Archive

Archive for the ‘think tanks’ Category

In Times of Drought: Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States

October 22, 2014 Comments off

In Times of Drought: Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States
Source: Brookings Institution

This Hamilton Project memo presents nine economic facts that provide relevant background context to the water crisis in the United States. Chapter 1 reviews the historical, current, and projected occurrence of drought in the United States. Chapter 2 describes the importance of water to our national economy. Chapter 3 underscores some of the economic and institutional barriers to more efficient use of water. We examine these issues through the lens of economic policy, with the aim of providing an objective framing of America’s complex relationship with water.

About these ads

Healthy Savings: Medical Technology and the Economic Burden of Disease

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Healthy Savings: Medical Technology and the Economic Burden of Disease (PDF)
Source: Milken Institute

The debate continues within the health policy community on the proper balance between the costs and benefits of medical technology. At a time of unprecedented change in health delivery and incentive systems and persistent concern about the cost of care, this debate has significant implications for public policy. Even with medical inflation running at a four-decade low—a condition that might suggest pressures are dissipating—the controversy is only intensifying.

Assessments of the true cost and economic benefit of medical technology (in the form of devices and diagnostics) have been hampered by the fact that direct treatment expenditures associated with technology use can be readily measured, while indirect savings, for example avoiding emergency room care and reducing hospital stays, are more difficult to capture.

Equally important, the economic benefits of reducing the burden of disease through better diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and cures extend beyond the health system to GDP gains from increased labor force participation and productivity. These gains are generated not only by patients, but by the rising participation and productivity of their informal caregivers. Yet these dividends are rarely incorporated into the evaluation of medical technologies.

In this study, we take a systematic approach to documenting the full costs and broader economic benefits of investment in representative medical technologies used to address four prevalent causes of death and disability: diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal disease, and colorectal cancer.1

Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 Would Save Safety Net Programs Billions and Help Ensure Businesses Are Doing Their Fair Share

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 Would Save Safety Net Programs Billions and Help Ensure Businesses Are Doing Their Fair Share
Source: Economic Policy Institute

More than five years have passed since the federal minimum wage was raised to its current level of $7.25 per hour. Over that time, the value of a minimum-wage income has fallen nearly 10 percent due to rising prices. Yet this decline is small in comparison to the drop in value of the minimum wage over the past four decades. After rising in line with economy-wide productivity in the three decades following its inception in 1938, the federal minimum wage has been raised so inadequately and so infrequently since the late 1960s that today’s minimum-wage workers make roughly 25 percent less in inflation-adjusted terms than their counterparts 45 years ago. Indeed, a full-time, full-year minimum-wage worker with one child is paid so little that income from her paycheck alone leaves her below the federal poverty line.

This failure to adequately raise the wage floor has contributed strongly to the stagnation of wage growth at the bottom of the wage distribution. This wage stagnation has, in turn, been the single greatest impediment to making rapid progress in poverty reduction in recent decades. Indeed, all of the decline in poverty reduction in recent decades can be accounted for by safety net and income-support programs (Bivens et al. 2014). In fact, managers at some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States today actively encourage their employees to seek public assistance to supplement meager paychecks (Eidelson 2013). All of this has led many to conclude that American employers are too often dodging their responsibilities as partners in the social contract—the understanding that Americans who work hard should be paid enough to make ends meet. Instead, too many low-wage employers are leaving both taxpayers and, more importantly, low-wage workers themselves to pick up the slack.

Recent protests calling for higher wages at many of these companies have highlighted this widening rift between what businesses are paying and what workers need to survive. Among the protesters’ demands is that employers begin paying workers adequately, instead of relying upon public funds to give their workers a decent standard of living even as corporate profits reach record highs.

This issue brief examines the use of public assistance programs by low-wage workers and assesses how raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over three years—as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2014, a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)—could affect utilization rates, benefit amounts, and government spending on these programs.

Keeping the South China Sea in Perspective

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Keeping the South China Sea in Perspective
Source: Brookings Institution

The United States seeks to promote Asia-Pacific economic interdependence and dynamism and to mitigate security tensions in the region. Unfortunately, maritime territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea increasingly threaten these dual objectives of U.S.-Asia policy. This policy brief focuses on the South China Sea set of issues.

Complex Rivalries and Claims in the South China Sea

U.S. Principles and Interests

Recommendations for a Diplomatic Strategy

Issue Guide: What’s at Stake in Hong Kong?

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Issue Guide: What’s at Stake in Hong Kong?
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Twenty-five years after the brutal Tiananmen crackdown, continuing protests in Hong Kong calling for greater democracy in the territory have once again focused the world’s attention on China’s rise and challenges to its authoritarian rule. The following guide provides background and analysis of the issues at stake for Hong Kong and the wider region.

Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology Use in Early Childhood Education

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology Use in Early Childhood Education (PDF)
Source: RAND Corporation

Conversations about what constitutes “developmentally appropriate” use of technology in early childhood education (ECE) have, to date, focused largely on a single, blunt measure—screen time—that fails to capture important nuances, such as what type of media a child is accessing and whether technology use is taking place solo or with peers. Using screen time as the primary measure of developmentally appropriate use has become increasingly inappropriate, as new technologies are ever more rapidly introduced and integrated into all aspects of life. In this policy brief, we challenge the traditional emphasis on screen time and discuss how to move toward a more comprehensive definition of developmentally appropriate technology use for young children.

A Diversity of Risks: The Challenge of Retirement Preparedness in America

October 14, 2014 Comments off

A Diversity of Risks: The Challenge of Retirement Preparedness in America
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center

Many Americans are anxious about their retirement prospects. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that not having enough money for retirement is the number one financial worry among Americans. For some, this concern is justified, as they face the daunting prospect of running short of money in their later years. But there is considerable variation in preparedness for retirement, and the challenges are more complicated than many realize.

When evaluating the retirement security landscape, complexity is the one constant. Potential sources of retirement income are numerous and varied, including: continued work (perhaps on a part-time basis), Social Security benefits, drawdown of personal savings, workplace retirement plans, annuities, home equity, financial support from family members, and more. Understanding this patchwork and building a solid foundation upon which to retire is no easy task for the average American.

Additionally, even for those who do accumulate substantial resources, retirees’ incomes and living standards are subject to a variety of risks, such as poor investment choices or returns, unexpected medical bills, outliving one’s savings, and needing expensive long-term care.

The U.S. retirement landscape is difficult to describe for the “average” person because the state of any particular retiree’s finances depends so heavily on which sources of income they have, how much they have, and what life events occur that could drain their nest egg.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings is examining the U.S. retirement system. Next year, the commission will make comprehensive recommendations to improve the financial security of Americans preparing for and in retirement. In advance of these recommendations, BPC staff is producing a series of white papers to highlight the retirement security challenges that public policy can address.

After a brief overview of the retirement system, this first white paper explores retirement preparedness through the lives of four fictional families, showing how they are preparing for retirement, what they could be doing better, and the risks that they will face over the course of their working years and their retirements.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 937 other followers