LBJ faculty, students present research on work, families, public workers, crime and more at the 2019 APPAM Conference | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin
LBJ Professor Francie Ostrower presents research at the 2018 ARNOVA Conference in Austin Nov. 15-17.
LBJ faculty presenting at the APPAM 2019 fall research conference Nov. 7–9. Left to right: William Spelman, Varun Rai,
Cynthia Osborne, Ruth Wasem, Gordon Abner and Ken Flamm.

 

Professors and students from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin will lead conversations and present research across an array of policy areas at the 2019 Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Fall Research Conference in Denver, Colorado Nov. 7–9.

The multidisciplinary research conference, themed "Rising to the Challenge: Engaging Diverse Perspectives on the Issues and Evidence," attracts the highest quality research on a wide variety of important current and emerging policy and management issues.

Find out more from LBJ School faculty and students at the following sessions:

Varun Rai, Associate Dean for Research

  • Super session: Diversifying the Toolkit: Role and Future of Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation in Policy Analysis
  • Panel paper: Policy Prescience: Predictive Modeling of Technology Diffusion in a Changing Policy Context
    Solar PV adoption decision-making is complex. Both economic aspects (e.g., prices and rebates) and informational aspects (e.g., information exchanges among individual decision-makers) each play a large role in the structure and evolution of diffusion. Forming ex ante expectations of the impact of policy changes requires predictive models that account for both economic and informational aspects of the decision-making context. Researchers compare two approaches that incorporate these aspects in predictive modeling of solar PV diffusion, each with embedded tradeoffs: a top-down, equation-based approach that deals with information flows and individual decision-making in the aggregate and a bottom-up, generative approach that models them explicitly. Researchers exploit the variation across these approaches to investigate how tradeoffs in predictive modeling methods impact the prediction of future solar PV diffusion when the adoption decision-making context experiences a large shift. By comparing the two approaches on a common footing, researchers contribute to an understanding of the role model choice plays in determining policy recommendations. Presented with D. Cale Reeves
  • Poster paper: Developing Time Use Metrics to Inform Workforce Development Programs
    A substantial number of workforce development programs focus on helping economically disadvantaged individuals develop the skills and credentials necessary to have better employment opportunities. Previous studies have shown that those who are economically disadvantaged are also time poor, meaning that they have less time available for discretionary activities such as but not limited to education, professional and personal care services. In other words, for these individuals incorporating workforce development programs into their schedule may be challenging since the timing of the workforce development program may conflict with that of other essential activities, causing a significant time burden to the participant. Therefore studying time-use patterns of the economically disadvantaged population can not only help in understanding the time-burden but also assist in program design. However, to our knowledge, no research systematically examines participant time-use burden associated with participating in workforce development programs and the importance of such data for program design. To address this need, researchers conduct a phone survey of eligible participants and non-participants of workforce development programs in Central Texas. The phone survey follows the standard time-use survey approach, essentially mapping activities that respondents perform over 24 hours, along with additional information such as where and with whom the activity was performed. In addition to the standard time-use survey measures, researchers also elicit information about the curtailability and flexibility of each activity, barriers to activity shifting and curtailment, and the subject’s perception of control over their time.


Cynthia Osborne, Associate Dean for Academic Strategies

  • Panel: Social Policies and Their Influence on Family Formation, Childbearing, and Resources
    While policymakers are often unaware of the unintended consequences of some of their social policies, social scientists have long considered them. This proposal panel will add to the research literature on the unintended consequences of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Support Enforcement Program, and increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities for families in the United States. More specifically, this panel asks if these programs affect marriage, childbearing and the resources available to families.
  • Super session: Reducing Child Poverty: Uniting Diverse Perspectives
    In this super session, expert members of a National Academies of Sciences committee will discuss the findings outlined in "A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty" from diverse disciplinary perspectives. The report draws on evaluation research literature, policy and contextual analysis, program implementation and microsimulation data to examine the demographic and contextual factors of child poverty, and promising anti-poverty programs capable of reducing child poverty when combined into diverse and effective policy packages.
  • Panel: Swimming Upstream: Child Support Enforcement & Nonresident Parents' Contributions to Children
    The goal of the child support enforcement system is to ensure that children receive support from their nonresident parents; however, despite decades of policy focus, a number of demographic and economic trends have made this goal more difficult to achieve. Today, fewer than half of custodial parents receive the child support that is owed them and nearly 40 percent of children in single-parent families are poor. The four papers in this panel examine the difficulties and complexities facing the child support enforcement system from a variety of perspectives.


