Papers: Economic Security

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Unlocking Spectrum Value through Improved Allocation, Assignment, and Adjudication of Spectrum Rights

March 2014 • J. Pierre de Vries, Phil J. WeiserEconomic Security, Effective Government, Infrastructure, Technology & Innovation

In a new Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, J. Pierre de Vries and Philip J. Weiser propose further reforms to move spectrum regulation away from its “command-and-control” regime to allow for a more-efficient allocation of spectrum resources.  De Vries and Weiser propose three distinct but complementary lines of reform. 

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The Economic Promise of Wireless Spectrum

March 2014 • Benjamin H. Harris, Melissa S. KearneyEconomic Security, Effective Government, Infrastructure, Technology & Innovation

In a new policy memo, The Hamilton Project highlights four policy challenges hampering the economic potential of wireless spectrum and opportunities to address these challenges through innovative, evidence-driven approaches to reform.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address

January 2014 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of a “breakthrough year for America” and foreshadowed a “year of action.” He focused on ways to expand opportunities for Americans by enhancing employment and education options for low-and middle-income citizens, developing more robust worker training programs, investing in America through infrastructure investments and energy innovation, the importance of making progress on immigration reform, and more. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to addressing many of the policy priorities set forth in the Presidents address.

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Hamilton Project Work on Higher Education: Policy Proposals to Promote Access and Affordability

January 2014 • Economic Security, Education, Poverty

On January 16, President Obama hosted college and university presidents from around the country for a summit to discuss new approaches for promoting college access, with a focus on reaching low-income students. The Hamilton Project has produced significant work highlighting the importance of higher education for economic mobility, in addition to a series of papers by outside experts on improving college access and affordability. A menu of Hamilton Project work on this topic is included for easy reference.

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The “Ripple Effect” of a Minimum Wage Increase on American Workers

January 2014 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

In this month’s Hamilton Project employment analysis, we consider the “ripple effects” of a minimum wage increase on near-minimum wage workers, finding that a minimum wage increase could benefit up to 35 million workers.

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The Importance of Unemployment Insurance for American Families & the Economy: Take 2

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty

In the absence of congressional action to extend unemployment insurance, 1.3 million Americans will immediately lose their benefits on December 28th. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project reexamines unemployment insurance and highlights evidence suggesting that extended benefits provide a sizable boost for workers and the economy.

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A Dozen Facts about America’s Struggling Lower-Middle Class

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Poverty, Tax Policy

These economic facts focus on two key challenges facing lower-middle-class families: food insecurity and the low return to work for families who lose tax and transfer benefits as their earnings increase.

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Giving Secondary Earners a Tax Break: A Proposal to Help Low- and Middle-Income Families

December 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Lesley TurnerPoverty, Economic Security, Employment & Wages, Effective Government, Tax Policy

The current tax system hampers low- and middle-income families who add secondary earners to the workforce to augment their primary breadwinner’s income. In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Melissa Kearney and Lesley Turner propose a secondary earner tax deduction that would help make work pay for dual-earner families.

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Strengthening SNAP for a More Food-Secure, Healthy America

December 2013 • Diane Whitmore SchanzenbachPoverty, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government, State & Local

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as the Food Stamp Program—is an essential part of America’s social safety net. In a new Hamilton Project discussion paper, Diane Schanzenbach proposes five reforms that could strengthen SNAP, including incentives for participants to purchase healthier foods and improvements to the benefit formula.

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Hunger and the Important Role of SNAP as an American Safety Net

November 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEconomic Security, Effective Government, Health Care, Poverty

In this month’s economic analysis, The Hamilton Project focuses on two critical issues related to SNAP: (1) the widespread existence of both food insecurity and obesity among low-income children in the United States, and (2) the role of SNAP in fighting poverty during times of weak labor markets. SNAP participation rises and falls in lockstep with the unemployment rate, highlighting SNAP’s role as a safety-net program that bolsters family resources when employment and wages are low.

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Simplifying Estimates of College Costs

October 2013 • Phillip LevineEducation, Economic Security, Employment & Wages, Effective Government

The lack of clear information about the widening gap in perceived and actual costs of college can act as an impediment in students' decision-making process. In his new Hamilton Project proposal, Phillip Levine proposes a way to simplify and improve the transparency of college cost estimates based on a pilot program currently underway at Wellesley College. 

