Summer Fellows' Projects

Like Mathematica's studies, our summer fellows' projects have bridged the human life span, from infancy to aging. Fellows conduct their studies in a supportive environment, with full access to our staff of experts and rich array of resources. Many fellows are drawn to the program by former participants' recommendations. Some of their research topics are described below.

Maternal and Child Health

Enhancing the health of mothers and their children has been the focus of several fellowships. One project studied African American households to identify risks of childhood malnutrition. Another project examined why a mother's age is associated with higher risk of low infant birthweight for African Americans than for whites. A recent study assessed how having a chronically ill child affected job responsibilities in low-income families.


Many fellows have focused on ways to improve school outcomes and strengthen transitions between high school and postsecondary education or work. Several projects have analyzed the effectiveness of secondary school programs for African American males and females, focusing on educational attainment and job market success. Another study looked at factors that influence African Americans to enter baccalaureate programs in nursing. One fellow surveyed minority students at highly selective universities to illuminate their experiences in this environment. To examine teacher recruitment and retention, another fellow interviewed educators in areas with large minority populations. Fellows have also studied educational models that aim to improve learning and reduce racial isolation, programs that focus on using information technology to improve educational outcomes, and the impact of school choice.


Mathematica's summer fellows have explored a range of interesting health topics. As states attempt to expand their CHIP programs, one fellow studied why eligible people do not apply; another quantified the cost of drug abuse by minority adolescents. Other studies have looked at how Medicaid Section 1115 waivers affect minority populations' health and how policy is affected by portrayals of people with AIDS in the mainstream and African American media. Another AIDS-related study looked at African American women in the rural south, their risk of contracting the disease, and the care they receive. Because minority women have higher breast cancer mortality rates than their white counterparts, one fellow examined minority women's access to the use of mammograms, and another studied the relationship between access to health care and minority health status.


To determine how food prices affect consumers in poor urban areas, one fellow compared prices in these areas with prices in more affluent locations. The study focused on whether poor people spend more of their income on food and how higher prices affect their welfare. It also looked at their food consumption and shopping habits.


Several fellows have studied Hispanics' labor market experiences in the United States, using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. One study that focused on the assimilation of young Hispanic male immigrants looked at factors such as how fluent they were in English and how much education and experience they acquired abroad versus domestically. Another study of Mexican immigrant youth examined issues related to work and well-being. A recent study assessed the impact of high school mathematics courses on minority students' earnings in the labor market.


The effectiveness of welfare programs and policies has been central to several fellowships. One fellow conducted focus groups with welfare recipients to find out their perceptions of the benefits and costs of a job training program. Another used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine the relationship between welfare recipients' life experiences and their perceptions of workfare. Other studies have traced welfare reform's impact on migrant and refugee populations, tracked the mobility of public housing residents, looked at the relationship between job quality and welfare exits, and examined welfare reform's impact on organizational change in state welfare offices. How the services provided in a homeless shelter affected the length of a family's stay in the shelter was the focus of another study.


A variety of policy issues intersect in studies of aging. One fellow looked at how retirement and racial differences affect individuals' ability to adapt to declining health status. This study involved calculating the prevalence of physical and psychological impairments nationally, by labor status, occupation, race, and sex.

Survey Issues

The politically charged issue of adding multiracial categories to the 2000 census was the focus of one summer fellowship. This study focused on how these categories would affect traditionally classified minority groups. Another fellow worked with our Surveys and Information Services Division to conduct focus groups with children whose parents were incarcerated, studying their interactions with law enforcement, court, and criminal justice systems. To study affirmative action, one fellow developed a survey that gauged attitudes and perceived stigma. Another surveyed African immigrants to assess the relationship between acculturation and depression.