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Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt

June 27, 2015 Comments off

Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt
Source: Brookings Institution

Nearly two years after ousting President Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s military continues to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Much like during Egypt’s 1952-54 political transition, the recent interactions between the powerful armed state bureaucracy and the influential religious organization have had a major impact on the country’s political trajectory. In both instances, the military and Muslim Brotherhood initially cooperated before ultimately clashing violently. How has each entity determined what approach to take toward the other? What does a continued imbalance in civil-military relations mean for Egypt’s future?

In a new Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, Omar Ashour examines the legacies and patterns of cooperation and conflict between the leaderships of Egypt’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood. Relying on extensive field research, he analyzes how each entity has made its critical decisions regarding the other by applying various decision-making models. Ashour considers the impact of cost-benefit analysis, organizational dynamics, factional disputes, and psychological factors to gain a deep understanding of the leaders’ motives.

Reforming Occupational Licensing Policies

June 22, 2015 Comments off

Reforming Occupational Licensing Policies
Source: Brookings Institution (Hamilton Project)

Occupational licensing has been among the fastest growing labor market institutions in the United States since World War II. The evidence from the economics literature suggests that licensing has had an important influence on wage determination, benefits, employment, and prices in ways that impose net costs on society with little improvement to service quality, health, and safety. To improve occupational licensing practices, Kleiner proposes four specific reforms. First, state agencies would make use of cost-benefit analysis to determine whether requests for additional occupational licensing requirements are warranted. Second, the federal government would promote the determination and adoption of best-practice models through financial incentives and better information. Third, state licensing standards would allow workers to move across state lines with a minimal cost for retraining or residency requirements. Fourth, where politically feasible, certain occupations that are licensed would be reclassified to a system of certification or no regulation. If federal, state, and local governments were to undertake these proposals, evidence suggests that employment in these regulated occupations would grow, consumer access to goods and services would expand, and prices would fall.

Happiness and health in China: The paradox of progress

June 22, 2015 Comments off

Happiness and health in China: The paradox of progress
Source: Brookings Institution

The past two decades in China brought unprecedented rates of economic growth, development, and poverty reduction. Indeed, much of the reduction in the world’s extreme poverty rates during that time can be explained by the millions of people in China who exited poverty. GDP per capita and household consumption increased fourfold between the years 1990 and 2005.1 China jumped 10 places forward on the Human Development Index from 2008 until 2013, moving up to 93 of 187 countries, and life expectancy climbed to 75.3 years, compared to 67 years in 1980.

Yet during the same period, life satisfaction levels in China demonstrated very different trends—in particular dropping precipitously in the initial stages of rapid growth and then recovering somewhat thereafter. The drops in life satisfaction were accompanied by increases in the suicide rate and in incidence of mental illness. China had one of the highest suicide rates in the world in 1990s: approximately 23.2 suicides per 100,000 people per year from 1995 to 1999 (with the rate gradually falling to 7.8 per 100,000 by 2012). Mental health disorders, on the other hand, increased as suicide rates fell (perhaps because more individuals sought treatment). The annual growth rate of inpatients admitted into mental health hospitals was 13.4 percent from 2007 to 2012 (reaching 1.2 million people). Outpatient visits increased at a similar rate—12.4 percent (reaching a magnitude of 27 million outpatient visits in 2011).

Is this an anomaly? Is there something unique about China’s life satisfaction and well-being more generally? Or is it China’s growth trajectory? While income metrics provide us with one story of China’s progress, well-being metrics—including measures of mental health—are telling us a very different story. What explains the discrepancy?

Why Wait 100 Years? Bridging the Gap in Global Education

June 15, 2015 Comments off

Why Wait 100 Years? Bridging the Gap in Global Education
Source: Brookings Institution

In the last 200 years, the number of children attending primary school globally has grown from 2.3 million to 700 million today, covering nearly 90 percent of the world’s school-age children. But the gulf in average levels of education between rich and poor countries remains huge. Without a fundamental rethinking of current approaches to education, it’s going to take another 100 years for children in developing countries to reach the education levels achieved in developed countries. Something needs to change.

The hottest 15 metros for advanced industries

June 10, 2015 Comments off

The hottest 15 metros for advanced industries
Source: Brookings Institution

America’s advanced industries—characterized by their deep engagement with research and development (R&D) and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers—drive regional and national prosperity, as we observed in a recent Brookings paradigm report.

And yet, while advanced industries do this everywhere, how they do it in one metro area can be quite different from how they do it in another.

In some places local clusters push the frontiers of advanced manufacturing. In others they focus on energy or information technology. The strongest locations do it all. So, to see some of the ways in which local regions participate in the advanced economy, we here tour the 15 densest advanced industries hubs (in terms of employment share) in the United States.

Local government 2035: Strategic trends and implications of new technologies

June 4, 2015 Comments off

Local government 2035: Strategic trends and implications of new technologies
Source: Brookings Institution

Technological change is increasingly disruptive and destabilizing. In order to maintain effective governance systems, public sector entities must overcome stagnant tendencies and take a proactive stance—acting in the face of impending technological innovations. Future government entities must evolve into lean, responsive, and adaptive organizations capable of rapid response to societal shifts.

In this paper, authors Kevin C. Desouza, David Swindell, Kendra L. Smith, Alison Sutherland, Kena Fedorschak, and Carolina Coronel illustrate how technological advancements, such as the proliferation of drone technologies, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and peer-2-peer services, will introduce data privatization challenges and destabilize existing governance systems. In order to maintain effective service delivery, public sector entities must increasingly consider the ramifications technology will have on income inequality, fragile and conflict states, and immigration—just to name a few.

They conclude by urging policymakers and government managers to chart out trends based on data, model the interactions within complex systems, and study the pathways towards outcomes to unearth intended and unintended consequences of strategic choices. The authors argue that designing a path forward for local governments will require deliberate collaboration among diverse stakeholders, an immersive engagement with the data and scenarios that will shape local communities, and employment of decision-tools to model and simulate alternatives.

Open skies: Estimating travelers’ benefits from free trade in airline services

June 1, 2015 Comments off

Open skies: Estimating travelers’ benefits from free trade in airline services
Source: Brookings Institution

The United States has negotiated bilateral open skies agreements to deregulate airline competition on US international routes, but little is known about their effects on travelers’ welfare and the gains from the US negotiating agreements with more countries. We develop a model of international airline competition to estimate the effects of open skies agreements on fares and flight frequency. We find the agreements have generated at least $4 billion in annual gains to travelers and that travelers would gain an additional $4 billion if the US negotiated agreements with other countries that have a significant amount of international passenger traffic.

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