Assignment 1: Problem Analysis (70 points)

In this paper, you are asked to select a current social problem of interest that impacts New Mexicans and to describe the nature and scope of the social problem.  By documenting the scope of a problem and its causes and impacts, you provide rationale for policy intervention and identify possible targets for intervention.  Thus, problem analysis is the first part of political action. 

In order to document and analyze the problem, please use the following guidelines, as appropriate. Note that not every question below will be relevant to your topic. Refer to chapter 4 in the Segal textbook for more guidance.

  1. What is the nature of the problem, its symptoms or indicators?  That is, please describe and define the problem.
  2. How serious is the problem? Please use statistics to illustrate how many people or what percentage of the population or a subgroup of the population are affected by this problem. Also note, if possible, how the rate of the problem has changed over time.
  3. What are the demographic characteristics of the population most affected by the problem, according to statistics? These characteristics may include geography (region or the country, urban/rural), gender, race, ethnicity, age, country of origin, language, etc.) 
  4. What are the personal, social, and societal characteristics of the population most affected by this problem (e.g., educational attainment, income, life history, health status, community resources and risks, etc.)?
  5. Briefly, what does the research say may be the causes of this problem?
  6. What are the consequences, the economic and social costs associated with this problem, according to the literature? That is, what are the harmful effects of this problem for the individual and for society?
  7. Provide a short paragraph summarizing of the nature and scope of the problem, which represents your rationale for policy action.

This paper will likely be roughly 3 pages, double-spaced, with in-text citation of your sources and an end reference list (in APA style). The end reference list is not counted in the page total. 

As this is a short, quick problem analysis, it may be sufficient to use only two or three carefully selected, scholarly references.  These may include government reports, non-partisan research institute or advocacy group reports, and/or academic peer-reviewed journal articles. 

  • The data on incidence and prevalence of a problem and the demographic groups most at risk will most likely come from a government report (e.g.,,,, or,,,, etc.). 
  • Causes and effects data might also come from governmental or non-partisan non-governmental research institute reports (e.g.,,,,,,,, etc.).
  • Additional evidence on possible causes and effects of the problem will be available in scholarly research journal articles.

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