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.

 

Voices of Student Parents: “I have a responsibility to keep paving the path for those that come behind me”

More than one in five college students are parents, but student parents are often under-recognized on college campuses. This blog post is the first 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.

student

By Naomi Ambriz

University of New Mexico

Ph.D. program in American Studies

Parent of a 21 month old child

Why I enrolled in school

Going to graduate school, much less pursuing a Ph.D., was something I never envisioned for myself. I struggled as an undergraduate and left the university after my first semester. Seven years later, I finally returned and completed my bachelor’s degree. I was raised in South Central Los Angeles by first-generation immigrant parents, and for my family, education has always been a route out of poverty. Influenced by a strong and caring mother and four sisters, education for me is not only upward mobility, but is what allows me to discover and explore a world beyond the one right in front of me. Being the fifth child of seven, I was expected to get at least a bachelor’s degree since four of my siblings had received theirs. It was not until I started working for the University of California that my trajectory towards graduate school began. Working and supporting students and faculty at a research university not only gave me insight into how academia works, but showed me how academic institutions can serve as spaces to challenge and interrogate systems of oppression. I also personally witnessed the impact that education and mentoring had on students and the community as a founding member of the Social Justice Initiative.

Education for me is not only upward mobility, but is what allows me to discover and explore a world beyond the one right in front of me.

What it’s like being a student parent

Being a student and having the added responsibility of caring for a child often reminds me not to take time for granted. Although I have set deadlines for my research work, I have to be flexible when unpredictable things happen. For example, sometimes I need to take time off when my son gets sick. The other important thing is to remind myself to have fun and do some self-care (whether that is doing yoga or taking a bath while my son sleeps) to recharge. As student parents, it is easy to forget to take care of ourselves, especially while caring for others on top of daily survival pressures. The financial costs of graduate school, including not having a decent salary, have been an added stress. Fortunately, student loans and fellowships have been enormously helpful during the past few years. I’ve also been grateful for work outside of my Ph.D. research. For example, working at the Women’s Resource Center has helped offset my living costs. At the same time, working there means I get to do work that I am devoted to. This upcoming academic year, my role at the Women’s Resource Center will be the Student Parent Advocate. I hope to not only advocate for student parents on campus, but to create greater visibility for other student parents who find themselves feeling isolated at the university.

As student parents, it is easy to forget to take care of ourselves, especially while caring for others on top of daily survival pressures.

Balancing school, parenting, and life

Finding a balance between parenting, school, and other life commitments has been an ongoing process. I had my son during my third year of graduate school. Becoming a mother while taking and teaching classes was a challenge. My son was born in early November, a month before the end of the semester, which made it even more difficult. Luckily, my professors gave me extensions for my finals and I graded student’s final papers while my son slept. Although some days are easier than others, having the adequate community support is essential. Having access to a daycare, professors that are understanding and willing to accommodate my schedule, and community members offering to babysit, has greatly facilitated child rearing and my professional development. Not to sound cliché but it really does take a village to raise a child. I also try to use my time wisely. For example, to fit in exercise, I bike and run to drop-off and pick-up my son from daycare. When he’s taking his afternoon nap, I catch up on schoolwork. I make sure to dedicate the later part of the day to him.

Supports and resources that have helped me balance school and parenting

My son is enrolled half time at the campus daycare, which is not only very accessible, but affords me peace of mind because I know that he is being well taken care of. I’m in the comprehensive exam stage of my Ph.D., which means that I no longer have classes to attend. I use the hours that my son is at daycare to focus on my research project. In addition, working at the Women’s Resource Center allows me to stay informed and connected with the campus community, particularly other student parents in similar situations. Partnering with other student parents to have study sessions while our children play has also been rewarding. The Lobo Parenting Cubs, a student parent organization which focuses on creating community and networking opportunities for student parents, have dedicated space on campus with computers, printers, and space for children to play. The children’s campus also offers a study room and extended childcare as well, which I often use.

