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Searching for Myself: Motivations and Strategies for Self-Search

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Searching for Myself: Motivations and Strategies for Self-Search
Source: Microsoft Research

We present findings from a qualitative study of self-search, also known as ego or vanity search. In the context of a broader study about personal online content, participants were asked to search for themselves using their own computers and the browsers and queries they would normally adopt. Our analysis highlights five motivations for self-search: as a form of identity management; to discover reactions to and reuse of user-generated media; to re-find personal content; as a form of entertainment; and to reveal lost or forgotten content. Strategies vary according to motivation, and may differ markedly from typical information-seeking, with users looking deep into the results and using image search to identify content about themselves. We argue that two dimensions underpin ways of improving self-search: controllability and expectedness, and discuss what these dimensions imply for design.

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Social Host Liability for Underage Drinking Statutes

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Social Host Liability for Underage Drinking Statutes
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Enacted in 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act set the minimum drinking age at 21. To comply with federal law, states prohibit persons under 21 years of age from purchasing or publicly possessing alcoholic beverages.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 9.3 million persons aged 12 to 20 (24.3 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month and an estimated 11.2 percent of persons aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year.

In an effort to combat underage drinking, state legislators have enacted laws that assign responsibility to adults who allow minors to drink alcohol at social gatherings. Thirty-one states allow social hosts to be civilly liable for injuries or damages caused by underage drinkers. Twenty-six states and the Virgin Islands have criminal penalties for adults who host or permit parties with underage drinking to occur in the adults’ homes or in premises under the adults’ control. These social host statutory provisions do not apply to licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars, and liquor stores, which are covered by dram shop laws.

Encouraging Low- and Moderate-Income Tax Filers to Save

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Encouraging Low- and Moderate-Income Tax Filers to Save
Source: MDRC

SaveUSA, a voluntary program launched in 2011 in four cities (New York City, Tulsa, San Antonio, and Newark), encourages low- and moderate-income individuals to set aside money from their tax refund for savings. Tax filers at participating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites can directly deposit all or a portion of their tax refund into a special savings account, set up by a bank or credit union, and pledge to save between $200 and $1,000 of their deposit for about a year. Money can be withdrawn from SaveUSA accounts at any time and for any purpose, but only those who maintain their initially pledged savings amount throughout a full year receive a 50 percent match on that amount. Account holders, irrespective of match receipt, can deposit tax refund dollars in subsequent years and become eligible to receive additional savings matches on their new tax refund deposits.

This report presents findings on SaveUSA’s implementation in all four cities and its early effects on savings and other financial outcomes in two cities: New York City and Tulsa. In these latter cities, a randomly selected half of the tax filers who were interested in SaveUSA in 2011 could open accounts (the “SaveUSA group”), but the other half could not (the control group). The report compares the savings and other financial behaviors of the two groups over time to estimate SaveUSA’s effects. The findings thus suggest the effects that savings policies structured similarly to SaveUSA might have.

Taxation — Facts & Figures 2014: How Does Your State Compare?

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Facts & Figures 2014: How Does Your State Compare?
Source: Tax Foundation

This morning, the Tax Foundation released the 2014 edition of Facts & Figures: How Does Your State Compare? Just in time for tax season, the latest edition of this popular pocket-sized handbook contains the rates and rankings of all 50 states on 39 different measures of tax and fiscal policy.

Topics include information on tax measures (such as revenue per capita, federal aid to states, and State Business Tax Climate Index rankings), individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, general sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, state debt, and population data. For a full list of all measures included in this year’s edition, click here.

Health Reform: Designing a Marketplace — A state-by-state comparison of Marketplace Implementation

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Health Reform: Designing a Marketplace — A state-by-state comparison of Marketplace Implementation
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates a Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace) in every state, which offers individuals and small businesses the opportunity to shop from an array of affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans. A state can either create and operate the Marketplace itself as a State-based Marketplace (SBM), partner with the federal government under a State Partnership Marketplace (SPM), or defer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to manage a Federally-facilitated Marketplace (FFM) in the state.

