Vermont Research Newsletter: Wal-Mart, women legislators, new spider spotted and more

Short constitutions equal more trust
Vermont has the shortest constitution of any state, at 1,433 words. A recent article finds that trust in the government correlates to constitution length, with higher levels of trust associated with shorter constitutions. The study also finds that there is a relationship between social capital and constitution endurance, the amount of time between the adoption of new constitutions.

Vermont’s demographic trends improve
Vermont is a standout among other Northeastern states for population growth, but still lags behind the national average, a study finds. The trend in prime working-age population is also improving, with Vermont also outperforming other Northeastern states for the first time in recent years. Still, Vermont’s growth is far below the national average and the study predicts this will create challenges in coming years attracting the investments needed to generate new jobs and rising incomes in the state.
The Story of Rutland’s Downtown Wal-Mart
More than a decade ago, Wal-Mart agreed to locate its first store in a downtown, eschewing the suburban location that can devastate main street businesses. Since then other chains have followed suit. The story of Wal-Mart’s Rutland location includes a trip to Bentonville. AK by a group of visionary Vermonters. The impacts are felt today. Hear that story here. (Told by podcast editor Leah Kelleher).
Female Legislators!
Vermont is among the top three states with the highest percentage of female state legislators. A recent book surveyed legislators from these top states (Vermont, Arizona, and Washington) and found that female legislators introduce and pass more of their priority legislation than male legislators, with women in the legislature prioritizing legislation related to women and children and men prioritizing business-related legislation. Female legislators considered the representation of women in the legislature important (57%) – but only 33% of male colleagues agreed.
Vermonters depend on household wells
In the years between 1970 and 2010, the proportion of Vermonters served by domestic wells increased from 21.5% to 33%, making it one of only seven states to see an increase in this time period. Vermont, like many other rural states, saw its peak in 1990, when 36% of the population used domestic wells, and has since seen a 3% decrease.
Burlingtonians prefer solar to coal, Houstonians not as much
Burlington residents strongly prefer solar power to coal power both when surveyed and in their twitter posts, a new study finds. The study, which also included participants from Houston, TX and Saline County, IL, found that the Vermont participants had the highest preference for solar and the lowest preference for coal of all the regions.
Minimum wage impacts on new Vermonters
Vermont’s comparably high minimum wages protect native workers from any adverse wage or unemployment effects of immigration, according to a new study. In contrast, the research finds that the impact of immigration on natives’ labor market outcomes is more negative in states where the effective minimum wage is relatively low. The article suggests that this may come at the price of rendering access to employment more difficult for outsiders (e.g. the unemployed natives and new immigrants).
Monopoly innovators: A case study of GMP
Green Mountain Power of Vermont is the focus of a recent case study on effective promotion of sustainable innovations. The study names GMP as a uniquely innovative leader in the utility industry showing how natural monopolies can be effective organizations to promote sustainable innovations given the right conditions. These conditions are created by market regulation, GMP’s ability to adapt and conform to strategically incorporate sustainable innovations, and their use of customer service to effectively cater to their Vermont consumers.
Jumping spider spotted in Vermont
In 1982, the jumping spider (pseudeuophrys erratica), a species native to Western Europe and Russia, was first spotted in the United States. The spider was spotted recently in Burlington for the first-ever recorded sighting in Vermont. A recent report details this most recent sighting, as well as other sightings across the Northeast and one in the Pacific Northwest. These new sightings suggest that the species has since established itself on both sides of the United States.
Hybridizing invasive species
A hybridized complex of knapweeds invasive to Vermont consisting of the invasive meadow knapweed (Centaurea ×moncktonii) and its parental species (C. jacea and C. nigra) is expressing extreme phenotypic values in flower-related traits, new research finds. The study suggests invasive plant species may be hybridizing to confer invasiveness, as a way to adapt to their non-native environment.
Mining impacts & Lung cancer
How did talc mining and milling really affect the health of Vermonters? A recent follow-up study updates information collected 37 years ago, regarding the lasting impacts of working with talc on miners employed from 1940 to 1969. Recent results show that high mortality rates persisted after the study ended, with this population having a 30% higher rate of mortality than the national average, still with no evidence of lung cancer induced by talc exposure. The study provides further evidence that increased mortality by talc by miners and millers is due to non-malignant respiratory disease and not lung cancer.
Lung cancer web searches
Lung cancer-related internet searches are consistent with the trend of lung cancer incidence on a national level, according to a new study. The findings show that lung cancer incidence and mortality increases with decreased related internet searches. Vermont, however, proves to be the only exception with no correlation found.
High school graduation rates
Vermont needs only 53 more high school students to graduate on time to reach a 90% graduation rate by 2020, according to a new study. However, the study points out that Vermont has a high proportion of low-income students as non-graduates.
Be part of the Vermont Edition studio audience for Archer Mayor
On Monday, September 30th, from 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM, Vermont author Archer Mayor will discuss his newest release, Bomber’s Moon for Vermont Edition. Bomber’s Moon, out September 24th, is the 30th book in Mayor’s Joe Gunther mystery series. VPR invites anyone to be apart of the live studio audience, where Mayor will talk about what inspired the series, his own life, and how he has kept the series going for 30 years. The broadcast will take place in VPR’s Stetson Studio One in Colchester, Vermont. The event is all-ages and free and open to the public, but seat reservations are required.
Join the Global Climate Strike, September 20th-28th  
Friday, Sept. 20 will be part of a day of climate strikes and walkouts at schools and businesses in Vermont and around the world. In response to appeals from Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg and the youth climate movement, a broad coalition of Vermonters is planning dozens of events and political actions this month.

Click here for an event list.

Valley Arts 30th Annual Green Mountain Photography Exhibition
Come see an exhibition of Vermont photographs from over 70 photographers at the Valley Arts 30th Annual Green Mountain Photography Exhibition.
When: September 13 to October 6. Hours are Thursday and Friday, 4 to 9 pm, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 9 pm. 
Location: Barns and Bridges Festival Red Barn Galleries at Lareau Farm (also home to American Flatbread), Route 100, Waitsfield, Vermont.
Copyright © 2019 Center for Research on Vermont, All rights reserved.
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 an understanding of the state’s social, economic, cultural and physical environment.

Send your news items to Newsletter Editors Eliza Giles or Richard Watts.

In a collaboration with VT Digger, the newsletter is now published online. CRVT is responsible for the content. The newsletter is published on the 1st and 15th of each month.