You have JavaScript turned off! Javascript is required for the best experience on this site.

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.

All Papers

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.

Policy Proposal Dec 7, 2015

A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

The rise of technological intermediaries enabling workers to engage in the gig economy has resulted in protracted legal battles over whether to classify these workers as “employees” or “independent contractors.” Seth Harris and Alan Krueger propose assigning benefits and protections to independent workers according to whether or not the new benefits meet three certain considerations, and seek to address several growing issues in the labor market.

Policy Proposal Oct 7, 2015

Getting the Most from Marketplaces: Smart Policies on Health Insurance Choice

Substantial evidence shows that consumers often lack the high-quality information to select the best insurance plan, and once they have selected a plan they are less likely to switch, even as better plans become available. In response, Ben Handel and Jonathan Kolstad propose that exchanges develop a personalized decision support tool to give consumers the information they need to select the best plan. Additionally, they propose that exchanges establish a system of smart defaults, where an algorithm is used to move consumers to new plans if those plans deliver more value. 

Policy Proposal Oct 7, 2015

A Floor-and-Trade Proposal to Improve the Delivery of Charity-Care Services by Nonprofit Hospitals

Substantial evidence shows that consumers often lack the high-quality information to select the best insurance plan, and once they have selected a plan they are less likely to switch, even as better plans become available. In response, David Dranove, Craig Garthwaite and Christopher Ody propose that exchanges develop a personalized decision support tool to give consumers the information they need to select the best plan. Additionally, they propose that exchanges establish a system of smart defaults, where an algorithm is used to move consumers to new plans if those plans deliver more value. 

Economic Facts Oct 6, 2015

Six Economic Facts about Health Care and Health Insurance Markets after the Affordable Care Act

It is still too soon to completely know the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the health-care system. But looking beyond these considerations, it appears that many enduring economic challenges persist in the markets. In particular challenges like accessing care, delivering high-quality care without waste, and managing new technology. The Hamilton Project offers six economic facts that highlight continuing challenges and complexities in health care and health insurance markets on which the policy debate should focus.

Policy Proposal Oct 5, 2015

Correcting Signals for Innovation in Health Care

When Americans select health insurance, they cannot choose what technologies and treatments to include in their coverage. The fact that Americans have little choice but to buy widely-inclusive coverage sends a distorted signal to medical technology developers—that society is willing to pay practically any price for treatments that offer only incremental health benefits over existing technology. Nicholas Bagley, Amitabh Chandra and Austin Frakt propose three reforms to make health insurance, and ultimately medical innovation, reflect what consumers value.

Policy Proposal Jun 23, 2015

Strengthening Risk Protection through Private Long-Term Care Insurance

Americans currently spend over $300 billion a year on long-term services and supports (LTSS), paid for through government programs, private insurance, and importantly, individuals’ own out-of-pocket spending. Wesley Yin proposes changes to the financing of long-term care (LTC) insurance so that individuals can have more-affordable and more-complete insurance against long-term services and supports (LTSS) expenses, and so insurance firms can manage their risks more efficiently.

Policy Proposal May 7, 2015

Financing U.S. Transportation Infrastructure in the 21st Century

The nation’s transportation infrastructure, it is widely agreed, is eroding and in need of long-term, innovative policy solutions and adequate investment. In this discussion paper, Roger Altman, Aaron Klein, and Alan Krueger propose improvement and expansion of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) lending program, reauthorization of Build America Bonds, better utilization of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and reform of the federal gas tax.

Economic Analysis Apr 20, 2015

Profiles of Change: Employment, Earnings, and Occupations from 1990-2013

There has been tremendous focus in recent years on the plight of the typical American worker. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project takes a careful look at the data to examine what has been happening to America’s workers since 1990, paying particular interest to differences across workers with different levels of education. In addition, an accompanying interactive feature allows users to further explore these eight profiles by comparing employment, occupational, and earnings patterns between 1990 and 2013.