush toilet, leaving time for work, income, and mental/emotional disability) were unscathed. For historical purposes (e.g., April 2014) it is interesting to review a summary of these touchy questions.

Here is a summary of how the Census Bureau came up with the questions to be eliminated. It comes down to a grid of mandated/required questions x user burden/cost:

American Community Survey (ACS) Content Review
Gary Chappell |Census Bureau
October 9, 2014

Other helpful links are on the ACS Content Review website.

2 or More Children Raises Productivity, At Least For Academic Economists

By Ylan Q. Mui
Source: Wonkblog

A word of encouragement for my working moms: You are actually more productive than your childless peers.

That’s the conclusion of a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which found that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperformed women without children at almost every stage of the game. In fact, mothers with at least two kids were the most productive of all.

Full story on Wonkblog
Parenthood and Productivity of Highly Skilled Labor, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Working Paper

Political Science: A self-inflicted wound?

Stanford University and Dartmouth have sent an open apology letter to the state of Montana for a voting experiment conducted by political scientists at their respective institutions. The study had IRB approval, at least from Dartmouth. It uses a database of ideological scores based on donors to identify the political affiliation of judges. See this Upshot article on the start-up company, Crowdpac, that developed this database. Montana is quite irritated with the use of the state of Montana seal on the mailer. Did that get through the IRB?

The letters:

Senator John Tester’s letter to Stanford & Dartmouth | The apology letter

Messing with Montana: Get-out-the -Vote Experiment Raises Ethics Questions
Melissa R. Michelson | The New West (blog of the Western Political Science Association)
October 25, 2014

Today, the Internet exploded with news about and reactions to a get-out-the-vote field experiment fielded by three political science professors that may have broken Montana state law and, at a minimum, called into question the ethics of conducting experiments that might impact election results.

Professors’ Research Project Stirs Political Outrage in Montana
Derek Willis | NY Times
October 28, 2014

Universities say they regret sending Montana voters election mailers criticized for being misleading
Hunter Schwarz | The Washington Post
October 29, 2014

The Economics of Parenting

By: Roberto A. Ferdman
Source: Wonkblog (Washington Post)

Strict parents — the sort who practice an authoritarian form of parenting that restricts children’s choices — are more common in countries with high inequality, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study used the World Value Survey to measure whether parents in different countries care more about qualities desired by stricter parents, like “hard work” and “obedience,” or qualities desired more by passive parents, like “imagination” and “independence.

It found that the more unequal a society, the more likely people were to favor strict parenting.

Wonkblog post
NBER Working Paper (PDF)

U.S. High School On-Time Graduate Rate is Growing

By: Ben Casselman
Source: FiveThirtyEight

In 2013, 85 percent of Elkhart’s students graduated on time, putting the district close to the state average. Perhaps even more remarkably, the graduation rate among Hispanics is now equal to — or even slightly above — that of the district’s overall population.

Elkhart’s improvement is a particularly dramatic example of a nation-wide trend: Graduation rates are improving, especially for Latinos. Nationally, the on-time graduation rate topped 80 percent for the first time in 2012, up from 74 percent five years earlier. For Latinos, the graduation rate is up more than 10 percentage points over the past five years, to 76 percent.

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