Child and Dependent Care Tax Benefits: How They Work and Who Receives Them

Child and Dependent Care Tax Benefits: How They Work and Who Receives Them. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Margot L. Crandall-Hollick. October 26, 2017

Two tax provisions subsidize the child and dependent care expenses of working parents: the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC) and the exclusion for employer-sponsored child and dependent care.
The child and dependent care tax credit is a nonrefundable tax credit that reduces a taxpayer’s federal income tax liability based on child and dependent care expenses incurred. The policy objective is to assist taxpayers who work or who are looking for work. A taxpayer must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including incurring qualifying child and dependent care expenses for a qualifying individual and have earned income.

[PDF format, 20 pages, 842.02 KB].

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online

The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online. Pew Research Internet Project. Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie. October 19, 2017

Experts are evenly split on whether the coming decade will see a reduction in false and misleading narratives online. Those forecasting improvement place their hopes in technological fixes and in societal solutions. Others think the dark side of human nature is aided more than stifled by technology. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 92 pages, 892.12 KB].

Evaluating Policies to Transform Distressed Urban Neighborhoods

Evaluating Policies to Transform Distressed Urban Neighborhoods. Urban Institute. Laura Tach, Christopher Wimer. October 24, 2017

This memo synthesizes research on place-based policy interventions that target urban neighborhoods in four policy areas: economic development, human capital, housing, and crime prevention. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 10 pages, 517.39 KB].

Public Employee Pensions and Collective Bargaining Rights: Evidence from State and Local Government Finances

Public Employee Pensions and Collective Bargaining Rights: Evidence from State and Local Government Finances. Brookings Institution. Brigham R. Frandsen and Michael Webb. October 31, 2017

Despite the policy and press attention given to public unions and pensions, and their importance for state and local government finances and workers, research on the effects of collective bargaining rights on public employee pensions is surprisingly incomplete. This paper attempts to fill this gap. Using public employee retirement system financial data from the universe of state and local governments we exploit variation in the timing of state laws regarding public sector collective bargaining in a differences-in-differences framework, and find that collective bargaining requirements significantly and substantially increase government contributions to pensions, while reducing employee contributions. The increase in employer contributions is estimated to be about three times the size of the decrease in employee contributions; thus collective bargaining requirements significantly increase the overall generosity (and amount) of pension contributions and benefits. Collective bargaining requirements appear to have little effect on total public employment or payroll. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 21 pages, 476.33 KB].

The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs

The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs. RAND Corporation. Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Anamarie Whitaker, Paul Youngmin Yoo. October 23, 2017.

To better understand the value and effectiveness of out-of-school-time (OST) programs, RAND researchers examined programs through the lenses of content, dosage (the hours of content provided), and outcomes measured, focusing on rigorous (i.e., experimental or quasi-experimental) large-scale evaluations and meta-analyses. The overall conclusion is that OST programs are generally effective at producing the primary outcomes that would be expected based on their programming. However, the primary benefits of such programs are often understudied or underreported. When making funding decisions, federal, state, and local governments and private foundations should consider all the benefits that programs provide to youth and families and emphasize program quality. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 22 pages, 262.27 KB].

Will Corporate Tax Cuts Cause a Large Increase in Wages?

Will Corporate Tax Cuts Cause a Large Increase in Wages? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief, 17-30. William R. Cline. November 2017

Proponents of lowering corporate taxes cite an estimate by the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) that cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent would raise average annual household income by $4,000 to $9,000, corresponding to an increase in wages ranging from 6 to 14 percent, respectively. The council’s conclusion is based on cross-country and cross-state statistical tests and are subject to weaknesses highlighted by Lawrence Summers and Jason Furman, among others. In contrast, Gregory Mankiw has pointed out that a simple aggregate production function approach could generate wage increases that substantially exceed the tax revenue loss. This Policy Brief examines the use of the production function approach and concludes that although Mankiw provides a useful reminder that a corporate tax cut could raise worker productivity and wages through its potential for providing more capital for labor to work with, the likely magnitudes of the gains are far smaller than the range claimed by the CEA. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 6 pages, 230.56 KB].

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].

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].