Quantifying the Impact of the Global Gag Rule: What 2020 Candidates Should Know

By Anna Bernstein

Abortion has not been a top issue raised in Democratic debates so far, despite the growing number of threats to access across the country. But with strong support of abortion rights among the long list of candidates, the 2020 election provides an opportunity to eliminate federal funding restrictions on abortion. Notably, these restrictions go beyond funding within the United States, with the Global Gag Rule playing a key role in U.S. aid abroad.

U.S. taxpayer dollars have been prohibited from being used for abortion care since 1973, through the Helms Amendment, which states that no foreign assistance can be used to pay for abortion services as a means of family planning.

The Global Gag Rule takes this type of restriction even further. Formally called the Mexico City policy, the rule places strict limits on U.S. global health aid by preventing U.S. aid-funded organizations from providing information or services about abortion. It requires foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to agree that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” with any funding—regardless of whether the United States is the source of those funds—as a condition for receiving U.S. family planning assistance. The rule was first announced by the Reagan Administration and has subsequently been revoked and reinstated by Democratic and Republican presidents, respectively.

But the Trump Administration went even further in enacting the policy. The Global Gag Rule was expanded by President Trump in 2017 to include most other forms of U.S. global health assistance, rather than just family planning funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State. This extends the rule to affect a funding pool 15 times larger than that of the George W. Bush-era policy.

Work is being done to document the effects of this iteration of the Global Gag Rule. The policy has led to diminished reproductive health and humanitarian aid services, disruption to non-U.S. donors, reduced advocacy work, and high costs for organizations attempting to comply with the policy. Qualitative research has demonstrated exacerbated barriers to health care, funding gaps, and overall confusion and misunderstanding among the global health community.

In addition to this evidence, a few studies have examined past implementations of the Global Gag Rule to measure the effects on fertility and other outcomes. These studies provide estimates of the impact of the policy on a range of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, allowing researchers to quantify what impact this rule has had in the past—and providing insight to what may be occurring with the latest iteration of the policy.

Bendavid et al. (2011) evaluated whether the gag rule was associated with changes in the inferred abortion rate in 20 African countries. The authors compared the periods of 1994 to 2000 and 2001 to 2008, around the 2001 reinstatement of the rule by George W. Bush. Countries that received higher assistance for family planning and reproductive health when the policy was not in place were classified as high-exposure countries.

The analysis found that the inferred abortion rate significantly increased for women in those countries once the Global Gag Rule was implemented: after adjusting for a number of related factors, women in highly-exposed countries were over two and a half times as likely to have an abortion. So even though this policy is put into place by politicians opposing abortion, the abortion rate goes up while it is in effect. This is likely due to reduced access to contraceptive services caused by the rule’s limits on U.S. family planning aid.

Jones (2011) took this type of evaluation further by examining actual abortion data within one country—Ghana—and using actual woman-level data rather than estimations. Unlike Bendavid et al., Jones analyzes the effects over three changes in the policy’s implementation rather than just 2001.

The findings are once again counterintuitive to the stated goal of the Global Gag Rule: no demographic group reduced use of abortion. Instead, women in rural areas actually increased their abortion use when the policy was in effect.

Jones is also able to quantify why this increase in abortion use occurred. She finds that the lack of contraceptives available during the years of the policy caused a 12 percent increase in pregnancies to rural women.

More recent research by Brooks et al. provides even more evidence that the Global Gag Rule increases abortion prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa. Again, a reduction in contraceptive use is found, paired with an increase in abortion rates in countries with high levels of exposure to the policy.

These rigorous evaluations provide evidence that the Global Gag Rule not only reduces access to contraceptive services—it actually increases use of abortion. Forty-five percent of abortions are unsafe, with the proportion even higher in countries with more restrictive abortion laws. By cutting off access to safe abortion services, while also reducing access to contraception, it may be pushing even more women and girls to seek unsafe abortion.

This research illuminates some of the important, and often overlooked, effects of U.S. policies. Not only will the 2020 election determine access to reproductive health services in the United States, but it also has the potential to impact the health of women and girls around the world.

Read recent research on the economic effects of access to abortion and contraception from IWPR’s Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health.

Reproductive Health and Community College Students: Building Momentum toward Holistic Approaches to Student Success

Reproductive Health and Community College Students: Building Momentum toward Holistic Approaches to Student Success

by Tessa Holtzman, Anna Bernstein, and Lindsey Reichlin Cruse

On July 8-9, 2019 in Washington, DC, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) hosted a convening on expanding reproductive health access for community college students. The convening brought together reproductive health and higher education experts, program leaders, community college representatives, and students to share their strategies and consider new opportunities to improve reproductive health access for the community college population. With over 40 people in attendance, the convening offered a powerful opportunity to discuss the need for greater attention to students’ reproductive health, the role that improved access to family planning information and care could play in students’ outcomes, and how colleges and communities around the country are working to close existing access gaps. This post describes highlights of the convening and foundational principles that emerged from the discussion that can guide future efforts to expand access to reproductive health for community college students.

The Case for Reproductive Health Access for Community College Students

In the absence of supportive services pregnancy and parenthood can diminish a college student’s ability to attend college and succeed once enrolled. Providing students with the resources, including access to affordable contraceptive options and information they need to decide if and when they want to start a family, is key to supporting their postsecondary success. Yet, just half of community colleges have health centers, and, according to IWPR’s research (here and here), many do not provide supports to help students meet their reproductive and sexual health needs.

Recent efforts to improve community college outcomes have increasingly focused on taking a holistic approach to student success. Holistic or wraparound supports can take many forms, from individualized coaching that refers students to on- or off-campus services, such as campus food pantries, emergency aid programs, or child care. As holistic approaches to improving student outcomes are increasingly seen as best practice, ensuring that access to reproductive health services is included in the suite of supports provided to students, either directly or indirectly, is essential.

