Kids struggle to safely cross busy streets

Source: Richard Lewis, Futurity, April 24, 2017

Children under a certain age don’t have the perceptual judgment and motor skills to cross a busy road consistently without putting themselves in danger, report researchers.

For the new study, children 6 to 14 years old participated in a realistic simulated environment and had to cross one lane of a busy road multiple times.

Children up to their early teenage years had difficulty consistently crossing the street safely, with accident rates as high as 8 percent with 6-year-olds. Only children who were 14 were able to navigate street crossing without incident. Children who were 12 mostly compensated for inferior road-crossing motor skills by choosing bigger gaps between cars…..
Related:
Changes in Perception–Action Tuning Over Long Time Scales: How Children and Adults Perceive and Act on Dynamic Affordances When Crossing Roads
Source: Elizabeth E. O’Neal, Yuanyuan Jiang, Lucas J. Franzen, Pooya Rahimian, Junghum Paul Yon, Joseph K. Kearney, Jodie M. Plumert, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, April 20, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This investigation examined developmental change in how children perceive and act on dynamic affordances when crossing roads on foot. Six- to 14-year-olds and adults crossed roads with continuous cross-traffic in a large-screen, immersive pedestrian simulator. We observed change both in children’s gap choices and in their ability to precisely synchronize their movement with the opening of a gap. Younger children were less discriminating than older children and adults, choosing fewer large gaps and more small gaps. Interestingly, 12-year-olds’ gap choices were significantly more conservative than those of 6-, 8-, 10-, and 14-year-olds, and adults. Timing of entry behind the lead vehicle in the gap (a key measure of movement coordination) improved steadily with development, reaching adultlike levels by age 14. Coupled with their poorer timing of entry, 6-, 8-, and 10-year-olds’ gap choices resulted in significantly less time to spare and more collisions than 14-year-olds and adults. Time to spare did not differ between 12-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and adults, indicating that 12-year-olds’ more conservative gap choices compensated for their poorer timing of entry. The findings show that children’s ability to perceive and act on dynamic affordances undergoes a prolonged period of development, and that older children appear to compensate for their poorer movement timing skills by adjusting their gap decisions to match their crossing actions. Implications for the development of perception–action tuning and road-crossing skills are discussed.

Frequency and Risk of Occupational Health and Safety Hazards for Home Healthcare Workers

Source: Rassull Suarez, Noma Agbonifo, Beverly Hittle, Kermit Davis, Andrew Freeman, Home Health Care Management & Practice, First Published April 17, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Given the increased prevalence of chronic disease and health care costs, more individuals are treated in the home, which has augmented the demand for more Home Healthcare Workers (HHCWs) in the field. HHCWs face multiple hazards with injury rates being more than double the national average; however, current studies on HHCWs have provided limited understanding of their occupational safety & health experiences and exposures. The aim of this study was to assess the frequency and risk of exposures through perceptions of HHCWs. The results of this study provide an initial picture of the different risks that HHCWs face daily. These findings show that studies involving HHCWs occupational safety need to be job-specific, and the proposed interventions will also likely need to be tailored by HHCWs type.

Modeling Fiscal Stress and Contracting Out in Local Government: The Influence of Time, Financial Condition, and the Great Recession

Source: Antonio M. López-Hernández, José L. Zafra-Gómez, Ana M. Plata-Díaz, Emilio J. de la Higuera-Molina, The American Review of Public Administration, First Published April 19, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Various studies have analyzed the relationship between fiscal stress and contracting out, but have failed to achieve conclusive results. In this article, we take a broad view of fiscal stress, addressed in terms of financial condition and studied over a lengthy period (2000-2010). The relationship between fiscal stress and contracting out is studied using a dynamic model, based on survival analysis, a methodology that enables us to take into account the effect of time on this relationship. As this study period includes the years of the Great Recession (2008-2010), we also highlight the impact of this event on the fiscal stress–contracting out relation. The results obtained suggest that taking into account the passage of time and conducting a long-term assessment of financial condition enable a more precise understanding of this relation. We also find that the Great Recession reduced the probability of local governments’ contracting out public services.

Information Technology and the U.S. Workforce: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?

Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017

From the summary:
Recent years have yielded significant advances in computing and communication technologies, with profound impacts on society. Technology is transforming the way we work, play, and interact with others. From these technological capabilities, new industries, organizational forms, and business models are emerging.
Technological advances can create enormous economic and other benefits, but can also lead to significant changes for workers. IT and automation can change the way work is conducted, by augmenting or replacing workers in specific tasks. This can shift the demand for some types of human labor, eliminating some jobs and creating new ones. Information Technology and the U.S. Workforce explores the interactions between technological, economic, and societal trends and identifies possible near-term developments for work. This report emphasizes the need to understand and track these trends and develop strategies to inform, prepare for, and respond to changes in the labor market. It offers evaluations of what is known, notes open questions to be addressed, and identifies promising research pathways moving forward.

‘Public goods’ made America great and can do so again

Source: Marina v. N. Whitman, The Conversation, April 18, 2017

All Americans are lucky to live in a country brimming with public resources that everyone can share.

Many are provided by government and funded with our tax dollars, such as the highways that crisscross the country, the 84 million acres of national parks and the roughly 100,000 public schools that give all children access to education.