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Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century

October 2013 • Judith Scott-Clayton, Sandy BaumEducation, Effective Government, Economic Security

The structure of the Pell Grant program has remained fundamentally unchanged since its inception in 1972. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute and The George Washington University and Judith Scott-Clayton of Columbia University propose three major structural reforms to fit the needs of a twenty-first-century economy and student population.

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Improving College Outcomes: Key Findings

October 2013 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages

On October 21st, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum focusing on the evolving role of higher education in American society and released three new policy proposals by outside experts on how changes in student lending and financial-aid policies can help improve college outcomes. Key findings from each of the papers are outlined here.

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Higher Education Today: Innovative Approaches for College Financing

October 2013 • Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. HarrisEducation, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government

For many Americans, the high cost of higher education provides a substantial barrier to college entry and ultimate completion. In this economic analysis, The Hamilton Project provides a snapshot of today’s higher education student, illustrating how the current generation of students are older and more financially independent than in the past, and highlights three forthcoming Hamilton Project papers that address the complicated landscape of higher education financing through innovative policy proposals.

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Informing Students about Their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project

June 2013 • Caroline M. Hoxby, Sarah TurnerEducation, Economic Security

In a new discussion paper for The Hamilton Project, Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia present a strategy for improving college outcomes for high-achieving, low-income students.  Building on previous research showing that most high-achieving, low-income students do not even apply to selective colleges, Hoxby and Turner propose expanding a recently piloted informational intervention called the Expanding College Opportunities (ECO) Project.

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Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and the Role of Education

June 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEducation, Economic Security

In a new policy memo, The Hamilton Project examines the relationship between growing income inequality and social mobility in America. The memo explores the growing gap in educational opportunities and outcomes for students based on family income and the great potential of education to increase upward mobility for all Americans.

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New Approaches to Promoting College Access for More Americans

June 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEducation, State & Local, Employment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government

The role of education in improving social mobility is well-known, and new evidence identifies promising ways to help more low-income students improve their educational opportunities. In a new blog post, The Hamilton Project compares a range of interventions aimed at boosting college attendance and completion among low-income students.

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Is Starting College and Not Finishing Really That Bad?

June 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEconomic Security, Employment & Wages, Education

In recent years there has been increasing concern about students who begin two- and four-year college programs but fail to complete a degree—particularly in light of the large increase in student debt and concerns about the high costs of college. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project examines whether starting college is worth it for students who fail to complete a degree. The findings show that students who complete “some college” earn about $100,000 more throughout their lifetime than their peers with only a high school education, and the rate of return to their investment exceeds the historical return on practically any conventional investment, including stocks, bonds, and real estate.

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Using Data to Improve the Performance of Workforce Training

April 2013 • Louis S. Jacobson, Robert J. LaLondeEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, State & Local, Effective Government

Workforce training programs have the potential to improve the lives and incomes of millions of Americans by lifting many into the middle class and preventing others from falling out of it. Despite their promise, however, too many workers enroll in courses that they do not complete or complete courses that do not lead to better jobs, reducing the benefits to workers and the economic return to workforce investments. Louis Jacobson of New Horizons Economic Research and Robert LaLonde of the University of Chicago propose a competition to increase the return on training investments by developing the data and measures necessary to provide the information prospective trainees need, by presenting the information in user-friendly “report cards,” by providing help for prospective trainees to use the information effectively, and by creating incentives for states to implement permanent information systems once they prove cost-effective.

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Sequestration’s Threat to America’s Most Vulnerable

March 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyPoverty, Employment & Wages, Effective Government, Economic Security

In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project looks at current poverty trends in the United States, the important role of government support programs, and how sequestration could remove critical aspects of the safety net in the midst of continued labor-market weakness. The Project finds sequestration could throw many American families back into poverty during this sensitive period of economic recovery by cutting the very programs that are helping them stay above water.

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An Evidence-Based Path to Disability Insurance Reform

February 2013 • Jeffrey B. Liebman, Jack A. SmalliganEmployment & Wages, Economic Security

Jeffrey Liebman and Jack Smalligan propose a path to improve our disability insurance system, through demonstration projects and administrative changes, that could potentially increase employment and economic engagement among workers with disabilities and provide more rapid and reliable resolution of disability insurance claims for those who cannot work.

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Better Ways to Promote Saving through the Tax System

February 2013 • Karen DynanTax Policy, Economic Security

Karen Dynan examines the design of government incentives for personal savings, outlining how reforms to these programs would improve saving and economic security for low-income households and reduce expensive and ineffective federal subsidies for high-income households.