As holistic approaches to improving student outcomes are increasingly seen as best practice, ensuring that access to reproductive health services is included in the suite of supports provided to students, either directly or indirectly, is essential.

One study estimates that unplanned pregnancy accounts for 10 percent of dropouts among female community college students and 7 percent of dropouts among community college students overall.

College-aged young adults are likely to be sexually active and many do not use birth control or other forms of contraception regularly, or do not have access to the form of contraception they prefer. Community college students want to prevent pregnancy, but often hold misconceptions about birth control and are at higher risk for unintended pregnancy than college students overall. Unmet need for contraception is high among women in community college, with cost and insurance often getting in the way of their ability to use their preferred contraceptive methods. The legacy of reproductive coercion can also effect the ability of community college students of color to access their preferred method of contraceptive care.

 

When students have access to family planning support, however, success is more likely. For example, legal access to contraception and abortion has been historically shown to improve a range of economic outcomes for women, including educational attainment. A 2007 study estimated that by 2000, more than 250,000 women over the age 30 were able to obtain bachelor’s degrees as a result of access to contraception. Ensuring students can access a range of family planning services, including contraception and abortion, and that campuses are family friendly for students who have children, is key to supporting community college students’ health needs and educational aspirations.

Increasing Access to Reproductive Care on Community College Campuses

To move the needle for community college students’ access to reproductive health supports, campuses need a better understanding of the link between reproductive health and student outcomes, along with more information and examples of approaches that help students with their reproductive needs. The convening included programs that are working to increase reproductive health access for college students, including:

  • BAE-B-SAFE, a partnership between Healthy Futures of Texas and Alamo Community Colleges in San Antonio, Texas,
  • The Women’s Fund of Omaha’s Adolescent Health Project, which serves students at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, and
  • G.I.R.L. (Gathering Information Related to Ladies), a student advocacy group led by African American women from Jackson State University.

A number of community colleges were also represented at the event, including Austin Community College, Miami Dade College, and Pasadena City College, in addition to national groups, such as Power to Decide, National Women’s Law Center, and Young Invincibles.

Several principles emerged from discussions among convening participants and IWPR’s research to guide efforts to integrate reproductive health into colleges’ holistic approaches to student success:

  • Building college & community partnerships. Knowing that many community colleges do not have the capacity to provide direct reproductive health services to students, colleges should build partnerships with community reproductive health providers to facilitate students’ access to care that can meet their reproductive health needs. Referrals to outside services and information on pregnancy and family planning would play an important role in allowing students to plan when, and whether, they want to become pregnant while in college.
  • Providing access to inclusive, safe, and culturally-competent care. As colleges think about how to connect students with reproductive care, they should ensure that the care offered is centered on the needs and preferences of students, and that it is confidential, consistent, accessible, and inclusive of all students, including current parents, students who want to become parents, students who do not want to become parents, and LGBTQ+ students. Services must also be culturally conscious, taking into account disparities in access to reproductive health supports, existing biases in the provision of sexual and reproductive health care, and the impact that the legacy of reproductive coercion may have on the perceptions and experiences of students of color.
  • Making the case for new investments. Messaging about the importance of increasing students’ access to reproductive health services must resonate with students, faculty, staff, and college leadership. For example, explaining the link between access to reproductive health services and improved student outcomes will help make the case to college administrators that investing in greater support for students’ reproductive health needs is worthwhile. More research is needed on students’ needs and the availability of services on community college campuses to strengthen this case and to clarify how colleges can make a measurable difference.
  • Peer-to-peer learning & information sharing. Connecting community college leaders with others who are already working to increase student access to reproductive health care on college campuses can demonstrate the potential for success. Greater communication of current practices in the field can also exemplify the benefits of this work and provide a roadmap for institutions interested in learning more.
  • Building awareness & support. Greater attention to the importance of students’ reproductive lives for college success, and advocacy to increase access to services, is essential to moving the needle forward. Cultivating high-level champions would help raise awareness and build momentum toward integrating reproductive health into holistic support models. The philanthropic community should dedicate their convening power and funding to share best practices and build capacity in the field. Partnerships between student groups on four-year and community college campuses, reproductive health organizing networks, community and reproductive justice activists, and other stakeholders would also help broaden the call for action.

As colleges and higher education experts increasingly understand the role of students’ non-academic lives in their success in higher education, students’ reproductive desires and access to care must be brought into the conversation. By doing more to address the reproductive health needs of community college students, colleges can achieve better and more equitable educational outcomes and contribute to the economic success of students and families.

By doing more to address the reproductive health needs of community college students, colleges can achieve better and more equitable educational outcomes and contribute to the economic success of students and families.

July’s convening was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as a part of a project designed to raise awareness of the need for reproductive health access as an integral component of community college student success, and strategies that can promote progress. Through this initiative, IWPR is conducting research to: understand efforts to connect community college students with reproductive health care and resources around the country; =identify gaps in access and opportunities to meet existing need; and share promising strategies for expanding community college students’ access to reproductive health information and care. This work is intended to inform and inspire higher education leaders, philanthropists, policymakers, and others to improve access to reproductive health services in community college settings and encourage integration of reproductive health and economic and community development initiatives more broadly. Learn more about this work on IWPR.org.

Voices of Student Parents: “Since most of my classes were only offered at night I struggled to find care for my son”

More than one in five college students are parents, but student parents are often under-recognized on college campuses. This blog post is the second in a series highlighting the experiences of student parents, including the challenges they face, and the resources and supports that help them succeed. Find other IWPR resources on student parents at the Student Parent Success Initiative page on IWPR.org.

