Work – The Public Good Index

Number of U.S. states that mandate paid maternity leave: 4.

Number of countries that do: 185.

Maximum number of weeks of paid maternity leave in U.S. states: 16.

Number of countries that provide more than 16 weeks of paid maternity leave: 105.… Read More

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Education – The Public Good Index

Pell grants, awarded solely on need, are the largest single source of non-loan assistance to postsecondary education. Two thirds of Pell recipients enroll in public colleges and universities.

Fraction of tuition, fee, room and board expenses in public four-year colleges covered by Pell Grants in 1975: 79 percent.

In 2017: 29 percent.… Read More

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Why Male-Heavy Cities Spend More on Women

Do men spend more money in communities with fewer women? A new study suggests they do.

recently asked 147 men and women to read a fake article about their
campus. One suggested the sex ratio was skewed toward women. The other
suggested there were far more men. The participants reported how much
they would spend on three romantic gestures: a Valentine’s Day
gift, a dinner, and an engagement ring. The results from the graph above
are explained here:

When test
participants believed men outnumbered women in the population, they
expected men to spend more money on the items.
This was true of both
male and female participants — suggesting that when men have more
competition for mates, women become choosier and men attempt to
out-spend any rivals.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

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Did Parking Meters Just Get Too Smart?

This week, the on-street parking meters in Santa Monica, California, have evolved to the next state of sentient existence. Now, whenever a car leaves a spot, the meter will reset itself, even if there’s still time left on the meter. The tiny, measured-in-minutes lottery prize of the urban driver is no more.

Through the use of parking space sensors (which we’ve written about before), Santa Monica’s meters now know when a car leaves a spot and can automatically reset itself to require whoever parks there next to pay the full price of parking. It’s part of the intelligent parking system that the city has been rolling out, which includes the ability to accept coins and credit cards, send text messages when metered time is running out, and compile information to help the city better price its parking to correspond with demand.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

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Designing a City for the Deaf

Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the leading institution for the deaf in the U.S., has released a set of DeafSpace Guidelines that could have an impact on urban development.

The completed Sorenson Language and Communication Center features long, open sight lines, visibility between floors, gently curving corners, and ample windows. Gallaudet University

Most cities aren’t designed for deaf people. Sidewalks are frequently
too narrow or too crowded for deaf persons engaged in a conversation
that requires so-called “signing space.” Public benches are often set in
rows or squares, limiting the ability of the deaf to create the
“conversation circles” and open sight lines that they require. Urban
landscapes are so visually stimulating that they hinder communication
among people who rely on visual cues. And light fixtures may be too dim
or shine directly into signers’ eyes.

These things don’t just make a deaf person’s life more challenging;
they can make it dangerous. In January, three deaf people were struck by
a vehicle and seriously injured in Olanthe, Kansas, as they left a deaf
cultural event. The same thing happened to a deaf man last year in

In 2009, Deaf411, a public relations firm serving the deaf community, released a report on Deaf-Friendly Cities in the U.S.,
saluting places like Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Raleigh, and
Denver for their efforts to accommodate the hearing impaired. But for
every city on the list, countless others — including San Francisco, St.
Louis, Atlanta, and Philadelphia — did not make the cut.

Now Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the nation’s leading
institution for the deaf and hard of hearing, has produced a set of
so-called DeafSpace Guidelines that address those aspects of the urban
environment that inhibit communication and mobility among the
hearing-impaired. In doing so, architects and design researchers have
used technology to gather information on how deaf people use public
spaces and modify them to meet their needs. Campus officials say that
the guidelines have already begun a dialogue that they hope will have an
impact on urban development nationwide.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

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Chicago’s Overshadowed Chef Finally Gets His 15 Minutes

A big mover behind the development of the city’s meat packing district, Paul Kahan is in charge of a growing collection of restaurants.

Micheline Maynard

When asked to name the top chefs in Chicago, avid foodies across the country can easily rattle off a list of names.