In 2014, 16 states and the District of Columbia have established a State-based Marketplace for both individuals and small businesses, six states have a State Partnership Marketplace, and one state is administering a State-based SHOP Marketplace just for small businesses (with an FFM serving individuals).

The ACA provides states with significant flexibility in the design and structure of their Marketplace; hundreds of policy and operational decisions had to be addressed during the Marketplace implementation process. CBPP has evaluated SBM and SPM states across a number of these Marketplace design questions and compiled the information in this interactive tool.

Growing Gap Between First Sex and First Birth Means Women Face Longer Period of Risk for Unintended Pregnancy

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Growing Gap Between First Sex and First Birth Means Women Face Longer Period of Risk for Unintended Pregnancy
Source: Guttmacher Institute

The typical age at which teens first have sex has remained relatively stable over the past several decades, increasing slightly to 17.8 for women and 18.1 for men in the most recent cohort for whom data are available. For women coming of age in the mid-2000s, the median age at first sex was about the same as that of women 35 years earlier, according to “Trends in Ages at Key Reproductive Transitions in the United States, 1951–2010,” by Lawrence B. Finer and Jesse M. Philbin. However, the typical time between first sex and first birth has increased from three years for women born in 1940 to almost 10 years for women born in 1982.

“This is the period of highest risk for unintended pregnancy,” says Dr. Finer. “Later childbearing means many women are at risk for a decade or more before they have kids. The growing length of this period makes it vital that women have access to a wide range of effective methods of contraception—not just the condoms and pills that women commonly use now, but also highly effective long-acting methods like the IUD and the implant. The latter methods don’t require any regular action on the woman’s part, which might be particularly helpful for teens and young adults.”

Catching Up: The Labor Market Outcomes of New Immigrants in Sweden

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Catching Up: The Labor Market Outcomes of New Immigrants in Sweden
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The considerable diversity among Sweden’s immigrants reflects a humanitarian migration policy. Refugees have arrived in the country since the 1970s and 1980s, with their countries of origin shifting according to the ethnic and political conflicts of any given period. Sweden is also a longstanding magnet for labor migration from surrounding Scandinavia, and has attracted mobile EU citizens since its entry into the European Union in 1995—and especially following the EU enlargements of 2004 and 2007. Sweden’s immigration flows continue to change today, as policy reforms in 2008 allowed employers to bring non-EU labor migrants to the country for the first time in decades.

This report assesses how new immigrants to Sweden fare in the country’s labor market. The report is part of a series of six case studies on labor market outcomes among immigrants to European Union countries.

The U.K.’s Ambitious New Retirement Savings Initiative

April 15, 2014 Comments off

The U.K.’s Ambitious New Retirement Savings Initiative
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The United Kingdom is rolling out a low-cost retirement system for workers who lack pension coverage.
  • The new system has three core elements:
    • Employers auto-enroll their workers at a 4-percent contribution rate, matched by the employer and government combined.
    • A new non-profit provides the infrastructure to keep costs low.
    • The plans’ target date funds start young workers with low-risk investments to avoid losses that could discourage saving.
  • The U.S.’s new “myRA” program includes two similar design features – low-risk investments and government infrastructure – but it lacks auto-enrollment.

Debt and Debt Management among Older Adults

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Debt and Debt Management among Older Adults
Source: University of Michigan Retirement Research Center

Of particular interest in the present economic environment is whether access to credit is changing peoples’ indebtedness over time, particularly as they approach retirement. This project analyzes older individuals’ debt, debt management practices, and financial fragility using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS). Specifically, we examine three different cohorts(individuals age 56–61) in different time periods, 1992, 2002 and 2008, in the HRS to evaluate cross-cohort changes in debt over time. We also draw on recent data from the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) which provides detailed information on how families manage their debt. Our goal is to assess how wealth and debt among older persons has evolved over time, along with the potential consequences for retirement security. We find that more recent cohorts have taken on more debt and face more financial insecurity, mostly due to having purchased more expensive homes with smaller down payments. In addition Boomers are more likely to have engaged in expensive borrowing practices. Protective factors include having higher income, more education, and greater financial literacy. Factors associated with financial fragility include having had more children and unexpected large income declines. Thus shocks do play a role in the accumulation of debt close to retirement, but it is not enough to have resources: people also need the capacity to manage those resources, if they are to stay out of debt as they head into retirement.