 

By Cecilia Contreras-Mendez

Washington State University in Vancouver, Washington

June 2019 graduate of Clark Community College

Majors: Dual bachelor’s degrees in Public Affairs and Social Sciences with minors in Spanish, Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Political Science. I received my associate’s degree in Arts and transferred to my current institution with a Direct Transfer Agreement.

Number of Children and age: I have one child, Raul Jose Barasa Jr., who is 13 ½ years old.

 

Why I enrolled in school

In the beginning of 2008, I was laid off from my full-time job during the housing

recession. Forced to live off unemployment checks of about $850 a month, my rent was more than 80% of my income. I had one option for a better life– seek higher education. Making a choice I thought I’d never make, I decided that community college was my best shot at providing a proper life for my child. Being a single mom, I got lucky with the job I had, and I knew I would never make that much money again without a college degree. In September 2008, I enrolled at the community college as a first-generation college student, single mom, and woman of color.

As a single mother, I didn’t have much choice after losing my job. There was no child support coming in and I knew I had to set an example for my boy. Things needed to change, and I knew I could accomplish my goals. I knew my options and I took a chance, and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. Losing my job allowed me to return to school and showed me my true potential and my calling in life.

First off, pursuing higher education allows me to set an example for my child and second, it allows me to seek a better life for my family. I grew up in poverty raised by a single immigrant mother with little to no education herself. Education was key for me to break the cycle of poverty. My son’s life was dependent on my actions and my choices, so I had to choose wisely.

“My son’s life was dependent on my actions and my choices, so I had to choose wisely.”

Higher education wasn’t my priority after graduating high school with my 6 month old son, but I knew if I could do it back then, then why not now. Education is an opportunity to better myself and secure a better future for my son and we can only lead by example!

 

Balancing school, parenting, and life

For about 11 years now, I have been going to school on and off, having left and returned to school five different times. On top of being a single mom and going to school full-time, I’ve also had to deal with some medical issues. It was a challenge, but I had to make the sacrifice and hold on. I wasn’t about to give up on my son or my education just because life got hard, and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way. I was the only reliable and stable parent my child had and school was our only income.

Being a student and a parent is a roller coaster ride! We had our ups and we had our downs. My son knew we were a team, and something had to give – in my situation, it was my home. Being a parent was a full-time job, being a student was my second full-time job, and doing it all alone while life threw rocks at me was a challenge. My car broke down multiple times leaving me to rely on public transportation in the rain, snow, heat, and all in between. Financial aid just wasn’t enough to fix life’s little emergencies.

Financial aid just wasn’t enough to fix life’s little emergencies.

Every student parent has their own motivation, their own strengths, their own story, and most importantly their own way to parent their child. We all experience life differently but my experience was rough in the beginning when my child was younger. As he grew older it got easier, until I needed to go to night classes. I was shocked that there wasn’t child care at night for my child while I was in school. That really stood out to me and was a challenge because I didn’t feel like the college officials thought about student parents when they scheduled these night classes into their program.

I didn’t feel like the college officials thought about student parents when they scheduled these night classes into their program.

As a student parent, there was little to no help with finding scholarships and determining what major or what degree I should be pursuing. When I first started, I felt alone and confused as I didn’t really have parents to guide me nor did I know any of the school’s resources. They are getting better these days but it’s still quite confusing when you are a student with little to no knowledge of the higher education system.

 

Supports and resources that have helped me balance school and parenting

When my child was younger, the biggest help I got as a single student parent were the Head Start program and child care center on my community college’s campus. Those resources were life savers! Honestly, Washington State’s SNAP food assistance program isn’t geared to help full-time student parents; if we go to school full-time, they still want us to work at least 20 hours a week just to get food benefits. For some it’s possible, but what about the parents with multiple children? How are we supposed to spend time with our kids as we are trying to get educated if we also have to meet these work requirements? We get penalized for trying to go to school. It would be great if we had better options for food assistance or for help with food resources. It is hard to go to school full time and finish fast in order to get our careers rolling when we have strict guidelines about how much we need to work, just because we are trying to feed our kids.

 

The costs and benefits of going to school for me and my family

Education is important to me, you just need to find a balance for life to run smoothly. As I learned to balance life, having a toddler, and juggling school, time-management was my friend.

Financial aid never seemed like enough to last us the whole quarter. In my case, I had to appeal to the Financial Aid Office to continue receiving funds and towards the end I ended up paying for half of my degree out of pocket. That was hard, but a sacrifice I was willing to make for my family’s future.

When I couldn’t afford to pay for my tuition, I made the impossible possible. If I had to sell the couch I sat on, I would in an effort to pay for my tuition. That’s how much my education meant to me. My son saw me make these sacrifices to get educated and the cost was heavy and very difficult at times. I shed lots of tears and prayed many prayers but never gave up! My son has always come first in my life and he makes it worthwhile at the end of the day! My son is my hero, my motivation, my strength, my reason to strive, and the reason I do everything I do! He looks up to me and supports my educational decisions and works just as hard at school too! What kind of mother would I be if I did not teach him how important education is?

When I couldn’t afford to pay for my tuition, I made the impossible possible. If I had to sell the couch I sat on, I would in an effort to pay for my tuition. That’s how much my education meant to me. My son saw me make these sacrifices to get educated and the cost was heavy and very difficult at times

Hopes for after graduation

I want to practice law at a non-profit organization that helps all people. Particularly, I’d like to be working on issues around social inequality, poverty, and immigration. I want to be a voice for those who have been silenced and seek justice. I want to be that lawyer that the people can trust and reach out to. Ideally, I would love to work with justice-involved and impacted youth to help guide them towards a second chance in life. The more people I can help, the more my sacrifice will be worth it.

The more people I can help, the more my sacrifice will be worth it.

One thing that others might be surprised to know

I am a single student parent who is disabled and battling six auto-immune diseases and disorders. I want my leadership skills to define me, not my disability. Just because our bodies are differently abled doesn’t mean that we can’t learn or be educated just like everyone else. Battling against my own body, I have persevered and triumphed over every obstacle I encounter.

