FOOTNOTES
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Public Affairs Update

  • President’s science advisor urges social science’s help to interpret funding trends . . . The U.S. presidential science advisor, John Marburger, challenged the science community to help him answer the big questions regarding science and technology statistics. Speaking at the Science and Technology (S&T) Forum of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on April 21, Marburger said, “I am suggesting that the nascent field of the social science of science policy needs to grow up, and quickly.” He called for a re-evaluation of the framework used to evaluate S&T policies and assess their strength, referring to the current process as “primitive.” Marburger made the comments during a briefing to an audience of some 300 scientists and science policymakers, stating that he believes that a new effort can be organized with minimal federal funding. At the AAAS, he declined taking a position on “whether [science and technology trends] are good or bad based on the data … because we don’t have adequate models.” He encouraged scientists to use the methods and literature of the social science disciplines to explore S&T trends and research and development (R&D) measurement. To scientists’ consternation, Marburger’s opinion of science policy “is that it is to a great extent a branch of economics.” At the AAAS, Marburger also defended the president’s federal S&T budget proposals for fiscal year 2006 and touted the president’s R&D spending over the past five years, most of which went to doubling the National Institutes of Health’s budget.

  • Census report on people of Arab ancestry living in the United
    States . . . .
    The Census Bureau recently released the characteristics report on the U.S. Arab population from Census 2000 data. The report, We the People of Arab Ancestry in the United States, includes figures and bulleted descriptions on factors such as age, sex, marital status, household type, nativity, citizenship status, English-speaking ability, educational attainment, occupation, earnings, and median income. It also includes the Arab population (those who reported only Arab groups), and the Arab population broken down in detail for Lebanese, Egyptian, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Moroccan, Iraqi, “Arab” or “Arabic,” and a catch-all “Other Arab” group. In addition, there are two tables, one showing the number who reported these detailed groups alone and those reporting alone or in combination with another ancestry, and another showing the characteristics for both the alone and alone or in combination groups. The report is part of a series of Census 2000 special reports, presenting data on demographic, social, and economic characteristics of this population as a whole, as well as of the largest groups within this population at the national level. See the report at www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/censr-21.pdf.

  • The health and well-being of young children of immigrants . . . Children younger than six years with at least one immigrant parent are the fastest growing sector of America’s child population. The Urban Institute report, The Health and Well-being of Young Children of Immigrants, helps early educators understand how to meet the needs of this diverse group of children. This report examines the demographics, family structure, poverty, hardship, health care, and child care arrangements of young children of immigrants. It offers several conclusions but also raises issues for further research. While immigrants are 11 percent of the total U.S. population, children of immigrants make up 22 percent of children under six in the United States. Key themes of the report include: Many young children of immigrants live in families with low incomes, have parents with low education levels and limited English proficiency, and interact less often with their parents; young children of immigrants have higher levels of economic hardship but lower use of public benefits than children of non-immigrants; children of immigrants are more likely to have fair or poor health and to lack health insurance or a usual source of health care; and children of immigrants are more often in parental care and less often in center-based child care. A copy of the report is at www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/311139_ChildrenImmigrants.pdf.

  • College alcohol problems may be larger than previously estimated . . Researchers report that unintentional fatal injuries related to alcohol among U.S. college students aged 18-24 increased from about 1,500 in 1998 to more than 1,700 in 2001. During that time, national surveys indicate the number of students who drove under the influence of alcohol increased by 500,000, from 2.3 million to 2.8 million. These findings appear in the 2005 issue of the Annual Review of Public Health (arjournals.annualreviews.org
    /loi/publhealth
    ). “In both 1998 and 2001, more than 500,000 students were unintentionally injured because of drinking and more than 600,000 were assaulted by another student who had been drinking,” said the report’s lead author Ralph W. Hingson, Boston University School of Public Health and Center to Prevent Alcohol Problems Among Young People. “We must remember, however, that since the 18-24 year old non-college population vastly outnumbers the college population, they actually account for more alcohol-related problems than do college students,” explained Hingson. The researchers propose data collection practices to improve future analyses of the consequences of college drinking (i.e., alcohol testing in every injury death in the United States). They conclude that greater enforcement of the legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws, increases in alcohol taxes, wider implementation of screening and counseling programs, and community interventions might reduce college drinking and associated harm.