Supports that would be helpful to college success

One thing that I currently lack access to is family housing for students because of limited space. My monthly rent takes up a big portion of my budget and having a place that was more affordable and closer to campus would be ideal. In addition, not being able to afford a babysitter is also challenging. Although I am lucky to have a community member offer her time to babysit for me one day a week, I could definitely use a more frequent babysitter at home so that I can work. My family resides in another state, which makes it very difficult to ask them to babysit.

It would also be wonderful if my school could allocate scholarships to student parents and provide accessible childcare (right now, there is a 1,500 person waitlist). Currently, in my student advocate position, I am working with both the children’s campus (daycare) and the financial aid department to distribute a survey to student parents in hopes of better serving their needs. We’re also inviting university administrators to student parent events in hopes of creating more visibility towards a family friendly university. In fact, I recently learned that our university has a high percentage of student parents; about 1 in 4 students are parents. I believe that we need to change the narrative and stigma around student parenting and make universities more welcoming to student parents. The reality is that many of our student parents are struggling and bringing awareness to this reality is essential. I believe that it is the university’s responsibility and mission to provide adequate resources and opportunities. The last few years, the University of New Mexico has seen a decrease in enrollment from local students. If more resources were implemented to encourage students and student parents to enroll, in particular, have decent incentives that retain and graduate students from the university in a timely manner without accruing so much debt, perhaps more New Mexicans would come to UNM.

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

Being able to do something I love, such as research and working with students, is something that I don’t take for granted. According to the statistics, 1.6 percent of Latinas pursue a Ph.D. in the U.S. This means that I am not only fortunate to be pursuing a doctorate degree, but that I have a responsibility to keep paving the path for those that come behind me, just as the ones that came before me have done. In terms of costs, yes, I’m in debt with loans (even after having paid all my undergrad loans!), but I know that the time and flexibility I get to have raising my son, especially as a single parent, is invaluable. Nourishing and influencing his upbringing doesn’t compare to my monetary loss. Luckily, I get assistance from the state with food and my graduate assistantships and extra job appointments help pay rent and other living expenses. In the end, when I complete my Ph.D., I envision myself making a decent salary and recovering from the monetary losses.

I have a responsibility to keep paving the path for those that come behind me, just as the ones that came before me have done.

Hopes for after graduation

Ideally, I would like to get a postdoc and/or tenure track position at a university or community college since I would like to continue teaching and conducting research. It is hard not to see myself connected to a university in one way or another; I really enjoy teaching and research.

One thing that others might be surprised to know

I am an intimate partner violence survivor and lost my mother to cancer 14 years ago.

Policy change that could better support student parents’ success

Provide automatic financial support for incoming students parents, offer subsidized loans or a pardon for student loans for graduate student parents that have to take on debt in order to pursue a graduate degree. In a utopian society, debt free education would make it much easier to balance school and family.

The benefits of investing in student parents

Investing in someone’s education is the best investment because it helps to make our communities and society a better place. In other words, education not only benefits the individual but society as a whole. If student parents were less stressed about child care and financial burdens, because they had more supports, these students could dedicate more of their energy towards graduating on time and therefore join the workforce. Put simply, when we invest in education today, we invest in future generations as well.

When we invest in education today, we invest in future generations as well.  

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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Candidates’ “Free College” Proposals Must be More Inclusive of College Students with Children. Here’s How.

Candidates’ “Free College” Proposals Must be More Inclusive of College Students with Children. Here’s How.

This blog was produced in collaboration with The Education Trust. Click here to view the original post.


More than half of the 2020 presidential candidates support some version of “free college” as a strategy to combat the rising cost of college. Whether or not “free college” is a part of the solution, candidates, policymakers, and college leaders must do more to consider the experiences of student parents, who represent nearly 4 million undergraduates in the United States and who sit at the intersection of the college equity, affordability, and access challenges facing this country today.

Any strategies to make college more affordable should include a focus on equity. How do students who are most affected by the college affordability crisis — including students with children, low-income students, students of color, and adult students — fare in plans to establish “free college” programs? Who will benefit from these plans and who will be excluded? How will they work to alleviate existing student debt and prevent excessive borrowing moving forward—and for whom?