Policy change at your institution that could better support student parents’ success

My community college could have offered child care at night. Since most of my classes were only offered at night, I really struggled to find care for my son, and was forced to change my major because of it.

Since most of my classes were only offered at night, I really struggled to find care for my son

On the financial aid side, I was only given 2 or 3 appeals to reinstate my funds after losing my aid due to my medical conditions. This was very difficult, and I was forced to pay out of pocket for more than half of my degree. There should be more opportunities and supports for students like me to be successful.

My community college had excellent staff members that offered free workshops to ensure our success. Staff also had fun events throughout the year that helped take the pressure off of school to give us some fun on campus. These school events gave me hope and gave me something to look forward to in between classes and quarters. Staff members went above and beyond to make sure I received the services I qualified for, like accommodations through disability services and tutoring.

 

Policy change that could better support student parents’ success

At the national level – I would say changes are needed with services like the SNAP food assistance program. If we go to school full-time and have multiple children, we shouldn’t be required or forced to work in addition to already holding one full-time job as single parents. It is very difficult for those who have multiple children and sometimes in the end it is not worth losing time with them. We work half the day and go to school most of the day in an effort to feed and support our children – leaving us to question, when do we get time to see our kids?

At other levels – Having child care at night and in the evening would benefit a lot of students who are parents. After-school and summer programs shouldn’t be cut because some of us depend on those programs for our school-aged children. There needs to be more funding for these programs.

The benefits of investing in student parents

If we had more support for both child care and/or scholarships, we would have more educated student parents, allowing children to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Offering the resources that many student parents seek but can’t find could relieve a lot of stress and give us piece of mind.

In the end, we would invest in our children and have a more well-rounded society surrounding us. When investing in any type of educational programs for parents and/or their children, we are essentially saving money if we, as student parents, guide our children to follow in our footsteps and seek higher education. As student parents teach their children that education is key, we are able to shine light into their soul and once we light that fire, who knows where it will go or what they will achieve.

 

Not Just Equal Pay: The U.S. Women’s National Team’s Fight Underscores How an Equitable Economy Can Work for Everyone

USWNT Blog Graphic

By Mia Ogorchock, graphic by Nic Martinez

In the buzz surrounding the World Cup triumph of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT), “equal pay” has become a rallying cry, not just for the team, but for their fans. In March of this year, the USWNT filed a gender-discrimination suit against the United States Soccer Federation, Inc., citing unequal pay, training, and travel conditions, compared with the men’s team, despite bringing in higher revenue–and winning more games. Their fight is part of a bigger movement of women across industries advocating for better pay and safer workplaces, while confronting inadequate or outdated economic policies that shape how we live and work.

Women still make about 80.5 cents to every male dollar per year and the gap is even larger for women of color. Based on current trends, IWPR projects that women overall will not achieve pay equity until 2059, while Black women will wait one century (until 2119) and Hispanic women will wait more than two centuries (until 2224) until they reach equity with White men’s earnings.

As the USWNT begins their victory tour around the country, here is a look at the gender-equity policies that would not only narrow the gender wage gap, but would reconfigure the economy to work better for everyone.

Valuing Women’s Work

The call for equal pay for the USWNT—and for all women—has been echoed in op-eds in major news outlets and invoked by 2020 candidates, many of whom have made it a centerpiece to their platforms. For good reason: while there was significant progress in narrowing the wage gap in the 1980s and 1990s as more women entered the workforce and gained entry to many fields and jobs they had previously been excluded from, progress over the last two decades stalled. Women today still earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is enough data to calculate the wage gap.

Researchers find that over half of the wage gap can be explained by occupational segregation: women and men tend to work in different jobs and the jobs men tend to do pay more. The segregation is stark—four in ten (39 percent) working women work in female-dominated occupations and nearly half of men (48 percent) work in male-dominated occupations—and widespread, from staggering wage gaps in top-paying fields to greater concentration in jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

This segregation also affects how the economy values “women’s work.” Low-wage, female-dominated jobs pay less than male-dominated low-wage work, even when women’s jobs are very similar in requirements for education, skills, and stamina: janitors (two-thirds men) make $12.13 per hour, while maids and housekeepers (nearly 90 percent women) make $9.94 per hour. Furthermore, those who perform low-wage women’s work are about twice as likely to have a college degree than workers in male-dominated occupations—yet earn less. As jobs of the future become more digitalized, the trends are concerning: despite being more likely to work with computers and digital media than men, women face a 41 percent earnings gap on returns for their digital skills.

With half of U.S. families having a female breadwinner, the undervaluation of women’s work has real consequences for families, communities, and the economy as a whole. Pay parity would cut poverty in half for working families and add nearly half a trillion dollars in additional wage and salary income to the U.S. economy.

The disconnect between women’s skills and contributions and the gender gap in earnings is paralleled by the USWNT: while the team has qualified for (and won) multiple World Cups, the men’s team famously failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The men’s team is paid more for the games they win in the tournament, despite bringing in less revenue than the USWNT.

Improving Access to Paid Leave and Child Care Would Help Narrow the Wage Gap

In addition to ensuring that women have access to good jobs and high-paying fields, strengthening women’s attachment to the labor force is also key to narrowing the wage gap. We know from a large body of research that improving access to paid leave and affordable child care improves women’s labor force participation, which can in turn improve their earnings.