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15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget

February 2013 • Economic Security, Effective Government, Tax Policy, Employment & Wages

As policymakers work to find solutions to reduce the federal budget deficit, The Hamilton Project presents 15 pragmatic, evidenced-based proposals that would both reduce the deficit and also bring broader economic benefits from leading experts from a variety of backgrounds.

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15 Ideas for Smart Deficit Reduction

February 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEconomic Security, Effective Government, Tax Policy, Employment & Wages

Hamilton Project Director Michael Greenstone and Policy Director Adam Looney preview The Project’s forthcoming budget report, which includes fifteen pragmatic, evidenced-based proposals to reduce the deficit and achieve broad-based economic benefits.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the State of the Union Address

February 2013 • Economic Security, Education, Effective Government, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Global Economy, Health Care, Infrastructure, Poverty, State & Local, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious second-term agenda focusing on policies to help strengthen America’s middle class through broad-based economic growth. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has released a range of targeted policy proposals that provide innovative, evidence-based approaches to address many of the priorities set forth in this year’s address, which we offer as a resource to policymakers in response to specific ideas mentioned by the President this week.

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Not All Cuts Are Created Equal:  Why Smart Deficit Reduction Matters

February 2013 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEconomic Security, Employment & Wages

The federal budget deficit is still the nation’s major economic focus. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project explores the potential impacts of enacted budget cuts, including the looming sequester, on America’s economic well-being. The Project finds that smart deficit reduction will require creative thinking about which budget areas can be made more efficient without damaging programs that are essential to promoting economic growth.

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How Does Our Economic Future Compare with That of 2008? A Glimpse at America’s Road to Recovery

November 2012 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEconomic Security, Effective Government, Employment & Wages

As Americans prepare to cast their ballots for president, many voters are pausing to assess the state of the economy. In this month’s employment analysis, The Hamilton Project reviews the available data to explore whether America’s economic future looks brighter today than it did four years ago and finds that the data clearly indicate a much rosier future for the United States than was the case in 2008.

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August Jobs Report:  The Private Sector Continues to Grow

August 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEconomic Security, Employment & Wages

The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in August, according to today’s employment report, which is the lowest rate since the onset of the recession. The private sector added more than 100,000 jobs, continuing a steady recovery that has added 4.6 million jobs over the last 30 months. As of August, our nation faces a “jobs gap” of 11.3 million jobs.

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The Role of Fiscal Stimulus in the Ongoing Recovery

July 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, Effective Government, State & Local

The Hamilton Project examines the relationship between government spending and unemployment, finding that states that spent more during the Great Recession experienced a smaller increase in their unemployment rate.

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The Role of Oil and Gas in Driving Job Growth

June 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEnergy & Environment, Employment & Wages, Economic Security

The Hamilton Project explores what increased domestic natural gas and oil production means for the American energy sector, the environment, and employment.

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The U.S. Immigration System: Potential Benefits of Reform

May 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneGlobal Economy, Employment & Wages, Economic Security

The Hamilton Project provides background information on the state of America’s immigration system, and discusses the economic benefits of reforming the system.

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Rationalizing U.S. Immigration Policy: Reforms for Simplicity, Fairness, and Economic Growth

May 2012 • Giovanni PeriEconomic Security, Employment & Wages, Global Economy

Giovanni Peri of UC Davis proposes a practical set of immigration reforms, starting with market-based changes to employment-based visas to better link visas with the labor market and ending with broad simplification in many areas of policy. 

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Just How Progressive is the U.S. Tax Code?

April 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEconomic Security, Tax Policy

As tax time approaches, one focus of debate has been the progressivity of the U.S. tax code. Evidence shows that the current U.S. tax system is less progressive than the tax systems of other industrialized countries, and considerably less progressive today than it was just a few decades ago.

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Understanding the “Jobs Gap” and What it Says About America’s Evolving Workforce

March 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEconomic Security, Employment & Wages

The Hamilton Project reexamines the current rate of labor force expansion, and how shifts in labor force participation will decrease the time it will take to close the “jobs gap.” As a result of new methodology based on population estimates, we now project that at a job creation rate of 208,000 per month, it will take until 2020 to close the jobs gap, rather than late 2023 as we had projected with the old method. 

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The Marriage Gap:  The Impact of Economic and Technological Change on Marriage Rates

February 2012 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Economic Security, Poverty

The Hamilton Project examines the decline the marriages over the last 50 years, highlighting the correlation between income level and likelihood of marrying. The decline in marriage is concentrated among less-educated, lower-income Americans.

