Evidence in Action Roundup: July 2017

Jul 03, 2017

A random sample of interesting news from the policy research world. Inclusion in the Roundup isn’t an endorsement, just food for thought.  

How Progressive is School Funding in the United States?

Urban Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Chingos and his colleagues created a way to measure—and interactively display—the progressivity of school districts.

The measure is a simple one: we calculate the average per-pupil funding levels of districts attended by poor students (those from families below the federal poverty level), compared to the funding of districts attended by non-poor students. Specifically, we calculate two weighted averages of the funding of all regular school districts in each state: one using the number of poor students in each district as weights, and the other using the number of non-poor students as weights. We adjust funding levels in each district using average wage levels in its local labor market.

 

Odds Are You’re Measuring Son Preference Incorrectly

There are two interesting threads in this World Bank study: the first explores whether there really is a preference for boy children, as indicated by survey responses in the developing world, and the second looks at how one particular survey asked the question.

A first fact to know is that only a minority of respondents (19%) use the option of ’would not matter if it’s a boy or a girl.’ The variation in son preference mainly comes from how respondents allocate between the categories of boys and girls. . . . A second important fact is that many people have son preference, yes, but they also like balanced sex compositions. Among those who want 2 children, the majority (78%) wants 1 boy, 1 girl.

 

What My 90-Year-Old Mom Taught Me About the Future of AI in Health Care

A doctor caring for his ailing mother makes peace with the prospect of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care, to a point.

On the one side, organized medicine has to change its practice so that it can ingest the day-to-day or even minute-to-minute measurements made of our fast-growing chronically ill and aging population, and transduce these data into timely treatment. But without thoughtful and broad application of AI techniques into the process of health care, our already struggling and stressed health care workforce will simply be not able to meet this challenge. And on the other side, AI cannot replace family and friends as guardians of health—not now and perhaps not ever.

 

Sweden’s Gender-Neutral Preschools Produce Kids Who Are More Likely to Succeed

A small study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology finds a real benefit to keeping Barbie out of the kitchen (Ken, too). 

“Together the results suggest that although gender-neutral pedagogy on its own may not reduce children’s tendency to use gender to categorize people, it reduces their tendency to gender-stereotype and gender-segregate, which could widen the opportunities available to them,” Ben Kenward, a researcher in psychology at Uppsala University and Oxford Brookes University, and lead author of the paper, explained.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not represent those of Mathematica Policy Research.

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