Current Community Wellbeing Research Cluster Projects
Household Stress in the Chicago Region: A multiple indicator study
Census data can be utilized to create an index of potential household stressors comprised of 10 indicators based on 27 different items. The index was created through face validity based on available census data, with indicator constructs validated with factor analysis.
Explaining school closures in Chicago, 2000-2013
A study, released in Fall 2016, sheds light on the multiple, conflicting interests that school districts must balance to plan for the capital needs of school-age populations. The researchers, Rachel Weber, Stephanie Farmer and Mary Donaghue, investigate the fact factors that led to the closure of public schools between 2000 and 2013 in Chicago. They reverse engineer the school closure decisions under two mayoral administrations by constructing a logit model that estimates the decision to close schools that were open as of 2000 as a function of physical, student, geographic, political, and neighborhood demographic factors. The findings reveal some distance between the official rationale for closures and the realities of capital budgeting under austerity: building utilization and student performance were predictors of these closures, but so was the race of students in each school. Specifically schools with larger shares of African American students had a higher probability of closure than schools with comparable test scores, locations, and utilization rates. Whether administrators explicitly considered the race of a school’s students in planning decisions or whether race in the model was a proxy for other unmeasured characteristics, the cumulative effect of technical decisions interacting with a racially differentiated education environment forced African American students and their families to bear the burden of these administrative disruptions.