To tally seniors in poverty, go beyond income

Source: Jason Maderer, Futurity, January 12, 2018

More older Americans live in deprivation than official US statistics suggest, according to research in a new book.

In her research, Shatakshee Dhongde, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, found that 12.27 percent of senior citizens were deprived in two or more crucial areas, including multiple disabilities, low income, a lack of education, and severe housing burden.

Dhongde says the research illustrates a shortcoming in the official measure of poverty in the United States, which focuses solely on income.

The federal government reported that 9.5 percent of older Americans were living in poverty in 2013. That’s below the 12.3 percent rate found in Dhondge’s new multidimensional poverty index. ….

Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America – Pricing Review Shows They Provide Least-Expensive Local “Broadband”

Source: David Talbot, Kira Hessekiel, and Danielle Kehl, Responsive Communities, January 2018

From the abstract:
By one recent estimate, about 9.2 percent of Americans, or almost 30 million people, lack access to wired home broadband service, which the FCC defines as an Internet access connection providing speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Even where home broadband is available, high prices inhibit adoption; in one national survey, 33 percent of non-subscribers cited cost of service as the primary barrier. Municipally and other community-owned networks have been proposed as a driver of competition and resulting better service and prices.

We examined prices advertised by a subset of community-owned networks that use fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology. In late 2015 and 2016 we collected advertised prices for residential data plans offered by 40 community-owned (typically municipally-owned) FTTH networks. We then identified the least-expensive service that meets the federal definition of broadband (regardless of the exact speeds provided) and compared advertised prices to those of private competitors in the same markets. We were able to make comparisons in 27 communities and found that in 23 cases, the community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing was lower when the service costs and fees were averaged over four years. (Using a three year-average changed this fraction to 22 out of 27.) In the other 13 communities, comparisons were not possible, either because the private providers’ website terms of service deterred or prohibited data collection or because no competitor offered service that qualified as broadband. We also found that almost all community-owned FTTH networks offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months.

We made the incidental finding that Comcast advertised different prices and terms for the same service in different regions. We do not have enough information to draw conclusions about the impacts of these practices. In general, our ability to study broadband pricing was constrained by the lack of standardization in internet service offerings and a shortage of available data.

Related:
City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing
Source: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, January 15, 2018

Data shows why customers want muni broadband—and why telecom industry fears it. …. In cases where the researchers were able to compare municipal prices to private ISP prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices. This may help explain why the broadband industry has repeatedly fought against the expansion of municipal broadband networks. This fight includes pushing legislators to draft anti-municipal broadband state laws, lobbying against local ballot initiatives, and filing lawsuits against cities that build their own networks. ….

Progress toward Pay Equity in State Governments?

Source: Gregory B. Lewis, Jonathan Boyd and Rahul Pathak, Public Administration review, Early View, December 28, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Are state governments fulfilling their responsibilities to be model employers of women and minorities? Using U.S. Census Bureau data on individual employees from 1980 to 2015, this article looks at how much progress state governments have made toward eliminating racial and gender pay differences. It examines whether differences in education, age/experience, citizenship, English ability, hours worked, and occupation explain the pay differences. Patterns and explanations vary substantially by group, but state governments are doing a better job than private firms of closing pay gaps on almost every measure.

Not Seeing Eye to Eye on Frontline Work: Manager-Employee Disagreement and Its Effects on Employees

Source: John D. Marvel, Public Administration Review, Volume 77, Issue 6, November/December 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The author uses nationally representative data on matched pairs of public school principals and teachers to test whether principal–teacher disagreement about the severity of school problems is associated with teacher turnover. More specifically, the author tests a managerial efficacy hypothesis that proposes that employees will be less likely to leave their jobs when their managers perceive problems to be severe, holding employees’ perceptions of the same problems constant. The author also tests a managerial buffering hypothesis that proposes that employees’ perceptions of problem severity will be more weakly related to their turnover probability when managers perceive problems to be severe. Little evidence is found for either hypothesis, raising questions about public school principals’ ability to translate problem recognition into problem remediation. More generally, the findings suggest a reexamination of the generic claim that “management matters,” which implies that public managers have the power to do things that can help employees perform their jobs well.

Commentary: Asking the Right Question on Performance Pay—and Getting a Surprising Answer

Source: Kate Walsh, Public Administration Review, Volume 77, Issue 6, November/December 2017
(subscription required)

The idea of paying effective teachers more than less effective teachers has been hotly debated for more than two decades, ever since it became possible to estimate an individual teacher’s effect on student learning. A new study by Michael Jones and Michael T. Hartney, “Show Who the Money? Teacher Sorting Patterns and Performance Pay across U.S. School Districts,” tackles a promising benefit of performance pay long asserted by proponents but largely unexamined by researchers: whether performance pay improves district recruitment efforts.

Most research on performance pay has focused on its purported benefit as a motivator, hypothesizing that higher pay motivates teachers to work harder and become more effective—a notion that troubles me because it suggests that many teachers are not already working as hard as they can. The recruitment question pursued by Jones and Hartney seems more to the point, as is the use of performance pay as a strategic retention tool. Higher pay targeted to great teachers should encourage them to stay in the classroom while nudging less effective teachers who do not qualify for higher pay to consider other careers.

Related:
Show Who the Money? Teacher Sorting Patterns and Performance Pay across U.S. School Districts
Source: Michael Jones and Michael T. Hartney, Public Administration Review, Volume 77, Issue 6, November/December 2017
(subscription required)

King County’s Journey in Institutionalizing Equity and Social Justice

Source: Matías Valenzuela, Public Administration Review, Volume 77, Issue 6, November/December 2017
(subscription required)

….What happens when local government decides that a top priority is addressing issues of racial justice, equity, and opportunity—especially when progress is stalled at the national level? The story of King County, Washington, offers one illustration.

King County provides local and regional services to more than two million people across 39 cities and unincorporated areas in transportation, criminal justice, public health and human services, natural resources, and more.

Building on Isett, Head, and VanLandingham’s (2016) work on how evidence can better inform public administration, this article considers evidence in several important ways. King County’s approach to equity and social justice has been driven by both data and values. Almost a decade of experience within King County—as well as other jurisdictions around the country with equity initiatives1—has made addressing equity and racial justice increasingly a discipline based on evidence and promising practices.

In addition, this article lays out the evidence for why governments should focus on equity and social justice. King County’s theory of change—backed by the evidence of working “upstream” and addressing root causes—provides a how that is more effective than many traditional government approaches and interventions that focus “downstream” at the individual level…..

Blue-state Republicans could become almost as rare as white southern Democrats

Source: The Economist, January 4, 2018

If that were to happen, Congress would become even more polarised than it already is. ….

…. She [Barbara Comstock] is one of 23 Republicans representing districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats think they can flip them all, and more: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has 91 districts in its sights, the lion’s share of them in states that Mrs Clinton won or barely lost. They are, of course, unlikely to win them all. But an upset election, as this year’s midterms in November could easily be, will break first and hardest in those states—which would leave the Republican congressional caucus smaller and more strident, and risks making Congress even more dysfunctional….

U.S. Regional Outlook 2018: Full Employment Brings New Challenges

Source: Adam Kamins, Regional Financial Review, December 2017
(subscription required)

As the expansion matures and labor supply becomes a greater burden, wage pressures will grow more pronounced across regions. This will provide an additional jolt to consumers, who are already doing much of the heavy lifting this cycle. As in recent years, the West and the South will set the pace in the coming year, with income gains accelerating most rapidly in those areas.