How Your Numbers Affect Their Numbers: Demography and Congress Mary Jo Hoeksema, Director, Government and Public Affairs Population Association of America/Association of Population Centers Southern Demographic Association October 23, 2009
PAA Government and Public Affairs Mission • Articulate views of PAA/APC members on issues before the legislative and executive branches of government. • Educate federal policymakers about the importance of population research as it relates to current public policy issues and advocate for funding of the federal agencies that support it. • Inform board and members about status of public policy issues. • Advise board, presidents, and members on how PAA/APC may respond to actions taken by the legislative and executive branches of government.
PAA Office of Government and Public Affairs • Participate in interest group coalitions • Submit congressional testimony and bill report language • Organize issue briefings and meetings • Develop briefing materials and communications • Organize bi-weekly GPAC phone calls • Report to GPAC, PAA board and APC members • Prepare legislative updates and action alerts
Knowing Your Audience: Staff Demographics • General Legislative Assistant • Most frequently staffed DC-based position in U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives • Average LA Educational Attainment: • Senate—86.3% B.A.; 51% M.A. or ↑ • House of Representatives— 82.1% B.A. Sources: Congressional Management Foundation, 2001 Senate Staff Employment Study Congressional Management Foundation, 2004 House Staff Employment Study
Knowing Your Audience: Staff Demographics Average Age Sources: Congressional Management Foundation, 2001 Senate Staff Employment Study Congressional Management Foundation, 2004 House Staff Employment Study
Knowing Your Audience: Staff Demographics • Less Than One Year in Current Position: • U.S. Senate--46% • U.S. House of Representatives: 40.4% • Years in Congress: • U.S. Senate—44% two years or ↓ • U.S. House of Representatives—64% two years or ↓ • Issue Portfolios: • U.S. Senate—More “specialists” • U.S. House of Representatives—More “generalists”
House Legislative Assistant: Issue Portfolio • Labor • Health • Immigration • Education • Civil Rights • Disabilities • All related appropriations issues
Senate Committee Analyst: Issue Portfolio • Budget • Social Security • Unemployment • Committee vs. Personal Office • Committee staff cover fewer issues than staff in personal offices • Committee staff considered resident issue “experts.”
Knowing Your Audience: Staff Demographics • Young • Well-Educated • Turnover high, experience low • Issue portfolios very diverse • Few staff spread across many issues • 5.17 LAs Per Senate Office • 1.35 LAs Per House Office
External Pressures on Congressional Staff • Frequent Elections • Declining Number of Days in Session • Frequent Travel to and from State or District • Competing Interests of Members • Enhanced constituent communications
Examples of Staff Resources • Internet • Interest Groups • Media • Congressional Research Service • Government Accountability Office • Federal Agencies • Think Tanks • Constituents
Examples of Congressional Staff Inquiries • Why does NIH fund this research and not the CDC? • How much does the NIA Demography of Aging centers program cost per year? • What data do you have on obesity trends among adolescents from the last 20 years? • Does research demonstrate a relationship between abortion and an individual’s future fertility? • Please give some examples illustrating how your research on teenage dating behaviors and sexual activity is being translated and used in the field.
The Three Ts: Attracting and Retaining Interest • “To the Point” • Use short fact sheets, letters, issue briefs • No more than one 1-2 pages • Summarize concisely objective of research and key findings • Don’t discuss survey methodology, sample size, response rate, or statistical significance. • Discuss how research being “translated” • Emphasize how findings are being used (or could be used) to improve public health or understanding of socioeconomic conditions.
The Three Ts: Attracting and Retaining Interest Highlights NIH-Supported Population Research Advances March 2009 • When smokers kick the habit, odds are they are not alone in making the move. Instead, the decision to quit smoking often cascades through social networks, with entire clusters of spouses, friends, siblings and co-workers giving up the habit roughly in tandem. These findings could help shape clinical and public health interventions to reduce and prevent smoking. (May 2008, New England Journal of Medicine) • Obesity has been found to spread within social networks and, the closer the social connection--even if people live in different households many miles apart--the greater the influence on developing obesity. The study is the first to provide a detailed picture of the social networks involved in obesity and could prove useful in developing both clinical and public health interventions. (July 2007, The New England Journal of Medicine) • Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study, researchers found that intimate partner violence is associated with increased early childhood asthma risk. However, maternal ability to maintain positive caregiving processes in this context may buffer the effects of violence on child asthma risk. This study suggests that the best way to promote positive health in toddlers may be to help their mothers. (2009, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine)
The Three Ts: Attracting and Retaining Interest Targeted “Local is best,” former Congressman John Porter and Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, (R-IL). “All Politics is local,” former Speaker of the House, Congressman Tip O’Neil (D-MA).
The Three Ts: Attracting and Retaining Interest Population Research Center Mark D. Hayward, Director • Stephen J. Trejo, Associate Director • KEY AREAS OF RESEARCH • • Health disparities • • Education and the transition to adulthood • • Religion and demographic processes • • Latin American and border demography • • Children, youth, and families • RECENT REGIONAL RESEARCH PROJECTS WITH NATIONAL IMPLICATIONS • • Income and employment effects on children and families • • Longitudinal Study of Mexican American Health (H-EPESE) • • Oral contraceptive use along the U.S.-Mexico border • • Parental re-partnering after divorce • • Raising Texas: Texas Early Childhood Initiative • • The Intergenerational Transmission of Family Instability • • Teenagers, Families, and Well-Being • • A Comparative Study of School Readiness & Child Well Being • Interventions, Economic Security, and Child Development • • Hispanic Integration in the U.S. • • Intermarriage, Ethnic Identity, and the Generational • Progress of Mexican Americans The University of Texas at Austin 1 University Station G1800 1800 Main Building G1800 Austin, TX 78712 Web site: http://www.prc.utexas.edu E-mail: email@example.com Phone: 512.471.5514 Fax: 512.471.4886 Date established: 1960 MISSIONSTATEMENT
The Three Ts: Attracting and Retaining Interest Timely • Address Interests • Current legislative priorities • Committee assignments • Hot topics in the news • District interests or needs • Capitalize on location of research activity
Communication Challenges for Researchers • Lack of time to develop materials and relationships. • Lack of available staff to develop materials. • Frustration with recommended format. • How Congress values research outcomes at odds with values of research community.
Other Steps:Attracting and Retaining Interest • Establish relationship with DC and district/state staff. • Understand legislative priorities and interests. • Send regular updates on research activities/advances • Send press releases, grant announcements, and fact sheets to offices throughout the year—use the Internet!
Other Steps: Attracting and Retaining Interest • Invite representatives and staffs to meet in the district. • Become the expert they will consult. • Respond to “action alerts.” • Say Thank You and give credit.
Contact and Action Alert Information Mary Jo Hoeksema Director, Government and Public Affairs Population Association of America/ Association of Population Centers firstname.lastname@example.org 202-939-5456