Featured Articles Summer 2011

A Window of Vulnerability: Health Insurance Coverage Among Women 55 to 64 Years of Age
Jacqueline L. Angel, Jennifer Karas Montez, and Ronal J. Angel
Womens's Health Issues 21(1):6-11, 2011
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Abstract: Introduction Largely a consequence of historical gender differences in labor force attachment in the United States, many women rely on their spouse for health insurance coverage, particularly during late middle age. Prior research finds that this creates a window of vulnerability for women during late middle age who may lose their (older) spouse's employment-based coverage when he retires from the labor force and enrolls in Medicare. However, the few studies that have examined this window of vulnerability have been based primarily on white adults Methods We used the 2004 and 2006 Annual Social and Economic Supplements to the Current Population Survey to examine whether the window of vulnerability exists among non-Hispanic Black, Mexican-origin, and non-Hispanic White women 55 to 64 years of age, and whether similar factors contribute to the vulnerability across these race/ethnic groups. Results Women 55 to 64 years of age married to men 65 years or older had an elevated risk of lacking coverage at a time of life when health problems are common and expensive. Among non-Hispanic White women, their husband's exit from full-time employment accounted for the higher risk, whereas a more complex and systemic set of social factors contributed to the higher risk among non-Hispanic Black and Mexican-origin women. Conclusion Ensuring adequate and affordable health insurance coverage among women during late middle age may require additional health care reforms such as extending Medicare eligibility to younger adults or basing Medicare age eligibility on the age of the older partner within a married couple.

Legal Cynicism, Collective Efficacy, and the Ecology of Arrest
David S. Kirk and Mauri Matsuda
Criminology 49(2):443-472, 2011
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Abstract: Ethnographic evidence reveals that many crimes in poor minority neighborhoods evade criminal justice sanctioning, thus leading to a negative association between the proportion of minority residents in a neighborhood and the arrest rate. To explain this finding, we extend recent theoretical explications of the concept of legal cynicism. Legal cynicism refers to a cultural orientation in which the law and the agents of its enforcement are viewed as illegitimate, unresponsive, and ill equipped to ensure public safety. Crime might flourish in neighborhoods characterized by legal cynicism because individuals who view the law as illegitimate are less likely to comply with it; yet because of legal cynicism, these crimes might go unreported and therefore unsanctioned. This study draws on data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods to test the importance of legal cynicism for understanding geographic variation in the probability of arrest. We find that, in neighborhoods characterized by high levels of legal cynicism, crimes are much less likely to lead to an arrest than in neighborhoods where citizens view the police more favorably. Findings also reveal that residents of highly cynical neighborhoods are less likely to engage in collective efficacy and that collective efficacy mediates the association between legal cynicism and the probability of arrest.

Cultural Mechanisms and the Persistence of Neighborhood Violence
David S. Kirk and Andrew V. Papachristos
American Journal of Sociology 116(4):1190-1233, 2011
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Abstract: Sociologists have given considerable attention to identifying the neighborhood-level social-interactional mechanisms that influence outcomes such as crime, educational attainment, and health. Yet, cultural mechanisms are often overlooked in quantitative studies of neighborhood effects. This paper adds a cultural dimension to neighborhood effects research by exploring the consequences of legal cynicism. Legal cynicism refers to a cultural frame in which people perceive the law as illegitimate, unresponsive, and ill equipped to ensure public safety. The authors find that legal cynicism explains why homicide persisted in certain Chicago neighborhoods during the 1990s despite declines in poverty and declines in violence citywide.

Who Wants to Have a Career in Science or Math?: Exploring Adolescents' Future Aspirations by Gender, Race/Ethnicity
Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Chelsea Moore, and Aida I. Ramos-Wada
Science Education 95(3):458-476, 2010
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Abstract: Our study utilizes data from a national cohort of eighth-grade students to consider how different gender and racial/ethnic subgroups compare to White males in their likelihood to aspire toward a science or math occupation and examine the roles that self-concept, enjoyment, and achievement may play in shaping disparities at this early point in occupational trajectories. We find that the importance of enjoyment, self-concept, and achievement in explaining disparities in science career aspirations relative to White males varies according to the female subgroup considered, such that no singular story applies to females across different racial/ethnic backgrounds. For math, White and Hispanic females remain approximately half as likely as White males to aspire to a math occupation regardless of all indicators we consider. Finally, Black and Hispanic adolescent boys have generally comparable aspirations toward future careers in science and math as their White male peers, despite notably large differences in achievement. We discuss implications of our results for future research on equity.

Is Rising Earnings Inequality Associated with Increased Exploitation? Evidence for Manufacturing Industries in the U.S., 1971-1996
Arthur Sakamoto and ChangHwan Kim
Sociological Perspectives 53:19-43, 2010
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Abstract: Is the trend towards rising earnings inequality associated with increased exploitation? The authors investigate exploitation among workers using data for manufacturing industries. Defined as the underpayment of earnings relative to productivity as evaluated in the market, exploitation is measured for various groups of employees. The results indicate significant levels of exploitation among women, Hispanics, African Americans, and blue-collar workers. By contrast, employees who are overpaid relative to their productivities include middle-aged workers, older workers, and managers. Additional findings suggest that the increase in inequality in recent years has been associated with heightened exploitation due to the underpayment of workers in the lowest two quintiles of the earnings distribution, while workers in the upper two quintiles have become increasingly overpaid. Rising earnings inequality in the manufacturing sector thus appears to be associated with increased exploitation when the latter is measured as the underpayment of market value to workers. A related analysis by Liu, Sakamoto, and Su also investigates patterns of economic underpayment and overpayment but does not link them explicitly to inequality in the distribution of earnings and how the level of inequality has been increasing in recent years.

Constipation in Persons Receiving Hospice Care
Scott A. Strassels, Terri L. Maxwell, and Shrividya Iyer
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 40(6): 810-820, 2010
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Abstract: Context Symptom burden at the end of life is incompletely understood. Objectives To estimate the natural history of constipation and the relation of clinical and demographic characteristics to moderate or severe constipation among persons who received hospice care in the United States starting in 2005. Methods Data were obtained from a national provider of hospice pharmacy services and included information about the hospice organization, patient demographics and clinical characteristics, constipation intensity, and drugs prescribed. Hospice nurses assessed patients' constipation during the previous 24 hours periodically, using a 0-10 numeric rating scale (NRS; 0 = no intensity and 10 = worst imaginable; none [NRS 0], mild [NRS 1-3], moderate [NRS 4-6], or severe [NRS 7-10]). Regression models were constructed to identify factors associated with last reported constipation severity scores. Results Fifty thousand six hundred forty-one persons received hospice services, had at least two constipation assessments, and had complete clinical and demographic information; 55.3% of these individuals were female, 87.1% were Caucasian, and mean age was 75.9 years. Constipation was assessed a mean of four times per person; 12% of persons had moderate or severe constipation at their first or last assessment, and 19% of persons who reported moderate or severe constipation at the first assessment also had moderate or severe constipation at the last assessment. First constipation and last pain scores, having cancer, and prescription of a laxative were associated with increased likelihood of moderate or severe constipation at the last assessment. Conclusions These data provide insight into a common and potentially distressing symptom and also may be useful as process indicators of the quality of hospice care.