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Policy Proposals:

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

Modernizing U.S. Labor Standards for 21st-Century Families

Women now make up almost half the U.S. workforce, and more than half of the U.S. population. Despite the central role women play in the economy, our labor laws and institutions do little to address the various ways in which women are held back at work. This not only hampers women’s economic well-being, but also has implications for U.S. productivity, labor force participation, and economic growth. In this paper, Ansel and Boushey propose policies aimed at boosting women’s economic outcomes: paid family leave, fair scheduling, and combatting wage discrimination. They show how enacting carefully designed policies will better address the challenges of today’s labor force, enhance women’s economic outcomes, and provide benefits for the national economy.

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

Expanding Access to Earned Sick Leave to Support Caregiving

The rapid growth of the older population in the United States will dramatically increase the need for elder care, most of which will be provided at home by family members. Supporting an older person sometimes comes at the cost of leaving the labor force, particularly for caregivers in jobs with an inflexible work schedule. This paper proposes a federal earned sick leave mandate guaranteeing one hour of flexible, multi-purpose sick leave for every 30 hours worked. By helping workers periodically adjust their work schedules to accommodate intermittent and urgent caregiving activities, paid sick leave would increase both home caregiving and employment, as fewer workers would be forced to choose between these activities. 

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

Helping Women to Succeed in Higher Education: Supporting Student-Parents with Child Care

Women have surpassed men in college enrollment. This trend is particularly pronounced among nontraditional students, including part-time and older students—two groups that face significant challenges in higher education. For the 4.8 million college students who are parents, high-quality, reliable, and affordable child care is essential. Long proposes building on the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Program to structure an institutional grant program that better supports the availability of high-quality child care for parents pursuing postsecondary credentials (student-parents). Compared with the existing federal program, the proposed program would be larger and better targeted to address the substantial needs of low-income student-parents.

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

Public Investments in Child Care

Child care is a necessity for working women with young children. However, the costs of high-quality center-based child care in the United States—particularly for children under age five—are prohibitively high for many families. In this proposal, Elizabeth Cascio describes a multifaceted approach to child-care policy that reduces the financial burden of child care, encourages maternal employment, and supports child development. The proposal would replace existing federal child-care tax policies with a single refundable federal child-care tax credit that is more generous to lower-income families and families with children under the age of five. To address child care quality, Cascio proposes investments in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and in expansion of universal preschool for four-year-olds. State and local governments could pursue these investments on their own or with federal assistance.

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

A National Paid Parental Leave Policy for the United States

Despite widespread public support for paid parental leave, the United States is the only industrialized country without a national policy providing mothers with rights to paid leave following the birth of a child. Ruhm proposes a national paid leave program that entitles both mothers and fathers to 12 weeks of paid time off work. The proposal includes job protection during the leave, broad eligibility, and income-tiered wage replacement rates. The program would be financed by general revenues and administered by a new office established within the Social Security Administration, with program evaluation scheduled three to five years after initial implementation.

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

Increasing the Economic Security of Older Women

Popular commentary often points to the lower lifetime earnings and longer expected life spans of women relative to men as a reason to be especially concerned about the economic risks women face as they age. Indeed, women aged 65 and older are twice as likely as their male counterparts to live in poverty. Disability and widowhood are major drivers of economic insecurity for women later in life. To reduce the risk of economic insecurity among older women, the authors propose to allow Social Security beneficiaries to forgo some benefits when claiming to finance greater benefits in the event of widowhood, disability, or both. The proposed changes would be voluntary and self-financing.

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

Tax Policies to Encourage Women’s Labor Force Participation

Ordinarily, the progressive income tax system acts to mitigate differences in before-tax earnings. However, the tax treatment of married couples tends to raise the tax rate faced by the spouse who is the lower earner in a couple. This group of spouses, often referred to as secondary earners, is still predominantly female. Consequently, the current tax treatment of married couples reduces wives’ labor force participation and creates other inefficiencies. LaLumia proposes a new second-earner deduction equal to 15 percent of the earnings of a lower-earning spouse. The proposed deduction would raise the after-tax return to work for many wives, encouraging an increase in married women’s labor supply, and would reduce marriage penalties on average.

Policy Proposal Oct 19, 2017

Making Work Pay Better Through an Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit that promotes work. Despite the strong evidence for the effectiveness of the EITC and recent bipartisan expansions, the maximum EITC has been frozen in inflation-adjusted terms for most families since 1996, so the 25 million EITC families with fewer than three children have not seen a real increase in more than 20 years. The authors propose to build on the successes of the EITC with a ten percent across-the-board increase in the federal credit. This expansion would provide a meaningful offset to stagnating real wages, encourage more people to enter employment, lift approximately 600,000 individuals out of poverty, and improve health and education outcomes for millions of children.

