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All Papers

Policy Proposal Oct 21, 2016

Increasing Employment for Individuals with Criminal Records

Individuals who were formerly incarcerated often face great difficulty in re-entering the labor market after incarceration. A multi-pronged approach—inclusive of effective policies aimed at building workers’ skills, communicating their work-readiness to employers, and promoting robust labor markets for low-skilled workers—is necessary for improving employment outcomes for workers with criminal records. In addition, it is important to consider the potential unintended consequences of regulations that restrict information available to employers.

Policy Proposal Oct 21, 2016

Putting Time Limits on the Punitiveness of the Criminal Justice System

Over the past 30 years, both the incarcerated population and the limitations placed on those with criminal records have dramatically expanded. The consequences of a criminal conviction can last long beyond any imposed sentence, but current efforts to reduce the punitiveness of the criminal justice system tend to focus on sentencing reform rather than consequences for those who have already served prison terms. The author offers three principles for reform efforts aimed at reducing criminal justice punitiveness.

Policy Proposal Oct 21, 2016

Graduated Reintegration: Smoothing the Transition from Prison to Community

High recidivism rates—some 50 percent of released prisoners return within three years—constitute a major factor driving both high crime rates and high incarceration rates. The unduly sudden process of prisoner release contributes to recidivism by confronting releasees with unnecessarily difficult problems of subsistence and adjustment. Graduated Reintegration addresses that problem by making the release process less sudden. 

Economic Facts Oct 20, 2016

Twelve Facts about Incarceration and Prisoner Reentry

In this set of economic facts, The Hamilton Project explores the characteristics of the populations of the currently incarcerated and individuals reentering their communities. In 2014, there were approximately seven million Americans living under correctional supervision and even more with criminal records. Successful reintegration is not just a concern for those who return from prison: it is also a matter of public safety and economic necessity. Reducing recidivism is critical for community safety; providing effective rehabilitation and skill development for those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated is critical to strengthening households and the economy.”

Economic Analysis Aug 19, 2016

The Long-Term Impact of the Head Start Program

In this Economic Analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the impact of Head Start on a new set of long-term outcomes, extending landmark analyses further into adulthood and considering the effect of Head Start on participants’ children. The Hamilton Project finds that Head Start has a significant impact on its participants' educational outcomes, social and behavioral development, and parenting practices later in life.

Framing Paper Jun 29, 2016

The Changing Landscape of American Life Expectancy

During the past 100 years, life expectancy at birth has increased by about 25 years in the United States. However, certain groups—notably older whites and low-income Americans—find their mortality rates either stagnating or rising in recent years. In a new framing paper, The Hamilton Project examines the widening gap in life expectancy and explores policy reforms aimed at extending life expectancy gains for more Americans.

Economic Analysis Jun 2, 2016

Where Does All the Money Go: Shifts in Household Spending Over the Past 30 Years

This economic analysis examines shifts in consumer spending patterns over the last thirty years, contrasting the experiences of low, middle, and high-income households. The analysis concludes that low-income households are spending a higher share of their budgets on basic needs—defined as the major budget components of housing, food, transportation, health care, and clothing—than they did three decades ago.

Policy Proposal May 20, 2016

Strengthening Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The experience of the Great Recession reveals important holes in the safety net. In particular, the central cash-assistance program in the United States, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is failing to reach many poor families. In addition, the program does not automatically expand during economic downturns, when the need for the program is likely greatest and when additional consumer spending would be particularly helpful. To strengthen TANF, Marianne Bitler and Hilary Hoynes propose reforms to expand both the program’s reach and its responsiveness to cyclical downturns. They also propose ways to improve its transparency, which will help researchers and policymakers understand how the program works, who it supports, and how effectively it meets its goals. 

Policy Proposal May 20, 2016

Modernizing SNAP Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides assistance to households that lack food security, with benefit allotments determined by the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (TFP). However, the assumptions underlying the TFP are based on increasingly unrealistic assumptions about food preferences, time availability, and prices faced by many SNAP recipients. As a result, SNAP is less effective than it could be. In this Hamilton Project paper, James Ziliak proposes a series of reforms to the TFP aimed at strengthening nutrition assistance. 

