On the Evidence


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A podcast hosted by Mathematica’s J.B. Wogan that examines what we know about today’s most urgent challenges and how we can make progress in addressing them. Reimagining the way the world gathers and uses data, Mathematica uncovers the evidence that offers our partners the confidence and clarity they need to find out what can be done, how to make it happen, and where to go next.

Episode Date
Reflecting on 2020, Previewing 2021 | Episode 50
Between a pandemic, an economic recession, and heightened awareness about social injustice, 2020 presented no shortage of urgent health and social challenges that required immediate responses based on emerging data and research. In this episode of On the Evidence, Mathematica’s Adam Coyne, Jill Constantine, and Chris Trenholm reflect on how Mathematica and its partners rose to meet those challenges. Coyne, Constantine, and Trenholm are the general managers of Mathematica’s international, human services, and health business units, respectively. The episode features short interviews with each of them as they share some of Mathematica’s most memorable work from the past year. Each interview includes a preview of projects, initiatives, and likely themes in 2021. We have a full list of resources mentioned on the episode on the Mathematica blog: https://bit.ly/3oIJxQV
Jan 13, 2021
A One-Stop Shop for Information about State Approaches to COVID-19 Contact Tracing | Episode 49
In early spring, states were scrambling to learn from one another how to scale up contact tracing for COVID-19. Staff at Mathematica and the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP) recognized that states needed a single place to find accurate, up-to-date publicly available information about the decisions that other states were making in response to the pandemic. To help states as they develop and refine their approaches to contact tracing, NASHP and Mathematica partnered to create and maintain a central repository that reflects publicly available information about how states approach this work. NASHP hosts an interactive map and table with detailed information about states’ approaches to COVID-19 contact tracing. It is the single most comprehensive resource for documenting the variation in states’ approaches to contact tracing for COVID-19 and updated on a regular basis. Mathematica hosts a supplementary web tool that provides contextual information about each state’s population based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which can inform contact tracing strategies. For this episode of On the Evidence, Mathematica's Holly Matulewicz and Sule Gerovich as well as NASHP's Jill Rosenthal and Elinor Higgins discuss the origin story of the data visualizations, what they're learning from the tools, and how the tools might be updated or improved going forward. Watch the original video chat, where the guests demonstrate how to use the web tools, here: https://bit.ly/37PzhPv See the interactive map and table hosted by NASHP here: https://bit.ly/2JS7czh See the companion page with an interactive map and charts showing data from the U.S. Census Bureau hosted by Mathematica here: https://bit.ly/3m60Uc9
Dec 09, 2020
Maternal Health Care in India during and after the Pandemic | Episode 48
For more than two decades, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supported evidence-based programs in India that promote reproductive health and rights. As the foundation phased out its grantmaking related to population and reproductive health, it partnered with Mathematica to conduct a cumulative review of its efforts to improve maternal health in India. The foundation’s maternal health quality of care strategy in India sought to improve the trajectory of health for women, children, and their families. Although the country had already made considerable progress in expanding access to maternal health services and, in the process, driving down the national maternal mortality ratio, the foundation and its grantees sought to improve the quality of these services, which is seen as a contributing factor in the pregnancy-related deaths that still occur today. Because the Mathematica report was published in late February, it summarizes the state of maternal health in India up to, but not including, the COVID-19 pandemic. On this episode of On the Evidence, six guests discuss insights from the report and provide perspectives on how the pandemic has changed the supply and demand for maternal health services. The following guests appear in the episode: - Dipa Nag Chowdhury, who served as the deputy director of the MacArthur Foundation’s India office - So O’Neil, a Mathematica senior researcher and the lead author of the cumulative review of the MacArthur Foundation’s efforts to improve the quality of maternal health care in India - Sharad Iyengar, a pediatrician and the chief executive of Action Research & Training for Health - Renu Khanna, a co-founder of the SAHAJ-Society for Health Alternatives - Vinoj Manning, chief executive officer at the Ipas Development Foundation - Aparajita Gogoi, executive director of the Centre for Catalyzing Change Find the report discussed in this episode here: https://bit.ly/3nUoolT Find bonus interviews below: Vinoj Manning: https://bit.ly/3l6GDmg Renu Khanna: https://bit.ly/39ffJ9z Sharad Iyengar: https://bit.ly/2UZfnvF Aparajita Gogoi: https://bit.ly/2V2kbAw
Nov 25, 2020
Investing in Education for Success in the Long Run | Episode 47
In his research, Kirabo Jackson, an economist at Northwestern University, has explored the causal relationship between school spending and student outcomes. His work has also shed light on the role that teachers and schools play in helping students acquire skills and succeed in the long run. Jackson is the 20th winner of the David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, established to recognize young professionals under the age of 40 who have made distinguished contributions to the field of public policy. David Kershaw, for whom the award is named, was a founder and the first president of Mathematica. In the spring of 1979, he helped guide the establishment of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and Mathematica’s principal role within it, before his death from cancer later that year at the age of 37. The award in his memory was created in 1983 and has since been jointly administered by Mathematica and APPAM. The award is presented every other year at the APPAM Fall Research Conference in November. In this episode of On the Evidence, Jackson discusses his research on education spending and on measuring the effects of teachers and schools on students’ long-term success.