Macroeconomic Determinants of Retirement Timing

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Macroeconomic Determinants of Retirement Timing (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan Retirement Research Center

Ongoing aging of the US population makes labor force attachment of older workers a key question of policy interest. This paper analyzes the influence of macroeconomic factors, such as the unemployment rate, inflation rate and housing price level on retirement timing.

The impact of macroeconomic conditions on retirement timing is not unambiguous. On the one hand, adverse macroeconomic conditions can deplete household wealth. This may compel households to extend their working lives when their wealth unexpectedly declines. On the other hand, a weak labor market in a recession, for example, can induce early retirement if older workers become discouraged about future job prospects. Similarly, a high rate of inflation can adversely affect the purchasing power of household wealth, which should encourage continued labor force participation. However, inflation can also lead to erosion of real wages, thereby encouraging workers to retire earlier than they otherwise would. Variations in house prices create yet another wealth effect for households. Real estate prices may significantly affect retirement timing because housing wealth is a major part of financial portfolios of the US middle class.

Trends in Unwanted Online Experiences and Sexting — Final Report

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Trends in Unwanted Online Experiences and Sexting — Final Report (PDF)
Source: Crimes Against Children Research Center

This bulletin summarizes findings from the Third Youth Internet Safety Survey (YISS‐3). Topics include youth reports of unwanted sexual solicitations, online harassment, unwanted exposure to sexual material, and “sexting.”

Bored Tuesdays and Focused Afternoons: The Rhythm of Attention and Online Activity in the Workplace

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Bored Tuesdays and Focused Afternoons: The Rhythm of Attention and Online Activity in the Workplace
Source: Microsoft Research

While distractions due to digital media have received attention in HCI, we examine instead focused attention in the workplace. We logged digital activity and continually probed perspectives of 32 information workers for five days in situ to understand how attentional states change with context. We present a framework of how engagement and challenge in work relate to focus, bored, and rote work. Overall, we find more focused attention than boredom in the workplace. Reported focus peaks mid-afternoon while boredom is highest in the morning. People are happiest doing rote work; we show that focused work can involve stress. We identified higher levels of boredom mid-week. Online activities are associated with different attentional states, showing different patterns at beginning and end of day, and before and after a mid-day break. Our study shows how rhythms of attentional states are associated with context.

New State-by-State Analysis: 32 Million Were Underinsured in 2012, Including 4 Million Middle-Income People; Nearly 80 Million in Total Lacked Health Insurance or Were Underinsured, Ranging from 14 Percent in Massachusetts to 38 Percent in New Mexico and Texas

April 11, 2014 Comments off

New State-by-State Analysis: 32 Million Were Underinsured in 2012, Including 4 Million Middle-Income People; Nearly 80 Million in Total Lacked Health Insurance or Were Underinsured, Ranging from 14 Percent in Massachusetts to 38 Percent in New Mexico and Texas
Source: Commonwealth Fund

Thirty-two million people under age 65 were underinsured in the U.S. in 2012, meaning they had health coverage but it provided inadequate protection against high health care costs relative to their income, a new Commonwealth Fund report finds. The first report to examine the underinsured at the state level, it finds that the rate of underinsured ranged from a low of 8 percent in New Hampshire to highs of 16 percent in Mississippi and Tennessee and 17 percent in Idaho and Utah.

Low- and middle-income families were most likely to be affected: 13 percent—4 million—of the underinsured were middle-income, earning between about $47,000 and $95,000 for a family of four, and 81 percent—26 million—were low-income, earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or under $47,000 a year for a family of four.

