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Information and Communication Technologies to Promote Social and Psychological Well-Being in the Air Force

September 1, 2014 Comments off

Information and Communication Technologies to Promote Social and Psychological Well-Being in the Air Force
Source: RAND Corporation

This report presents the findings from a pioneering exploratory survey of 3,479 active-duty, guard, and reserve Airmen on their use of information and communication technology (ICT), the association between ICT use and social and psychological well-being, and the potential for Air Force mental-health professionals to use ICT to meet the needs of Airmen. The survey data were weighted to ensure that the analytic sample would be representative of the gender, age group, rank (officer, enlisted), and affiliation (active, guard, reserve) composition of the U.S. Air Force. Rates of ICT usage by Airmen are presented, along with Airmen’s perceptions of the relationship between social support and ICT use, their attitudes about seeking and receiving health information via technology, and the differences in ICT use, social support, and psychological well-being among different groups of Airmen. Finally, recommendations are presented on ways the Air Force can leverage ICT to promote the social and psychological well-being of Airmen.

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Nonbank Specialty Servicers: What’s the Big Deal?

August 31, 2014 Comments off

Nonbank Specialty Servicers: What’s the Big Deal?
Source: Urban Institute

Following the crisis, nonbank specialty servicers rapidly expanded their portfolios of distressed loans. This has contributed to a significant market change: in 2011, the 10 largest mortgage servicers were all banks; by 2013, only five of the top 10 were banks, and the other five were nonbank servicers. The rapid growth and lack of a federal regulator have contributed to significant, heated regulatory scrutiny. This commentary discusses major concerns raised about the largest nonbank servicers, focusing on the three fastest-growing large nonbank servicers. We explore the regulatory and market framework driving their striking growth, then address the major charges against them, in an effort to elevate the debate and inform sound policy.

The Federal Debt: All You Need to Know in Three Minutes

August 29, 2014 Comments off

The Federal Debt: All You Need to Know in Three Minutes
Source: Brookings Institution

One of the missions of the new Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution is to improve public—and congressional—understanding of major budget issues confronting the U.S. To that end, we’ve boiled the facts about the outlook for the federal debt down to a three -minute animated video in which I trace the recent ups and downs (yes, downs) of the projections for federal borrowing over the next decade.

It’s tough for people to understand that the debt is a problem—but not now. Yes, we ran up a big debt to fight the recession, but the U.S. economy is not yet fully recovered and the U.S. Treasury is able to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars every month at very low interest rates. The problem lies in the future after the economy and the job market and interest rates return to normal: The trajectory of government borrowing after the economy simply isn’t sustainable. We’re looking for ways to help people understand both the short-term and the long-term picture.

The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations

August 29, 2014 Comments off

The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations
Source: Brookings Institution

This report uses a new database on foreign student visa approvals from 2001 to 2012 to analyze their distribution in the United States, finding that:

  • The number of foreign students on F-1 visas in U.S. colleges and universities grew dramatically from 110,000 in 2001 to 524,000 in 2012. The sharpest increases occurred among students from emerging economies such as China and Saudi Arabia. Foreigners studying for bachelor’s and master’s degrees and English language training accounted for most of the overall growth.
  • Foreign students are concentrated in U.S. metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, 85 percent of foreign students pursuing a bachelor’s degree or above attended colleges and universities in 118 metro areas that collectively accounted for 73 percent of U.S. higher education students. They contributed approximately $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in other spending—representing a major services export—to those metropolitan economies over the five-year period.
  • Most foreign students come from large fast-growing cities in emerging markets. Ninety-four (94) foreign cities together accounted for more than half of all students on an F-1 visa between 2008 and 2012. Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hyderabad and Riyadh are the five foreign cities that sent the most higher education students to the United States during that time.
  • Foreign students disproportionately study STEM and business fields. Two-thirds of foreign students pursuing a bachelor’s or higher degree are in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) or business, management and marketing fields, versus 48 percent of students in the United States. Both large (San Jose, Calif.) and small (Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas) metro areas figure among those with the highest shares of their foreign students in STEM disciplines.
  • Forty-five (45) percent of foreign student graduates extend their visas to work in the same metropolitan area as their college or university. Metro areas that retain high shares of their foreign graduates under the temporary Optional Practical Training (OPT) program tend to be either large diversified economies (e.g., New York, Los Angeles), or specialized labor markets that align closely with foreign graduates’ training (e.g., Honolulu, Seattle, Las Vegas).

What is the Result of States Not Expanding Medicaid?

August 29, 2014 Comments off

What is the Result of States Not Expanding Medicaid?
Source: Urban Institute

In states not expanding Medicaid, 6.7 million residents will remain uninsured in 2016 as a result. These states are foregoing $423.6 billion in federal Medicaid funds from 2013 to 2022, lessening economic activity and job growth. Their hospitals are also losing $167.8 billion in Medicaid revenue. Every comprehensive state-level fiscal analysis that we could find concluded that expansion helps state budgets, generating savings and revenues that exceed increased Medicaid costs. Future federal cuts to ACA’s high federal match rate are unlikely. Of more than 100 federal Medicaid cuts since 1980, just one lowered the federal share of Medicaid spending.

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence
Source: RAND Corporation

All roads lead to Damascus and then back out again, but in different directions. The financial and military aid flowing into Syria from patrons and neighbors is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the regime in Damascus. Instead, this outside support has the potential to perpetuate the existing civil war and to ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. This report examines the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria, and then examines how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot
Source: Brookings Institution

Voters in Washington state decided in November 2012 to legalize marijuana in their state, inspired by a campaign that emphasized minimizing the drug’s social costs and tightly controlling the legal recreational market. Joined to this drug policy experiment is a second innovative experiment that emphasizes knowledge: the state will fund and develop tools necessary to understand the impact of legalization on Washington’s law enforcement officials, communities, and public health.

This second reform, though less heralded than the attention-grabbing fact of legalization, is in many ways just as bold. Washington’s government is taking its role as a laboratory of democracy very seriously, tuning up its laboratory equipment and devoting resources to tracking its experiment in an unusually meticulous way, with lessons that extend well beyond drug policy.

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