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IPPSR is MSU’s new hub for public policy information and research. Search our summaries of scientific research with implications for public policy by inputting keywords in the search box or selecting options from the menus below.


Policy Research

Eat (and Drink) Better Tonight: Food Stamp Benefit Timing and Drunk Driving Fatalities

Chad Cotti, John M. Gordanier, Orgul D. Ozturk

February 2017

The authors set out to investigate whether or not there is a correlation between alcohol related accidents and the timing of food stamp distribution. Using state food stamp distribution dates, enrollment numbers, and weekday alcohol related accidents the authors hypothesized that the distribution of food stamps does have an effect on accidents. Weekends were excluded due to the reasons that alcohol related accidents are more likely to increase regardless of demographic lines. The authors attribute this decline to the “same-day effect.” This is that recipients of food stamps are more likely to stay at home and eat on distribution days

How Can Bill and Melinda Gates Increase Other People’s Donations to Fund Public Goods?

Dean Karlan, John A. List

March 2012

The authors use two large scale, natural field experiments to test the efficacy of matching donors on soliciting donations to NGO’s and then to test the efficacy of naming said matching donors, in this case Bill and Melinda Gates. They find that having a matching donor significantly increased donations, and that naming the matching donor increased them even further. They conclude that Bill and Melinda Gates acted as a “quality signal” to other donors, signaling that their money would be put to effective use.

How Does Peer Pressure Affect Educational Investments? An Experiment Testing the Relative Effectiveness of Encouraging Voter Participation by Inducing Feelings of Pride or Shame

Alan S. Gerber, Donald P. Green, Christopher W. Larimer

March 2010

Prior research has shown that people are more likely to vote after receiving a mailer showing whether they voted in previous elections. The authors sought to determine whether shame for being out of compliance with voting norms, or pride for complying, was a more powerful motivator. Using a randomized control trial, they found that those who were reminded of a previous abstention were more likely to vote than those who were reminded that they had voted in the previous election. The researchers concluded that shame was a more powerful motivator for participation than pride.

Partisan Differences in the Relationship Between Newspaper Coverage and Concern Over Global Warming

Xiaoquan Zhao, Justin Rolfe-Redding, John E. Kotcher

February 2016

This article uses data compiled from the 2006 General Social Survey and newspaper coverage of climate change during the same time period to analyze how news coverage influences public opinion. The authors found a pattern between how newspapers report climate change studies and how they form a political narrative to further a certain agenda. Certain newspapers have been found to pursue directional goals rather than accuracy goals to cater to a certain audience. The effects of this can be seen in the correlation between how climate change is covered and the increasing polarization between Democrats and Republicans.

Equity and Length of Lifespan are Not the Same

Benjamin Seligman, Gabi Greenberg, Shripad Tuljapurkar

June 2016

This research article presents data on lifespan and how it differs from life equity. As lifespan and life expectancy increases the question of whether or not we are living good healthy lives arises. As chances of cancer and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) rise later in life this study focuses on the equity of life during these times. This study also suggests that implementing policy can have an affect on life equity as well as lifespan. The study conducted involves populations from G7 countries. The authors of this study also suggest that promoting healthy lifestyles among younger ages is essential to achieving higher health equity. When healthier lifestyles are advocated at a young age the chances of developing CVDs diminishes and life equity increases.

Returns on Investment in California County Departments of Public Health

Timothy T. Brown

February 2017

This study focuses on the returns on investment made into California county health departments. The author gathered data from peer reviewed journal articles between 2001 and 2009. These articles focused on developing methods to measure return on investments in public health. From this the author found that there was a high return on investment for every dollar put into county health departments. Research and data suggests that investments into these departments are a prudent decision.

Economic Conditions and Children’s Mental Health

Ezra Golberstein, Gilbert Gonzales, Ellen Meara

February 2017

Studies involving economic conditions and its effect on children’s health usually ignore mental health. Leaving mental health out of these studies can inaccurately portray the health conditions of children in lower economic classes. The authors use unemployment rates and housing prices from 2001 to 2013 to measure the use of special education services among children in the most volatile of economic situations. They find that as economic conditions deteriorate the metal health of children follows suit. These children do not use special education services for learning disabilities but for emotional problems.