The national conversation about making college free is growing in prominence, and many institutions, higher education systems, and states are implementing their own free college policies, which can be loosely defined as federal, state, or local programs that cover at least tuition and fees for some or all students based on certain eligibility rules. In May 2019, for example, the Workforce Education Investment Act was signed into law in Washington State, providing free or reduced tuition for middle- and low-income students attending community colleges and public institutions. Just two months later, the University of Texas at Austin joined other institutions by providing full tuition for Texas families making $65,000 or less per year.

Proposals to establish free college vary widely by presidential candidate. Senators WarrenHarrisSanders, and Gillibrand, for example, support free (or debt-free) college tuition and fees across all public four- and two-year institutions, while former Vice President BidenJulian Castro, and Senator Klobuchar support covering tuition and fees at community colleges. Some candidates, such as Mayor Pete Buttigieg, suggest making college free for students with the lowest incomes, while others (like Senators Warren and Gillibrand) support a program for which all students could be eligible. As candidates’ platforms continue to develop, they should keep student parents — whose caregiving and financial demands make affordable college essential to their ability to enroll and succeed — in mind. Free college programs rarely include assistance with living expenses and child care costs, for example, expenses which student parents must cover to continue in school. (Introduced last week, Senator Harris’s BASIC Act proposal would help higher education institutions meet basic, non-tuition needs—including child care—of their students.)

Student parents should be included in conversations about college affordability, given that they make up almost a quarter (22 percent) of all undergraduates and are more likely to be students of color (51 percent) and women (70 percent). Including student parents in the college affordability conversation is vital to achieving key educational, social, and economic equity goals. For instance, student parents often struggle with poverty while in school (68 percent live in or near poverty), and have more than 2.5 times more debt than students without children. One in three Black students are parents, the most of any racial/ethnic group, and their average undergraduate debt — $18,100 in 2015-16 — is higher than that of student parents or non-parents of every other racial/ethnic background.

Free college programs can play an integral role in meeting key workforce and economic demands, especially when they intentionally include underserved student populations, such as student parents and other working adults, who might otherwise bypass college or leave school before earning a credential that can help them earn a better living. At least 16 of the current presidential candidates come from states that have set educational attainment goals that commit to dramatically increasing the number of adults with college or workforce credentials by a target date in the 2020s. If candidates hope to help states meet or exceed these goals, they must put forward plans that actively recruit and serve students with family, work, and financial commitments.

Busy mom working at desk with young daughterAs candidates, policymakers, and college leaders develop plans to tackle college affordability, here are a few ways that they can be sure to include student parents in their solutions:

  1. Reevaluate eligibility rules that can restrict student parents’ ability to participate in free college or other programs aimed at making college more affordable. Restrictive eligibility rules include those that limit participation to younger students or recent high school graduates, or to students who can enroll full-time. Transparency around eligibility rules, participation requirements, and the full cost of attendance must also be central.
  2. Make programs be first-dollar programs so that students can cover non-tuition costs, such as the cost of child care, family housing, food, and transportation.
  3. Ensure that free college programs encourage institutions to be transparent about the true cost of college, and the return on students’ investment of time and resources. For families and other working adults, knowing that enrolling in college will lead to a degree that will result in a family-sustaining wage is essential.
  4. Include additional supportive services — such as advising on career paths and appropriate courses to achieve desired credentials, intensive coaching both in school and at jobs during and after education is complete, emergency aid, and other specific needs student parents may have—in program design to set students up for success and ensure they can meet their basic needs while pursuing education.

Many students, including student parents, stand to gain from free college programs, as long as these programs are accessible to them. Without intentional access for student parents, free college programs could end up exacerbating some of the inequities they aim to address. Student parents are ready and motivated to succeed in college (student parents achieve higher GPAs than other students), but policymakers, including those running for the most visible policymaking position in the country, must do more to include and support them.