The earnings penalties for those who take time out of the labor force are high and increasing. For women, who still disproportionately shoulder the burden of care in their families, the effect can be a huge blow to the pocketbook: women who took just one year off during a 15-year period earned 39 percent less than women who did not take any time away from the paid labor force. That is why the gender wage gap as traditionally reported understates pay inequality: women make just half of what men make over a 15-year period

Many working families and single mothers lack access to paid family leave or childcare. Here too, we see parallels with the USWNT’s story: Jessica McDonald, the only mother on the US Women’s National team, has cited issues with paying for child care, including working several jobs at a time to pay for expensive childcare for her son. McDonald’s—and other working mothers’—ability to pursue a fulfilling job and provide for her family relies on being able to access and afford child care. Too many women are unable to do so: women are nine in ten of the workers who cut back paid work to care for children or family members.

As the experiences of the USWNT remind us, equal pay is not just about being paid the same—although that would help. Fighting for pay equality is about fighting for things like access to good jobs, investment in training and supports such as paid leave, child care, and other gender-equity policies that would improve the  economy and reduce inequality for everyone.

Research News Roundup

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS

Here’s the effect a $15 minimum wage has on jobs and poverty in low-income areas, according to a new study from Berkeley

James Wellemeyer │││July 9, 2019

A $15 an hour minimum wage won’t slash jobs in low-income areas, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, and it will also help to reduce poverty.

The study, conducted by Anna Godoey and Michael Reich, economists at UC Berkeley’s Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, suggests that a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024would not reduce employment rates, weekly hours worked, or annual weeks worked. The study notes that $15 an hour in 2024 is roughly equivalent to $13 an hour today.

Citing: “Minimum Wage Effects in Low-Wage Areas” by Anna Godoy and Michael Reich at Institute for Research on Labor and EmploymentJuly 2, 2019.

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60% of Tech Workers Told Not To Discuss Pay, Making Gender Gap Harder To Spot

Kim Elsesser │ │ July 11, 2019

According to the survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous social network for discussing workplace issues, 60% of the 5,149 respondents say that they have been discouraged by their human resources department or management from discussing salary information. And the situation isn’t changing much over time. Last year, a similar Blind survey also found that about 60% of employees had been discouraged from sharing data.

Citing: “Over 60% in Tech Told Not To Discuss Salary” by Curie Kim at BlindJuly 10, 2019

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Robots Are Coming for Our Jobs. Here’s Why Women Should be Even More Prepared

Khalida Sarwari │ │ July 17, 2019

As many as 160 million women around the world could lose their jobs over the next decade because of the impact of automation, and a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute shows that women will have a harder time adjusting to the automation of jobs and development of artificial intelligence than men.

Citing: “The Future of Women at Work: Transitions in the Age of Automation” at McKinsey Global Institute, June, 2019

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Women are Now Seen as Equally Intelligent as Men, Study Finds

Alia E. Dastagir│  │ July 18, 2019

In the last 70 years, some gender stereotypes about women have shifted dramatically, while others remain firmly rooted, according to new research published in the American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association. The meta-analysis of 16 public opinion polls totaling more than 30,000 U.S. adults from 1946 to 2018 looked at three traits: competence (intelligence, creativity), communion (compassion, sensitivity) and agency (ambition, aggression).

Citing: “Gender Stereotypes Have Changed: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of U.S. Public Opinion Polls From 1946 to 2018” by Alice H. Eagly, Christa Nater, David I. Miller, Michèle Kaufmann, and Sabine Sczesny at American Psychologist Association, July, 2018

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New Technology Sparks More Worry for Black and Hispanic Workers

Jeff Green │  │July 24, 2019

Technology is definitely changing the workplace. Perspectives on whether that’s an opportunity or a threat depend a lot on racial identity, according to a new survey of 2,000 workers released Wednesday. Black and Hispanic workers are more concerned about new technology in the workplace compared with white or Asian workers, according to the survey. They were also less likely to say they saw efficiency gains.

Citing: “Racial Differences on the Future of Work: A Survey of the American Workforce” by Ismail White at Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, July 24, 2019

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

The Economic Effects of Abortion Access: A Review of the Evidence

Anna Bernstein and Kelly Jones │ Institute for Women’s Research │ July 18, 2019

This report reviews the available evidence of the economic effects of abortion access. By synthesizing high-quality research that estimates causal effects, this review highlights the relationship between abortion access and a number of economic outcomes, including women’s educational attainment, labor force participation, and other socioeconomic indicators for the next generation of men and women.

This report focuses on U.S.-based evidence, most of which relies on policy changes in the 1970s, but also includes a brief review of international evidence and an examination of the fertility effects of more recent changes to abortion access. The report closes with a discussion on policy implications, conclusions, and areas for future research, given the evidence on the causal relationship between abortion access and economic outcomes.

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Minimum Wage Effects in Low-Wage Areas

Anna Godoey and Michael Reich │Institute for Research on Labor and Employment │ July 2, 2019

A proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would increase the relative minimum wage – the ratio to the national median wage– to about .68. In Alabama and Mississippi, our two lowest-wage states, the relative minimum wage would rise to .77 and .85, respectively. Yet research on state-level minimum wage policies does not extend beyond $10; the highest studied state-level relative minimum wage is .59. To close this gap we study minimum wage effects in counties and PUMAs where relative minimum wage ratios already reach as high as .82. Using ACS data since 2005 and 51 events, we sort counties and PUMAs according to their relative minimum wages and bites. We report average results for all the events in our sample, and separately for those with lower and higher impacts. We find positive wage effects but do not detect adverse effects on employment, weekly hours or annual weeks worked.

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Feasibility Study and Evaluation of Non-Traditional Occupation Demonstrations

Carolyn Corea Luke Patterson, Manan Roy, and Neha Nanda │ United State Department of Labor│ July 28, 2019

The impact study found statistically significant positive effects in South Seattle on outcomes 2 (clicked on a link in an email) and 3 (completed an interest form). In New Mexico, the evaluation team observed a change in magnitude and direction of the impact estimates from negative and statistically significant for outcome 1 (opened the email) to nearly zero for outcome 3.1 Completion rates for the two exploratory outcomes—outcomes 4 (looked for more information) and 5 (enrolled in the program)—were low overall in the two demonstration sites as well as for both treatment and control groups within sites.

