The Impact of Local Public Services and Geographical Cost of Living Differences on Poverty Estimates

Source: Rolf Aaberge, Audun Langørgen, Magne Mogstad, Marit Østensen, IZA Discussion Paper Series, IZA DP No. 3686, September 2008

Despite a broad consensus on the need to take into account the value of public services and geographical cost of living differences when measuring poverty, there is little reliable evidence on how these factors actually affect poverty estimates. Unlike the standard approach in studies of the distribution of public services, this paper employs a method for valuing sector-specific local public services that allows for differences between municipalities in unit costs for providing public services. Furthermore, recipient frequencies in various demographic groups are used as the basis for determining the allocation of the value of these services on citizens of the municipalities. Geographical differences in living costs are taken into account by using municipal housing price indices or by replacing the country-specific poverty line with municipal-specific poverty lines. Applying Norwegian register data for the period 1993-2001, we find that disregarding the value of local public services and geographical cost of living differences yields a misleading picture of poverty.

Presidential Candidates On Health Reform

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, September 2008

– A detailed side-by-side of the candidates’ proposals on health reform
– Kaiser Foundation’s polling on the topic
Video clips of the candidates discussing health reform are available online.

Additionally, the Foundation has updated two key resources on the uninsured to reflect health coverage data from 2007. You may view the most recent versions of Five Basic Facts on the Uninsured, and The Uninsured and Their Access to Care fact sheet.

The latest 2007 data on health coverage and demographics for all 50 states and the nation has also been updated on Kaiser’s statehealthfacts.org, and the Foundation’s Kaiser Commission on Medicaid, and the Uninsured’s interactive Medicaid and Children’s Health fact sheets.

For more in-depth analysis and coverage of health care and the 2008 elections, you may visit our health08.org web site. Stay tuned in the coming days for additional election-related resources from the Foundation.

Covering the Uninsured: Options for Reform

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, publication #7813, September 2008

From the summary:
Forty-five million people in the U.S., including nearly nine million children, lacked health insurance in 2007. Not having insurance affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities, and income levels and impacts their access to health care, their overall health, and their financial security. While no consensus on a solution has yet emerged, the 2008 presidential and congressional campaigns offer a forum for a vigorous debate on the issue.

Key Facts on the Uninsured

* In 2007, 45 million nonelderly people in the United States lacked health coverage
* More than eight in ten uninsured people (81%) come from working families
* About two-thirds of the nonelderly uninsured are from low-income families (income below 200% of poverty, about $42,400 for a family of 4 in 2007)
* More than one in three people (35%) living in poverty are uninsured, compared with one in twenty people (5%) with family incomes at or above four times the poverty level
* Adults age 19-54 make up the majority (71%) of the nonelderly uninsured, but nearly 9 million children lacked health coverage in 2007
* Since 2000 the number of nonelderly uninsured has grown by 8 million–with the only decline in the number of uninsured occurring in 2007, largely driven by an increase in public coverage
* Uninsured adults are five times as likely as the privately insured to lack a usual source of care (54% vs. 10%) and four times as likely to postpone care due to cost (26% vs. 6%)
* Fully half of the uninsured report paying for health care and health insurance is a serious problem

Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2008 Current Population Survey

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Issue Brief #321, September 2008

From the summary:
This Issue Brief provides historic data through 2007 on the number and percentage of nonelderly individuals with and without health insurance. Based on EBRI estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2008 Current Population Survey (CPS), it reflects 2007 data. It also discusses trends in coverage for the 1994-2007 period and highlights characteristics that typically indicate whether an individual is insured.

What Do the Recently-Released U.S. Poverty Numbers Tell Us?

Source: Rebecca M. Blank, Brookings Institution, Testimony to the Joint Economic Committee Hearing entitled “Leave No Family Behind: How Can We Reduce the Rising Number of American Families Living in Poverty?” September 25, 2008

From the summary:
The Census Bureau recently released the official numbers on income and poverty last year (2007) in the United States. Let me underscore a few of the key facts that these data illustrate.