Nov 11, 2020
On the Need to Build and Diversify the Teacher Pipeline | Episode 46
For about a decade, the national supply of teachers has steadily declined, a trend that is expected to continue even as the demand for new teachers is projected to increase. Not only do schools and school districts need enough teachers, but they want to recruit and retain effective teachers. Because evidence suggests that students of color benefit academically from having a teacher who shares their racial or ethnic identity, increasing the number of effective teachers likely means, among other things, that schools will need to increase the number Black, Latinx, and other teachers of color. For this episode of On the Evidence, guests Sharif El-Mekki and Jill Constantine talk about the current challenges with recruiting and retaining teachers, especially Black male teachers, and what evidence-based practices may help. El-Mekki is a former teacher and principal in Philadelphia and currently the chief executive officer of the Center for Black Educator Development, a nonprofit focused on increasing the number of Black educators in preK–12 education. He also writes an education blog called Philly's 7th Ward (https://phillys7thward.org/) and is a co-host of The 8 Black Hands Podcast (https://apple.co/37LK3YM). Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/selmekki. Constantine is a senior vice president at Mathematica and an expert on teacher training and quality. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jconjazz. Interested in digging into some of the latest research on retaining a diverse and effective teacher workforce? The Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic released a new study in October 2020 focused on the School District of Philadelphia: https://bit.ly/2HFGDMC
Oct 28, 2020
How to Reopen Schools Safely and With Minimal Disruptions | Episode 45
In mid-September, researchers from Mathematica partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to run 400,000 simulations intended to inform school operating and closure strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The simulations predict the level of spread of COVID-19 infection in schools, taking into account a range of factors. These factors include school type and size, the community infection rate, school mask policies and other precautions, in-person opening strategies, and potential school responses to detected infections. For this episode of On the Evidence, guests Adam Schott and Brian Gill discuss the results and implications of these simulations. Schott is the special assistant to the secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Gill is a senior fellow at Mathematica and one of the researchers who coauthored the report about the simulations. Find a short summary of the top-line findings here: https://bit.ly/318rVEh Read the full report discussed in this episode here: https://bit.ly/351QMuy Check out a blog post explaining how school and community leaders could use the report to estimate the potential risks in their specific situation, based on the community infection rate; school type; school size; and the school’s operating, quarantining, and closure strategies: https://bit.ly/2SWBykV
Oct 14, 2020
Lessons from COVID-19 Impacts on Connecticut's Long-Term Care Facilities | Episode 44
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected people in long-term care settings, who only make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population but represented more than 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States in September. In Connecticut, that disproportionate impact was even more severe: as of July 30, about 72 percent of the state’s COVID-19-related deaths were among long-term care residents. On this episode of On the Evidence, guests Patricia Rowan and Debra Lipson of Mathematica discuss their independent assessment of COVID-19’s impacts on nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Connecticut. Their final report, which published on Sept. 30, includes findings on why the pandemic was so devastating in the state’s long-term care facilities earlier in the year. It also recommends steps that the state and the long-term care industry can take to prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections and for future infectious disease outbreaks. Although Mathematica conducted the assessment for the state of Connecticut, the report’s recommendations are intended to provide evidence-based guidance to policymakers in every state. Find the final report and a short summary of the report's main findings here: https://bit.ly/3iEuiov
Oct 07, 2020
Blending Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation in Government | Episode 43
Although performance measurement and program evaluation are both ostensibly about assessing the effectiveness of government, they have historically meant different things in terms of what gets assessed and who does the assessing. Performance measurement is more commonly associated with ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments and is typically conducted by program or agency staff. Program evaluation, on the other hand, is more commonly associated with periodic or ad hoc studies conducted by experts outside of an agency or program. But are those distinctions still relevant today? That’s one of the questions journalists Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene discuss in their new book, The Promises and Pitfalls of Performance-Informed Management. In this episode of On the Evidence, Barrett and Greene talk about how state and local governments use performance measurement and program evaluation to inform management decisions, providing contemporary case studies along with historical context about how the field has evolved over the past three decades. The episode covers the following topics: - The integration of different but related disciplines of performance auditing, performance measurement, and program evaluation (19:42–22:23) - The increasing availability of data and its effect on performance-informed management (22:26–26:40) - Changes over time in how states value, understand, and use data in decision making (28:40–30:15) - What the book might have covered about the two major stories of 2020—the COVID-19 pandemic and concern over persistent racism in the United States—if it had been published a few months later (30:14–37:05) Other resources that we discuss on the episode are available here: https://bit.ly/35UYGbx Barrett and Greene's full Q&A with Mathematica's Chief Executive Officer Paul Decker is available here: https://bit.ly/3kliU1S
Sep 16, 2020
Early Lessons for Effective and Equitable Contact Tracing | Episode 42
As states and counties grapple with containing the spread of COVID-19, they have learned that the virus places novel demands on contact tracing efforts. Early experiences from states with contact tracing programs suggest that a successful contact tracing program needs to account for the economic circumstances of people infected, as well as their families; it needs to account for the emotional and psychological ramifications of learning you and your loved ones are at risk of infection; it also needs to account for contextual and community factors, such as trust in government, household members' immigration status, language, and culture, that could be barriers to reaching the very populations most at-risk of contracting the disease. On this episode of On the Evidence, four guests discuss emerging lessons from states and localities on conducting effective and equitable contact tracing for COVID-19. This episode is an abridged and edited version of a webinar hosted by Mathematica on Aug. 21. The guests are: • Sandra Hernández, president and chief executive officer, California Health Care Foundation • Candace Miller, senior researcher, Mathematica • Elizabeth Odell, director of medical operations, La Clínica de La Raza, Inc. • Marina Pravdic, manager, communications, policy and advocacy, The Rockefeller Foundation The wide-ranging discussion covers the following topics: • how contact tracing for COVID-19 is different from past contact tracing efforts for other infectious diseases; • how a jurisdiction should measure the operational effectiveness of a contact tracing program; • what states and localities are doing to incorporate equity into their contact tracing programs; and • what role philanthropy can play in supporting contact tracing.
Sep 02, 2020
Examining Racial Disparities in School Discipline and Mental Health Care | Episode 41
Sarah Lieff wants to know if the Medicaid expansion, which made mental health services more affordable to low-income Americans in many states, resulted in greater access and improved quality of mental health treatment for those who need it. Rachel Perera is interested in the effects of investigations for civil rights violations related to racial discrimination in school discipline. Both Lieff and Perera are continuing their doctoral research as Mathematica summer fellows. For this episode of On the Evidence, Lieff and Perera discuss the questions they’re pursuing for the fellowship, what they find appealing about applied research, and how the field they’re entering can help reduce racial disparities in both mental health care and education.
Aug 19, 2020
Two Lifelong Friends Explore Their Shared Past and Racial Differences | Episode 40
In early June, as communities across the country organized protests against racism in all its forms, Mathematica released a statement denouncing social injustice and affirming that black lives matter. This episode provides insight behind why Mathematica's CEO wanted to make that statement. It's also about how the events in late May and early June prompted two lifelong friends to talk about race in ways they hadn’t before. The guests for this episode are Paul Decker and Chris Williams. Decker is the president and CEO of Mathematica. Williams is the founder of OnPacePlus and the chief of ophthalmology at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Paul is white. Chris is Black. They grew up together in Jacksonville, Illinois. For this episode, Decker and Williams are interviewing each other.
Jul 29, 2020
A Better Pathway for Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities | Episode 39
This episode focuses on young people between the ages of 14 and 24 who have disabilities and must navigate a complex bureaucracy to access benefits and support services. Our guests are Dave Wittenburg and Kim Kaiser. Wittenburg, who is the disability area director at Mathematica, has an expertise in interventions to promote employment for people with disabilities, particularly interventions that serve youth as they transition into adulthood. Kaiser is an autism advocate, a certified peer support specialist, and the parent of a teenage son on the spectrum. She is also a parent advisor for the nonprofit, Families Together in New York State, and a program director for the Color of Autism, a foundation committed to serving African Americans who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Jul 15, 2020
Health Policy Research, Racism, and a Pandemic | Episode 38
Before March 2020, a search for the keyword “coronavirus” would have turned up zero results on Mathematica’s website. Now the word and its sibling, COVID-19, appear in more than two dozen pages about contact tracing, wastewater testing, disease modeling, workforce planning, and more. Owing to the wide-ranging effects of the novel coronavirus, Mathematica’s experts have sprung into action to understand its implications for primary care, child protective services, behavioral health, remote learning in K-12 education, surging unemployment among workers with disabilities, and food insecurity among children who no longer have access to daily school meals. Although the pandemic is touching almost every conceivable area of public wellbeing, it started as a public health threat and has galvanized Mathematica’s nearly 600 health care and policy experts, researchers, technologists, data scientists, clinicians, survey experts, and program design and management experts to apply their skills and creativity in responding to the crisis. For this episode of On the Evidence, Chris Trenholm, the managing director of health at Mathematica, discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on public health, what the pandemic reveals about the social determinants of health and racial disparities in health care, and how Mathematica’s partners in government, philanthropy, and the private-sector are developing new tools and strategies in light of the pandemic.
