Thursday, May 30, 2013

Study Finds CFCs, Not CO2 , Are Cause Of Global Warming

Posted by Milton Recht:

From "Global warming caused by CFCs, not carbon dioxide, study says" on ScienceBlog:
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are to blame for global warming since the 1970s and not carbon dioxide, according to new research from the University of Waterloo published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B this week.

CFCs are already known to deplete ozone, but in-depth statistical analysis now shows that CFCs are also the key driver in global climate change, rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

"Conventional thinking says that the emission of human-made non-CFC gases such as carbon dioxide has mainly contributed to global warming. But we have observed data going back to the Industrial Revolution that convincingly shows that conventional understanding is wrong," said Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy, biology and chemistry in Waterloo’s Faculty of Science. "In fact, the data shows that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays caused both the polar ozone hole and global warming."
Professor Lu said. "My calculations of CFC greenhouse effect show that there was global warming by about 0.6 °C from 1950 to 2002, but the earth has actually cooled since 2002. The cooling trend is set to continue for the next 50-70 years as the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere continues to decline."

The findings are based on in-depth statistical analyses of observed data from 1850 up to the present time, Professor Lu’s cosmic-ray-driven electron-reaction (CRE) theory of ozone depletion and his previous research into Antarctic ozone depletion and global surface temperatures.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Deforestation Is Second Largest Source Of CO2 Emissions

Posted by Milton Recht:

From "Simplified Solutions To Deforestation Ineffective In The Long Run" on ScienceBlog:
Deforestation is the second largest source of CO2 emissions after consumption of fossil fuels.

So-called PES programmes, where landowners are paid to replant or protect forests, have been promoted as a way to reduce deforestation. However, the effectiveness of the programmes has been questioned, and new research from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, points to potential negative long-term effects and a need for broader guidelines and policies.

Eliminating Federal Tax Deductions Unlikely Because Large Share Of Middle Class Taxpayers Claim Them

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Tax Policy Center, "The Challenge of Cutting Deductions to Lower Tax Rates" by Howard Gleckman:
It isn’t a new lesson, but it is one that bears repeating. For instance, a March 21 CRS paper shows that in 2010 about 40 percent of all deductions were claimed by households making between $20,000 and $100,000, with 28 percent going to those making between $50,000 and $100,000. Nearly half of tax filers making between $50,000 and $100,000 claimed deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving, and more than half deducted state and local taxes.

Those three deductions alone represent more than two-thirds of all itemized deductions. Thus, it is hard to imagine any base-broadening, rate-cutting reform plan that doesn’t include some cuts in those preferences. And taking that step threatens to make a lot of middle-income taxpayers very unhappy.

Almost 60 Percent Prefer Less And Cheaper Employer Medical Insurance Coverage, Major Medical, In Exchange For More Take Home Pay

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Rasmussen Reports, "59% Prefer Less Health Insurance, Bigger Paycheck:"
If they had a choice, 59% of Likely U.S. Voters would choose a less expensive health insurance plan that covered only major medical expenses and a bigger paycheck. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 31% would opt instead for a more expensive insurance policy that covered just about everything and receive a smaller paycheck.
The telephone survey answer was in response to the question:
5* If you could, would you be more likely to choose an expensive insurance policy that covered just about everything and receive a smaller paycheck? Or would you choose a less expensive plan that covered only major medical expenses and take home a bigger paycheck?

In Almost A Quarter Of US Households, Women Earn More Than Their Husbands

Posted by Milton Recht:

From CNBC, US News, "Moms' Roles Rising as Lead Breadwinner" by Amy Langfield:
Women earn more than men in almost a quarter of U.S. households, a huge leap from 50 years ago, when only a handful of women brought home more income, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

Women are now the leading or solo breadwinners in 40 percent of households, compared with just 11 percent in 1960, according to Census Bureau data analyzed by Pew.
In 1960, only 4 percent of women made more than their husbands; it's now 23 percent. That translates into 5.1 million married "breadwinner moms." Of those making more than their husbands, 49 percent have at least a college degree, 65 percent are white and 67 percent are between the ages of 30 and 50.

Deposit Insurance Not Legally Backed By Full Faith And Credit Of US

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, "Deposits Guaranteed Up to $250,000—Maybe: What does it mean to be 'Backed by the full faith and credit' of the U.S.?" by Alex Pollock:
Congress apparently has never enacted a provision in a law simply stating that insured deposits are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the government—at least I have diligently searched for it, including asking the FDIC for such a statutory citation, without success.
See my August 28, 2009, post "FDIC Insurance Fund Is Not Backed By US Full Faith And Credit"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dog Bites Account For One Third Of Homeowner Insurance Claims

Posted by Milton Recht:

From TIME, Business and Money, "Dog Bites Insurance Companies: Man’s Best Friend Behind One-Third of All Homeowner Claims" by Brad Tuttle:
Over the last decade, the number of insurance claims related to dog bites has basically remained flat. But the amount of money paid out in claims has soared, and last year dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all dollars paid out in homeowners insurance liability claims.