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The Hamilton Project Policy Response to the State of the Union Address

January 2012 • Education, Economic Security, Employment & Wages, Energy & Environment, Infrastructure, Tax Policy, Technology & Innovation

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, putting forth his policy agenda to the 112th Congress on issues. Since its launch in 2006, The Hamilton Project has developed targeted policy proposals that touch on many of these areas, which we offer as a resource to policymakers in response to specific ideas mentioned by the President last evening. 

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Building America’s Job Skills with Effective Workforce Programs: A Training Strategy to Raise Wages and Increase Work Opportunities

November 2011 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEmployment & Wages, Education, Global Economy, Economic Security, Poverty

Amid the Great Recession and rapid technological changes, both workers with less education and workers who have been displaced from long-tenured jobs face challenges because they lack the particular skills that employers demand for good-paying jobs. In a new Hamilton Project strategy paper, Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney address the importance of developing workers’ skills through training and workforce development programs, and examine newly available evidence on policies that boost job opportunities and wages.

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Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States

November 2011 • Harry J. HolzerEmployment & Wages, Education, Economic Security, Global Economy, Poverty

Less educated workers often experience prolonged periods of unemployment and stagnating wages because they lack the skills necessary to compete in a global economy. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Harry J. Holzer proposes a set of competitive grants to fund education, training, and career counseling initiatives that feature private sector connections based on the experience of existing successful workforce development programs.

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Policies to Reduce High-Tenured Displaced Workers’ Earnings Losses Through Retraining

November 2011 • Louis S. Jacobson, Daniel G. Sullivan, Robert J. LaLondeEmployment & Wages, Education, Poverty, Global Economy, Economic Security

After being displaced from long-tenured jobs, workers often experience persistent, significant earnings losses. New research suggests that retraining in certain “high-return” fields can substantially reduce these losses. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Louis S. Jacobson, Robert J. LaLonde and Daniel G. Sullivan propose the establishment of a Displaced Worker Training (DWT) Program to distribute grants to displaced workers so they can obtain longer-term training to substantially increase their earnings. The DWT Program would also leverage the nation’s One-Stop Career Centers to assess and counsel grantees.

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Where is the Best Place to Invest $102,000 — In Stocks, Bonds, or a College Degree?

June 2011 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEconomic Security, Education, Employment & Wages

Is college a worthwhile investment? Hamilton Project Director Michael Greenstone and Policy Director Adam Looney compare the value of a college degree to other investment options and find higher education provides, by far, the greatest rate of return. 

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Supporting Work: A Proposal for Modernizing the U.S. Disability Insurance System

December 2010 • David Autor, Mark DugganEmployment & Wages, Economic Security

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has failed to support the ongoing employment and economic self-sufficiency of workers with disabilities, leading to rapid growth in program expenditures and declining employment of Americans with disabilities. This proposal offers a blueprint for reversing this needless employment decline and stemming the dramatic growth of the SSDI program.

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The Great Recession’s Toll on Long-Term Unemployment

November 2010 • Michael Greenstone, Adam LooneyEconomic Security, Employment & Wages

The October employment numbers, released today by the Labor Department, show tentative progress toward recovery. The U.S. economy is creating jobs for the first time in four months, with an increase of 151,000 jobs last month. The private sector added 159,000 jobs, continuing ten straight months of private sector job growth.

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The Mobility Bank: Increasing Residential Mobility to Boost Economic Mobility

October 2010 • Jens Ludwig, Steven RaphaelEconomic Security, Employment & Wages, State & Local

This paper proposes the creation of a “mobility bank” at a government cost of less than $1 billion per year to help finance the residential moves of U.S. workers relocating either to take offered jobs or to search for work, and to help them learn more about the employment options available in other parts of the country.

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The Long Road Back to Full Employment: How the Great Recession Compares to Previous U.S. Recessions

August 2010 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEmployment & Wages, Economic Security

As expected, July’s employment numbers suggest that the road to recovery will be long. The economy as a whole lost 131,000 jobs as layoffs of temporary Census workers continued. Private sector employment increased by 71,000 jobs, building on June’s increase of 31,000 jobs.