First, poverty did not fall to any appreciable extent during the economic expansion of the 2000s. This is quite unusual. Figure 1 shows the poverty rate and the unemployment rate. In past decades, these two indicators have moved together. When unemployment fell in the 1980s expansion, so did poverty. Unemployment and poverty both fell rapidly in the strong expansion of the 1990s. But when unemployment fell after 2003, poverty remained essentially flat.

Second, the rise in poverty reflects the generally sluggish growth in income by all families in the bottom half of the income distribution. Figure 2 shows an index of household income growth at the 20th, 50th, 80th and 95th percentiles of the income distribution over the last 30 years. Income among the bottom 20 percent grew as fast (or as slowly) as among those at the median (the 50th percentile) throughout this period. While these lower-income families achieved significant income gains over the last 30 years, particularly over the 1990s, both families in the middle of the income distribution and those at the bottom have lower household incomes in 2007 than they had in 2000. While incomes at the top of the distribution incomes have not risen rapidly in the 2000s, they have risen over the past 10 years.

Public Pensions and Market Value of Liabilities

Source: Keith Brainard, National Association of State Retirement Administrators, White Paper,
July 21, 2008

This paper explores the use of market value of liabilities (MVL) in the context of public pension plans, including whether or not public pensions should be required to disclose this figure; the source of efforts to require this disclosure; and the effects this disclosure might have. The paper presents evidence that MVL is based on a corporate finance model that is poorly suited to the unique environment of public sector pensions.

12 Steps for Creating a Culture of Retention: A Workbook for Home and Community-Based Long-Term Care Providers

Source: PHI, August 2008

All long-term care agencies struggle to find and keep sufficient, reliable, and skilled staff capable of meeting client needs and providing great quality care. This workbook offers 12 concrete steps to guide agencies in developing excellent recruitment, selection and retention practices – the three key elements necessary to manage long-term care organizations successfully.

The 12 steps that frame this workbook are based on the principle of “quality care through quality jobs”: Direct-care workers must have quality jobs to provide the highest quality care for consumers.

Staff Stability Toolkit

Source: Quality Partners Rhode Island, Version 1.1, August 2008

Quality Partners Rhode Island has released a Staff Stability Toolkit that provides “how-to” tips and practical tools for nursing homes seeking to reverse turnover rates.

The premise of the guide is that staff stability is the key foundation to implementing other initiatives, quality improvements, or culture change.

The toolkit lays out an overall method and framework for increasing staff retention, discusses management practices that support stability, offers worksheets that allow facilities to gather and analyze data, and lays out options and advice on providing staff training. It also includes a case study that models the methods discussed in the toolkit.

Expanding State Education and Training By Partnering with the Unemployment Insurance System

Source: David Jason Fischer, National Employment Law Project, September 2008

NELP released a new report today which profiles several of the most innovative state education and training programs in the nation that are funded by payroll contributions. More than half the states in the U.S. now operate such programs, often in partnership with the unemployment insurance system.

By featuring a diverse range of the most successful programs (from California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Maine), the report provides helpful insights for those states looking to adopt new education and training initiatives or to improve upon existing programs. As described in the report, these programs go a long way to supplement (or in some cases exceed) state training funds provided by the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), thus providing the states with the resources and flexibility to expand state training priorities.

The State of Working Florida, 2008

Source: Bruce Nissen, Emily Eisenhauer, Marcos Feldman, Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, Florida International University, Labor Day, September 1, 2008

Already in 2007 workers began to feel the effects of a slowing economy. Job creation fell, unemployment rose, and wages remained flat. But the cost of living in Florida continued to rise, and job benefits remain weak, signaling trouble for Florida’s workers for the near future.

The annual Labor Day report The State of Working Florida released on Sunday by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University showed that the number of jobs in Florida grew by just 0.5% in 2007, down from a high of 4% growth in 2005. The construction industry showed the biggest drop, losing 54,000 jobs. Unemployment rose from 3.2% in 2006 to 4.1% in 2007, with Hispanics experiencing the biggest increase. The insecurity in the job market meant no upward pressure on wages, which saw no growth in Florida in 2007. Florida remains very weak in job benefits, ranking 47th in health care coverage and 50th for private sector pension/retirement plans.