Mapping Student Needs during COVID-19

Mapping Student Needs during COVID-19. Urban Institute. Kristin Blagg et al. April 29, 2020

Staff, teachers, and students experienced rapid change as school buildings closed in March 2020 because of the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In this brief, we use American Community Survey (ACS) data to highlight different types of challenges to remote learning and point to district and educator strategies that might mitigate harm to students as districts navigate long-term school closures. Although many families will face unique circumstances and obstacles, we focus on six factors in addition to poverty: linguistic isolation, child disability status, parents in vulnerable economic sectors, single parents, crowded conditions, and lack of computer or broadband access. We describe the difficulties each circumstance presents and potential solutions for school districts. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 27 pages].

Tracking and Disrupting the Illicit Antiquities Trade with Open Source Data

Tracking and Disrupting the Illicit Antiquities Trade with Open Source Data. RAND Corporation. Matthew Sargent et al. May 12, 2020.

The illicit antiquities market has become an area of concern for policymakers. It is fueled by a well-documented rise in looting at archaeological sites and a fear that the proceeds of such looting may be financing terrorism or rogue states. Efforts to craft effective policy responses are hindered by the lack of data and evidence on two fronts: the size of the market and the network structure of participants. In lieu of reliable evidence on these two fronts, the conversation has been dominated by speculation and hypotheses and has generated some widely accepted theories of how the illicit antiquities market operates.
In this report, the authors compile evidence from numerous open sources to outline the major policy-relevant characteristics of that market and to propose the way forward for developing policies intended to disrupt illicit networks. The approach uses multiple methods and data sources, with the understanding that no single piece of evidence can provide a complete picture of the market and that only by cross-referencing and triangulating among various sources can salient market characteristics be illuminated. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 166 pages].

Fintech: Overview of Innovative Financial Technology and Selected Policy Issues

Fintech: Overview of Innovative Financial Technology and Selected Policy Issues. Congressional Research Service. David W. Perkins. April 28, 2020

Advances in technology allow for innovation in the ways businesses and individuals perform financial activities. The development of financial technology—commonly referred to as fintech—is the subject of great interest for the public and policymakers. Fintech innovations could potentially improve the efficiency of the financial system and financial outcomes for businesses and consumers. However, the new technology could pose certain risks, potentially leading to unanticipated financial losses or other harmful outcomes. Policymakers designed many of the financial laws and regulations intended to foster innovation and mitigate risks before the most recent technological changes. This raises questions concerning whether the existing legal and regulatory frameworks, when applied to fintech, effectively protect against harm without unduly hindering beneficial technologies’ development.

[PDF format, 44 pages].

Decarbonizing the Electric Power Sector

Decarbonizing the Electric Power Sector. Center for Strategic & International Studies. CSIS Briefs. Stephen Naimoli and Sarah Ladislaw. May 12, 2020.

In 2018, the power sector emitted 13.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, 41 percent of total global emissions. To have a chance of holding global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to its preindustrial level, global emissions from all economic sectors, including the power sector, must be reduced to net-zero around 2050.
One of the challenges of decarbonizing the power sector is sufficiently reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while guaranteeing reliability, security, and affordability. Solar and wind power are zero-carbon technologies, but their variability could challenge grid stability if they are not properly balanced by sufficient storage and firm power. Jesse Jenkins, a Princeton professor and one of the speakers at CSIS’s March 30 event on power sector decarbonization, likens the power system to a balanced diet: directly comparing the costs of variable renewable energy to those of firm power sources is like comparing the cost of a banana to the cost of a hamburger. Both can be evaluated on cost alone, but doing so misses the different roles they play in a balanced electric power system. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 7 pages].