Jul 01, 2020
Addressing Structural Racism in Policy Research | Episode 37
In early 2019, the Urban Institute published a brief about addressing structural racism through research and policy analysis. The paper summarizes lessons, promising practices, and recommendations previously discussed in a roundtable with 23 research groups. At the time of publication, the paper’s authors did not know that communities across the country would soon be organizing protests against structural racism in the wake of a recent string of high-profile incidents in which people of color were killed by law enforcement, occurring during a pandemic that disproportionately harms Black and Latinx Americans. Nevertheless, the brief might find new readers in the policy research field who—amid heightened awareness brought about by recent acts of social injustice—have committed to addressing structural racism and are looking for concrete steps they can take. The paper discusses the relationship between institutional choices made by organizations that conduct public policy research and the research these organizations produce. The guests for this episode are Kilolo Kijakazi and Cleo Jacobs Johnson. Kijakazi coauthored the Urban Institute brief and works with her organization to help it become more diverse in its staffing, the content of its work, and the audience it reaches. Kijakazi also conducts research and policy analysis on structural racism, the racial wealth gap, and economic security—including retirement security. Jacobs Johnson, a senior researcher at Mathematica who specializes in education, early childhood, and family support, served as Mathematica’s acting chief diversity officer for a year. A version of this episode with closed captioning is available on Mathematica's YouTube page here: http://ow.ly/uwU850Aconr Find the Urban brief about confronting structural racism in research and policy analysis here: http://ow.ly/jyqv50Acpv8
Jun 19, 2020
Telehealth Transformation Under COVID-19 and the Implications for Equitable Care | Episode 36
In March, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations in the United States to adopt virtual and remote work wherever possible. This was especially true in health care, with hospitals and physician practices needing to clear their waiting rooms and minimize the risk of infections for patients and providers. As a result, Congress and the federal government removed many of the regulatory barriers—at least temporarily—that prevented patients from receiving care through video chats and phone calls. The latest episode of On the Evidence features a discussion about the rise of telehealth as an alternative to in-person care during the pandemic. Our guests for this episode are Mathematica’s Llew Brown and Diane Rittenhouse as well as Mei Wa Kwong of the Center for Connected Health Policy. In this episode, we discuss the rapid regulatory, policy, and implementation changes taking place in telehealth, what research has found about the effects of using telehealth, and what the rise of telehealth might mean for health care even after the pandemic. In particular, we focus on the role telehealth could play in supporting primary care, which has taken a severe financial hit since the pandemic began in the United States, and how telehealth could reduce or exacerbate existing health care disparities. A version of this episode with closed captioning is available on Mathematica's YouTube page here: http://ow.ly/aKga50AcotU
Jun 11, 2020
Oakland’s Life Coaching Strategy to Address Youth Violence | Episode 35
On this episode of On the Evidence, we discuss life coaching, a violence reduction strategy being used by the city of Oakland, California, to help young people who have been involved with the juvenile justice system. Mathematica studied youth life coaching as part of a larger evaluation of Oakland Unite, a city initiative that supports community-based violence prevention programs. We interviewed the following guests: Peter Kim, manager of Oakland Unite Naihobe Gonzalez, senior researcher at Mathematica Kentrell Killens, a former life coach with Oakland Unite Anayeli Vega Gonzalez, a participant in the life coaching program Another life coach participant who preferred not to share his name Learn more about Mathematica's evaluation of Oakland Unite here: http://ow.ly/vfdn50zFmQ7 Read a blog based on this episode here: http://ow.ly/6nm150zEW9b
May 13, 2020
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Era of COVID-19 | Episode 34
It’s increasingly clear that although the novel 2019 coronavirus does not discriminate in who it infects, it does harm some groups of people more than others. The emerging evidence suggests that people who are Black, are 65 and older, or have certain conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, are more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19. But income and occupation also play a role. The current pandemic has exposed inequities in society where, for example, segments of the workforce do not have health insurance, paid sick leave, the ability to work from home, or the ability to apply for unemployment benefits. For some, sheltering in place means a stressful, long-term inconvenience; for others, it means putting yourself at greater risk of domestic violence, or maybe choosing between losing paychecks or showing up in-person for jobs that put you and our loved ones at greater risk of being infected. The guest for this episode of On the Evidence is Ralanda Nelson, who leads diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Mathematica. Nelson started her job in March, two weeks into Mathematica’s company-wide shift to working from home. In the interview, we discuss what it’s like to start a new job while sheltering in place; Nelson’s career path to her current role; and how the pandemic is spotlighting problems related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Apr 29, 2020
Culturally Responsive Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Episode 33
As schools close in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, some students are in a better position to continue learning from home than others. Even when students aren’t grappling with the fallout of a pandemic, they face disparities in their educational experiences and opportunities due to their differences in family income, differences in racial, ethnic, or other important demographic characteristics, and differences in access to technology. Some state and local education leaders are proactively adopting culturally responsive practices to dismantle social and institutional barriers that inhibit student success. For this episode of On the Evidence, a principal and an education researcher share insights from research and the field on implementing culturally responsive practices. Our guests are: • George Guy, Jr., who has spent more than 20 years in education and currently serves as the principal of Rosa International Middle School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Guy has also helped lead efforts to identify and employ culturally responsive practices in his district and beyond, and; • Steven Malick, an education researcher at Mathematica who spent nearly a decade as a middle school math teacher and a coach of new teachers; For more information on improving educational equity through culturally responsive practices in schools, check out this free four-part webinar series conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory at Mathematica: https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/2055500/23F4AF51F3BEF736E0DE4C689CBFD066/606716 Want a quick primer on using culturally responsive practices in education? The Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory at Mathematica has a four-page fact sheet: https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/midatlantic/app/pdf/RELMA_Culturally_responsive_pedagogy_fact_sheet.pdf
Apr 08, 2020
Can Algorithms Be Fair, Transparent, and Protect Children? | Episode 32
As technology improves organizations’ ability to collect, manage, and analyze data, it’s becoming easier to inform public policy decisions today in a range of areas, from health care to criminal justice, based on estimated risks in the future. On this episode of On the Evidence, I talk with three researchers who work with child welfare agencies in the United States to use algorithms—or, what they call predictive risk models—to inform decisions by case managers and their supervisors. My guests are Rhema Vaithianathan, Emily Putnam-Hornstein, and Beth Weigensberg. Vaithianathan is a professor of economics and director of the Centre for Social Data Analytics in the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, and a professor of social data and analytics at the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland, Australia. Putnam-Hornstein is an associate professor of social work at the University of Southern California and the director of the Children’s Data Network. Weigensberg is a senior researcher at Mathematica. Vaithianathan and Putnam-Hornstein have already worked with Allegheny County in Pennsylvania to implement a predictive risk model that uses hundreds of data elements to help the people screening calls about child abuse and neglect better assess the risk associated with each case of potential maltreatment. Now they are working with two more counties in Colorado to pilot a similar predictive risk model. Last year, they initiated a partnership with Mathematica to replicate and scale-up their work by offering the same kind of assistance to states and counties around the country. Find more information about Mathematica’s partnership with the Centre for Social Data Analytics and the Children’s Data Network here: https://www.mathematica.org/our-publications-and-findings/publications/predictive-risk-modeling-for-child-protection Find The New York Times Magazine article about Allegheny County's use of algorithms in child welfare here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/magazine/can-an-algorithm-tell-when-kids-are-in-danger.html Find the publications page for the the Centre for Social Data Analytics here: https://csda.aut.ac.nz/research/recent-publications Find the results of an independent evaluation of the Allegheny County predictive risk model here: https://www.alleghenycountyanalytics.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Impact-Evaluation-from-16-ACDHS-26_PredictiveRisk_Package_050119_FINAL-6.pdf
