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Archive for November, 2011

New From the GAO

November 30, 2011 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

+ Reports

1.  Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program:  Additional Improvements to Fraud Prevention Controls Are Needed.  GAO-12-152R, October 26.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-152R

2.  Private Health Insurance:  Early Indicators Show that Most Insurers Would Have Met or Exceeded New Medical Loss Ratio Standards.  GAO-12-90R, October 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-90R

3.  Earned Import Allowance Program for Haiti.  GAO-12-204R, November 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-204R

4.  Medicare Advantage: Enrollment Increased from 2010 to 2011 while Premiums Decreased and Benefit Packages Were Stable.  GAO-12-93, October 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-93
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d1293high.pdf

5.  Mental Health and Substance Use:  Employers’ Insurance Coverage Maintained or Enhanced Since Parity Act, but Effect of Coverage on Enrollees Varied.  GAO-12-63, November 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-63
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d1263high.pdf

+ Testimonies

1.  Recovery Act:  Status of Science-Related Funding, by Frank Rusco, director, Natural Resources and Environment, before the Subcommittee on Investigations And Oversight, House Committee on Science, Space, And Technology .  GAO-12-279T, November 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-279T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d12279thigh.pdf

2.  Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program: Additional Improvements to Fraud Prevention Controls Are Needed, by Gregory D. Kutz, director, forensic audits and investigative service, before the Subcommittees on Economic Opportunity and Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.  GAO-12-205T, November 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-205T

3.  Veterans Administration Procurement:  Protests Concerning Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Preferences Sustained, by Ralph O. White, managing associate general counsel, before the Subcommittees on Oversight And Investigation and Economic Opportunity, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.  GAO-12-278T, November 30
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-278T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d12278thigh.pdf

4.  Compact of Free Association: Proposed U.S. Assistance to Palau for Fiscal Years 2011-2024, by David Gootnick, director, International Affairs and Trade, before the Subcommittee on Asia And The Pacific, House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  GAO-12-249T, November 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-249T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d12249thigh.pdf

5.  Small Business Administration: Progress Continues in Addressing Reforms to the Disaster Loan Program, by William B. Shear, director, financial markets and community investment, before the House Committee on Small Business.  GAO-12-253T, November 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-253T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d12253thigh.pdf

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What Can Be Done About the Latino College Male Student Crisis for America’s Overall Well-Being and Economic Future?

November 30, 2011 Comments off

What Can Be Done About the Latino College Male Student Crisis for America’s Overall Well-Being and Economic Future?
Source: Institute for Higher Education Policy

It has been well documented that the future of our nation’s Latino male college student population is in peril. Postsecondary attendance and attainment numbers for Latino males continue to decline relative to their female peers. Unfortunately, this crisis has largely gone underexamined and unacknowledged by policymakers and education leaders. To help avoid the impending implications that are sure to come in response—along with safeguarding the future economic prosperity of America and securing the well-being of our rapidly growing Latina/o communities—the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s (IHEP) Pathways to College Network today introduced a “Blueprint for Action” to provide model program examples and action steps to best support Latino males to and through college and into the workforce.

The blueprint was released in a new brief, Men of Color: Ensuring the Academic Success of Latino Males in Higher Education, and it addresses three main stages:

  1. Planning and Development: Actions to take in the initial program development stage;
  2. Resource Development and Sustainability: Select steps needed to create a strong financial base and sustainable resources for continued work; and
  3. Outreach and Communications: Points of importance to sustain community buy-in and subsequent efforts to reverse the educational trends of Latino males.

+ Full Report (PDF)

NCES Releases Report on Distance Education Courses in Public School Districts: 2009-10

November 30, 2011 Comments off

NCES Releases Report on Distance Education Courses in Public School Districts: 2009-10
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This report provides national estimates about distance education courses in public school districts. The estimates presented in this report are based on a district survey about distance education courses offered by the district or by any of the schools in the district during the 2009-10 school year.

+ Full Report (PDF)

NGA, NASBO Say States Facing ‘Big Squeeze’ According to Latest Fiscal Survey

November 30, 2011 Comments off

NGA, NASBO Say States Facing ‘Big Squeeze’ According to Latest Fiscal Survey

Source: National Governors Association

While the overall fiscal condition of states has improved from the depths of the recession, the Fall 2011 Fiscal Survey of States, released today by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), shows that states are facing a ‘big squeeze’ from both local and federal governments. The combination of the effects of the economic downturn, tepid economic growth and the expiration of Recovery Act and other federal funds has severely impeded the growth of state resources. Additionally, spending on Medicaid is expected to consume an increasing share of state budgets and grow much more rapidly than state revenue growth, resulting in slow or no growth in education, transportation or public safety.

