Race, Class, Gender & Diversity

First to Fall, Last to Climb: Black Workers in the New Economy

First to Fall, Last to Climb: Black Workers in the New Economy

Women of Color Policy Network
08/01/2011

After decades of slow, but steady economic progress, the Great Recession of 2007-2009 erased many of the previous gains made by Blacks in the labor market. Black unemployment rates have consistently climbed since the recession was declared officially over in 2009, peaking at 16.5 percent in 2010. Employed Black workers, in turn, are disproportionately represented in low-wage, low-skill industries and occupations that offer minimal benefits or opportunities for career advancement. This policy brief provides a snapshot of how Black workers are faring in the labor market and poses policy recommendations for building the long-term economic security of Black workers, their families, and communities.

Resetting our priorities in environmental health: An example from the south-north partnership in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Resetting our priorities in environmental health: An example from the south-north partnership in Lake Chapala, Mexico
Environ Res. 2011 Aug;111(6):877-80.

Cifuentes E, Lozano Kasten F, Trasande L, Goldman RH.
08/01/2011

Lake Chapala is a major source of water for crop irrigation and subsistence fishing for a population of 300,000 people in central Mexico. Economic activities have created increasing pollution and pressure on the whole watershed resources. Previous reports of mercury concentrations detected in fish caught in Lake Chapala have raised concerns about health risks to local families who rely on fish for both their livelihood and traditional diet. Our own data has indicated that 27% of women of childbearing age have elevated hair mercury levels, and multivariable analysis indicated that frequent consumption of carp (i.e., once a week or more) was associated with significantly higher hair mercury concentrations. In this paper we describe a range of environmental health research projects. Our main priorities are to build the necessary capacities to identify sources of water pollution, enhance early detection of environmental hazardous exposures, and deliver feasible health protection measures targeting children and pregnant women. Our projects are led by the Children's Environmental Health Specialty Unit nested in the University of Guadalajara, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Health of Harvard School of Public Health and Department of Pediatrics of the New York School of Medicine. Our partnership focuses on translation of knowledge, building capacity, advocacy and accountability. Communication will be enhanced among women's advocacy coalitions and the Ministries of Environment and Health. We see this initiative as an important pilot program with potential to be strengthened and replicated regionally and internationally.

A Look at SB 1070 and State-Level Immigration Efforts

A Look at SB 1070 and State-Level Immigration Efforts

Women of Color Policy Network
04/01/2011

Arizona's far-reaching anti-immigration bill, SB 1070, sparked a trend of copycat legislation introduced in 30 states. While most efforts were unsuccessful, SB 1070 and copycat laws have severe negative implications for undocumented people and their families, including American children. SB 1070 and similar legislation create barriers for undocumented individuals to report unsafe working conditions and domestic abuse, separate U.S. citizen children from their parents through deportations, and impose undue fiscal burdens on both law enforcement and overall state budgets in economic recession. This brief highlights state policy responses that strengthen economic security through measures that support immigrant families and enrich communities.

Massachusetts Links Pay for Performance to the Reduction of Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Massachusetts Links Pay for Performance to the Reduction of Racial and Ethnic Disparities
Health Affairs. 30(6):1165-1175.

Blustein, Jan, Joel Weissman, Andrew M Ryan, Tim Doran and Romana Hasnain-Wynia.
04/01/2011

The Institute of Medicaid has identified equity as a key dimension of quality. Recently, Massachusetts’ Medicaid program (MassHealth) took the unusual step of linking pay-for-performance (P4P) to the reduction of racial/ethnic disparities for hospital care.  We report on early experience with the program, describing the challenges of implementing an ambitious program in a short time frame, with limited resources.  Our findings raise questions about whether P4P as currently constituted is a suitable tool for addressing disparities in hospital care.

Wage Disparities and Women of Color

Wage Disparities and Women of Color

Women of Color Policy Network
04/01/2011

More women are becoming the primary wage earners in households across the country, yet men continue earn higher wages than women. Occupational segmentation and unequal access to wealth lead to exponentially growing career income gaps for women. This brief explores the policy implications of recent Census data revealing that women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. With Black women and Hispanic women earning even less, targeted policy solutions must incorporate opportunities for women in low-income and marginalized communities. Policies will contribute to greater wage equity if they incorporate: pay check fairness; the extension of paid sick leave benefits to caregivers; and increased access to labor market, child care, and educational opportunities for low-income women.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure and Communities of Color

The Supplemental Poverty Measure and Communities of Color

Women of Color Policy Network
03/01/2011

With nearly 44 million individuals living in poverty, including 24 million people of color, the anticipated publication of the Supplemental Poverty Measure in the fall of 2011 provides an opportunity to review our nation's progress towards poverty alleviation and collaboratively strategize ways to ensure that anti-poverty efforts are inclusive of the most vulnerable segments of society. This policy brief explains how the new measure will help policymakers, researchers, and advocates better understand the breadth and depth of poverty's impact on communities of color.