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June’s Employment Numbers Highlight America’s Increasingly Distressed Communities

July 2010 • Adam Looney, Michael GreenstoneEconomic Security, Employment & Wages, Poverty, State & Local

June’s employment numbers highlight that our economic recovery is not yet on solid footing. An analysis by The Hamilton Project digs into the regional distribution of these unemployment trends and finds that, by one measure, the five hardest-hit states are Alabama, Delaware, Colorado, Georgia, and Utah.

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From Recession to Recovery to Renewal: An Economic Strategy to Achieve Broadly Shared Growth

April 2010 • Roger C. Altman, Michael Greenstone, Robert E. RubinEconomic Security, Technology & Innovation

This paper argues that we must confront the challenges that pose a greater risk to our long-run prosperity than the Great Recession. America’s future growth requires reprioritizing expenditures toward increasing workforce productivity, innovation and infrastructure, savings, and government effectiveness.

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Path to Prosperity

September 2008 • Roger C. Altman, Jason E. Bordoff, Jason Furman, Robert E. RubinEconomic Security

Today, too many Americans are not fully sharing in our nation’s prosperity. This paper outlines the ways in which promoting economic growth, broad-based participation in growth, and economic security can be mutually reinforcing policy objectives.

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An Opt-Out Home Mortgage System

September 2008 • Michael S. Barr, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar ShafirEconomic Security, Effective Government

This paper develops a new framework for understanding the mortgage markets based on behavioral economic insights and proposes a ‘sticky’ opt-out mortgage system.

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Facilitating Shared Appreciation Mortgages to Prevent Housing Crashes and Affordability Crises

September 2008 • Andrew Caplin, Noël B. Cunningham, Mitchell L. Engler, Frederick PollockEconomic Security

This paper argues that development of shared appreciation mortgage (SAM) markets in the United States would moderate the impending decline in homeownership and lower the risk of future housing crashes.
 

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Missing Markets: Why Markets that Can Reduce Risks are Missing and What Can be Done About It

June 2008 • Jason FurmanEconomic Security

Jason Furman discusses the issue of missing markets for both societal and individual risk, highlighting reasons for the absence of these markets and proposing solutions to enable the development of new markets.

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Financing Losses from Catastrophic Risks

June 2008 • Kent Smetters, David TorregrosaEconomic Security

Catastrophe insurance helps spread risks and increases the ability of policyholders and the economy to recover from both natural disasters and terrorist attacks. This paper discusses several policy options to finance losses from catastrophic risk.

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Increasing Annuitization of 401(k) Plans with Automatic Trial Income

June 2008 • J. Mark Iwry, William G. Gale, David C. John, Lina WalkerEconomic Security

This paper proposes a policy that would increase the role of lifetime income products in future retirees’ overall retirement planning.

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If, When, How: A Primer on Fiscal Stimulus

January 2008 • Jason Furman, Douglas W. ElmendorfEconomic Security

The livelihoods and living standards of many Americans are at stake in any discussion about stimulus.  This paper considers several key questions on stimulus and provides principles and examples for effective implementation.  
 

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Universal Insurance: Enhancing Economic Security to Promote Opportunity

September 2006 • Jacob S. HackerEconomic Security, Employment & Wages

In the past three decades, American families have faced a dramatic increase in economic risk. This paper responds to this rise by proposing a broad-based, stop-loss insurance program designed to help families weather economic shocks.

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A Growth-Enhancing Approach to Economic Security

September 2006 • Jason E. Bordoff, Michael Deich, Peter OrszagEconomic Security

American families face new economic risks even as our social safety net is fraying.  This paper outlines a strategy for providing a basic level of economic security that is beneficial for families and for national economic growth.

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An Economic Strategy to Advance Opportunity, Prosperity, and Growth

April 2006 • Roger C. Altman, Jason E. Bordoff, Robert E. Rubin, Peter OrszagEconomic Security

Americans’ long-held belief that education and hard work advances each generation’ outlook has provided a powerful incentive for industrious activity, spurring the unprecedented economic growth that the United States has enjoyed for more than two centuries. Yet the fundamental principle that all citizens should have an opportunity to succeed is at risk today because the nation is neither paying its way nor investing adequately in its future. The Hamilton Project at Brookings advances innovative policy ideas for improving our nation’s economic policy.

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Improving Opportunities and Incentives for Saving by Middle- and Low-Income Households

April 2006 • William G. Gale, Jonathan Gruber, Peter OrszagEconomic Security

Many middle- and low-income Americans retire without having accumulated sufficient savings to enjoy a comfortable retirement. This paper proposes changing the default features of retirement savings and creating new matching programs to incentivize people to save. 

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