Happiness is Flextime

Source: Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, Lonnie Golden, Applied Research in Quality of Life, Forthcoming, Posted: 11 May 2017

From the abstract:
We study how working schedule flexibility (flextime) affects happiness. We use a US General Social Survey (GSS) pooled dataset containing the Quality of Worklife and Work Orientations modules for 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. We retain only respondents who are either full-time or part-time employees on payrolls. For flextime to be associated with greater happiness, it has to be more than just sometimes flexible or slight input into one’s work schedule, that is, little flextime does not increase happiness. But substantial flextime has large effect on happiness–the size effect is about as large as that of household income, or about as large as one-step increase in self-reported health, such as up from good to excellent health. Our findings provide support for both public and organizational policies that would promote greater work schedule flexibility or control for employees.

Why big-data analysis of police activity is inherently biased

Source: William Isaac, Andi Dixon, The Conversation, May 9, 2017

….At its core, any predictive model or algorithm is a combination of data and a statistical process that seeks to identify patterns in the numbers. This can include looking at police data in hopes of learning about crime trends or recidivism. But a useful outcome depends not only on good mathematical analysis: It also needs good data. That’s where predictive policing often falls short.

Machine-learning algorithms learn to make predictions by analyzing patterns in an initial training data set and then look for similar patterns in new data as they come in. If they learn the wrong signals from the data, the subsequent analysis will be lacking…..

Related:
Policing
Source: Human Rights Data Analysis Group, 2017

The growing debate about policing in America arises from concern about horrific but extraordinary acts of police violence. These incidents and the clear racial disparities in criminal justice contact raise important questions about the ordinary practice of policing. Should police stop suspicious individuals and frisk them for weapons? Should departments use statistical techniques to predict crime and make decisions about where to deploy officers? Evaluating police practices requires measuring their benefits and their costs. Do police practices reduce crime? How do they affect communities? How do those effects vary within and among communities? However, community groups and municipal leaders outside law enforcement currently lack data and tools to measure the impact of policing strategies. Community stakeholders – including city governments, community groups, and non-governmental organizations – need rigorous tools to independently evaluate the costs and benefits of various policing strategies.

To assess the benefits and costs of policing, we need to know how police actions affect patterns of crime. Both components – police actions and crime – are hard to measure. Most crime is secret and police practices influence variation in recording of crimes. When departments hire more officers, or when they deploy more officers to certain neighborhoods, recorded crime may increase even if actual crime does not change. Additionally, police knowledge about crime is the result of reporting by civilians who trust the police. Many victims are reluctant to report crime to police because they think the police will be unable to help them, because they worry that police may suspect them of being criminals themselves, or because they fear retaliation from perpetrators or neighbors.

Our team specializes in collecting and analyzing data on events that are hard to measure. In the last year, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group has begun studying issues in U.S. police practice, focusing on three topics: homicides by police, predictive policing, cost-benefit analysis of policing. We have already created multiple new analyses of available data on crime and policing, assessing the accuracy of the number of killings by police and the effects of Predictive Policing. We propose to build on our work to create a scalable, sustainable, community-driven, technically rigorous assessment of the costs and benefits of various policing strategies….

Lifetime Disadvantage, Discrimination and the Gendered Workforce (Chapter One)

Source: Susan Bisom-Rapp & Malcolm Sargeant, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 2958253, posted May 3, 2017

Cambridge University Press, 2016

From the abstract:
Lifetime Disadvantage, Discrimination and the Gendered Workforce fills a gap in the literature on discrimination and disadvantage suffered by women at work by focusing on the inadequacies of the current law and the need for a new holistic approach. Each stage of the working life cycle for women is examined with a critical consideration of how the law attempts to address the problems that inhibit women’s labor force participation. By using their model of lifetime disadvantage, the authors show how the law adopts an incremental and disjointed approach to resolving the challenges, and argue that a more holistic orientation towards eliminating women’s discrimination and disadvantage is required before true gender equality can be achieved. Using the concept of resilience from vulnerability theory, the authors advocate a reconfigured workplace that acknowledges yet transcends gender.

How States Are Improving Tax Incentives for Jobs and Growth: A national assessment of evaluation practices

Source: Josh Goodman and Jeff Chapman, Pew Charitable Trusts, May 2017

From the overview:
Tax incentives—including credits, exemptions, and deductions—are one of the primary tools that states use to try to create jobs, attract new businesses, and strengthen their economies. Incentives are also major budget commitments, collectively costing states billions of dollars a year. Given this importance, policymakers across the country increasingly are demanding high-quality information on the results of tax incentives.

In the last five years, 27 states and the District of Columbia have made progress in gathering evidence on the results of their economic development tax incentives. Ten of these states are leaders in tax incentive evaluation. They have well-designed plans for regular reviews, experience in producing quality evaluations, and a process for informing policy choices. No state met these three criteria five years ago.

State Tax Incentive Evaluation Ratings
Source: Josh Goodman and Jeff Chapman, Pew Charitable Trusts, May 3, 2017

Tax incentives—including credits, exemptions, and deductions—are one of the primary tools that states use to try to create jobs, attract new businesses, and strengthen their economies. Incentives are also major budget commitments, collectively costing states billions of dollars a year. Given this importance, policymakers across the country increasingly are demanding high-quality information on the results of tax incentives.

Staff members of The Pew Charitable Trusts have assessed each state on the extent to which it has taken three steps to successfully evaluate tax incentives: making a plan, measuring the impact, and informing policy choices. These criteria were selected because they lead to regular, high-quality analyses that lawmakers use to improve the results of the state’s economic development efforts.
These ratings, originally published in May 2017, will be updated as state practices change.