Mar 25, 2020
Building the Pipeline of Black Women in Economics | Episode 31
On this episode of On the Evidence, we check in with Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman and Fanta Traore a year after the group they co-founded, the Sadie Collective, held its inaugural conference about, for, and by black women in economics and related fields. Find more information about the Sadie Collective here: https://www.sadiecollective.org/
Mar 11, 2020
Customized Employment for Workers with Disabilities | Episode 30
Since the early 2000s, federal policy has encouraged customized employment strategies to help people with significant disabilities secure paid jobs. Through customized employment, the relationship between the job seeker and employer is personalized so that the needs of both are met through negotiation of the worker’s job duties and flexible work arrangements. About eight years ago, the nonprofit SourceAmerica launched a new program called Pathways to Careers that combined several types of customized employment strategies, such as an assessment of program participants’ strengths (called Discovery), paid internships and work experiences, and post-employment career support. Pathways started with a pilot site in Clearfield, Utah, and expanded to four other sites in Massachusetts; Michigan; Virginia; and Ogden, Utah. Mathematica is conducting an evaluation of Pathways, which will be the focus of a webinar that Mathematica is hosting on March 11. On this episode of On the Evidence, Shane Kanady, the vice president of workforce development at SourceAmerica, and Noelle Denny-Brown, a senior researcher at Mathematica, discuss findings from Mathematica’s evaluation as well as what’s next for the Pathways program. A Q&A blog based on the interview is available here: http://ow.ly/uLcF50ywDm2 Register for the webinar on Pathways on March 11, 2020 here: http://ow.ly/b7Dt50ywDjQ Find more information about Mathematica’s research on the Pathways-to-Careers program here: http://ow.ly/pwpy50ywDgr
Feb 26, 2020
Communicating About Your Policy Research | Episode 29
Today’s episode is about sharing and explaining policy research. After putting in the hours to collect the data, analyze the findings, and report on your results, how do you ensure that people outside of academia learn what you’ve found and understand why it matters? My guests for this episode are economists Jennifer Doleac and Kosali Simon, who recently participated on a panel about interpreting and translating the relevance of policy research at a research conference hosted by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. Jennifer is an associate professor of economics at Texas A&M University, the director of the Justice Tech Lab, and the host of the Probable Causation podcast (https://www.probablecausation.com/). She is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jenniferdoleac. Kosali is a professor at the Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington as well as the associate vice provost for health sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. She is also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/KosaliSimon. Find an abridged and edited Q&A blog based on a transcript of this conversation at: https://mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/tips-for-boosting-the-reach-and-impact-of-policy-research
Feb 12, 2020
What the Next Generation of Policy Researchers Is Studying | Episode 28
Every summer, Mathematica welcomes a handful of doctoral students to spend 12 weeks at one of our nine office locations, working on an independent research project that intersects with one or more of Mathematica's focus areas. On this episode of On the Evidence, we feature six short interviews with the 2019 summer fellows about the research questions they pursued and what they have learned so far. In most cases, the fellows are joined by a mentor from Mathematica. Find more information about Mathematica's summer fellowship program here: https://www.mathematica.org/career-opportunities/summer-fellowships What factors influence individuals' long-term care decisions? Guests: Selena Caldera, a doctoral student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and Julia Baller, a senior researcher at Mathematica (1:45 - 11:32) If Medicaid is more generous in reimbursing for home and community based services, does it encourage more beneficiaries with disabilities to live in their homes, rather than in a nursing facility? Guests: Sijiu Wang, a doctoral student at Health Services Research and Policy program in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester, and Bob Schmitz, a senior fellow at Mathematica who retired at the end of 2019 (11:43 - 26:50) Did New York City's "fair student funding" reform lead to better outcomes for students with disabilities? Guests: Sana Fatima, a doctoral student in public policy at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Mariesa Herrmann, a senior researcher at Mathematica, (26:55 - 36:55) How does reducing the cost of participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program affect takeup of the program and ultimately impact infant health? Guests: Leah Shiferaw, a doctoral student in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Nan Maxwell, a senior researcher at Mathematica who retired at the end of 2019 (36:59 - 46:21) How can policy improve the quality of care that children receive in early childhood education and care programs? Guest: Katie Gonzalez, a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (46:26 - 1:02:31) How does Medicaid Managed Care impact hospitalization rates among people who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid? Guests: Rebecca Gorges, a doctoral student at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and Andrea Wysocki, a senior researcher at Mathematica (1:02:36 - 1:17:44)
Jan 29, 2020
Child Food Insecurity and Home Delivered Food Boxes | Episode 27
The federal government funds a variety of national nutrition programs to combat hunger among children and families, and yet roughly 37 million Americans were food insecure in 2018, and 6 million of them were children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In some parts of the country, food insecurity is made worse by a lack of accessible and affordable options. That is, if you live in a rural area with limited public transportation and no major supermarkets nearby, you may rely on smaller retailers with limited produce, higher prices, and lower quality food compared with a larger store that is farther away. On this episode of On the Evidence, we talk about a demonstration supported by a federal grant that used home-delivered boxes packed with fruit, vegetables, and other shelf-stable foods selected by registered dieticians to address food insecurity among children in Chickasaw Nation territory in rural Oklahoma. Our guest is Phil Gleason, a senior fellow at Mathematica, who helped evaluate the demonstration for the Food and Nutrition Service at the USDA. Phil and I spoke in Denver shortly before he presented findings from the evaluation at a 2019 fall research conference hosted by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, better known by the acronym, APPAM. The full report that Phil and his Mathematica colleagues submitted to the USDA is available here: https://www.mathematica.org/our-publications-and-findings/publications/evaluation-of-demonstration-projects-to-end-childhood-hunger-edech-the-chickasaw-nation Read an abridged and edited Q&A blog based on our conversation here: mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/home-delivered-food-boxes-reduced-food-insecurity-among-adults-but-not-children
Jan 08, 2020
What If the U.S. Mandated Paid Family Leave? | Episode 26
One of the ways that the United States is an outlier among high-income industrialized nations is that it does not have a national paid family leave program. Some U.S. states and cities, however, have enacted paid family leave, and more are on track to do so in the next few years. For this episode of On the Evidence, we speak with Jeff Hayes, the program director of job quality and income security at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and a scholar in residence at American University. Jeff recently presented findings about what would happen if the U.S. implemented a paid family leave law based on some recent policy proposals. This episode is part of a series we recorded in Denver during the fall research conference hosted by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, better known by the acronym, APPAM. Find more information on the paper Jeff presented at the conference, as well as other papers discussed in the same panel session, here: https://appam.confex.com/appam/2019/webprogram/Session13031.html
