Social Policy

The utility of social capital in studies on health determinants

The utility of social capital in studies on health determinants
Milbank Quarterly Volume 79, Number 3, pages 387-428.

Macinko, J. & Starfield, B.
01/01/2001

Social capital has become a popular subject in the literature on determinants of health. The concept of social capital has been used in the sociological, political science, and economic development literatures, as well as in the health inequalities literature. Analysis of its use in the health inequalities literature suggests that each theoretical tradition has conceptualized social capital differently. Health researchers have employed a wide range of social capital measures, borrowing from several theoretical traditions. Given the wide variation in these measures and an apparent lack of consistent theoretical or empirical justification for their use, conclusions about the likely role of "social capital" on population health may be overstated or even misleading. Elements of a research agenda are proposed to further elucidate the potential role of factors currently subsumed under the rubric of "social capital."

The Welfare State and Infant Mortality

The Welfare State and Infant Mortality
American Journal of Sociology. November, Vol. 106.

Conley, D. & Springer, K.
01/01/2001

This article seeks to understand the effects of welfare-state spending on infant mortality rates. Infant mortality was chosen for its importance as a social indicator and its putative sensitivity to state action over a short time span. Country fixed-effects models are used to determine that public health spending does have a significant impact in lowering infant mortality rates, net of other factors, such as economic development, and that this effect is cumulative over a five-year time span. A net effect of health spending is also found, even when controlling for the level of spending in the year after which the outcome is measured (to account for spurious effects or reverse causation). State spending affects infant mortality both through social mechanisms and through medical ones. This article also shows that the impact of state spending may vary by the institutional structure of the welfare state. Finally, this study tests for structural breaks in the relationship between health spending and infant mortality and finds none over this time period.

Universal Freckle

Universal Freckle
lead chapter in The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness,Durham, NC: Duke University Press, *Peer reviewed. Reprinted in Privilege (edited by Michael S. Kimmel) ABC-Clio Press.

Conley, D., Klinenberg, E., Nexica, I., Rasmussen, B.B., Sandell, J. & Matt Wray, (Eds.).
01/01/2001

Bringing together new articles and essays from the controversial Berkeley conference of the same name, "The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness" presents a fascinating range of inquiry into the nature of whiteness. Representing academics, independent scholars, community organizers, and antiracist activists, the contributors are all leaders in the "second wave" of whiteness studies who collectively aim to combat the historical legacies of white supremacy and to inform those who seek to understand the changing nature of white identity, both in the United States and abroad. The editors not only raise provocative questions about the intellectual, social, and political goals of those interested in the study of whiteness but assess several of the topic's major recurrent themes: the visibility of whiteness (or the lack thereof); the "emptiness" of whiteness as a category of identification; and conceptions of whiteness as a structural privilege, a harbinger of violence, or an institutionalization of European imperialism.

Urban Health: Is the City Infected?

Urban Health: Is the City Infected?
Medicine and Humanity. London: King's Fund,

Rodwin, V.G.
01/01/2001

The city is, at once, a center for disease and poor health and also a place for hope, cures and good health. From the earliest times, the city has attracted the poor and been the target of the plague, as well as war. Likewise, the health care industry has always been part of the economic base of cities - from Lourdes, in France, to Rochester, Minnesota, to megacities around the world. With its highly disproportionate share of health resources, e.g., hospitals, physicians, nurses and social services, the big city is a center of excellence in medicine. Yet, as Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet once noted, "For all of its rational efficiency and benevolent intent, the city is likely to be the death of us." Are cities socially infected breeding grounds for disease? Or do they represent critical spatial entities for promotion of population health? I propose to begin with a global view of urban health and disease and the challenge this poses for public health today. Next, I examine some evidence for the hypothesis that population health in cities is relatively poor. Finally, I suggest that the more pertinent question is not whether the city is unhealthy or healthy but rather the extent to which we can alleviate the problems posed by inequalities of income and wealth - in the city as well as outside of it.

Wealth and Poverty in America: A Reader

Wealth and Poverty in America: A Reader
(Edited, with an Introduction) Oxford: Blackwell,

Conley, D.
01/01/2001

What does it mean to be poor in America at the dawn of the 21 st century? For that matter, what does it mean to be rich? And how are the two related to each other? These apparently simple questions present enormous theoretical and empirical challenges to any student or social scientist. Wealth and Poverty in America is a collection of over 20 important essays on the complex relationship between the rich and poor in the United States. The authors include classical and contemporary thinkers on a wide variety of topics such as economic systems, the lifestyles of the rich and poor, and public policy. An editorial introduction and suggestions for further reading make this a useful and valuable source of information and analysis on the realities of the American rich and American poor.

Caseload Change: An Exploratory Study

Caseload Change: An Exploratory Study
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 19, no. 3 (Summer 2000)

Mead, L.
07/01/2000

The national caseload of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (since 1996, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) rose 34 percent between 1989 and 1994,then fell 50 percent through June 1999 (data from U.S. Administration for Children and Families). These are the sharpest changes in the history of the program. They sparked a heightened interest in caseload dynamics. The simple model I report here reveals more about the policy causes of change than prior studies.

