Life expectancy may now predict American partisanship 

Americans are not all enjoying the same life expectancy gains. The differences, when mapped by county, could have predicted the 2016 presidential election.

America in recent decades has seen increases in life expectancy, a proxy for quality health care. We gained, on average, 5.3 years between 1980 and 2014. But the uneven distribution of these gains may be influencing political affiliation.

Counties that enjoyed above-average gains overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, according to a forthcoming paper. The majority of people in counties with below-average gains voted for Donald Trump.

Boston University’s Jacob Bor presents these discoveries in the American Journal of Public Health. He also compares voter shares by party in 2008 and 2016, two recent presidential elections that lacked an incumbent.

  • In 781 counties, life expectancy increased less than 3 years between 1980 and 2014. In those areas, the Republican vote share grew 9.1 percentage points between 2008 and 2016.
  • In counties where life expectancy grew more than 7 years, Democrats saw vote share grow 3.5 percentage points.
  • For each year of life expectancy gain in a county, the Republican vote share fell 2.3 percentage points.

Bor suggests the opioid epidemic and diverging access to medical care are factors in this growing divide.

Last updated: September 27, 2017

Citation: Bor, Jacob. “Diverging Life Expectancies and Voting Patterns in the 2016 US Presidential Election.” American Journal of Public Health, October 2017. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303945.

Source: Life expectancy may now predict American partisanship – Journalist’s Resource


Kidnapping: For parents of school-age kids, turns out birth mothers, along with female relatives are most likely to abduct children 

Some key findings:

  • 4 percent of children in the sample had experienced family abduction or kidnapping and 1.2 percent had experienced it within the past year. Based on this information, the researchers estimate that 875,000 children a year – 12 per 1,000 — are either abducted or kidnapped by a relative.
  • Parents were the perpetrators in more than 90 percent of kidnappings and abductions. Mothers and female family members were responsible for the majority – 60 percent. However, fathers and male relatives were responsible for 64 percent of all kidnappings.
  • Children who have been abducted or kidnapped are more likely to be from low-income households and have separated, estranged or divorced parents. In two-parent families, an estimated nine children per 1,000 experience an abduction or kidnapping compared to 84 per 1,000 in single-parent households.
  • 43 percent of abductions and kidnappings were reported to the police, including 86 percent of family kidnappings.

READ MORE HERE: Mothers, female relatives are most likely to abduct children – Journalist’s Resource

Grand Rapids Bus Driver’s Union and Equity PAC trade words over November Transit Millage

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

On November 7, voters in the Greater Grand Rapids area can vote on whether or not to renew an operational millage for The Rapid bus system.

The issue has been a contentious one for more than a year, mostly because The Rapid board has failed to reach a negotiation with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 836. 

In recent months the issue has become more intense, with the ATU engaging in actions around the millage, most recently their confronting of Grand Rapids Mayor Bliss on Labor Day.

Since then, the Kent County Democrats have sided with the ATU to not support the millage, unless there is a contract agreement reached before the November 7 Millage vote. Some political candidates have also sided with the ATU in not endorsing the Millage, such as Robert Van Kirk who is running for the 77th State House seat and Rachel Hood who is running…

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The Acton Institute conference on Education & Freedom: School Privatization, School Choice and the Benefits of Free Market Capitalism

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last month, we reported that Betsy DeVos will be the keynote speaker at the Acton Institute’s 27th Annual Dinner. The $175 a plate Acton event will be held at the DeVos Hall in downtown Grand Rapids on October 18. 

The very next day, on October 19, the Acton Institute will host an event entitled, Education and Freedom. This event, which is being held at the Acton Institute headquarters on the corner of E. Fulton and Sheldon, makes this claim: 

Everyone in the United States knows education is badly in need of reform. While K-12 and higher education costs have outpaced inflation, we have yet to see commensurate returns.  And parents who opt out of such a system pay twice for their children’s education–taxes and tuition.

Choice, flexibility and innovation are needed.

The lack of freedom for parents, teachers, students, and state and local governments is distorting the purpose and…

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Simplistic Report on New York City Charter School Funding 

BOULDER, CO (October 11, 2017) – Charter School Funding: Inequity in New York City, authored by Larry D. Maloney and Patrick J. Wolf, and released by the University of Arkansas, concludes that charter schools in New York City are not fairly funded, in comparison to district schools.