Gordon Abner, Assistant Professor

  • Panel paper: What Makes Public Employees Want to Leave Their Job: A Meta-Analysis of Turnover Intention Predictors Among Public Sector Employees
    The study reports the determinants of public sector turnover intention and their respective effect sizes. Researchers hope that the findings from this study offer some practical advice to public management practitioners and helps inform theory building regarding the interconnections between human resource management practices and turnover intentions.
  • Poster paper: Developing Time Use Metrics to Inform Workforce Development Programs
    A substantial number of workforce development programs focus on helping economically disadvantaged individuals develop the skills and credentials necessary to have better employment opportunities. Previous studies have shown that those who are economically disadvantaged are also time poor, meaning that they have less time available for discretionary activities such as but not limited to education, professional and personal care services. In other words, for these individuals incorporating workforce development programs into their schedule may be challenging since the timing of the workforce development program may conflict with that of other essential activities, causing a significant time burden to the participant. Therefore studying time-use patterns of the economically disadvantaged population can not only help in understanding the time-burden but also assist in program design. However, to our knowledge, no research systematically examines participant time-use burden associated with participating in workforce development programs and the importance of such data for program design. To address this need, researchers conducted a phone survey of eligible participants and non-participants of workforce development programs in Central Texas. The phone survey follows the standard time-use survey approach, essentially mapping activities that respondents perform over 24 hours, along with additional information such as where and with whom the activity was performed. In addition to the standard time-use survey measures, researchers also elicit information about the curtailability and flexibility of each activity, barriers to activity shifting and curtailment, and the subject’s perception of control over their time.


Ken Flamm, Professor of Public Affairs

  • Panel paper: Market Power in Local U.S. Broadband Markets: Do Low-Income and Minority Populations Have Fewer Competitive Choices?
    Broadband internet access may help to reduce disparities for minority, low-income and rural households, but lack of competition among US broadband service providers in local markets may lead to high prices and low quality, which would decrease the attractiveness of household Internet access. To examine these issues, researchers construct detailed estimates of the distribution of competing residential fixed broadband internet service providers across U.S. census blocks, characterize apparent shifts in the distributions of competing broadband ISPs at the national level, then test these distributions for evidence of statistically significant changes over time. In addition, researchers construct lower bounds on Hirschman-Herfindahl Indexes (HHIs) of local concentration. Our preliminary results suggest substantial variation in market concentration, both over time, and across both states and MSAs, during the 2014–17 period. Census blocks with large low income and minority populations also seem to have experienced considerable variation in changes in market structure over time. Co-authored with Pablo Varas. 


William Spelman, Professor of Public Affairs

  • Panel paper: Are We Digging in the Wrong Place? Cohort Explanations for Changing Crime Rates
    After 30 years of increase, crime dropped rapidly in the 1990s and continues to trend downward. Researchers have no good explanation for why. Current criminal justice policies, which attempt to change incentives and opportunities for current offenders, account for some of the decline but not most of it. An alternative explanation centers on birth cohorts: Recent generations (particularly those born after 1980) may have been successively less criminally inclined than their elders. This is hard to prove because generational or "cohort" effects are intertwined with age and period effects. There is no commonly accepted general solution to the age-period-cohort problem. Spelman developed a specific solution, tailored to the crime problem. Economic and social factors commonly associated with crime rates can be used to identify trends in U.S. period effects from 1980–2015. This allows identification of age and cohort trends. (An alternative identification strategy, based on comparative age distributions among OECD countries, produced almost identical results.) Criminal activity appeared to decline steadily between the 1916 and 1945 birth cohorts. It increased among Baby Boomers and Gen X, then dropped rapidly among Millennials, born after 1985. Period effects were mostly responsible for the late 1980s crack boom and the 1990s crime drop, but age and cohort effects were primarily responsible for crime reductions during the early 1980s and after 2000. Overall, cohort effects had a larger effect on crime rates than period effects.


Ruth Wasem, Professor of Practice

  • Roundtable: Diverse Perspectives to Guide Public Policy: The Relative Merits of Evidence, Values and Constituent Preferences in a Rapidly-Changing World
    The proposed supersession will ask: As the polity reacts to a greater diversity of stimuli and the world changes rapidly, can available research tools for demonstrating "what works" to improve social outcomes keep up — or does society need to turn to other rational but non-evidence-based ways of making policy choices? Each of three speakers will argue for a particular "reasoned" basis for formulating public policy recommendations in a fragmented and rapidly changing world: evidence-based versus values-based versus constituency-based. Following their back-and-forth, the debate's moderator will kick off audience engagement by stating which argument among the three s/he found most persuasive and why, and by inviting others to do likewise.


