Friday, December 7, 2018

Submissions Guidelines for 2019 DC Regional Student Conference

Submit your research for this premier education, networking, and career development conference, scheduled for March 29-30, 2019 at American University in Washington, DC. Information about who should submit and how they should submit follows along with several important deadlines.


Works in Progress: Poster Session Profiles

By Sana Ahmad, Rutgers University and Sarah Marshall, University of Hawaii-Manoa

Posters at this year’s Fall Research Conference spanned a wide realm of policy topics with a varied range of descriptive and analytical methods. Some of the winning posters gave a short video presentation, which you can find on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday announcements.

There were other interesting posters being presented as well; here are a few different posters that were presented during the conference.


Social, Health, and Economic Implications of the Black Marriage Decline

Presenter: Dawne Mouzon, Rutgers University

Dr. Mouzon’s work looks at cultural vs. structural causes of the decline in marriage rates among African-Americans and the policy implications that follow from the findings.

There has been a universal marriage decline with the proportion of married couples steadily decreasing, but the drop has been most precipitous among African-Americans. Policy makers, scholars, and the general public became concerned when this trend started to come to light. In 1965, there was argument that the reason for racial disparity in social mobility is cultural, due primarily to African-Americans having less value for institution of marriage. Since then, however, researchers have largely disproved this through empirical research and have now turned to looking at more structural reasons for the observed differences.

One structural concern is the imbalance in the gender ratio. Among all ethnicity groups, African-Americans have the biggest gender ratio gap; for every 100 black men there are 91 black women, and when focusing on people who are employed, for every 100 employed black women, there are only 46 employed black men. Such a pattern implies that there are not enough black men in the community.

Dr. Mouzon then turned to exploring the underlying reasons for the above difference in gender ratio. She looked to the criminal justice system and discussed how the war on drugs has criminalized poor men and men of color, sometimes physically removing them or making them less appealing in terms of marriageability. With economic viability being one of the most important considerations in marriage, especially among African-American women, the high rates of institutionalization of black men clearly puts them at a disadvantage. Additionally, homicide rates are really high among African-American men, contributing to exacerbating the gender gap. The poor labor market outcomes of black men also contribute to making them less appealing in terms of marriageability. For every dollar that white men make, white women make 84 cents, but for every dollar that black men earn, black women make 94 cents. Thus, there is a smaller wage gap between African-American men and women, possibly reducing the incentive for these women to marry black men.

Mouzon raised some policy concerns moving forward. She discussed that beside home ownership, marriage is one major way that people build wealth, which raises the following question: with a group of people having very low marriage rates, what are the options for building wealth? Mouzon surmised that black women are also at a disadvantage because they are having lesser children than previously, and with less children and lack of spouse, there is a concern regarding meeting women’s need for caregivers and safety-net. In order to address these questions, Mouzon is beginning a project on social isolation, collecting data on single African-American women age 25-44 with the intent of looking at how these women navigate.


Evaluating the Feasibility of Spatial Tools to Scale up Child Immunization Coverage in Bangladesh

Presenter: Priyanka Vyas, University of Texas, Dallas

Priyanka Vyas’ is a third year Ph.D. student in the Public Policy program at University of Texas at Dallas and her research looks at immunization coverage in Bangladesh. She related that vaccine rates can be measured by looking at different vaccines separately. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), however, a child is fully vaccinated if she has all doses of the necessary vaccines. Based on this definition, Vyas constructed a measure of total vaccination coverage that is based on administered doses per child relative to doses that a child should have received. Her study utilized data from Demographic and Health Survey of Bangladesh, collection household data on 3,000 variables from nearly 17,000 households. The data is accompanied by geographical point data with each point representing a cluster of about 30 households.

Additionally, Vyas was able to get data from the Bangladesh government on Thana level mapping, the second smallest administrative tier, allowing her to look at where sampling falls in terms of geographical location. Vyas estimated the total vaccination coverage as the response variable and used different geographic predictors to assess what the predicted coverage would look like. In some areas, especially the more concentrated and densely populated areas, the prediction is reliable. In hard to reach areas the predictive ability of the model is relatively low.

Additionally, Vyas used different geographic variables such as distance to nearest hospital, family welfare center, Thana health center, maternal and child welfare center, community clinic, and child clinics to better understand how government agencies might direct resources if they want to increase total vaccination rates. After running different models all of which give similar results, Vyas observed that Thana health center shows up as significant in the model, implying that resources should be directed to the very local level to increase vaccination rates.

Once Vyas had the prediction map, she wanted to explore the likelihood of utilization of such maps for planning purposes by the government. In order to answer this question, Vyas conducted field study in Bangladesh for three months interviewing government planners, leaders from non-profits, and other government official. Vyas also administered expert survey to find out the potential usage of the map in terms of basic, intermediate, or advanced usage with advanced usage implying using the map for prediction purposes. Rates of potential use for these purposes fall between 30% and 40%. Vyas then looked into barriers for using spatial tools for health planning and find that the largest barrier is lack of institutional collaboration between different government agencies, with additional barriers being use of GIS as a decision making tool, technical capacity, and required training.


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