Vermont Research News - January 17, 2018


Could 2018 be the year that marks the rise of female leaders? In a book exploring women’s leadership, authors Marla Solomon and Kerry Seacrest focus one chapter on rural Vermont. Describing the state as a “mixture of progress and stalemate” parallel to the nation, the authors highlight Vermont’s second-place ranking for women legislators (41 percent) while at the same time experiencing the nations lowest growth rate for female owned firms (30% between 1997 and 2014 – half the national average. As one solution, the authors emphasize building networks of support through Women’s Leadership Circles.


An estimated 10 percent of Vermonters suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that follows a cyclical pattern with the change of the seasons. A recent study compared the effectiveness of light therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). After practicing CBT—the act of challenging negative thoughts and behaviors associated with winter darkness—for a winter, just 27 percent of SAD patients reported a recurrence in their depression the following winter, compared with 46 percent of the patients that underwent light therapy for the same duration. The two treatments were reported to be equally effective after the first winter.


Welcome to vermontDespite common narratives surrounding Vermont out-migration, the state achieved the highest rank in the 2017 United Movers Study for inbound immigration. 68 percent of moves to and from the state were inbound—though Vermont appears to be more attractive to older, somewhat wealthier retirees who want to be close to family, rather than young professionals seeking job opportunities. Check out the Vermont Biz article for more in-depth analysis. Also check this fact sheet from Public Assets for another perspective.


Workers from Mexico are a critical part of Vermont’s dairy industry. The same is true around the United States. New research indicates a significant negative trend in the agricultural labor supply from rural Mexico. The study points to a number of factors like increased border enforcement but also falling birth rates, increased education levels and growth in other opportunities for this key part of the state and nation’s labor force.


With the legislative session now in full swing, Vermont lawmakers are considering implementing safe injection sites to help curb the staggering procession of overdose deaths from opioid use. Medical research conducted at Insite—a supervised injection facility located in Vancouver—suggests that Insite users are twice as likely to seek treatment than users who do not utilize the facility, which has never overseen a death. Sarah Evans, a representative from the site, presented research to the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 11th. See also Vermont Public Radio interview with Chittenden County's Sarah George.


Although Vermont’s economy achieved minor growth in 2016, the effect on median household income was negligible—while wages for wealthier citizens got a boost. The State of Working Vermont 2017 report indicates that the state’s income inequality is growing, with 1 in 9 Vermonters facing poverty. In accordance with the aging population, the labor force is dwindling and aging—and 24,000 Vermonters are unemployed, underemployed, or demoralized.


Vermont currently produces 41 percent of the nation’s maple syrup, and up to nearly 12 percent of the state’s available trees have been tapped—a significantly higher figure than that of other maple-producing states. A recent study analyzed the potential effects of climate change on maple syrup production. Under the harshest climate change scenario (GFDL-A1Fi), Vermont would need an additional 1.5 million taps to make up for the projected loss of syrup.


An experimental study conducted by three researchers from the Vermont Department of Corrections examined rates of recidivism in Vermont’s sex offenders following a prison-based cognitive-behavioral treatment program. The study examined 195 adult male sex offenders with similar risk of recidivism who were referred to treatment; 49 did not complete the program and 90 refused treatment altogether, leaving 56 that finished the program. The researchers found that the inmates that completed the treatment had a sexual re-offense rate of 5.4 percent, with that figure jumping to 30.6 and 30 percent for those with some and no treatment, respectively.


In the Country of the Blind follows the dependent life of a forty-year-old blind man in the Northeast Kingdom during the 1970s, with several references to specific Vermont natural landmarks. Author Edward Hoagland, who has owned a home in Barton since 1969, had a brush with blindness in his adult life.

Woodstock, Vermont is the setting of Bryan Mooney’s holiday tale, Christmas in Vermont: A Very White Christmas. The story follows Jack Reynolds, an Iraq War veteran who struggles to maintain lasting happiness upon his assimilation back into U.S. culture—and finds peace through spreading holiday joy with new friends who help ease his agitation. Mooney paints a simplistic, uplifting picture of Vermont life.




The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment. Send news items to Editor Kirsti Blow




Sophia A. Trigg