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American teens more cautious about using synthetic drugs

December 19, 2013 Comments off

American teens more cautious about using synthetic drugs (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan (Monitoring the Future)

—The use of synthetic marijuana by the nation’s teens dropped substantially this year, and a sharply increasing proportion of them see great risk in using so-called “bath salts.”

Both of these drugs are synthetics sold over the counter in many outlets such as gas stations and convenience stores, as well as on the Internet. They have been the subject of great concern because of their serious and unpredictable consequences for the user’s health. These and other findings come from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, which is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

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The Effect of Social Security Auxiliary Spouse and Survivor Benefits on the Household Retirement Decision

September 24, 2013 Comments off

The Effect of Social Security Auxiliary Spouse and Survivor Benefits on the Household Retirement Decision
Source: University of Michigan (Knapp)

In 2011, 12.9 million age-qualifying Americans received $112 billion in spouse and survivor benefits from Social Security based on their husband or wife’s earnings history. Despite their large impact on annual Social Security disbursements, little is known about how these benefits impact household work and retirement behavior. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, this paper estimates a structural life-cycle model of household savings, labor supply, and benefit claiming, where future health, mortality, and medical expenses are uncertain. The model accounts for the complexity of Social Security benefits, the heterogeneity of couples’ earnings histories, and private pensions. It predicts that spouse and survivor benefits decrease female labor force participation while increasing male labor force participation. I find that eliminating Social Security spouse and survivor benefits cause a large, 1.27 years, increase in female labor force participation, while decreasing male labor force participation by more than 0.53 years. Furthermore, the model, accounting for preference heterogeneity, finds significant variation in how households respond to the reduction or elimination of these benefits. I find non-linear savings to Social Security’s trust fund from reducing spouse and survivor benefits amongst the married, non-disabled population in this study: when these benefits are reduced by 50%, it achieves 74.1% of the savings from eliminating these benefits.

Stop Being Evil: A Proposal for Unbiased Google Search

September 17, 2013 Comments off

Stop Being Evil: A Proposal for Unbiased Google Search (PDF)
Source: Michigan Law Review

Since its inception in the late 1990s, Google has done as much as anyone to create an “open internet.” Thanks to Google’s unparalleled search algorithms, anyone’s ideas can be heard, and all kinds of information are easier than ever to find. As Google has extended its ambition beyond its core function, however, it has conducted itself in a manner that now threatens the openness and diversity of the same internet ecosystem that it once championed. By promoting its own content and vertical search services above all others, Google places a significant obstacle in the path of its competitors. This handicap will only be magnified as search engines become increasingly important and the internet continues to expand.

In order to mitigate the potential damage to competition, we must prevent Google from leveraging its power in core search to steal market share for its downstream vertical search services. Requiring Google core search to integrate its competitors’ vertical offerings would promote competition without intrusive administrative interference. But action must come soon. Search is taking shape very quickly. Once the next generation of online search emerges, the dominant players will have already cemented their positions. Let us hope that when the dust settles it isn’t too late.

82 percent of adults support banning smoking when kids are in the car

July 22, 2013 Comments off

82 percent of adults support banning smoking when kids are in the car
Source: University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital

According to the latest University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, support is strong for prohibiting drivers and passengers from smoking when kids are in the car. However, only seven states nationwide have laws banning the practice.

Also in this month’s poll, 87 percent of adults said they’d support a ban on smoking in businesses where children are allowed. Seventy-five percent expressed support for banning smoking in homes where children have asthma or another lung disease.

Older drivers more likely to buy new vehicles

June 3, 2013 Comments off

Older drivers more likely to buy new vehicles

Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

Adults under 50 have long been the ideal target group for advertisers, but when it comes to buying new vehicles, older consumers may be a marketer’s best bet, says a University of Michigan researcher.

Michael Sivak, research professor at the U-M Transportation Research Institute, examined the differences in the probability of licensed drivers purchasing a new light-duty vehicle (car, pickup truck, SUV or minivan) as a function of their age for the years 2007 and 2011.

He found that in 2011, the peak probability of buying a new vehicle per driver was among those between 55 and 64 years of age—a shift from four years earlier that peaked with the 35-to-44-year-old age group.