Dec 20, 2019
Soda Taxes in U.S. Cities | Episode 25
Since 2015, a handful of U.S. cities have begun taxing soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, economists from Mathematica, the University of Iowa, and Cornell University studied the impacts of those taxes on purchases, consumption, prices, and product availability. The project was the first to publish results on changes in children's consumption in U.S. cities with a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. It was also the first to publish results on impacts from Oakland's beverage tax. For this episode of On the Evidence, we spoke with Dave Jones, an associate director in the health unit at Mathematica, and Dave Frisvold, an associate professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Iowa, about the project's findings on sweetened beverage taxes in Philadelphia, Oakland, Seattle, and San Francisco. More information about their study is available here: https://www.mathematica.org/news/effects-of-sweetened-beverage-taxes-in-philadelphia-and-oakland-fewer-beverage-purchases This interview was one of a series conducted in support of the 2019 fall research conference hosted by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM). (Jones and Frisvold presented papers related to the beverage tax project at the conference.) Find other interviews related to APPAM's fall research conference here: https://www.mathematica.org/commentary/icymi-on-the-evidence-takes-on-appam
Dec 18, 2019
Low Cost Experiments in Local Government | Episode 24
On this episode of On the Evidence, we talk about using behavioral nudges and low-cost experiments in local government. Our guests are Brendan Babb, the chief innovation officer and innovation team director for the municipality of Anchorage, Alaska, and Emily Cardon, head of research for the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) in North America. To learn more about the case studies referenced in this episode, check out BIT's publications page (https://www.bi.team/our-work/publications/) and blog (https://www.bi.team/our-work/blog/). Cardon also mentions a forthcoming paper on reducing burnout among 911 dispatchers, which has since published. Find it here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336830004_Belonging_Affirmation_Reduces_Employee_Burnout_and_Resignations_in_Front_Line_Workers This episode is part of a series produced by Mathematica in support of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and its fall research conference. More episodes affiliated with APPAM's fall research conference can be found here: https://www.mathematica.org/commentary/icymi-on-the-evidence-takes-on-appam
Dec 11, 2019
Indigenous Communities and Policy Research | Episode 23
On this episode of On the Evidence, we talk about policy research by, about, and for indigenous communities. Our guests are Cheryl Ellenwood, a PhD candidate in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona, and Laura Evans, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. We discuss efforts to build a community of policy researchers focused on issues important to indigenous communities, the need for more and better data on indigenous populations (collected in respectful ways), and the application of decolonization methodologies in policy research. This episode is part of a series produced by Mathematica in support of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and its fall research conference. Summaries of the indigenous policy scholarship discussed at the conference are available here: https://appam.confex.com/appam/2019/webprogram/Session13239.html
Nov 25, 2019
Nudging Students to Enroll in College | Episode 22
A growing body of research have found that small-scale behavioral nudge campaigns can get students to complete complex tasks, such as refiling for federal financial aid to attend college. But researchers don't yet know enough about why certain nudges have worked in the past or whether they would still work on a larger scale. On this episode of On the Evidence, we talk with Jenna Kramer, an associate policy researcher at RAND Corporation, and Kelly Ochs Rosinger, an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University, about efforts to use large-scale nudges to increase college and financial aid applications, increase college enrollment, and bolster college students' persistence in completing college. This episode is part of a series produced by Mathematica in support of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and its fall research conference. Kramer and Rosinger participated in an APPAM panel about scaling nudge interventions in post-secondary education. A summary of the panel as well as links to papers discussed in the session is available here: https://appam.confex.com/appam/2019/webprogram/Session12922.html To keep up with Kramer and Rosinger's work, follow them on Twitter. Kramer is @j_w_kramer and Rosinger is @kelly_rosinger.
Nov 21, 2019
Policy Labs: Research for State and Local Government | Episode 21
State and local governments often lack the capacity to clean, manage, and analyze administrative data that could be useful for achieving political and policy objectives. Some places have established policy labs to leverage researchers' skills to identify trends in the data, evaluate programs, and provide insights for improving public policies. On this episode of On the Evidence, we talk about the policy lab model with Kristin Klopfenstein, director of the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, and Melissa Wavelet, a senior fellow at MDRC and the former director of the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes at the Colorado Department of Human Services. This episode is part of a series produced by Mathematica in support of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and its fall research conference. Klopfenstein and Wavelett participated in an APPAM panel about policy labs. More information about the lab is available at: https://coloradolab.org/ More information about Wavelett and her current work at MDRC is available at: https://www.mdrc.org/about/melissa-wavelet
Nov 19, 2019
Opioid Use by Disability Insurance Applicants | Episode 20
Since 2007, the Social Security Administration has collected data on medication use among applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The administration can then use the medication data to identify opioid use among SSDI applicants. But the data set is so large and the data themselves are unstructured, with the majority of applicants reporting drug names in open-ended text fields, so the agency couldn't use the information to inform policy and programs. On this episode of On the Evidence, we talk with April Yanyuan Wu, a researcher at Mathematica, who used supervised machine learning to uncover new insights based on those data, including an estimate on the prevalence of opioid use among SSDI applicants. This episode is part of a series produced by Mathematica in support of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and its fall research conference. More information about April's research on opioids and SSDI applicants is available here: https://www.mathematica.org/our-publications-and-findings/publications/trends-in-opioid-use-among-social-security-disability-insurance-applicants
Nov 09, 2019
Paid Leave and Labor Force Detachment | Episode 19
Paid leave can help mothers return to work in the year that a child is born, but what about the next few years? On this episode of On the Evidence, we talk about the effects of paid leave on maternal labor force detachment up to four years after a child is born with Kelly Jones, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at American University and a senior research economist at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. This episode is part of a series produced by Mathematica in support of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and its fall research conference. Find more about Jones' research, as well as other paid leave research presented at the 2019 APPAM conference, here: https://appam.confex.com/appam/2019/webprogram/Session13294.html In the interview, Jones also mentions a second paper she was presenting at the conference on how abortion access affects educational outcomes. A summary of that paper is available here: https://appam.confex.com/appam/2019/webprogram/Paper31293.html
Nov 08, 2019
Engaging Diverse Perspectives in Policy Research | Episode 18
For this episode of On the Evidence, my guests are Maria Cancian, the president-elect of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and the dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, and Matt Stagner, the current president of APPAM and a vice president at Mathematica. We talk about the theme of APPAM's fall research conference in Denver, which is “Rising to the Challenge: Engaging Diverse Perspectives on Issues and Evidence.”
