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The Adoption of New Smart-Grid Technologies: Incentives, Outcomes, and Opportunities

January 26, 2015 Comments off

The Adoption of New Smart-Grid Technologies: Incentives, Outcomes, and Opportunities
Source: RAND Corporation

Studies in the academic and gray literatures have touted the potential large-scale benefits of a smart grid for the United States. Despite an overall lack of technological constraints, however, the empirical evidence shows a potential gap between ex ante expectations and ex post realizations of the benefits of modernization, as well as some reluctance on the part of utilities and consumers to adopt or use the technologies as expected. The surge in technological deployment during the early 2010s, in fact, was a result of federal funding via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In this report, RAND Corporation researchers review the current technical, regulatory, and economic context of the electricity market and theoretical benefits of developing a smart grid. They then discuss some of the entrepreneurial opportunities associated with smart-grid data once the grid is fully modernized. Next, they examine the existing empirical evidence related to smart-grid adoption and implementation and investigate the potential reasons for these experiences. Finally, they offer some policy suggestions that might help overcome the identified barriers and discuss their relative merits.

Options and Issues Regarding Marijuana Legalization

January 23, 2015 Comments off

Options and Issues Regarding Marijuana Legalization
Source: RAND Corporation

Marijuana legalization is a controversial and multifaceted issue that is now the subject of serious debate. Since 2012, four U.S. states have passed ballot initiatives to remove prohibition and legalize a for-profit commercial marijuana industry. In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to experiment with legalization nationwide; the Netherlands tolerates only retail sales and does not allow commercial production. Voters in Washington, D.C., recently took the more limited step of passing an initiative to legalize home production and personal possession. All of these moves were unprecedented. The effects are likely to be complex and will be difficult to fully assess for some time. The goal of this paper is to review recent changes in marijuana policies and the decisions that confront jurisdictions that are considering alternatives to traditional marijuana prohibition. The principal message is that marijuana policy should not be viewed as a binary choice between prohibition and the for-profit commercial model seen in Colorado and Washington State; several intermediate supply options should be discussed. In addition, this piece addresses other key decisions that need to be made about taxation and regulations. It also walks through some of the potential consequences of legalizing marijuana, highlighting the massive uncertainty surrounding many of these consequences.

Assessing Alternative Modifications to the Affordable Care Act

January 20, 2015 Comments off

Assessing Alternative Modifications to the Affordable Care Act (PDF)
Source: RAND Corporation

In this report, we use the COMPARE microsimulation model to estimate how several potential changes to the ACA, including eliminating the individual mandate, eliminating the tax credits, and combined scenarios that change these and other provisions of the act, might affect 2015 individual market premiums and overall insurance coverage. Underlying these estimates is our COMPARE-based analysis of how premiums and insurance coverage outcomes depend on young adults’ propensity to enroll in insurance coverage. We find that eliminating the ACA’s tax credits and eliminating the individual mandate both increase premiums and reduce enrollment on the individual market, as do the combined policies we examine.

Mapping Diasporas in the European Union and United States

January 16, 2015 Comments off

Mapping Diasporas in the European Union and United States
Source: RAND Corporation

The European Commission commissioned RAND Europe and the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) to conduct a study mapping diasporas in the European Union and the United States. This study aimed to provide an overview of diasporas present in Europe and the US, and to deliver concrete recommendations for engaging with diasporas as a bridge to their countries of origin, especially where improvement is sought in relations with those countries. Our analysis revealed several noteworthy patterns which may help policymakers better understand the characteristics, priorities and concerns of relevant diasporas. In comparison with their countries of origin, diaspora groups on the whole achieve better outcomes on a range of socioeconomic indicators. Diaspora groups generally show higher rates of high educational attainment, labour force participation in their receiving countries, and, unsurprisingly, tend to have a higher share of working-age population compared with their counterparts in countries of origin. The comparison with receiving countries offers a more complex picture. Diaspora groups have a higher share of working-age population than the populations in the countries where they settled, but are generally lagging behind with respect to labour force and education outcomes. The size of this gap is much larger for labour force participation rates than for educational outcomes. Through synthesis of our quantitative mapping and analysis of engagement strategies and diaspora survey results, we provided a set of eight recommendations for actors seeking to engage with diaspora groups.

