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Public Affairs Update

  • Professors’ salaries still not up to inflation level . . . . For the second consecutive year, the increase in overall average salaries for college and university professors failed to keep up with the rate of inflation, according to the latest report, The Devaluing of Higher Education: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2005–06, from the American Association of University Professors. Overall average salaries for all ranks of full-time faculty across all types of institutions rose 3.1 percent between 2004–05 and 2005–06, according to the report. When adjusted for inflation, however, average salaries declined by 0.3 percent, following a 0.5 percent decrease in 2004–05, a rate of decline not seen since 1978–79 to 1980–81. The salary gap between full-time faculty at public colleges and universities and their counterparts at private institutions continued to widen in 2005–06. This disparity seriously disadvantages public institutions trying to attract and retain the most qualified faculty. The report also finds that the increasing costs of benefits, especially health insurance, represent a continuing strain on college and university budgets. This year’s report gives an indication of how low the pay for part-time faculty is. The report can be accessed at www.aaup.org/newsroom/press/2006/06z/zrep.htm.

  • Economic gap between foreign-born and U.S.-born workers has substantially increased . . . . According to a report by two economists, the earnings gap between immigrant and U.S.-born workers increased substantially between 1980 and 2000. The report, Changing Patterns in the Relative Economic Performance of Immigrants to Great Britain and the United States, 1980–2000, was written by John Schmitt, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Jonathan Wadsworth, Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. They analyzed data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 censuses to assess changes in the pace of the economic assimilation of immigrants. Overall, they found that immigrant workers in the United States lagged farther behind U.S.-born workers in 2000 than they had in the previous two decades. Even after controlling for age and education, the immigrant-earnings gap for men and women increased between 1980 and 2000. Part of the deterioration in the economic situation of immigrants stems from the decline in the educational attainment of immigrants relative to U.S.-born workers. The report is at www.cepr.net/publications/immigration_2006_04.htm.

  • For the latest on health and aging . . . . See the National Center for Health Statistics’ website for new tables on trends in cholesterol level, hypertension, and diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes. These tables from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey have been added to the Trends in Health and Aging website www.cdc.gov/nchs/agingact.htm. Find customizable tables there on trends in the health of older Americans, with data by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin.

  • A European Commission to develop a roadmap on gender equality . . . . The European Commission recently issued its roadmap for equality between men and women, describing planned Commission activities in this field for 2006–10. Gender inequality in the European Union will be tackled by 21 specific activities over the next five years, outlined in the roadmap. Proposed Commission activities include helping set up a new 50-million European institute for gender equality, reviewing all existing EU gender equality laws, increasing awareness of gender inequality, ensuring gender equality is considered in all policies, and pressing for better statistics. This roadmap describes six fields of priority action for the EU in terms of gender equality: equal economic independence for men and women; reconciliation between professional life and private life; equal representation in decisionmaking; a complete stop to all forms of violence and trafficking in human beings based on gender; removal of gender stereotypes within society; the promotion of equality between the sexes outside the European Union. For the PDF version of the roadmap, visit europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/emplweb/news/news_en.cfm?id=136.

  • Minority college students’ initial interest in STEM fields doesn’t match their degree completion rate . . . . African American and Hispanic students begin college interested in majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields at rates similar to those of white and Asian-American students, according to a new analysis conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE). They persist in STEM through their third year of study but do not earn BAs at the same rate as peers. Further, the majority of the minority students majoring in STEM fields who persist beyond the third year do not drop out but are still enrolled and working toward a degree after six years. The ACE report, Increasing the Success of Minority Students in Science and Technology, uses data from a longitudinal study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, which tracked 12,000 undergraduates who entered college in fall 1995. A number of key differences between students who earned a BA by spring 2001 in a STEM field include: Students were better prepared for postsecondary education because a larger percentage took a rigorous high school curriculum; nearly all were younger than 19 when they entered college compared with 83.9 percent of non-completers; and they were more likely to have at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree or beyond and came from families with higher incomes. The report (Item #310736) can be ordered for $22 at www.acenet.edu/bookstore/pubInfo.cfm?pubID=369.