Nov 06, 2019
Embracing the Emotional Aspects of Policy Research | Episode 17
As social scientists set out to investigate public policy questions, it is vital that they take into account the history of issues and the way people’s emotions will shape interpretations and responses to research findings. That’s the message that Mathematica’s Matt Stagner hopes to convey in his presidential address at a fall research conference hosted by the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) in Denver. On the Evidence interviewed Stagner about his upcoming address, his work on child welfare, and his reflections on the field of public policy research. This interview is part of a series of episodes produced by Mathematica in support of the APPAM conference in November. A Q&A blog featuring highlights from the conversation is also available on the Mathematica website: https://.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/embracing-the-emotional-aspects-of-public-policy-research
Oct 30, 2019
A Progress Report on States' Use of Data and Evidence | Episode 16
The nonprofit Results for America publishes an annual progress report documenting best and promising practices in how state governments use data and evidences in budget, policy, and management decisions to achieve better outcomes for their residents. On this week's episode of On the Evidence, we talk with Jed Herrmann, vice president of state and federal policy implementation at Results for America, about the latest Invest in What Works State Standard of Excellence, released on Friday, Oct. 4. Find the 2019 State Standard of Excellence here: 2019state.results4america.org
Oct 04, 2019
The Relationship Between Changing Work Schedules, Child Care, and Child Well-Being | Episode 15
Our economy has always had jobs that fit outside the conventional 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, schedule, but with the rise of telework, on-demand scheduling apps, "irregular work," and the Gig Economy, more workers not only find themselves earning their paychecks in the early morning, at night or on weekends; but their hours may change on a frequent basis. Finding safe and high quality child care that accommodates non-standard or changing work schedules is a familiar challenge for many workers, but a relatively new area of public policy research. On this week's episode of On the Evidence, we talk about a report that looks at the complicated relationships between changing work schedules, the availability of child care for those schedules, and child well-being. My guests are the co-authors of that report, Angela Rachidi and Rus Sykes, who conducted research on behalf of Mathematica and the American Public Human Services Association, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. An abridged and edited Q&A blog based on the conversation is available here: https://mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/the-complex-relationship-between-changing-work-schedules-child-care-and-child-well-being
Sep 25, 2019
How Can We Help Workers with Medical Conditions Stay Employed? | Episode 14
Each year, more than two million workers leave the labor force, at least temporarily, because of an injury or illness that prevents them from working. Their absence from work takes a toll on the workers and their families, their employers, and the government programs they often rely on for income and other supports. Some research suggests that if government programs could identify and assist workers early, the employees would be more likely to stay at work or return to work after a short absence. On this week’s episode of On the Evidence, we take a deep dive into the topic of interventions for workers who have begun to miss work because of an injury or illness and are at risk of prolonged or even permanent exit from the labor force. Specifically, we discuss the need for providing assistance early—within the first several weeks of missing work—before the employee’s absence from work has become normalized. Our guests include: • Annette Bourbonniere, a research associate at the University of Rhode Island’s department of environmental and natural resource economics, who also owns a consulting business that helps companies hire, accommodate, and retain employees with disabilities. • Jennifer Christian, the cofounder, president, and chief medical officer of the Webility Corporation, a firm focused on speeding the recuperation of ill and injured employees and supporting the continued employability of those who are aging, chronically ill, or functionally impaired. Dr. Christian is also a physician who is board certified in occupational medicine. • Yoni Ben-Shalom, a labor economist and senior researcher at Mathematica who specializes in policies and programs related to the employment and income of people with disabilities. Read an abridged version of the conversation in the edited Q&A here: https://mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/how-can-we-help-workers-with-medical-conditions-stay-employed
Sep 11, 2019
What Doctors Need to Fulfill the Promise of Electronic Health Records | Episode 13
A decade ago, the federal government pushed for the widespread adoption of electronic medical records. Now those records are here and they're ubiquitous, but the transition hasn't been smooth. On this week's episode of On the Evidence, we talk with two of Mathematica's in-house experts on electronic health records, Genna Cohen and Llew Brown. We discuss what the research says about challenges in adopting electronic health records, as well as what to do about them. Find an edited Q&A blog featuring highlights from the conversation here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/what-doctors-need-to-fulfill-the-promise-of-electronic-health-records
Aug 14, 2019
"Forever Chemicals" in Drinking Water and Their Potential Effects on Health | Episode 12
Forever chemicals, a nickname for polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known for their durability, are a class of chemicals that sometimes appear in tap water but aren’t widely understood or subject to much federal regulation. What we do know is that these substances appear in items we encounter on a daily basis, such as Scotchgard and dental floss, and have been linked to a number of health problems. Recent research also suggests that these chemicals are becoming more common in tap water. On this week's episode of On the Evidence, we speak with Cindy Hu, a data scientist at Mathematica, who studies how humans are exposed to and affected by this class of emerging contaminants in drinking water. We discuss the prevalence of these chemicals in our drinking water, as well as their health implications and ways to address them through public policy.