Data from the Insurance Information Institute (III) released in honor of something called National Dog Bite Prevention Week indicates that over the past decade, the number of dog bite claims has drifted from the low 14,000s to the high 16,000s. In 2012, the total stood at 16,459, down from the 2011 tally of 16,695, and also lower than the 2003′s total of 16,919. The low over the past decade occurred in 2005, when 14,295 dog bite claims were recorded.
The average dog bite claim payout rose from $19,162 in 2003 to $29,752 last year, an increase of 55%.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Median Physician Income By Specialty

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The New York Times, Economix Blog, "Debating Doctors’ Compensation" by Uwe E Reinhardt:

Source: The New York Times


Source: The New York Times

Standard economic theory suggests that over all, American doctors are overpaid, although perhaps not the primary-care specialties. This position leans on the fact that at existing incomes there is still considerable excess demand for places in medical schools among bright American youngsters – not to mention a huge pool of highly qualified foreign applicants. This suggests that the lamented doctor shortage in the United States is the result of an artificially constrained supply of medical school places and residency slots, which serves to inflate physician incomes above what they would be in a better functioning market without supply constraints.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cities Growing Faster Than Suburbs Including NYC And Its Surrounding Suburbs

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, Real Time Economics, "U.S. Cities Growing Faster Than Suburbs" by Neil Shah:
The nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas — those with populations over one million — saw their city populations grow 1.12% between July 2011 and July 2012, up from 1.03% a year earlier and an average of 0.42% between 2000 and 2010, according to an analysis of Census data by demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution in Washington. By contrast, these cities’ suburbs grew just 0.97% last year, higher than 2011’s 0.96% but far below the average of 1.38% in the previous decade. In the New York-Northern New Jersey metro area, New York City — the nation’s largest, with over 8 million people — saw its population grow 0.8% between July 2011 and July 2012, much faster than the 0.3% growth of its suburbs. Between 2000 and 2010, the New York metro area’s suburbs generally grew faster than New York City.

Fewer people "are moving out of the big urban cores because the recession [and sluggish recovery have] tended to freeze people in place," says Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute and a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire. The Chicago metro area exemplifies the trend: Chicago’s population grew 0.4% between July 2011 and July 2012, while its suburbs grew only 0.2%.

More Foreign Born Workers In US Workforce

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, "Vital Signs Chart: 16% of Work Force Foreign Born" by Neil Shah:
Immigrants are becoming a bigger part of America’s labor force. The share of workers in the labor force born outside the U.S. hit 16.1% last year, from 15.9% in 2011 and 15.5% in 2009....
Source: The Wall St. Journal

Electric Vehicles Are Not Greener Than Comparable Gas Powered Autos

Posted by Milton Recht:

From National Review Online, Planet Gore "Tesla and the Myth of the Zero-Emissions Vehicle" by Henry Payne:
According to a comprehensive engineering study published in the February 2013 Journal of Industrial Ecology, greenhouse gas emissions for an EV’s full life cycle — from production through road use — are not much greener than a comparable gas-powered auto, and no more planet-friendly than a diesel car. Indeed, when you factor in the toxicity of materials used in battery production, it’s hard to make the case that EVs are a very green alternative.

"Almost half of an EV’s life cycle global-warming potential is associated with its production," concluded a study group from the Department of Energy and Process Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. "We estimate the GWP [global-warming potential] from EV production (to be) roughly twice (that) with gas-engine production."

Multi-Family Home Construction At Pre-Recession Level But Single Family Home Construction At A Third Of Peak Level

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Economic Trends, "Housing Recovery?" by Kyle Fee and Daniel Hartley:
Recent data shows that construction activity of multifamily housing has recovered to around its pre-bust level, with roughly 300,000 to 400,000 units of new construction beginning each year. These levels were typical through the late 1990s and early 2000s. In contrast, single-family housing construction—even though it has increased from around 400,000 units per year to around 600,000 units per year—is still far below its peak during the boom (1.8 million units) and less than its average during the late 1990s (about 1.2 million units per year).

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Per Kilowatt Hour, Solar Power Costs Are About 4 Times Nuclear Power Costs

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal "Going Green? Then Go Nuclear: We're environmentalists, but pretending that solar power is ready for prime time is delusional." by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger:
The cost of building and operating the Finnish nuclear plant over the next 20 years will be $15 billion. Over that time period, the plant will generate 225 terawatt-hours (twh) of electricity at a cost of 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Since 2000, Germany has heavily subsidized electricity production from solar panels—offering long-term contracts to producers to purchase electricity at prices substantially above wholesale rates. The resulting solar installations are expected to generate 400 twh electricity over the 20 years that the panels will receive the subsidy, at a total cost to German ratepayers of $130 billion, or 32 cents per kwh.

In short, solar electricity in Germany will cost almost five times more for every kilowatt hour of electricity it provides than Finland's new nuclear plant.

Over its 60-year lifetime—which can be extended by relicensing—the Finnish plant likely will generate more electricity than Germany's solar panels ever will. That's because solar panels only have an expected lifetime of 25 to 30 years and lose about a half a percent of their efficiency every year. Compared over their full lifetimes, the Finnish plant will produce power at a cost of about 4 cents per kwh, while Germany's solar panels will produce electricity at a cost of 16 cents per kwh.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Economic Effects Of A Carbon Tax: CBO

Posted by Milton Recht:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a carbon tax would negatively affect US economic growth, real wages, labor supply and low-income households. The revenue from a carbon tax could be used to partially offset these negative effects, but CBO indicates there will be a trade-off between helping the the economy and helping low-income households.

From CBO, "Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment:"
How Would a Carbon Tax Directly Affect the Economy?
By raising the cost of using fossil fuels, a carbon tax would tend to increase the cost of producing goods and services—especially things, such as electricity or transportation, that involve relatively large amounts of CO2 emissions. Those cost increases would provide an incentive for companies to manufacture their products in ways that resulted in fewer CO2 emissions. Higher production costs would also lead to higher prices for emission-intensive goods and services, which would encourage households to use less of them and more of other goods and services.

