Monthly Archive for July, 2008

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Changes to the Food Stamp Program

Latest CDC Data Show More Americans Report Being Obese
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

The proportion of U.S. adults who self report they are obese increased nearly 2 percent between 2005 and 2007, according to a report in today?s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). An estimated 25.6 percent of U.S. adults reported being obese in 2007 compared to 23.9 percent in 2005, an increase of 1.7 percent. The report also finds that none of the 50 states or the District of Columbia has achieved the Healthy People 2010 goal to reduce obesity prevalence to 15 percent or less.

In three states – Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee – the prevalence of self-reported obesity among adults age 18 or older was above 30 percent. Colorado had the lowest obesity prevalence at 18.7 percent. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. BMI is calculated using height and weight. For example, a 5-foot, 9-inch adult who weighs 203 pounds would have a BMI of 30, thus putting this person into the obese category.

State-Specific Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults — United States, 2007 (Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report)
For more information on obesity trends, including an animated map, visit

Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Grant

The participating NIH Institutes and Centers invite qualified researchers to submit research grant applications aimed at improving and developing methodology and measurement in the behavioral and social sciences through innovations in research design, data collection techniques, measurement, and data analysis techniques. Research that addresses methodology and measurement issues in diverse populations, issues in studying sensitive behaviors, issues of ethics in research, issues related to confidential data and the protection of research subjects, and issues in developing interdisciplinary, multimethod, and multilevel approaches to behavioral and social science research is particularly encouraged, as are approaches that integrate behavioral and social science research with biological, physical, or computational science research or engineering.
Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (R01) Grant
Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (R21) Grant
Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (R03) Grant

America’s Children in Brief

America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2008
Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
This year’s America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being report continues the tradition of cooperation and commitment by agencies across the Federal Government to advance our understanding of children today and indicate what may be needed to bring them a better tomorrow. The Forum is already busy planning its next full report, scheduled for 2009.
Each year since 1997, the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics has published a report on the well-being of children and families. The Forum alternates publishing a detailed report, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, with a summary version that highlights selected indicators. This year, the Forum is publishing America’s Children in Brief; it will publish the more detailed report in 2009. The Forum updates all indicators and background data on its website ( every year.
The Forum fosters coordination and integration among 22 Federal agencies that produce or use statistical data on children and families. The America’s Children series provides an accessible compendium of indicators drawn from the most reliable official statistics across topics; it is designed to complement other more specialized, technical, or comprehensive reports produced by various Forum agencies.
The indicators and background measures presented in America’s Children in Brief all have been used in previous reports by the Forum. Indicators are chosen because they are easy to understand; are based on substantial research connecting them to child well-being; vary across important areas of children’s lives; are measured regularly so that they can be updated and show trends over time; and represent large segments of the population, rather than one particular group. The indicators are organized into seven sections, each focusing on a domain relevant to children’s lives: Family and Social Environment, Economic Circumstances, Health Care, Physical Environment and Safety, Behavior, Education, and Health.

New Working Papers from the NBER

The Lengthening of Childhood
David Deming, Susan Dynarski
Abstract; PDF
Family Leave after Childbirth and the Health of New Mothers
Pinka Chatterji, Sara Markowitz
Abstract; PDF
Estimating Derivatives in Nonseparable Models with Limited Dependent Variables
Joseph G. Altonji, Hidehiko Ichimura, Taisuke Otsu
Abstract; PDF
Has Public Health Insurance for Older Children Reduced Disparities in Access to Care and Health Outcomes?
Janet Currie, Sandra Decker, Wanchuan Lin
Abstract; PDF
The Evolutionary Theory of Time Preferences and Intergenerational Transfers
C.Y. Cyrus Chu, Hung-Ken Chien, Ronald D. Lee
Abstract; PDF
The Consequences of High School Exit Examinations for Struggling Low-Income Urban Students: Evidence from Massachusetts
John P. Papay, Richard J. Murnane, John B. Willett
Abstract; PDF
Immigration and National Wages: Clarifying the Theory and the Empirics
Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri
Abstract; PDF

