When the Fire Goes Out, Children Face Lasting Effects: Evidence from the Indonesian Forest Fires

pregnant woman

Recent devastating wildfires have drawn attention to how climate change is expected to make weather phenomena more unpredictable and wildfires more frequent and difficult to control. Little is known about how the accompanying air pollution affects long-term outcomes in children, who are especially vulnerable to its effects.

Maria Rosales-Rueda and Margaret Triyana analyzed the impacts of early-life exposure to the 1997 Indonesian forest fires on children’s long-term health outcomes in Indonesia. These fires were among the most intense fires in Indonesia’s history, emitting levels of particulate matter similar to the hazardous haze from agricultural burning or chronic exposure to indoor air pollution generated by the use of biomass fuels.
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Who Needs a Ring? The 1996 Welfare Reform’s “Independence Effect”

Ratio of earnings and employment for single mothers vs. single men

In 1996 federal welfare reform replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, the oldest welfare program for the poor, with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The primary goal of this historic reform was to encourage work and decrease welfare dependence. However, another explicit goal was to decrease single motherhood and encourage marriage. This emphasis on single motherhood and marriage is based on a long-standing criticism of the AFDC program—that it discouraged marriage because the eligibility rules made it difficult for married couples to receive benefits from the program.

In a recent study, Robert Moffitt, Brian Phelan, and Anne Winkler take advantage of the passage of time to reexamine whether welfare reform had its intended effect of discouraging single motherhood and encouraging marriage.
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Having More Siblings Reduces Education Attainment, but Not by Much

Two trends are often observed as a country develops: a decline in family size and a rise in education attainment. Are they related? In particular, could the fall in family size be one reason for the increase in education levels? Hui Ren Tan (Boston University) considered this question within the context of the 19th and early 20th century United States.
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Unintended Consequences—How Targeting Schools for Special Benefits in France Can Do More Harm Than Good

student reading

Compensatory education policies—policies aimed at offsetting educational inequalities between socially and academically disadvantaged children and more advantaged students—are widely used and represent a significant part of public education spending in many countries. In France, they correspond to about ten percent of the annual spending per pupil. They provide underprivileged schools with additional resources to compensate for social and academic disadvantages. In a new JHR paper, Laurent Davezies (CREST) and Manon Garrouste (University of Lille) propose some evidence to explain why these programs are often not working as intended.
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Do Conferences Contribute to Academic Impact?

Speaker presenting at a conference

Academics invest significant resources in attending and organizing conferences, and yet—until now—there has been strikingly little empirical analysis that tests the effectiveness of these meetings in promoting academic impact. In a new paper for JHR, Fernanda Leite Lopez de Leon (University of Kent) and Ben McQuillin (University of East Anglia) present compelling evidence for the impact of conferences in increasing the visibility of presenting papers.
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Poorly Rated NYC Schools Attract Better Teachers

teacher

The idea of holding schools accountable for students’ performance has stood at the center of school-reform efforts in the United States for more than two decades. One of the many questions that have been raised is whether accountability efforts could backfire by driving good teachers out of poorly rated schools, creating a vicious cycle for principals attempting to turn their institutions around.

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Does Parents’ Access to Family Planning Increase Children’s Opportunities? Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X

For the past several decades, the U.S. government has invested heavily in anti-poverty programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Head Start, aimed at closing the resource gap for disadvantaged children and improving their long-term outcomes. There is a vast literature studying the impacts of such programs, yet there is one potential source of disparity that has been largely overlooked: family planning.
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Smart Teachers, Smart Kids—An International Study of Who Teaches the Best-Testing Kids

wages of teachers vs. other grads

While it’s now generally accepted that teacher quality is the most important element of a good school, research has failed to convincingly identify the characteristics of effective teachers. Because of this limitation, it’s also been difficult to explain the contribution of schools to the large variation in international test scores across countries. Eric A. Hanushek, Marc Piopiunik, and Simon Wiederhold looked at data from 31 mostly developed countries for some answers. They found that teachers’ cognitive skills can explain a significant portion of the international differences.
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Effective Policy for Reducing Poverty and Inequality? The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Distribution of Income

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.
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Is watching TV bad for you? It depends…

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.
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