Urban Blight and Public Health: Addressing the Impact of Substandard Housing, Abandoned Buildings, and Vacant Lots

Urban Blight and Public Health: Addressing the Impact of Substandard Housing, Abandoned Buildings, and Vacant Lots. Urban Institute. Erwin de Leon, Joseph Schilling. April 11, 2017

We spend more than 2/3rds of our time where we live; thus, housing and neighborhood conditions invariably affect our individual and family’s well-being. The health impacts from blighted properties—substandard housing, abandoned buildings, and vacant lots—are often not immediately visible or felt. This report—Urban Blight and Public Health—synthesizes recent studies on the complexities of how blight affects the health of individuals and neighborhoods while offering a blend of policy and program recommendations to help guide communities in taking a more holistic and coordinated approach, such as expanding the use of health impact assessments, tracking health outcomes, and infusing public health into housing policies, codes and practices. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 44 pages, 858.33 KB].

Workers’ Compensation: Overview and Issues

Workers’ Compensation: Overview and Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Scott D. Szymendera. April 20, 2017

Workers’ compensation provides cash and medical benefits to workers who are injured or become ill in the course of their employment and provides benefits to the survivors of workers killed on the job. Benefits are provided without regard to fault and are the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Nearly all workers in the United States are covered by workers’ compensation. With the exception of federal employees and some small groups of private-sector employees covered by federal law, workers compensation is provided by a network of state programs. In general, employers purchase insurance to provide for workers’ compensation benefits.

[PDF format, 36 pages, 886.37 KB].

Improving College and Career Outcomes of Low-Performing High School Students

Improving College and Career Outcomes of Low-Performing High School Students. Brookings Institution. Louis S. Jacobson. April 26, 2017

There is growing recognition that there are many career-enhancing pathways through four-year and community colleges. Nevertheless, many students leave high school without the skills needed to complete the most demanding academic pathways, nor realistic plans for completing alternative pathways that are far more likely to lead to desirable outcomes.

This situation can be improved by high schools helping those disengaged students who are uninterested in attending college see personally meaningful connections between high school, college, and careers, and by helping non-college-ready students who are interested in attending college recognize their deficits and develop skills for college success. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 28 pages, 508.48 KB].

Paying For College: What Is Affordable?

Paying For College: What Is Affordable? Urban Institute. Sandy Baum, Victoria Lee. April 7, 2017

Rising concerns over college prices and student debt suggest that college is unaffordable for many people. But a more meaningful question is whether particular college options are worth it for individual students. This brief, along with a new Urban Institute website, outlines the many factors that shed light on the issue of college affordability, including prices of different college paths and the resources that institutions, governments, and students from different backgrounds draw on to cover their expenses. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 6 pages, 164.06 KB].

Out-Of-Wedlock Births Rise Worldwide

Out-Of-Wedlock Births Rise Worldwide. YaleGlobal. Joseph Chamie. March 16, 2017

Out-of-wedlock childbirths have become more common worldwide since the 1960s, but with wide variations among and within countries. Inreasing economic independence and education combined with modern birth control methods have given women more control over family planning. In about 25 countries, including China, India and much of Africa, the proportion of such births is typically around 1 percent, explains Joseph Chamie, a demographer and a former director of the United Nations Population Division. In another 25 countries, mostly in Latin America, more than 60 percent of births are out-of-wedlock, a big jump from just 50 years ago. The rates of such births often coincide with public responses which range from severe punishments and stigmatization of children to celebrations and government assistance. In most countries, marriage still provides extra economic protection for parents and children, and governments struggle on how to respond to the trends. “Marriage has become less necessary for women’s financial survival, social interaction and personal wellbeing, and government policies have been slow to keep pace,” Chamie notes. “Like it or not, out-of-wedlock births are in transition worldwide and create challenges for many societies.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Mapping Working Family Tax Credits and Their Anti-Poverty Impact

Mapping Working Family Tax Credits and Their Anti-Poverty Impact. Brookings Institution. Elizabeth Kneebone and Cecile Murray. February 21, 2017

Now that tax filing season is well under way, millions of Americans are about to begin receiving refunds. For many low-income taxpayers, two key tax code provisions—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)—will keep them and their families from falling into poverty.

What makes the EITC and ACTC special is that they are refundable—that is, after offsetting taxes owed, filers receive the remainder of the credit in their refunds. As a result, the tax credits effectively boost the take-home pay of low- and moderate-income working families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)—a more nuanced measure of poverty that accounts for things like tax payments, work expenses, and in-kind benefits not reflected in the official measure—these tax credits lowered the national poverty rate by 3 percentage points in 2015, equivalent to lifting 9.2 million people above the poverty line. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds?

Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds? Urban Institute. Sandy Baum, Patricia Steele. January 11, 2017

This brief explores demographic differences in graduate school enrollment and completion. Students from higher-income backgrounds are more likely than others to enroll, more likely to complete their programs, and more likely to earn degrees likely to generate high earnings. When four-year college graduates from lower-income backgrounds do continue their education beyond college, they are more likely than those from higher-income backgrounds to seek master’s degrees, which yield a considerably lower earnings premium than doctoral and professional degrees. Black college graduates—who make up a much smaller share of their age group than white and Asian college graduates—are actually more likely than those from other racial and ethnic groups to go to graduate school. But they disproportionately enroll in master’s degree programs and about one-quarter of black master’s degree students attend for-profit institutions. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages, 2.01 MB].