There’s Rick Bayless, the master of Mexican cooking; Grant Achatz, whose restaurant, Alinea, is considered by some to be America’s best; and Stephanie Izard, owner of Girl and the Goat, and the only female winner of Top Chef.

But to a Chicagoan, any such list has to include another name: Paul
Kahan, who oversees a collection of restaurants, ranging from The Publican to Blackbird to Big Star, that are packed every night with locals and tourists.

2012 is clearly Kahan’s moment. Last month, Chicago magazine named him one of the 100 most powerful people in the city,
a group headed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. This week, Kahan received his
third nomination as the country’s Chef of the Year by the James Beard
Award Foundation, while his upscale cocktail bar, The Violet Hour, was nominated for best bar program.

The recognition comes just as Kahan and his partners in One Off Hospitality have opened their newest venture, Publican Quality Meats, a butcher/bakery/café, that may be the dearest to his heart.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

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The Odd Link Between Commute Direction and Marital Satisfaction

New research shows that couples who travel to work in the same direction, even if not at the same time, are happier than those who don’t.


Public transportation won’t soon put out of business, but it
has a decent track record, so to speak, when it comes to bringing
couples together. Enough couples meet on Philadelphia’s transit system
for the city’s authority to hold an annual contest to determine which one has the cutest story.

In these cases the train or bus simply acts as the venue where the
match is made. But if a new psychological study holds true, merely going
the same way as another person might be the source of the attraction.
(Lenny Kravitz is all like, I could have told you that.)

A group of Chinese researchers propose what they call the “shared-direction effect” in an upcoming paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Couples who commute in the same direction, even if they don’t travel on
the same train or even leave at the same time, seem to be happier
together than those who don’t, all other things considered. “That is,
mere similarity in the direction of commuting to work increases marital
satisfaction,” the authors report.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

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The Bitter, Angry Divide Over Children’s Playgrounds: A History

On one side of the fence are mothers who want softer padding and lower structures. On the other, those who argue safe play is boring play.


Unless you’re a frequent reader of parenting blogs, you might not know there’s a major divide in the world of children’s playgrounds.

On the one side, you have the safety advocates who want lower
structures, softer ground, and less opportunities for falling off or
over, well, anything. On the other, those who worry that a safe
playground is a boring playground that will do little to stimulate a
child’s imagination.

The debate can seem quite technical — should playgrounds have foam
floors, or wood chips? What would be better for the 5-year-olds who
tumble off the monkey bars? Should there even be monkey bars, or is that
just asking for trouble? One mom was even banned from McDonald’s after she was caught swabbing their play places in search of bacteria.

The debate has a very 21st century feel to it but it’s actually nothing
new — these types of questions have been asked for at least a century.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

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What Makes People in One City Fatter Than Those in Another?

Obesity rates vary considerably across cities and metro areas because it’s strongly linked to economic development and other factors.

Image: Shutterstock

Charlotta Mellander and I examined the obesity of cities in a 2011 study in which we also looked at smoking across metros. Our research employed both correlation and multivariate analysis to shed light on the factors associated with obesity across metros. As usual I remind readers that correlation does not imply causation, though our multivariate analysis controls for a wide range of factors.

Basically, we found that obesity is not just a health problem, but strongly linked to the economic development and human capital structures of cities and regions.

Education levels also play a role. Obesity is negatively associated with the share of adults that are college graduates (-.47).

The kind of work we do factors into the picture as well. Obesity is negatively associated with the share of workers doing knowledge, professional, and technical work and positively associated with the share of workers employed in blue-collar working-class jobs.

Larger metros have lower levels of obesity as well (the two are modestly correlated). This may be a function of less driving and greater walking and biking to get around. In fact, obesity is closely related to the way we commute. It is strongly positively associated with metros where more people drive to work alone (.52) and negatively associated with the share of people who bike or walk to work (-.41).

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

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