Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs

Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs. RAND Corporation. Jill S. Cannon et al. November 16, 2017.

The past two decades have been characterized by a growing body of research from diverse disciplines — child development, psychology, neuroscience, and economics, among others — demonstrating the importance of establishing a strong foundation in the early years of life. The research evidence has served to document the range of early childhood services that can successfully put children and families on the path toward lifelong health and well-being, especially those at greatest risk of poor outcomes. As early childhood interventions have proliferated, researchers have evaluated whether the programs improve children’s outcomes and, when they do, whether the improved outcomes generate benefits that can outweigh the program costs. This report examines a set of evaluations that meet criteria for scientific rigor and synthesizes their results to better understand the outcomes, costs, and benefits of early childhood programs. The authors focus on evaluations of 115 early childhood programs serving children or parents of children from the prenatal period to age 5. Although preschool is perhaps the best-known early childhood intervention, the study also reviewed such programs as home visiting, parent education, government transfers providing cash and in-kind benefits, and those that use a combination of approaches. The findings demonstrate that most of the reviewed programs have favorable effects on at least one child outcome and those with an economic evaluation tend to show positive economic returns. With this expanded evidence base, policymakers can be highly confident that well-designed and -implemented early childhood programs can improve the lives of children and their families. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 322 pages, 1.58 MB].

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The Unraveling of the Balkans Peace Agreements

The Unraveling of the Balkans Peace Agreements. Council on Foreign Relations. Daniel P. Serwer. November 8, 2017.

The risk of renewed violence and political instability is growing in the Balkans. The decade of progress in postconflict reconciliation and economic recovery after the U.S.-led interventions of the 1990s has stalled and has now, in some areas, even gone into reverse. The international agreements that brought peace to the region, based on the principle that preexisting borders should not be moved to accommodate ethnic differences, are fraying and could unravel with unwelcome consequences for the United States. These could include radicalization of Balkan Muslims, increased Russian troublemaking on the borders of or even inside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—for example, in Albania, Croatia, or Montenegro—and a new refugee crisis for European allies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

The National Science Foundation: FY2018 Appropriations and Funding History

The National Science Foundation: FY2018 Appropriations and Funding History. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Laurie A. Harris. November 2, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports basic research and education in the non-medical sciences and engineering. NSF is a major source of federal support for U.S. university research, especially in certain fields such as computer science. It is also responsible for significant shares of the federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education program portfolio and federal STEM student aid and support.

[PDF format, 20 pages, 1.12 MB].

Did Technology Kill the Truth?

Did Technology Kill the Truth? Brookings Institution. Tom Wheeler. November 14, 2017

We carry in our pockets and purses the greatest democratizing tool ever developed. Never before has civilization possessed such an instrument of free expression.

Yet, that unparalleled technology has also become a tool to undermine truth and trust. The glue that holds institutions and governments together has been thinned and weakened by the unrestrained capabilities of technology exploited for commercial gain. The result has been to de-democratize the internet. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Clearing the Air on the Debt Limit

Clearing the Air on the Debt Limit. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. D. Andrew Austin, Kenneth R. Thomas. November 2, 2017

The statutory debt limit, currently suspended through December 8, 2017, provides Congress a means of controlling federal borrowing. As the date when that suspension will lapse approaches, discussions about the role of the debt limit among the media, researchers, and Members of Congress promise to become more frequent. In recent discussions, misleading or less than fully accurate claims have, at times, surfaced. This report provides clarifications on five common debt limit contentions.

Some of those points in need of clarification relate to the congressional power of the purse, which stems from three closely related constitutional provisions that charge Congress with deciding how the federal government spends, taxes, and borrows.

[PDF format, 15 pages, 576.01 KB].

U.S. Natural Gas in the Global Economy

U.S. Natural Gas in the Global Economy. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Sarah Ladislaw et al. November 1, 2017

This report summarizes a one-day CSIS-International Energy Agency (IEA) workshop held in May 2017, with government, industry, and policy experts exploring the outlook for natural gas markets in the global energy landscape. The workshop addressed key issues concerning the role of natural gas in North America, as well as the evolving strategic role of U.S. natural gas exports and liquefied natural gas markets (LNG) in the global energy system. The workshop was the third in a three-part workshop series, with the first workshop examining key issues concerning the role of U.S. tight oil production in the global economy and the second workshop focusing on the societal and environmental risks associated with U.S. onshore oil and gas development. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 29 pages, 377.34 MB].

Digitalization and the American Workforce

Digitalization and the American Workforce. Brookings Institution. Mark Muro et al. November 2017

In recent decades, the diffusion of digital technology into nearly every business and workplace, also known as “digitalization,” has been remaking the U.S. economy and the world of work. The “digitalization of everything” has at once increased the potential of individuals, firms, and society while also contributing to a series of troublesome impacts and inequalities, such as worker pay disparities across many demographics, and the divergence of metropolitan economic outcomes.

In light of that, this report presents a detailed analysis of changes in the digital content of 545 occupations covering 90 percent of the U.S. workforce in all industries since 2001. The analysis categorizes U.S. occupations into jobs that require high, medium or low digital skills and tracks the impacts of rapid change.
The full report concludes with implications of the key findings and suggests ways communities can work with firms and workers to spread the benefits of digitalization while mitigating its potentially harmful effects. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 60 pages, 2.98 MB].