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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Passing the Torch: News from IWPR

Passing the Torch: News from IWPR

Dear Supporters and Friends,

With great appreciation for your support and friendship over the last 30 plus years, I am writing to let you know that I will be transitioning out of the role of president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) later this year. Leading IWPR has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, due in large part to the many allies who have been collaborators, funders, users, and reporters of IWPR’s work. I am grateful for your friendship and inspired by the progress we have made together.

I founded IWPR in 1987 out of a need for an organization that provided rigorous data analysis and quality research on women’s policy issues, a role that other research institutes and think tanks have brought to successful policy movements on the environment, labor, the economy, and others. My goal then was to build a lasting institution that could drive progress on many of the issues that the women’s movement had organized around—equal pay, paid and unpaid leave, affordable child care, and others—and many issues that shape women’s lives but had yet to be explored. I am grateful to the founding members of IWPR, who each pledged $100 or more for three years, to help set up an institute dedicated to gender issues at a time when few mainstream funders were interested in doing so.

This is a propitious time to pass the torch to the next visionary leader of IWPR, not only for IWPR, but also for the policymakers and advocates who rely on our research and analysis. IWPR has grown substantially since its founding, now housing three research centers: on equity in higher education, on the health and economic benefits of work-family policies, and on the economics of reproductive health. The national policy conversation now regularly tackles issues of gender, race, and ethnicity and needs more reliable data and information than ever before. It is a time when IWPR can help to meet this increased demand.

I am most proud of our top-notch team. Our research staff—made up of an interdisciplinary group of experts on economics, sociology, education, and public policy—identifies and tracks what I like to call the “next policy frontier,” developing a body of research on such issues as the economic costs of sexual harassment, students who are also parents and struggle to complete degrees, and the risks of automation to women and people of color, topics that will shape national and international policy conversations for years to come. Our outstanding staff teams in administration, communications, and development help us tell our story and ensure that our organization is as strong as our research methodologies.

Our board of directors has always provided committed and supportive leadership to me and our staff members.  They understood that it would take a herculean effort to ensure that a small startup could enter the ranks of top think tanks in Washington, DC, and were with us every step of the way. I know they will not let up their vigilance and support as IWPR continues to be heard on important issues, grows sustainably, and achieves its goals.

While I will be stepping back from the day-to-day role as president, I will not be riding off into the sunset.  Since I first founded IWPR, we have progressed as a society in increasing our attention to women’s issues and the experiences of women of diverse backgrounds, but much work on changing outdated policies remains to be done. I look forward to sharing more details about what’s next for me later this year and to continuing our work together. In the meantime, thank you for being a part of this journey with me—it’s been a great ride.

With appreciation,

heidiheidi

Founder & President

 

Dear colleagues,

As chair of the IWPR Board of Directors, it is my impossible task to express our appreciation for Heidi Hartmann’s legacy of achievement at IWPR. Her founding vision for IWPR was to create an organization dedicated to applying rigorous research and analysis to women’s policy issues. Now, 32 years later, this vision has led to real progress for women.

In 1987, the year IWPR was founded, where some saw public policies not changing quickly enough to address the needs of the rapidly growing numbers of working women, Heidi saw opportunity. Many lawmakers were eager to have women-focused, policy research that could make the case for sensible solutions, like family and medical leave. Meanwhile, women’s advocacy groups were standing at the ready to support such policy proposals, and universities were training and graduating more women scholars with excellent social science research skills. IWPR brought these separate networks together to inform and shape policy change.

Since then, IWPR’s research has informed national legislation such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Our Status of Women in the States reports, dating from 1996, have brought IWPR’s work to every state and many cities and regions where reports have sparked policy discussions and campaigns for new laws, brought attention to local researchers and groups, and made the case for millions of dollars in additional funding for domestic violence and child care programs across the nation. Under Heidi’s leadership, IWPR has truly changed women’s lives through research. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude for organizing this new endeavor and bringing it to its present state of usefulness and excellence.

