Source: European University Institute
The Euro resources directory provides information about the Eurozone and a bibliography
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research (via University of California, Santa Cruz)
Computers are an important part of modern education, yet many schoolchildren lack access to a computer at home. We test whether this impedes educational achievement by conducting the largest-ever field experiment that randomly provides free home computers to students. Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance and disciplinary actions. Our estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The estimated null effect is consistent with survey evidence showing no change in homework time or other "intermediate" inputs in education.
Source: Williams Institute
Research suggests that children of lesbian parents are satisfied with their current level of contact with their male donors and do not think of their donors as dads. The study sheds light on how children raised in lesbian, gay, and bisexual families are contributing to the redefinition and reconstruction of complex kinship arrangements. Participants in the study perceived their relationships with their male donors in one of three ways: as strictly donors and not members of their family; as extended family members, but not as parents; and as fathers. Participants ranged in age from 19-29, and while most were satisfied with the current level of contact with their male donors, several desired more information or contact with these men, and in some of these cases, had already begun to establish a connection with them.
Metro Areas with Highest Percentages of Same-Sex Couples Raising Children Are in States with Constitutional Bans on Marriage
Source: Williams Institute
The metro areas with the highest percentages of same-sex couples raising children are in states that have a constitutional ban on marriage, according to a new infographic created by the Williams Institute.
“Research consistently shows that same-sex couples raise children all across the country,” said Williams Institute public policy research fellow, Angeliki Kastanis. “This analysis underscores the fact that recognition of LGBT families is a consequential policy question in every state.”
Mississippi has the highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children at 26 percent.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
This report explores how the Great Recession affected the wealth and retirement security of baby boomers relative to younger and older age groups.
It also explores the retirement security of each group by calculating replacement rates, or the extent to which retirees can use their accumulated wealth and savings to replace preretirement income.
This research reveals that younger age groups face the greatest prospect of downward mobility in their golden years.
The Religious Affiliation of U.S. Immigrants: Majority Christian, Rising Share of Other Faiths
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Over the past 20 years, the United States has granted permanent residency status to an average of about 1 million immigrants each year. These new “green card” recipients qualify for residency in a wide variety of ways – as family members of current U.S. residents, recipients of employment visas, refugees and asylum seekers, or winners of a visa lottery – and they include people from nearly every country in the world. But their geographic origins gradually have been shifting. U.S. government statistics show that a smaller percentage come from Europe and the Americas than did so 20 years ago, and a growing share now come from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region.
With this geographic shift, it is likely that the religious makeup of legal immigrants also has been changing. The U.S. government, however, does not keep track of the religion of new permanent residents. As a result, the figures on religious affiliation in this report are estimates produced by combining government statistics on the birthplaces of new green card recipients over the period between 1992 and 2012 with the best available U.S. survey data on the religious self-identification of new immigrants from each major country of origin.
While Christians continue to make up a majority of legal immigrants to the U.S., the estimated share of new legal permanent residents who are Christian declined from 68% in 1992 to 61% in 2012. Over the same period, the estimated share of green card recipients who belong to religious minorities rose from approximately one-in-five (19%) to one-in-four (25%). This includes growing shares of Muslims (5% in 1992, 10% in 2012) and Hindus (3% in 1992, 7% in 2012). The share of Buddhists, however, is slightly smaller (7% in 1992, 6% in 2012), while the portion of legal immigrants who are religiously unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular) has remained relatively stable, at about 14% per year.
Unauthorized immigrants, by contrast, come primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the overwhelming majority of them – an estimated 83% – are Christian. That share is slightly higher than the percentage of Christians in the U.S. population as a whole (estimated at just under 80% of U.S. residents of all ages, as of 2010).
These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life examining recent trends in the geographic origins and religious affiliation of immigrants to the United States.
Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2012 Edition
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
In less than a decade, clean energy transitioned from novelty products to the mainstream of world energy markets. The sector emerged not so much in a linear fashion as episodic—in fits and starts associated with the worldwide economic downturn, continent-wide debt crises, national policy uncertainty, and intense industry competition. Through it all, however, the clean energy sector moved inexorably forward, with overall investment in 2012 five times greater than it was in 2004.
This report examines key financial, investment and technological trends related to clean energy in the Group of Twenty (G-20), the world’s leading economies. It documents the continued growth and dynamism of clean energy investment in these economies. Countries that succeed in attracting investment can realize the economic, security and environmental benefits of the global race to harness clean, renewable energy sources.
Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race: 2012 Edition documents how the old order is changing technologically and geographically. Clean energy is gaining ground in the global energy mix. Even as several pioneering countries have stumbled, new markets have opened, and the center of gravity for clean energy investment has shifted from West to East.
Source: Microsoft Research
Taxonomies are a useful and ubiquitous way of organizing information. However, creating organizational hierarchies is difficult because the process requires a global understanding of the objects to be categorized. Usually one is created by an individual or a small group of people working together for hours or even days. Unfortunately, this centralized approach does not work well for the large, quickly-changing datasets found on the web. Cascade is an automated workflow that creates a taxonomy from the collective efforts of crowd workers who spend as little as 20 seconds each. We evaluate Cascade and show that on three datasets its quality is 80-90% of that of experts. The cost of Cascade is competitive with expert information architects, despite taking six times more human labor. Fortunately, this labor can be parallelized such that Cascade will run in as fast as five minutes instead of hours or days.
