7 thoughts on “Open Thread-March 2010

  1. quote from the article:
    “The story changes with regard to two programs — welfare and foreign aid — both of which are far less popular than in the original graph. About 49% of conservatives want to cut or eliminate foreign aid; 35% want to cut or eliminate welfare. The other programs, however, are again quite popular.”

    “The broader point does not change: for most programs, the percentage of conservatives who want to cut spending is small. In fact, it’s striking that even foreign aid and welfare attract as much support as they do, especially given the long history of conservative opposition to these programs. The fraction of conservatives who want to increase spending — an average of 54% — is unchanged. The disjuncture between the views of activists and rank-and-file conservatives remains.”

    I find it interesting that less than 20% favored cutting programs that aid the poor and there is an even smaller percent who want cut programs to protect the environment. And virtually no one wants to cut social security.

    Polls have long found that people are less willing to cut programs that aid the poor as compared to welfare–so question wording really matters.

    These results also seem to fit with other polling data I’ve posted here that suggest that the differences in views between conservatives and others are not nearly as great as the media would have us believe.

    This study uses a complex sampling approach with well over 10,000 people and tracked their views over time. The study design looks very solid.

  2. Amnesty international has released a report titled “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA.” A summary, with download of the study can be found here:


    “The USA spends more than any other country on health care, and more on maternal health than any other type of hospital care. Despite this, women in the USA have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries. For example, the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the USA is five times greater than in Greece, four times greater than in Germany, and three times greater than in Spain.”

    “African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. These rates and disparities have not improved in more than 20 years.”

  3. PEW released a new poll. The public is not happy with the economy, the President or the Congress. It also gives a glimpse into how the economy affects people–a majority (54%) report that someone in their household has been without a job or looking for work in the past year.

    “Nearly everyone (92%) gives the national economy a negative rating. Closer to home, 85% say that jobs are hard to find in their community. A majority (54%) now says that someone in their household has been without a job or looking for work in the past year, compared with 39% in February 2009. And the proportion saying they got a pay raise or a better job in the past year fell from 41% in January 2008 to 24% currently.”

    They asked an open-ended question–which is unusual in these kinds of polls–and the results should be of great concern to those in Congress who are running for re-election:
    “When asked for a single word that best describes their impression of Congress, “dysfunctional,” “corrupt,” “self-serving” and “inept” are volunteered most frequently. Of people offering a one-word description, 86% have something negative to say, while only 4% say something positive.”

    Approval rating for Obama is 46%, the Democrats in congress are at 31% and the Republicans are at 25%. Still, a majority (61%) find Obama inspiring and 54% are hopeful.

    The poll surveyed 1,500 people, with a +/-3% margin of error. If they had surveyed everyone in the population, the results would be within 3 percentage points in either direction of what they found here. So, it is possible that the real approval rating for Obama, for example, would be between 43% and 49%. Or, in the case of percent having someone in their family out of work or looking for work in the past year, would be between 51% and 57% if they had surveyed everyone; more accurately, they are 95% sure that that is the range in which we find the true percentage for the population.

    See results at:

  4. Another research study hit the news: Demographic Differences in
    Federal Sentencing Practices: An Update of the Booker Report’s Multivariate Regression Analysis.” Published by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and released in March 2010, the study found that:
    –Based on this analysis, and after controlling for a variety of factors relevant to sentencing, the following observations can be made:
    –Black male offenders received longer sentences than white male offenders. The differences in sentence length have increased steadily since Booker.
    –Female offenders of all races received shorter sentences than male offenders. The differences in sentence length fluctuated at different rates in the time periods studied for white females, black females, Hispanic females, and “other” female offenders (such as those of Native American, Alaskan Native, and Asian or
    Pacific Islander origin).
    –Non-citizen offenders received longer sentences than offenders who were U.S.citizens. The differences in sentence length have increased steadily since Booker.
    –Offenders with some college education received shorter sentences than offenders with no college education. The differences in sentence length have remained relatively stable across the time periods studied.
    –The data were inconsistent as to the association between an offender’s age and the length of sentence imposed.

    This is an excellent example of the use multiple regression and I have posted the study “Research Studies in the News”.

  5. Another study looking at race also hit the news: “Lifting as we Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future.” It was published in Spring 2010 by the The Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

    They state: “While the pay gap is among the most widely-documented economic gaps for women of color, another gap exists that is even more damaging to future generations. This briefing paper examines this generally overlooked—but critical aspect of the economic status of women of color—the wealth gap.”

    They define wealth as “the total value of one’s assets minus debts. Typical types of assets include money in checking accounts, stocks or bonds, real estate, and businesses owned. Typical types of
    debts include home mortgages, credit card debt, and student loans.”

    “To measure the wealth gap, this paper relies on data from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF).The SCF is a triennial national survey sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board and is considered to be one of the best sources of data on wealth inequality.This paper uses the same definition of wealth employed by the Federal Reserve Board.”

    Among their findings:
    Excluding vehicles, single black women have a median wealth of $100 and Hispanic women $120 respectively, while their same-race male counterparts have $7,900 and $9,730. The median wealth of single
    white women is $41,500. To put it another way, single black and Hispanic women have one penny of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by their male counterparts and a tiny fraction of a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by white women.”

    They control for other variables, such as age and marital status. The race differential among black and hispanic women stands out. The wealth gap is clear. The author concludes: “It is the author’s intent and sincere hope that shining a spotlight on women of color and wealth becomes a catalyst for policy change – change that will lift women of color as they continue their climb toward economic
    security. Their futures are inextricably linked with the economic future of the nation.”

    The report can be found: http://www.insightcced.org/uploads/CRWG/LiftingAsWeClimb-InsightCenter-Spring2010.pdf

    The study makes intuitive sense. For most people who have not inherited wealth, there is a connection between their earnings over time and the capacity to increase their assets, and therefore their wealth.

    The report, however, does not provide much information about the methodology other than they used the data collected by the Federal Reserve Board in their Survey of Consumer Finances. I went out to that site but did not find an accessible description of the methodology; they provided a bibliography. Not helpful.
    I want to know how they selected the participants, how many, and the response rate– you know, the basic information for any survey. I also would want to know how they got people to talk about information that is generally believed to be very private. The mantra in survey design is not ask people how much they earn but to ask them to report in terms of broad categories. How did they get people to reveal all?

    I am reflexively uncomfortable when the basic information is not provided although the overall findings make intuitive sense.


  6. Telling a lie is costly: emotionally, cognitively, and physiologically. Lie-tellers experience negative emotions, cognitive impairment, physiological stress, and reveal this through nonverbal cues. The emotional, cognitive, and physiological resources taxed by lying are enhanced by the experience of social power. Power-holders enjoy positive emotions, increases in cognitive function, and physiological resilience. This research tested and found that holding power buffers individuals from the stressful event of telling a lie and leads to easy and effective deception. In situations of high (vs. low) power, lie-tellers appear like truth-tellers emotionally, cognitively, physiologically, and nonverbally.


    (link to research PDF is at the bottom)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *