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Have Distressed Neighborhoods Recovered? Evidence from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Have Distressed Neighborhoods Recovered? Evidence from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

During the 2007-2009 housing crisis, concentrations of foreclosed and vacant properties created severe blight in many cities and neighborhoods. The federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was established to help mitigate distress in hard-hit areas by funding the rehabilitation or demolition of troubled properties. This paper analyzes housing market changes in areas that received investments during the second round of NSP funding, focusing on seven large urban counties. Grantees used NSP to invest in census tracts with high rates of distressed and vacancy properties, and tracts that had previously received other housing subsidies. The median NSP tract received quite sparse investment, relative to the overall housing stock and the initial levels of distress. Analysis of housing market outcomes indicates the recovery has been uneven across counties and neighborhoods. In a few counties, there is some evidence that NSP2 activity is correlated with improved housing outcomes.

New Census Bureau Population Estimates Reveal Metro Areas and Counties that Propelled Growth in Florida and the Nation

March 26, 2015 Comments off

New Census Bureau Population Estimates Reveal Metro Areas and Counties that Propelled Growth in Florida and the Nation
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Florida was home to the nation’s fastest growing metro area from 2013 to 2014, according to new U.S. Census Bureau metropolitan statistical area, micropolitan statistical area and county population estimates released today.

The Villages, located to the west of the Orlando metro area, grew by 5.4 percent between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, to reach a population of about 114,000. State population estimates released in December revealed that Florida had become the nation’s third most populous state. Today’s estimates show Florida’s growth to reach this milestone was propelled by numerous metro areas and counties within the state.

The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America

March 26, 2015 Comments off

The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America
Source: Brookings Institution

Proximity to employment can influence a range of economic and social outcomes, from local fiscal health to the employment prospects of residents, particularly low-income and minority workers. An analysis of private-sector employment and demographic data at the census tract level reveals that:

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of jobs within the typical commute distance for residents in a major metro area fell by 7 percent.

As employment suburbanized, the number of jobs near both the typical city and suburban resident fell.

As poor and minority residents shifted toward suburbs in the 2000s, their proximity to jobs fell more than for non-poor and white residents.

Residents of high-poverty and majority-minority neighborhoods experienced particularly pronounced declines in job proximity.

Partisan Differences in the Distributional Effects of Economic Growth: Stock Market Performance, Unemployment, and Political Control of the Presidency

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Partisan Differences in the Distributional Effects of Economic Growth: Stock Market Performance, Unemployment, and Political Control of the Presidency
Source: Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties

This article examines the differences in the distributional effects of economic growth. While all incumbents are incentivized to create economic growth in order to win reelection, they use a diverse variety of policies to achieve this growth. These policy choices are often congruent with the demands of the core constituent groups of the respective parties. This suggests that economic growth is not equally shared by all, but that some groups are more or less benefited from the sets of policies chosen by the incumbent parties to stimulate growth. We test this proposition by investigating the effects of economic growth on stock market performance and unemployment. Our results show that economic growth under Republican presidents has a stronger effect on stimulating stock market performance, while economic growth under Democratic presidents has a stronger effect on reducing unemployment. Overall, these results highlight the partisan differences in macroeconomic policy and illustrate one of the causal mechanisms behind the substantial and rising economic inequality in the USA.

Protection in Crisis: Forced Migration and Protection in a Global Era

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Protection in Crisis: Forced Migration and Protection in a Global Era
Source: Migration Policy Institute

More than 51 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced today as refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced persons. According to the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to be recognized legally as a refugee, an individual must be fleeing persecution on the basis of religion, race, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group, and must be outside the country of nationality. However, the contemporary drivers of displacement are complex and multilayered, making protection based on a strict definition of persecution increasingly problematic and challenging to implement.

Many forced migrants now fall outside the recognized refugee and asylum apparatus. Much displacement today is driven by a combination of intrastate conflict, poor governance and political instability, environmental change, and resource scarcity. These conditions, while falling outside traditionally defined persecution, leave individuals highly vulnerable to danger and uncertain of the future, compelling them to leave their homes in search of greater security. In addition, the blurring of lines between voluntary and forced migration, as seen in mixed migration flows, together with the expansion of irregular migration, further complicates today’s global displacement picture.

This report details the increasing mismatch between the legal and normative frameworks that define the existing protection regime and the contemporary patterns of forced displacement. It analyzes contemporary drivers and emerging trends of population displacement, noting that the majority of forcibly displaced people—some 33.3 million—remain within their own countries, and that more than 50 percent of the displaced live in urban areas. The author then outlines and assesses key areas where the international protection system is under the most pressure, and finally examines the key implications of these trends for policymakers and the international community, outlining some possible policy directions for reform.

CRS — International Drug Control Policy: Background and U.S. Responses (March 16, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

International Drug Control Policy: Background and U.S. Responses (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The global illegal drug trade represents a multi-dimensional challenge that has implications for U.S. national interests as well as the international community. Common illegal drugs trafficked internationally include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. According to the U.S. intelligence community, international drug trafficking can undermine political and regional stability and bolster the role and capabilities of transnational criminal organizations in the drug trade. Key regions of concern include Latin America and Afghanistan, which are focal points in U.S. efforts to combat the production and transit of cocaine and heroin, respectively. Drug use and addiction have the potential to negatively affect the social fabric of communities, hinder economic development, and place an additional burden on national public health infrastructures.

2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?

March 25, 2015 Comments off

2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?
Source: Brookings Institution

The 2015 Brown Center Report (BCR) represents the 14th edition of the series since the first issue was published in 2000. It includes three studies. Like all previous BCRs, the studies explore independent topics but share two characteristics: they are empirical and based on the best evidence available. The studies in this edition are on the gender gap in reading, the impact of the Common Core State Standards — English Language Arts on reading achievement, and student engagement.

Part one examines the gender gap in reading. Girls outscore boys on practically every reading test given to a large population. And they have for a long time. A 1942 Iowa study found girls performing better than boys on tests of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and basic language skills. Girls have outscored boys on every reading test ever given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—the first long term trend test was administered in 1971—at ages nine, 13, and 17. The gap is not confined to the U.S.

Part two is about reading achievement, too. More specifically, it’s about reading and the English Language Arts standards of the Common Core (CCSS-ELA). It’s also about an important decision that policy analysts must make when evaluating public policies—the determination of when a policy begins. How can CCSS be properly evaluated?

Part three is on student engagement. PISA tests fifteen-year-olds on three subjects—reading, math, and science—every three years. It also collects a wealth of background information from students, including their attitudes toward school and learning.

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