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Economic Facts Mar 2, 2017

In Order That They Might Rest Their Arguments on Facts: The Vital Role of Government-Collected Data

Objective, impartial data collection by federal statistical agencies is vital to informing decisions made by businesses, policy makers, and families. These measurements make it possible to have a productive discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of particular policies, and about the state of the economy. These economic facts highlight the breadth and importance of government statistics to public policy and the economy.

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.”

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. 

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

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.

Policy Proposal Apr 17, 2013

Using Data to Improve the Performance of Workforce Training

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.

Policy Proposal Apr 17, 2013

Building on Recent Advances in Evidence-Based Policymaking

Over the past decade, and particularly over the past five years, new government strategies have begun to emerge—at the federal, state, and local levels—that offer the potential of simultaneously making better use of taxpayer dollars and speeding up progress in addressing serious social problems. Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University discusses several of these strategies and outlines five steps that policymakers can take to better inform their work with evidence. He also proposes a grant competition that identifies and encourages innovation in ten social policy priority areas as well as federal support for state and local Pay for Success initiatives.

Economic Analysis Apr 5, 2013

An Evidence-Based Approach to Improving Worker Training Programs

There is significant pressure facing policymakers at all levels of government to fund programs that provide the best results for the best value. Worker training programs provide one example of where better use of evidence could dramatically improve outcomes for many Americans. The Hamilton Project explores how the use of evidence and data could help workers determine which training programs can most effectively help them find employment and increase their earnings.

Policy Proposal May 18, 2011

A Better Approach to Environmental Regulation: Getting the Costs and Benefits Right

Ted Gayer proposes three reforms addressing several problems that undermine the role played by cost-benefit analysis in environmental regulation: 1) agencies should use a check list of good empirical practices for using cost-benefit analysis; 2) regulators should presume that consumers can make their own energy-saving decisions and focus on regulations addressing harm people impose on others; and 3) a six-month, early regulatory review process should be established for particularly important regulations.

Strategy Paper May 18, 2011

A Strategy for America’s Energy Future: Illuminating Energy’s Full Costs

America’s energy choices are built on the prices we see at the pump and our utility bills. Yet these prices mask the social costs arising from those energy choices, including shorter lives, higher health care expenses, a changing climate, and weakened national security. Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney provide four principles for reforming America’s energy policies to help level the playing field for all energy sources — moving away from a system that favors energy sources with lower prices at the pump but higher costs to society through health impacts and our ongoing reliance on foreign oil.

Policy Proposal Dec 3, 2010

Grading Higher Education: Giving Consumers the Information They Need

Potential students and their families must navigate a labyrinth of incomplete and uncertain information when deciding where to go to college, what to study, or what career to pursue, resulting in an array of poor choices being made every day. This proposal calls for the federal government to expand the types of information that are available and allow users to compare indicators like cost, financial aid, student debt, employment outcomes, and average salaries following graduation, across peer institutions.