Jul 31, 2019
Siloed, Incomplete and Neglected: The Trouble with State Administrative Data | Episode 11
At a time when private companies can mine online user data for new, sophisticated insights about their customers, public-sector agencies — particularly those charged with serving clients with low incomes and some of the most urgent needs — are struggling to keep up with their own data practices. Although public agencies collect reams of valuable information that could be used to improve residents’ health and well-being, they rarely have the ability to study, interpret, and use the data the same way many companies can. About six years ago, the federal government funded a study to understand what is holding back state agencies in health and human services when it comes to collecting reliable data and using them to both improve the performance of agencies and the welfare of residents. On this week's episode of On the Evidence, our guest is Beth Weigensberg, a senior researcher at Mathematica who helped conduct the research for that federal study and co-authored an article based on the study's findings that recently won an award from the Public Administration Review, a top-rated, peer-reviewed academic journal about government. We’ll talk about the article, but also about what’s changed in the field since that research and where state agencies might go next in terms of handling and using administrative data. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/siloed-incomplete-and-neglected-the-trouble-with-state-administrative-data-and-what-to-do-about-it
Jul 17, 2019
Federal Efforts to Overhaul the Way We Pay for Primary Care, Explained | Episode 10
Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would invite medical practices to voluntarily participate in new payment models for primary care in the Medicare program. The initiative is called Primary Cares, and its goals are to reduce Medicare spending and improve both the quality of and access to primary care for Medicare beneficiaries—especially for those with complex, chronic conditions and serious illness. CMS officials believe that the new payment models could affect as many as 11 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and an estimated one in four primary care practitioners. In light of that announcement, I invited three primary care experts from Mathematica to explain the latest push by CMS to change primary care through new payment models. My guests are Jeffrey Ballou, Eugene Rich, and Julie Schilz, who have the combined experience and expertise of a health economist, a general internist, a medical practice leader, a registered nurse, and a former senior executive at a national health insurance company. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/federal-efforts-to-overhaul-the-way-we-pay-for-primary-care-explained
Jun 19, 2019
It Shouldn’t Read Like a Crime Novel: Trying to Summarize Police Research | Episode 9
For researchers to influence policy, their work must ultimately reach people making or implementing policy, and yet a gap often exists between the two communities. Rebecca Neusteter witnessed this gap when she was the director of research, policy, and planning at the New York Police Department (NYPD). Peer-reviewed journals often published articles about policing—and even policing in New York City—but her office did not have subscriptions to those journals and lacked easy, affordable access to the articles. What was available—typically abstracts written for fellow researchers—too often wasn’t useful to people in the department. It seemed to Neusteter like a missed opportunity for relevant research to inform practitioners. Ultimately, that led her to publish a brief, nontechnical digest of recent police-related research that conveyed important takeaways to readers who were hungry for information to help them do their jobs better, but who lacked the time to find and read the full articles. After Neusteter launched the research digest at the NYPD, she brought the idea with her to the Vera Institute of Justice, a think tank based in New York City, when she became the director of its policing program. Since January 2018, the Institute has published quarterly volumes of the Emerging Issues in American Policing Digest, which covers the latest research on a range of pressing topics in criminal justice, including the effects of body-worn cameras and the relationship between crime clearance rates and the revenue collected by municipal police departments through fees, fines, and forfeitures. On this week’s episode of On the Evidence, I discuss with Neusteter what she has learned so far about translating, packaging and sharing the latest research on policing. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/it-shouldnt-read-like-a-crime-novel-lessons-from-a-project-to-summarize-useful-research-for-police The digest itself is available here: https://www.vera.org/publications/emerging-issues-in-american-policing-digest
Jun 05, 2019
To Help Philadelphia’s Workforce, This Nonprofit Had to Take a Look at Itself First | Episode 8
A few years ago, staff at Philadelphia Works, the city’s Workforce Development Board, decided that they wanted an outsider’s perspective to assess their workforce system and to assist them with more effectively helping residents. They partnered with Mathematica to study and address issues keeping them from providing the most effective services in the most efficient way possible. In this episode of On the Evidence, we take a look at early efforts to redesign and streamline the daily operations of the city’s workforce system, starting with a cash assistance program for work-ready adults called the Employment, Advancement and Retention Network (EARN). Our guests include two of the nonprofit’s staff members, Patricia Blumenauer, director of workforce operations, and Eric Morton, a program representative, as well as Annalisa Mastri, a senior researcher at Mathematica. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/to-help-philadelphias-workforce-this-nonprofit-had-to-take-a-look-at-itself-first
May 22, 2019
Boston Invites Community to Set a 'Civic' Research Agenda | Episode 7
The Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a research and development lab for city hall, develops new and creative ways to provide better services for the city’s residents. About a year ago, the office published the first volume of its Civic Research Agenda. In some respects, the document follows the trend of federal agencies publishing learning or evidence-building agendas. But Boston’s Civic Research Agenda doesn’t look like a formal government document: it’s colorful, with large font, photos, and cartoon-like illustrations. The authors also use personal pronouns to make it clear that Boston’s “new urban mechanics” want to have a conversation with you, the reader. The language is strategic: they want to welcome you in as a participant in deciding what local public policy issues to address, what questions to ask about them, and how to answer them. In this episode of On the Evidence, we discuss the Civic Research Agenda’s one year anniversary with three members of the New Urban Mechanics team: Nigel Jacob, the office’s co-chair and cofounder; Sabrina Dorsainvil, the office’s director of civic design; and Kim Lucas, the office’s civic research director. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/boston-invites-community-to-set-a-civic-research-agenda
May 08, 2019
What Do We Know About Patients with High Costs and High Needs? | Episode 6
In this week’s episode of On the Evidence, we discuss a major question surrounding health care reform: What do we do about the small share of patients who represent a much larger share of overall health care use and costs? For this conversation, I brought in three guests from Mathematica’s deep bench of health care experts—Purvi Sevak, Ann O’Malley, and Dana Jean-Baptiste, who have each studied high-need, high-use patients and efforts to improve their care. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/podcast-on-patients-with-high-costs-and-high-needs
Apr 24, 2019
The Case for Increasing the Number of Black Women in Economics | Episode 5
Black women are underrepresented in the field of economics, and for those who enter the profession, being one of a few can be lonely. On this episode of On the Evidence, host J.B. Wogan talks with Anna Opoku-Agyeman and Fanta Traore about the Sadie Collective, a group they helped form, which seeks to increase the number of black women in economics and is named after the first African American to earn a PhD in economics.