Without accounting for how the revenues from a carbon tax would be used, such a tax would have a negative effect on the economy. The higher prices it caused would diminish the purchasing power of people’s earnings, effectively reducing their real (inflation-adjusted) wages. Lower real wages would have the net effect of reducing the amount that people worked, thus decreasing the overall supply of labor. Investment would also decline, further reducing the economy’s total output. [Emphasis added.]

The costs of a carbon tax would not be evenly distributed among U.S. households. For example, the additional costs from higher prices would consume a greater share of income for low-income households than for higher-income households, because low-income households generally spend a larger percentage of their income on emission-intensive goods. Similarly, workers and investors in emission-intensive industries, who would see the largest decrease in demand for their products, would be likely to bear relatively large burdens as the economy adjusted to the tax. Finally, areas of the country where electricity is produced from coal—the most emission-intensive fossil fuel per unit of energy generated—would tend to experience larger increases in electricity prices than other areas would. [Emphasis added.]

How Would Various Uses of the Revenues From a Carbon Tax Alter Its Economic Effects?
Lawmakers’ choices about how to use the revenues from a carbon tax would help determine the tax’s ultimate impact on the economy. Some uses of those revenues could substantially offset the total economic costs resulting from the tax itself, whereas other uses would not.

Using the Revenues to Reduce Deficits Would Decrease the Tax’s Total Costs to the Economy
At least part of the negative economic effect of a carbon tax would be offset if the tax revenues were used for deficit reduction. Federal budget deficits tend to result in lower economic output over the long run than would otherwise be the case, by crowding out private-sector investment. Thus, policies that reduce deficits generally have a positive effect on the economy in the long run (although they can have a negative effect in the short term when the economy is weak).

Using the Revenues to Cut Marginal Tax Rates Would Also Decrease Total Costs
Lawmakers could also offset some of the negative economic effects of a carbon tax by using the revenues to reduce the existing marginal rates of income or payroll taxes—a policy known as a tax swap. Existing taxes on individual and corporate income decrease people’s incentives to work and invest by lowering the after-tax returns they receive from those activities. Consequently, reducing those marginal tax rates would have positive effects on the economy.

Using the Revenues to Reduce Adverse Effects on Selected Groups Would Not Decrease Total Costs
Targeting revenues toward people who would be likely to bear a disproportionate burden under a carbon tax would provide them with relief, but such a policy would tend not to reduce the total economic costs of the tax. Thus, lawmakers would face a trade-off between the goals of helping those households most hurt by the tax and helping the economy in general. Lawmakers could use the revenues in more than one way to try to balance those goals. [Emphasis added.]
CBO's complete 23 page report, "Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment" is available as a PDF.

Map Of State Excise Tax Rates On Wine

Posted by Milton Recht:

From the Tax Foundation, "Weekly Map: State Wine Excise Tax Rates, 2013" by Nick Kasprak:

Source: Tax Foundation

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the Tax Foundation map of state excise tax rates on beer.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CBO's Methodology For Projecting Long-Term Spending For Social Security, Medicare And Medicaid

Posted by Milton Recht:

From CBO, "How CBO Prepares Long-Term Projections of Federal Spending for Social Security and Major Health Care Programs" by CBO Unit Chief Joyce Manchester, Presentation to the Medicaid and Government Pricing Congress on May 16, 2013:

A PDF version of the following presentation slides.

PDF version of the presentation slides.

Pet Owners Spend More On Their Pets Than Alcohol: Useful Marketing Data For Sellers Of Food, Products And Services To Pet Owners from BLS

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Bureau of Labor Statistics, Beyond the Numbers, "Spending on pets: 'Tails' from the Consumer Expenditure Survey" by Steve Henderson:
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. households own pets. There are about 218 million pets in the United States, not counting several million fish. Pet ownership crosses many demographic boundaries, with Americans of different ages and levels of wealth reporting spending on pets. Further, Americans spend a substantial amount of money on the care and feeding of their animals. Americans spent approximately $61.4 billion in total on their pets in 2011. On average, each U.S. household spent just over $500 on pets. This amounts to about 1 percent of total spending per year for the average household.

Expenditures on pets include pet food, pet purchases, supplies and medicine, pet services, and veterinarian services. BLS data show the following:
  • In 2011, households spent more on their pets annually than they spent on alcohol ($456), residential landline phone bills ($381), or men and boys clothing ($404).
  • Average household spending on pet food alone was $183 in 2011. This was more than the amount spent on candy ($87), bread ($107), chicken ($124), cereal ($175), or reading materials ($115).
  • Even when spending at restaurants dropped during the recent recession (December 2007–June 2009), spending on pet food stayed constant. (See chart 1.)
  • In 2011, one-sixth of U.S. households purchased pet food each week, based on entries in the CE Diary.
  • Married couples without children living at home spent the most on their pets.
  • Homeowners spent almost three times as much on pets as renters did.
The BLS article has more useful marketing data showing the breakdown of purchases, and average spending by demographics, such as by household size, household composition, owner vs renter, rural vs urban, age of owner/renter, etc.

Work Place Bullies Get Promotions

Posted by Milton Recht:

From "Why Bullies Thrive At Work" on ScienceBlog
Despite resistance to bullying from both employers and employees, many workplace bullies achieve high levels of career success, according to a new study from the University at Buffalo School of Management.

