Archive for the ‘social and cultural issues’ Category

Social protection global policy trends 2010-2015

November 25, 2014 Comments off

Social protection global policy trends 2010-2015
Source: International Labour Organization

This policy paper: (i) examines IMF government spending projections for 181 countries, identifying two main phases: fiscal expansion (2008-2009) and fiscal consolidation (2010 onwards); (ii) presents the main adjustment measures considered since 2010 and their adverse socio-economic impacts in both high income and developing countries; (iii) analyses divergent trends in social protection across regions, focusing on the positive expansion of social protection floors in a majority of developing countries; (iv) reviews potential areas of fiscal space for the necessary extension of social protection systems; and (v) presents the developmental arguments to invest in social protection in pursuit of crisis recovery, inclusive development and social justice.

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Skills mismatch in Europe: Statistics brief

November 25, 2014 Comments off

Skills mismatch in Europe: Statistics brief
Source: International Labour Organization

This Statistics Brief analyzes the incidence of overeducation and undereducation (skills mismatch) in a sample of European economies. Mismatch patterns are shown to depend strongly on the measure of mismatch that is adopted, but overeducation is increasing and undereducation is decreasing on at least one measure in at least half of the countries for which such trends can be assessed. Differences in skills mismatch risk between age groups and sexes are discussed, and country-specific trends are identified.

Patterns of Brain Activation when Mothers View Their Own Child and Dog: An fMRI Study

November 24, 2014 Comments off

Patterns of Brain Activation when Mothers View Their Own Child and Dog: An fMRI Study
Source: PLoS ONE

Neural substrates underlying the human-pet relationship are largely unknown. We examined fMRI brain activation patterns as mothers viewed images of their own child and dog and an unfamiliar child and dog. There was a common network of brain regions involved in emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social cognition when mothers viewed images of both their child and dog. Viewing images of their child resulted in brain activity in the midbrain (ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra involved in reward/affiliation), while a more posterior cortical brain activation pattern involving fusiform gyrus (visual processing of faces and social cognition) characterized a mother’s response to her dog. Mothers also rated images of their child and dog as eliciting similar levels of excitement (arousal) and pleasantness (valence), although the difference in the own vs. unfamiliar child comparison was larger than the own vs. unfamiliar dog comparison for arousal. Valence ratings of their dog were also positively correlated with ratings of the attachment to their dog. Although there are similarities in the perceived emotional experience and brain function associated with the mother-child and mother-dog bond, there are also key differences that may reflect variance in the evolutionary course and function of these relationships.

Youth Internet Safety: Risks, Responses, and Research Recommendations

November 24, 2014 Comments off

Youth Internet Safety: Risks, Responses, and Research Recommendations
Source: Brookings Institution

Despite the significant amount of research on these risks, improving child/youth Internet safety remains a challenge. In part, this is because definitions of terms and categories relevant to online safety (such as “cyberbullying”) often vary, making the comparison of statistics and findings among sources imprecise. In addition, there are complex overlaps among different online safety subtopics.

Overall, these factors can make identifying the specific gaps in existing research and knowledge difficult. If these gaps can be better identified and filled, a data-based understanding of issues facing youth could play a key role in driving policy decisions regarding online safety.

In this paper, Adina Farrukh, Rebecca Sadwick and John Villasenor provide:

  1. an overview of existing online safety research across a wide range of categories
  2. an analysis of major findings
  3. an identification of knowledge gaps, and
  4. a set of recommendations for specific areas of research that can further the policy dialog regarding online safety

Making Smart Decisions About Surveillance: A Guide for Communities

November 24, 2014 Comments off

Making Smart Decisions About Surveillance: A Guide for Communities
Source: American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California

In the wake of the revelations about the National Security Agency’s rampant warrantless spying and the use of military equipment in Ferguson, Missouri to quell protests, communities are increasingly focused on the need for greater transparency, oversight, and accountability of surveillance and local policing.

Leaders and residents want to know when and why surveillance is being considered, what it is intended to do, and what it will really cost — both in dollars and in individual rights — before taking any steps to seek funding or acquire or deploy surveillance technology. They also want to craft robust rules to ensure proper use, oversight, and accountability if surveillance is used.

This first-of-its-kind guide provides step-by-step assistance to help communities ask and answer the right questions about surveillance. It includes case studies highlighting smart approaches and missteps to avoid. Because each community and each type of surveillance may present a different set of issues, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, this guide gives communities a flexible framework that policymakers, community members and law enforcement should use to properly evaluate a wide array of surveillance technologies and develop policies that provide transparency, oversight, and accountability. It also includes a Surveillance & Community Safety Ordinance that communities should adopt to ensure that the right process is followed every time.

Americans’ Perceptions of Privacy are Varied

November 24, 2014 Comments off

Americans’ Perceptions of Privacy are Varied
Source: Pew Research Internet Project

To better understand how the public thinks about privacy, a representative sample of 607 adults were asked an open-ended question in an online survey: “When you hear the word “privacy,” what comes to mind for you?” The responses that followed were striking in their variance, ranging from one-word entries to lengthier descriptions that touched on multiple concepts.

Once the responses were coded, a set of key words and themes emerged as the most frequently referenced and top-of-mind for the general public. Each of the top ten themes was referenced in at least 5% of the total responses. However, a full 22% of the responses referenced some other theme that was mentioned only a handful of times or was entirely unique.

Pharma Pays $825 Million to Doctors and Hospitals, ACA’s Sunshine Act Reveals

November 24, 2014 Comments off

Pharma Pays $825 Million to Doctors and Hospitals, ACA’s Sunshine Act Reveals
Source: Brookings Institution

A not so well-known provision of the Affordable Care Act is the Sunshine Act. The purpose of this act is to increase the transparency in the health care market by requiring doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers to disclose their financial relationships. Mandated by the Sunshine Act, on September 30th, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly released the first set of data, under the Open Payments title. This data includes $3.5 billion paid to over half a million doctors and teaching hospitals in the last five months of 2013.

A subset of Open Payments data that is individually identifiable includes two categories of payments. The first category are the payments that are made for other reasons such as travel reimbursement, royalties, speaking and consulting fees and the second are payments which are made as research grants. These datasets together include more than 2.3 million financial transactions which amount to a total of more than $825 million.


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