Others come from nature, like mountains, lakes and rivers, which also depend on a reliable government and meaningful regulations to preserve and protect them.

While the collective value of these “public goods” is probably incalculable, the economic impact of schools, clean air and vast highways has been significant. In fact, I would argue that public goods are what have made America great.

Unfortunately, our stock of public goods has been declining for half a century, particularly those that require the government’s purse strings. President Trump’s proposed budget would make things even worse by cutting, among many other things, funding for national parks, the cleanup of the Great Lakes and efforts to minimize climate change. ….

The New Negative Rights: Abortion Funding and Constitutional Law after Whole Woman’s Health

Source: Mary Ziegler, Florida State University – College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 832, March 9, 2017

From the abstract:
The Hyde Amendment, a ban on the Medicaid funding of abortion, is once again at the center of the abortion wars. For the most part, critics of the Hyde Amendment argue that it authorizes discrimination against poor women. Using original archival research, this Article show that the amendment has had a far greater impact.

In popular debate, proponents of the Hyde Amendment helped to forge an idea of complicity-based conscience that has recently transformed fights about everything from same-sex marriage to contraceptive access. Constitutionally, the fight for the Hyde Amendment also revolutionized the rights-privilege distinction in constitutional law. In abortion-funding cases, the Court held that there was no constitutional problem with laws that created practical obstacles to abortion access so long as the obstacles themselves were not controlled or created by the state. This approach has resonated outside the context of abortion law.

The Court’s recent decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt makes a challenge to the Hyde Amendment realistic and compelling. The cases upholding the Hyde Amendment regard as constitutional any burden on a woman’s right to choose that is neither created nor controlled by the government. Whole Woman’s Health explicitly rejected this approach, looking instead at how the formal terms of law interact with forces beyond the government’s control. For this reason, the Article shows that Whole Woman’s Health undermines the core premises of the Hyde Amendment and creates an opening for those seeking to revisit the distinction between negative and positive rights.

SHEF — State Higher Education Finance FY16

Source: Sophia Laderman, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), April 2017

From the press release:
State and local governments provided nearly $90 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 to support higher education—a slight decrease in real terms from the FY 2015 level, marking the first decline in overall state and local support for higher education in four years. However, the level of $6,954 per student (down from $7,082 per student in 2015) was caused by an 80% reduction in support in Illinois, which was able to enact only a small “stopgap” budget for 2016. Overall, 33 states increased their support per student and 17 (including Illinois) plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico reduced support. (Forty states had increased support per student in 2015.) Average state and local government support per student remains 17% below FY 2008 levels and is lower in 45 states than it was before the Great Recession.

Tuition income showed its lowest increase in many years, growing by 2.1% in 2016. Despite that, the share of total educational expenditures supported by tuition rose to 47.8%, near its all-time high, due to a decline in community college enrollment and an increase in enrollment in four-year institutions, whose tuition usually is higher than that charged by two-year colleges….

Use the Data:
Interactive SHEF data – Tableau (includes state breakdown for case studies)
Unadjusted Nominal Data Set (XLS)
State-by-State Wave Charts (XLS)
Link to FY 2017 Grapevine Survey

Additional Information:
Glossary of Terms
List of Data Providers
Data Descriptions

Technical Papers:
Technical Paper A – HECA
Technical Paper B – EMI and COLI
Technical Paper C – Diverse Perspectives
Technical Paper D – Measures, Methods, and Analytical Tools

Target Date Funds: What’s Under the Hood?

Source: Edwin J. Elton, Martin J. Gruber, Andre de Souza and Christopher R. Blake, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, IB#17-2, January 2017

The brief’s key findings are:
• While nearly 60 percent of new 401(k) participants have savings in target date funds (TDFs), little research has looked under the hood of this investment vehicle.
• This analysis uses a unique dataset with extensive information on the underlying mutual funds that TDFs hold.
• The results show that TDFs:
• often invest in specialized assets (e.g., emerging markets and real estate);
• charge fees that are only modestly higher than if an individual investor assembled a similar portfolio on his own; and
• earn returns that are broadly in line with other mutual funds.
Related:
Download Data

USAFacts

Source: USAFacts, 2017

USAFacts is a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.

We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse – that’s for you to decide. We hope to spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the purpose and functions of government. Such debate is vital to our democracy. We hope that USAFacts will make a modest contribution toward building consensus and finding solutions.

There’s more to USAFacts than this website. We also offer an annual report, a summary report, and a “10-K” modeled on the document public companies submit annually to the SEC for transparency and accountability to their investors.

State and Local Government Spending on Public Employee Retirement Systems

Source: National Association of State Retirement Administrators, NASRA Issue Brief, Updated April 2017

State and local government pension benefits are paid not from general operating revenues, but from trust funds to which public retirees and their employers contributed while they were working. On a nationwide basis, pension contributions made by state and local governments account for roughly 4.5 percent of direct general spending. Current pension spending levels, however, vary widely and are sufficient for some entities and insufficient for others.

In the wake of the 2008-09 market decline, nearly every state and many cities have taken steps to improve the financial condition of their retirement plans and to reduce costs. States and cities changed their pension plans by adjusting employee and employer contribution levels, restructuring benefits, or both. Generally, adjustments to pension plans have been found to be proportionate to the plan’s funding condition and the degree of change needed.