Policy Proposal Apr 26, 2017

Improving College and Career Outcomes of Low-Performing High School Students

In this proposal, the author shows that many students who perform at or below average in high school are not prepared for college and do not attain postsecondary degrees or high-value certificates. The author proposes a set of policies and practices, informed by his multimethod evaluation of the Florida College and Career Initiative (FCCRI), that would improve college and career outcomes at relatively low cost.

Policy Proposal Apr 26, 2017

Understanding and Addressing Teacher Shortages in the United States

While there is a popular perception of a national teacher shortage, the authors demonstrate that teacher shortages are in fact localized and subject-specific. Teacher hiring and retention are often difficult for schools that serve low-income students as well as in particular fields like STEM and special education. The authors propose complementary strategies that K-12 school districts, teacher education programs, and regulatory authorities can use to address these shortages.

Policy Proposal Apr 26, 2017

Labor Force to Lecture Hall: Pell Grants and Postsecondary Policies in Response to Job Loss

Currently, Pell Grants are designed to meet the needs of recent high school graduates. In this proposal, Turner explores the possibility of better tailoring Pell Grant eligibility and needs assessment to the circumstances of the adult unemployed. In addition to improving Pell access for these individuals, facilitating better matches between unemployment insurance recipients and post-secondary programs has the potential to enhance long-term labor market outcomes, which Turner proposes to carefully evaluate. 

Policy Proposal Apr 26, 2017

A Risk Sharing Proposal for Student Loans

In this paper, the authors propose a risk-sharing system for the student loan program. Institutions with low repayment rates, as measured by a new cohort-based repayment metric, would be asked to pay a fee in proportion to the degree to which they miss repayment rate targets. This fee is intended to be a nudge to encourage institutions to improve matching between students and programs, program quality, completion, and other factors that relate to repayment outcomes.

Policy Proposal Apr 26, 2017

Increasing College Completion with a Federal Higher Education Matching Grant

The federal government largely invests in higher education through aid to students that aims to lower the effective price of college. However, Deming finds that increases in institutional spending per-pupil are particularly important for increasing degree completion. Based on this work, Deming proposes a federal matching grant for spending by public institutions in states that implement free college proposals. The proposal would give states an incentive to rein in college costs while maintaining or increasing spending levels in the core spending categories of instruction and academic support.

Policy Proposal Mar 27, 2017

The Next Generation of Transportation Policy

In this paper, Greenstone, Sunstein and Ori propose two major steps towards simplifying fuel efficiency standards and refocusing the program on achieving guaranteed emissions reductions at lower cost to automakers. First, they propose targeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions directly, without differentiating by vehicle types and sizes, using data to project a given vehicle’s lifetime greenhouse gas emissions. Second they recommend establishing a robust cap-and-trade market to reduce compliance costs for automakers while providing considerably more certainty about the future path of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Policy Proposal Mar 27, 2017

Protecting Urban Places and Populations from Rising Climate Risk

This paper proposes three complementary policies for enhancing urban resilience to new climate risk. The first focuses on improving key urban infrastructure. The second addresses the urban poor, who are the most vulnerable in the face of climate change risks. The third proposal aims to reduce the cost of adaptation through better-functioning markets, and to allow prices of natural resources, energy, and coastal insurance to reflect true conditions.

Policy Proposal Dec 8, 2016

Federal Minerals Leasing Reform and Climate Policy

Over the past two decades Democratic and Republican administrations have taken steps to reduce U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions by reducing use of fossil fuels. Despite growing public attention to the climate consequences of fossil fuel extraction, U.S. climate policy so far has not extended to the government’s role as a major source of fossil fuels. Kenneth Gillingham and James Stock propose to incorporate climate considerations into federal coal leasing by placing a royalty adder on federal coal that is linked to the climate damages from its combustion. A royalty adder set to 20 percent of the social cost of carbon would reduce total power sector emissions, raise the price of federal coal to align it with coal mined on private land, increase coal mining employment in Appalachia and the Midwest, and provide additional government revenues to help coal communities.

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Policy Proposal Mar 9, 2015

Strengthening Reemployment in the Unemployment Insurance System

Helping unemployed workers return to work has long been a policy challenge in the United States, and the urgency of the problem tends to increase during and after economic downturns. In this paper, Adriana Kugler offers three pilot programs to reform the unemployment system by encouraging different ways to return to work. The first program would allow the unemployed to continue claiming benefits while receiving entrepreneurial training and other assistance for setting up a business. The second program would support the unemployed through temporary positions and internships that might lead to full-time jobs. The third program would provide partial benefits to claimants who accept part-time jobs.

Policy Proposal Oct 14, 2014

The Path to Water Innovation

The United States’ aging water infrastructure will be increasingly strained by population growth, economic expansion, and the effects of climate change. In this Hamilton Project paper, Newsha K. Ajami, Barton H. Thompson, Jr., and David G. Victor suggest that solutions to the country’s growing water challenges lie, in part, with the development and adoption of new innovative technologies. The authors present three policy and regulation recommendations to facilitate greater innovation in the water sector.

