Measuring the Health of the Liberal International Order

Measuring the Health of the Liberal International Order. RAND Corporation. Michael J. Mazarr et al. September 5, 2017.

As part of a larger study on the future of the post-World War II liberal international order, RAND researchers analyze the health of the existing order and offer implications for future U.S. policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 229 pages, 1.41 MB].

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Care and Connections: Bridging Relational Gaps for Foster Youths

Care and Connections: Bridging Relational Gaps for Foster Youths. Brookings Institution. Ramona Denby-Brinson, Efren Gomez, and Richard V. Reeves. September 14, 2017

In the United States, more than 20,000 youths “age out” of foster care each year. But leaving foster care presents its own challenges. Only 55 percent of former foster youths report having a high school diploma or GED by the time they’re 19, compared with 87 percent of their peers in the population sample.

Significant efforts are made by policymakers at all levels to improve educational, social and economic outcomes for this at-risk group, with mixed results.

One way to help improve the outcomes of foster youths may be to focus on relationship-building skills. Research suggests that healthy and supportive relationships improve life chances for foster youth. But so far there have been relatively few attempts to build insights into these programs and practice.

In “Care and connections: Bridging relational gaps for foster youths” (PDF), Ramona Denby-Brinson, Efren Gomez, and Richard V. Reeves explore the steep challenges of implementing and evaluating relationship-based interventions in child welfare. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 23 pages, 741.48 KB].

Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out? Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. William R. Morton, Wayne Liou. September 12, 2017

Social Security’s income and outlays are accounted for through two federal trust funds: the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Under their intermediate assumptions and under current law, the Social Security trustees project that the DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2028 and the OASI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2035. Although the two funds are legally separate, they are often considered in combination. The trustees project that the combined Social Security trust funds will become depleted in 2034. At that point, revenue would be sufficient to pay only about 77% of scheduled benefits.

[PDF format, 21 pages, 890.68 KB].

Social Security: The Trust Funds

Social Security: The Trust Funds. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. William R. Morton, Wayne Liou. September 12, 2017

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 2035, whereas the DI fund will remain solvent until 2028, meaning that each trust fund can pay benefits scheduled under current law in full and on time up to that point. Following the depletion of trust fund reserves (2028 for DI and 2035 for OASI), continuing income to each fund is projected to cover 93% of DI scheduled benefits and 75% 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 2034. Following depletion of combined trust fund reserves at that point, continuing income is projected to cover 77% of scheduled benefits.

[PDF format, 21 pages, 863.81 KB].

Who is out of the labor force?

Who is out of the labor force? Brookings Institution. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach et al. August 17, 2017

U.S. labor force participation rate, or the fraction of adults who are either employed or are searching for work, has fallen steadily since 1999. This is a trend that many economists find troubling, as the labor force participation rate is an indicator of household living standards and economic vitality. In 2016, over one-third (37.2 percent) of adults in the United States—including nearly one-fifth (18.7 percent) of prime working age adults (between 25 and 54 years old)—were not in the workforce. The large number of adults who are not in the labor force is a puzzle that cannot be fully accounted for by factors like baby boomers aging out of the workforce, women engaged in caregiving, or recent college graduates delaying the responsibilities of adulthood. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 11 pages, 1.08 MB].

Fostering Innovation in U.S. Law Enforcement: Identifying High-Priority Technology and Other Needs for Improving Law Enforcement Operations and Outcomes

Fostering Innovation in U.S. Law Enforcement: Identifying High-Priority Technology and Other Needs for Improving Law Enforcement Operations and Outcomes. RAND Corporation. John S. Hollywood et al. August 30, 2017.

The National Institute of Justice tasked RAND to host a panel of law enforcement experts to identify high-priority needs for innovation in law enforcement, covering advances in technology, policy, and practice. The needs discussed in this report can help prioritize research, development, and dissemination efforts in ways that will provide the greatest value to law enforcement practitioners.

The panel identified four top findings. First, there is a need to improve practitioners’ knowledge of available research and technology, starting with a central knowledge repository and research on how to improve dissemination and training methods. Second, there is a need for practices and technologies to improve police-community relations, both to improve encounters with the public and to improve community relations more broadly. Third, there is a need to improve the sharing and use of information in a range of ways. These include means to get crime analysis capabilities to all agencies (including small and disadvantaged agencies), software development to reduce information overload, and model proposal and contract language to make systems interoperable. Fourth, there is a need to reduce backlogs in forensic processing; panelists suggested broadening U.S. Department of Justice forensic grants outside of DNA to help address the backlogs.

Additional high-priority needs included further development of policies and use cases for unmanned aerial vehicles, best practices for selecting and using personal gear, and improving defenses against active shooters. The latter included improving both suspicious activity reporting processes and efforts to educate the public on responding to an active shooter. There is also a need for a review of technologies that might improve officers’ health. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 152 pages, 1.61 MB].

Economic Impact of Infrastructure Investment

Economic Impact of Infrastructure Investment. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jeffrey M. Stupak. July 18, 2017

Infrastructure investment has received renewed interest as of late, with both President Trump and some Members of Congress discussing the benefits of such spending. Infrastructure can be defined in a number of ways depending on the policy discussion; in general, however, the term refers to longer-lived, capital-intensive systems and facilities, such as roads, bridges, and water treatment facilities.

Over the past several decades, government investment in infrastructure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) has declined. Annual infrastructure investment by federal, state, and local governments peaked in the late 1930s, at about 4.2% of GDP, and since has fallen to about 1.6% of GDP in 2016. State and local governments consistently spend more on infrastructure directly than the federal government. In 2016, direct federal spending on nondefense infrastructure was less than 0.1% of GDP, whereas state and local spending was about 1.5% of GDP. However, the federal government transfers some funds each year to state and local governments for capital projects, which includes infrastructure projects, equaling about 0.4% of GDP in 2016. The United States also lags many other developed countries with respect to annual infrastructure spending. Spending on infrastructure, as a percentage of GDP, is higher in all G7 countries, except for Italy and Germany, than in the United States.

[PDF format, 19 pages, 813.5 KB].