IBS Newsletter

June 1998

Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado


Sylvia C. Dane was asked by National Geographic to write an essay for their World Wide Web based Forum Chat Room to accompany the July issue of the magazine, which will feature the story on North American hazards and the North American Hazards Map that Mary Fran Myers has been working on for the past few years. This Web forum generally features an essay by a well-known expert on a specific topic, which is then commented on by people visiting this particular chat room. Included along with this essay is the author's biography and photograph. The Web address is: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/community/forums.html. Sylvia Dane's essay will be posted around the first of July.

Program Activities

Environment and Behavior Program

James R. McGoodwin presented a paper entitled "Prospects and Problems Entailed in Integrating Fishers' Ecological Knowledge into Contemporary Fisheries Science and Management," at a workshop being held May 29-31 at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Funding for the workshop and for McGoodwin's participation is being provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This is a continuation of research McGoodwin began in Newfoundland in 1996, as well as a continuation of his participation in the "Traditional Ecological Knowledge Project" at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Anthony J. Bebbington went to the Meeting of the Social Capital Initiative of the World Bank on May 4-5 in Washington, DC. The meeting was hosted by the Social Development Department of the World Bank. He gave an invited presentation entitled "Social Capital Formation in the Andes." The paper discusses the early stages of his World Bank funded research program on social capital formation in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Robert K. Davis was in Gaberone, Botswana, May 24-30 interviewing government and non-government officials about Botswana's national plans for water resource development and conservation.

Gilbert F. White took part in a meeting in Washington on May 12 of the Steering Committee for the Heinz Center study of Coastal Erosion Hazards. This study will investigate in at least 27 sample counties along the United States ocean and Great Lakes coastlines the problems of land use and damage insurance raised by erosion.

On May 19-21 Gilbert White attended the meeting of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers Foundation in Milwaukee where a new national fund-raising campaign was launched to support new research and training on floodplain management, including the certification of state and local environmental and land-use officials.

Natural Hazards Center

On May 1, Mary Fran Myers was an invited plenary speaker at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Reinsurance Association of America where she presented her paper "The Human Dimensions of Natural Hazards." The meeting was held at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute in Hamilton, Bermuda.

On May 14 and 15, Mary Fran Myers participated in an invitational workshop sponsored by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center in Berkeley, California. The PEER Center is one of three new National Science Foundation funded centers designed to promote earthquake mitigation. This workshop focused on defining the links between planning, policy analysis, economics, and earthquake engineering.

Political and Economic Change Program

On May 20, Edward S. Greenberg delivered a lecture on how economic, social, and political trends in the United States are affecting Mexico at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City.

Population Processes Program In Print

Rogers, Andrei and Stuart Sweeney. May 1998. "Measuring the Spatial Focus of Migration Patterns," Professional Geographer, 50(2), pp. 232-242. The changing territorial concentration of migration flows is of interest to many geographers, yet we still do not have a widely accepted index of spatial focus. The much used index of migration efficiency has been shown to be an inadequate index of such spatial concentration, and two candidates have been suggested to replace it: the Gini index and the coefficient of variation. Both are examined in this paper, and a comparative assessment is offered. Data from the 1970, 1980, and 1990 censuses are used to illustrate the two measures. An examination of the findings reveals that the coefficient of variation measure indicates higher levels of spatial focus than does the Gini index for states with highly concentrated flows.

Rogers, Andrei and James Raymer. 1998. "The Spatial Focus of US Interstate Migration Flows," International Journal of Population Geography, 4, pp. 63-80. The authors examine four of the most popular indices of inequality and contrast their performance as measures of spatial focus. Adopting the coefficient of variation as their preferred alternative, the paper goes on to examine the spatial focus of aggregate interstate migration streams in the US over time. Then they consider disaggregations of the migration streams by age, race and nativity, and examine the role of states as national redistributors of these same subpopulations. They find the migration patterns of the elderly, blacks, and the foreign-borns in general have exhibited levels of spatial focus that exceed those of their young adult, white, and native-born counterparts. With respect to the principal redistributor states, their findings for all subpopulations point to a very few states that persistently reappear in the group-specific classifications.

Bits and Bytes from SSDAC

Jani S. Little presented the paper "Sources of Growth: How Have Demographic Forces Shaped the Regional Geographies of the U.S. Population Since 1950?" at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in Chicago on April 2-4. Co-authors are Andrei Rogers and James Raymer.