We are excited to launch a national search for IWPR’s next visionary leader. Policymakers, advocates, and the media are increasingly looking at policy issues through gendered and racial lenses, requiring more data analysis and research disaggregated by gender and race as well as in new subject areas that have been ignored. I truly believe that there is no research institute better prepared to inform policies that affect women’s lives than IWPR.

You—our closest supporters and partners—are the first to hear about this exciting next chapter for IWPR. In the next few days, we will be sharing more details about what we are looking for in our next leader. We hope you will help us find an inspiring, pragmatic, resourceful, and flexible leader who has a deep understanding of public policy issues affecting women and of research techniques that can illuminate those issues.

We have enlisted the help of Koya Leadership Partners to help us with the presidential search. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please share them with Turner Delano at Koya (tdelano@koyapartners.com) or through this form.

Thank you for your trusted partnership,

lorretta picLorretta sig2

Chair of the Board, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

IWPR Research News Roundup – March 2019

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS 

As AI Takes Over Jobs, Women Workers May Have the Most to Lose

Sarah Holder |  | March 2019

If the automation revolution is as bad as some researchers believe, almost half of all occupations in the U.S. are at risk of replacement by 2026. Truck drivers will be swapped out for self-driving AI. Manufacturers will use smarter machines instead of hands. Supermarkets will go cashier-free. Even more conservative projections acknowledge that some kind of transition is coming: The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the overall number of jobs of the future will grow, but that 1.4 million current ones could soon become “redundant.” […]according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)—the first known comprehensive analysis of how automation will affect U.S. workers differently based on their gender—women could have even more at stake.

Citing: Women, Automation, and the Future of Work by Ariane Hegewisch, Chandra Childers, and Heidi Hartmann at Institute for Women’s Policy Research, March 13th, 2019

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The U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team Makes a Really Good Cased for Equal Pay

Maggie Mertens |  | March 2019

According to a lawsuit filed on March 8 by the U.S. women’s national soccer team, these female athletes are being paid less than the men’s team, in some cases earning just 38 percent of pay per game. This, despite the fact that in recent years the women’s team has generated more profits and revenue for the U.S. Soccer Federation, earned larger viewing audiences, and played more games than the men’s team. […] Out in the wider U.S. labor market, women’s median weekly earnings in 2018 were 81.1 cents for every dollar earned by a man. (The gap is bigger for women of color: Compared with white men’s median weekly earnings in 2018, Hispanic women earned just 61.6 percent and black women earned just 65.3 percent.) And it’s getting worse. According to data analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the gender wage gap actually widened last year.

Citing: The Gender Wage Gap: 2018 Earnings Difference by Race and Ethnicity by Ariane Hegewisch and Heidi Hartmann at Institute for Women’s Policy Research, March 7th, 2019

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STEMming the Parent Flow

Colleen Flaherty |  | March 2019

Women are more likely than men to leave full-time careers in the sciences, technology, engineering and math when they become parents. But this is not just a “mothers’ problem” — dads are leaving, too, at too high a rate, says a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using National Science Foundation data on STEM professionals — about 10 percent of whom were academic scientists, representative of national trends — the authors found that 43 percent of women and 23 percent of men left their full-time jobs within seven years of having or adopting a child.

Citing: The Changing Career Trajectories of new parents in STEM by Erin A. Cech and Mary Blair-Loy, at Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, February 19th, 2019.

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Inequality is Holding Economies Back. Education could be one Solution

Jeanna Smialek |  | March 2019

Anyone who believes the system is rigged would have experienced a grim “told you so” moment on March 12, when federal prosecutors charged 33 parents who’d bought into a scheme to ensure their children spots at elite universities. […] America is further toward the high-inequality, high-immobility end of the scale than other advanced economies. Such stickiness leads to a problem International Monetary Fund economist Shekhar Aiyar calls “talent misallocation.” When high-aptitude people are shunted to the margins of society, “not only is it unfair, it’s also bad for growth,” he says. As Aiyar describes in a February paper, countries with high income inequality paired with low mobility see slower economic progress.