The Twilight of Liberal Welfare Reform

The Twilight of Liberal Welfare Reform
The Public Interest, no. 139 (Spring 2000)

Mead, L.
03/01/2000

Thirty years ago, welfare reform was a liberal issue. In the 1960s and 1970s, government planners proposed that cash welfare benefits be raised and extended to the entire low-income population. But those proposals were rejected, and since the 1970s, the welfare debate has turned sharply rightward: The goal today is more to reduce dependency than to relieve poverty. The most recent welfare reform, enacted by the Republican Congress in 1996, was very conservative. Partly due to it, the number of families on cash aid has fallen by half in the last five years.

A New White Flight? The Dynamics of Neighborhood Change in the 1980s

A New White Flight? The Dynamics of Neighborhood Change in the 1980s
in Nancy Foner, Ruben G. Rumbaut, and Steven J. Gold, eds., Immigration Research for a New Century: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. New York City: Russell Sage Foundation, pp. 423-441.

Ellen, I.G.
01/01/2000

The rapid rise in immigration over the past few decades has transformed the American social landscape, while the need to understand its impact on society has led to a burgeoning research literature. Predominantly non-European and of varied cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, the new immigrants present analytic challenges that cannot be wholly met by traditional immigration studies. Immigration Research for a New Century demonstrate show sociology, anthropology, history, political science, economics, and other disciplines intersect to answer questions about today's immigrants. In Part I, leading scholars examine the emergence of an interdisciplinary body of work that incorporates such topics as the social construction of race, the importance of ethnic self-help and economic niches, the influence of migrant-homeland ties, and the types of solidarity and conflict found among migrant populations. The authors also explore the social and national origins of immigration scholars themselves, many of whom came of age in an era of civil rights and ethnic reaffirmation, and may also be immigrants or children of immigrants. Together these essays demonstrate how social change, new patterns of immigration, and the scholars' personal backgrounds have altered the scope and emphases of the research literature,allowing scholars to ask new questions and to see old problems in new ways. Part II contains the work of a new generation of immigrant scholars, reflecting the scope of a field bolstered by different disciplinary styles. These essays explore the complex variety of the immigrant experience, ranging from itinerant farmworkers to Silicon Valley engineers. The demands of the American labor force, ethnic, racial, and gender stereotyping, and state regulation are all shown to play important roles in the economic adaptation of immigrants. The ways in which immigrants participate politically, their relationships among themselves, their attitudes toward naturalization and citizenship, and their own sense of cultural identity are also addressed. Immigration Research for a New Century examines the complex effects that immigration has had not only on American society but on scholarship itself, and offers the fresh insights of a new generation of immigration researchers.

Collaborative Off-line Reflection: A Way to Develop Skill in Action Science and Action Inquiry

Collaborative Off-line Reflection: A Way to Develop Skill in Action Science and Action Inquiry
Handbook of Action Research. Edited by Reason, P. and H. Bradbury. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications,

Rudolph, J. & Taylor, S., Foldy, E.G.
01/01/2000

Handbook of Action Research draws together the different strands of action research, reveals their diverse applications and demonstrates their interrelations. The text articulates an emergent, participatory worldview that will challenge the modernist paradigm and value system.

This far-reaching volume, in illustrating the latest approaches in social inquiry, moves the field forward with innovative insights and participatory practices. It grapples with questions of how to integrate knowledge with action, how to collaborate with co-researchers in the field, and how to present the necessarily "messy" components of such participative research in a coherent fashion. The organization of the volume reflects the many different issues and levels of analysis represented.

 

Factors influencing participation in weekly support groups among women completing an HIV/STD Intervention program

Factors influencing participation in weekly support groups among women completing an HIV/STD Intervention program
Women and Health 2000; 30(1): 15-35

Van Devanter, N., Parikh, N., Cohall, R., Faber, N., Litwak, E., Messeri, P., Gonzales, V., Kruger, S. & Greenberg, J.
01/01/2000

Over the past three decades, the influence and importance of social support has been well documented and the findings have suggested a beneficial effect on stress-related situations, mental and physical health, and social functioning. More recently, small group/skills training behavioral interventions have demonstrated success in changing behaviors which affect the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV among populations at risk for these diseases. Studies of support groups to date have been conducted exclusively in research settings where women are offered financial incentives for participation. Little is known about the willingness of women to participate in ongoing support groups after successfully completing a skills training intervention. The present study examines the factors that may influence participation among women in a weekly support group after completing a structured, six session HIV/STD intervention. Both quantitative and qualitative data are collected from 265 women in the intervention arm of a multi-site randomized controlled behavioral intervention trial. Results reveal that less than a quarter (22%) of women participated in at least one support group. Participation varied significantly by site, ranging from 34% to 15% (p = .008). Participation was also strongly linked to recent use of domestic violence services. Qualitative data indicated that although monetary incentives play some role in the woman's decision to participate, other factors are also important. These include program outreach, support group size, salience of the group content, consistency of group leadership from the intervention to the support group, and use of peer leaders along with professional facilitators. Implications for design of post-intervention support groups programs are discussed.

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