Child and Adolescent Fast Food Choice and the Influence of Calorie Labeling

Child and Adolescent Fast Food Choice and the Influence of Calorie Labeling
International Journal of Obesity

Elbel, B., Gyamfi, J. & Kersh, R.
02/01/2011

Objective:Obesity is an enormous public health problem and children have been particularly highlighted for intervention. Of notable concern is the fast-food consumption of children. However, we know very little about how children or their parents make fast-food choices, including how they respond to mandatory calorie labeling. We examined children's and adolescents' fast-food choice and the influence of calorie labels in low-income communities in New York City (NYC) and in a comparison city (Newark, NJ).
Design:Natural experiment: Survey and receipt data were collected from low-income areas in NYC, and Newark, NJ (as a comparison city), before and after mandatory labeling began in NYC. Study restaurants included four of the largest chains located in NYC and Newark: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken.Subjects:A total of 349 children and adolescents aged 1-17 years who visited the restaurants with their parents (69%) or alone (31%) before or after labeling was introduced. In total, 90% were from racial or ethnic minority groups.
Results:We found no statistically significant differences in calories purchased before and after labeling; many adolescents reported noticing calorie labels after their introduction (57% in NYC) and a few considered the information when ordering (9%). Approximately 35% of adolescents ate fast food six or more times per week and 72% of adolescents reported that taste was the most important factor in their meal selection. Adolescents in our sample reported that parents have some influence on their meal selection.
Conclusions:Adolescents in low-income communities notice calorie information at similar rates as adults, although they report being slightly less responsive to it than adults. We did not find evidence that labeling influenced adolescent food choice or parental food choices for children in this population.

Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School? Effects of Foreclosure on the School Mobility of Children

Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School? Effects of Foreclosure on the School Mobility of Children
Regional Science and Urban Economics, 41(4), 2011: 407-414.

Bean, Vicky, Ingrid Ellen, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel and Meryle Weinstein
02/01/2011

In the last few years, millions of homes around the country have entered foreclosure, pushing many families out of their homes and potentially forcing their children to move to new schools. Unfortunately, despite considerable attention to the causes and consequences of mortgage defaults, we understand little about the distribution and severity of these impacts on school children. This paper takes a step toward filling that gap through studying how foreclosures in New York City affect the mobility of public school children across schools. A significant body of research suggests that, in general, switching schools is costly for students, though the magnitude of the effect depends critically on the nature of the move and the quality of the origin and destination schools.

The Impact of Recent Budget Proposals on Women of Color, Their Families, and Communities

The Impact of Recent Budget Proposals on Women of Color, Their Families, and Communities

Women of Color Policy Network
02/01/2011

The House and Presidential budget proposals released in February of 2011 include plans to reduce or eliminate funding to key programs that assist low-income families and communities of color. This policy brief highlights the detrimental impact of the proposed social spending cuts and emphasizes the need to invest in the long-term economic security of women of color, their families, and communities.

Does Municipally Subsidized Housing Improve School Quality? Evidence from New York City

Does Municipally Subsidized Housing Improve School Quality? Evidence from New York City
Journal of the American Planning Association, 77 (2): 127-141.

Chellman, Colin, Ingrid Ellen, Brian McCabe, Amy Ellen Schwartz and Leanna Stiefel
01/01/2011

Problem: Policymakers and community development practitioners view increasing subsidized owner-occupied housing as a mechanism to improve urban neighborhoods, but little research studies the impact of such investments on community amenities.

Purpose: We examine the impact of subsidized owner-occupied housing on the quality of local schools and compare them to the impacts of city investments in rental units.

Methods: Using data from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), we estimate three main sets of regressions, exploring student characteristics, school resources, and school outcomes.

Results and conclusions: The completion of subsidized owner-occupied housing is associated with a decrease in schools’ percentage of free-lunch eligible students, an increase in schools’ percentage of White students, and, controlling for these compositional changes, an increase in scores on standardized reading and math exams. By contrast, our results suggest that investments in rental housing have little, if any, effect.

Takeaway for practice: Policies promoting the construction of subsidized owner-occupied housing have solidified in local governments around the country. Our research provides reassurance to policymakers and planners who are concerned about the spillover effects of subsidized, citywide investments beyond the households being directly served. It suggests that benefits from investments in owner occupancy may extend beyond the individual level, with an increase in subsidized owner-occupancy bringing about improvements in neighborhood school quality.

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