Overall, state 2012 enacted budgets include nearly $667 billion in general fund expenditures, a 2.9 percent increase compared to $648 billion in general fund spending in 2011. Despite the second year with an increase, total enacted general fund spending in 2012 is still $21 billion less than the pre-recession high of $687 billion in 2008.

At the same time, local government revenues have been severely impacted by the decline in housing values. Many local governments, including school districts, rely heavily on property taxes to support their activities. These jurisdictions have been pressing states for more local assistance.

+ Full Report (PDF)

‘Public Opinion on the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings From the 2011 Health Confidence Survey,’ and ‘How Do Financial Literacy and Financial Behavior Vary by State?’

November 30, 2011 Comments off

‘Public Opinion on the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings From the 2011 Health Confidence Survey,’ and ‘How Do Financial Literacy and Financial Behavior Vary by State?’
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute

Public Opinion on the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings From the 2011 Health Confidence Survey

CONFIDENCE IN AVAILABILITY OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED COVERAGE FALLING: Over the long-term, public confidence that employers and unions will continue to offer health coverage has fallen. In 2011, 57 percent of individuals with employment-based coverage were extremely or very confident that their employer or union would continue to offer health coverage, down from 68 percent in 2000. Most of the erosion in confidence occurred between 2000 and 2002.

FAMILIARITY WITH INSURANCE EXCHANGES LACKING: The vast majority of the population, 62 percent, reported that they were not at all familiar with health insurance exchanges, a key provision in the health reform law of 2010 (PPACA). However, the public does have opinions about the oversight of them: A majority of the population is not confident in the ability of the federal or state governments to run the exchanges, and 42 percent are not confident in private insurers’ ability to run them.

How Do Financial Literacy and Financial Behavior Vary by State?

ROLE OF STATES: This study uses relatively new data to show the difference in financial literacy and financial behavior across states. After controlling for the effect of individual demographic characteristics, most bottom-ranked states have a statistically significant effect on their residents’ financial literacy and almost all states have a statistically significant effect on their residents’ financial behavior. This suggests that there might be something going on at the state level whereby individual financial literacy and financial behavior are being shaped not only by individual demographic characteristics but also by the state in which people live.

TOP-RANKED STATES: New Hampshire and Alaska top the financial literacy and the financial behavior rankings, respectively. Minnesota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Wisconsin, Utah, and Maryland also appear in the top 15 of both rankings.

BOTTOM-RANKED STATES: Louisiana and West Virginia are at the bottom of the financial literacy and the financial behavior rankings, respectively. Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, and Indiana also appear in the bottom 15 of both rankings.

+ Full Document (PDF)

Beauty and Productivity: The Case of the Ladies Professional Golf Association

November 30, 2011 Comments off

Beauty and Productivity: The Case of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (PDF)Source: Research Papers in Economics

There is much evidence that attractive looking workers earn more than average-looking workers, even after controlling for a variety of individual characteristics. The presence of such beauty premiums may influence the labor supply decisions of attractive workers. For example, if one unit of a product by an attractive worker is more rewarded than that by her less attractive coworker, the attractive worker may put more effort into improving her productivity. We examine this possibility by analyzing panel data for individual female golfers participating in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. We find that attractive golfers record lower average scores and earn more prize money than average-looking players, even when controlling for player experience and other variables related to their natural talents. This finding is consistent with the notion that physical appearance is associated with individual workers’ accumulation of human capital or skills. If the human capital of attractive workers is at least partly an outcome of favoritism toward beauty, then the premium estimates obtained by many previous studies may have been downwardly biased.

When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions

November 30, 2011 Comments off

When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions (PDF)
Source: Political Behavior (forthcoming)

An extensive literature addresses citizen ignorance, but very little research focuses on misperceptions. Can these false or unsubstantiated beliefs about politics be corrected? Previous studies have not tested the efficacy of corrections in a realistic format. We conducted four experiments in which subjects read mock news articles that included either a misleading claim from a politician, or a misleading claim and a correction. Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a “backfire effect” in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.

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