The Rustbelt and the Revitalization of Detroit: A Commentary and Criticism of Michigan Brownfield Legislation

Emily Green

November 2016

Michigan, like many states, has been using Brownfield credits since the late 1970s. This study examines the idea that Brownfields were intended to benefit the environment, via extensive rebuilding and cleaning up of waste. In modern practice, however, brownfields in Detroit have served as mechanisms to increase the tax base and economic growth of an area. These mechanisms have consequences, which the author describes as having inadequate terminology for what a Brownfield is, and the amount variation in what brownfields, on paper, are said to be. Additionally, in comparison to other states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, the author argues that the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act needs to be decentralized to afford more control at the local level to identify and assess the local community’s needs and potential brownfield sites. Brownfield redevelopment is essential to rebuilding the tax base in former rustbelt urban areas, but they must be implemented and assessed by local governments in partnership with the community.

Teaching Respectful Police-Citizen Encounters and Good Decision Making: Results of a Randomized Control Trial with Police Recruits

Dennis Rosenbaum , Daniel Lawrence

January 2011

The primary objective for this study was to produce a program that would increase the quality of interactions between police and citizens by increasing the interpersonal skills and capacity of the officers. This program added about 20 hours to already existing curriculum and academic research on the topic of implicit bias and procedural justice. A curriculum was developed via the resources of 1) oversight personnel, 2) participation from academy instructors and supervisors in workgroups intended to develop, implement, and evaluate the new training program and 3) videotaping all recruits as they engaged in role-plays to allow individual feedback to each recruit. The curriculum was given to a random sample of recruits and instructors. There were no statistically significant differences between the demographics of the control and the experiment group. The experimental recruits and trainees developed their own verbal scripts that were guided by research on procedural justice, social support, customer satisfaction, and other areas of social interaction. Negative scripts were later utilized as examples of what not to do. Instructors would watch tapes of the recruits scenarios and provide feedback and one-on-one interactions with each recruit in the experimental group. Self-reported questionnaires were conducted before and 6 months after the training concluded for both the experimental and control groups. Survey based attitudes and behavioral intentions were supplemented by direct observations during the role play scenarios. Each video had two or three separate evaluators. 70 recruits were videotaped at the pretest and due to attrition, 34 were videotaped at the post-test. The program did not seem to impact recruits’ attitudes about showing respect or procedural justice. However, for a subset of recruits, the training appears to have increased respectful and reassuring behavior during real encounters with citizens.

Shaping Citizens Perceptions of Police Legitimacy: A Randomized Field Trial of Procedural Justice

Lorraine Mazerolle, Emma Antrobus, Sarah Bennett, Tom Tyler

November 2012

Through a randomized control trial, this study examines the lasting impacts of traffic stops based on how citizens regard the legitimacy of the police from their encounter in a procedurally just traffic stop. A hypothesized casual model that pre-existing views of the police, met with a random-breath test (RBT) encounter from the experimental group or control group of officers, leads to specific perceptions of fairness and respect that translate to overall general perceptions of fairness and respect in police, which finalizes itself in varying levels of cooperation and satisfaction from the citizen and the legitimacy they afford the police. In testing this hypothesis, the authors worked with senior-level police officers to establish a script that operationalized the four elements of procedural justice: 1) citizen participation, 2) dignity and respect, 3) neutrality, and 4) trustworthy motives. The officers were given cue cards to the script, and prior to starting their shift at the pre-made RBT roadblocks, were briefed by their senior officers. Officers emphasized to motorists they pulled over that they had been randomly stopped to reinforce the “neutrality” element. Additionally, citizens were given the opportunity to voice their opinions of the police via short conversation initiated by the officer within which they were asked what problems they saw as priorities pertaining to policing, and were also provided with a community bulletin that illustrated the police priority problems, upcoming events, as well as contact info. Drivers who received the experimental RBT encounter were 1.24 times more likely to report that their views on drinking and driving had changed than the control group, and the experimental respondents reported small but higher levels of compliance and satisfaction with police during the encounter than did their control group counterparts.