Apr 09, 2019
Do Suspensions Affect Student Outcomes? | Episode 4
Almost seven years ago, the School District of Philadelphia revised its student discipline policy, instructing schools not to suspend students for certain types of nonviolent behavior, such as failing to follow classroom rules or making obscene gestures. To examine what happened after the school district made the change, Mathematica’s Johanna Lacoe teamed up with Matthew Steinberg, an education researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. What they found provides the strongest evidence to date that when students are suspended, their academic performance declines after the suspension. On this episode of On the Evidence, Lacoe discusses her school suspension research in Philadelphia and what it might mean for the future of school discipline. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/do-suspensions-affect-student-outcomes
Mar 27, 2019
A How-to Guide on Using Evidence in City Policymaking | Episode 3
A growing number of cities are interested in using data and research in decision making. Kat Klosek, director of applied research at the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, talks about a free step-by-step guide she wrote for policymakers who want to incorporate data and evidence in their work. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/how-to-guide-on-using-evidence-in-city-policymaking
Mar 12, 2019
How a County Engaged More Clients in Employment Assistance | Episode 2
Across Colorado, county agencies struggle to get residents on public assistance to attend work orientation sessions that are required for receiving benefits. Adams County staff studied the problem, piloted a solution and assessed the results. Jon McCay, part of Mathematica’s evidence-based technical assistance team, explains the process Adams County staff used to improve client engagement. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/how-a-county-agency-engaged-more-clients-in-its-employment-assistance-program
Feb 26, 2019
What If More Local Governments Invested in Outcomes? | Episode 1
On this episode of On the Evidence, Andrew Kleine, the former budget director of Baltimore City, talks about his new book, “City on the Line,” his account of what happened when Baltimore adopted an evidence-based approach to its budget process. Mathematica’s J.B. Wogan and Matt Stagner interviewed Kleine for the episode. Topics discussed on the episode: Outcome Budgeting, Logic Model Budgeting, Pay-for-Success Financing, and Collective Impact. We also have a condensed Q&A version of the conversation available here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/commentary/what-if-more-local-governments-invested-in-outcomes
Feb 11, 2019
Mathematica Launches New Podcast: On the Evidence
The show will investigate and promote the use of data and evidence to address social challenges through conversations with pioneers in their fields. Find condensed Q&As based on each episode here: https://www.mathematica-mpr.com/on-the-evidence-podcast
Feb 06, 2019
White Paper Discussion of the Week
White Paper Discussion of the Week by MATHEMATICA
Aug 28, 2018
A Meta-Analysis of 15 Within-Study-Comparisons | JPAM Featured Article
Chaplin et al. (2017) tests the efficacy of regression discontinuity (RD) by comparing RD causal estimates at the treatment cutoff to those from Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) that are also estimated at this same cutoff. The study identifies 15 previously completed within-study-comparisons (WSCs) that explicitly examined this issue by assuming the RCT results are unbiased and then comparing them to RD results. The differences between these results can be thought of as estimates of bias due to use of the RD method. The authors address the internal validity of RD by using the average estimated bias across all 15 WSCs. The study also addresses concerns about external validity by using meta-analystic methods to examine variation in estimated bias across studies. Existing theory predicts no difference between RD and RCT estimates on average, but difficulties with the implementation and analysis of RD in particular can lead to the possibility of deviations from theoretical expectations.
Mar 26, 2018
Program Evaluation <3's Technology
Mark Lafferty and Dan Friend describe Mathematica's work evaluating social programs across the country, and discuss the tools we use to perform these high-quality evaluations at scale including Mathematica's RAPTER© system.
Mar 07, 2018
Mel Podcast
Mel Podcast by MATHEMATICA
Jan 30, 2018
Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for International Development Programs
Experts from Mathematica, USAID, and the Rockefeller Foundation discuss how data and evidence can be used to drive decision making.
Dec 04, 2017
The Negative Income Tax Experiments
The Negative Income Tax Experiments Presented by Chuck Metcalf, Retired Mathematica President and Chief Executive Officer
Nov 30, 2017
Tools for Evidence Podcast Takes a Closer Look at RCT-YES and the RCE Coach
In the podcast, Associate Director Alex Resch and Senior Fellow Peter Schochet discuss and explain some key differences between RCT-YES and the RCE Coach . They discuss which tool is best matched to educators with varying levels of experience conducting evaluations, who might use these tools and how.
May 25, 2017
How Does the Doctor-Patient Relationship Affect Decision Making?
In a new article for the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research, experts from Mathematica Policy Research reveal why some patients might reject physician recommendations even if they are grounded in good evidence. Listen to Mathematica researchers Cara Stepanczuk and Nyna Williams discuss this issue in this episode of the “Policy in Perspective” podcast.
Mar 07, 2017
Innovations in care coordination and supports for people with disabilities
In this episode of Mathematica’s “Policy in Perspective” podcast, listen to Mathematica Senior Fellows, James Verdier and Carol Irvin, discuss policy challenges and innovations in providing coordinated care and community supports to people with disabilities and frail older adults. This work supports the contributions of Mathematica’s Center for Studying Disability Policy to the evidence on today’s most critical issues in disability policy.
Feb 22, 2017
How Behavioral Insights Can Help Policymakers Improve Programs
Mathematica researcher, Irma Perez-Johnson, shares her experience using behavioral insights to improve public programs.
Nov 29, 2016
Divorce and Women’s Retirement
Mathematica Senior Researcher Dana Rotz discusses a new study of how changes in marriage and divorce in the United States have affected employment and retirement for women.
Nov 14, 2016
Who Has More Effective Teachers?
Mathematica senior researchers Eric Isenberg and Jeffrey Max discuss their findings from a new study that addresses a key question in education policy: do low-income students have equal access to effective teachers?
Nov 03, 2016
America’s Investment in Health IT
In recognition of National Health IT Week, Mathematica Senior Fellow Emerita Marsha Gold and Senior Researcher Yael Harris explore the rollout and implementation of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, a major federal initiative to support the development and use of electronic health information technology to help reform care delivery and, ultimately, improve health outcomes.
Sep 26, 2016
Reporting on Pathways to Health Coverage
More Americans now have access to publicly subsidized health coverage through expansions in Medicaid, the federal insurance marketplace, and state health insurance exchanges. But how much do we know about who is enrolling, how they are enrolling, and when? This podcast describes California’s experience reporting on the ways in which people obtain health insurance, offering lessons for other states that are launching comparable reporting efforts.
Apr 12, 2016
The Changing Role of Public Health in a Post-ACA Era
In conjunction with National Public Health Week, Mathematica Senior Vice President and Director of Health Research Christopher Trenholm and Senior Fellow Judy Bigby discuss the changing role of public health programs in an era of health care reform.
Mar 27, 2016
Delivering Good Data in Developing Countries
Mathematica Senior Researcher Kristen Velyvis and Senior Fellow Sarah Hughes discuss the challenges of collecting high quality data from resource-poor environments. They describe specific examples of potential data collection barriers and suggest approaches that can help mitigate these challenges at each stage of the survey process.
Mar 10, 2016
Helping Accountable Care Organizations Learn from One Another
Researchers Sonya Streeter and Craig Schneider discuss Mathematica’s key role in a major effort in U.S. health care reform—the development of accountable care organizations, which are networks of providers designed to deliver more efficient, higher quality care for Medicare beneficiaries.
Feb 22, 2016
Improving Health Care for Children: Lessons from the States
Mathematica Senior Fellow Henry Ireys and senior researchers Grace Anglin and Joe Zickafoose describe the CHIPRA Quality Demonstration Grant Program—the largest federal effort in the past decade to improve health care for children—and the lessons it offers for states and others that have a stake in providing quality care for children.
Feb 04, 2016
Does the PARCC Test Succeed in Predicting College Outcomes?
A Mathematica report shows that students’ scores on the existing high school assessment in Massachusetts predict college performance as well as scores on a new test that was recently developed by a consortium of states to align with Common Core standards. Mathematic education policy experts Brian Gill and Ira Nichols-Barrer discuss the national implications of these findings.
Oct 04, 2015
The Future of Family Caregiving
Mathematica Senior Fellow Debra Lipson examines the political and economic forces that have shaped policymaking on family caregiving over the past two decades and identifies key areas for potential progress.
Sep 24, 2015