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State Prison Health Care Spending

July 30, 2014 Comments off

State Prison Health Care Spending
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

This report finds that state spending on prisoner health care increased from fiscal 2007 to 2011, but began trending downward from its peak in 2009. Nationwide, prison health care spending totaled $7.7 billion in fiscal 2011, down from a peak of $8.2 billion in fiscal 2009. In a majority of states, correctional health care spending and per-inmate health care spending peaked before fiscal 2011. But a steadily aging prison population is a primary challenge that threatens to drive costs back up. The share of older inmates rose in all but two of the 42 states that submitted prisoner age data. States where older inmates represented a relatively large share of the total prisoner population tended to incur higher per-inmate health care spending.

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America’s Shifting Statehouse Press: Can New Players Compensate for Lost Legacy Reporters?

July 30, 2014 Comments off

America’s Shifting Statehouse Press: Can New Players Compensate for Lost Legacy Reporters?
Source: Pew Research Journalism Project

Within America’s 50 state capitol buildings, 1,592 journalists inform the public about the actions and issues of state government, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

Of those statehouse reporters, nearly half (741) are assigned there full time. While that averages out to 15 full-time reporters per state, the actual number varies widely—from a high of 53 in Texas to just two in South Dakota. The remaining 851 statehouse reporters cover the beat less than full time.

In this study, statehouse reporters are defined as those physically assigned to the capitol building to cover the news there, from legislative activity to the governor’s office to individual state agencies.

Newspaper reporters constitute the largest segment of both the total statehouse news corps (38%) and the full-time group (43%). But the data indicate that their full-time numbers have fallen considerably in recent years, raising concerns about the depth and quality of news coverage about state government.

Retirement — How Much Should People Save?

July 29, 2014 Comments off

How Much Should People Save?
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The National Retirement Risk Index framework is used to address how much working-age households need to save for retirement.
  • A typical household should get a third of its retirement income from a savings plan, with the low income needing one quarter and the high income one half.
  • A typical household needs to save about 15 percent of earnings, with the low income requiring less and the high income more.
  • For those with a savings shortfall, the necessary savings hike is much more feasible for younger households than for older households.
  • Starting to save early and retiring late dramatically reduce a household’s required saving rate.

Building the 2021 Affordable Military

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Building the 2021 Affordable Military
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The CSIS Affordable Military Working Group, and the earlier CSIS Defense Drawdown Working Group, examined the dramatic effects of both fewer and weaker defense dollars in an effort to deal with a deep budget drawdown without significantly weakening national security. This latest report defines a set of strategy options, each with associated capabilities, gleaned from other leading think tank reports as well as the study team’s analysis. The report identifies capability priorities for the 2021 and beyond security environment and recommends a force structure for a 2021 affordable military.

Hamas Seen as More to Blame Than Israel for Current Violence

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Hamas Seen as More to Blame Than Israel for Current Violence
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As fighting continues to rage in Gaza amid calls for a cease-fire, about twice as many Americans say Hamas (40%) as Israel (19%) is responsible for the current violence.

Just a quarter (25%) believe that Israel has gone too far in responding to the conflict; far more think Israel’s response has been about right (35%) or that it has not gone far enough (15%).

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 24-27 among 1,005 adults, finds substantial partisan divisions over which side is most responsible for the violence and Israel’s response to the conflict.

A majority of Republicans (60%) say Hamas is most responsible for the current violence. Democrats are divided: 29% say Hamas is more responsible, 26% Israel, while 18% volunteer that both sides are responsible.

There also are deep differences over Israel’s response to the conflict: Nearly half of Republicans (46%) say Israel’s response has been about right while another 19% say it has not gone far enough; just 16% think Israel’s response has been excessive. Among Democrats, as many say Israel has gone too far (35%) as say its response has been about right (31%); 9% say Israel has not gone far enough.

2013 Digital Inclusion Survey Results Published

July 28, 2014 Comments off

2013 Digital Inclusion Survey Results Published
Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services, American Library Association, Information Policy & Access Center (University of Maryland), International City/County Management Association

Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and conducted by the American Library Association (ALA), the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland, and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), this study conducted a national survey of public libraries that explores the digital inclusion roles of public libraries in four key areas:

  • Public access technology infrastructure resources and capacity (e.g., public access workstations; broadband connectivity).
  • Digital content, services, and accessibility.
  • Digital literacy (including languages in which instruction is offered).
  • Domains-specific services and programs (civic engagement, education, health and wellness, and workforce/employment).

