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Class Notes: Keeping students in economics, marijuana legalization, and more

By Richard V. Reeves, Simran Kalkat

This week in Class Notes

Join the Boys and Men Project!

The Center on Children and Families is hiring a Senior Research Assistant & Project Coordinator. Come work with me on the Boys and Men Project which will focus on the challenges facing boys and men today, particularly Black boys and men and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The deadline for applications is May 1, 2023. Please help us to spread the word!

Alumni speakers encourage students to stay in economics

Despite real progress in the last few decades, economics still skews male. How can colleges boost the representation of women and other underrepresented groups in the field? Previous research has shown that same-gender and same-race instructors, role models, and mentors have a positive effect on student performance. A new paper from Arpita Patnaik and co-authors assesses whether alumni speakers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison affect the decision of students to remain within the economics program. They find that overall, alumni speakers increase the likelihood that students remain in economics and take intermediate level classes by 2.1 percentage points. But there were strongly gendered effects. Male speakers increased the likelihood of male students taking intermediate classes by 8.1 percentage points with little effect on female students. Female speakers increased the likelihood of female students taking intermediate coursework by 5.0 percentage points, with little effect on male students.

Helping mothers access child care increased their labor force participation

The lack of adequate and affordable child care remains an impediment to women’s labor force participation in the U.S. and other countries, especially for lower-income women. The lack of access means that the effect of child care for women with lower socioeconomic status isn’t well known. Henning Hermes and co-authors conduct a randomized control trial of a program that provides information and assistance on the child care application process with more than 600 families in Germany. They find strong positive effects on maternal labor supply, with full-time employment increasing by 9.2 percentage points. Net household income also increased, suggesting that it is not a substitute for father’s employment. The program also increased the number of hours spent on child care by fathers, and decreased reliance on extended family.

Analyzing policy research from the past decade of marijuana legalization

Marijuana legislation has changed dramatically in the past decade. What has this meant for public health, crime, and drug policy? D. Mark Anderson and Daniel I. Rees review the literature on marijuana legalization, focusing on medical marijuana legalization (MML) and recreational marijuana legalization (RML). Most research finds small increases in youth use following MML, and a drop from RML. They find mixed results for marijuana’s effect on drug use overall, depending on the type of drug. Studies of mental health focus on the effects of MMLs, and find some signs of improvement in mental health, though the results are still somewhat mixed. Anderson and Rees find reductions in traffic fatalities but mixed results on crime (depending on the type of crime).

Top chart: Abortion pill ban will have a drastic effect on access throughout the country

A Texas court case is set to decide the future of access to abortion pills across the country. More than half of abortions are medication-based, and many patients in states with restricted abortion access since Roe have turned to medication abortions. A court ruling to remove FDA approval for the pills would affect all states, even those where abortion remains legal.


Chart source: The New York Times

Choice opinion: Head Start centers in community colleges can change the child care equation

“The Head Start answer is elegant in this context. The program comes at no cost to those who qualify, and for any center to operate, it must also secure a 20% philanthropic match. Colleges can effectively provide that match by ‘leasing’ the space for the program, except at no charge. Thus, they can offer a child care option to their students that is essentially free to them, and free to the students, too,” writes the Washington Post editorial board.

Self Promotion: Black men and women continue to face historically higher unemployment rates

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Tiffany N. Ford finds that Black men and women have had nearly double the unemployment rates of white men and women since 1972, and that in almost all years since 1980, the unemployment rate for Black men has been higher than for Black women. In 1983, the year of peak Black unemployment, Black women had a 18.6% unemployment rate compared to 20.3% for men — more than double the rate for white men and women. In 2019, the unemployment rate was at its lowest at 5.6% for Black women and 6.6% for Black men, but this was still double the white unemployment rate.

For your calendar: The social cost of carbon, economic security for people with disabilities, and the UC demography conference

Social cost of carbon: What it is, why it matters, and why the Biden administration seeks to raise it.

Brookings Institution

Monday, April 3, 2023, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

A year of collective progress for disability economic justice

The Century Foundation

Tuesday, April 18, 2023, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

All-UC demography conference

Center for Population, Inequality, and Policy at the University of California, Irvine

May 4 – 5, 2023

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