• Health Effects of Indoor-Air Benzene in Anchorage Residences: A Study of Indoor-Air Quality in Houses with Attached Garages

      Gordian, Mary Ellen; Frazier, Rosyland; Hill, Alexandra; Schreiner, Irma; Siver, Darla; Stewart, Alistair; Morris, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-06)
      Benzene is a known carcinogen. It affects white blood cells; it causes leukemia and aplastic anemia. It may also affect the immune system which is dependent on white blood cells.1 It has been removed from all household products, but it is still present in gasoline. Alaskan gasoline is particularly high in benzene (>5%). Gasoline refined in Alaska has high concentrations of benzene and other the aromatic compounds as much as 50% aromatics by volume. Leaving the aromatics in the gasoline helps cars start in the cold, but it also puts high concentrations of benzene in both the ambient and indoor air. We already knew from previous work done in Alaska by Bernard Goldstein in Valdez2 and the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services in Anchorage3 that people were exposed to high ambient levels of benzene in the winter, and that there were high indoor benzene concentrations in homes with attached garages if the garage was used to store gasoline or gasoline powered engines. Benzene does not bioaccumulate in the body as dioxin or some pesticides do. But are its effects cumulative? Does a little dose of benzene everyday have the same effect as a large dose over less time? Benzene reduces CD4 cells in a dose-response manner at workplace concentrations less than 1 ppm (OSHA 8-hour exposure limit) in workers.4 People who live in homes with high benzene concentrations may be exposed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There have been no studies of health effects of such environmental exposure to benzene. This study was done to determine three things: 1. What percentage of Anchorage homes with attached garages had high levels of indoor benzene? 2. Were the high levels of indoor benzene affecting the health of the residents? 3. Were residents more likely to develop asthma in homes with high levels of indoor benzene?
    • Healthcare Utilization Analysis for Housing First Program in Anchorage Alaska

      Becker, Gandy (University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-05-01)
      Homelessness, especially for the chronically homeless individual with substance abuse issues, often results in high use of emergency services, depression, loss of hope, increased victimization, poor medical care of chronic conditions, and intense suffering for the individual affected. Proponents of the Housing First model believe that housing is a human right, a need, and should be made available to all for basic human dignity. The primary purpose of this study was to answer the question of whether a Housing First model example in Alaska has impacted healthcare utilization for this specific population. Data on hospital visit numbers and hospital costs were collected from both a tenant and a control sample, for the 2011-2013 period, from three area hospitals. Initial findings indicated there was higher outpatient healthcare service use for the tenant sample after obtaining supportive housing. The control sample also showed statistical significance for an increase in emergency services costs, which was not evident for the tenant sample. Future Housing First programs in Alaska may provide improved healthcare for individual tenants by increasing utilization of outpatient services.
    • Healthy Alaskans 2020 Implementation Pilot

      Allen, Laila (University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-05-01)
      Healthy Alaskans (HA), now in its third iteration (HA2020), is Alaska’s Statewide Health Improvement Plan (SHIP). HA2020 consists of an overarching framework of 25 health goals or Leading Health Indicators (LHIs), for the state to track and achieve by the year 2020. These goals have a broad span and were informed by input from over 3,000 Alaska residents. Building upon the 25 LHIs as well as identifying evidence-based strategies to help achieve these goals brought the initiative to its implementation phase. In order to advance the initiative, four individuals (known as Coordinating Partners or CPs) were chosen to coordinate and pilot action strategies for four of the LHIs: socioeconomic status, suicide, tobacco, and domestic violence. Assessing the CP experience will provide the HA2020 Core Team with feedback from its core partners as it moves forward with implementing strategies to improve all 25 Leading Health Indicators. This practicum consisted of interviews with the CPs about their initial experience, from which themes and recommendations were extracted to assist future outreach and implementation efforts. Consistently occurring themes include the need to explicitly explain the role of the Coordinating Partners and the expectations and timeline for success. CPs expressed lack of clarity and divergent understandings about their role and expectations. Another key component of this practicum project was an extensive environmental scan and an online survey to help identify and document community agencies and individuals actively working to achieve the 25 LHIs. The results were compiled in a searchable spreadsheet with individual tabs for each pilot indicator, and shared with the CPs to facilitate outreach.
    • Healthy Minds Conversation with the Chancellor and Provost

