Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1993

Professor Rodgers' research examines issues related to children's nutritional status, development economics, and the economics of gender.  She is currently writing a book on the links between maternal employment and children's health status in developing countries. Recent research has examined maternal education and the nutritional status of children, using readily available Demographic and Health Survey data. She has also written on innovations in food assistance programs in the United States and community food systems in New Jersey.

CV: http://econkids.rutgers.edu/images/pdf/cv_yana_rodgers.pdf

Figure: Sample Districts in New Jersey.

Figure: Sample Districts in New Jersey

Theme 1:  Local Government Coordination of Community Food Systems in Distressed Urban Areas.

This research examined public coordination of community food systems in fifteen distressed New Jersey cities with unusually high unemployment rates, large immigrant populations, high levels of poverty and an extraordinary reliance on school nutrition programs.  Using key informant interviews with municipal officials and calls to school districts and city departments, we found a large variation in the ability of these city governments to coordinate food assistance programs, provide information about food programs to people in need, and plan for expanded food market choices.  A few of the sampled city governments created local capacity to meet the nutritional needs of impoverished residents, but many did not recognize food security as part of their mission.

Theme 2: Food Assistance Through the School System

Photo of backpack

Figure: Food for Kids backpack

Numerous public and private initiatives in the United States work to mitigate food insecurity and its unwelcome repercussions for children's health and well-being. An increasingly popular program, the Food For Kids program originated by the Arkansas Rice Depot, seeks to reduce hunger among school-aged children by distributing ready-to-eat food in backpacks for participating students to take home for evening and weekend meals. This study assesses reasons for participation in the program and its impact on school-level indicators of student behavior and academic performance. Sample statistics from unique surveys made available by the Arkansas Rice Depot, a faith-based food bank, indicate that some parents cannot or do not properly feed their children due to insufficient economic means, illness, drug addiction, or a lack of willingness. The analysis also finds improvements in participating students' self-esteem and behavior at school. Additional results from fixed effects regressions using school report-card data indicate a positive and significant program impact on eighth-grade standardized test scores in math and literacy.

Theme 3:  Mother's Education and Children's Nutritional Status

 Figure: Children's nutritional status by mother's education.

Figure: Children's nutritional status by mother's education

This project uses data from Cambodia's 2005 Demographic and Health Survey to examine how three measures of children's nutritional status vary by mother's educational attainment. To identify mechanisms for that association, we study birth size, which depends on factors during gestation; and low height-for-age (stunting) and low weight-for-height (wasting), which are affected by factors that operate after birth. In multivariate specifications that control for socioeconomic status, mother's education is strongly inversely associated with stunting, but not small birth size or wasting. Addition of household composition and environmental factors to the model reduces the association between mother's education and child nutritional outcomes only slightly.

Selected Publications

  • "How Access to Credit Affects Self-Employment: Differences by Gender during India's Rural Banking Reform," Journal of Development Studies, 2010, forthcoming (with Nidhiya Menon).
  • "Options for Enforcing Labor Standards: Lessons from Bangladesh and Cambodia," Journal of International Development, 2009, forthcoming (with Günseli Berik).
  • "Bangladesh's Ready-Made Garments Sector: Exports, Employment, and Working Conditions," Journal of Bangladesh Studies 11 (2), 2009, 1-19 (with Günseli Berik). 
  • "The Health Status of Cambodia's Elderly in a Context of Gendered Violence," Gender and Development 17 (3), November 2009, 453-465.
  • "Feminist Economics of Inequality, Development, and Growth," Feminist Economics 15 (3), July 2009, 1-33 (with Günseli Berik and Stephanie Seguino).
  • "Mother's Education and Children's Nutritional Status: New Evidence from Cambodia," Asian Development Review 26 (1), June 2009, 131-165 (with Jane Miller).
  • "International Trade and the Gender Wage Gap: New Evidence from India's Manufacturing Sector," World Development 37 (5), May 2009, 965-981 (with Nidhiya Menon).
  • "Economic Importance and Statistical Significance: Guidelines for Communicating Empirical Research," Feminist Economics 14 (2), April 2008, 117-149 (with Jane Miller).
  • "Cross-State Variation in Economics Content Standards in the Primary Grades," Social Education 72 (2), March 2008, 88-94 (with Shelby Hawthorne and Ronald Wheeler).
  • "Local Government Coordination of Community Food Systems in Distressed Urban Areas," Journal of Poverty 11 (4), 2007, 45-69 (with Dona Schneider and Joseph Miles Cheang).
  • "Teaching Economics Through Children's Literature in the Primary Grades," The Reading Teacher 61 (1), September 2007, 46-55 (with Shelby Hawthorne and Ronald Wheeler).
  • "Food Assistance Through the School System: Evaluation of the Food for Kids Program," Journal of Children and Poverty 13 (1), 2007, 75-95 (with Marika Milewska).
  • "Gender Differences in Vocational School Training and Earnings Premiums in Taiwan," Feminist Economics 12 (4), October 2006, 527-560 (with Joseph Zveglich and Laura Wherry).
  • "Gender and Racial Differences in Vocational Education: An International Perspective," International Journal of Manpower 27 (4), July 2006, 308-320 (with Teresa Boyer).
  • "Asia's Race to Capture Post-MFA Markets: A Snapshot of Labor Standards, Compliance, and Impacts on Competitiveness," Asian Development Review 23 (1), 2006, 55-86 (with Günseli Berik).
  • "Work Styles, Attitudes, and Productivity of Scientists in the Netherlands and United Kingdom: A Comparison by Gender," Management Revue 17 (2), 2006, 184-202 (with Dara Woerdeman).
  • "Gender Dimensions in the Analysis of Macro-Poverty Linkages," Development Policy Review 23 (3), May 2005, 333-349 (with Marzia Fontana).
  • "The Pitfalls of Using a Child Support Schedule Based on Outdated Data," Family Economics and Nutrition Review 16 (2), 2004, 23-39 (with William Rodgers).