The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State

Source: Jessica Milli, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), Fact Sheet, #C457 May 11, 2017

From the summary:
Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower lifetime pay for women, less income for families, and higher rates of poverty across the United States. In each state in the country, women experience lower earnings and higher poverty rates than men. The economic impact of this persistent pay inequality is far-reaching: if women in the United States received equal pay with comparable men, poverty for working women would be reduced by half and the U.S. economy would have added $512.6 billion in wage and salary income (equivalent to 2.8 percent of 2016 GDP) to its economy. This fact sheet presents state-level data on the impact equal pay would have on poverty and each state’s economy as well as the families living in them.

What France and the UK can teach Trump about reviving America’s middle class

Source: Steven Pressman, The Conversation, May 11, 2017

America’s middle class is in deep trouble.

Signs of its decline are everywhere, from stagnant incomes and falling wealth to soaring household debt and the rise of populist politicians promising a return to the “glory days.”

While there is near universal agreement that a thriving middle class is essential to long-term economic prosperity, we’re deeply divided about what builds it. Conservatives, such as those in the White House and in control of Congress, contend that lower taxes are a key ingredient. Liberals argue it comes down to government policies that give low earners a leg up and support those already in the middle.
My own research on trends in the U.S. and eight other developed countries looks at what conditions create more middle-income households. If President Donald Trump really wants to help the working class voters who elected him, he should look to what other developed nations have been doing to sustain a large middle class.

His current proposals, I believe, will simply accelerate its erosion in the United States….

Related:
The fall of the USmiddle class and the hair-raising ascent of Donald Trump
Source: Steven Pressman, Real-World Economics Review, issue no. 78, 2017

According to Thomas Piketty (2014), between 1980 and 2010 the share of total US income going to the top 10% of earners rose from around 30 – 35%, where it stood for several decades, to nearly 50%. These are very conservative estimates. Piketty’s figures come from the distribution of adjusted gross income (AGI), reported by the US Internal Revenue Service. AGI subtracts from income things like investment losses, retirement account contributions and their returns (see Pressman 2015, Chapter 2). With large adjustments, someone can make a lot of money but have little AGI; or, as in the case of Donald Trump, you can report a negative AGI of nearly $1 billion. In addition, tax – free income (such as unrealized capital gains and interest on municipal bonds), as well as returns on money hidden in tax havens, are not reported to the IRS and do not appear in AGI. Like the adjustments helping Trump avoid taxes, this income mainly goes to the wealthy and has been growing for several decades (Zucman, 2015).

Poverty, Politics and Profit

Source: Frontline and NPR, 2017

An investigation into the billions spent on housing low-income people, and why so few get the help they need. The film examines the politics, profits and problems of an affordable housing system in crisis.

Related:
Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Fewer
Source: Laura Sullivan, Meg Anderson, NPR, May 9, 2017

…..Thirty years ago, Eldridge was the type of person Congress sought to help when it created the low-income housing tax credit program, which is now the government’s primary program to build housing for the poor. But the tax-credit building that’s only a little more than 2 miles from Eldridge’s house, where she might pay as little as $200 or $300 in rent based on her income, has a waiting list up to four years long. In Dallas and nationwide, many of these buildings don’t have any vacancies. In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it’s costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits. In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies…..

In America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, More Demand but Less Supply
Source: Patrice Taddonio, Frontline, May 9, 2017

More and more Americans are struggling to make rent. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people across the country are evicted. Today, in a joint investigation called Poverty, Politics and Profit, FRONTLINE and NPR join forces to examine the crisis in affordable housing, exploring why so few people are getting the help they need, and whether government programs designed to aid low-income Americans with rent are working as they should. One of those programs, called the low-income housing tax credit, relies on partnerships between the federal government and the private sector. The IRS gives billions in tax credits to the states, who then award the credits to developers. The developers sell them for cash to investors, mostly banks, and then use that money to help build apartment buildings. And because taxpayer money pays for most of it, they can charge the lower rents required…..

Voter Suppression Analysis

Source: Priorities USA, Civis Analytics, May 3, 2017

From the Dēmos summary:
….This analysis covers the effects of voter identification laws on voter participation during the 2016 election. Specifically, we find that changing to both “strict” and “non-strict” voter-id laws has a significant negative effect on total voter turnout and that these effects are most severe in African American areas of the country.

As a result, we can say with confidence that adding strict identification requirements had significant negative effects on voter participation during the 2016 election. ….

Related:
In Wisconsin, ID law proved insurmountable for many voters
Source: Christina A. Cassidy and Ivan Moreno, Associated Press, May 9, 2017

….By one estimate, 300,000 eligible voters in the state lacked valid photo IDs heading into the election; it is unknown how many people did not vote because they didn’t have proper identification. …

CMS Validated Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program Data, But Should Use Additional Tools to Identify Gaming

Source: Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, OEI-01-15-00320, April 2017

For payment year 2016, CMS met its regulatory requirement by validating sufficient IQR data, which are used to adjust payments on the basis of quality. Almost 99 percent of hospitals that CMS reviewed passed validation, and CMS took action against the six that failed, including reducing their Medicare payments. In addition, CMS and CDC offer training to hospitals to help improve the accuracy of the quality data that hospitals report. However, CMS’s approach to selecting hospitals for validation for payment year 2016 made it less likely to identify gaming of quality reporting (i.e., hospitals’ manipulating data to improve their scores). CMS did not include any hospitals in its targeted sample on the basis of their having aberrant data patterns. Targeting hospitals with aberrant patterns for further review could help identify inaccurate reporting and protect the integrity of programs that make quality-based payment adjustments.
Related:
Medicare Didn’t Investigate Suspicious Reports Of Hospital Infections
Source: Christina Jewett, NPR, May 9, 2017