Everyone Can Help with Contact Tracing

Everyone Can Help with Contact Tracing. YaleGlobal. Susan Froetschel and Douglas P. Olsen. May 13, 2020

Individuals and communities have some control over the spread of Covid-19. “As many communities in Europe, Asia and the Americas take steps to restart economies, public health departments rely on contact tracing to identify and isolate cases and prevent new waves of infections,” reports YaleGlobal. “To contain the virus quickly, WHO urges member states to recruit and train contact tracing team early when there is no or low transmissions.” Early on, many health providers recognized the benefit of recording their experiences. By mid-April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged New Zealanders to keep a daily diary of all activities and encounters, and Washington State considers requiring restaurants to gather names and contact details from diners. Slowing the pandemic requires social-distancing, masks, testing, contact tracing and tremendous self-discipline. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Tax Incentives for Retirement Savings

Tax Incentives for Retirement Savings. Urban Institute. Eric Toder, Surachai Khitatrakun, and Aravind Boddupalli. May 11, 2020

Federal tax law provides substantial tax incentives for retirement saving. These include the deferral of taxes on contributions to retirement savings accounts by employers, employees, and self-employed taxpayers and the earnings on these contributions until the funds are withdrawn in retirement for traditional retirement accounts; the exemption of investment income accrued within retirement accounts for Roth retirement accounts; and a retirement savings tax credit for low-income taxpayers. This chartbook explores the implications of current-law income tax incentives for retirement savings, illustrates alternative ways of measuring the tax benefits they generate, and analyzes the distributional impacts of alternative tax proposals to encourage retirement saving. We find that tax incentives for retirement saving provide the largest benefits as a share of income to upper-middle-income taxpayers. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages].

Criteria for Security and Trust in Telecommunications Networks and Services

Criteria for Security and Trust in Telecommunications Networks and Services. Center for Strategic & International Studies. CSIS Working Group on Trust and Security in 5G Networks. May 13, 2020

At the request of the Department of State, CSIS assembled a group of 25 experts from Asian, European, and U.S. companies and research centers to develop criteria to assess the trustworthiness of telecommunications equipment suppliers. These criteria complement the work of the Prague Proposal and the European Union’s 5G Toolbox. They offer governments and network owners or operators an additional tool to use to determine trustworthiness and security. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 5 pages].

The Effect Of COVID-19 and Disease Suppression Policies on Labor Markets: A Preliminary Analysis Of The Data

The Effect Of COVID-19 and Disease Suppression Policies on Labor Markets: A Preliminary Analysis Of The Data. Brookings Institution. Jonathan Rothwell and Hannah Van Drie. April 27, 2020

World leaders are deliberating when and how to re-open business operations amidst considerable uncertainty as to the economic consequences of the coronavirus. One pressing question is whether or not countries that have remained relatively open have managed to escape at least some of the economic harm, and whether that harm is related to the spread of the disease. A related issue is what forms of relief are most effective at preserving the employer-employee relationship and securing the foundations for a robust recovery once the economy re-opens. Some countries have leaned heavily on their unemployment insurance system, whereas others have prioritized business relief, which mandates the preservation of employee relationships.
To shed some light on these issues, we compiled data on unemployment and related benefit claims from 20 wealthy countries. Given the unusual circumstances of the pandemic and the variation across countries in novel policy responses—including the introduction of business relief programs designed to prevent unemployment, these measures should not be regarded as fully capturing the scale of economic disruption in a comparable way. Nonetheless, these data offer a useful preliminary look at what is happening across countries as we wait for more complete data from statistical offices. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far

On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far. Pew Research Center. Kim Parker and Ruth Igielnik. May 14, 2020

One-in-ten eligible voters in the 2020 electorate will be part of a new generation of Americans – Generation Z. Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote, but as the oldest among them turn 23 this year, roughly 24 million will have the opportunity to cast a ballot in November. And their political clout will continue to grow steadily in the coming years, as more and more of them reach voting age. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Catalyzing Policing Reform with Data: Policing Typology for Los Angeles Neighborhoods

Catalyzing Policing Reform with Data: Policing Typology for Los Angeles Neighborhoods. Urban Institute. Ashlin Oglesby-Neal, Alena Stern, Kathryn L.S. Pettit. May 12, 2020

Strong community-police relationships are essential to public safety, and these relationships influence how communities engage with the police. The authors created a typology based on multiple aspects of policing that reveals a relationship between resident-initiated and police-initiated activity, and explores how that relationship varies across neighborhoods. They found that resident calls for service and police stops and arrests generally increase together, and neighborhoods with high amounts of activity tend to have a greater proportion of violent crime and serious calls for service. The neighborhoods with high activity also tend to have wider racial disparities in stops and arrests, and more economic hardship. This neighborhood-policing typology can inform conversations about police reform in Los Angeles and also serve as an example of how open data can be a powerful tool for local movements for a more equitable criminal justice system in other cities. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 34 pages].