Based on a national survey conducted in Fall 2013, our analysis provides insights into how public libraries help build digitally inclusive communities. In particular, we offer multiple products, including:

  • Interactive mapping tools that combine digital inclusion survey and community-level data. The map enables libraries to better understand their community demographics, education and learning, economic/workforce, and health contexts along with the digital inclusion services that they provide. We have also developed a state view of the interactive mapping tool found on the individual state pages.
  • State pages that provide an interactive state-level mapping tool and selected summary data that compares states to national data.
  • Issue briefs on key topics such as broadband, employment, e-government, community access, digital literacy, and digital inclusion.
  • National report that analyzes data from the survey.
  • Executive summary that provides an overview of survey findings.

These reports and other survey-based products are based on data collected from public libraries between September and November 2013. It may well be the case that libraries have added capacity (e.g., public access computers, more broadband, space) and services/programs (e.g., health information, engagement, training classes) since then.

Giving Cities and Regions a Voice in Immigration Policy: Can National Policies Meet Local Demand?

July 26, 2014 Comments off

Giving Cities and Regions a Voice in Immigration Policy: Can National Policies Meet Local Demand?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Immigration policies are typically designed and implemented at the national level, even though economic and demographic circumstances may vary widely across cities and regions. Large and fast-growing metropolitan areas are natural magnets for both immigrants and their native-born peers, while rural areas and small towns tend to attract fewer immigrants, even when employers have vacancies to fill.

Some immigration routes, however, channel new arrivals toward particular destinations where their labor is thought to be in high demand. These routes fall into two major categories: (1) employer-sponsored immigration and (2) immigrants selected through regional nomination programs. Employer-sponsored visa policies implicitly direct foreign workers to areas where their skills are in demand. To ensure that this happens, some such programs are further customized to the needs of particular regions. In the cases of Australia and Canada, which have made regional nomination programs the flagship policies in their immigration systems, the national governments have delegated a certain level of authority to subnational jurisdictions to select their own workers. These subnational visa programs allow regions and localities that are not traditional immigration destinations to attract workers who would otherwise have gone elsewhere.

These types of region-specific immigration policies are not without risk. They add complexity to already complicated immigration systems and disregard immigrants’ market-based decisions, which could potentially undermine economic prospects and contributions.

Two Decades After Emergency Contraceptive Pills Became Available, Few Women Use Them

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Two Decades After Emergency Contraceptive Pills Became Available, Few Women Use Them
Source: Guttmacher Institute

In many developing countries, most women have never heard of or used emergency contraceptive pills, according to “Knowledge and Use of Emergency Contraception: A Multicountry Analysis,” by Tia Palermo of Stony Brook University. Although the method can help women avoid unplanned pregnancies, in every country surveyed but Colombia, fewer than 50% of women have ever heard of it and fewer than 6% have ever used it. In general, the more educated women were or the wealthier they were, the more likely they were to have known about or used emergency contraception.

The researchers analyzed national survey data from 2000–2010 of women aged 15–49 in 45 countries in four regions.Women’s knowledge and use of the method varied widely within each region. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, Colombia had the highest proportions of women who knew about the method (66%) and had used it (12%), while Haiti had the lowest (13% and 0.4%, respectively).

Wide ranges in knowledge and use were also seen in the other three regions. In Africa, women’s awareness of emergency contraception ranged from 2% in Chad to 40% in Kenya and use ranged from less than 0.1% in Chad to 4% in Ghana. In Asia, awareness ranged from 3% of women in Timor-Leste to 29% in the Maldives, and use ranged from a low of 0.1% (Cambodia, Nepal and Timor-Leste) to 0.9% (Pakistan). In Eastern Europe and West Asia, Ukraine had the highest rates of awareness and use (49% and 6%, respectively), while Azerbaijan had the lowest (5% and 0.5%).