In addition, 47 million people were uninsured in 2012—a decline of nearly 2 million from 2010, likely due in large part to the Affordable Care Act’s early provision to expand dependent coverage for young adults.

Before the major expansions of the ACA began to be implemented this year, a total of 79 million people under 65 were uninsured or underinsured, and therefore at risk for not being able to afford needed health care or for facing debt from medical bills in 2012. Nationally, nearly one of three (29%) people were uninsured or underinsured, ranging from 14 percent in Massachusetts to 36 to 38 percent in Florida, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas.

The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and health insurance reforms are appropriately targeted to those Americans who are most likely to be unable to afford insurance or needed health care, according to the report, America’s Underinsured: A State-by-State Look at Health Insurance Affordability Prior to the New Coverage Expansions. Based on their incomes alone, 20 million of the underinsured in 2012, as well as 24 million of the uninsured, would qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

However, millions who are poor will not have any new coverage options. In states choosing not to expand Medicaid, more than 15 million underinsured and uninsured people have incomes below poverty—earning less than $23,550 a year for a family of four

Tax Freedom Day® Arrives on April 21, 2014

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Tax Freedom Day® Arrives on April 21, 2014
Source: Tax Foundation

Tax Freedom Day, the day on which American’s have collectively earned enough income to pay off the total federal, state, and local tax bill, will arrive 111 days into the year on April 21, according to the annual report released this morning by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

While the national date arrives 6 days after the deadline for filing taxes, each state’s total federal, state, and local tax burden varies greatly. Louisiana’s Tax Freedom Day is the earliest and arrives on March 30, and is followed by Mississippi (Apr 2) and South Dakota (Apr 4). New Jersey and Connecticut are tied with the latest date on May 9 and they are preceded by New York (May 4).

The study’s key findings include:

  • Tax Freedom Day is three days later than last year due mainly to the continuing economic recovery, which will boost federal tax revenue collected through the corporate, payroll, and individual income tax.
  • Americans will spend more on taxes in 2014 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
  • Americans will spend 42 days working to pay off income taxes, 15 days for excise taxes, and 11 days for property taxes. Click here for a full breakdown.
  • Americans will pay $3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.5 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of more than $4.5 trillion, or 30.2 percent of the nation’s income.
  • If you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur on May 6, 15 days later.

See also: Tax Foundation Figures Do Not Represent Typical Households’ Tax Burdens (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

State Policy Trends: More Supportive Legislation, Even As Attacks on Abortion Rights Continue

April 10, 2014 Comments off

State Policy Trends: More Supportive Legislation, Even As Attacks on Abortion Rights Continue
Source: Guttmacher Institute

The 2014 legislative session got off to a fast start, with legislators introducing a combined 733 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health and rights in nearly all the states that have legislative sessions this year (legislatures in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas will not meet in 2014). See here for the full analysis of the first quarter of 2014.

Significantly, legislators quickly showed a clear interest in protecting or expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care. Some 64 provisions have been introduced so far this year to expand or protect access to abortion, more than had been introduced in any year in the last quarter century. And only three months into the year, two new provisions protecting abortion rights have been enacted, and three others have passed one legislative chamber. Similarly, seven measures designed to expand access to other sexual and reproductive health services have passed at least one legislative body in six states and the District of Columbia.

As in recent years, however, state legislatures continued to take aim at abortion rights. Legislators in 38 states introduced 303 provisions seeking to limit women’s access to care. By March 31, three new abortion restrictions had been enacted, and 36 had passed one legislative chamber.

America’s Demographic Transformation: Next America

April 10, 2014 Comments off

America’s Demographic Transformation: Next America
Source: Pew Research

America is in the midst of two major changes to its population: We are becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Explore these shifts in our new interactive data essay.

New Report Documents That Liberal Arts Disciplines Prepare Graduates for Long-Term Professional Success

April 10, 2014 Comments off

New Report Documents That Liberal Arts Disciplines Prepare Graduates for Long-Term Professional Success
Source: Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) released today a new report on earnings and long-term career paths for college graduates with different undergraduate majors. In How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment, authors Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly analyze data from the 2010-11 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and provide answers to some common questions posed by students, parents, and policy makers who are increasingly concerned about the value of college degrees.

