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Special Populations

Sometimes visible to us, but more often hidden in plain sight, special populations inhabit the margins of our society, each with a unique set of needs. Ethnic minorities, veterans, disabled people, prison inmates, refugees and immigrants, children, and the elderly all face complex challenges as they strive to attain the advantages that other groups enjoy. Recent political events have added more pressure, such as increased U.S. military operations that have produced more veterans with special needs. Meanwhile, the weakening of traditional sources of economic stability, like home ownership, places special populations at even greater risk of hardship.

NORC helps government and organizations understand, evaluate—even manage—the programs and interventions that support these special populations and improve their circumstances. We have worked in this area since the 1950s, concentrating at that time on rural residents and welfare recipients. In the mid 1970s, NORC partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on a longitudinal study to evaluate the efficacy of the Experimental Housing Allowance Program. The 1980s brought new insights about disadvantaged ethnic groups when NORC partnered with distinguished sociologist William Julius Wilson on the Urban Poverty and Family Life Survey of Chicago. More recently, NORC leveraged its extensive work on the National Immunization Survey (using the State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey data collection mechanism) to develop separate surveys on adoptive parents and children with special needs.

Today, NORC’s work emphasizes healthcare and other issues that touch multiple special populations. For example, our work with the Department of Veterans examines healthcare access for rural veterans living far from urban veterans’ hospitals. We also designed a multi-mode data collection and feasibility study on the natural history of children born with Spina Bifida; served as a partner on the highly complex, award-winning HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study; and continue to serve in an information management role for the Traumatic Brain Injury Technical Assistance Center.

Key to any work on special populations is knowing the right questions to ask and asking them in a highly sensitive manner. NORC brings this expertise, a broad understanding of quantitative and qualitative methodology, and deep knowledge about health information technology to uncover the insights that lead to effective decision making and planning.

Specific areas of expertise include:

Representative Projects

2012 NORC Presidential Election Study. The 2012 NORC Presidential Election Study was conducted in the weeks prior to the Presidential election to measure public opinion about important issues the country faces – economic recovery, health care costs, and extreme partisanship. More

Assessment of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Housing Needs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has contracted with the Urban Institute and its partners, among them NORC at the University of Chicago, to conduct an assessment of housing needs in tribal areas in the United States.  More

Conversion of Criminal History Records into Research Databases (CCHRRD). For years, BJS has used information stored in the nation’s automated criminal history records to assess the officially-recognized, law-violating behavior of various samples of individuals.  To do recidivism studies, BJS has provided state criminal history repositories with identifying information on study subjects and has requested each participating state repository to extract selected information on each subject’s criminal justice activities, thus creating a reporting burden for participating repositories. In addition, the structure and content of the data extracted from these repositories varies from state to state requiring customized software to transform each state’s data into a commonly-formatted, researchable database.  In light of these challenges, only two national recidivism studies of released prisoners have been performed by BJS to date; the first in 1983 and the latest in 1994.  More

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), sponsored and funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the youth-focused component of the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) Program – a set of surveys used to gather information on the labor market experiences of American men and women.  The National Longitudinal Surveys are conducted jointly by the Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) and NORC at the University of Chicago.  More

Survey of Economically Successful Americans. Economically successful Americans have views about national problems that can be of great value to scholars and policy makers.  But little is known about the views of the most successful Americans which leads to these views being ignored and sometimes distorted by the media.  The Survey of Economically Successful Americans and the Common Good (SESA) gives this select group a rare opportunity to make their voice heard by academics and policy makers engaged in matters of national importance. More

See all Special Populations projects

Headlines

News Forbes: The AP-NORC Center's research found that most Americans underestimate the cost of a nursing home More
Posted: 4.22.2014 4:30PM
News The Washington Post: How untrusting Millenials may be according to GSS surveys and findings More
Posted: 3.25.2014 9:02AM
News Forbes: The AP-NORC Center's "Working Longer" project shares information on the risks of retirement More
Posted: 3.14.2014 9:56AM
News The Huffington Post: Demographics around homesexuals in the U.S. discussed with GSS data and research More
Posted: 3.14.2014 9:52AM
News The Huffington Post: The General Social Survey shows how people regard religion in the U.S. More
Posted: 3.12.2014 3:01PM