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.
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.
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.
Because many successful charter schools represent a radical departure from traditional public schools, they often embody a black box to educational reformers. Roland Fryer of Harvard demonstrates how preliminary results in Houston and Denver public schools provide a path forward for applying effective charter school methods in traditional public schools.
This paper outlines a program of federal support to help states measure the effectiveness of individual teachers. Teachers who receive good evaluations would be offered bonuses if they were willing to teach in high-poverty schools.
Even in early grades, a large skill gap exists between students from economically advantaged and disadvantaged families. This paper outlines a program based on evidence from studies of summer programs which will provide scholarships for economically disadvantaged children.
The Hamilton Project explores both the condition of education in the United States and the economic evidence on several promising K-12 interventions that could improve the lives of Americans.
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.
The current federal student lending system requires students to repay loans during the first decade after college, when their incomes are relatively low and variable. The University of Michigan's Susan Dynarski and Daniel Kreisman propose a strategy to improve student lending through the adoption of an income-contingent repayment plan.
The structure of the Pell Grant program has remained fundamentally unchanged since its inception in 1972. In this 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.
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.
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.
In this set of economic facts, 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.
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.
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.
This paper explores the role that One-Stop Career Centers play in helping the unemployed build new skills and find new jobs, and proposes new measures to expand One-Stop Capacity to help more workers.
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.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly known as the Food Stamp Program—is an essential part of America’s social safety net. Diane Schanzenbach proposes five reforms that could strengthen SNAP, including incentives for participants to purchase healthier foods and improvements to the benefit formula.
This paper proposes three solutions to bring jobs to distressed areas: customized job training programs for businesses and employees, advice and consulting services through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, and a package of grants for local services and tax breaks through a reformed and revitalized Empowerment Zone program.
Many American families whose incomes are not low enough to officially place them in poverty live in economically precarious situations. This struggling lower-middle class consists of the 30 percent of working-age families with children who have incomes between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). 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.
This paper proposes increasing the return to work for low-income families through the expansion the earned income tax credit for low-income childless taxpayers and the creation of a targeted wage subsidy in certain economically depressed areas.
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.
To provide an economic context for tax reform, The Hamilton Project has a set of economic facts focusing on the role of our tax system in the long-run budget deficit, global competitiveness, and rising income inequality.
The U.S. corporate tax system introduced more than 100 years ago has not kept pace with changes to the economy. The growing role of financial innovation and the increasingly global nature of U.S. corporate operations are chief among these changes, necessitating reform. This paper proposes two reforms to the U.S. corporate tax system.
This paper argues that the current system of taxing multinational firms generates tax distortions. It proposes a new system that would protect the U.S. tax base while alleviating problems created by the current system.
In this paper, Edward D. Kleinbard introduces the Business Enterprise Income Tax (BEIT), a proposal for reforming business income taxation. He argues that the BEIT would achieve comprehensive and consistent taxation of capital income.
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.
This paper proposes a policy that would increase the role of lifetime income products in future retirees’ overall retirement planning.
Investments in infrastructure are essential for a vital economy. Tyler Duvall and Jack Basso suggest looking to user fees as a way to raise revenues, reduce congestion on major roadways, reduce pollution, and promote wiser infrastructure investments.
Eduardo Engel, Ronald Fischer, and Alexander Galetovic propose a series of best practices for state and local governments to follow when using public–private partnerships to provide infrastructure.
Matthew Kahn and David Levinson propose a reorganization of our national highway infrastructure priorities to preserve, maintain, and enhance existing infrastructure and the creation of the Federal Highway Bank to meet these goals.
Jon M. Peha outlines policies through which government could facilitate the expansion of broadband infrastructure into unserved communities. He argues that these policy reforms would move America closer to the goal of universal access to broadband Internet.
Pia Orrenius, Giovanni Peri, and Madeline Zavodny present a strategy to change the U.S. employment-based immigration system to make the system more efficient, increase the economic benefits of immigration and raise revenues by using market-based auctions to allocate visas.
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.
This policy memo explores some of the questions frequently raised around immigration in the United States and provides facts drawn from publicly available data sets and the academic literature.
The Hamilton Project examines how future immigration trends could impact American wages, using targets set in the recently-passed Senate bill as a signpost. Understanding that S.744 is just the first piece of legislation out of the gate, the new analysis suggests that the average impact of new immigrants on the wages of U.S.-born workers would be positive (based on CBO estimates, the analysis assumes approximately 9.6 million additional immigrants by 2013 due to the legislation). The analysis also suggests that American workers are likely to gain through other channels, based on evidence that immigrants enhance purchasing power of consumers, increase demand for goods and services at businesses, and contribute to innovation that boost living standards over time.
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.
John M. Deutch proposes a series of best practices for government support of U.S. technology demonstration and a new institution, the Energy Technology Corporation, that would be responsible for managing and selecting technology demonstration projects.
Joseph E. Aldy proposes a national clean energy standard that would lower carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 60 percent relative to 2005 levels over twenty years, streamline the fragmented regulatory system that is currently in place, generate fiscal benefits, and help fund energy innovation.
To ensure funds are available for clean-up when natural gas accidents occur, Lucas Davis of UC Berkeley explores new approaches to bonding requirements for producers, including increasing federal minimum bond amounts and encouraging states to adopt similar minimum bond amounts for drilling on non-federal land.
Domestic natural gas is both cleaner and more affordable than oil, making it an attractive and practical alternative. In a new Hamilton Project paper, Christopher R. Knittel of MIT proposes a series of steps to promote natural gas in transportation.
Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations poses a framework for regulators to determine if exporting natural gas is in the public interest, arguing the upsides of exports outweigh the costs as long as the government acts to mitigate risk.
Doug Lichtman discusses the limitations of the current pension review system and proposes policy reforms that would correct for these issues.
Thomas Kalil proposes expanding the US government’s use of prizes and Advanced Market Commitments to stimulate technological innovation in space exploration, African agriculture, vaccines for diseases of the poor, energy and climate change, and learning technologies.
Richard Freeman discusses the National Science Foundation fellowship policy. He argues that current U.S. NSF fellowship policy gives less of an incentive for students to enter science and engineering than in earlier periods.
During the last century, medical, technical, and business innovations have driven economic growth, increased wages, and improved living standards in the United States. In recent years, however, those gains have stagnated. The Hamilton Project examines the role of innovation in driving the U.S. economy, including its historical importance, the current pace of growth, and opportunities for investments to benefit America’s future.