Monday, December 5, 2011

Marry someone smarter than you are

That's the advice from the economist Charles Wheelan;

This was of the smartest things I ever did. I bring this up for three reasons. First, for all the controversy over marriage lately, there has been virtually no public discussion of the role that marriage plays in economic success. Those of you who took my economics and public policy classes may remember my favorite quiz question of all time: True or False: Dartmouth is the kind of place where assortive mating is going on. Parents, please don’t worry. This is a less sordid question than it would appear. The answer is true; it merely refers to the fact that highly educated people are likely to marry each other, as are poorly-educated people. The result magnifies many of our underlying social trends, including income inequality. 
To make it much more personal, and because I’ve vowed to speak about things that no one told me when I was in College, what I’ve learned over time is that the benefit of marrying my Phi Beta Kappa classmate, whom I met at orientation freshman week, is not merely that she is fun and beautiful, but that it’s like having another economic oar in the water. When I was getting a PhD, she was working. When she wanted to start a software company, I had a steady income. When I wanted to take a year off to write books, she had a steady income. You’re good at standardized tests; you get the pattern. In addition to all the things that Dr. Phil can tell you about marriage, I’m telling you that you’re getting a professional teammate for life. So pick wisely.
Now the second reason I bring this subject up is that a healthy marriage will make you… Yes, happy! We’ve got research on this, too. In fact, the economists even think they can quantify it. In terms of happiness and well-being, a healthy marriage is the equivalent of earning an extra $100,000 a year. That said, I would urge you not to tell your future spouse that he or she will be worth roughly a million dollars at the end of 10 years, as it never sounds as cool to everyone else as it does to the economists.
Finally, I bring up the benefit of smart partners because tomorrow is your chance! Everyone who is Phi Beta Kappa will be wearing pink and blue ribbons on their gowns. Folks, this is the equivalent of hunting smart fish in a barrel. After tomorrow, when you go into a bar or to your job or to the gym, the really smart people aren’t going to be wearing pink and blue ribbons! 
Now, let me point out to those of you wearing the pink and blue ribbons, it’s just tomorrow. When you’re done with Commencement, take them off. My wife sometimes wears hers around the house, and frankly, it’s unseemly.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children's Lives

In this book, renowned expert David L. Kirp clarifies the importance of investing wisely in children. He outlines a visionary "Kids First" policy agenda that's guided by a "golden rule" principle: Every child deserves what's good enough for a child you love. And he offers lively and inspiring, on-the-ground accounts of five big cradle-to-college initiatives that can change the arc of all children's lives: strong support for parents; high-quality early education; linking schools and communities to improve what both offer children; giving all youngsters access to a caring and stable adult mentor; and providing kids a nest egg to help pay for college or kick-start a career

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Assorted on Sex Education

Adolescent Health | Sex and Teenage Pregnancy

How Graphic Should Sex Education Get? 

Does sex education merit a full semester (or two) of a student’s time? If it does, what kind of sex education are we talking about? Full-on, Al Vernacchio-style frankness with all that implies, “disaster prevention” education (the “if you must have sex, protect yourself” approach), abstinence (which I include in my list of options only reluctantly) or something in between?

Reading Club | Sex Ed

Teaching Good Sex

Sex, etc

Teen Sexual Health

Fried Chicken Curse in the Carribbean

However, the good news of a life expectancy exceeding 70 years presents a unique dichotomy:  people enjoy longevity but the quality of life is rapidly decreasing.

New World Bank research warns that Jamaica and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are facing a health crisis with rising rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which disproportionately affect poor families, with possible side effects of disability and premature death, and worsening poverty as people pay for medical treatment out of their own pockets. In the OECS, the report estimates that the annual cost for treating a diabetic ranges from US$322 to US$769.

The St. Lucia data show that NCD patients spend 36 percent of their total household expenditure annually for care. Poorer households spend 48 percent of their per capita expenditure on healthcare while better-off households spend less than 20 percent.
 Here are the recommendations from the World Bank;

  • Prevention as an integral part of any initiative to address the NCD epidemic, such as policies that encourage physical activity, promote a healthy diet and reduce the harmful use of alcohol and tobacco.

  • Engaging actors outside the public realm such as non-health ministries, NGOs and the private sector in NCD prevention and control. Actions can include encouraging the food industry to manufacture, distribute, and market healthier products.

  • Boost surveillance, monitoring and data collection for NCDs so policymakers can more accurately target high risk groups.

  • Introduce legislation of tobacco, alcohol, food and essential medicines to better coordinate pricing and taxation initiatives, establish smoke-free work and public environments, and restrict the sale of alcohol to appropriate age groups.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Books on US Health Care Reform

Gruber does a pretty fantastic job translating complex policies into comic-book form. A two-headed alligator represents the twin health menaces of “rising costs” and “the number of uninsured.” Health reform’s high-risk pools become swimming pools; the superhero version of Jonathan spends a decent amount of time warding off rumors of death panels and government health-care takeovers, in the form of zombies and vampires. The Congressional Budget Office makes multiple appearances. The graphic novel feels like John McDonough’s inside-the-room account of the Affordable Care Act, “Inside National Health Reform,” put to pictures.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Great Biscuit Lobby of India

The “midday meal” programme, which provides hot cooked meals prepared by local women to some 120 million children, with a substantial impact on both nutrition and school attendance, had been eyed for many years by food manufacturers, especially the biscuits industry.

A few years ago, a “Biscuit Manufacturers’ Association” (BMA) launched a massive campaign for the replacement of cooked school meals with branded biscuit packets. The BMA wrote to all members of Parliament, asking them to plead the case for biscuits with the minister concerned and assisting them in this task with a neat pseudo-scientific precis of the wonders of manufactured biscuits. Dozens of MPs, across most of the political parties, promptly obliged by writing to the minister and rehashing the BMA’s bogus claims. According to one senior official, the ministry was “flooded” with such letters, 29 of which were obtained later under the Right to Information Act. Fortunately, the proposal was firmly shot down by the ministry after being referred to state governments and nutrition experts, and public vigilance exposed what was going on. The minister, in fact, wrote to a chief minister who sympathised with the biscuit lobby: “We are, indeed, dismayed at the growing requests for introduction of pre-cooked foods, emanating largely from suppliers/marketers of packaged foods, and aimed essentially at penetrating and deepening the market for such foods”

The bigger battle is still on. The BMA itself did not give up after being rebuked by the Union minister for human resource development. It proceeded to write to the Union minister for women and child development, with a similar proposal for supplying biscuits to children below the age of six years under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). Other food manufacturers are also on the job, and despite much vigilance and resistance from activist quarters (and the Supreme Court), they seem to have made significant inroads into child feeding programmes in several states.

Reducing Infant Mortaility, One Baby at a time

Ms. Ralph can use her phone to track her baby's development.
Lets us hear about more programs like the following; Health Start Inc;
Given the chronic nature of infant mortality in specific areas of the country, the Healthy Start mission was to reduce infant mortality and low birth weight babies through the creation and implementation of truly innovative programs.
Free Home visiting that includes:
Case management services by nurses and outreach workers
Help in identifying and connecting families with other health and social services
Help families with children stay up-to-date on shots, well baby visits and other medical services Postpartum depression screening and referral General health and prevention education on: Prenatal/Postpartum Care Childbirth Education Diet Excercise & Nutrition HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) Smoking Cessation Substance Abuse
Spouse/significant other support
Breastfeeding support