Ana Paula Canedo, Ph.D. student

  • Panel paper: Do Non-Contributory Pensions Encourage Migration? Evidence from Mexico
    Prior research on social pensions and other social protection programs has shown that public cash transfers may alter the household's economic behavior, including labor supply and labor migration decisions of individuals residing within the household. This study exploits the variation in the age-eligibility criteria of Mexico's Pensión para Adultos Mayores (PAM) Program and employs a difference in difference (DID) strategy to examine the impact of noncontributory pensions on migration and return migration decisions at the household level.


Christina Caramanis, Ph.D. student

  • Poster paper: Child Care Choices and Academic Outcomes: The Moderating Role of Sociodemographic Structure
    Integrating longitudinal data from the Texas subsample of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) with administrative school records from the Texas Education Research Center (ERC), this novel dataset allows for an examination of long-term outcomes linked to early childhood adversity and surrounding ecologies that is not accessible through survey or administrative data alone.


Selena Caldera, Ph.D. student


Eun Young Kim, Ph.D. student


Mark Hand, Ph.D. student

  • Panel paper: Foxes in the Henhouse? the Effects of Hiring Campaign Staff into Legislative Offices
    The paper tests three hypotheses: That policymakers who hire more campaign staffers into their legislative offices will spend more of their legislative attention on issues pertinent to their particular district, as measured by the topics of the bills they introduce; that they will be less effective legislators, as measured by Volden and Wiseman's Legislative Effectiveness Score; and that they will be more likely to win reelection. By understanding the effects of political hiring decisions, policymakers can make smarter hires, and students of the policy process can better understand the impact of teams on policymakers’ priorities and effectiveness.


D. Cale Reeves, Ph.D. student

  • Super session: Diversifying the Toolkit: Role and Future of Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation in Policy Analysis
    This super session proposes to convene four leading scholars at the intersection of policy science and simulation methods, including LBJ School's Associate Dean for Research Varun Rai
  • Panel paper: Policy Prescience: Predictive Modeling of Technology Diffusion in a Changing Policy Context
    Solar PV adoption decision-making is complex. Both economic aspects (e.g., prices and rebates) and informational aspects (e.g., information exchanges among individual decision-makers) each play a large role in the structure and evolution of diffusion. Forming ex ante expectations of the impact of policy changes requires predictive models that account for both economic and informational aspects of the decision-making context. Researchers compare two approaches that incorporate these aspects in predictive modeling of solar PV diffusion, each with embedded tradeoffs: a top-down, equation-based approach that deals with information flows and individual decision-making in the aggregate and a bottom-up, generative approach that models them explicitly. Researchers exploit the variation across these approaches to investigate how tradeoffs in predictive modeling methods impact the prediction of future solar PV diffusion when the adoption decision-making context experiences a large shift. By comparing the two approaches on a common footing, researchers contribute to an understanding of the role model choice plays in determining policy recommendations. Presented with Dr. Varun Rai


Ashok Sekar, Ph.D. student

  • Poster paper: Developing Time Use Metrics to Inform Workforce Development Programs
    A substantial number of workforce development programs focus on helping economically disadvantaged individuals develop the skills and credentials necessary to have better employment opportunities. Previous studies have shown that those who are economically disadvantaged are also time poor, meaning that they have less time available for discretionary activities such as but not limited to education, professional and personal care services. In other words, for these individuals incorporating workforce development programs into their schedule may be challenging since the timing of the workforce development program may conflict with that of other essential activities, causing a significant time burden to the participant. Therefore studying time-use patterns of the economically disadvantaged population can not only help in understanding the time-burden but also assist in program design. However, to our knowledge, no research systematically examines participant time-use burden associated with participating in workforce development programs and the importance of such data for program design. To address this need, researchers conduct a phone survey of eligible participants and non-participants of workforce development programs in Central Texas. The phone survey follows the standard time-use survey approach, essentially mapping activities that respondents perform over 24 hours, along with additional information such as where and with whom the activity was performed. In addition to the standard time-use survey measures, researchers also elicit information about the curtailability and flexibility of each activity, barriers to activity shifting and curtailment, and the subject’s perception of control over their time.

 


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