IWPR’s annual year in review compiles our top findings from our new research released over the last year. In addition to producing forward-thinking research that once again landed us on the list of Top Think Tanks in the United States, IWPR also saw many exciting developments as our research capacity has grown and expanded this past year.
In January, we announced a new partnership with American University’s Program on Gender Analysis in Economics to collaborate on gender-focused research relevant for public policy. In November, IWPR and AU hosted a sold-out conference, Pathways to Gender Equality, which featured Janet Yellen and AU’s President Sylvia Mathews Burwell, as well as other leading economists and scholars using a gender lens and an intersectional frame in their research. Advocates and policymakers also joined researchers in presenting at the conference.
IWPR also launched two new Centers in 2018—the Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, and a Policies 4 Action Research Hub, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, established jointly with UC-Berkeley, on the health effects of work-family policies—reflecting new and ongoing commitment by IWPR to critical issues that will shape policy affecting women in the coming years.
Read and share our top findings from 2018 below and stay tuned for exciting new research on women and the future of work, the health effects of paid family and medical leave, the economic impact of access to reproductive health care, and more in 2019.
Women earn just half of what men earn across 15 years
An IWPR study of earnings and labor force participation released in November finds that women today earn just 49 cents to the typical man’s dollar when accounting for overall labor force participation across 15 years, which is much less than the 80 cents usually reported. The findings indicate that improving access to paid leave and affordable child care is critical to strengthening women’s labor force attachment and narrowing the long-term gender earnings gap (along with stronger enforcement of equal opportunity and equal pay policies).
- Read the study, Still a Man’s Labor Market: The Slowly Narrowing Gender Wage Gap by economists Stephen J. Rose and Heidi Hartmann.
- Read coverage of the findings in Vox, The Nation, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, CNBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, MarketWatch, and Fox Business.
- Watch personal finance expert Jill Schlesinger discuss the study on CBS This Morning.
Find other resources from IWPR on Pay Equity & Discrimination, including the impact of occupational segregation and the differences in earnings for women of color.
2 in 3 survivors of intimate partner violence say their partner’s behavior negatively affected their educational and job training opportunities.
Results from an IWPR survey of 164 survivors of intimate partner violence (nearly all women) found that abusers coerce pregnancy and keep women from working or attending college. The report includes quotes illuminating how the economic dimensions of abuse permeate survivors’ lives, from their education and career goals to the dreams they have for their family’s safety and security. As one survivor said, “I fantasize about having a well-furnished, cozy home for my children and me…the ability to always provide. I want a cozy, happy life so bad it hurts.”
- Read the report, Dreams Deferred: A Survey on the Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Survivors’ Education, Careers, and Economic Security.
- Read coverage of the survey’s findings in NBC News, Refinery29, Rewire, and Pacific Standard.
3 in 4 families headed by single mothers in the United States do not have enough income to meet their basic monthly expenses.
In October, IWPR released the first comprehensive update, since 2014, to the Basic Economic Security Tables (BEST) Index, which details how much income working adults of different family types need to be economically secure in each state and county in the United States. New national and state-by-state data find that one in three U.S. working adults does not have enough income to meet their basic monthly expenses—such as housing, food, transportation, and child care expenses—and save for emergencies and retirement. People of color and families headed by single mothers are more likely to experience economic insecurity.
- Find data on economic security in your state or for the nation overall at org/BEST.
- Read about the findings in Marketwatch, “This is exactly how much families must earn in each state to afford housing, child care and food”
Campus child care may triple graduation rates among single mothers, who face massive time challenges to college success
IWPR’s time use analysis found that single mothers in college spend the equivalent of a full work day (9 hours) on child care and housework each day and more time in paid employment than women students without children. Only eight percent of single mothers who enroll in two- or four-year programs graduate with a degree within six years. The paper also includes new analysis of student parent data from Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, NY, showing that parents of young children who used MCC’s on-campus child care center had an on-time graduation rate that was more than three times higher than similar parents who did not access the center.
- Read the briefing paper, Time Demands of Single Mother College Students and the Role of Child Care in their Postsecondary Success.
- Read coverage of the new analysis in Think Progress: “More single moms are enrolled in classes than ever before. Why aren’t colleges accommodating them?,” as well as in The Atlantic, NPR, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed.
- Research on campus child care and student parents informs first budget increase ever for federal program that helps provide access to affordable child care for student parents. In March 2018, Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS)program received a big boost in the omnibus spending bill, which more than tripled funding for the program to $50 million, the first increase in the program’s budget ever and highest appropriated funding the program has ever received. The program had originally been identified for budget cuts in the Administration’s FY2018 budget before receiving a proposed modest budget increase in the FY2019 budget request, which cited IWPR’s research on single mothers in college.
Single mothers who complete a bachelor’s degree earn $610,300 more over their lifetimes and are 69 percent less likely to live in poverty than single mothers with only high school diplomas.
IWPR’s analysis, which is the first of its kind, finds that public or institutional investments in services, such as child care and case management, boost graduation rates and more than pay for themselves through graduates’ increased tax contributions and reduced public benefits. But access to these benefits must be improved; currently, only 8 percent of single mothers who enroll in two- or four-year programs graduate with a degree within six years.
- Read the study, Investing in Single Mothers’ Higher Education: Costs and Benefits to Individuals, Families, and Society.
- Read the quick figure, “Single Mothers with College Degrees Much Less Likely to Live in Poverty”
- Read coverage of the analysis in MarketWatch, “Single mothers who graduate college earn $600,000 more over their lifetimes,” in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, “Campus Child Care Critical in Raising Single Mothers’ Graduation Rates,” and in the Higher Ed Innovation Roundup in Inside Higher Ed.