According to the authors, rates of emergency contraception use in the countries studied tended to be much lower than in countries where the method has been on the market longer, such as France and the United States (17% and 11%, respectively). The exceptionally high levels of knowledge and use found in Colombia, reflect, among other things, a commercial sector that makes nine brands of emergency contraceptive pills easily available.

State Laws and Legislation Related to Biologic Medications and Substitution of Biosimilars

July 24, 2014 Comments off

State Laws and Legislation Related to Biologic Medications and Substitution of Biosimilars
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

For several decades, every state has regulated the use of brand-name and generic prescription drugs through statutes and agency or board rules. These state actions include when and how generics may be substituted for brand-name prescriptions, by pharmacists or others. Generic drugs typically have active ingredients that are identical to those of their brand-name counterpart. These traditional drugs include familiar pills used regularly by tens of millions of Americans as well as some specialty drugs.

Biologic medicines are much more complex than traditional chemically synthesized drugs. Biologics are manufactured from living organisms by programming cell lines to produce the desired therapeutic substances and consist of large molecules. Common biologics in use today include human growth hormone, injectable treatments for arthritis and psoriasis, the Hepatitis B vaccine and stem cell therapy.

Regulating biologics raises new issues for both state and federal policymakers. Because of their complexity, biologic drugs are much more difficult to replicate than the chemically produced generics for other drugs. The cell lines used and modifications in the manufacturing process affect biologic medicines. As a result, truly identical “generic” versions are currently virtually impossible to produce. However, once patents expire for the existing brand-name biologic drugs, “biosimilar” medicines can be produced, which is an occurrence that raises regulatory issues in the states.

Currently, there is concern that traditional statutes regulating “generic drugs” may be misapplied to new products that are not identical. This has led to a recent move to amend older state laws to address the medical and chemical characteristics of these “biologics,” as well as any future generic-style “follow-on biologics” or “biosimilars.”

In the past one and a half years at least 23 states have considered legislation establishing state standards for substitution of a “biosimilar” prescription product to replace an original biologic product.
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Select Diaspora Populations in the United States

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Diaspora populations often perform essential functions in the economic and human capital development of their countries of origin, and can continue playing a strong role in shaping these countries long after they or their forebears departed.The Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute have launched the Rockefeller-Aspen Diaspora Program (RAD), a joint venture to better understand diaspora members’ financial and human capital investments and to design an approach to foster further growth in these areas. The Migration Policy Institute has partnered with RAD to produce profiles of 15 diaspora communities in the United States, which is home to nearly 60 million first- or second-generation immigrants.

These profiles address 15 different diaspora populations in the United States, gathering in one place key data and analysis on diasporas from Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Each profile explores the demographic characteristics of first- and second-generation immigrants in a particular diaspora, their educational attainment, household income, employment patterns, geographic distribution, and remittance volume.

Five longer profiles, focusing on Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, and the Philippines, also detail historical immigration pathways and contemporary entry trends, poverty status, active diaspora organizations, and country-of-origin policies and institutions related to interaction with emigrants and their descendants abroad.

Migration’s Local Dividends: How Cities and Regions Can Make the Most of Immigration (Transatlantic Council Statement)

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Migration’s Local Dividends: How Cities and Regions Can Make the Most of Immigration (Transatlantic Council Statement)
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Well-managed immigration can be a windfall for local economies by creating jobs and fueling growth, fostering innovation, and bringing in new revenue. But these benefits are neither automatic nor do they accrue evenly. Highly skilled and entrepreneurial migrants tend to flock to certain geographic “magnets”—such as vibrant metropolises, financial hubs, or tech clusters—while other regions may struggle to attract and retain native and foreign workers alike.

Meanwhile, increasing mobility has brought new challenges, which are also asymmetrically distributed. And many cities, even those experiencing new dynamism and growth, have to contend with community tensions arising over the allocation of often scarce public resources such as housing, social welfare, and health services, as well as difficult-to-address problems of poverty, residential segregation, and social exclusion.

While cities and regions experience both the positive and negative effects of immigration firsthand, they are typically at arm’s length, at best, from the policy reins that enable and shape these movements. Immigration policies are rarely calibrated to regional, let alone local, needs.

