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IRC Sofia wishes all its readers a Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy, safe and prosperous 2016!

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Americans’ Debt Styles by Age and over Time

Americans’ Debt Styles by Age and over Time. Urban Institute. Wei Li and Laurie Goodman. November 16, 2015.

The report reviews five years of consumer credit data on more than 5 million consumers from a major credit bureau to understand the debt styles of American consumers. While many patterns that emerged are not surprising, there were some unexpected findings: Consumers who have no debt have weaker credit scores than those who have debt; Consumers who have auto debt in combination with any other type of debt generally have lower credit scores than those who do not have auto debt with their other debt; Borrowers in their 20s and early 30s with both mortgage and student loan debt have higher credit scores than borrowers in their later 30s and 40s with the same combination; And those borrowers who hold only one type of debt generally hold less of that type of debt than those who hold more than one type of debt. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 46 pages, 803.95 KB].

Paid Parental Leave: Lessons from OECD Countries and Selected U.S. States

Paid Parental Leave: Lessons from OECD Countries and Selected U.S. States. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Willem Adema et al. November 19, 2015.

The United States is at a crossroads in its policies towards the family and gender equality. Currently America provides basic support for children, fathers, and mothers in the form of unpaid parental leave, child-related tax breaks, and limited public childcare. Alternatively, the United States’ OECD peers empower families through paid parental leave and comprehensive investments in infants and children. The potential gains from strengthening these policies are enormous. Paid parental leave and subsidised childcare help get and keep more women in the workforce, contribute to economic growth, offer cognitive and health benefits to children, and extend choice for parents in finding their preferred work-life strategy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 131 pages, 3.35 MB].

Winning the War of Ideas

Winning the War of Ideas. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Juan C. Zarate and Farah Pandith. November 16, 2015.

There is a broad consensus that the United States and the West are losing the messaging war against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and like-minded terrorists. According to the authors, the ideological fight is not just about terrorism. These are enemies of humanity—attempting to spread their ideology like a virus while reshaping borders, history, and identity. It’s time for a new coalition of global actors to take on and win this generational fight. This will require more than just creative messaging. It demands stopping the manifestations of the ideology itself. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 4 pages, 211.05 KB].

Fatherhood Initiatives: Connecting Fathers to Their Children

Fatherhood Initiatives: Connecting Fathers to Their Children. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Carmen Solomon-Fears. November 10, 2015.

In 2014, almost 25% of families with children (under age 18) were maintained by mothers. According to some estimates, about 50% of children born in the United States will spend a significant portion of their childhood in a home without their biological father. Research indicates that children raised in single-parent families are more likely than children raised in two-parent families (with both biological parents) to do poorly in school, have emotional and behavioral problems, become teenage parents, and have poverty-level incomes. In hopes of improving the long-term outlook for children in single-parent families, federal, state, and local governments, along with public and private organizations, are supporting programs and activities that promote the financial and personal responsibility of noncustodial fathers to their children and increase the participation of fathers in the lives of their children. These programs have come to known as “responsible fatherhood” programs.

[PDF format, 33 pages, 818.9 KB].

Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning

Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning. RAND Corporation. John F. Pane et al. November 10, 2015.

The report explores personalized learning models that were adopted in schools throughout the U.S. It examines school and teacher practices, perceptions of staff and students, and achievement outcomes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 57 pages, 3.1 MB].

Comparing Happiness across the World: Does Culture Matter?

Comparing Happiness across the World: Does Culture Matter? Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Carrie Exton et al. November 5, 2015.

The issue of cultural bias in subjective well-being data is often raised, but rarely well-documented. The paper reviews the main barriers to interpreting national differences in subjective well-being, noting the challenge of distinguishing between cultural bias and cultural impact. Several methods are then used to attempt to quantify the role of culture in subjective well-being, drawing on multiple waves of the Gallup World Poll, conducted in over 150 countries and territories. The paper shows that, although life circumstances explain well the overall pattern of cross-country variation in subjective well-being, a gap is observed for some countries. Culture may account for some 20% of the country-specific unexplained variance. This combined effect of “cultural impact” and “cultural bias” is small when compared to the role of objective life circumstances in explaining subjective well-being outcomes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 117 pages, 3.25 MB].