Monthly Archive for May, 2008

Page 2 of 3

Older Americans and Poverty

More Older Americans are Poor than the Official Measure Suggests
Sheila R. Zedlewski, Barbara Butrica
Source: The Urban Institute


The number of poor adults age 65 and older has declined dramatically since the official poverty rate was designed back in the 1960s. Today the federal government considers fewer than 1 in 10 older adults to be poor, compared with about 1 in 3 in the 1960s. These estimates show the share of people with insufficient income to meet basic living expenses, such as food and housing. However, substantial research shows that the official poverty measure no longer reflects the true resources or needs of older adults.
The lack of an accurate poverty measure for older adults hampers efforts to reform Medicare and Social Security, which face significant revenue shortfalls. Reform proposals often aim to reduce costs by combining benefit cuts with increased cost sharing for older adults. To target any cuts or increased costs to older adults with the greatest ability to pay, an accurate measure of economic well-being is critical.

Inequalities in U.S. Death Rates

Widening of Socioeconomic Inequalities in U.S. Death Rates, 1993–2001
Ahmedin Jemal1, Elizabeth Ward, Robert N. Anderson, Taylor Murray, Michael J. Thun
Source: PLoS ONE

Socioeconomic inequalities in death rates from all causes combined widened from 1960 until 1990 in the U.S., largely because cardiovascular death rates decreased more slowly in lower than in higher socioeconomic groups. However, no studies have examined trends in inequalities using recent US national data.


Immigrant Assimilation

Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States
by Jacob L. Vigdor

Executive Summary

This report introduces a quantitative index that measures the degree of similarity between native- and foreign-born adults in the United States. It is the ability to distinguish the latter group from the former that we mean when we use the term “assimilation.�? The Index of Immigrant Assimilation relies on Census Bureau data available in some form since 1900 and as current as the year before last. The index reveals great diversity in the experiences of individual immigrant groups, which differ from each other almost as much as they differ from the native-born. They vary significantly in the extent to which their earnings have increased, their rate of learning the English language, and progress toward citizenship. Mexican immigrants, the largest group and the focus of most current immigration policy debates, have assimilated slowly, but their experience is not representative of the entire immigrant population.

Collective assimilation rates are lower than they were a century ago, although no lower than they have been in recent decades. And this is true despite the fact that recent immigrants have arrived less assimilated than their predecessors and in very large numbers. In addition to country of origin, the Index categorizes groups on the basis of date of arrival, age, and place of residence. Some groups have done far better or worse than the Index as a whole; Assimilation also varies considerably across metropolitan areas.


New Discussion Papers from the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

In Search of Gender Bias in Household Resource Allocation in Rural China
Lina Song
Abstract; PDF
Selective Migration and Health
Timothy Halliday, Michael C. Kimmitt
Abstract; PDF
The Impact of Population Aging on the Labor Market: The Case of Sri Lanka
Milan Vodopivec, Nisha Arunatilake
Abstract; PDF
Heterogeneity, State Dependence and Health
Timothy Halliday
Abstract; PDF
Civil Wars beyond their Borders: The Human Capital and Health Consequences of Hosting Refugees
Javier E. Baez
Abstract; PDF
Between Meritocracy and Ethnic Discrimination: The Gender Difference
Mahmood Arai, Moa Bursell, Lena Nekby
Abstract; PDF
Does the Effect of Incentive Payments on Survey Response Rates Differ by Income Support History?
Juan Baron, Robert Breunig, Deborah Cobb-Clark, Tue Gorgens, Anastasia Sartbayeva
Abstract; PDF
Hyperbolic Discounting and the Phillips Curve
Liam Graham, Dennis J. Snower
Abstract; PDF

New Working Papers from the NBER

Bribery or Just Desserts? Evidence on the Influence of Congressional Voting Patterns on PAC Contributions from Exogenous Variation in the Sex Mix of Legislator Offspring
Dalton Conley and Brian J. McCabe
Abstract; PDF
Life Expectancy and Human Capital Investments: Evidence From Maternal Mortality Declines
Seema Jayachandran and Adriana Lleras-Muney
Abstract; PDF
Beyond Signaling and Human Capital: Education and the Revelation of Ability
Peter Arcidiacono, Patrick Bayer, and Aurel Hizmo
Abstract; PDF
Conflict and Deterrence under Strategic Risk
Sylvain Chassang and Gerard Padro i Miquel
Abstract; PDF

New Poverty, Gender, and Youth Working Paper from the Population Council

Terms of marriage and time-use patterns of young wives: Evidence from rural Bangladesh
Sajeda Amin and Luciana Suran
Abstract; PDF

Religion and Fertility

Religious affiliation, religiosity, and male and female fertility (PDF)
Li Zhang
Demographic Research, 18(8)

Religious studies of fertility typically focus on the effect of religious affiliation on fertility; the role of religiosity in determining fertility remains overlooked. Meanwhile, most studies focus on studying female fertility; whether religion and religiosity have significantly different impacts on men’s and women’s fertility rarely has been examined. To fill these gaps, this study uses data from the 2002 NSFG Cycle 6 on religious affiliation, religiosity, and children ever born (CEB) for both men and women to investigate the effects of religious affiliation and religiosity on male and female fertility. A series of hypotheses which aim to demonstrate the critical role of religiosity, particularly the importance of religious beliefs in people’s daily life in shaping people’s fertility behavior are tested. The findings show a shrinking pattern of fertility differentials among religious groups. However, religiosity, particularly religious beliefs, shows a substantially positive effect on fertility. The gender interaction terms are not significant which indicates that the effects of religion and religiosity on fertility do not vary by gender.

Engines of Inequality: Class, Race, and Family Structure

Engines of Inequality: Class, Race, and Family Structure (PDF)
Amy L. Wax, University of Pennsylvania Law School


The past 30 years have witnessed a dramatic divergence in family structure by social class, income, education, and race. This article reviews the data on these trends, explores their significance, and assesses social scientists’ recent attempts to explain them. The article concludes that society-wide changes in economic conditions or social expectations cannot account for these patterns. Rather, for reasons that are poorly understood, cultural disparities have emerged by class and race in attitudes and behaviors surrounding family, sexuality, and reproduction. These disparities will likely fuel social and economic inequality and contribute to disparities in children’s life prospects for decades to come.

The Growing Divide: Income Inequality and Its Effects on Florida

The Growing Divide: Income Inequality and Its Effects on Florida’s Families (PDF)
Emily Eisenhauer, Marcos Feldman, Bruce Nissen, and Yue Zhang
Source: Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, Florida International University

The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest families in Florida is widening, impacting housing and health care coverage. Over the last fifteen years the average income of the top 5% of families have increased by more than 55%. Upper income families are over two and a half times as likely as low-income families to own their own homes, and 22% more likely to have every household member covered by health insurance.

State Programs Add Safety Net for Low Income Workers

State Programs Add Safety Net for the Poorest
May 12, 2008
At least a dozen states are giving monthly payments to low-income workers, hoping to keep them off welfare rolls.