This Council Statement from the 11th plenary meeting of the MPI-convened Transatlantic Council on Migration examines how policymakers at all levels can work together to get more out of immigration. The Statement launches a series of reports from the Council’s meeting on the topic “Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends.” The series examines place-based immigration and entrepreneurship policies, city attractiveness, social cohesion, and means to build inclusive cities.

How oil and gas firms gained influence and transformed North Dakota

July 23, 2014 Comments off

How oil and gas firms gained influence and transformed North Dakota
Source: Center for Public Integrity

Oil development has transformed this state to the point where it’s hard to find a place or person that hasn’t been touched by the boom. Energy companies have drilled more than 8,000 wells into western North Dakota’s rugged prairie since the beginning of 2010, quadrupling the state’s oil production. From July 2011 through June 2013, the state collected $4 billion in oil taxes, and is expecting a $1 billion surplus for the current biennium, not including an oil-funded sovereign wealth fund that will approach a balance of $3 billion. North Dakota is in the uncommon position of facing a labor shortage, spurring a state-run campaign to attract workers, paid for in part by Hess Corp.

In addition to the tax revenue they’ve brought, the oil companies have showered the state with additional money — new millions for universities, museums, hospitals and other charitable causes. They’ve also given hundreds of thousands to politicians, making the sector the largest single source of those contributions. The oil industry is the top contributor to Gov. Jack Dalrymple, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, and gave money in all but 10 of the 75 legislative races held in 2012.

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The goal behind this report is not to present the authors’ view of the balance, but rather to provide the basis for an unclassified dialogue on the military developments in China, including the size and structure of the country’s current and planned military forces. It draws on official US, Chinese, and other Asian official reporting, as well as the work of other scholars and the data bases developed by the IISS and Jane’s in an effort to compare different views of Chinese strategy and military developments, and is meant to provide US, Chinese, and other analysts with a better basis for understanding Western estimates of the changes in Chinese force strength and force quality.

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) face a critical need to improve their understanding of how each is developing its military power and how to avoid forms of military competition that could lead to rising tension or conflict between the two states. This report focuses on China’s military developments and modernization and how they are perceived in the UIS, the West, and Asia. It utilizes the unclassified data available in the West on the trends in Chinese military forces. It relies heavily on the data in the US Department of Defense (DoD) Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, particularly the 2013 and 2014 editions.

It relies heavily on the annual military balances compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), though a range of sources are included. It should be noted that this report focuses on Chinese forces, and therefore presents only one side of the US and Chinese balance and the security situation in Asia. It also draws upon a Burke Chair report entitled The Evolving Military Balance in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, looking at the bilateral US-Chinese balance in more detail.

Accordingly, it focuses on the actual changes taking place in Chinese forces, and it provides a detailed analysis detailed analysis of the trends in Chinese military forces since 1985, examining how the often-conflicting trends in outside sources interact with reporting on Chinese military spending and strategy. It also shows that important changes are taking place in US strategy and that these changes must be considered when evaluating Chinese actions.

Chart Book: Social Security Disability Insurance

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Chart Book: Social Security Disability Insurance
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Disability Insurance (DI) is an integral part of Social Security. It provides modest but vital benefits to workers who can no longer support themselves on account of a serious and long-lasting medical impairment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the DI program.

In December 2013, 8.9 million people received disabled-worker benefits from Social Security. Payments also went to some of their family members: 160,000 spouses and 1.9 million children.

DI benefits are financed primarily by a portion of the Social Security payroll tax and totaled about $140 billion in 2013. That’s 4 percent of the federal budget and less than 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Employers and employees each pay a DI tax of 0.9 percent on earnings up to a specified amount, currently $117,000. Financial transactions are handled through a DI trust fund, which receives payroll tax revenues and pays out benefits and which is legally separate from the much larger Social Security retirement fund. Under current projections, the DI trust fund will need replenishment in 2016.

Inverse Privacy

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Inverse Privacy
Source: Microsoft Research

We say that an item of your personal information is private if you have it but nobody else does. It is inversely private if somebody has it but you do not. We analyze the provenance of inverse privacy and argue that technology and appropriate public policy can reduce inverse privacy to a minimum.