Citing: Inequality of Opportunity, Inequality of Income and Economic Growth by Shekhar Aiya & Christian Ebeke at International Monetary Fund, February, 2019

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Millennial Women are Struggling Financially: Here’s Why (and Why it’s not their Fault)

Eillie Anzilotti |  | March 20th, 2019

There’s no doubt that closing the pay gap between men and women, and across races, is a vitally important step for advancing equity. Measured against the median salary that a white, male, full-time worker earns, women earn 80% of what men do: Hispanic and black women earn just 54% and 60%, respectively. But according to a new report, it’s not enough. In the U.S., young women in particular are struggling to access and build wealth, and this cannot be explained by the gender pay gap alone [..]  Clipped Wings was created by the Asset Funders Network, which directs grantmakers and funders in how to support economic equity, as well as the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. In it, the authors delve into exactly why millennial women are encountering financial difficulties today, and how support programs and investments should be redesigned to meet their needs.

Citing: Clipped Wings: Closting the Wealth Gap for Millennial Women by Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Anne Price, and Fenaba R. Addo at Asset Funders Network, 2019

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

Digitalization, Automation, and Older Black Women: Ensuring Equity in the Future of Work

Chandra Childers | Peterson Foundation & Institute for Women’s Policy Research | March 2019

Older Black women have always worked outside the home despite limited occupational opportunities. In 1940 more than three-fourths of Black women worked as either private household workers or farm laborers. Since then, Black women have increased their educational attainment and moved in large numbers into clerical and professional occupations. Despite these advances, Black women aged 40 and older remain concentrated in a small number of occupations—almost half of older Black women work in just 20 occupations out of more than 400. Many of the occupations that older Black women work in are disproportionately low wage occupations. Automation and other technologies threaten many of the jobs older Black women work in including low wage jobs, middle-skill jobs that pay well but do not require a bachelor’s degree and professional jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or more. The risks of automation threatens to increase economic inequality—either through the growth of low-wage occupations where older Black women are disproportionately employed, or by increasing the risk of automation or digital skills substituting for workers in middle-skilled and professional occupations.

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Employer Consolidation and Wages: Evidence from Hospitals

Elena Prager & Matt Schmitt | Washington Center for Equitable Growth | February 2019

To isolate the effects of changes in concentration due to mergers, we estimate difference-in-differences models comparing wage growth in markets with mergers to wage growth in markets without mergers. We find evidence of reduced wage growth in cases where both (i) the increase in concentration induced by the merger is large and (ii) workers’ skills are at least somewhat industry-specific. Following such mergers, annual wage growth is 1.1pp slower for skilled non-health professionals and 1.7pp slower for nursing and pharmacy workers than in markets without mergers. In all other cases, we fail to reject zero wage effects. We argue that the observed patterns are unlikely to be explained by merger-related changes aside from labor market power.

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Motherhood, Migration, and Self-Employment of College Graduates

Zhengyu Cai, Heather M. Stephens & John v. Winters | IZA Institute of Labor Economics | February 2019

Women face unique challenges in starting and running their own businesses and may have differing motives to men for pursuing self-employment. Previous research suggests that married women with families value the flexibility that self-employment can offer, allowing them to balance their family responsibilities with their career aspirations. This may be especially true for college graduates, who tend to have more successful businesses. Access to childcare may also affect their labor force decisions. Using American Community Survey microdata, we examine how birth-place residence, a proxy for access to extended family and child care, relates to self-employment and hours worked for college-graduate married mothers.

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Perceived Bias and Income Patterns Differ by Race

Anna Hernandez Kent | Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis | February, 2019

Focusing on discrimination in economic research is not unusual, but concentrating on perceived discrimination is less common. In doing so, researchers can highlight an “unobservable” factor: an individual’s experience that is not readily seen or directly measured. This research, therefore, places less emphasis on reality (whether discrimination actually occurred) and more on perception (whether someone thinks they experienced discrimination). This distinction is important because perceptions add an explanatory layer above that of reality alone. People tend to act on their perceptions—even if these may not reflect reality. For example, if people only believe there will soon be a shortage of a material good, they may hoard that good, thus causing a shortage.