In 2011, one vehicle was purchased for every 14.6 drivers aged 55-64. By comparison, the rates for other groups of drivers were: 14.9 for ages 65-74; 15.0 for ages 45-54; 15.9 for ages 35-44; 19.7 for all age groups combined; 26.6 for age 75 and older; 34.9 for ages 25-34; and 221.8 for ages 18-24.

"There were substantial increases from 2007 to 2011 in the number of drivers 55 to 64 years of age and 65 to 74 years of age," Sivak said. "This trend likely reflects the aging of the general population, coupled with the increased probability of older persons having a driver’s license."

The Media Economics and Cultural Politics Of Al Jazeera English in the United States

March 4, 2013 Comments off

The Media Economics and Cultural Politics Of Al Jazeera English in the United States (PDF)

Source: University of Michigan (Youmans)

Before scholarship can consider the greater implications of AJE’s brand of reporting on world affairs, it is necessary to begin with a mapping of the actuality of AJE’s circulation – the focus of this thesis. This immediately generates a problem. The United States is the key market implied in these theoretical approaches given its centricity in international communication. Yet, AJE is not reachable by the vast majority of Americans’ remote controls. This necessarily dampens analysis of wider effects on power and inter-cultural conflict. Before considering impact, we must take an inventory of where and how AJE travels in the country – and why. There are distributional exceptions to its absence, including large centers, such as Washington, DC and parts of New York City, as well as limited cities such as Burlington, VT and Toledo, OH. While it is fully available online, an increasingly key avenue for American news viewership, Internet news consumption is still secondary to TV – one motivation for AJE’s active pursuit of cable deals in the largest majority English-speaking news market. For AJE, distribution in the United States has been a primary goal and source of frustration, despite its easy availability via the Internet. AJE sees cable in particular as the best way to reach, and therefore influence, a wide American audience – which is one of the most vital news markets in the world, given the country’s disproportionate role in world affairs. The primary question of interest is why has it failed to gain wide TV availability and therefore a large audience? A second question is, what does AJE’s absence mean for international communication, US-Arab relations and the channel itself? This study seeks to identify and examine the factors and constraints that keep AJE largely off of American televisions and relate these to the larger theoretical questions posited in AJE and global communication scholarship. Also, there are key junctures, such as the Arab Spring, which rejuvenated the network’s reputation in key quarters of American society. These moments illuminate further how the factors work in explaining AJE’s lack of distribution.

Why is road safety in the U.S. not on par with Sweden, the U.K., and the Netherlands? Lessons to be learned

February 6, 2013 Comments off

Why is road safety in the U.S. not on par with Sweden, the U.K., and the Netherlands? Lessons to be learned

Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

This study compared road safety and related factors in the U.S. with those in Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, in order to identify actions most likely to produce casualty reductions in the U.S. The reviewed topics were basic country statistics, road fatalities and various fatality rates, national road-safety strategies, and selected road-safety issues. The main differences concerned structural and cultural factors (such as vehicle distance driven), and procedural factors (such as road-safety strategies and targets, alcohol-impaired driving, exceeding speed limits, and use of seat belts). The main recommendations for improving road safety in the U.S. are as follows: (1) lower states’ BAC limits to 0.5 g/l and introduce effective random breath testing, (2) reexamine the current speed-limit policies and improve speed enforcement, (3) implement primary seat-belt-wearing laws in each state that would cover both front and rear occupants, and reward vehicle manufacturers for installation of advanced seat-belt reminders, (4) reconsider road-safety target setting so that the focus is on reducing fatalities and not on reducing fatality rate per distance driven, and (5) consider new strategies to reduce vehicle distance driven.

Social networking: Gen Xers connect online as often as they socialize in person

January 31, 2013 Comments off

Social networking: Gen Xers connect online as often as they socialize in person

Source: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Young adults in Generation X are as likely to connect with friends, family and co-workers online as they are in person, according to a University of Michigan study.

In a typical month, adults in their late 30s report that they engaged in about 75 face-to-face contacts or conversations, compared to about 74 electronic contracts through personal emails or social media.

