Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, November 1, 2010

Faculty share expertise

Center gets second round of funding

The campus Center for Financial Security received second-year funding of $3.1 million from the Social Security Administration's Financial Literacy Research Consortium.

This year's award increased $1.7 million over first-year funding of $1.4 million and will further the research initiatives of the center. The center is directed by La Follette School faculty affiliate J. Michael Collins. Public affairs professors Karen Holden and Pamela Herd are affiliated with the center. Four La Follette School students hold project assistantships with the center.

In its first year, the Center for Financial Security completed eight studies, including: "A Review of Financial Advice Models and the Take-up of Financial Advice," "Theories of Human Behavior and Emotions: What They Imply about the Financial Behavior of Vulnerable Populations," and "Trigger Events and Financial Outcomes Among Older Households."

Center researchers expect to initiate 14 projects with the second-year award, including "Increasing Retirement Savings by Working Women: Understanding and Reducing Contribution Differentials," "Field Experiment on the Impacts of Financial Planning Interventions for Recent Homebuyers," and "Save, Spend, or Pay Down Debt? — Responses of Low-Income Households to Cash Transfers."

La Follette School faculty share their expertise in the media and around the world.

Melanie Manion is one of 12 American scholars and scientists invited to China in late October to discuss Chinese designs for reform in a conference jointly sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the Chinese Academy of Social Science. She will discuss a paper on a design for clean governance, aka controlling corruption.

Pamela Herd comments in a "We the People Wisconsin Factfinder" article on the accuracy of U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson's comments about Social Security. One of Johnson's ads says "'Russ Feingold and politicians of both parties raided the Social Security trust fund of trillions and left seniors an IOU. They spent the money. It's gone.'"

"'That's false,'" Herd says in the article based on a Wisconsin Public Radio story. "'That's simply inaccurate. The money is in T-bonds — in Treasury Bonds — that are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.'"

Herd is scheduled to appear on University of Wisconsin–Madison professor Ken Goldstein's"Office Hours" on the Big Ten Network.

Greg Nemet won the 2009 best paper award from the International Association for Energy Economics. He and Erin Baker published "Demand Subsidies Versus R&D: Comparing the Uncertain Impacts of Policy on a Pre-commercial Low-carbon Energy Technology" in a 2009 issue of The Energy Journal.

The New York Times published an op-ed by faculty affiliates Barry Burden and Ken Mayer about research they conduct with La Follette School professor Don Moynihan and colleague David Canon on how early voting reduces turnout. Their research also garnered a mention in an October 4 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog post.

Menzie Chinn attended meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. On October 7 he presented at the International Monetary Fund with Yi Gang, China's deputy governor of People's bank of China; Anoop Singh, director of IMF's Asia and Pacific Department; and Jeremy Marks of the IMF's External Relations Department. The Wall Street Journal reported on the meetings. Web cast

Chinn commented in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the effects of the federal stimulus on the U.S. economy. Minnesota Public Radio interviewed Chinn in September about the U.S. economy.

Lisa Blumerman, chief of the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau paid a visit to the La Follette School on October 19.  Accompanied by two members of her senior staff, Blumerman met with La Follette professor Andrew Reschovsky and with Dan Veroff, director of the campus Applied Population Laboratory to discuss plans for expanding and improving the Census of Governments, and to hear about details of an ongoing study of central city finances Reschovsky is conducting using the Census Bureau's individual units of government files. Blumerman made a presentation to La Follette School students in the Professional Development Workshop where she talked about internship and employment opportunities at the Census Bureau. 

The Wall Street Journal quotes Tim Smeeding in an article about middle-class spending. "'What you're looking at here is people at the bottom trying to hang on,' said Timothy Smeeding, public affairs professor and director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. "'You can't go below a certain level.'" He also commented in the New York Times on the recession and poverty rate hitting an all-time high in September. He predicted it would increase further. Smeeding also was on CNN worldwide and on the CBS Evening News in September then appeared on "Office Hours."

Faculty affiliate Michael W. Apple reports that Beijing Normal University has established the Michael W. Apple Research Center to engage in research on the influence of Apple on Chinese educational theory and research, as well as the influence of his work in other nations.

Faculty affiliate Sara Goldrick-Rab's article on unmarried parents in college co-authored with Kia Sorensen is in a collection of papers released by the Future of Children initiative of the Brookings Institution and Princeton University in the fall 2010 issue of the journal Fragile Families. The New York Times mentions collect in an article on the culture of poverty.

Faculty affiliate Joel Rogers is cited in a Salon.com article discussing the pros and cons of a mayor going on to become a governor. An American Prospect article includes Rogers in a list of people targeted by commentator Glenn Beck.