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Using a Life Cycle Model to Evaluate Financial Literacy Program Effectiveness

May 10, 2015 Comments off

Using a Life Cycle Model to Evaluate Financial Literacy Program Effectiveness
Source: Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (Pension Research Council)

Prior studies disagree regarding the effectiveness of financial literacy programs, especially those offered in the workplace. To explain such measurement differences in evaluation and outcomes, we employ a stochastic life cycle model with endogenous financial knowledge accumulation to investigate how financial education programs optimally shape key economic outcomes. This approach permits us to measure how such programs shape wealth accumulation, financial knowledge, and participation in sophisticated assets (e.g. stocks) across heterogeneous consumers. We then apply conventional program evaluation econometric techniques to simulated data, distinguishing selection and treatment effects. We show that the more effective programs provide follow-up in order to sustain the knowledge acquired by employees via the program; in such an instance, financial education delivered to employees around the age of 40 can raise savings at retirement by close to 10%. By contrast, one-time education programs do produce short-term but few long-term effects. We also measure how accounting for selection affects estimates of program effectiveness on those who participate. Comparisons of participants and non-participants can be misleading, even using a difference-in-difference strategy. Random program assignment is needed to evaluate program effects on those who participate.

ASEAN on the Rise

March 17, 2015 Comments off

ASEAN on the Rise
Source: Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

With 610 million people, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, is less than half the size of China’s market, but the region’s quickly growing — and relatively big spending — middle class has become increasingly attractive to multinationals and foreign investors. The ASEAN bloc — which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — is nudging Chinese manufacturers aside as China’s labor force begins to shrink and wages rise. Moreover, the planned launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015 is likely to help sustain rapid economic growth in the medium term, analysts say.

This special report looks at the forces shaping the ASEAN region in 2015, most notably the effect of falling oil prices, along with in-depth views of two countries — Thailand and Indonesia — which are both facing unique challenges on the road to becoming economic powerhouses. Also included is an interview with Kan Trakulhoon, president and CEO of SCG, one of Thailand’s largest conglomerates, on managing a workforce in a volatile economic environment.

Greener Hospitals: Building Consensus for Health Care Sustainability

March 5, 2015 Comments off

Greener Hospitals: Building Consensus for Health Care Sustainability
Source: Knowledge@Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

Until recently, health care was not a major part of the sustainability discussion. And the reverse was just as true: Few within the health care industry thought much about sustainability. Yet the two fields overlap in many important ways.

Health care has a sizeable impact on the environment. In her book, Greening Health Care, Kathy Gerwig, vice president of employee safety, health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente, notes that hospitals are the second-most energy-intensive commercial buildings in the U.S. and that the industry is responsible for 8% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. “Health care institutions are consistently among the top 10 water users in their communities,” she writes, and they are “the single-largest users of chemical agents.” The volume of waste flowing out of hospitals is mammoth — more than 2.3 million tons per year — including everything from paper and cardboard to infectious materials and radioactive waste.

2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report

January 30, 2015 Comments off

2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (PDF)
Source: University of Pennsylvania

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world. Often referred to as the “think tanks’ think tank,” TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations. Over the last 25 years, the TTCSP has developed and led a series of global initiatives that have helped bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical policy areas such as international peace and security, globalization and governance, international economics, environmental issues, information and society, poverty alleviation, and healthcare and global health. These international collaborative efforts are designed to establish regional and international networks of policy institutes and communities that improve policy making while strengthening democratic institutions and civil societies around the world.

The TTCSP works with leading scholars and practitioners from think tanks and universities in a variety of collaborative efforts and programs, and produces the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index that ranks the world’s leading think tanks in a variety of categories. This is achieved with the help of a panel of over 1,900 peer institutions and experts from the print and electronic media, academia, public and private donor institutions, and governments around the world. We have strong relationships with leading think tanks around the world, and our annual Think Tank Index is used by academics, journalists, donors and the public to locate and connect with the leading centers of public policy research around the world. Our goal is to increase the profile and performance of think tanks and raise the public awareness of the important role think tanks play in governments and civil societies around the globe.

Since its inception in 1989, the TTCSP has focused on collecting data and conducting research on think tank trends and the role think tanks play as civil society actors in the policymaking process. In 2007, the TTCSP developed and launched the global index of think tanks, which is designed to identify and recognize centers of excellence in all the major areas of public policy research and in every region of the world. To date TTCSP has provided technical assistance and capacity building programs in 81 countries. We are now working to create regional and global networks of think tanks in an effort to facilitate collaboration and the production of a modest yet achievable set of global public goods. Our goal is to create lasting institutional and state-level partnerships by engaging and mobilizing think tanks that have demonstrated their ability to produce high quality policy research and shape popular and elite opinion and actions for public good.

Improving Government Performance, Anticipating Citizens’ Needs

September 26, 2014 Comments off

Improving Government Performance, Anticipating Citizens’ Needs (PDF)
Source: University of Pennsylvania (Knowledge@Wharton)

Predictive analytics is becoming a vital tool for governments trying to tackle tax evaders, terrorists, flu epidemics — and more.

The Role of Contagion in the Housing Boom (and Bust)

September 16, 2014 Comments off

The Role of Contagion in the Housing Boom (and Bust)
Source: Knowledge@Wharton

A run-up in housing prices in one metropolitan area has the ability to cause a similar housing boom in a neighboring area — but recent Wharton research examining the housing surge, and subsequent bust, in the middle of the last decade finds that such a bump cannot be explained fully by fundamental economic factors such as the spread of higher incomes or new jobs sparking greater employment in a nearby city.

The research paper, “The Role of Contagion in the Last American Housing Cycle,” was written by Wharton real estate professors Joseph Gyourko and Fernando Ferreira, and doctoral students Anthony DeFusco and Wenjie Ding.

The paper examines the boom, which crested in the middle of the last decade, followed by a woeful tumble that caused many homeowners to owe more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. The authors use that sinister sounding word, “contagion,” to describe the phenomenon of a housing boom spreading from one area to a neighboring area.

They illustrate the phenomenon in a series of maps that show the housing boom spreading, year after year, from region to neighboring region. It started in 1997 in California and the area connecting New York and Boston, slowly spreading along either coast, and into Arizona, Nevada and Florida.

The researchers crunched the numbers and found that as one metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, experienced a boom, its neighboring MSA often also saw a bump in activity, and remained higher for several years.

2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report

April 10, 2014 Comments off

2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report
Source: Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (University of Pennsylvania)

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania released its seventh annual 2013 Global Go To Think Tanks Report on Wednesday January 22, 2014, at a morning press conference in Washington DC, hosted by the World Bank. The 2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) marks the seventh year of continued efforts by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania (TTCSP) to acknowledge the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide. Our initial effort to generate a ranking of the world’s leading think tanks in 2006 was a response to a series of requests from donors, government officials, journalists, and scholars, to produce regional and international rankings of the world’s preeminent think tanks. Since its inception, our ongoing objective for the GGTTI report is to gain understanding of the role think tanks play in governments and civil societies. Using this knowledge, we hope to assist in improving the capacity and performance of think tanks around the world.

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