Social Policy

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics
Cambridge University Press.

Egan, Patrick J.

Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment – a phenomenon called “issue ownership.” Partisan Priorities investigates the origins of issue ownership, showing that in fact the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, Patrick J. Egan finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power. Since the parties tend to be particularly ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians actually tend to ignore citizens' preferences when crafting policy on these issues. Thus, issue ownership distorts the relationship between citizens' preferences and public policies.

Politics, management, and the allocation of arts funding: evidence from public support for the arts in the UK

Politics, management, and the allocation of arts funding: evidence from public support for the arts in the UK
International Journal of Cultural Policy, 20:3, 341-359, DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2013.786057

Anthony M. Bertelli, Jennifer M. Connolly, Dyana P. Mason & Lilian C. Conover

Studies of distributive public policy claim that electoral incentives shape the geographic distribution of government grants to individuals and organizations, such as those in arts and culture. Public management scholarship suggests that managers bring value to their communities and stakeholders within them through their capacity and skill. This study combines these literatures in a quantitative study of the geographic distribution of Grants for the Arts (GFA) in the UK between 2003 and 2006. Employing statistical regression techniques for count data, we find that GFA program in this period had a nonignorable distributive political character. Local authorities with swing voters for the governing party in Westminster received more GFA grants than did local authorities with its core supporters. We also find significant evidence that, at the same time, well-managed local authorities, as measured by performance assessment ratings, act as a magnet for GFA grants. Our conceptual discussion, quantitative modeling strategy, and results blend distributive politics and public management in a novel way for the study of cultural policy.

Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality

Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality
University of Chicago Press

Sharkey, P.

In the 1960s, many believed that the civil rights movement’s successes would foster a new era of racial equality in America. Four decades later, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, Patrick Sharkey argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades. In Stuck in Place, Sharkey describes how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system.

As a result, neighborhood inequality that existed in the 1970s has been passed down to the current generation of African Americans. Some of the most persistent forms of racial inequality, such as gaps in income and test scores, can only be explained by considering the neighborhoods in which black and white families have lived over multiple generations. This multigenerational nature of neighborhood inequality also means that a new kind of urban policy is necessary for our nation’s cities. Sharkey argues for urban policies that have the potential to create transformative and sustained changes in urban communities and the families that live within them, and he outlines a durable urban policy agenda to move in that direction.


Winner of the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award, Eastern Sociological Society.

Winner of The American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Sociology and Social Work. ​

Financial Incentives and Fertility

Financial Incentives and Fertility
Review of Economics and Statistics, Volume 95 (Number 1), March 2013, pp. 1-20.

Dehejia, Rajeev and Alma Cohen.

This paper investigates how fertility responds to financial incentives. We construct a large, individual-level panel data set of over 300,000 Israeli women during the period 1999–2005 with comprehensive information on their fertility histories, education, religious affiliation, ethnicity, and income. We exploit variation in Israel’s child subsidy program to identify the impact of changes in the price of a marginal child on fertility. We find a positive, statistically significant, and economically meaningful price effect on fertility. This positive effect is strongest for households in the lower range of the income distribution, weakens with income, and is present in all religious and ethnic subgroups. There is also a significant price effect on fertility among women who are close to the end of their lifetime fertility, suggesting that at least part of the effect that we estimate is due to a reduction in total fertility. Finally, we investigate how changes in household income affect fertility choices. Consistent with Becker (1960) and Becker and Tomes (1976), we find that the income effect is small in magnitude, and is negative at low income levels and positive at high income levels.

Who Experiences Discrimination in Brazil? Evidence From a Large Metropolitan Region

Who Experiences Discrimination in Brazil? Evidence From a Large Metropolitan Region
International Journal for Equity in Health, 2012 Dec 18;11:80. doi: 10.1186/1475-9276-11-80

Macinko, J., P. Mullachery, F.A. Proietti, and M.F. Lima-Costa

Introduction Perceived discrimination is related to poor health and has been offered as one explanation for the persistence of health inequalities in some societies. In this study, we explore the prevalence and correlates of perceived discrimination in a large, multiracial Brazilian metropolitan area.

Methods The study uses secondary analysis of a regionally representative household survey conducted in 2010 (n=12,213). Bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regression assess the magnitude and statistical significance of covariates associated with reports of any discrimination and with discrimination in specific settings, including when seeking healthcare services, in the work environment, in the family, in social occasions among friends or in public places, or in other situations.

Results Nearly 9% of the sample reported some type of discrimination. In multivariable models, reports of any discrimination were higher among people who identify as black versus white (OR 1.91), higher (OR 1.21) among women than men, higher (OR 1.33) among people in their 30’s and lower (OR 0.63) among older individuals. People with many health problems (OR 4.97) were more likely to report discrimination than those with few health problems. Subjective social status (OR 1.23) and low social trust (OR 1.27) were additional associated factors. Perceived discrimination experienced while seeking healthcare differed from all other types of discrimination, in that it was not associated with skin color, social status or trust, but was associated with sex, poverty, and poor health.

Conclusions There appear to be multiple factors associated with perceived discrimination in this population that may affect health. Policies and programs aimed at reducing discrimination in Brazil will likely need to address this wider set of interrelated risk factors across different populations.

