Improving Well-Being in the United States
Life is quite good in the United States compared to other OECD countries, thanks to strong economic growth and technological progress having lifted average income to high levels. Nonetheless, there is evidence that the benefits from growth have not been sufficiently broad based. Self-reported happiness increases with income, an issue particularly resonant in a country with among the highest levels of income inequality in the OECD and a pattern of inequality that appears to be moving toward even more concentration at the very top at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Working hours that remain among the longest in the OECD are also creating challenges for work-life balances, child education, personal care and leisure. These pressures are contributing to higher job strain and work-related stress with unhealthy consequences, including for mental health, and a detrimental impact on employability and medical costs. While these trends cannot be easily reversed, a number of policy options are being usefully rolled out and other initiatives are being considered: federal-level policies improving access to health care and early-childhood education, state-level initiatives favouring workplace flexibility, firm-level investments in job quality and greater attention to the health consequences of job-stress. If successfully adopted, they would go a long way toward improving the well-being of American working families.
EEOC Issues Part II of FY 2011 and Part I of FY 2012 Annual Report on Federal Work Force
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released the second part of its Annual Report on the Federal Work Force Part II: Work Force Statistics, Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 (Part II) and the first part of its Annual Report on the Federal Work Force Part I: Complaints Processing Statistics FY 2012 (Part I).
Part II advises the President and Congress on the state of equal employment opportunity (EEO) in the federal sector and contains a summary of selected federal agency EEO program activities, including work force profiles of 65 agencies.
Agency profiles contained in Part II highlight work force participation rates by race, gender, national origin and individuals with targeted disabilities, as well as the breakdown for major occupational categories. The report covers the period from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011.
According to the latest data for FY 2011, there were more than 2.8 million women and men employed by the federal government across the country and worldwide. Of the total federal workforce, 56.19% were men and 43.81% were women. The overall participation rate for women fell slightly from 43.97% in FY 2010 after a period of steady gains.
Overall diversity in federal employment rose slightly in FY 2011, even as the total federal work force declined. According to the report, between FY 2010 and 2011 the work force participation rates increased for employees who are:
- Hispanic or Latino, from 7.90% to 7.95%;
- Asian, from 5.90% to 5.95%;
- Black or African American, from 17.94% to 17.97%; and
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, from 0.36% to 0.38 %.
Additionally, the number of federal employees with targeted disabilities rose to 0.90% after a consecutive 10-year decline, followed by three years of holding steady at 0.88%. Targeted disabilities are considered the most severe impairments and include deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial or complete paralysis, convulsive disorders, intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and distortion of the limb and/or spine.
Support for Common Core Slips, But Majority of Public Still In Favor
Source: Education Next
• Support for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) dropped from 65% in 2013 to 53% in 2014, with support among Republicans falling from 57% to 43%.
• The public’s support for common standards is stronger when the words “Common Core” are not mentioned, with 68% in support.
• The public, on average, gives 50% of teachers an A or a B, but it gives a D or an F to 22% of them.
• One-quarter of those living with school-age children have educated at least one of their children in a setting other than a traditional public school.
• Support for increasing local school spending has not returned to its pre-recession level among those told current spending levels. As compared to 50% in 2008, only 43% favor spending increases in 2014.
• The same is true for teacher salaries. Among those told current salaries in their state, only 38% favor salary increases in 2014, compared to 54% in 2008.
• Only 35% of the public favors class-size reduction when told its cost relative to raising teacher salaries or purchasing more books and technologies, compared to 46% not informed of relative costs.
Safeguarding Children and Youth from Sexual Predators (PDF)
Source: University of Minnesota REACH Lab
In response to a request from The Office of Family Policy, Children and Youth, the Center for Research and Outreach (REACH) team conducted a review of the literature focused on safeguarding children and youth from sexual predators. An extensive and systematic review of the literature was conducted identifying relevant articles and reports ; approximately 400 documents were reviewed for this report . This report focuses on both the tactics that offenders utilize in grooming young people for sexual abuse, as well as existing programs that are in place to protect young people from predatory practices. Based on th e extensive review of empirical evidence , organizational best practices and recommendations are also identified.
Backgrounder — Islamic State in Iraq and Syria
Source: Council on Foreign Relations
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a predominantly Sunni jihadist group, seeks to sow civil unrest in Iraq and the Levant with the aim of establishing a caliphate—a single, transnational Islamic state based on sharia. The group emerged in the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and the insurgency that followed provided it with fertile ground to wage a guerrilla war against coalition forces and their domestic allies.