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The Future is Ours: Women, Automation and Equality in the Digital Age

Carys Roberts Henry Parkes, Rachel Statham, and Lesley Rankin │Institute for Public Policy Research │June 16, 2019

Automation will produce significant productivity gains that will reshape specific sectors and occupations. These gains are likely to be recirculated, with jobs reallocated rather than eliminated, economic output increased, and new sources of wealth created. The problem is likely to be one of how income and wealth are distributed. Automation could create a ‘paradox of plenty’: society would be far richer in aggregate, but, for many individuals and communities, technological change could reinforce inequalities of power and reward.

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Are Marriage-Related Taxes and Social Security Benefits Holding Back Female Labor Supply?

Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang│ The National Bureau of Economic Research│ July, 2019

In the U.S., both taxes and old age Social Security benefits depend on one’s marital status and tend to discourage the labor supply of the secondary earner. To what extent are these provisions holding back female labor supply? We estimate a rich life-cycle model of labor supply and savings for couples and singles using the Method of Simulated Moments (MSM) on the 1945 and 1955 birth-year cohorts and we use it to evaluate what would happen without these provisions. Our model matches well the life cycle profiles of labor market participation, hours, and savings for married and single people and generates plausible elasticities of labor supply. Eliminating marriage-related provisions drastically increases the participation of married women over their entire life cycle, reduces the participation of married men after age 55, and increases the savings of couples in both cohorts, including the later one, which has similar participation to that of more recent generations. If the resulting government surplus were used to lower income taxation, there would be large welfare gains for the vast majority of the population.

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A Unified Welfare Analysis of Government Policies

Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser│ Opportunity Insights │July 2019

We conduct a comparative welfare analysis of 133 historical policy changes over the past half-century in the United States, focusing on policies in social insurance, education and job training, taxes and cash transfers, and in-kind transfers. For each policy, we use existing causal estimates to calculate both the benefit that each policy provides its recipients (measured as their willingness to pay) and the policy’s net cost, inclusive of long-term impacts on the government’s budget. We divide the willingness to pay by the net cost to the government to form each policy’s Marginal Value of Public Funds, or it’s “MVPF”. Comparing MVPFs across policies provides a unified method of assessing their impact on social welfare.

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Research News Roundup – July 2019

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS 

Policy Research: College Promise Programs Are Excluding Student Parents

Pearl Stewart ││ June 27, 2019

Twenty percent of college students in the United States are raising children, yet the much-touted “free college” initiatives, also known as Promise programs, often “unintentionally exclude” these students when offering financial support, according to a briefing paper released this week by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

The institute’s analysis pointed out various restrictions and requirements in the college Promise programs that exclude students who may be most in need of support. Among the more than 300 college Promise programs in 44 states, the majority exclude students over the age of 25 – making many students who have started families ineligible for Promise financial assistance, the Washington-based policy institute reported.

Citing: Making “Free College” Programs Work for College Students with Children by Tessa Hotlzman, Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, and Barbara Gault at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, June 25, 2019

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Report: Women’s Health Could Be Improved by Medicaid Expansion, Rural Health Investments

Johanna Cano│  │June 26, 2019

The report, completed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), analyzes data on women’s health including chronic disease, physical health and sexual health, among other indicators. [….] “While this report is called the ‘Status of Women,’ we know that improving the health and wellness of women in our state is not just a women’s issue, but rather an issue that is creating healthier families and communities, contributing to a stronger and healthier workforce and helping to grow the state’s economy,” said Machelle Sanders, N.C. Department of Administration secretary.

The report found that the health of women in the state has improved in some areas since a previous 2013 report, but in other areas, it has remained the same or worsened, particularly in rural counties, Sanders said.

Citing: Status of Women in North Carolina: Health and Wellness by Elyse Shaw and Adiam Tesfaselassie at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, June 25, 2019

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The Problem with Diversity in Computing

Ian Bogost ││ June 25, 2019.

At Google, for example, more than 95 percent of technical workers are white or Asian. Adding more black engineers from Atlanta schools to that mix will certainly help push the numbers up incrementally. It will also give more people of color access to the economic opportunities the tech industry offers. But there’s a risk of tokenization; inviting a black man or a curly-haired woman into the room could make a difference in the design of the systems that produced Webb’s experience at airport security. But it probably won’t substantially change the thrust of the tech industry as it currently operates.

Citing: Google Diversity Annual report 2019 at Google

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Lack of Medicaid Coverage Blocked 29 Percent of Abortion Seekers from Getting the Procedure, Study Says

Anna North ││ June 20, 2019

But amid this debate, there’s been a lack of up-to-date research on what actually happens to pregnant people when they want an abortion but their insurance won’t cover it. To answer that question, researchers at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a group at the University of California San Francisco, surveyed pregnant women in Louisiana on whether they had ever considered abortion. For those who considered the procedure but didn’t have one, researchers asked if lack of Medicaid coverage was part of the reason why. The research, published on Wednesday in the journal BMC Women’s Health, was provided to Vox exclusively ahead of publication.

Citing: Estimating the proportion of Medicaid-Eligible Pregnant Women in Louisiana Who Do Not Get Abortion When Medicaid Does Not Cover Abortion by Sarah Roberts, Nicole Johns, Valerie Williams, Erin Wingo and Ushma Upadhyay at BMC Women’s Health, May, 2019

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No Rest for the Workers: How the US is Out of Step on Paid Leave

Mona Chalabi ││ June 18, 2019

Of the 21 wealthiest countries, the US is the only one not to guarantee workers paid leave, according to a recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which dubbed it “no vacation nation”.