Sick kids, struggling parents

October 24, 2012 Comments off

Sick kids, struggling parents

Source: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan

  • Nearly two-thirds of parents of young children in child care say their children could not attend because of illness in the past year.
  • One-third of parents of young children are concerned about losing jobs or losing pay when taking off work to care for their sick children.
  • 8% of parents with kids in child care say taking their sick child to the emergency room is more convenient than seeing a primary care doctor.

The Generation X Report: How many Gen Xers know their cosmic address

October 24, 2012 Comments off

The Generation X Report: How many Gen Xers know their cosmic address

Source: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Generation X adults can identify our home in the universe, a spiral galaxy, according to a University of Michigan report.

“Knowing your cosmic address is not a necessary job skill, but it is an important part of human knowledge about our universe and – to some extent – about ourselves,” says Jon D. Miller, author of The Generation X Report.

Miller directs the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). The study, funded by the National Science Foundation since 1986, now includes responses from approximately 4,000 young adults between 37 and 40 years of age — the core of Generation X.

The latest report examines the scientific literacy of Gen Xers about their location in the universe. Miller provided Generation X participants in the study with high-quality image of a spiral galaxy taken by the Hubble space telescope, and asked them to identify the image, first in an open-ended response and then by selecting from multiple choices.

Forty-three percent of the Gen Xers surveyed were able to provide a correct answer that indicated that they recognized the object as a galaxy similar to our own. Miller found that 53 percent of males correctly identified the image, compared with just 32 percent of females, and that the proportion who identified the image correctly rose steadily with education, from 21 percent who had less than a high school education to 63 percent of those with doctorates or professional degrees.

Mobility Regimes and Parental Wealth: The United States, Germany, and Sweden in Comparison

September 6, 2012 Comments off

Mobility Regimes and Parental Wealth: The United States, Germany, and Sweden in Comparison

Source: University of Michigan Populations Studies Center

We study the role of parental wealth for children’s educational and occupational outcomes across three types of welfare states and outline a theoretical model that assumes parental wealth to impact offspring’s attainment through two mechanisms, wealth’s purchasing function and its insurance function. We argue that welfare states can limit the purchasing function of wealth, for instance by providing free education and generous social benefits, yet none of the welfare states examined here provides a functional equivalent to the insurance against adverse outcomes afforded by parental wealth. Our empirical evidence of substantial associations between parental wealth and children’s educational success and social mobility in three nations that are marked by large institutional differences is in line with this interpretation and helps us re-examine and extend existing typologies of mobility regimes.

Generation X is surprisingly unconcerned about climate change

July 19, 2012 Comments off

Generation X is surprisingly unconcerned about climate change

Source: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

As the nation suffers through a summer of record-shattering heat, a University of Michigan report finds that Generation X is lukewarm about climate change—uninformed about the causes and unconcerned about the potential dangers.

“Most Generation Xers are surprisingly disengaged, dismissive or doubtful about whether global climate change is happening and they don’t spend much time worrying about it,” said Jon D. Miller, author of “The Generation X Report.” (Read and download the full report.)

The new report, the fourth in a continuing series, compares Gen X attitudes about climate change in 2009 and 2011, and describes the levels of concern Gen Xers have about different aspects of climate change, as well as their sources of information on the subject.

“We found a small but statistically significant decline between 2009 and 2011 in the level of attention and concern Generation X adults expressed about climate change,” Miller said. “In 2009, about 22 percent said they followed the issue of climate change very or moderately closely. In 2011, only 16 percent said they did so.”

Pay-to-play sports keeping lower-income kids out of the game

May 18, 2012 Comments off
Source:  University of Michigan Health System
In an era of tight funding, school districts across the country are cutting their athletic budgets. Many schools are implementing athletic participation fees to cover the cost of school sports. But those fees have forced kids in lower-income families to the sidelines, according to a new poll that found nearly one in five lower-income parents report their children are participating less in school sports.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health recently asked parents of middle- and high-school-age children nationwide about participation and cost of school sports.

Overall, 61 percent of children playing middle or high school sports were charged a pay-to-play fee. The average fee was $93, according to the poll respondents, but 21% of children faced a pay-to-play fee of $150 or more.

However, pay-to-play fees are only one component of the school sports costs reported by parents. Including equipment, uniforms and additional team fees,, the average cost for a child’s sports participation was $381.