After a U.S. counterterrorism campaign and Sunni efforts to maintain local security in what was known as the Tribal Awakening, AQI violence diminished from its peak in 2006–2007. But since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in late 2011, the group has increased attacks on mainly Shiite targets in what is seen as an attempt to reignite conflict between Iraq’s Sunni minority and the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Burgeoning violence in 2013 left nearly eight thousand civilians dead, making it Iraq’s bloodiest year since 2008, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, in 2012 the group adopted its new moniker, ISIS (sometimes translated as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL) as an expression of its broadened ambitions as its fighters have crossed into neighboring Syria to challenge both the Assad regime and secular and Islamist opposition groups there. By June 2014, the group’s fighters had routed the Iraqi military in the major cities of Fallujah and Mosul and established territorial control and administrative structures on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
CRS — Guatemala: Political, Security, and Socio-Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations (August 7, 2014)
Guatemala: Political, Security, and Socio-Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)
Since the 1980s, Guatemala, the most populous country in Central America with a population of 15.5 million, has continued its transition from centuries of mostly autocratic rule toward representative government. A democratic constitution was adopted in 1985, and a democratically elected government was inaugurated in 1986. A violent 36-year civil war ended in 1996.
This report provides an overview of Guatemala’s current political and economic conditions, relations with the United States, and several issues likely to figure in future decisions by Congress and the Administration regarding Guatemala. With respect to continued cooperation and foreign assistance, these issues include security and governance; protection of human rights and human rights conditions on some U.S. military aid to Guatemala; support for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala; combating narcotics trafficking and organized crime; trade relations; intercountry adoption; and unaccompanied children at the U.S. border.
Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers
Bridging psychological research exploring emotional complexity and research in the natural sciences on the measurement of biodiversity, we introduce-and demonstrate the benefits of-emodiversity: the variety and relative abundance of the emotions that humans experience. Two cross-sectional studies across more than 37,000 respondents demonstrate that emodiversity is an independent predictor of mental and physical health-such as decreased depression and doctor’s visits-over and above mean levels of positive and negative emotion. These results remained robust after controlling for gender, age, and the five main dimensions of personality. Emodiversity is a practically important and previously unidentified metric for assessing the health of the human emotional ecosystem.
A survey of public opinion about connected vehicles in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia
Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
This survey examined public opinion regarding connected-vehicle technology across three major English-speaking countries—the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. The survey yielded useable responses from 1,596 persons over the age of 18. The main results were as follows:
- The majority of respondents had not previously heard of connected-vehicle technology; however, most had a positive initial opinion of the technology.
- The majority felt that the expected benefits presented in the survey are likely to occur.
- Respondents generally expressed a high level of concern regarding the security and performance issues presented in the survey.
- The majority of those surveyed stated that safety was the most important benefit of connected vehicles.
- Most individuals said that it is important for personal communication devices to integrate with connected vehicles, as well as for such vehicles to have Internet connectivity.
- The majority of respondents expressed a desire to have this technology in their vehicle.
- Willingness to pay for connected-vehicle technology was very similar across the three countries.
The main implications of these results are that the general public in the three countries surveyed feel positive about connected vehicles, have optimistic expectations of the benefits (while still maintaining some concerns), and generally appear ready and willing to embrace connected-vehicle technology when it becomes available.
Cost Containment in the WIC Program: Vendor Peer Groups and Reimbursement Rates
Source: USDA Economic Research Service
This study looks at current WIC cost containment strategies in an effort to make them more effective, enabling the program to serve more participants with its fixed budget resources.
Gap Between Higher- and Lower-Wealth Households Widens, Census Bureau Reports
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Median net worth increased between 2000 and 2011 for households in the top two quintiles of the net worth distribution (the wealthiest 40 percent), while declining for those in the lower three quintiles (the bottom 60 percent), according to new statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The result was a widening wealth gap between those at the top and those in the middle and bottom of the net worth distribution. Each quintile represents 20 percent, or one-fifth, of all households.
The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book
Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation
The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the 2014 report ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: (1) economic well-being, (2) education, (3) health, and (4) family and community. For 2014, the three highest-ranked states for child well-being were Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa; the three lowest-ranked were Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi. The report also provides national trends, comparing the latest data with mid-decade statistics.
The 2014 Data Book is the 25th edition of the Casey Foundation’s signature publication. As such, the report also examines trends in child well-being since 1990, the year of the first report. It highlights positive policies and practices that have improved child health and development and features stories from several states on advocacy efforts that have improved outcomes for kids and families.
It’s the Family, Stupid? Not Quite…How Traditional Gender Roles Do Not Affect Women’s Political Ambition
It’s the Family, Stupid? Not Quite…How Traditional Gender Roles Do Not Affect Women’s Political Ambition
Source: Brookings Institution
Following Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy announcement in April of 2014, media outlets speculated whether the future grandchild to Hillary Clinton would impact her potential presidential campaign in 2016. In this research paper, Jennifer Lawless addresses the question of whether family roles and responsibilities affect a potential candidate’s political career. Lawless analyzes both female and male candidates and finds that traditional roles and responsibilities have little influence on candidates’ decision to run for office.
Lawless conducted a study that examined the relationship between family arrangements and political ambition, looking specifically at whether being married, having children and having other household responsibilities affects the desire to run for office. She found that none of these variables had significant impact on candidacy considerations. While women’s numeric under-representation in politics is glaring, regardless of the level of office studied and the gender gap in political ambition among potential candidates is as large now as it was a decade ago, Lawless concludes that none of these disparities are influenced by family roles.