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The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America

March 26, 2015 Comments off

The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America
Source: Brookings Institution

Proximity to employment can influence a range of economic and social outcomes, from local fiscal health to the employment prospects of residents, particularly low-income and minority workers. An analysis of private-sector employment and demographic data at the census tract level reveals that:

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of jobs within the typical commute distance for residents in a major metro area fell by 7 percent.

As employment suburbanized, the number of jobs near both the typical city and suburban resident fell.

As poor and minority residents shifted toward suburbs in the 2000s, their proximity to jobs fell more than for non-poor and white residents.

Residents of high-poverty and majority-minority neighborhoods experienced particularly pronounced declines in job proximity.

2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?

March 25, 2015 Comments off

2015 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning?
Source: Brookings Institution

The 2015 Brown Center Report (BCR) represents the 14th edition of the series since the first issue was published in 2000. It includes three studies. Like all previous BCRs, the studies explore independent topics but share two characteristics: they are empirical and based on the best evidence available. The studies in this edition are on the gender gap in reading, the impact of the Common Core State Standards — English Language Arts on reading achievement, and student engagement.

Part one examines the gender gap in reading. Girls outscore boys on practically every reading test given to a large population. And they have for a long time. A 1942 Iowa study found girls performing better than boys on tests of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and basic language skills. Girls have outscored boys on every reading test ever given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—the first long term trend test was administered in 1971—at ages nine, 13, and 17. The gap is not confined to the U.S.

Part two is about reading achievement, too. More specifically, it’s about reading and the English Language Arts standards of the Common Core (CCSS-ELA). It’s also about an important decision that policy analysts must make when evaluating public policies—the determination of when a policy begins. How can CCSS be properly evaluated?

Part three is on student engagement. PISA tests fifteen-year-olds on three subjects—reading, math, and science—every three years. It also collects a wealth of background information from students, including their attitudes toward school and learning.

The Changing Face of the Heartland: Preparing America’s Diverse Workforce for Tomorrow

March 19, 2015 Comments off

The Changing Face of the Heartland: Preparing America’s Diverse Workforce for Tomorrow
Source: Brookings Institution

Minnesota and the surrounding states of the upper Midwest are experiencing a demographic revolution. Yet that fact and its significance are just beginning to sink in, which is why many residents of the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, whatever their own ethnicity, still refer to their community matter-of-factly as “lily white.” And while it’s true that with a 78 percent Caucasian population the Twin Cities are still far less ethnically diverse than other parts of the United States — among them the far West and Southeast as well as gateway cities and multicultural hubs like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and Miami — it’s also becoming less true with every passing year. One big reason: immigration.

The twelve Federal Reserve banks: Governance and accountability in the 21st century

March 16, 2015 Comments off

The twelve Federal Reserve banks: Governance and accountability in the 21st century
Source: Brookings Institution

Chronicling the politics that led to the creation of the twelve Reserve Banks and the pursuant legal and political consequences, this paper argues that the Federal Reserve’s quasi-private Reserve Banks are, at best, opaque and unaccountable, and, at worst, unconstitutional.

Income growth and decline under recent U.S. presidents and the new challenge to restore broad economic prosperity

March 13, 2015 Comments off

Income growth and decline under recent U.S. presidents and the new challenge to restore broad economic prosperity
Source: Brookings Institution

In this new study, economist Robert Shapiro, chairman of Sonecon, LLC, and a faculty member of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, analyzes new Census Bureau data to track the household incomes of Americans by age cohort, following their income paths as they age.

Using this approach, Shapiro shows that income progress was broad and robust through the Reagan and Clinton years and stopped abruptly during the Bush and Obama administrations. Understanding what has really happened to the incomes of Americans as they aged over the last 35 years, he argues, is important to understanding our current economic challenges, the policies of recent presidents, and the politics that have resulted.

Most importantly, Shapiro writes, the data show that the incomes problems that most households face today are not a long-standing feature of the American economy, but rather reflect the particular conditions and policies of the last decade or so.

From paper state to caliphate: The ideology of the Islamic State

March 12, 2015 Comments off

From paper state to caliphate: The ideology of the Islamic State
Source: Brookings Institution

While the Islamic State dominates headlines through its brutal tactics and pervasive propaganda, there is little awareness of the unique ideology driving the group’s strategy. Drawing from private correspondence, statements, speeches, and Islamic theology, Cole Bunzel unpacks the ideology of the Islamic State in a new analysis paper.

The Islamic State, Bunzel argues, is inconceivable apart from its ideology. Like al-Qaida, the group identifies with a movement in Islamic political thought known as jihadi-Salafism, or jihadism for short. Jihadi-Salafism is a distinct ideological movement in Sunni Islam, encompassing not only militant groups, but also a global network of scholars, websites, media outlets, and numerous supporters on social media.

The Islamic State’s version of jihadi-Salafism is predicated on an extremist reading of Islamic scripture that is also textually rigorous, deeply rooted in a premodern theological tradition, and elaborated on by a recognized cadre of religious authorities. Founded in 2006 as an al-Qaida offshoot, the Islamic State’s founders espoused sharply anti-Shiite sectarian views and harsh application of Islamic law. Empowered by its ideology, the group rose from a “paper state” of little influence to a global jihadi movement.

Bunzel argues that the coalition military campaign may actually strengthen the Islamic State’s ideology by lending credence to one of the group’s fundamental views: the idea that Shia are conspiring with the United States and secular Arab rulers to limit Sunni power in the Middle East. Instead, Bunzel recommends regional governments take the lead in countering the Islamic State by deconstructing its violent ideology and eroding the legitimacy of its claims to statehood. Reducing the Islamic State from a “caliphate” back to a “paper state,” Bunzel writes, may stem the group’s influence.

The ISIS Twitter census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter

March 6, 2015 Comments off

The ISIS Twitter census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter
Source: Brookings Institution

Although much ink has been spilled on ISIS’s activity on Twitter, very basic questions about the group’s social media strategy remain unanswered. In a new analysis paper, J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan answer fundamental questions about how many Twitter users support ISIS, who and where they are, and how they participate in its highly organized online activities.

Previous analyses of ISIS’s Twitter reach have relied on limited segments of the overall ISIS social network. The small, cellular nature of that network—and the focus on particular subsets within the network such as foreign fighters—may create misleading conclusions. This information vacuum extends to discussions of how the West should respond to the group’s online campaigns.

Berger and Morgan present a demographic snapshot of ISIS supporters on Twitter by analyzing a sample of 20,000 ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts. Using a sophisticated and innovative methodology, the authors map the locations, preferred languages, and the number and type of followers of these accounts.

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