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International Women’s Day 2019: Global Attitudes Towards Gender Equality

Ipsos and Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College in London | February 2019

Two-thirds (65%) believe that women won’t achieve equality in their country unless men take actions to support women’s rights too. A quarter (25%) disagree. Three in five men (61%) agree compared to seven in ten women (69%). Agreement with this statement rises to 74% in Chile, 76% in Peru, 76% in Serbia, but is lowest in Italy (53%), Poland (51%) and Japan (47%). Brits are in line with the global average on this measure with 65% agreeing.

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IWPR Research News Roundup – January 2019

IWPR Research News Roundup – January 2019

RESEARCH MAKING THE NEWS 

The Class of 2019 are More Likely to be Older and Have Children 

Jillian Berman |  | February 2019

Like 40% of students who enter college, life got in the way of Shawnte’ Cain completing her degree. Cain, 39, began her college career in 1997 at Wayne State University in Detroit. She successfully made it through three years at the school, but just as she could see her degree on the horizon, her grandmother fell ill. School fell by the wayside as Cain cared for her and her own financial obligations rose.

Citing: Completing College – National 2018 – by NSC Research Center, December, 2018

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How the 1% Profit Off of Racial Economic Inequality

Derick Asante-Muhammad and Chuck Collins |  | January 2019

As people of color make up a larger share of the diversifying US population, that persistent racial wealth divide is bringing down America’s median wealth. But while wealth at the middle falters, it’s soaring at the top. In other words, the 1% are profiting off ongoing racial economic inequality. All this is happening against a backdrop of seemingly good economic news. Black and Latino unemployment rates reached historic lows in 2018, and median income has slowly inched up for all households in the last few years

Citing: Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1% Widens the Radical Wealth Divide at Institute for Policy Studies, Jan, 2019

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The Global Gender Gap will Take More Than 100 Years to Close: Here Are the Countries with the Highest and Lowest Gender Gap around the World

Will Martin and Skye Gould |  | January 2019

It will take more than 200 years for economic gender equality to emerge, and 108 years to completely close the global gender gap across politics, health, education, according to the latest report from the World Economic Forum. The WEF’s annual Global Gender Gap Report compares attitudes towards gender equality around the world. It considered factors such as educational opportunities available to each gender, life expectancy, literacy rates, the number of women in professional positions, and in positions of power in each country.

Citing: The Global Gender Gap Report 2018 at World Economic Forum, Dec, 2018

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Millennial Women Are Winning the Jobs Recovery as Men Struggle

Jeanna Smialek |  | January 2019

Her case is far from unique. The share of 25- to 34-year-old women who are employed or looking has staged a sharp turnaround since 2016. The group since December 2015 has accounted for 86 percent of growth in the workforce of prime-working-age women, who are 25- to 54-years-old, and for 46 percent of gains in the prime-age labor pool as a whole.

Citing: Current Employment Statistics Highlights by Analysts of the National Estimates Branch Current Employment Statistic Survey at U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan 2019

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NEW RESEARCH REPORTS

The Number of Unionized U.S Workers Edged Lower to the 16.4 Million in 2018

Heidi Shierholz | Economic Policy Institute | January 2019

New data on union membership from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Friday showed 16.38 million unionized workers in 2018, down from 16.44 million in 2017. However, because employment of wage and salary workers grew by 1.6 percent between 2017 and 2018, the share of workers represented by a union declined by a more significant amount, from 11.9 percent to 11.7 percent.

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Gender in the Labor Market: the Role of Equal Opportunity and Family- Friendly Policies

Elizabeth L. Doran, Ann P. Bartel, and Jane Waldfogel | National Bureau of Economic Research | December 2018

Although the gender wage gap in the U.S. has narrowed, women’s career trajectories diverge from men’s after the birth of children, suggesting a potential role for family-friendly policies. We provide new evidence on employer provision of these policies. Using the American Time Use Survey, we find that women are less likely than men to have access to any employer-provided paid leave and this differential is entirely explained by part-time status. Using the NLSY97, we find that young women are more likely to have access to specifically designated paid parental leave, even in part-time jobs. Both datasets show insignificant gender differentials in access to employer-subsidized child care and access to scheduling flexibility. We conclude with a discussion of policy implications.

