Volume 7

Spring 2009 Edition


Child Welfare Administration and Its Influences on Child Outcomes

Katie Mason

This research study analyzes child welfare administrations’ influence on the amount of time a child spends as “legally free” for adoption. Data used for this study are from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). The sample of 1,604 youth came from the 2005 adoption data. The study finds that youth in state-administered child welfare systems spend less time as “legally free” for adoption. When controlling for state fixed effects, youth in both state-administered and mixed-administration child welfare systems spend less time as “legally free” for adoption. Future research should focus on additional policy variables in order to explore further decentralized systems.

Food and Agriculture on the Sidelines: A Theoretical Analysis of the Forgotten Element in the U.S. Climate Change Policy

Cameron Smith & Alison Williams

In the United States, climate change policy remains at the stage of discussion and debate with policymakers focusing overwhelmingly on carbon dioxide emissions from energy production and consumption. All but ignored is another important sector: agriculture. In total, America’s food and farm system contributes one-third of the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Given this fact, this paper uses John Kingdon’s multiple streams framework to explain the omission of agriculture from the climate change debate.

Analyzing Legislative Abolition of the Death Penalty: A Preliminary Case Study of New Jersey

Kevin H. Wozniak

Though several state legislatures have considered bills to eliminate the death penalty in the past decade, New Jersey stands alone as the first state to legislatively abolish the death penalty in over thirty years. What factors enabled the New Jersey legislature to successfully pass legislation that abolished the death penalty? To answer this question, I conduct a qualitative case study of the state using archival research and an interview with a pro-abolition lobbyist. I conclude that the primary factors that paved the way for abolition were dedicated supporters of the legislation, unified government, amenable public opinion, and issue frames emphasizing the risk of executing an innocent person and the emotional impact of the death penalty process on victims’ families. Finally, I discuss the limitations of the present study and suggest hypotheses for further research.

Increasing Access to Education in Africa: The Impact of the Removal of School Fees on Primary School Enrollment

Jennelle Root

In the late 20th century, the development of highly impoverished countries around the world became a key focus for international financial institutions such as the World Bank. Following the theory of neoliberalism and open markets, structural adjustment programs (SAPs) were implemented in developing countries in Africa, attached to aid loans that they received from the World Bank. To increase the revenue for developing governments, the SAPs focused on income-generating programs. One of these programs was the institution of school fees for primary and middle school students in public schools. With the implementation of such fees on education, parents were prevented from sending their children to school because they could no longer afford it. This paper examines the impact of the policy to abolish these school fees in the three countries of Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda in East Africa. The results from this study show that the abolishment of these fees had significant effects on the number of students enrolled in primary school in these countries. Most notably, waiving school fees for girls greatly increased their access to primary education, removing one of the many obstacles that they faced in order to attend school. This study supports the belief that the policy to abolish school fees is an effective way for developing countries to increase access to education for the youngest generation.

Testing Social Disorganization Theory on Alcohol Consumption and Homicide Rates in Former Soviet Bloc Countries

Rebecca Welch

This paper examined a modification of social disorganization theory to examine how political disorganization relates to alcohol consumption and homicide rates in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland around the time of the collapse of communism. It is generally accepted that alcohol, crime, and social disorganization are all related, which is the causal mechanism? Does increased social disorganization lead to increased drinking and therefore increased crime, or does social disorganization impact crime rates and alcohol consumption rates independently? Does political disorganization lead to social disorganization? This paper examines homicide and alcohol consumption rates in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland from 1980–2005 in order to examine whether the collapse of the central governments led people to consume more alcohol, thereby altering the homicide rates in those countries or whether homicide and alcohol consumption rates were unrelated. After regressing homicide and alcohol consumption rates while controlling for a number of salient variables it appears that political disorganization did not drive their citizens to drink although it did apparently cause people to commit more homicides. So, although higher drinking rates are associated with higher homicide rates, government disorganization was not the cause of higher drinking rates.

The Role of the Solicitor General in Church-State Cases Within the Clinton and Bush Administrations: A Study Supporting the Politicization of the Solicitor General

Andrew R. Lewis

As a case study of church-state cases before the Supreme Court during the William J. Clinton and George W. Bush presidential administrations, this paper shows that the solicitor general is a politicized position and uses evidence to describe several ways that politicization occurred during these two administrations. In recent decades, many scholars have argued that the executive branch has become politicized through presidential appointments and the centralization of executive offices under the direct control of the president. However, since Reagan, there have been very few studies describing the politicization of the solicitor general. This study fills that gap and provides insightful information about the politicization of the solicitor general. The conclusions of this case study are that the solicitors general under both President Clinton and President Bush were politicized, following the presidential agenda of each administration on church-state issues. This politicization resulted in Bush’s solicitors general being more active in church-state cases, making arguments and filing briefs in controversial cases such as public displays of the Ten Commandments, public funding for religious education, and public funding of religious community initiatives. The politicization of the solicitor general also resulted in Clinton’s solicitors general taking more moderate and “safe” positions on church-state cases.