Funded Projects

The Policies for Action program (P4A) funds research identifying policies, laws, and other regulatory tools in the public and private sectors that can support RWJF’s mission to build a Culture of Health.

Research is conducted at institutions across the United States. The projects by our Research Hubs and other grantees investigate policies and laws that are traditionally and directly correlated with health outcomes, but also nontraditional areas of focus that influence population health, well-being and equity — including policies and regulations from areas such as education, economics, transportation, justice, and housing.

Funded Projects

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In 2017, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton coined the phrase “deaths of despair” to describe a troubling rise of Americans dying from suicide, drugs (including opioids) and alcoholism. Experts across the country are now attempting to tease apart the complex factors driving these trends, but until now, no one has examined the potentially causal effects of decreases in real minimum wages in relation to this trend or the potential benefits of rising minimum wages in counteracting other drivers of this trend, despite a strong evidence base linking income and health.

Principal Investigator: William H. Dow - University of California, Berkeley

Transfers and work supports such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) increase family resources, and may enable households to make critical investments in their members’ health and human capital. Yet not all eligible households claim this tax credit, losing out on income support that can have potentially large effects on health, education, and other dimensions of well-being of family members.

Principal Investigator: William H. Dow - University of California, Berkeley

Research has shown the crucial importance of household income in shaping child health, but we have limited understanding of the actual health impacts of high profile income-related policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  Furthermore, state-level initiatives in this domain are particularly active and promising for future innovation.  In this study, the research team will first investigate the multi-dimensional child health effects of state EITC expansions. 

Principal Investigator: William H. Dow - University of California, Berkeley

Since 2004, California’s state disability insurance program has provided six weeks of parental leave at 55 percent pay (in addition to typically 6-8 weeks of postpartum disability leave for biological mothers, also at 55 percent pay). However, many parents—especially those of lower-income—cannot afford to take this bonding leave at only partial pay. San Francisco’s new Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO) addresses this issue by requiring San Francisco employers to supplement up to 100% pay for six weeks of parental bonding leave.

Principal Investigator: William H. Dow - University of California, Berkeley

Many hourly workers, especially in the retail sector, contend with unstable and unpredictable work schedules in which the number of hours, the days of the week, and the times of day that they work vary substantially from week to week. This chronic instability is likely to negatively affect workers and could also have spillover effects for children.

Principal Investigator: William H. Dow - University of California, Berkeley

While there is an extensive and growing research literature on the benefits of paid parental leave, few studies have examined the impacts of paid family leave on caring for elderly family members. Yet families that take advantage of these policies may actually be helping to lower state costs in other areas. Arora and Wolf (2018) estimate that paid family leave reduced elderly nursing home utilization by 11 percent in California relative to an empirically matched group of control states.

Principal Investigator: Heidi Hartmann - Institute for Women's Policy Research

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s (IWPR) simulation model estimates the costs and benefits of paid leave for six common leave types, using data largely derived from the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2012 Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Survey. The types include 1) own serious medical condition; 2) maternity and childbirth; 3) new child care following birth, adoption, or foster placement; 4) care for spouse; 5) care for children; and 6) care for parents.

Principal Investigator: Heidi Hartmann - Institute for Women's Policy Research

Income is considered one of the key underlying social determinants of health. However, there has been relatively limited research on the health effects of policies designed to increase income for vulnerable families.

Principal Investigator: Sylvia Allegretto - University of California, Berkeley

Childhood vaccines play a major role in minimizing the incidence of vaccine-preventable disease. While all states accommodate medical vaccine exemptions, certain states also allow for waivers on the basis of religious or philosophical objections.

Principal Investigator: Avi Dor - George Washington University

In 2016, the Chicago Police Department developed a pilot pre-arrest diversion strategy, the Westside Narcotics Diversion and Treatment Initiative (WNDTI), to respond to the opioid crisis in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. The goal was to encourage police officers to redirect low-level drug offenders (users and sellers) to treatment, instead of jail and prosecution. This strategy was modeled after a promising program in Seattle, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).

Principal Investigator: Harold Pollack - University of Chicago