      Rivera, Marny; Garcia, Gabriel M.; Hogan, Bill; Schultz, Bruce; Stalvey, John (University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-04-22)
      As the University of Alaska’s health campus, we are uniquely situated to take a leadership role in supporting a healthy minds ethos on our campus. The conversation’s intent was help staff and faculty learn more about mental health services and education being offered at UAA and to share with us your ideas about how collaborations could better support your current and future work, as well as a healthy minds ethos at UAA. College of Health Dean Bill Hogan, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Bruce Schultz and College of Arts and Sciences Dean John Stalvey will provide an overview of programs in their areas and lead the dialogue.
    • The Hidden Impact of a Criminal Conviction: A Brief Overview of Collateral Consequences in Alaska

      Periman, Deborah (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2007-12)
      Collateral consequences, a term used in this paper to refer generally to the effect of any measure that might increase the negative consequences of a criminal conviction, fall roughly into three categories: impaired access to, or enjoyment of, the ordinary rights and benefits associated with citizenship or residency, such as voting or driving; impaired economic opportunity, primarily through reduction of the range of available employment; and increased severity of sanctions in any subsequent criminal proceeding brought against the offender. These indirect but significant consequences of a felony or misdemeanor conviction are receiving increasing attention from policy makers, ethicists, and the bar. Setting aside issues of constitutional or statutory rights, the growing web of civil disabilities triggered by a criminal conviction raises fundamental questions about what makes sense as a matter of public policy. This paper examines policy considerations of collateral consequences and provides a preliminary effort to list all of the provisions of Alaska state law that may diminish in some respect the opportunities available to an individual with a criminal conviction in his or her background.
    • High Oil Prices Give Alaskans a Second Chance: How Will We Use this Opportunity?

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2011-09)
      Think about this: 10 years ago, it looked as if Alaska was on the brink of a tough transition to a post-Prudhoe Bay economy. Oil production was half of what it had once been, the state’s oil revenues were about $2 billion, financial reserves were falling, and employment in the oil industry was down. The price of Alaska oil, adjusted to today’s buying power, was $27 a barrel—and that was high by historical standards. Things have changed dramatically since then: a combination of much higher oil prices—about $115 a barrel as this paper is being written—and revisions in the way the state calculates production taxes have caused state oil revenues to skyrocket, even though oil production is down 40% since 2002. We now find ourselves in a second huge oil-revenue boom, comparable to the one in the early 1980s (Figure 1 ).
    • High Referral Rate for VPSO-Assisted Sex Assault Cases

      Myrstol, Brad A. (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-04-02)
      This article reports findings from a recent study examining the impact of Alaska’s Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) program on the criminal justice response to sexual abuse of a minor (SAM) and sexual assault (SA) cases closed by the Alaska State Troopers (AST) between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 in western Alaska. The study found that the likelihood that a sexual assault or sexual assault of a minor case will be accepted for prosecution in western Alaska is enhanced when VPSOs are first responders. [This article also appeared on p. 1–4 of the Spring 2018 print edition.]
    • High Resolution Modeling of Arctic Sea Ice and Currents

      Zhang, Jinlun; Ravens, Tom (University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-06-29)
    • History and Options Regarding the Unfunded Liabilities of Alaska’s Public Employees’ and Teachers’ Retirement Systems