Responding to concerns about whether college is still worth it and whether liberal arts majors provide a solid foundation for long-term employment and career success, the report compares earnings trajectories and career pathways for liberal arts majors with the earnings trajectories and career pathways for those majoring in science and mathematics, engineering, and professional or preprofessional fields like business or education.

“Recent attacks on the liberal arts by ill-informed commentators and policy makers have painted a misleading picture of the value of the liberal arts to individuals and our communities,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “As the findings in this report demonstrate, majoring in a liberal arts field can and does lead to successful and remunerative careers in a wide array of professions.”

State by State Lethal Injection

April 9, 2014 Comments off

State by State Lethal Injection
Source: Death Penalty Information Center

Until 2010, most states used a 3-drug combination for lethal injections: an anesthetic (either pentobarbital or, formerly, sodium thiopental), pancuronium bromide (a paralytic agent, also called Pavulon), and potassium chloride (stops the heart and causes death). Due to drug shortages, states have adopted new lethal injection methods, including:

ONE DRUG: Eight states have used a single-drug method for executions–a lethal dose of an anesthetic (Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington). Five other states have announced use of one-drug lethal injection protocols, but have not carried out such an execution (Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee).

PENTOBARBITAL: Fourteen states have used pentobarbital in executions: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. Five additional states plan to use pentobarbital: Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Colorado includes pentobarbital as a backup drug in its lethal injection procedure.

PROPOFOL: One state had planned to use propofol (Diprivan), in a single-drug protocol, but has since revised its lethal injection procedure: Missouri

MIDAZOLAM: One state has used midazolam as the first drug in a three-drug protocol: Florida. One state has used midazolam in a two-drug protocol: Ohio. Four states have proposed using midazolam in a two-drug protocol: Louisiana, Kentucky, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Two states have proposed using midazolam in a three-drug protocol: Virginia and Oklahoma. Some states have proposed multiple protocols.

Diabetes Spending Dips in States: NCSL Report

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Diabetes Spending Dips in States: NCSL Report
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

State and federal spending to combat diabetes decreased slightly in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The report, “States Address the Costs of Diabetes: A 50-State Budget Survey for Fiscal Year 2013,” tracks the funds specifically appropriated by state legislatures for diabetes in FY 2013. It also reviews the funding provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to states in FY 2012 for Diabetes Prevention and Control Programs (DPCPs), as well as changes in grant funds received from the CDC.

The total of state and federal funding appropriated by state legislatures specifically for diabetes prevention and control was $11,347,038 in FY 2013, compared to $11,947,129 in FY 2012, a difference of about 5 percent. Those figures, however, do not represent total spending by states on diabetes. The CDC also supports state efforts through grant programs, providing roughly $27 million per year.

Global Religious Diversity: Half of the Most Religiously Diverse Countries are in Asia-Pacific Region

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Global Religious Diversity: Half of the Most Religiously Diverse Countries are in Asia-Pacific Region
Source: Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project

Several years ago, the Pew Research Center produced estimates of the religious makeup of more than 200 countries and territories, which it published in the 2012 report “The Global Religious Landscape.” The effort was part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world. As part of the next phase of this project, Pew Research has produced an index that ranks each country by its level of religious diversity.

Comparing religious diversity across countries presents many challenges, starting with the definition of diversity. Social scientists have conceived of diversity in a variety of ways, including the degree to which a society is split into distinct groups; minority group size (in share and/or absolute number); minority group influence (the degree to which multiple groups are visible and influential in civil society); and group dominance (the degree to which one or more groups dominate society). Each of these approaches can be applied to the study of religious diversity.1

This study, however, takes a relatively straightforward approach to religious diversity. It looks at the percentage of each country’s population that belongs to eight major religious groups, as of 2010.2 The closer a country comes to having equal shares of the eight groups, the higher its score on a 10-point Religious Diversity Index.

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