Published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, the study found that some workplace bullies have high social skill that they use to strategically abuse their coworkers, yet still receive positive evaluations from their supervisors.
"Many bullies can be seen as charming and friendly, but they are highly destructive and can manipulate others into providing them with the resources they need to get ahead," says the study’s co-author, Darren Treadway, PhD, associate professor of organization and human resources in the UB School of Management.

Workplace bullying is pervasive. The study has noted that as many as half of all employees in the U.S. have witnessed bullying at work, and 35 percent have been the target of bullying.
The results showed a strong correlation between bullying, social competence and positive job evaluations.

Monday, May 20, 2013

US Needs Fewer Preschool Programs And More Childcare Programs

Posted by Milton Recht:

As the home environment of low income households becomes more enriched, as the number of very low income households with preschool children with mothers who did not finish high school drops to about half, 71 percent to 37 percent, from 1970 to 2000, and the number of low income mothers who have some post secondary education increases five times from 5 percent to 25 percent, there is currently less educational benefit, and possibly none, from universal preschool.

Parents reading to their young children and parental educational attainment expectations for their children, along with parent educational levels are predictive of children's educational level and success in school. With higher education levels of low income mothers, more at home reading to children will occur and higher parental expectations of education attainment will be expected from children.

The US does not need more money invested in universal preschool programs as President Obama has proposed. Instead, there is need for quality childcare for preschool children, especially for mothers who need or want to work outside the home. As a quality childcare facility probably cost less than a quality preschool program, the US could have more places available for more children in daytime childcare than in preschools. More low and middle income mothers and their children would benefit from the greater availability of quality childcare due to its lower cost than from a lower number of preschool seats due to its higher cost.

From Journal of Economic Perspectives, "Investing in Preschool Programs" by Greg J. Duncan and Katherine Magnuson:
In 1970, some 71 percent of preschool age children in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution had mothers who lacked a high school degree, while only 5 percent of the mothers had attended at least some postsecondary schooling (based on authors’ calculation of the October Current Population Survey data). By 2000, the corresponding percentage of children with mothers who did not have a high school degree had dropped by nearly half (to 37 percent), while the percentage with mothers who had completed some postsecondary schooling (based on authors’ calculation of the October Current Population Survey data). By 2000, the corresponding percentage of children with mothers who did not have a high school degree had dropped by nearly half (to 37 percent), while the percentage with mothers who had completed some postsecondary schooling increased five-fold (to just over 25 percent). Today, therefore, children from low-income households are likely to be benefiting from much higher-quality home environments than their counterparts four decades ago. Both higher-quality home environments and increases in other forms of center-based child care raise the bar for impact estimates coming from early childhood education programs. [Emphasis added.]

The First 2 Percent Of Healthcare Spending, Gets 50 Percent Of The Health Benefit

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Washington Post, Wonkblog, "Bill Gates: 'Death is something we really understand extremely well' " by Ezra Klein:
[Bill Gates:] But here’s the good news for these [poor] countries. If you spend the less than 2 percent of what the rich countries spend, but you spend it on vaccinations and antibiotics, you get over half of all that healthcare does to extend life. So you spend 2 percent and you get 50 percent. If you spend another 80 percent you’re at over 90 percent.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Houston Has The Fastest Job Growth In The US And The Most Racial And Ethnic Diversity

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, "Annise Parker: The Modern American Boomtown: Houston's mayor—an openly gay Democrat friendly to business—talks about why her city is the country's fastest growing and most diverse." by Matthew Kaminski:
Houston's recent track record is startling. For the calendar year ending in February, it saw the fastest pace of job growth (4.5%) among the country's 20 largest metropolitan areas. (With a population of 2.1 million, it's the fourth-largest U.S. city.) In 2011, the last year such data are available, Houston had the fastest-growing large metropolitan economy, at 3.7%.

Add to that a cost of living that is 7.8% below the U.S. average—New York is 53.4% above the average—and you can see the attraction for waves of new arrivals. Housing costs run a third less than the average in the 29 largest metro areas. Adjusting for these lower costs, Houston has the highest per-capita income of any city in the nation.
The city has surpassed New York as the country's most racially and ethnically diverse, according to a study last year by Rice University. One in five residents was born outside the U.S. The city attracted the second-highest number of new, foreign-born residents in the first decade of this century, after the more populous New York. A Manhattan Institute report last year named Houston and Dallas the country's least segregated cities.
No ethnic group makes up a majority, and Hispanics, whites, Asians and African-Americans are evenly represented. Houston's "melting pot" makes it "impossible for any one group to dominate another," says Fred Hofheinz, who was mayor in the 1970s. Leave the politics of ethnic and racial division to other places.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

BLS Explains Owner Equivalent Rent Portion Of CPI

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Bureau of Labor Statistics, Beyond The Numbers, May 2013, Vol. 2, No. 14, "Owners’ equivalent rent and the Consumer Price Index: 30 years and counting" by Frank Ptacek and Darren A. Rippy:
The objective of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is to measure the change in expenditures required to maintain a given standard of living. For expenditures on houses, this leads to a measurement objective that focuses on the shelter services provided by a house over a period of time. A house is a capital asset that provides a flow of services over a substantial period of time, not a one-time consumption item.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explored two major approaches to determine how to estimate the cost of shelter services for owner-occupied dwellings. The first approach attempts to estimate the flow of shelter services for an owned dwelling from items related to living in it. This approach is called “user cost” and includes items such as real estate taxes, insurance, and an interest estimate based on the market value of the house. The second approach attempts to estimate the flow of services for an owner dwelling based on market rents for rented dwellings. This research led to a method referred to as “rental equivalence.” This method measures the rate of change in the amount an owner would need to pay in order to rent on the open market. It is based on actual market rents collected from a sample of renter-occupied housing units that are identified to be representative of owner-occupied housing.

