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2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report

January 30, 2015 Comments off

2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (PDF)
Source: University of Pennsylvania

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world. Often referred to as the “think tanks’ think tank,” TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations. Over the last 25 years, the TTCSP has developed and led a series of global initiatives that have helped bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical policy areas such as international peace and security, globalization and governance, international economics, environmental issues, information and society, poverty alleviation, and healthcare and global health. These international collaborative efforts are designed to establish regional and international networks of policy institutes and communities that improve policy making while strengthening democratic institutions and civil societies around the world.

The TTCSP works with leading scholars and practitioners from think tanks and universities in a variety of collaborative efforts and programs, and produces the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index that ranks the world’s leading think tanks in a variety of categories. This is achieved with the help of a panel of over 1,900 peer institutions and experts from the print and electronic media, academia, public and private donor institutions, and governments around the world. We have strong relationships with leading think tanks around the world, and our annual Think Tank Index is used by academics, journalists, donors and the public to locate and connect with the leading centers of public policy research around the world. Our goal is to increase the profile and performance of think tanks and raise the public awareness of the important role think tanks play in governments and civil societies around the globe.

Since its inception in 1989, the TTCSP has focused on collecting data and conducting research on think tank trends and the role think tanks play as civil society actors in the policymaking process. In 2007, the TTCSP developed and launched the global index of think tanks, which is designed to identify and recognize centers of excellence in all the major areas of public policy research and in every region of the world. To date TTCSP has provided technical assistance and capacity building programs in 81 countries. We are now working to create regional and global networks of think tanks in an effort to facilitate collaboration and the production of a modest yet achievable set of global public goods. Our goal is to create lasting institutional and state-level partnerships by engaging and mobilizing think tanks that have demonstrated their ability to produce high quality policy research and shape popular and elite opinion and actions for public good.

UK — Road traffic demand elasticities A rapid evidence assessment

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Road traffic demand elasticities A rapid evidence assessment
Source: RAND Corporation

The aim of this review was to gain a better understanding of the factors driving road transport demand for both passengers and freight in the UK by reviewing the literature on elasticity of road traffic demand, with a particular focus on key economic and demographic factors: namely, population growth, income growth and changes in fuel costs. The primary aim was to identify, by means of a rapid evidence assessment, what elasticity estimates were available in the literature with respect to these variables and, where evidence exists, how these elasticity values have changed over time, if indeed they have changed at all. The range of estimated fuel price elasticity values reported in the studies in this review is quite small (-0.1 to -0.5), although a variety of data types and methodologies were used. Fuel price elasticities will be expected to vary by distance, area type and trip purpose.

For passenger transport, reported income elasticity values are predominately in the range 0.5 to 1.4. The evidence indicates that car ownership has a strong, positive, indirect effect on the income elasticity of demand. For freight transport, elasticity estimates of economic activity are mainly in the range 0.5 to 1.5 for an aggregate commodity sector but there the evidence suggests a much greater variation between sectors.

The evidence on changes in fuel price and income elasticities of car demand over time is limited and for freight transport, the evidence is mixed. Much of the data for the UK on car traffic is rather old. This has implications for the use of elasticities in forecasting and strategic planning.

See also: Evidence review of car traffic levels in Britain: A rapid evidence assessment

Improving Children’s Life Chances through Better Family Planning

January 29, 2015 Comments off

Improving Children’s Life Chances through Better Family Planning
Source: Brookings Institution

Non-marital childbearing is associated with many adverse outcomes for both the mother and the child. Most of these births are unintended. If we could reduce these unintended births it might improve children’s prospects by enabling their mothers to get more education, earn more, and wait to have children within marriage. In this brief, we trace the effects of reducing unintended childbearing on children’s success later in life by using the Social Genome Model (SGM) to simulate the effect on children’s life chances of aligning women’s fertility behavior with their intentions.

Though the impacts of improving women’s control over their fertility are small for the population as a whole, there are significant and important improvements in the lives of children who would have otherwise been “born too soon.” These findings suggest that increasing access to and awareness of high-quality, easy-to-use contraception and improving the educational and labor market prospects of low-income women are important steps in improving children’s life chances.

Changes in Income Reported on Federal Tax Returns

January 29, 2015 Comments off

Changes in Income Reported on Federal Tax Returns
Source: Tax Policy Center (Brookings Institution and Urban Institute)

The composition of reported income has changed markedly since 1952. Investment income has continued to grow, along with business income, interrupted only by periodic economic downturns. Meanwhile, salaries and wages have declined as a share of income.

Are Public-Sector Jobs Recession Proof? Were They Ever?

January 27, 2015 Comments off

Are Public-Sector Jobs Recession Proof? Were They Ever?
Source: Cato Institute

As government budgets have tightened in the aftermath of the Great Recession, increased scrutiny has been placed upon the compensation received by public-sector workers. Commentators such as Zuckerman (2010) have suggested that public-sector workers are overpaid, while others such as Allegretto and Keefe (2010) have argued that their compensation packages are appropriate, particularly because they tend to have more education than their private-sector counterparts. Most of the focus has been on wage and salary differentials, although pension benefits have also received some attention (Bewerunge and Rosen 2012). However, a compensation package consists of nonpecuniary as well as pecuniary components. An important nonpecuniary benefit is job security. Assuming that workers are risk averse, jobs that offer more security are worth more than those that offer less, ceteris paribus.

It has been argued that government employment has a sizable advantage over private sector employment in this respect. Thus, for example, according to Richwine and Biggs (2012), “It is well known that government employees enjoy considerably more job security than private workers,” and Goldberg (2014) asserts that “government employees are essentially unfireable.” In the popular press, several commentators have stated that even during the Great Recession, government jobs were secure. At the beginning of a piece on this topic, Kittle (2012) asks and answers a question: “Looking for job security in economically trying times? Go government.” Similarly, Curry (2011) characterizes federal employment as being “recession proof.”

However, others assert that while public-sector workers enjoyed more job security than private-sector workers in the past, this advantage decreased in the Great Recession: “The public sector looks far, far worse now than it did then… . Local government employment actually grew in the past two recessions by 7.7 percent and 5.2 percent for each respective period. This time around, it’s hemorrhaging jobs” (Covert 2012). Similarly, Polak and Schott (2012) write in the New York Times, “In the past, local government employment has been almost recession-proof. This time it’s not.”

Does Increasing Reliance on Student Debt Explain Declines in Entrepreneurial Activity? Posing the Question, Gathering Evidence, Considering Policy Options

January 27, 2015 Comments off

Does Increasing Reliance on Student Debt Explain Declines in Entrepreneurial Activity? Posing the Question, Gathering Evidence, Considering Policy Options
Source: Urban Institute

Concerns about declining entrepreneurial activity, rising student debt, and the possible relationship between the two deserve attention. New business enterprises can support innovation and increase employment, so any trend that might be interfering with individuals’ opportunities to take risks, finance start-ups, and build enterprises is worth exploring.

The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2012

January 27, 2015 Comments off

The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2012
Source: Economic Policy Institute

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.

While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report uses the latest available data to examine how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2012, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2012 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2012 are available at go.epi.org/topincomes1917to2012). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.

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