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Female Earnings Inequality: The Changing Role of Family Characteristics on the Extensive and Intensive Margins

David Card & Dean R. Hyslop | National Bureau of Economic Research | December 2018

Although women make up nearly half the U.S. workforce, most studies of earnings inequality focus on men. This is at least in part because of the complexity of modeling both the decision to work (i.e., the extensive margin) and the level of earnings conditional on work (the intensive margin). In this paper we document a series of descriptive facts about female earnings inequality using data for three cohorts in the PSID. We show that inequality in annual earnings of women fell sharply between the late 1960s and the mid-1990s, with a particularly large decline in the extensive margin component. We then fit earnings-generating models that incorporate both intensive- and extensive-margin dynamics to data for the three cohorts. Our models suggest that over 80% of the decline in female earnings inequality can be attributed to a weakening of the link between family-based factors (including the number of children of different ages and the presence and incomes of partners) and the intensive and extensive margins of earnings determination.

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Gender Equality and Poverty Are Intrinsically Linked

Rense Nieuwenhuis, Teresa Munzi, Jorg Neugschwender, Heba Omar, & Flaviana Palmisano | UN Women | December 2018

This discussion paper provides an updated analysis of gendered economic inequality in high- and middle-income countries. A review of the literature demonstrates that such an analysis needs to explicitly recognize that gender, poverty, and (economic) inequality are intrinsically linked. Specifically, the paper addresses two sets of questions: First, how do intra-family resource allocation and distribution patterns both reflect and shape gender inequalities in power and well-being, and what factors—including policy-related ones—can mitigate these inequalities? Second, how do families as gendered institutions contribute to broader socio-economic inequalities, and what can be done to reduce/reverse these inequalities? Using data from the LIS Database, this paper shows considerable differences among 42 countries with respect to how likely women were to have their own income. The period from 2000 to 2010/2014 saw increasing rates of own incomes as well as women’s incomes constituting larger shares in total household income. A key finding is that, in countries where many women have an income of their own, relative poverty rates are lower.

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Big Business Bias: Employment Discrimination and Sexual Harassment at Large Corporations

Philip Mattera | GoodJobsFirst | January 2019

Most of the suits ended in confidential settlements. Looking only at cases with disclosed verdicts or settlements, 189 Fortune 500 companies have paid $1.9 billion in penalties: $356 million in 238 cases resolved by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, $65 million in 85 cases handled by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and $1.5 billion in 176 private lawsuits. Adding in cases against corporations from the rest of the Fortune 1000, the Fortune Global 500 and the Forbes list of America’s Largest Private companies brings the total of disclosed penalties to $2.7 billion, including $588 million from 329 EEOC actions, $81 million from 117 OFCCP cases, and $2 billion from 234 private lawsuits.

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Americans’ Perspectives on New Retirement Realities and the Longevity Bonus.

Merrill Lynch Bank of American Corporation | January 2019

Age Wave, in partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, undertook nine landmark studies focused on all aspects of life in retirement. To complete this body of work, the Age Wave team reviewed thousands of papers, reports and datasets, conducted over 140 expert interviews and 43 focus groups, surveyed 50,000+ respondents, and put in 70,000+ collective work hours.

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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to and Use of Paid Family and Medical Leave: Evidence from Four Nationally Representative Datasets

Ann P. Bartel et al. | Monthly Labor Review | January 2019

Statistics on overall access to and use of various types of paid family and medical leave for the U.S. workforce are widely available. However, much less is known about disparities in paid-leave access and use by race and ethnicity. This article examines this question, using data from four nationally representative surveys—the American Time Use Survey Leave Module, the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey, the National Study of the Changing Workforce, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The article’s most consistent finding is that Hispanic workers have lower rates of paid-leave access and use than their White non-Hispanic counterparts.

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