Seed Grant Awards, 2012-2013

Congratulations to the 2012-2013 Seed Grant Award Recipients! Scroll down to see project abstracts.

Understanding Parental Incarceration Through Survey and Administrative Data

Amanda Geller (Sociomedical Sciences) 

As of 2010, more than 2 million American children had a parent incarcerated, motivating a far-reaching examination of parental incarceration and its consequences for child health and development. A growing literature documents physical and mental health challenges not only among incarcerated men, but also among their spouses, partners, and children. Less is known, however, about the causal nature of these relationships, due in part to the limitations in available data. The proposed research is a pilot project that stands to advance our understanding of parental incarceration and its effects by improving the quality of data available for analysis, supplementing a large, population-based longitudinal survey with administrative data from a state criminal justice agency. The project has three specific aims: to collect and archive detailed criminal history information on over 300 urban fathers, to assess the validity of both survey and administrative data in measuring involvement with the criminal justice system, and to assess the feasibility of replicating this data collection in other states. If the results of the pilot project suggest that administrative data collection is feasible and improves the quality of available data on incarceration, I plan to apply for an R21 from NICHD to collect similar data in 14 other states, and examine the sensitivity of previously published research findings to improve measures of paternal incarceration.

Health, Stress and Decision Making

Matthew Neidell (Health Policy and Management)
David Rahman (University of Minnesota)

We propose to study how individuals' health status affects a range of economic outcomes, including attitudes towards risk, strategic behavior, self-control, and bargaining postures. While previous research shows that small changes in a person's well-being significantly affect their productivity, we are unaware of any research exploring the link between health and decision making. If we find evidence to support this link, our findings would suggest that a compromised health status may have even farther reaching effects on an individual's life than previously believed, with important implications for both policy and economic models of choice.

Integrating Mobile Technology in Youth Savings: A Pilot Test for Kenya

Fred Ssewamala (Social Work & International Affairs) 

Researchers at Columbia University School of Social Work, led by Associate Professor Fred Ssewamala, have demonstrated that equipping poor and vulnerable youth with asset-building tools, such as savings accounts at formal financial institutions, has positive health, educational, behavioral, and asset-accumulation outcomes among the youth. The pilot study proposed here will test the effect of an intervention that uses mobile technology - specifically mobile phone text messages - to remind (also known as "nudging") youth to deposit and save money. The proposed pilot study will be conducted over a 12-month period with 8,000 low-income adolescents in Kenya. The study will test the extent to which mobile phone text message reminders affect youth's savings behavior and performance. The targeted youth, who already own a savings account, are part of a larger multi-country YouthSave initiative on which Ssewamala is the Principal Investigator in Kenya. Initial findings from the proposed pilot study will be used to secure additional funding for a larger-scale, multi-year NIH funded grant. The proposed study has the potential to fill the knowledge gap youth financial inclusion through text-message reminders has on young people's asset-accumulation behavior and performance - which have well documented developmental impacts on young people.