Growing Older in Hong Kong, New York and London

Growing Older in Hong Kong, New York and London
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. Hong Kong, 2012.

P. Chau, J. Woo, M. Gusmano, D. Weisz, and Rodwin, V.

Declining birth rates, increasing longevity and urbanization have created a new challenge for cities: how to respond to an ageing population. Although population ageing and urbanization are not new concerns for national governments around the world, the consequences of these trends for quality of life in cities has only recently started to receive attention from policy makers and researchers. Few comparative studies of world cities examine their health or long-term care systems; nor have comparisons of national systems for the provision of long-term care focused on cities, let alone world cities.

By extending the work of the CADENZA and World Cities Projects , this report investigates how three world cities -- Hong Kong, New York and London -- are coping with this challenge. These world cities are centers of finance, information, media, arts, education, specialized legal services and advanced business services, and contribute disproportionate shares of GDP to their national economies. But are these influential centers prepared to meet the challenge posed by the “revolution of longevity?” How will these world cities accommodate this revolutionary demographic change? Are they prepared to implement the health and social policy innovations that may be required to serve their residents, both old and young? Will they be able to identify the new opportunities that increased longevity may offer? Can they learn from one another as they seek to develop creative solutions to the myriad issues that arise? Finally, can other cities learn from the experience of these three cities as they confront this challenge?

To address these questions, we examine comparable data on the economic and health status of older persons, as well as the availability and use of health, social and long-term care across and within these cities. In the report “How Well Are Seniors in Hong Kong Doing? An International Comparison”, a first attempt was made to compare the situation in Hong Kong with five economically developed countries. This report extends this study by comparing the situation in Hong Kong with two other world cities—New York City and London, which are more comparable in terms of population size and economic characteristics.

Unravelling social capital: Disentangling a concept for Social Work

Unravelling social capital: Disentangling a concept for Social Work
British Journal of Social Work, 42(2), 353 – 370.

Hawkins, R. L. & Maurer, K.

Over several decades, social capital has gained intellectual currency as a means to understand the dynamics of individual and community resources. While prevalent in other disciplines, social capital, however, has been used less often in social work to inform practice or policy development. In this paper, we argue that social capital is an efficacious construct for integrating the separate aspects of social networks and support so as to analyse the by-product of social relationships in the field of social work. We draw distinctions between social capital and conceptualisations of social networks and support and explore the concepts of social capital and present the usefulness of the concept as an analytical and theoretical model for micro and macro practice. We purpose that understanding the role of social capital can help social workers connect individuals to resources, but that it can also be used as part of established practice models. We conclude that essential to using social capital is the understanding that the concept (i) is different and distinct from social networks and social support, (ii) has both positive and negative elements and (iii) operates at the individual, community and institutional levels and can be relevant in all social work settings.

The Cultural Contagion of Conflict

The Cultural Contagion of Conflict
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 367, no. 1589, pp. 692-703. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0304

Gelfand, M., G. Shteynberg, T. Lee, J. Lun, S. Lyons, C. Bell, J.Y. Chiao, C.B. Bruss, M. Al Dabbagh, Z. Aycan, A.H. Abdel-Latif, M. Dagher, H. Khashan, and N. Soomro

Anecdotal evidence abounds that conflicts between two individuals can spread across networks to involve a multitude of others. We advance a cultural transmission model of intergroup conflict where conflict contagion is seen as a consequence of universal human traits (ingroup preference, outgroup hostility; i.e. parochial altruism) which give their strongest expression in particular cultural contexts. Qualitative interviews conducted in the Middle East, USA and Canada suggest that parochial altruism processes vary across cultural groups and are most likely to occur in collectivistic cultural contexts that have high ingroup loyalty. Implications for future neuroscience and computational research needed to understand the emergence of intergroup conflict are discussed.

Valuing Improvement in Value Based Purchasing

Valuing Improvement in Value Based Purchasing
Circulation:  Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.  5:163-170  

Borden, William and Jan Blustein.


Medicare will soon implement hospital value-based purchasing (VBP), using a scoring system that rewards both achievement (absolute performance) and improvement (performance increase over time).  However, improvement is defined so as to give less credit to initial low performers than initial high performers.  Since initial low performers are disproportionately hospitals in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, these institutions stand to lose under Medicare’s VBP proposal. 



We developed an alternative improvement scale, and applied it to hospital performance throughout the US.   Using 2005-2008 Medicare process measures for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and heart failure (HF), we calculated hospital scores using Medicare’s proposal and our alternative.  Hospital performance scores were compared across 5 locational dimensions of socioeconomic disadvantage: poverty, unemployment, physician shortage, high school and college graduation rates.



Medicare’s proposed scoring system yielded higher overall scores for the most locationally advantaged hospitals for 4 out of 5 dimensions in AMI and 2 out of 5 for HF.  Using our alternative, differences in overall scores between hospitals in the most and least advantaged areas were attenuated, with locationally advantaged hospitals having higher overall scores for 3 out of 5 dimensions in AMI and 1 out of 5 dimensions for HF. 



Using an alternative VBP formula that reflects the principle of “equal credit for equal improvement,” resulted in a more equitable distribution of overall payment scores, which could allow hospitals in both socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged areas to succeed under VBP.




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