Moving Up or Standing Still? Access to Middle-Skilled Work for Newly Arrived Migrants in the European Union

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Moving Up or Standing Still? Access to Middle-Skilled Work for Newly Arrived Migrants in the European Union
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Over the past 15 years, migration in Europe has changed considerably. The economic boom in the early and mid-2000s and expanded mobility owing to European Union enlargement helped create new populations of migrants from both within and beyond the European Union. These recent migrants are more educated than earlier arrivals and many are highly skilled. Against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, which profoundly affected many migrant-receiving countries in Europe, governments are grappling with questions of how to ensure that immigrants are able to find employment and progress into better jobs over time.

This overview report caps a series of six country case studies evaluating the employment outcomes for foreign-born workers in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The study examines how easy it is for newcomers in the European Union to establish themselves in destination-country labor markets in the first ten years after arrival, and how well they are able to move out of unskilled work and into middle-skilled jobs.

SNAP Error Rates at All-Time Lows; Steady Improvement in Payment Accuracy Reflects Program’s Extensive Quality Control System

July 21, 2014 Comments off

SNAP Error Rates at All-Time Lows; Steady Improvement in Payment Accuracy Reflects Program’s Extensive Quality Control System
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The percentage of SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefit dollars issued to ineligible households or to eligible households in excessive amounts fell for the seventh consecutive year in 2013 to 2.61 percent, newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data show. That’s the lowest national overpayment rate since USDA began the current system of measuring error rates in 1981. The underpayment error rate fell to 0.6 percent, also the lowest on record. (See Figure 1.) The combined payment error rate — that is, the sum of the overpayment and underpayment error rates — fell to an all-time low of 3.2 percent.[1] Less than 1 percent of SNAP benefits go to households that are ineligible. In other words, more than 99 percent of SNAP benefits are issued to eligible households.

Halbig v Burwell: Potential Implications for ACA Coverage and Subsidies

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Halbig v Burwell: Potential Implications for ACA Coverage and Subsidies
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A new report quantifies what’s at stake—in terms of health coverage and dollars—in the Halbig v. Burwell decision expected soon. Urban Institute researchers estimate that 7.3 million people, or about 62 percent of the 11.8 million people expected to enroll in federally facilitated marketplaces by 2016, could lose out on $36.1 billion in subsidies. Residents in Texas and Florida would lose the most, $5.6 billion and $4.8 billion respectively in subsidies at risk in this court decision.

The Cost of Abortion, When Providers Offer Services, and Harassment of Abortion Providers All Remained Stable Between 2008 And 2012

July 18, 2014 Comments off

The Cost of Abortion, When Providers Offer Services, and Harassment of Abortion Providers All Remained Stable Between 2008 And 2012
Source: Guttmacher Institute

Access to abortion services is affected by a variety of factors, including the cost of the procedure, the gestational age limits at which providers offer services and antiabortion harassment. According to “Secondary Measures of Access to Abortion Services in the U.S., 2011-2012: Gestational Age Limits, Cost and Harassment,” by Jenna Jerman and Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, there was relatively little change in any of these measures between 2008 and 2011–2012. The new analysis relies on data from the Institute’s 16th census of all known abortion providers in the United States.

In 2011–2012, the median cost of a surgical abortion at 10 weeks’ gestation was $495, and an early medication abortion cost $500. By comparison, the inflation-adjusted charge in 2009 for the same procedures was $503 and $524, respectively. The cost varied by facility size: facilities with the largest caseloads charged the least ($450), while those that performed fewer than 30 procedures per year charged the most ($650). Because women were more likely to obtain abortions at facilities that charged less, on average, women paid $480 for a surgical procedure at 10 weeks in 2011–2012, compared with $483 in 2009 (adjusted for inflation).

Brazil’s Economic Identity

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Brazil’s Economic Identity
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

As the sixth BRICS summit comes to a close on July 16, this paper brings clarity to Brazil’s role in the global economy—its identity, its self-perception, and what can be expected of it. Though Brazil is no longer an “optional market” for the world’s major players, Brazil’s economic identity is ill-understood—and leans heavily on the country’s development agenda. For Brazil, this agenda informs its global strategy, demanding cautious involvement in global markets and new strategic partnerships in technology and manufacturing.

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