On October 27, 1981, Commissioner Janet Norwood announced that BLS would convert the CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) to a rental equivalence measure for homeowner costs, effective with data for January 1983.
At this point, the concept of economic rents and pure rents comes into play. If the landlord provides utilities, the cost of those utilities is included in the collected rents. The collected rents, adjusted for quality change, are called economic rents. Because owners pay for their own utilities, the housing system estimates the value of the landlord-provided utilities (cost of utilities). The pure rents are the collected rents, less the cost of utilities, adjusted for quality changes. The change in the pure rents from one period to the next for the matched rental units were used to estimate rent change for updating the implicit rent for owned units.
The complete BLS article is also available as a PDF.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

381 Million People Migrate Within Countries Versus 214 Million That Migrate Between Countries Over The Past 5 Years: Data By Country, Education And Age

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Gallup World, "381 Million Adults Worldwide Migrate Within Countries: U.S. one of the most mobile countries in the world" by Neli Esipova, Anita Pugliese, and Julie Ray:
Although a recent United Nations report estimates about 214 million migrants have moved between countries, Gallup studies show a much larger number of migrants are moving within countries. Eight percent of the world's adults -- roughly 381 million people -- say they have moved from one city or area within their country to another in the past five years.

Source: Gallup


Source: Gallup

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Microfinance Lending Does Not Help Poor Or Change Small Business Outcomes

Posted by Milton Recht:

From NBER Working Paper Series, "The Miracle Of Microfinance? Evidence From A Randomized Evaluation" by Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, Rachel Glennerster and Cynthia G. Kinnan, Working Paper 18950, May 2013:
In this paper we report on the first randomized evaluation of the effect of the canonical grouplending microcredit model, which targets women who may not necessarily be entrepreneurs. This study also follows the households over the longest period of any study (it followed households for about three to 3.5 years after the introduction of the program in their slums areas), which is necessary since many impacts may be only expected to surface over the medium run. A number of recent papers have reported on subsequent randomized evaluations of similar programs in Morocco (Crépon et al., 2011), Bosnia-Herzegovina (Augsburg et al., 2012), Mexico (Angelucci et al., 2012) and Mongolia (Attanasio et al. 2011). We will compare their results to ours in the last section of this paper.
The primary engine of growth that it is supposed to fuel is business creation. Fifteen to 18 months after gaining access, households are no more likely to be entrepreneurs (that is, have at least one business), but they are more likely to start more than one business, and they invest more in the businesses they do have (or the ones they start). There is an increase in the average profits of the businesses that were already in existence before microcredit, but this is entirely due to very large increases in the upper tail. At every quantile between the 5th and the 95th percentile, there is no difference in the profits of the businesses. The median marginal new business is both less profitable and less likely to have even one employee in treatment than in control areas.
However, the average business is still small and not very profitable. In other words, contrary to most people’s belief, to the extent microcredit helps businesses, it may help the larger businesses more. There is still no difference in average consumption. We do not find any effect on any of the women’s empowerment or human development outcomes either after 18 or 36 months. Furthermore, almost 70% of eligible households do not have an MFI loan, preferring instead to borrow from other sources, if they borrow (and most do). Our results find a strong echo in the four other studies that look at similar programs in different contexts. This gives us confidence in the robustness and external validity of our findings. In short, microcredit is not for every household, or even most households, and it does not lead to the miraculous social transformation some proponents have claimed. Its principal impact seems, perhaps unsurprisingly, to allow some households to sacrifice some instantaneous utility (temptation goods or leisure) to finance lumpy purchases, either for their home or in order to establish or expand a business. [Footnotes omitted.]

Friday, May 10, 2013

2 Out Of 3 New Mothers Is College Educated

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Bloomberg, "Record Two-Thirds of New U.S. Mothers College Educated, Pew Says" by Frank Bass:
The percentage of new mothers with a college education is rising to record levels, while births among less-educated American women continue to drop, a study shows.

Two of every three new mothers had at least some college education in 2011, according to the study released today by the Pew Research Center. The rate has almost quadrupled since 1960, when only 18 percent of new mothers had college experience.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Homicide Rate By Guns Down 49% Since 1993 Peak

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Pew Research, "Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak" by D’Vera Cohn, Paul Taylor, Mark Hugo Lopez, Catherine A. Gallagher, Kim Parker and Kevin T. Maass:
National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Beneath the long-term trend, though, are big differences by decade: Violence plunged through the 1990s, but has declined less dramatically since 2000.

Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993.

