The Impact of Aging Baby Boomers on Labor Force Participation
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
The brief’s key findings are:
- Older people have lower labor force participation rates than younger adults, so aging baby boomers are pushing down overall participation.
- This aging effect accounts for more than 40 percent of the decline since the onset of the Great Recession.
- An aging population also lowers unemployment slightly because older individuals who remain in the labor force are more likely to have a job.
- The aging trend will continue for the rest of the decade and will show up in monthly labor force statistics.
Conflict and fragility: Resource flows and trends in fragile states
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Fragile States 2014: Domestic Revenue Mobilisation is the latest in a series of annual publications on resource flows to fragile states produced by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) through the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF) since 2006.
Fragile States 2014: Domestic Revenue Mobilisation
Aid has declined by 2.4% in 2011 and will continue its downward trend. Meanwhile, the share of the world’s poor found in fragile states is set to rise to a half by 2018; of the seven countries that are unlikely to meet a single MDG, six are fragile.
The report reveals that aid remains the largest source of development finance for fragile least-developed countries, while remittances from migrants have outpaced aid in other fragile states. Those transfers could be used better to finance development; this report provides insights on how to do this.
The report also finds that fragile states still only collect 14% of their GDP in taxes on average, well below the 20% UN benchmark viewed as the minimum needed to meet development goals. Yet a mere 0.07% of official development assistance (ODA) to fragile states is directed towards building accountable tax systems. The report therefore asks how donors can use their aid to support fragile states in mobilising more domestic revenue, and provides many recent country examples.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Conflict, poor governance, and a long-running humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) present a range of challenges for international policy makers, including Members of Congress. Chronic instability in the mineral-rich and densely populated east of the country has caused widespread human suffering and inhibited private sector investment throughout the wider Great Lakes region of central Africa. Congolese political actors have displayed limited capacity and will to improve security and governance, while neighboring states have reportedly periodically provided support to rebel groups in DRC.
Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The ongoing conflict in Syria that began in March 2011 has created one of the most pressing humanitarian crises in the world. As of early February 2014, an estimated 9.3 million people in Syria, nearly half the population, have been affected by the conflict. This figure includes estimates of between 6.5 million displaced inside Syria and 2.4 million Syrians displaced as refugees, with 97% fleeing to countries in the immediate surrounding region, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and other parts of North Africa. The situation is fluid and continues to worsen, while humanitarian needs are immense and increase daily.
While internationally supervised disarmament of chemical weapons in Syria is proceeding, albeit with some difficulty, U.S. and international diplomatic efforts to negotiate a political end to the fighting in Syria opened on January 22, 2014, in Montreux, Switzerland. The “Geneva II” talks include some members of the Syrian opposition, representatives of the Syrian government, and other government leaders. The talks came to an end on January 31 and resumed February 10-15, 2014, but ended with little progress in efforts to end the civil war. The parties reportedly agreed to an agenda for the next round of talks. Many experts and observers hoped that a lasting agreement would have been reached on “humanitarian pauses” to allow access and relief to thousands of civilians blockaded in towns and cities in Syria. On February 22, 2014, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2139 (2014) to increase humanitarian access and aid delivery in Syria.
U.S. Catholics View Pope Francis as a Change for the Better
Source: Pew Religion & Public Life Project
One year into his pontificate, Pope Francis remains immensely popular among American Catholics and is widely seen as a force for positive change within the Roman Catholic Church. More than eight-in-ten U.S. Catholics say they have a favorable view of the pontiff, including half who view him very favorably. The percentage of Catholics who view Francis “very favorably” now rivals the number who felt equally positive about Pope John Paul II in the 1980s and 1990s, though Francis’ overall favorability rating remains a few points shy of that of the long-serving Polish pope.
But despite the pope’s popularity and the widespread perception that he is a change for the better, it is less clear whether there has been a so-called “Francis effect,” a discernible change in the way American Catholics approach their faith. There has been no measurable rise in the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholic. Nor has there been a statistically significant change in how often Catholics say they go to Mass. And the survey finds no evidence that larger numbers of Catholics are either going to confession or volunteering in their churches or communities.
Quantifying policy tradeoffs to support aging populations
Source: Demographic Research
Coping with aging populations is a challenge for most developed countries. Supporting non-working adults can create an unsustainable burden on those working. One way of dealing with this is to raise the normal pension age, but this has proven unpopular. A complementary approach is to raise the average labor force participation rate. These policies are generally more politically palatable because they often remove barriers, allowing people who would like to work to do so.
To conceptualize and estimate the trade-off between pension age and labor force participation rate policies.
We project the populations of European countries and apply different levels of labor force participation rates to the projected populations. We introduce the notion of a relative burden, which is the ratio of the fraction of the income of people in the labor market in 2050 that they transfer to adults out of the labor market to the same fraction in 2009. We use this indicator to investigate the trade-offs between changes in normal pension ages and the general level of labor force participation rates.
We show that, in most European countries, a difference in policies that results in an increase in average labor force participation rates by an additional one to two percentage points by 2050 can substitute for a one-year increase in the normal pension age. This is important because, in many European countries, without additional increases in labor force participation rates, normal pension ages would have to be raised well above 68 by 2050 to keep the burden on those working manageable.