Source: Microsoft Research
Personalized search systems tailor search results to the current user intent using historic search interactions. This relies on being able to find pertinent information in the user’s search history, which can be challenging for unseen queries and for new search scenarios. Building richer models of users’ current and historic search tasks can help improve the likelihood of finding relevant content and enhance the relevance and coverage of personalization methods. The task-based approach can be applied to the current user’s search history, or as we focus on here, all users’ search histories as so-called “groupization” (a variant of personalization whereby other users’ profiles can be used to personalize the search experience). We describe a method whereby we mine historic search-engine logs to find other users performing similar tasks to the current user and leverage their on-task behavior to identify Web pages to promote in the current ranking. We investigate the effectiveness of this approach versus query-based matching and finding related historic activity from the current user (i.e., group vs. individual). As part of our studies we also explore the use of the on-task behavior of particular user cohorts, such as people who are more expert in the current topic, rather than all users, with potentially-promising results. Our findings have direct implications for improving personalization in Web search engines.
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
The brief’s key findings are:
- State and local government employment dropped sharply during the Great Recession, unlike in previous recessions, and continues to decline even today.
- But this decline in public sector employment was less severe than that experienced by the private sector.
- Being a state/local worker reduced the probability of job loss by 2 percentage points, after controlling for education and other characteristics.
- While this relative job security is an attractive aspect of state/local employment, it is not enough to tip the balance of total compensation in favor of public workers.
Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project
The European Union is the new sick man of Europe. The effort over the past half century to create a more united Europe is now the principal casualty of the euro crisis. The European project now stands in disrepute across much of Europe.
Support for European economic integration – the 1957 raison d’etre for creating the European Economic Community, the European Union’s predecessor – is down over last year in five of the eight European Union countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2013. Positive views of the European Union are at or near their low point in most EU nations, even among the young, the hope for the EU’s future. The favorability of the EU has fallen from a median of 60% in 2012 to 45% in 2013. And only in Germany does at least half the public back giving more power to Brussels to deal with the current economic crisis.
The sick man label – attributed originally to Russian Czar Nicholas I in his description of the Ottoman Empire in the mid-19th century – has more recently been applied at different times over the past decade and a half to Germany, Italy, Portugal, Greece and France. But this fascination with the crisis country of the moment has masked a broader phenomenon: the erosion of Europeans’ faith in the animating principles that have driven so much of what they have accomplished internally.
The prolonged economic crisis has created centrifugal forces that are pulling European public opinion apart, separating the French from the Germans and the Germans from everyone else. The southern nations of Spain, Italy and Greece are becoming ever more estranged as evidenced by their frustration with Brussels, Berlin and the perceived unfairness of the economic system.
These negative sentiments are driven, in part, by the public’s generally glum mood about economic conditions and could well turn around if the European economy picks up. But Europe’s economic fortunes have worsened in the past year, and prospects for a rapid turnaround remain elusive. The International Monetary Fund expects the European Union economy to not grow at all in 2013 and to still be performing below its pre-crisis average in 2018. Nevertheless, despite the vocal political debate about austerity, a clear majority in five of eight countries surveyed still think the best way to solve their country’s economic problems is to cut government spending, not spend more money.
These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center conducted in eight European Union nations among 7,646 respondents from March 2 to March 27, 2013.
Source: Migration Policy Institute
Migration resulting from environmental change has been a topic of preoccupation since the 1990s, but in practice there has been very little policy development within the European Union on this topic. This brief finds that while such migration is likely to be largely concentrated in areas outside of Europe, there are far-reaching implications for policy.
Source: Center for Competitive Government (Temple University)
From press release (EurekAlert!):
As states continue to grapple with aging correctional facilities, overcrowding, underfunded retiree obligations and other constraints, new research from Temple University’s Center for Competitive Government finds that privately operated prisons can substantially cut costs – from 12 percent to 58 percent in long-term savings – while performing at equal or better levels than government-run prisons.
Temple economics Professors Simon Hakim and Erwin A. Blackstone analyzed government data from nine states that generally have higher numbers of privately held prisoners (Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas), and Maine, which does not contract its corrections services. The professors calculated both short- and long-run savings per state, finding that contracted prisons generate significant savings without sacrificing quality.
"Contracts between private-prison operators and state governments can be very precise in terms of the outcomes the state expects," said Hakim, director of Temple’s Center for Competitive Government, which is affiliated with the Fox School of Business. "And contractors have an incentive to overshoot the performance metrics established by the state – lest they lose out to a higher-performing company on the next contract bid."
The study uses economic models to determine each state’s avoidable costs, which are compared to the contracted per diem rates charged by the private operators. The study also takes into account underfunded pensions and retiree healthcare costs – a critical issue, with the Pew Center on the States reporting in 2010 of a $1.38 trillion gap between states’ assets and their pension and healthcare retiree obligations.
In California, for example, the researchers estimated that contracted prison facilities save between 32 percent and 58 percent. In Maine, estimated savings in the short run (including operational costs, such as personnel and medical and food services) is 47 percent while long-run savings (which combine short-run costs with capital expenditures, such as facility modernization and financing) is estimated at 49 percent. Researchers said Maine’s substantial estimated savings could be attributed to that state’s lack of private-public competition and its small prisons that cannot exploit economies of scale.
Source: Tax Foundation
Retail sales taxes are one of the more transparent ways to collect tax revenue. While graduated income tax rates and brackets are complex and confusing to many taxpayers, the sales tax is easier to understand: people can reach into their pocket and see the rate printed on a receipt.
Less known, however, are the local sales taxes collected in 37 states. These rates can be substantial, so a state with a moderate statewide sales tax rate could actually have a very high combined state-local rate compared to other states. This report provides a population-weighted average of local sales taxes in each state in an attempt to give a sense of the statutory local rate for each state. See Table 1 at the end of this Fiscal Fact for the full state-by-state listing of state and local sales tax rates.