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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.

Global Metro Monitor 2014: An Uncertain Recovery

January 23, 2015 Comments off

Global Metro Monitor 2014: An Uncertain Recovery
Source: Brookings Institution

With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies accounted for nearly half of global output in 2014. This interactive and report compare growth patterns in the world’s 300 largest metro economies on two key economic indicators—annualized growth rate of real GDP per capita and annualized growth rate of employment. These indicators, which are combined into an economic performance index on which metro areas are ranked, matter because they reflect the importance that people and policymakers attach to achieving rising incomes and standards of living and generating widespread labor market opportunity.

Be Afraid. Be A Little Afraid: The Threat of Terrorism from Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq

January 13, 2015 Comments off

Be Afraid. Be A Little Afraid: The Threat of Terrorism from Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq
Source: Brookings Institution

Many U.S. and European intelligence officials fear that a wave of terrorism will sweep over Europe, driven by the civil war in Syria and continuing instability in Iraq. Many of the concerns stem from the large number of foreign fighters involved.

Despite these fears and the real danger that motivates them, the Syrian and Iraqi foreign fighter threat can easily be exaggerated. Previous cases and information emerging from Syria suggest several mitigating effects that may reduce—but hardly eliminate—the potential terrorist threat from foreign fighters who have gone to Syria. Those mitigating factors include:

• Many die, blowing themselves up in suicide attacks or perishing quickly in firefights with opposing forces.
• Many never return home, but continue fighting in the conflict zone or at the next battle for jihad.
• Many of the foreign fighters quickly become disillusioned, and a number even return to their home country without engaging in further violence.
• Others are arrested or disrupted by intelligence services. Indeed, becoming a foreign fighter—particularly with today’s heavy use of social media—makes a terrorist far more likely to come to the attention of security services.

The danger posed by returning foreign fighters is real, but American and European security services have tools that they can successfully deploy to mitigate the threat. These tools will have to be adapted to the new context in Syria and Iraq, but they will remain useful and effective.

Weight and Social Mobility: Taking the Long View on Childhood Obesity

January 12, 2015 Comments off

Weight and Social Mobility: Taking the Long View on Childhood Obesity
Source: Brookings Institution

Obesity is one of the largest health issues facing our country. More than one-third of adults and around one-fifth of teenagers are obese. Childhood obesity is more common among low-income children and those with less-educated parents. In this Long Memo, we examine class gaps in obesity and how they might inform the conversation about economic mobility. What is the relationship between income and weight while growing up, and how does that relationship carry through to adulthood?

Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2015

January 9, 2015 Comments off

Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2015
Source: Brookings Institution

The year 2015 will be an eventful one for the more than one billion people living in Africa. From elections to the post-2015 development agenda, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative experts and colleagues identify what they consider to be the key issues for the continent in the coming year.

Raising The Global Ambition for Girls’ Education

January 6, 2015 Comments off

Raising The Global Ambition for Girls’ Education
Source: Brookings Institution

In 1948, the world’s nations came together and agreed that “everyone has a right to education,” boys and girls and rich and poor alike. This vision set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been reinforced over the decades and today the girls who still fight to be educated are not cases for charity but actively pursuing what is rightfully theirs. In recent years, girls’ education has also received attention because, in the words of the United Nations, “education is not only a right but a passport to human development.” Evidence has been mounting on the pivotal role that educating a girl or a woman plays in improving health, social, and economic outcomes, not only for herself but her children, family, and community. Educating girls helps improve health: one study published in The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, found that increasing girls’ education was responsible for more than half of the reduction in child mortality between 1970 and 2009. The economic benefits are clear: former chief economist at the World Bank and United States Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers concluded that girls’ education “may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world” due to the benefits women, their families and societies reap. And because women make up a large share of the world’s farmers, improvements in girls’ education also lead to increased agricultural output and productivity.

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