Citing: No-Vacation Nation, Revised by Adewale Maye at Center for Economic and Policy Research, May, 2019.

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

A Women-Centered Economic Agenda: 8 Policies that Boost the Economy and Work for Everyone

Elyse Shaw and Heidi Hartmann │Institute for Women’s Policy Research│ June 20, 2019

Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.

This fact sheet outlines eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures.

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Access to Paid Sick Time in Bernalillo County, New Mexico

Kimberly Mckee, Jeff Hayes and Jessica Milli│ Institute for Women’s Policy Research │June 18, 2019

Approximately 35 percent of workers living in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, lack paid sick time, and among those, low-income and part-time workers are especially unlikely to be covered. Access to paid sick time promotes safe and healthy work environments by reducing the spread of illness and preventing workplace injuries. It also reduces health care costs and supports children and families by helping parents to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities. This briefing paper presents estimates of access to paid sick time in Bernalillo County by sex, race and ethnicity, occupation, part/full-time employment status, and personal earnings through analysis of government data sources, including the 2015–2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS).

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Paid Family Leave and Breastfeeding: Evidence from California

Jessica Pac, Ann Bartel, Christopher Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel | The National Bureau of Economics Research | April 2019

This paper evaluates the effect of Paid Family Leave (PFL) on breastfeeding, which we identify using California’s enactment of a 2004 PFL policy that ensured mothers up to six weeks of leave at a 55 percent wage replacement rate. We employ synthetic control models for a large, representative sample of over 270,000 children born between 2000 and 2012 drawn from the restricted-use versions of the 2003 – 2014 National Immunization Surveys. Our estimates indicate that PFL increases the overall duration of breastfeeding by nearly 18 days, and the likelihood of breastfeeding for at least six months by 5 percentage points. We find substantially larger effects of PFL on breastfeeding duration for some disadvantaged mothers.

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Young Workers in Nonstandard Work Arrangements, 2005-2017

Aaron Medlin and Hye Jin Rho │ Center for Economic and Policy Research │June 24, 2019

Washington DC — Millennials and Gen X workers are overwhelmingly opting for standard permanent jobs in a business directed by an employer. Only 1.0 percent of young workers are engaged in electronically mediated, or gig, work.

This is the main finding of Young Workers in Nonstandard Work Arrangements, 2005 – 2017, published today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). More specifically, a majority of young workers, ages 21–25, with and without a college degree, are in standard work arrangements and are more likely to hold such jobs compared to the workforce as a whole. The much-hyped growth of the gig economy cannot be found in the 2017 survey of nonstandard work arrangements.

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Paid Family Care Leave: A Missing Piece in the U.S. Social Insurance System

Jane Waldfogel and Emma Liebman │ Washington Center for Equitable Growth │June 10, 2019

Paid family and medical leave includes several distinct types of leave. Medical leave is taken from work to care for one’s own serious illness, but family leave encompasses several distinct types of leave, including leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child (generally referred to as parental leave), as well as leave to care for a family member with a serious illness, whether that be a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or other relative. This latter type of leave is our definition of family care leave—the focus of this report.

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The Long-Term Impacts of Girl-Friendly Schools: Evidence from the BRIGHT School Construction Program in Burkina Faso

Nicholas IngwersenHarounan KaziangaLeigh L. LindenArif MamunAli Protik, and Matthew SloanThe National Bureau of Economic Research │ June, 2019

We evaluate the long-term effects of a “girl-friendly” primary school program in Burkina Faso, using a regression discontinuity design. Ten years later, primary school-age children in villages selected for the program attend school more often and score significantly higher on standardized tests. We also find long-term effects on academic and social outcomes for children exposed earlier in the program. Secondary-school–age youths and young adults (those old enough to have finished secondary school) complete primary and secondary school at higher rates and perform significantly better on standardized tests. Women old enough to have completed secondary school delay both marriage and childbearing.

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IWPR Research News Roundup – June 2019

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS 

Automation Could Force Millions of Women to Find New Jobs

Eric Morath │ │June 4, 2019

The study, released Tuesday, shows technological advancements affect the genders nearly evenly. That finding upends the notion that automation hits predominantly male manufacturing workers the hardest. Emerging automation technologies will look different and displace a large number of women, said Mekala Krishnan, fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute and one of the report’s authors. Advancements could take the form of Alexa-like virtual assistants replacing clerical tasks, wider adoption of cashierless checkouts and artificial intelligence replacing customer-service workers at call centers. And that technology could change the jobs done by women in the way robotic arms in factories put downward pressure on mostly male manufacturing jobs in the U.S. in recent decades.

Citing: The Future of Women at Work by Mckinsey Global Institute, June, 2019

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Americans Want Diversity in the Workplace but are Skeptical About How to Get it 

By Catherine Kim |  | May 9, 2019

A majority of Americans think companies should encourage diversity in the workplace — but they’re much more skeptical about the methods businesses could use to ensure they’re hiring a diverse group of employees […] Yet only 24 percent said race and ethnicity should be taken into consideration in decisions about hiring and promotion. In contrast, 74 percent said only qualifications should be taken into account — even if it resulted in less diversity.

Citing: Americans See Advantages and Challenges in Country’s Growing Racial and Ethnic Diversity by Juliana Menasce Horowitz at Pew Research Center, May 8th, 2019

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Women Choose More Precise Words than Men when Applying for Grant Funding, but Guess Who’s More Successful? 

Meera Jagannathan ││ May 8, 2019

Women scientists are less likely to win funding for grants, even when they’re evaluated anonymously, according to a recent working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The apparent driving force: Women’s penchant for using “narrow” words in their grant proposals, versus men’s tendency toward “broad” words.