U.S. Security-Related Agreements in Force Since 1955: Introducing a New Database

January 12, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Security-Related Agreements in Force Since 1955: Introducing a New Database
Source: RAND Corporation

Treaties and agreements are powerful foreign policy tools that the United States uses to build and solidify relationships with partners and to influence the behavior of other states. As a result, the overall U.S. portfolio of treaties and agreements can offer insight into the distribution and depth of U.S. commitments internationally, including its military commitment, relationships, capabilities, and vulnerabilities in a given area. While there are many sources of information on security-related treaties and agreements, there is currently no comprehensive record of current or historical security-related treaties signed by the United States that can be used for empirical analysis. To address the shortcomings in existing datasets and indexes to contribute to the study of U.S. security treaties and agreements, the author has developed a tool — displayed in an Excel spreadsheet — that provides a new, more comprehensive treaty database that will enhance the ability of researchers to study the full portfolio of U.S. security agreements.

Fostering Innovation in Community and Institutional Corrections; Identifying High-Priority Technology and Other Needs for the U.S. Corrections Sector

January 11, 2015 Comments off

Fostering Innovation in Community and Institutional Corrections; Identifying High-Priority Technology and Other Needs for the U.S. Corrections Sector
Source: RAND Corporation

The agencies of the U.S. corrections enterprise manage offenders confined in prisons and jails and those who have been released into the community on probation and parole. The enterprise is one of the three central pillars of the criminal justice system, along with police and the courts. Corrections agencies face major challenges from declining budgets, increasing populations under supervision, problems of equity and fairness in administrating justice, and other concerns. To better achieve its objectives and play its role within the criminal justice enterprise, the sector needs innovation in corrections technology, policy, and practice. This report draws on published literature and new structured deliberations of a practitioner Corrections Advisory Panel to frame an innovation agenda. It identifies and prioritizes potential improvements in technology, policy, and practice in both community and institutional corrections. Some of the top-tier needs identified by the panel and researchers include adapting transcription and translation tools for the corrections environment, developing training for officers on best practices for managing offenders with mental health needs, and changing visitation policies (for example, using video visitation) to reduce opportunities for visitors to bring contraband into jails and prisons. Such high-priority needs provide a menu of innovation options for addressing key problems or capitalizing on emerging opportunities in the corrections sector. This report is part of a larger effort to assess and prioritize technology and related needs across the criminal justice community for the National Institute of Justice’s National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center system.

See also: Interactive Tool for Ranking Corrections Innovation Needs

The Effect of Eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s Tax Credits in Federally Facilitated Marketplaces

January 9, 2015 Comments off

The Effect of Eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s Tax Credits in Federally Facilitated Marketplaces
Source: RAND Corporation

In this research report, RAND Corporation researchers assess the expected change in enrollment and premiums in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)–compliant individual market in federally facilitated marketplace (FFM) states if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to eliminate subsidies in FFM states. The analysis used the Comprehensive Assessment of Reform Efforts (COMPARE) microsimulation model, an economic model developed by RAND researchers, to assess the impact of proposed health reforms. The authors found that enrollment in the ACA–compliant individual market, including plans sold in the marketplaces and those sold outside of the marketplaces that comply with ACA regulations, would decline by 9.6 million, or 70 percent, in FFM states if subsidies were eliminated. They also found that unsubsidized premiums in the ACA–compliant individual market would increase 47 percent in FFM states. This corresponds to a $1,610 annual increase for a 40-year-old nonsmoker purchasing a silver plan.

See also: The Implications of a Supreme Court Finding for the Plaintiff in King vs. Burwell: 8.2 Million More Uninsured and 35% Higher Premiums (Urban Institute)

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