The report asserts that this inequity is especially big for charter schools that are not co-located in public schools.Professor Clive Belfield of Queens College, City University of New York, reviewed the report and raised several concerns.

Perhaps most importantly, the report simply does not attempt a rigorous comparison of charters to non-charter schools. It assumes that any differences in student characteristics across charter and district schools are trivial and that raw, unadjusted funding amounts are sufficient for assessing fairness.

Professor Belfield also notes that the report fails to undertake any sensitivity testing, to identify the precision of the study’s estimates. Nor does the report sufficiently investigate what the optimal amount of funding should be for charter schools that are not co-located in public school buildings.Finally, the report is based on data from 2014.

Since that date, New York City has significantly reformed its funding regulations for charter schools. Professor Belfield concludes that the report’s estimates are no longer policy-relevant for New York City.

And due to the lack of detail on the funding context in New York City, as well as the absence of any corroborating evidence from other localities, it is not useful to help readers understand charter funding issues more broadly.

Find the review, by Clive Belfield, at: Charter School Funding: Inequity in New York City, by Larry D. Maloney and Patrick J. Wolf, published by University of Arkansas, Department of Education Reform, at:

Source: Simplistic Report on New York City Charter School Funding | National Education Policy Center

Working without a contract, Kendall Faculty Association takes action to challenge Kendall College Board of Administrators

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Earlier today, several dozen members of the Kendall College Faculty Association and 20 additional community supporters held an informational picket today. The action was called by the Kendall Faculty Association, which has been operating without a contract.

In addition, Kendall College faculty are amongst the lowest paid for a four-year public college in Michigan. This of course is all happening while the annual compensation for the four-person administration has a total cost in excess of $600,000.

We interviewed several of the faculty members about their action and what they are asking for. The first interview wis with the president of the faculty union, Adam.

There are more specific issues that the faculty at Kendall are dealing with such as the fact that they do not have a pension plan and they already pay for a portion of their health plan. These kinds of policies have historically been used to try…

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WGRD names bars after “girls” or how a radio station practices misogyny

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

The objectification of women is the norm within the media world, whether we are talking about films, TV shows, advertising or video games. Read or watch any of the videos produced by educator and feminist Jean Kilbourne and it is hard to argue this assertion.

The use of women’s bodies and their identities is also prevalent as a market gimmick. This is certainly the case with a recent effort by the Grand Rapids radio station WGRD.

On September 15, WGRD posted on their website this piece, which began by saying: 

There are plenty of places to go to enjoy the nightlife of Grand Rapids on a daily basis, and those of us who have lived here for a while know that we often have to explain the different bars to new people. So, we’ve come up with a comprehensive way to explain the bars in GR to your new-to-town…

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The Acton Institute and Puerto Rico: Climate denial and Free Market Fanaticism

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Over the past 10 days, people are deeply saddened by the devastation occurring in Puerto Rico and are pissed off at the administration’s lack of empathy for those on the island that are suffering.

Groups on all parts of the political spectrum have been weighing in on Puerto Rico, including the Grand Rapids-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. In fact, there have been two postings on the Acton website in the past 2 weeks, postings that are worth unpacking.

The first post from September 22nd is entitled, Hurricanes Prove Human Solidarity: The law written on the human heart. The headline sounds encouraging, but the content is not what you think.

The Acton article, written by Steve Stapleton (a financial investment advisor), uses this opportunity to dismiss climate change before he even talks about solidarity. This is consistent with the position that Acton has taken over…

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The significance of Betsy DeVos appointing John Engler to the National Assessment Board

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last week it was reported by MLive, that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had appointed several new people to the National Assessment Board, including former Michigan Governor John Engler. 

The National Assessment Board’s mission is to:

The National Assessment Governing Board was created by Congress in 1988 as an independent, nonpartisan board to set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card.

MLive includes a brief comment from DeVos about the appointment of Engler, where the Secretary of Education says, “He is a tireless advocate for all our nation’s students, and his strong leadership will be a substantial asset to the board.”

The MLive article also mentioned that Engler has been a supporter of Charter schools and, “as governor helped launch the sector in 1993 with an effort to overhaul school funding and the eventual passage of the…

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