Citing:  Is Blinded Review Enough? How Gendered Outcomes Arise Even Under Anonymous Evaluation by Julian Kolev, Yuly Fuentes-Medel, and Fiona Murray at The National Bureau of Economic Research

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New Fed Survey Finds Americans in Better Financial Shape as Expansion Continues

Steve Goldstein ││ May 23, 2019

A new survey of American household finances finds economic well-being is getting better, despite a flurry of headlines to the contrary. The Federal Reserve said Thursday that 61% of those surveyed for its annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households said they could pay an unexpected expense of $400 with either cash, savings or a credit card paid off at the next statement. That’s up from just half in 2013.

Citing: Report on the Economics Well-Being of U.S Households in 2018 by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, May 23, 2019

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Fighting the Gender Stereotypes That Warp Biomedical Research

JoAnna Klein│  │May 30, 2019

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health and its Canadian counterpart mandated all preclinical research they fund must include female subjects. Now, Dr. Shansky and other scientists wonder if that requirement will do enough to improve how research is conducted [..] In an essay published Thursday in Science, Dr. Shansky questions whether simply adding female organisms to experiments or looking for sex differences misses the point. She warns that this is a public health problem — with implications beyond neuroscience — and says scientists should design experiments better suited to both biological sexes.

Citing: Are Hormones a “Female Problem” for Animal Research? By Rebecca M. Shansky at Science, May 30, 2019

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How many Americans Live on $2 a Day? The Biggest Debate in Poverty Research, Explained

Daylan Matthews │ │June 5, 2019

For much of the last decade, Princeton sociologist Kathryn Edin and University of Michigan social policy researcher Luke Shaefer have been using survey data to argue that a significant and rising share of American children live in households earning less than $2 in cash income per person. […]. But since their research started circulating, some economists and sociologists have pushed back, arguing that the Edin and Shaefer’s research — which relied on surveys — underestimated the support very poor households get from welfare programs that provide benefits “in kind” rather than through cash. […]  The most comprehensive response to date — by University of Chicago professor Bruce Meyer, his colleagues Derek Wu and Victoria Mooers, and the Census Bureau’s Carla Medalia — has just been publicly released, and concludes that true $2-a-day poverty, after adjusting the data properly, is extremely rare.

Citing: The Use and Misuse of Income Data and Extreme Poverty in the United States by Bruce D. Meyer, Derek Wu, Victoria R. Mooers, and Carla Medalia at The National Bureau of Economic Research, May, 2019

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

Bridging Systems for Family Economic Mobility: Postsecondary and Early Education Partnerships

Barbara Gault and Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, and Rachel Schumacher│ Institute for Women’s Research │May 30, 2019

Promoting family economic security and mobility requires collaboration across key systems that serve families. This report describes opportunities for the early childhood and higher education systems to support each other’s key goals for system advancements to increase economic mobility among America’s families. It provides examples of early education/higher education partnerships at multiple levels that use a variety of funding sources, and that often benefit from leaders and champions who understand the importance of addressing families’ postsecondary and early education needs in an integrated fashion. It also provides a set of principles and recommendations for establishing effective partnerships, informed by the guiding voices of parents.

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Closing the Gender Pay Gap: What Role for Trade Unions?

Jill Rubery and Mathew Johnson │International Labour Organization│April 2019

This report considers the current and potential role for trade unions in closing the gender pay gap which has become one of the symbols of progress towards gender equality. Not only have governments, trade unions and employers publicly resolved to close the gender pay gap; the commitment has also been internationally endorsed by various international organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO). Notably there has been the recent formation of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), led by the ILO, UN Women and the OECD, to help progress the commitment towards equal pay for work of equal value within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Goal 8.5). These commitments are supported by ILO’s international labour standards (ILS), most directly Convention 100 on Equal Remuneration, and by the ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work that focuses attention on the commitment to eliminate discrimination in the world of work

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Paid Family and Breastfeeding: Evidence from California

Pac, Bartel, Ruhm & Waldfogel | The National Bureau of Economics Research | April 2019

This paper evaluates the effect of Paid Family Leave (PFL) on breastfeeding, which we identify using California’s enactment of a 2004 PFL policy that ensured mothers up to six weeks of leave at a 55 percent wage replacement rate. We employ synthetic control models for a large, representative sample of over 270,000 children born between 2000 and 2012 drawn from the restricted-use versions of the 2003 – 2014 National Immunization Surveys. Our estimates indicate that PFL increases the overall duration of breastfeeding by nearly 18 days, and the likelihood of breastfeeding for at least six months by 5 percentage points. We find substantially larger effects of PFL on breastfeeding duration for some disadvantaged mothers.

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Status of Older Workers

The New School Retirement Equity Lab │ May 1, 2019

Older workers experienced almost no real wage growth since 2007, despite record low unemployment rates. In the first quarter of 2019, median real weekly earnings of full-time workers ages 55 to 64 were only 0.8% higher than in the first quarter of 2007, the peak of the business cycle. In contrast, weekly earnings for prime-age workers ages 35 to 54 grew 4.7%. In prior business cycles, older workers’ earnings grew at similar or greater rates than wages of prime-age workers.

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Gendered Accountability: When and Why do Women’s Policy Priorities Get Implemented?

 Valeriya Mechkova and Euth Carlitz │ V-Dem Institute │May 2019

The past two decades have seen dramatic increases in women occupying positions of political power. Such developments have been welcomed as a means of achieving better outcomes for women in their everyday lives. We interrogate this proposition, developing a “gendered accountability” framework to the delineate conditions under which female representation should have its desired effects. Our empirical analysis applies this framework to sub-Saharan Africa, home to the largest increase in women’s political representation in recent years. We find that having more women in the legislature is robustly associated with reduced infant and child mortality as well as greater spending on health. The effect on infant mortality is magnified when women are more active in civil society, and constrained to countries that have gender quotas and a proportional electoral system. We do not, however, find consistent evidence that maternal mortality and access to clean water respond to female representation.

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