Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Second Report: Parent and Child Insurance

My second report was released in early February, but I never remembered to post it. It looks at the association between a parent's health insurance and their child's insurance, their use of health care services, and the quality of care the child receives. It is available at:

I really enjoyed working on this report and think it turned out really well. It was nice to work on something where I had some expertise on the subject matter. As nerdy as it sounds, it was also nice to do some advanced statistical analysis. I definitely look forward to working on more Medicaid/CHIP projects.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Human Worth: A Novel Concept

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my graduate work was engaging with the capability approach, a relatively new theory on well-being. The approach grew out of the work of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum and engages with both issues of international development as well as governance more generally. Most books and articles on the capability approach have been directed to an audience with some familiarity with international development and/or political and social theory. However, Martha Nussbaum's new book, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach, does an excellent job providing an engaging introduction to the capability approach.

Having read much of the detailed work on the capability approach, I was afraid Nussbaum's book would simply rehash ideas from previous works. Happily, I was quite wrong. The book lays out the capability approach in a very clear and concise way. It also provides a good discussion of the growing diversity within the capability approach itself as more people, particularly those with different backgrounds, engage with it and take the capability approach in different theoretical and empirical directions.

Despite it being early in the year, I can certainly say that Creating Capabilities will have a spot on my top ten books of 2011.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Frayed Social Safety Net

For some, the recent election is indicative of the confusion many Americans feel about government. On one hand, Americans who voted were most concerned about jobs and the economy. On the other, the big gains for Republicans are unlikely to lead to policy changes that would either stimulate the economy or help those in most need of assistance due to their continued joblessness.

Repairing the U.S. Social Safety Net by Martha Burt and Demetra Nightingale does an excellent job highlighting the current state of U.S. social safety net policy, as well as its origins. It also does a nice job highlighting that, despite complaints about how large it is, the U.S. social safety net is woefully inadequate when it comes to supporting the American people. The authors note that in comparison to other countries, U.S. social indicators (such a infant mortality rate, poverty rates, and housing needs) are much worse, in large part due to our weak social safety net.

The book is an approachable and engaging discussion of key issues of public policy and well worth a read.