Women-owned businesses have less access to capital, fewer intellectual property rights, and much lower revenues.
In July, IWPR release a pair of reports exploring how women-owned businesses are less likely than businesses owned by men to hold intellectual property rights such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The analysis, which relies on data from the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, also finds that women-owned businesses are less likely to receive venture capital and more likely to rely on credit cards and home equity loans for funding, and receive less than half the revenues of businesses owned by men. In a second report, IWPR profiled promising programs around the United States working to increase gender and racial/ethnic diversity in patenting, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
- On July 24, the Innovation Alliance hosted the Capitol Hill briefing, “Diversity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: The Importance of Intellectual Property to Women and Persons of Color-Owned Businesses,” with presentations from Jessica Milli and Elyse Shaw and remarks from Representative Alma Adams of North Carolina.
- Read coverage of the reports in MarketWatch, Bloomberg, and Fast Company.
- On October 31, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan SUCCESS Act. Part of the law directs the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in consultation with the Small Business Administration, to conduct a study of the impact of the patent gaps in gender, race and veteran status on small businesses and entrepreneurship, and make recommendations to Congress for ways to close the gaps. Further study on patenting among underrepresented groups was a key policy recommendation from IWPR’s research.
Burgeoning demand for care workers has not resulted in improved job quality or availability of care
The U.S. market for care workers is adapting slowly to the increasing need for elder care and the unmet need for child care, according to an IWPR report released in June. The number of care workers grew 19 percent from 2005 to 2015, but low wages and poor working conditions in the care workforce threaten the quality and availability of care.
Care workers are predominantly female and the industry has become more diverse over the past decade, with especially large increases in the share of male workers, Hispanic and multiracial workers, and naturalized citizens and foreign-born non-citizens. Care workers have growing levels of education attainment, but the percent of care workers who were poor or near poor remained relatively unchanged between 2005 and 2015, especially among women. Overall, care workers have experienced stagnant, or in many cases declining, wages over the past decade.
- Read the report, The Shifting Supply and Demand of Care Work: The Growing Role of People of Color and Immigrants.
- Read the one-pager, “Care workers in the United States: Where are we and where are we going?”
- Watch the video produced by IWPR and Caring Across Generations, “Universal Family Care for a 21st Century Workforce.”
Unions can boost Hispanic women’s earnings by nearly 50%
IWPR research shows that women benefit from unionization, with unionized women earning $219 more per week, or 30 percent more, than non-unionized women. Women of color are especially likely to benefit from the collective bargaining power of labor unions: Non-union Hispanic women have the lowest earnings of any racial/ethnic group of women, at $565 weekly, but Hispanic women in unions earn $264 more weekly than those who do not have access to collective bargaining.
- Read the fact sheet, “The Union Advantage for Women.”
- In June, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-4 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that will weaken the collective bargaining power of unions by barring public sector unions from collecting fair-share fees from workers who benefit from union representation. Read IWPR President Heidi Hartmann’s statementon the decision.
- Read coverage of the findings in HuffPost (“The War On Women Is Already Here”) and Refinery29(“The Supreme Court’s Janus Ruling Is A Blow To Black Women”).
Paid leave insurance program, such as the FAMILY Act, would provide vital benefits at affordable cost
On the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), IWPR released updated estimates showing that implementing the proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) would cost less than half of one percent of taxable payroll, while extending access to the economic, health, and social benefits of paid leave to millions of Americans.
- Read the blog post from IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann and Jeff Hayes, “25 Years after FMLA: Research Finds that Paid Leave is a Great Investment”
- In October, IWPR and UC-Berkeley announced the launch of a new joint research hub to explore the health effects of paid leave policies, minimum wage laws, state and federal tax benefits, and more.
Direct and indirect costs of workplace sexual harassment can impact women’s lifetime earnings, employment opportunities, and overall well-being.
In the recent wave of headlines on sexual harassment, IWPR’s experts and research have informed coverage of this issue from many angles: women in low-wage jobs (Al Jazeera and Vox), women on Wall Street (The New Yorker and Vanity Fair) and how the pay gap and sexual harassment are two sides of the same coin (ThinkProgress, TIME, and Refinery29). In October, IWPR released a briefing paper compiling available social science and policy research on what we know about the costs of sexual harassment—to women, employers, and society.
- Read the briefing paper, Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs.
- Read the one-pager, “Women in Construction: #MeToo in the Building Trades?”
- In January, IWPR’s Heidi Hartmann joined Bloomberg’s Benchmark podcast to discuss the sexual harassment reckoning in the field of economics. Read her piece with AU’s Mieke Meurs in Ms. Magazine, “Diversifying the Field of Economics is Critical to Achieving Gender Equality.”
Bonus: Paid sick days in Austin would save the city’s businesses $4.5 million per year.
In February, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance to require the city’s employers to provide paid sick days. The ordinance’s historic passage makes Austin, Texas, the first city in the South to guarantee paid sick days to workers. IWPR’s research on access to paid sick days in Austin and the costs and benefits of implementing the proposed ordinance informed city policymakers and coalitions, led by Work Strong Austin. IWPR study director Jessica Milli testified before the council on IWPR’s analysis.
- Read the briefing paper, Valuing Good Health in Austin, Texas: The Costs and Benefits of Earned Sick Days
- Read coverage of this exciting development in The Texas Observer, Next City,the Austin American-Statesman, KUT, The Austin Chronicle, ThinkProgress, and CityLab.