      Groh, Cliff (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-04-08)
      In early 2003, financial analysts working for the State of Alaska announced that the two largest public employee retirement systems in Alaska had become significantly underfunded.3 From fiscal year 2006 (July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006) to date, the state has paid $6.951 billion— (an average of $534.7 million annually)—to pay down these obligations, which will be called “unfunded liabilities” in this paper.4 The State of Alaska has substantial unfunded liabilities remaining to pay off for these two systems, the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). There is uncertainty about the size of these unfunded liabilities, and there are also different ways of calculating them. For example, the State of Alaska’s snapshot balance-sheet approach, subtracting the accrued liabilities from the assets, based on their actuarial value, produces an estimate of $6.609 billion for the combined unfunded liabilities of PERS and TRS.5 That figure is an estimate of the unfunded liabilities discounted to the present day. Estimates of the size of the unfunded liabilities particularly vary based on the use of different critical assumptions, such as the rate of future returns on investment. As an example, using an estimated rate of return of 2.142 percent instead of the State of Alaska’s assumption of 8 percent produces an estimate of $33.9 billion for the state’s unfunded liabilities. 6 The State of Alaska has committed to paying off the unfunded liabilities under a 25-year amortization schedule that started in 2014, so another highly relevant measurement of those liabilities appears to be the amount actuaries for the state currently project will be needed under that pay-off plan, which runs through fiscal year 2039. The state’s actuaries project that from fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2039 the state will pay a total of $10.815 billion in extra contributions—called “state assistance” or “additional state contributions” in this paper—to pay off the unfunded liabilities. 7 In contrast to the state’s snapshot estimate of $6.609 billion, this estimate of $10.815 billion in state assistance represents a flow of annual cash payments. That is, the $10.815 billion is an estimate of the total amount needed to eliminate the unfunded liabilities of PERS and TRS under the 25-year amortization schedule the state adopted in 2014. 4 Note that this state assistance is above and beyond the amount the state is projected to owe in its role as employer in the normal course of funding the two systems.8 Employers other than the state—primarily local governments and school districts—also participate in PERS and TRS, and the figure for state assistance covers not only unfunded liabilities attributed to the state but also a portion of the unfunded liabilities attributed to non-state employers. As explained more later, the state has assumed, by statute, the responsibility to pay for a share of the unfunded liability of these other employers. 9 This paper: • Describes the structure of the Alaska public employee retirement systems in the context of some unusual features of public employment on the Last Frontier • Reviews how the problem of unfunded liabilities came about • Examines how concerns over unfunded liabilities produced both changes and proposed changes in the retirement systems over the past dozen years, including proposals for changes in the allocation of burdens between the state and local governments in paying for retirement benefits • Describes current projections of future amounts needed to pay off the unfunded liabilities • Discusses how future estimates of the unfunded liabilities might change in response to economic and demographic factors • Discusses legal provisions protecting the rights of beneficiaries of the retirement systems • Lays out options for policymakers—other than the current policy of paying down the unfunded liabilities over time—including buyout, bailout, and bankruptcy
    • The Homeless: Who and How Many?

      Armstrong, Barbara; Chamard, Sharon (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-09-22)
      Across the nation in both rural and urban areas, public and private agencies work to provide services for homeless people. One of the biggest challenges is collecting data about homeless individuals: how many people are homeless, who they are, what services they need most, and how long they have been homeless. This article looks at reports from 2012, 2013, and 2014 on estimates of homelessness in the U.S. and Alaska, the subpopulations of homeless individuals, and the various definitions of homelessness.
    • Homelessness Among Drug-Using Adult Male Arrestees in Anchorage, 2000-2003

      Myrstol, Brad A. (University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, 2009-07-01)
      Presents information on the prevalence of homelessness among Anchorage adult male arrestees based on data from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program compiled from 2000 to 2003.
    • Homicide in Alaska, 1986–2015

      Parker, Khristy (Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center, Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-11-01)
      This fact sheet presents data reported on homicides in Alaska from 1986 to 2015 as reported in the Alaska Department of Public Safety publication Crime in Alaska. Over the 30-year period from 1986 to 2015, homicide rates decreased in Alaska overall, but increased in the Municipality of Anchorage. The Fact Sheet also presents data on the most commonly used weapons in homicides, victim-offender relationships, and clearance rates for homicides.
    • Household Composition and Gender Differences in Parental Time Investments

      Bibler, Andrew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-04-04)
      Recent research documents a female advantage in several important long-term outcomes among children raised in single-parent households, and highlights the importance of non-cognitive skills for explaining these gaps. Understanding the source of differences in non-cognitive skills is complicated due to the presence of many interrelated and often unobservable inputs. One potential explanation for such gaps is that boys and girls receive different levels of inputs in single-parent versus two-parent households. This paper provides empirical evidence that input levels change differentially by gender across household structures and hence may facilitate gender gaps in noncognitive skills. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and accompanying Child Development Supplement, I estimate gender differences in parental time investments, defined as the amount of time parents spend participating in activities with the child, around changes in household composition. I find that, although both boys and girls experience reductions in parental time investments following a change from a two-parent to single-mother household, boys experience a larger reduction than girls. The largest difference is found in fathers’ time investments on weekdays, for which boys lose an additional 24 minutes per day (35% of average paternal weekday investments). Moreover, there is little to no evidence that single mothers compensate for the loss by increasing time investments to boys relative to girls.
    • How Do Alaskans Cover Their Medical Bills?