Source: Pew Research

About 70 Percent Of Hispanic High School Graduates Go To College: 86 Percent of Hispanics Graduate High School

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Pew Research Hispanic Center, "High School Drop-out Rate at Record Low: Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment" by Richard Fry and Paul Taylor:
A record seven-in-ten (69%) Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college that fall, two percentage points higher than the rate (67%) among their white counterparts, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The positive trends in Hispanic educational indicators also extend to high school. The most recent available data show that in 2011 only 14% of Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds were high school dropouts, half the level in 2000 (28%).
Despite the narrowing of some of these long-standing educational attainment gaps, Hispanics continue to lag whites in a number of key higher education measures. Young Hispanic college students are less likely than their white counterparts to enroll in a four-year college (56% versus 72%), they are less likely to attend a selective college, less likely to be enrolled in college full time, and less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Source: Pew Research

Map Of State Excise Tax Rates On Beer

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Tax Foundation, "Weekly Map: State Beer Excise Tax Rates, 2013" by Nick Kasprak:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Educational Attainment For Ages 25 to 64 in the US by Birthplace, 2012: CBO

Posted by Milton Recht:

From CBO, "Snapshot of the Educational Attainment of People Ages 25 to 64 in the United States, by Birthplace, 2012:"
Source: CBO

The foreign-born population tends to be less educated than the native-born population: In 2012, 27 percent of the foreign-born population between the ages of 25 and 64 had not completed high school, compared with 7 percent of the native-born population. That difference was even larger among foreign-born people from certain regions of the world: A majority of people from Mexico and Central America, for example, had less than a high school diploma. However, foreign-born people from Asia, Canada and Europe, and Africa and Oceania are more likely than their native-born counterparts to have a bachelor’s degree or more.

Foreign Born Population In US From 1860 To 2010: CBO Chart

Posted by Milton Recht:

From CBO, "A Description of the Immigrant Population—2013 Update:"
Source: CBO

From 1860 to 1910, between 13 percent and 15 percent of people in the United States were born in another country. After 1910, the share of the population composed of the foreign born began a steady decline, falling to less than 5 percent by 1970. But that share has increased rapidly since 1970, reaching about 13 percent in the past few years. About 40 million foreign-born people now live in the United States. Of that group, not quite half have fulfilled the requirements of U.S. citizenship. Of the remaining people, about half are authorized to live and work in the United States, and about half are not authorized to live or work in the country.

About 75 Percent Of Illegal Immigrants Are From Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala And Honduras: CBO

Posted by Milton Recht:

From CBO, "Snapshot of the Number of Unauthorized Foreign-Born People in the United States, 2000 and 2011:"

Source: CBO

Unemployment Rate For Ages 25 to 64 By Birthplace: CBO

Posted by Milton Recht:

From CBO, "Snapshot of the Unemployment Rate of People Ages 25 to 64, by Birthplace, 1994 to 2012:"

Source: CBO
On average between 1994 and 2012, the unemployment rate among people born in Mexico or Central America was 7.0 percent, whereas the rate for native-born workers was 4.6 percent and for workers born in Asia, 4.5 percent.

Trends In Public Education Since 1970: Flat Scores, Flat Enrollment, More Employees, Rising Inflation Adjusted Costs

Posted by Milton Recht:

From askblog, "Evaluating the Null Hypothesis in Education" by Arnold Kling:

Source: askblog

Lack Of Health Insurance Does Not Cause Earlier Deaths

Posted by Milton Recht:

From John Goodman's Health Policy Blog, "Does Lack of Health Insurance Kill?" by Linda Gorman:
The results from the Oregon Experiment, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on May 2, show that extending Medicaid to low-income adults did not improve basic clinical measures of health. Given that, it is a bit hard to see how being uninsured can cause 45,000 premature deaths every year — a figure rivaling the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. That’s the number physicians for a National Health Program say die prematurely in America due to a lack of health insurance.

The Oregon study results probably did not surprise those who have been paying attention to the serious academic literature, however. In independent empirical papers, Richard Kronick and David Card and his colleagues find little evidence that health insurance coverage significantly reduces mortality. Former Director of the Congressional Budget Office June O’Neill and her husband Dave also conclude that lack of insurance has little or no impact on mortality. See the discussion at this blog here, here and here.
The remainder of Gorman's blog post is an excellent review of the research literature on the subject of health insurance and mortality rates.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For 7th To 10th Graders Increases Learning And Graduation Rates While Reducing Criminal Behavior: Not All Educational Improvements Are About The Teachers

Posted by Milton Recht:

From the abstract to "Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment" by Sara Heller, University of Chicago, Harold A Pollack, University of Chicago, Roseanna Ander, University of Chicago, and Jens Ludwig, Georgetown University:
Improving the long-term life outcomes of disadvantaged youth remains a top policy priority in the United States, although identifying successful interventions for adolescents – particularly males – has proven challenging. This paper reports results from a large randomized controlled trial of an intervention for disadvantaged male youth grades 7-10 from high-crime Chicago neighborhoods. The intervention was delivered by two local non-profits and included regular interactions with a pro-social adult, after-school programming, and – perhaps the most novel ingredient – in-school programming designed to reduce common judgment and decision-making problems related to automatic behavior and biased beliefs, or what psychologists call cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We randomly assigned 2,740 youth to programming or to a control group; about half those offered programming participated, with the average participant attending 13 sessions. Program participation reduced violent-crime arrests during the program year by 8.1 per 100 youth (a 44 percent reduction). It also generated sustained gains in schooling outcomes equal to 0.14 standard deviations during the program year and 0.19 standard deviations during the follow-up year, which we estimate could lead to higher graduation rates of 3-10 percentage points (7-22 percent). Depending on how one monetizes the social costs of crime, the benefit-cost ratio may be as high as 30:1 from reductions in criminal activity alone.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

4 In 10 Cases Of Back Pain And 8 In 10 With Herniated Disc And Swelling Are Bacterial Infections That Improve With Antibiotics

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Bloomberg, "Antibiotics May Relieve Chronic Lower Back Pain Cases" by Andrea Gerlin:
As many as four in 10 cases of chronic lower back pain are probably caused by bacteria, and treatment with antibiotics may cure them, a study showed.