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 Jun 16, 2014

Designing Thoughtful Minimum Wage Policy at the State and Local Levels

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Encouraging Work Sharing to Reduce Unemployment

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Building on the Success of the Earned Income Tax Credit

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Providing Disadvantaged Workers with Skills to Succeed in the Labor Market

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities in the United States

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Addressing the Academic Barriers to Higher Education

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Expanding Summer Employment Opportunities for Low-Income 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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Designing Effective Mentoring Programs for Disadvantaged Youth

In this policy memo, Phillip B. Levine proposes that nongovernmental organizations—including nonprofits, foundations, and charitable organizations—as well as private-sector entities expand community-based mentoring programs, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, in accordance with a set of best practices. This proposal, targeted at disadvantaged youth who have few or no adult role models in their lives, aims to improve educational and labor market outcomes for disadvantaged youth. This proposal is chapter four of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Supporting Disadvantaged Youth.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Reducing Unintended Pregnancies for Low-Income Women

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Addressing the Parenting Divide to Promote Early Childhood Development for Disadvantaged Children

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 16, 2014

Expanding Preschool Access for Disadvantaged Children

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 13, 2014

Policies to Address Poverty in America, Introduction & eBook Download

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 2, 2014

Supporting Low-Income Workers through Refundable Child-Care Credits

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.

Policy Proposal May 1, 2014

Think Before You Act: A New Approach to Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout

A growing body of research in psychology and behavioral economics suggests that a great deal of everyone’s behavior happens intuitively and automatically, with little deliberate thought. In this paper, Jens Ludwig and Anuj Shah propose a five-year strategy for scaling out behaviorally informed interventions—such as the "Becoming a Man" (BAM) program —to help disadvantaged youths recognize high-stakes situations in which their automatic responses could be maladaptive and may lead to trouble.

Policy Proposal Jun 25, 2013

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

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.

Policy Proposal Feb 25, 2013

Eliminating Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Limiting subsidies for fossil fuels could raise revenue for the federal government while also benefiting the environment. Joseph Aldy proposes eliminating twelve subsidies to help level the playing field among fossil fuel producers relative to other businesses, and lead to potentially lower global fuel prices by providing the United States with increased leverage in negotiations over eliminating fossil fuel subsides in the developing world.

Policy Proposal Feb 25, 2013

Restructuring Cost Sharing and Supplemental Insurance for Medicare

Cost sharing under the Medicare Parts A & B programs is both variable and uncapped, with an overall structure that is hard to rationalize. Jonathan Gruber proposes reforms to Medicare cost sharing that insures consumers against high out-of-pocket costs, aligns the costs faced by consumers with the actual cost of care, and discourages incentives in private plans that encourage excess use of Medicare benefits.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2012

Harnessing Technology to Improve K-12 Education

Education technologies hold promise for personalized learning and for building basic skills, but a fundamental obstacle remains: the effectiveness of learning technologies is rarely known. Building on the Common Core State Standards and increasing access to broadband internet, Aaron K. Chatterji of Duke University and Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University propose the establishment of a new third-party ratings organization to overcome this challenge.

Policy Proposal Nov 30, 2011

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.

Policy Proposal Nov 30, 2011

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

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.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2011

The Power and Pitfalls of Education Incentives

Recent incentive programs demonstrate that well-designed rewards to students can improve student achievement at relatively low costs. Bradley M. Allan and Roland G. Fryer draw on field experiments to propose a set of guidelines to design a successful education incentive program. Those guidelines include paying students to perform tasks that will lead to better academic performance rather than paying them for grades and test scores alone.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2011

Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement: Start Times, Grade Configurations, and Teacher Assignments

While education reform is often focused on dramatic changes, Brian A. Jacob and Jonah E. Rockoff suggest that implementing managerial reforms and making sure the “trains run on time” can substantially increase student learning at modest cost. Jacob and Rockoff propose three organizational reforms to improve student performance at moderate cost: 1) Starting school later in the day for middle and high school students; 2) Shifting from separate to elementary and middle schools to K-8; 3) allow teachers to teach the same grade level for multiple years or having teachers specializing in the subject where they appear most effective.

Policy Proposal Sep 27, 2011

New Assessments for Improved Accountability

In recent years, efforts to hold teachers and schools accountable for student test scores have increased as part of an attempt to increase student achievement by raising teacher effectiveness and bringing up the performance of low-performing schools. Derek Neal proposes improved assessments and accountability systems through two distinct examinations: one traditional test to track educational achievement over time, and a new examination to evaluate teacher performance.

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.

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.

Policy Proposal Dec 3, 2010

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

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.

Policy Proposal Jun 1, 2008

Viewing Education Loans Through a Myopic Lens

Although the federal government dedicated nearly $40 billion to funding student loans in 2006, only 60 percent of potential students from low-income families attend college, compared with 90 percent from high-income families. This paper argues that enrollment rates are lower than they could be because potential students undervalue loan subsidies, which are delivered after graduation instead of up front when a student enrolls and incurs costs.