Policy Proposal May 17, 2016

Fiscal Policy Reconsidered

In the years following the Great Recession, many economists and policymakers agree that fiscal stimulus was crucial to turning around the faltering economy and helped to save or create millions of jobs. What economists and policymakers do not agree on is whether the stimulus should have been larger, whether it contained the correct mix of tax cuts and targeted government spending, and how it could have best been delivered. In this Hamilton Project policy proposal, Alan Blinder tackles these questions using economic theory and recent evidence from the Great Recession to discuss how fiscal policy can be better designed to mitigate the effects of the next economic downturn.

Economic Facts May 17, 2016

Nine Facts about the Great Recession and Tools for Fighting the Next Downturn

Between December 2007 and June 2009 the United States experienced the most severe recession in the postwar period. Given the massive human cost of recessions, it is incumbent upon policy makers to assess the policy tools at their disposal and identify those that are most effective at hastening economic recovery during a downturn. In this document, The Hamilton Project describes how different groups of workers were affected by the Great Recession, what works in fiscal stimulus, what could be done differently in future recessions, and the fiscal preparedness of states for the next downturn. 

Economic Analysis Apr 29, 2016

Are Nutrition Policies Making Teenagers Hungry?

Households with teenagers report greater incidence of food insecurity than households with younger children. Yet for many teens, nutrition assistance programs such as School Lunch, School Breakfast, and SNAP are not providing enough calories to make it through the day. In a new economic analysis, The Hamilton Project explores how nutrition policies are leaving food insecure teenagers more vulnerable, and highlights policies to address this problem. 

Policy Proposal Mar 28, 2016

Learning What Works in Educational Technology with a Case Study of EDUSTAR

Innovations in technology hold great promise for application in education, and yet new educational technologies have yet to fundamentally advance student outcomes in K-12. In this policy memo, authors Aaron Chatterji and Benjamin Jones argue that the lack of rigorous evaluation currently available for educational technology tools must be addressed and articulate general principles that should guide the evaluation of educational technology. These evaluations have the promise to fill in critical information gaps and leverage the potential of new technologies to improve learning. They also present a case study of a new platform, EDUSTAR, conceived by the authors and implemented with a national nonprofit organization.

Policy Proposal Mar 28, 2016

Increasing Targeting, Flexibility, and Transparency in Title I of the ESEA

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act distributes over $14 billion in federal funds to school districts to help disadvantaged students. Over its 50-year history, the aid formulas have become more complex, and the perceived restrictions on permissible uses of the funds have limited the ways that schools use the additional resources. The program is widely perceived as funding ineffective practices at the local level, and spreading federal funds too thinly. Gordon proposes reforms to make the Title I formula more transparent, streamlined and progressive by distributing additional resources to the neediest areas. In addition, she suggests improvements in federal guidance and fiscal compliance outreach efforts so that local districts understand the flexibility they have to spend the resources effectively. 

Policy Proposal Mar 28, 2016

Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students: Scaling Up Individualized Tutorials

Improving the educational outcomes of economically disadvantaged children is a policy priority in the United States, and yet relatively little progress has been made in recent decades. To address this issue, Roseanna Ander, Jonathan Guryan and Jens Ludwig propose scaling up a daily, individualized tutorial program that would allow students who have fallen behind grade level in math to reengage with regular classroom instruction, likely increasing their chances of graduating high school and achieving the many long-term economic benefits that go along with academic success.

Economic Facts Mar 24, 2016

Fourteen Economic Facts on Education and Economic Opportunity

There are many factors at work in determining educational outcomes; some of these are more easily addressed by policy reforms than others, and not all can be addressed directly within the K–12 education system. To illustrate the payoffs from increasing educational attainment, the challenges faced by our nation’s K–12 schools, and the promise of targeted childhood interventions, The Hamilton Project offers the following fourteen facts on education and economic opportunity.

Economic Analysis Feb 5, 2016

An Additional Measure of The Hamilton Project’s Jobs Gap Analysis

This month The Hamilton Project introduces an additional methodology, in addition to our standard monthly “jobs gap” measure (which calculates the number of jobs needed to return to the pre-recession employment-to-population ratio). Specifically, we add a new jobs gap measure calculating the number of jobs needed to reach the pre-recession unemployment rate after allowing for demographic shifts and changes in labor force participation. This will enable our readers to see the contrast between the two methods of estimating the jobs gap.