As many as 80 percent of the participants with persistent back pain following a herniated disc and swelling in the spine reported an improvement after taking antibiotics three times daily for 100 days, Danish scientists wrote in research published by the European Spine Journal.
The findings support previous research that has linked some cases of chronic back pain to bacterial infection.

Companies Are Not Hiring Like They Did Before The Recession

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, Real Time Economics, "Slow Hiring Holding Back Job Market" by Ben Casselman:
During the recession, the entire job market came to a screeching halt. Layoffs surged. Hiring plunged. Companies stopped posting job openings. People lucky enough to have jobs clung to them — voluntary quits plummeted.

Since then, most of those measures have shown marked improvement. Layoffs are back to normal. Voluntary quits, though still well below their pre-recession level, have been trending steadily upward as workers regain confidence. Companies are even posting more jobs.

But actual hiring remains virtually stagnant.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Some Real Fixes For The US Economy And Employment That Do Not Involve More Government Spending

Posted by Milton Recht:

From BALANCE, The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America, "NYT Magazine Feature on Glenn & Larry Summers" by Tim Kane:
Why don’t we do THOSE things, easy things that Republican and Democratic economists agree on? More international trade, for starters: let’s lower barriers, tariffs, quotas, and subsidies to commodity industries (e.g., most agriculture). And why not do some the easy thing on immigration: green cards for foreign-born, American-educated scientists and engineers?

Upheaval In Psychiatry: US National Institute Of Mental Health Abandons Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Posted by Milton Recht:

From NewScientist, Mental Health, "Psychiatry divided as mental health 'bible' denounced" by Andy Coghlan and Sara Reardon:
The world's biggest mental health research institute is abandoning the new version of psychiatry's "bible" – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, questioning its validity and stating that "patients with mental disorders deserve better". This bombshell comes just weeks before the publication of the fifth revision of the manual, called DSM-5.

On 29 April, Thomas Insel, director of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), advocated a major shift away from categorising diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia according to a person's symptoms. Instead, Insel wants mental disorders to be diagnosed more objectively using genetics, brain scans that show abnormal patterns of activity and cognitive testing.

This would mean abandoning the manual published by the American Psychiatric Association that has been the mainstay of psychiatric research for 60 years.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pizza Popularity Rising: Shareable And Variable

Posted by Milton Recht:

From TIME, Business & Money, "Hot Pizza: So Popular Restaurants Will Try Almost Anything" by Brad Tuttle:
Pizza has been popular for decades, of course. But lately, consumers‘ love for pizza has inched up a few degrees. Recent consumer research revealed that 41% of Americans now eat pizza at least once a week, up from just 26% a few years back.

A post at (short for Quick Service Restaurant) from Jeff From, an advertising executive with a special focus on marketing to millennials, offers some insight as to why pizza is so beloved by today’s consumers—Gen Y consumers in particular. Pizza is not only quick, easy, and relatively cheap, it’s also shareable (this group is incredibly social, seen in social media and many other ways) and endlessly customizable since you can always mix up the toppings. Supermarket experts have pointed out that millennials never want to eat the same thing twice, and pizza is brilliant in that you can eat it day after day and always be having something new.

Colleges Offering Highest Ever Tuition Discounts To Increase Enrollment

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Bloomberg, "Colleges In U.S. Offer Highest-Ever Discount to Entice Students" by Janet Lorin:
Private nonprofit colleges are offering students tuition discounts of 45 percent, on average, in response to a changing financial environment that stems from the weak economic recovery.

Price reductions, designed to boost attendance, were at an all-time high in 2012 and outpaced the rate during the recession, according to a study of 383 private-nonprofit four- year schools, released today by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

Some colleges are struggling with enrollment declines even after offering a reduction and enduring price sensitivity is driving the drop, according to chief business officers at institutions that have been affected.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Arguments Against Organic Farming: Quora Posts

Posted by Milton Recht:

From "What are some arguments against organic farming?" on Quora:

Read Quote of Kevin Peterson's answer to Organic Farming: What are some arguments against organic farming? on Quora

Read Quote of Dan Maslach's answer to Organic Farming: What are some arguments against organic farming? on Quora

1 In 6 High School Students Was A Victim Of Cyberbullying In The Past 12 Months

Posted by Milton Recht:

From "Cyberbullying Rampant Among High School Students" on ScienceBlog:
Step into a class of 30 high school students and look around. Five of them have been victims of electronic bullying in the past year.
The researchers analyzed data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 15,425 public and private high school students. The school response rate was 81 percent, and the student response rate was 87 percent.
Results showed:
  • One in six high school students (16.2 percent) reported being electronically bullied within the past 12 months.
  • Girls were more than twice as likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying than boys (22.1 percent vs. 10.8 percent).
  • Whites reported being the victim of cyberbullying more than twice as frequently as blacks.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Need Higher Monthly Job Growth To Return Employment To Pre-Recession Levels

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Brookings, "Should the United States Have 2.2 Million More Jobs?" by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney:
Specifically, there are 2.2 million fewer jobs today, relative to what would have occurred with the policy response typical of the five preceding recessions. We also continue to explore the "jobs gap" and find that the country needs to add about 10.0 million jobs to return to pre-recession employment levels.
Source: Brookings
If the economy adds about 208,000 jobs per month, which was the average monthly rate for the best year of job creation in the 2000s, then it will take until April 2020 to close the jobs gap.

