The United States stands out among industrialized nations as one with high poverty and income inequality. In 2016, the supplemental poverty measure shows that 13.9% of all persons, and 15.1% of children, lived in families with incomes below the poverty level. Since the mid-1970s earnings for less skilled workers have stagnated, and real family income for the bottom 20% of the population has made no gains. At the same time, there is the related problem of declines in employment rates among prime-aged men, and more recently, women. In a recent study, Hilary Hoynes and Ankur Patel examined whether one strategy to fight poverty—the earned income tax credit (EITC)—is working.
Continue reading “Effective Policy for Reducing Poverty and Inequality? The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Distribution of Income”
Since television was introduced to a large audience around the mid-20th century, its effects have been debated. A widespread concern has been that television encourages a particularly passive form of engagement, and thus may damage intellectual development. But the existing empirical evidence is not conclusive. Øystein Hernæs, Simen Markussen, and Knut Røed saw the deregulation of television in Norway as an opportunity to explore what a large-scale change in television consumption can teach us about the effects of TV on young people.
Continue reading “Is watching TV bad for you? It depends…”
Proponents of more open immigration policy often cite the ability of immigrants to address shortages of workers in specific fields, so it is important that we understand the role of policy in shaping international students’ career choices. In a recent study, Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Delia Furtado used several years of data from the National Survey of College Graduates to examine how students responded to a major change in the relative availability of post-graduation H-1B work visas in certain fields.
Continue reading “H-1B Visas and the Career Choices of U.S. International Students”
“Tablets and texts nudge parents to read to kids” describes a new JHR-published study aimed at finding ways to help families increase parents’ time reading to their children. The Parents and Children Together (PACT) experiment involved having parents set goals for reading time. Each family received a tablet preloaded with children’s books, and the parents received text prompts to follow up on reading goals. They also received weekly feedback on the actual amount of time they spent reading and earned digital rewards for meeting goals.
According to one of the researchers, Susan Mayer, a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, the goal was to create a program using behavioral tools “to help parents overcome cognitive roadblocks to spending time reading to their children.”
The researchers report two key findings:
“Parents in the treatment group doubled the amount of time they spent reading to their child.”
“Parents in the treatment group read an average of almost five books per week, while those who were not, read an average of two or three.”
For the full study, see “Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The Parents and Children Together Intervention,” by Susan E. Mayer, Ariel Kalil, Philip Oreopoulos and Sebastian Gallegos.
Photo credit: Robert Kozloff, University of Chicago
One decade after high school completion, only 14 percent of low-income students in the United States have attained a bachelor’s degree, compared to 60 percent or more of their higher income peers. This stark difference is driven by gaps in both college access and college success, and it’s not explained away by differences in academic readiness for college. Recent research by Lindsay C. Page, Stacy S. Kehoe, Benjamin L. Castleman, and Gumilang Sahadewo examines how one “comprehensive support” program aims to make a difference.
Continue reading “Too many low-income college students don’t graduate, but a program that aims to address all challenges can help”
Although there is a rich body of evidence on the effects of preschool or daycare attendance, especially for the United States, substantially less is known about critical dimensions of the quality of these services, in particular for very young children. M. Caridad Araujo, Marta Dormal, and Norbert Schady (Inter-American Development Bank) developed a research project with the goal of understanding how the quality of caregiver–child interactions in daycare affects child development.
Continue reading “Higher quality interactions between caregivers and children in daycare improve child development”
In a unique historical episode, between April and September of 1980, 120,000 low-skilled Cubans arrived in Miami. The sudden nature and random timing and location of the flow make this an ideal “quasi-experiment” for testing whether labor markets experienced depressed wages and employment opportunities due to the refugee wave. A simplistic concept of labor supply and demand might suggest that “yes” local workers were hurt by the wave, but what is the truth in the data? Economists have been fascinated with this question, and Giovanni Peri and Vasil Yasenov wanted their own look at it.
Continue reading “The 1980 Mariel Boatlift—Did the arrival of low-skilled Cuban immigrants harm the labor market for locals in Miami?”
As the U.S. Department of Education proposes rolling back the Gainful Employment rules regulating for-profit and vocational education programs, accurate estimates of the earnings outcomes and debt incurred by students in these programs are essential for judging the merits of various policy options. Researchers Stephanie Riegg Cellini and Nicholas Turner generated comprehensive new estimates of the labor market outcomes and debt incurred by students in vocational certificate programs in the for-profit sector.
Continue reading “For-Profit Colleges—Students Pay More, Get Less”
In response to demographic change—an aging population means fewer workers—policy makers in many industrialized countries are looking for ways to extend individuals’ working life. Shortening the time spent in school is one idea, but simple reductions result in students learning less. Germany tried a different reform: it kept the number of hours that children spend in school the same, but compressed it into one less year. Thus, students have the same amount of schooling, just over a shorter period of time. Jan Marcus (University of Hamburg and DIW Berlin) and Vaishali Zambre (DIW Berlin) evaluated this reform and examined how higher education enrollment was affected.
Continue reading “How Can We Extend the Working Lifetime? Compressing Time Spent in School Might Not Be the Answer”
Are people who receive transfers of money from family members passively waiting for a handout from their altruistic kin? If not, how can they influence what they receive? In a recent study, Joachim De Weerdt, Garance Genicot, and Alice Mesnard used robust empirical methods to disentangle these family exchanges. They interviewed all members within 718 kinship networks in Tanzania, which allowed them to compare what people think about each other’s living conditions with reality.
Continue reading “Wealth Perceptions and Remittances within Family Networks—Recipients Hold More Power Than You Think”