Researchers found that 12 percent of parents overall said that the cost of school sports caused a drop in participation for at least one of their children. However, that varied substantially based on income. Among lower-income families, those earning less than $60,000 per year, 19 percent said their children’s participation decreased because of costs. But among families earning more than $60,000 per year, only 5 percent reported costs had caused their children to participate less.

The Generation-X Report — Food: Shared, Prepared, Organic, and Genetically Modified

May 9, 2012 Comments off
Source:  University of Michigan (Longitudinal Study of Youth)
Food is a central part of human life. We need it to survive. We share it with our families and our friends and we often make it a central part of our celebrations. We shop for it, cook it, read about it, talk about it, and sometimes worry about it.
In this report, the third of a continuing series, we look at the ways that young adults in Generation X are involved with food. Using data from our 2010 national survey, this report will look at the level and kinds of involvement that young adults in the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) report about their own shopping, cooking, and sharing of food. We will also examine the attitudes of Generation X toward organic foods and genetically modified foods. And we will take a brief look at the places from which young adults obtain information about food-based issues such as genetically-modified foods.

Mortgage Distress and Financial Liquidity: How U.S. Families are Handling Savings, Mortgages and Other Debts

May 8, 2012 Comments off

Mortgage Distress and Financial Liquidity: How U.S. Families are Handling Savings, Mortgages and Other Debts (PDF)

Source: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the longest running longitudinal household survey in the world, interviews roughly 9,000 families from across the United States every other year. This report covers the period from 2009 to 2011, capturing the financial impact of the Great Recession. In 2009, PSID asked families new questions about mortgage distress – have you fallen behind in payments or applied for mortgage modification, and what are your expectations about mortgage payment difficulties in the coming 12 months. (See Table 1A.) When these families were re-interviewed in 2011, these same questions were asked again. The resulting changes provide a detailed look at the impact of the recent recession on home ownership, mortgage and other debt, and financial resources. In this research report, we present data from the 8,121 families who were in the study for both 2009 and 2011. We apply statistical weights to the data, allowing us to report national estimates for the entire country. 1 Our analysis provides an assessment of the changes in levels of distress and debt among the same American families, and estimates of mortgage distress and levels of non-collateralized debt –credit card debt, student loans, medical or legal bills, or loans from relatives – as well as liquid assets, including checking and savings account balances.

See: Many US families are underwater with debts (EurekAlert!)

Easy-access medicines a poisoning risk for kids at home

April 19, 2012 Comments off
Easy-access medicines a poisoning risk for kids at home

Source:  University of Michigan Division of General Pediatrics
+ Overall, 79% of parents and 85% of grandparents of young kids report having prescription medicine at home.
+ Grandparents are 4 times more likely than parents to keep prescription medicine in easy-access places.
+ About two-thirds of adults overall would support potential new laws that would require medicines to be packaged as single-dose servings.

+ Full Report(PDF)

See: Nearly 1 in 4 grandparents store prescription medicines where children can easily find them (EurekAlert!)

An Untold Story of Middleboxes in Cellular Networks

August 29, 2011 Comments off

An Untold Story of Middleboxes in Cellular Networks (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan and Microsoft Research

The use of cellular data networks is increasingly popular as network coverage becomes more ubiquitous and many diverse usercontributed mobile applications are available. The growing cellular traffic demand means that cellular network carriers are facing greater challenges to provide users with good network performance and energy ef?ciency, while protecting networks from potential attacks. To better utilize their limited network resources while securing the network and protecting client devices, the carriers have already deployed various network policies that influence traffic behavior. Today, these policies are mostly opaque, though they directly impact application designs and may even introduce network vulnerabilities.

We present NetPiculet, the first tool that unveils carriers’ NAT and firewall policies by conducting intelligent measurement. By running NetPiculet in the major U.S. cellular providers as well as deploying it as a smartphone application in the wild in more than 100 cellular ISPs, we identified the key NAT and firewall policies which have direct implications on performance, energy, and security. For example, NAT boxes and firewalls set timeouts for idle TCP connections, which sometimes cause significant energy waste on mobile devices. Although most carriers today deploy sophisticated firewalls, they are still vulnerable to various attacks such as battery draining and denial of service. These findings can inform developers in optimizing the interaction between mobile applications and cellular networks and also guide carriers in improving their network con?gurations.

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