Because of anticipated increases in life expectancy and health at older ages as well as because of financial necessity, some mix of increases in pension ages and in labor force participation rates will be needed. Pension age changes by themselves will not be sufficient.
Wilderness: Legislation and Issues in the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)
The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System and directed that only Congress can designate federal lands as part of the system. Free-standing bills to designate wilderness areas are typically introduced and considered in each Congress; such bills are not amendments to the Wilderness Act, but typically refer to the act for management guidance and sometimes include special provisions. Numerous wilderness bills were introduced in the 112th Congress, but it was the first Congress since 1966 that did not add to the wilderness system. The 112th Congress was the first in decades not to designate additional wilderness; the only wilderness law that was enacted reduced the size of a wilderness area. Many bills to add to the wilderness system have been introduced in the 113th Congress.
Wilderness designation can be controversial. The designation generally prohibits commercial activities, motorized access, and human infrastructure from wilderness areas; however, there are several exceptions to this general rule. Advocates propose wilderness designations to preserve the generally undeveloped conditions of the areas. Opponents see such designations as preventing certain uses and potential economic development in rural areas where such opportunities are relatively limited.
Age and Scientific Genius
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research
Great scientific output typically peaks in middle age. A classic literature has emphasized comparisons across fields in the age of peak performance. More recent work highlights large underlying variation in age and creativity patterns, where the average age of great scientific contributions has risen substantially since the early 20th Century and some scientists make pioneering contributions much earlier or later in their life-cycle than others. We review these literatures and show how the nexus between age and great scientific insight can inform the nature of creativity, the mechanisms of scientific progress, and the design of institutions that support scientists, while providing further insights about the implications of aging populations, education policies, and economic growth.
Racial Discrimination: How Far Have We Come?
Source: Harris Interactive
In the midst of Black History Month, it is perhaps an appropriate time to examine some of our nation’s historical racial divides and reflect on changes that we as a country have seen over time. As far back as 1969 and 1972, The Harris Poll measured perceptions among U.S. adults as to whether blacks were discriminated against in a variety of areas of American life. A new Harris Poll revisits the same line of inquiry and finds that, 45 years later, there have been some sizeable changes – along with a disparaging lack of change in some regards.
Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room (PDF)
Source: Merrill Lynch
For most, family makes life—and life in retirement—richer and more enjoyable. But family connections can also complicate retirement. Retirement planning has traditionally centered largely on the needs of an individual or a couple. This landmark Study reveals the impact that today’s family complexities and financial interdependencies have on retirement, and shows how pre-retirees and retirees can better plan, engage and communicate with family members to balance both family priorities and their own long-term retirement security.
The lives of retirees and pre-retirees today are complicated by three converging trends:
- Parenthood Doesn’t Retire. In today’s uncertain economy, adult children and other younger relatives— struggling with career stalls and financial difficulties—are increasingly turning to older family members for a helping hand.
- Extended Lives, Extended Needs. At the same time, rising longevity is introducing new complications. The parents of today’s pre-retirees and retirees are living longer than any prior generation and very often require greater emotional, physical and financial support.
- Stretched and Stressed. Many pre-retirees and retirees have insufficient savings, putting them on shaky ground as they attempt to balance the competing priorities and tradeoffs of preparing for and financially managing their own retirement while also helping family members.
The Divorce Revolution and Generalized Trust: Evidence from the United States 1973-2010 (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor
This paper examines the effect of exposure to a culture of easier divorce as a minor on generalized trust using the General Social Survey from 1973-2010. The easier divorce culture is defined as the introduction of no-fault including unilateral divorce reforms across the US. According to the results, the divorce revolution seems to have had some effect on trust levels across the US. While there are no discernible effects for the whole sample of men, there are statistically significant effects for women with an additional year of exposure being associated with a 4 percentage point lower generalized trust in the states with easy divorce culture compared to states with fault based divorce culture. An analysis by sub-group of women indicates that married and divorced/separated women have significantly lower levels of trust associated with exposure to easy divorce culture as a child. The findings are in agreement with the predictions of previous literature regarding no-fault divorce reforms reducing the security offered by marriage, in particular for women.
BYOB: How Bringing your Own Shopping Bags Leads to Treating Yourself, and the Environment (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers
As concerns about climate change and resource availability become more central in public discourse, using reusable grocery bags has been strongly promoted as an environmentally and socially conscious virtue. In parallel, firms have joined policy makers in using a variety of initiatives to reduce the use of plastic bags. However, little is known about how adopting reusable bags might alter consumers’ in-store behavior. Using scanner panel data from a single California location of a major grocery chain, and completely controlling for consumer heterogeneity, we demonstrate that bringing your own bags simultaneously increases your purchases of environmentally conscious and indul gent (hedonic) items. Supporting these effects, we use experimental methods to demonstrate that participants who imag ned shopping with their own bags are more likely to spontaneously consider purchasing chips or dessert items, and indicate relatively higher willingness to pay for foods in these categories, as well as for organic foods. Furthermore, we show that the impact on organic and indulgent items is dissociable in a manner dependent on the consumers’ motivatio n for bringing bags. These findings have implications for decisions related to product pricing, placement and assortment, store layout, and the choice of strategies to increase the use of reusable bags.