Broader Measure Of Unemployment (U-6) Rises As Hours Work Declines And Part-Time Workers Increase

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, "Broader Unemployment Rate Ticks Up" by Phil Izzo:
But there was an area of concern in the [Jobs] report as a broader rate, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, increased to 13.9% from 13.8% a month earlier. That includes everyone in the official rate plus “marginally attached workers” — those who are neither working nor looking for work, but say they want a job and have looked for work recently; and people who are employed part-time for economic reasons, meaning they want full-time work but took a part-time schedule instead because that’s all they could find.

In April, the rate ticked up as the number of workers who are part-time but want full-time work increased. That came even as the numbers of hours worked also dropped this month for all workers. This raises the question about the kinds of jobs being created, and whether they can support a faster recovery.

To be sure, a 278,000 jump in the part-time for economic reasons category followed a big drop the month before. But there still are nearly 8 million people in the U.S. who want a better job, while more than 11.5 million remain unemployed.

Long-Term Joblessness Is Still A Major US Employment Problem: Almost 40 Percent Of The Unemployed Are Long-Term

Posted by Milton Recht:

As unemployment drops a bit and the Dow Jones crosses 15,000 for the first time on a better than expected job growth number, the US still faces a major employment and social problem with the long-term jobless.

From Bloomberg, "Long-Term Unemployment Is Turning Jobless Into Pariahs" by the Editors:
Long-term unemployment is one of the most vexing problems the U.S. faces, and today’s jobs report shows all-too-meager progress in fixing it.

The U.S. created 165,000 new jobs in April, pushing down the unemployment rate to 7.5 percent from March’s 7.6 percent. But as of the end of April, 4.4 million Americans, or 37 percent of the unemployed, had been without a job for 27 weeks or longer, barely better than March’s 39 percent. The U.S. can’t afford to write off more than 4 million people who would like to work but haven’t for more than six months.

Long-term joblessness peaked in April 2010 at 6.7 million, so the picture might seem to be improving. Hidden within that number is this troubling fact: The average unemployed person has been out of work for 36.5 weeks. That’s not much better than the December 2011 duration of 40.7 weeks, which was the longest since World War II. Long-term unemployment at the start of the recession in December 2007 was 1.3 million people, and the average duration was 16.6 weeks.

Terrible things happen to people when they are out of work for long periods, numerous studies show.

Entry Into The US By Illegal Immigrants At 40 Year Low: Need Better Legal Immigrant Guest Worker Program, Not More Border Security

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, "Border Security Reality Check: Illegal entries are already down to 40-year lows."
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Even more dramatic is GAO's analysis of illegals who escape through the enforcement net, a statistic called "got aways." In nine major Southern border crossing areas, including the main gateways of Tucson, San Diego and the Rio Grande, got aways fell to an estimated 86,000 in 2011 from 615,000 in 2006. That's an 86% decline in foreigners who successfully snuck into the country from Mexico.

So much for the "porous border" argument. The Pew Hispanic Center found that in 2011 more Mexicans left the U.S. than entered—the first time that has happened since the Great Depression.

Even those who do come illegally are more likely to be deported. Contrary to Republican claims that President Obama has turned a blind eye to illegal aliens, the official data indicate the opposite. The number of deportations of illegal immigrants and criminals reached 1.5 million in Mr. Obama's first term, which was roughly one-third higher than the Bush years, according to ICE data. Criminal deportations were nearly twice as high in Mr. Obama's first term as in 2007.
Republicans who truly want to improve enforcement in the Senate bill would do better to focus on increasing pathways to legal immigration, especially the number of W visas in the new guest-worker program. The border apprehension data show that the only time since 1925 that illegal entries fell more than they have in the last decade was in the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s when Congress authorized the Bracero guest-worker program. Illegal entries climbed again after the AFL-CIO lobbied Congress to kill Bracero in 1964.

Give people more legal ways to enter and exit America, and fewer will come illegally.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

GM Is Expanding Auto Production In China And Planning To Sell Chinese Made GM Cars In The US

Posted by Milton Recht:

From The Wall Street Journal, "Edward Niedermeyer: Welcome to General Tso's Motors: Long an important growth market, China is becoming GM's global export base." by Edward Niedermeyer:
American taxpayers may have rescued GM during its moment of need, but it is China that is disproportionately benefiting from the bailout of America's erstwhile automotive icon.

GM's most recent round of investments vividly demonstrates the change. At last week's Shanghai Auto Show, GM announced it would spend $11 billion on new production facilities in China by 2016, creating some 6,000 new jobs there. By contrast, GM has invested only $8.5 billion in U.S. operations since its 2009 bankruptcy, and since 2005 the number of workers it employs in North America has fallen by 76,000, according to the industry publication Automotive News.

At first glance, this seems little more than a function of China becoming the world's largest auto market. But GM's investments aren't merely about meeting Chinese demand, which has actually slowed in recent years. According to statements to the press made by company officials at the Shanghai Auto Show, GM is targeting 100,000-plus exports of Chinese-made cars this year, a record, with export growth likely to be more than 50%.

Once merely an important growth market, China is fast becoming GM's global export base, and the change can be seen in the very structure of the company.
As the result of the company's new emphasis, GM China President Bob Socia says that Americans "could very well" soon find Chinese-made GM cars on showroom floors. "There is no reason why we can't be exporting to the [United] States," he told a reporter for the website Autoblog at the Shanghai Auto Show. [Emphasis added.]