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The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class

October 21, 2014 Comments off

The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class
Source: Center for American Progress

The American middle class is in trouble.

The middle-class share of national income has fallen, middle-class wages are stagnant, and the middle class in the United States is no longer the world’s wealthiest.

But income is only one side of the story. The cost of being in the middle class—and of maintaining a middle-class standard of living—is rising fast too. For fundamental needs such as child care and health care, costs have risen dramatically over the past few decades, taking up larger shares of family budgets. The reality is that the middle class is being squeezed. As this report will show, for a married couple with two children, the costs of key elements of middle-class security—child care, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement—rose by more than $10,000 in the 12 years from 2000 to 2012, at a time when this family’s income was stagnant.

As sharp as this squeeze can be, the pain does not stop at one family, or even at millions of families. Because of the critical role that middle-class consumers play in creating aggregate demand, the American economy is in trouble when the American middle class is in trouble. And the long-term health of the U.S. economy is at risk if financially squeezed families cannot afford—and smart public policies do not support—developing the next generation of America’s workforce. It is this workforce that will lead the United States in an increasingly open and competitive global economy.

This report provides a snapshot of the American middle class and those struggling to become a part of it. It focuses on six key pillars that can help define security for households: jobs, early childhood programs, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement. Each chapter is both descriptive and prescriptive—detailing both how the middle class is doing and what policies can help it do better.

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Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies
Source: Pediatrics

OBJECTIVES:
To assess desensitization in parents’ repeated exposure to violence and sex in movies.

METHODS:
A national US sample of 1000 parents living with at least 1 target child in 1 of 3 age groups (6 to 17 years old) viewed a random sequence of 3 pairs of short scenes with either violent or sexual content from popular movies that were unrestricted to youth audiences (rated PG-13 or unrated) or restricted to those under age 17 years without adult supervision (rated R). Parents indicated the minimum age they would consider appropriate to view each film. Predictors included order of presentation, parent and child characteristics, and parent movie viewing history.

RESULTS:
As exposure to successive clips progressed, parents supported younger ages of appropriate exposure, starting at age 16.9 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.8 to 17.0) for violence and age 17.2 years (95% CI, 17.0 to 17.4) for sex, and declining to age 13.9 years (95% CI, 13.7 to 14.1) for violence and 14.0 years (95% CI, 13.7 to 14.3) for sex. Parents also reported increasing willingness to allow their target child to view the movies as exposures progressed. Desensitization was observed across parent and child characteristics, violence toward both human and non-human victims, and movie rating. Those who frequently watched movies were more readily desensitized to violence.

CONCLUSIONS:
Parents become desensitized to both violence and sex in movies, which may contribute to the increasing acceptance of both types of content by both parents and the raters employed by the film industry.

Hat tip: PW

Laws on Children Residing with Parents in Prison

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Laws on Children Residing with Parents in Prison
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report provides information on select international and regional measures and the laws of 97 jurisdictions from around the world that relate to allowing children to reside in prison with an incarcerated parent. Most of the countries surveyed impose specific age limits for a child’s admission into and length of stay in prison. Additionally, most of jurisdictions surveyed require that prisons that admit children meet certain standards.

American Housing Survey: 2013 Detailed Tables

October 20, 2014 Comments off

American Housing Survey: 2013 Detailed Tables
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The first findings from the 2013 American Housing Survey are now available in the form of dozens of detailed tables and a microdata file. The American Housing Survey is conducted biennially and, as in past years, provides current national-level information on a wide range of housing subjects. Topics unique to this survey include characteristics and physical condition of the nation’s housing units, indicators of housing and neighborhood quality, and home improvement activities. Specific examples include the presence of appliances, respondents’ rating of their homes on a scale of 1 to 10, and the average cost of kitchen and bathroom remodeling.

Topics new to the American Housing Survey this year are disaster planning and emergency preparedness, public transportation, household involvement in neighborhood and community activities, and the prevalence of “doubled-up” households, such as those with an adult child living at home. Specific examples include having an adequate food or water supply in case of emergency, key amenities accessible via public transportation and neighbors willing to help one another.

Attributes of Truthful Versus Deceitful Statements in the Evaluation of Accused Child Molesters

October 18, 2014 Comments off

Attributes of Truthful Versus Deceitful Statements in the Evaluation of Accused Child Molesters
Source: Sage Open

The ability to detect deception, in everyday social interactions and psychological evaluations, can literally mean the difference between life and death. Beyond physiological and nonverbal techniques for detecting deception, research has focused on criteria designed to evaluate the content of verbal statements to distinguish between true or actually experienced events versus internally manufactured or fabricated events. Criteria from two techniques that have received empirical support, criteria-based content analysis and reality monitoring, were used to create an 11-item Deception Detection Checklist (DDCL). In this study, 130 college undergraduates used the DDCL to rate the exculpatory statements of two accused child molesters: one truthful, the other untruthful. The 11 items composing the DDCL, as well as a measure of perceived truthfulness, were all scored on 7-point Likert-type scales. Nine of the 11 items on the DDCL significantly differentiated between the true and untrue statements in the predicted direction. Overall scores on the DDCL indicated that the false statement was rated as significantly more deceptive than the true statement. The DDCL possessed good reliability, and a series of factor analyses provided strong support for the construct validity of the measure. The 7 psychometrically strongest items from the DDCL included variables assessing the extent to which statements included clarity of detail, spatial details, temporal details, and contextual details, as well as the relevance, reconstructability, and realism of the statement. These results indicate that subjects were able to use this measure to reliably differentiate between true and false statements made by accused child molesters.

The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Children’s Cognitive Development

October 17, 2014 Comments off

The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Children’s Cognitive Development (PDF)
Source: Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

This working paper makes use of a new data resource—merged birth and school records for all children born in Florida from 1992 to 2002—to study the effects of birth weight on cognitive development from kindergarten through schooling. Using twin fixed effects models, the researchers find that the effects of birth weight on cognitive development are essentially constant through the school career, that these effects are very similar across a wide range of family backgrounds, and that they are invariant to measures of school quality. They conclude that the effects of poor neonatal health on adult outcomes are therefore set very early.

UK — Gestation-specific Infant Mortality, 2012

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Gestation-specific Infant Mortality, 2012
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key Findings

  • Babies born in 2012 had an infant mortality rate of 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 4.4 deaths per 1,000 live births for babies born in 2008.
  • For babies born at term (between 37 and 41 weeks gestation), the infant mortality rate was 1.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • The infant mortality rate for babies born pre-term (between 24 and 36 weeks) in 2012 was 23.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. This was almost 16% lower than the rate for pre-term babies born in 2008 (27.6 deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • The infant mortality rate for babies born to mothers aged 40 years and over was 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • For babies born to mothers aged less than 20 years, the infant mortality rate was 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • The infant mortality rate for babies born pre-term was higher for single births than for multiple births (24.8 and 19.9 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively).\
  • Infant mortality rates by ethnic group were highest for babies in the Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean groups (6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births).
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