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Introduction to A Theory of the Allocation of Time by Gary Becker

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Introduction to A Theory of the Allocation of Time by Gary Becker (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

Gary Becker’s classic study, A Theory of the Allocation of Time, laid the analytical foundations for the study of household production and the allocation of time within the household. The analytical framework of household production theory developed in this paper remained a pillar of his later work on the economics of the family and the economics of nonmarket activities more generally. Becker provided a formal model of households producing outputs like food, children, and housing that bundled goods and time. Becker’s great contribution was to apply the model to interpret a broad array of empirical phenomena. Becker’s framework allowed for a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of consumer choice, and interpretation of income and substitution effects. Its continuing relevance in empirical economics is a testimony to its power.

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Net Farm Income Forecast To Fall in 2014

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Net Farm Income Forecast To Fall in 2014
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Net farm income is forecast to be $113.2 billion in 2014, down about 14 percent from 2013’s forecast of $131.3 billion. The 2014 forecast would be the lowest since 2010, but would remain $25 billion above the previous 10-year average. Lower cash receipts for crops and, to a lesser degree, higher production expenses and reduced government farm payments, drive the expected drop in net farm income. Net cash income is forecast at $123 billion, down almost 6 percent from the 2013 forecast. Net cash income is projected to decline less than net farm income primarily because it reflects the sale of more than $10 billion in carryover stocks from 2013.

Pesticides in U.S. Streams and Rivers: Occurrence and Trends during 1992–2011

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Pesticides in U.S. Streams and Rivers: Occurrence and Trends during 1992–2011
Source: Environmental Science & Technology

During the 20 years from 1992 to 2011, pesticides were found at concentrations that exceeded aquatic-life benchmarks in many rivers and streams that drain agricultural, urban, and mixed-land use watersheds. Overall, the proportions of assessed streams with one or more pesticides that exceeded an aquatic-life benchmark were very similar between the two decades for agricultural (69% during 1992−2001 compared to 61% during 2002−2011) and mixed-land-use streams (45% compared to 46%). Urban streams, in contrast, increased from 53% during 1992−2011 to 90% during 2002−2011, largely because of fipronil and dichlorvos. The potential for adverse effects on aquatic life is likely greater than these results indicate because potentially important pesticide compounds were not included in the assessment. Human-health benchmarks were much less frequently exceeded, and during 2002−2011, only one agricultural stream and no urban or mixed-land-use streams exceeded human-health benchmarks for any of the measured pesticides. Widespread trends in pesticide concentrations, some downward and some upward, occurred in response to shifts in use patterns primarily driven by regulatory changes and introductions of new pesticides.

Health and Wellness in America: The Consumer Perspective

September 10, 2014 Comments off

Health and Wellness in America: The Consumer Perspective
Source: Nielsen

Health is trending in the U.S. From superfoods like kale to new exercise fads like yoga and CrossFit, healthy habits are on the tip of the American public’s tongue. So with health and wellness going mainstream, have people really changed their habits?

Consumers aspire to better health and healthier eating, but wanting and doing are two different things. More than one-third of American adults are still obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And half admit that healthy eating is a challenge, especially in the face of rising food costs.

Despite setbacks, however, the desire to achieve an improved quality of life is driving consumers to pursue specific health and wellness behaviors, such as consuming healthy foods or reading package labels. By identifying unmet consumer nutrient needs, finding foods that address consumers’ health concerns and understanding different consumer segments’ varied habits, retailers and manufacturers can help consumers overcome the obstacles they face when it comes to health and wellness and improve their lifestyles.

New From the GAO

September 8, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Defense Infrastructure: DOD Needs to Improve Its Efforts to Identify Unutilized and Underutilized Facilities. GAO-14-538, September 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-538
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665576.pdf

2. Information Security: Agencies Need to Improve Oversight of Contractor Controls. GAO-14-612, August 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-612
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665245.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664981

3. Personnel Security Clearances: Additional Guidance and Oversight Needed at DHS and DOD to Ensure Consistent Application of Revocation Process. GAO-14-640, September 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-640
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665594.pdf

4. Medicaid Demonstrations: HHS’s Approval Process for Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion Waiver Raises Cost Concerns. GAO-14-689R, August 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-689R

5. Crop Insurance: Considerations in Reducing Federal Premium Subsidies. GAO-14-700, August 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-700
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665268.pdf

6. Special Operations Forces: DOD’s Report to Congress Generally Addressed the Statutory Requirements but Lacks Detail. GAO-14-820R, September 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-820R

7. DOD Education Benefits: Action Is Needed To Ensure Evaluations Of Postsecondary Schools Are Useful. GAO-14-855, September 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-855
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665581.pdf

Household Food Security in the United States in 2013

September 4, 2014 Comments off

Household Food Security in the United States in 2013
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

An estimated 14.3 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2013, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The change from 14.5 percent in 2012 was not statistically significant.The prevalence of very low food security was essentially unchanged at 5.6 percent.

See also: Household Food Security in the United States in 2013: Statistical Supplement

Perceived Reactions of Elementary School Students to Changes in School Lunches after Implementation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s New Meals Standards: Minimal Backlash, but Rural and Socioeconomic Disparities Exist

September 3, 2014 Comments off

Perceived Reactions of Elementary School Students to Changes in School Lunches after Implementation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s New Meals Standards: Minimal Backlash, but Rural and Socioeconomic Disparities Exist
Source: Childhood Obesity

Background:
Updated standards for meals sold through the USDA’s National School Lunch Program took effect at the beginning of the 2012–2013 school year. The current study assessed the perceptions of school staff regarding student reactions to these changes in school lunches and how perceptions varied across schools.

Methods:
Mailback surveys were gathered from administrators and food service staff at a nationally representative sample of 557 US public elementary schools in the second half of the 2012–2013 school year.

Results:
Half of the respondents (56.4%) agreed that students complained about the meals at first, but 70% agreed that students like the new lunches. Perceived student complaints were significantly higher among respondents from rural schools (n=184) than from urban (n=127) or suburban (n=171) schools. Respondents at rural schools also were more likely to report that they perceived that fewer students were purchasing the meals and that students were consuming less of the meals than during the previous year. Perceived student complaints were higher at schools not offering regular (i.e., higher-fat) pizza. Respondents at socioeconomically disadvantaged schools (>66% of students eligible for free/reduced-priced meals) perceived that more students were buying lunch and that students were eating more of the meal than in the previous year.

Conclusions:
Perceptions of school personnel suggest reasonable acceptance of school lunches subsequent to revisions. Given the importance of offering healthful foods at school, the revised USDA meals standards are a promising strategy to improve the diets of children.

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