Addressing the Long-Run Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches. Congressional Research Service. Jane G. Gravelle, Donald J. Marples. May 14, 2019
The growth of the national debt, which is considered
unsustainable under current policies, continues to be one of the central issues
of domestic federal policymaking.
Addressing a federal budget deficit that is unsustainable over the long
run involves choices. Fundamentally, the issues require deciding what
government goods, services, and transfers are worth paying taxes for. Most
people would agree that the country benefits from a wide range of government
services—air traffic controllers, border security, courts and corrections, and
so forth—provided by the federal government. Yet federal government provision of
goods and services comprises only a modest portion of the federal budget.
Transfers, including interest payments, accounted for around 75% of the federal
[PDF format, 34 pages].
Making the Business Case for Employee Well-Being. Urban Institute. Molly M. Scott, Natalie Spievack. June 13, 2019
Businesses are beginning to move beyond traditional health
insurance and retirement plans to improve employee well-being in multiple
domains. The programs they offer are typically voluntary and can include
financial well-being, paying for educational expenses, and on-site resource
navigators who help employees address a wide range of issues. These innovative
well-being benefits have the potential to make employees more engaged, less
likely to miss work and make mistakes, and more inclined to protect their
employers from waste or fraud. Some business case studies show that businesses
with happy, healthy, and stable employees can be more profitable than their
competitors. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 19 pages].
How Civil Society Can Help Prevent Violence and Extremism: And what the international community can do to support it. U.S. Institute of Peace. Leanne Erdberg, Bridget Moi. June 6, 2019
Congress charged the U.S. Institute of Peace with convening
the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. Following the public launch of
the Task Force’s final report, four groups of experts came together to discuss
how to implement the report’s recommendations. This four-part series will
discuss the findings from these strategy sessions. Part one summarizes expert
discussion on how civil society actors are preventing violent extremism and
building resilience in their communities and practical ways the U.S. and other
international actors can more effectively interact with civil society to
bolster its role in prevention. [Note: contains copyrighted
[HTML format, various paging].
Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Policy. Social and Political Science. June 3, 2019.
This topical and engaging Research Handbook illustrates the
variety of research approaches in the field of climate change adaptation policy
in order to provide a guide to its social and institutional complexity. A range
of international expert contributors offer interdisciplinary explorations of
climate change adaptation policy from policy sciences, legal, and practitioner
perspectives. Using examples from a variety of sectors including water, health
and land use, and multiple levels of governance and country contexts, from
international to local, and developing to developed countries, the chapters
examine a wealth of theoretical orientations towards climate change adaptation
policy and their underpinnings. In doing so, this Research Handbook provides an
understanding of the complexity of the institutions, decision-makers and
assumptions that are involved in adaptation research as well as adaptation
policy development and implementation. This Research Handbook will be an
indispensable resource for both researchers and practitioners in climate change
adaptation with an interest in the research methods and policies that support
and advance it. Undergraduate and postgraduate students of environmental
studies, public policy and politics will also find this book provides a
valuable foundation for building a deeper knowledge of adaptation science and
policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 528 pages].
Social Security: The Trust Funds. Congressional Research Service. Barry F. Huston. Updated May 8, 2019
The Social Security program pays monthly cash benefits to
retired or disabled workers and their family members and to the family members
of deceased workers. Program income and outgo are accounted for in two separate
trust funds authorized under Title II of the Social Security Act: the Federal
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability
Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Projections show that the OASI fund will remain
solvent until 2034, whereas the DI fund will remain solvent until 2052, meaning
that each trust fund is projected to be able to pay benefits scheduled under
current law in full and on time up to that point. Following the depletion of
trust fund reserves (2052 for DI and 2034 for OASI), continuing income to each
fund is projected to cover 91% of DI scheduled benefits and 77% of OASI
scheduled benefits. The two trust funds are legally distinct and do not have
authority to borrow from each other. However, Congress has authorized the
shifting of funds between OASI and DI in the past to address shortfalls in a
particular fund. Therefore, this CRS report discusses the operations of the
OASI and DI trust funds on a combined basis, referring to them collectively as
the Social Security trust funds. On a combined basis, the trust funds are
projected to remain solvent until 2035. Following depletion of combined trust
fund reserves at that point, continuing income is projected to cover 80% of
[PDF format, 21 pages].
Investing in Successful Summer Programs: A Review of Evidence Under the Every Student Succeeds Act. RAND Corporation. Jennifer Sloan McCombs et al. June 5, 2019.
Research evidence suggests that summer breaks contribute to
income-based achievement and opportunity gaps for children and youth. However,
summertime can also be used to provide programs that support an array of goals
for children and youth, including improved academic achievement, physical
health, mental health, social and emotional well-being, the acquisition of
skills, and the development of interests.
