Papers: Economic Security
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Smarter, Better, Faster: The Potential for Predictive Analytics and Rapid-Cycle Evaluation to Improve Program Development and Outcomes
In this policy memo, Scott Cody and Andrew Asher propose that federal, state, and local agencies conduct thorough needs assessments to determine if predictive analytics and rapid-cycle evaluation can be used to improve the delivery of social services programs. This proposal aims to provide more effective services for individuals living in poverty by targeting services appropriately, and by identifying effective program improvements. This proposal is chapter fourteen of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.
In this policy memo, Arindrajit Dube proposes that state and local governments consider median wages and local costs when setting minimum wages, index the minimum wage for inflation, and engage in regional wage setting. This proposal aims to raise the earnings of low-wage workers with minimal negative impacts on employment. This proposal is chapter thirteen of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.
In this policy memo, Katharine G. Abraham and Susan N. Houseman propose that the federal government subsidize state work-sharing payments during economic downturns, make work sharing a requirement for state unemployment insurance systems, change federal requirements to modify provisions of state work-sharing plans that may discourage employer participation, and provide states with adequate funding to administer work-sharing programs. This proposal, targeted at workers who would otherwise become unemployed during cyclical downturns, aims to reduce the number of layoffs during economic downturns. This proposal is chapter twelve of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.
In this policy memo, Hilary Hoynes proposes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by raising the benefits for families with one child to be on par with the benefits for families with two children. This proposal aims to strengthen work incentives for low-income, one-child families; raise 410,000 people—including 131,000 children—out of poverty; and increase after-tax income by about $1,000 for one-child EITC beneficiaries, leading to improvements in health and children’s cognitive skills. This proposal is chapter eleven of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.
In this policy memo, Sheena McConnell, Irma Perez-Johnson, and Jillian Berk offer proposals to help disadvantaged adult workers with the skills necessary to succeed in the labor market. The authors call for an increase in funding in the Workforce Investment Act Adult program. They also propose a series of four steps that state and local workforce boards can take to better assist disadvantaged adult workers in obtaining skills. This proposal is chapter nine of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.
In this policy memo, Harry J. Holzer proposes the creation of financial incentives for public colleges and university systems to offer classes in high-return fields and for employers to offer more training to their employees. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged youth who have some academic preparation for higher education, aims to generate better labor market outcomes and wage gains. This proposal is chapter eight of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.
In this policy memo, Robert I. Lerman proposes a series of targeted federal and state-level initiatives to expand access to registered apprenticeship programs by creating marketing initiatives, building on existing youth apprenticeship programs, extending the use of federal subsidies, and designating occupational standards. This proposal, targeted toward at-risk youth and middle-skill adults in low-wage jobs, aims to improve human capital and raise earnings for apprentices. This proposal is chapter seven of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills.
In this policy memo, Bridget Terry Long proposes that school districts, community colleges, university systems, and state and federal governments reform the college remediation system by improving placement in remediation classes, providing better remediation services, and adopting measures to prevent the need for remediation. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged, academically underprepared students in high school and college, aims to reduce the need for college-level remediation and to better match underprepared students with effective resources to equip them with the skills they need to succeed in college and in the workforce. This proposal is chapter six of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.
In this policy memo, Amy Ellen Schwartz and Jacob Leos-Urbel propose that the U.S. Department of Labor distribute federal grants to states for municipalities to provide summer employment to disadvantaged youth, first through a pilot program and then through a nationwide expansion. This proposal, targeted at low-income youth who are enrolled in or have recently graduated from high school, aims to increase school attendance, improve educational outcomes, and reduce violent behavior and crime. This proposal is chapter five of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.
In this policy memo, Isabel Sawhill and Joanna Venator propose that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Population Affairs, in conjunction with state governments, reduce unintended pregnancies through a social marketing campaign to encourage more young women to use long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). This proposal, targeted at unmarried women between the ages of 15 and 30, aims to expand awareness so more low-income women use a LARC or other method of contraception, thereby reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and lowering the number of children born into poverty. This proposal is chapter three of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.
In this policy memo, Ariel Kalil proposes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families create a task force supporting the collection of evidence to develop more-effective parenting interventions and to promote improved child development in early years. This proposal, targeted at low-income families with young children, will collect evidence on successful parenting interventions for young children through rigorous experiments, and will develop new interventions that are lower-cost and better-matched to families’ needs. This proposal is chapter two of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.
In this policy memo, Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach propose a framework for state and local governments calling for the establishment of high-quality programs in areas where preschool programs do not exist, improved preschool quality in states and localities with subpar programs, and expanded access in areas where high-quality programs already exist. This proposal aims to reduce the income-based gap in school readiness between disadvantaged and higher-income preschool-aged children, and to improve school outcomes for disadvantaged preschool children. This proposal is chapter one of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.
The introduction to The Hamilton Project’s new volume, Policies to Address Poverty in America, presents an overview of America’s poverty crisis, and makes the case for why poverty belongs on the national policy agenda. The introduction also frames the 14 policy proposals that are part of the volume, and the particular aspects of poverty they address. The proposals fall into four general categories: promoting early childhood development, supporting disadvantaged youth, building skills, and improving safety net and work support.
In this policy memo, James P. Ziliak proposes converting the federal Child and Dependent Care Credit from a nonrefundable tax credit to a refundable one, capping eligibility at $70,000 and making the credit a progressive function of income, child age, and use of licensed care facilities. This proposal, targeted at low- and middle-income families with children under the age of twelve, aims to increase labor force participation, disposable income, and the use of higher-quality child care. This proposal is chapter ten of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Improving Safety Net and Work Support.
This Hamilton Project policy memo provides ten economic facts highlighting recent trends in crime and incarceration in the United States. Specifically, it explores the characteristics of criminal offenders and victims; the historically unprecedented level of incarceration in the United States; and evidence on both the fiscal and social implications of current policy on taxpayers and those imprisoned.
The United States incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country in the world. Large increases in the U.S. incarceration rate over the past three decades have decreased crime but generated substantial costs. In this paper, Steven Raphael and Michael Stoll propose reforms that would reduce incarceration while maintaining a low crime rate.
Previewing a forthcoming event and paper series, The Hamilton Project highlights the disproportionate burden of crime and incarceration on America’s poor. For too many Americans, that means living in a community in which opportunities are limited, and fear of violence has shaped daily lives and altered childhoods.
Unlocking Spectrum Value through Improved Allocation, Assignment, and Adjudication of Spectrum Rights
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Informing Students about Their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hamilton Project explores what increased domestic natural gas and oil production means for the American energy sector, the environment, and employment.
The Hamilton Project provides background information on the state of America’s immigration system, and discusses the economic benefits of reforming the system.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Building America’s Job Skills with Effective Workforce Programs: A Training Strategy to Raise Wages and Increase Work Opportunities
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.
Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This paper develops a new framework for understanding the mortgage markets based on behavioral economic insights and proposes a ‘sticky’ opt-out mortgage system.
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.
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.
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.
This paper proposes a policy that would increase the role of lifetime income products in future retirees’ overall retirement planning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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