The SSDAC computing lab has been upgraded and now has two PCs in the user area including a Pentium 200 with statistical software including SAS, SPSS, and STATA as well as Netscape and other network applications. There are also three UNIX workstations and X Window terminals for access to other networked computing facilities.

See http://www.colorado.edu/IBS/DAC/news.html for computing and networking news and notes that should be of interest to IBS users. Selected items appear in the printed IBS Newsletter. If you have computing problems, questions, or comments send e-mail to SSDAC@Colorado.EDU.

Profile: Fred Pampel

How Has Gender Equality Affected Sex Differences in Suicide Mortality?

Fred C. Pampel specializes in research on population, aging, and stratification, with particular focus on comparative studies of European and North American nations. He has published on topics such as the relationships between age structure and welfare spending, cohort size and fertility rates, and political institutions and homicide rates. His most recent research examines suicide mortality across nations over the last several decades.

Compared to men, females have enjoyed a long-standing advantage in suicide rates (and in mortality rates more generally). The source of this advantage, however, has generated much debate. On one hand, low female suicide rates have co-existed with low female social and economic status. Some have concluded that low suicide rates among females result precisely from their social and economic disadvantages­low involvement in the labor force, unequal power in the family, and isolation from politics have, in the past, limited the pressure and competition women face and protected them from suicide. According to this argument, movement toward gender equality in recent decades has reduced women's protection and increased the suicide of women relative to men.

On the other hand, some claim that forces other than status differences produce sex differences in suicide. If, for example, low female suicide rates come from stronger social supports and greater social integration rather than from lower status, inequality may moderate a potentially even larger female advantage. In the past, the limited roles reserved for women and the unequal power in social relationships have exposed women to increased risks of suicide relative to men rather than protected them from those risks. According to this argument, then, movement toward gender equality in recent decades has increased rather than equalized the gap between female and male suicide rates.

In a study to be published in the American Sociological Review, I combine arguments of both "reduction in protection" and "reduction in inequality" to the sex differential in suicide. I suggest that gender change initially disrupts traditional values, creates normative uncertainty, and increases role ambiguity among women. The end result is to raise their suicide rates relative to men. However, institutions soon adapt to pressures for change, new norms gain wide acceptance, and support for women's new roles increases. The female suicide advantage begins to widen after a period of decline, and eventually returns to or even exceeds previous levels.

To test the argument, the study gathers and analyzes suicide rates for 18 high income nations (including the United States, Canada, and Western European democracies) from 1953 to 1992. The results reveal the predicted curvilinear relationships between sex differences in suicide and measures of time, female labor force participation, and divorce. Initial changes toward gender equality lower the female advantage, but subsequent changes increase the female advantage. Further, the adjustment to changes in gender equality occurs more quickly in collectivist nations such as Sweden than in individualist nations such as the United States.

Theoretically, the results reject simple claims that gender equality will either equalize or expand differences in suicide rates (or mortality rates more generally) between men and women. Rather, the non-linear determinants of the sex differential indicate that both processes occur in sequence and provide evidence for an institutional adjustment interpretation of changes in gender roles. The results further suggest that studies should attend to how the context of changing roles of men and women shape the direction and strength of the equality-suicide relationship.

Research Proposals Funded

Problem Behavior Program

D.S. Elliott
Blueprints designed to assist in the implementation of violence prevention and reduction programs
State of Colorado, 07/01/97 - 06/30/98, new, $49,097

K.R. Williams
Lethal and non-lethal adolescent violence
CDC, 09/01/97 - 08/31/98, supp, $23,797

Political and Economic Change Program

E.S. Greenberg
Alcohol consequences of corporate restructuring
NIAAA, 05/01/98 - 04/30/99, cont, $233,880

Research Proposals Submitted

Population Processes Program

J. Menken
Healthy aging in rural populations
Rand, 08/01/97 - 08/31/99, new, $129,512

Environment and Behavior Program

C.W. Howe and S.J. Smith
Integrated assessment of greenhouse gas trading: economic and climate consequences
DOE, 01/01/99 - 12/31/00, new, $183,820

The next issue of the IBS Newsletter will be July/August. Enjoy the summer!

Upcoming Colloquia

There is an online listing of upcoming and recent colloquia.

Institute of Behavioral Science

Richard Jessor, Institute Director

1998 IBS Newsletter

Sugandha Brooks and Christine Weeber, Newsletter Editors

Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0483

(303) 492-8147