This report is intended to provide practitioners,
policymakers, and funders current information about the effectiveness of summer
programs designed for children and youth entering grades K–12. Policymakers
increasingly expect that the creation of and investment in summer programs will
be based on research evidence. Notably, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act
(ESSA) directs schools and districts to adopt programs that are supported by
research evidence if those programs are funded by specific federal streams. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 162 pages].
The U.S. Labor Market in 2050: Supply, Demand and Policies to Improve Outcomes. Brookings Institution. Harry J. Holzer. May 31, 2019
Current estimates suggest that over the coming decades,
slower population growth and lower labor force participation will constrain the
supply of labor in the U.S. The U.S. labor force will also become more diverse
as immigration and fertility trends increase the size of minority populations.
New forms of automation will likely require workers to adapt to keep their old
jobs, while many will be displaced or face less demand for their work (while
others benefit). Firms will continue to implement alternative staffing
arrangements, like turning workers into independent contractors or outsourcing
their human resource management to other firms; and many will adopt “low-road”
employment practices to keep labor costs low. Exactly whom these changes will
benefit or harm remains unclear, the author finds, though non-college workers
will likely fare the worst; higher productivity from new technologies and
reduced labor supply could raise average wages, but many workers will clearly
be worse off. According to the author, policymakers should provide incentives
for firms to train current employees, rather than replace them, and should
encourage schools and colleges to teach flexible, transferable skills, as the
future workforce will likely need to adapt quickly to new and changing job
requirements. Lifelong learning accounts for workers could help. Expanding wage
insurance and improving unemployment insurance and workforce services could
help workers adapt after suffering job displacement. Policies that make work
pay, like the EITC, and others designed to increase labor force attachment,
like paid family leave, could help mitigate declines in the labor force.
Reforms in immigration and retirement policy will help as well, as would policy
experimentation at the state and local level (with federal support). [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 51 pages].
Management of the Colorado River: Water Allocations, Drought, and the Federal Role. Congressional Research Service. Charles V. Stern, Pervaze A. Sheikh. Updated May 17, 2019
The Colorado River Basin covers more than 246,000 square
miles in seven U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona,
Nevada, and California) and Mexico. Pursuant to federal law, the Bureau of
Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) manages much of the
basin’s water supplies. Colorado River water is used primarily for agricultural
irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I) uses, but it also is
important for power production, fish and wildlife, and recreational uses.
In recent years, consumptive uses of Colorado River water
have exceeded natural flows. This causes an imbalance in the basin’s available
supplies and competing demands. A drought in the basin dating to 2000 has
raised the prospect of water delivery curtailments and decreased hydropower
production, among other things. In the future, observers expect that increasing
demand for supplies, coupled with the effects of climate change, will further
increase the strain on the basin’s limited water supplies.
[PDF format, 29 pages].
Ethics in Scientific Research: An Examination of Ethical Principles and Emerging Topics. RAND Corporation. Cortney Weinbaum et al. June 5, 2019.
Scientific research ethics vary by discipline and by country,
and this analysis sought to understand those variations. The goal of this
project was to provide researchers, government officials, and others who
create, modify, and enforce ethics in scientific research around the world with
an understanding of how ethics are created, monitored, and enforced across
scientific disciplines and across international borders. The authors reviewed
literature from across scientific disciplines and conducted interviews with
experts in the United States, Europe, and China. The research had two
motivations: (1) to inform researchers and sponsors who engage in research in
emerging scientific disciplines and who may face new ethical challenges, and
(2) to inform research sponsors — including government officials — who wish to encourage
ethical research without unintentionally encouraging researchers to pursue
their research in other jurisdictions.
This analysis led to an understanding of which ethics are
common across disciplines, how these ethics might vary geographically, and how
emerging topics are shaping future ethics. The authors focused on the ethics of
scientific research and how the research is conducted, rather than on how the
research is applied. This distinction excluded from this research an analysis
of so-called “dual-use” applications for military purposes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 118 pages].
Federal Public Transportation Program: In Brief. Congressional Research Service. William J. Mallett. Updated May 14, 2019
Federal assistance to public transportation is provided
primarily through the public transportation program administered by the Department
of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The federal public
transportation program was authorized from FY2016 through FY2020 as part of the
Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94). This report
provides an introduction to the program as authorized by the FAST Act. Major
federal involvement in public transportation dates to the Urban Mass
Transportation Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-365). Prior to the mid-1960s there was very
little public funding of public transportation. With much lower ridership than
existed at the end of World War II and mounting debts, however, many private
transit companies were reorganized as public entities. Federal funding was
initially used to recapitalize transit systems. Today, the focus of the federal
program is still on the capital side, but the program has evolved to support
operational expenses in some circumstances, as well as safety oversight,
planning, and research.
[PDF format, 12 pages].