      Leask, Linda; Frazier, Rosyland; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-04-01)
      The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been at the top of the news lately, with Congress considering but then dropping proposed changes. Congress will try again to change the ACA—but it’s uncertain how or when. This summary looks broadly at all the kinds of health-care coverage Alaskans have now, and how ACA provisions have changed that coverage.
    • How Do You Determine the Right Size of a Police Department? Don’t Look to Crime Rates.

      Payne, Troy C. (Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-10-18)
      Studies have shown that changing the number of police officers has no effect on crime rates. This article explains why and describes alternative measures. An accompanying chart compares rates of violent crime in Alaska for 1986–2015 with the number of police officers per 1,000 residents for the same period.
    • How Does Alaska's Spending Compare?

      Leask, Linda; Tran, Trang; Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-02-01)
      A laskans have been arguing for years about how much the state government should be spending, ever since low oil prices gouged a big hole in the budget—and the state has been using up its savings to pay the bills. We don’t know how much the state should spend: that answer depends on what things Alaskans want to keep, and what they’ll pay for them. But we can throw some light on the debate.
    • How Hard Is It for Alaska’s Medicare Patients to Find Family Doctors?

      Frazier, Rosyland; Foster, Mark A. (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-03)
      In the past few years, Alaskans have been hearing reports that some primary-care doctors won’t see new Medicare patients. Medicare pays these doctors only about two-thirds of what private insurance pays—and that’s after a sizable increase in 2009. But most Americans 65 or older have to use Medicare as their main insurance, even if they also have private insurance. Just how widespread is the problem of Alaska’s primary-care doctors turning away Medicare patients? ISER surveyed hundreds of doctors to find out—and learned that so far there’s a major problem in Anchorage, a noticeable problem in the Mat-Su Borough and Fairbanks, and almost no problem in other areas.
    • How Has the 80th Percentile Rule Affected Alaska's Health-Care Expenditures?

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-05-16)
      We use the Health Expenditures by State of Residence data (1991-2014) compiled by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to examine the causal effect of the 80th percentile rule on Alaska's health care expenditures. We find evidence that Alaska's expenditures would have been lower in the absence of rule. The share of the overall increase in expenditures that we attribute to the 80th percentile rule is between 8.61% and 24.65%. It is important to note that using expenditures as a proxy for costs has limitations as it is the product of both quantity of services used and prices.
    • How Is the State Dealing With the Shortfall in Pension Systems?

      Groh, Cliff (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-04-18)
      I n early 2003, financial analysts gave Alaska state officials some very bad news: the two largest pension systems for public employees wouldn’t have the money to cover all the expected future costs of pensions and health-care benefits for state and local employees when they retired. This shortfall—called the unfunded liability— had been caused by, among other things, several years of poor returns on fund investments and soaring health-care costs. Public pensions are protected in Alaska’s constitution, and the state has already contributed nearly $7 billion to reduce the shortfall. How much more it will need to pay is uncertain, since it depends on many things that are hard to predict. But most analysts believe it will be billions more. That poses a major challenge for the state—which has been dealing with big budget deficits—and for local governments, which need to help pay the unfunded liability but have far smaller financial reserves than the state.
    • How Much Should Alaska Save?

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2011-02)
      Alaska today is in the lucky position of having an estimated $126 billion in petroleum wealth— $45 billion in savings accounts derived from oil revenues, and $81 billion in future state revenues from oil and gas still in the ground--if current official state projections prove accurate. Almost all state revenues come from oil, as they have for 30 years. But oil production is now only a third of what it once was, and analysts think that even with new discoveries and enhanced recovery, production from state lands will keep dropping. So Alaskans face a dilemma: how can we preserve this petroleum wealth for future generations, while still benefitting from it ourselves? The answer is to limit how much we spend today from our petroleum wealth, and invest the savings in income generating assets. The income from those assets would grow over time and gradually replace declining petroleum revenues. We’ve already taken a major step, by depositing 24% of past oil revenues into savings accounts. Is that enough?