Speech Patterns and Racial Wage Inequality

Speech Patterns and Racial Wage Inequality
Jeffrey Grogger
Source: Harris School of Public Policy Working Papers, University of Chicago
Speech patterns differ substantially between whites and African Americans. I collect and analyze data on speech patterns to understand the role they may play in explaining racial wage differences. Among blacks, speech patterns are highly correlated with measures of skill such as schooling and ASVAB scores. They are also highly correlated with the wages of young workers. Black speakers whose voices were distinctly identified as black by anonymous listeners earn about 10 percent less than whites with similar observable skills. Indistinctly identified blacks earn about 2 percent less than comparable whites. I discuss a number of models that may be consistent with these results and describe the data that one would need to distinguish among them.
Full text (PDF)

Genetics of Political Participation

Why Do People Vote? Genetic Variation in Political Participation
James H. Fowler, Christopher T. Dawes, Laura A. Baker
Source: American Political Science Review
The decision to vote has puzzled scholars for decades. Theoretical models predict little or no variation in participation in large population elections and empirical models have typically accounted for only a relatively small portion of individual-level variance in turnout behavior.However, these models have not considered the hypothesis that part of the variation in voting behavior can be attributed to genetic effects. Matching public voter turnout records in Los Angeles to a twin registry, we study the heritability of political behavior in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The results show that a significant proportion of the variation in voting turnout can be accounted for by genes.We also replicate these results with data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and show that they extend to a broad class of acts of political participation. These are the first findings to suggest that humans exhibit genetic variation in their tendency to participate in political activities.
Full text (PDF)

World Economic and Social Survey 2008

Overcoming Economic Insecurity
Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
According to the 2008 World Economic and Social Survey, economic insecurity arises from the exposure of individuals, communities and countries to adverse events, and from their inability to cope with and recover from the downside losses. The risk and threats vary from community to community; in advanced countries, they have been associated with a significant rise in inequality, a hollowing out of middle-class lifestyles and reduced welfare protection. Elsewhere, economic shocks and premature deindustrialization have raised fears of an insufficiency of the formal sector jobs needed to accommodate an expanding urban population. In still other places, food insecurity has given rise to political discontent and increased levels of personal insecurity.
These local concerns have been compounded by new global threats. Unregulated financial markets and international capital flows are currently threatening economic livelihoods across the world economy. Climate change imposes the threat of greater local environmental damage and increasingly destructive natural disasters.
The attention brought to the presence of these heightened economic risks and compounded threats has often been met with the response that the forces behind them are autonomous and irresistible, and beyond our collective political control. The Survey offers a different perspective. What is needed is a strong “social contract” to help secure the spaces within which individuals, households and communities could pursue their day-to-day activities with a reasonable degree of predictability and stability, and with due regard for the aims and interests of others. This will require a more integrated and pragmatic approach to economic and social policy, one tailored to local threats and challenges, as well as more space for implementing counter-cyclical macroeconomic policies and greater international support for broader social protection schemes. It will also require a better link between approaches to local disaster management and development strategies, aimed particularly at the establishment of more diversified production structures for sustaining livelihoods in vulnerable countries. Dealing with economic insecurity in post-conflict situations requires radically different approaches to the provisioning of official development assistance and to the conduct of macroeconomic and social policies.

Full report (PDF)
; Download individual chapters

2008 Statistics on Child Welfare

2008 State Fact Sheets from the Child Welfare League of America
The State Fact Sheets provide descriptive information on the condition of vulnerable children in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, using indicators of child protection, health, child care, education, and income support.

Each State is available in PDF or HTML.

The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

The trial subscription to The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics is effective till Aug 23.
If you would like to see the University Library subscribe to this work on a permanent basis, send comments to sseteam@ctools.umich.

New Working Papers from the NBER

Wages, Unemployment and Inequality with Heterogeneous Firms and Workers
Elhanan Helpman, Oleg Itskhoki, Stephen Redding
Abstract; PDF
State and Federal Approaches to Health Reform: What Works for the Working Poor?
Ellen Meara, Meredith Rosenthal, Anna Sinaiko, Katherine Baicker
Abstract; PDF
The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Investigation of the Settler Mortality Data
David Y. Albouy
Abstract; PDF
Exclusionary Policies in Urban Development, How under-servicing of migrant households affects the growth and composition of Brazilian cities
Leo Feler, J. Vernon Henderson
Abstract; PDF
The Knowledge Trap: Human Capital and Development Reconsidered
Benjamin F. Jones
Abstract; PDF
From the New Wave to the New Hollywood: The Life Cycles of Important Movie Directors from Godard and Truffaut to Spielberg and Eastwood
David Galenson, Joshua Kotin
Abstract; PDF