On behalf of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the Urban Institute conducts a continuous survey to measure the driving behavior of the American public. The American Driving Survey is a national survey of persons 16 and over who drive of light vehicles (autos, SUVs, trucks) and reside in households with landline telephone service and/or cellular telephones. The survey commenced in May 2013 and is ongoing. The results of the first year’s data collection are presented in this report.

April 17, 2015
Research Report
 

This author presents a brief analysis of the April 20, 2015 announcement by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to recalibrate government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) pricing. After describing the modest changes, the author concludes that with these moves and their contemporaneously announced changes to the eligibility requirements for mortgage insurers, the FHFA has managed to both better price their risk and pave the way for a more stable mortgage insurance industry, all without significantly impacting either the GSEs’ bottom line or the cost to the consumer.

April 17, 2015
Brief
 

Graduating from high school is vital to young people’s life chances. Much of the current policy conversation around helping youth stay the course focuses on disconnected youth who are not in school or employed, but there is another group: youth who drop out and work. This brief uses data from the American Community Survey on 16- to 18-year-old youth to describe trends in early employment. The analyses show that young workers contribute substantially to their households, raising important questions about the economic role of youth and future approaches to dropout prevention.

Read a blog post and watch a video on this issue.

April 15, 2015
Brief
 

Washington, DC, has gained much from its unique position as the capital of the United States, but it has not fully harnessed its opportunities for equitable and resilient economic growth. To build a vibrant economy, the new mayor must encourage development that supports both new and established businesses, encourages entrepreneurship, and includes all of the District’s neighborhoods and residents.

April 13, 2015
Brief
 

As Mayor Bowser settles into her office, she leads a city that is growing more prosperous. Yet too many DC residents are not sharing in that prosperity. Since the last recession began in 2007, median income in DC has grown by three times the national average, reaching nearly $61,000 in 2013. Yet DC’s unemployment rate persistently remains about 1 percentage point higher than in the nation as a whole. Removing barriers to mobility and creating meaningful opportunities for all DC residents to prosper require various strategies. DC’s new mayor should adopt strategies and policies that can help city residents who struggle the most with becoming and staying connected to the labor market.

April 13, 2015
Brief
 

In the United States as in other countries, the higher one’s income, the better one’s health. Researchers are trying to disentangle the complex causal pathways that connect income, health, education, and family and community conditions across an individual’s life course and even from one generation to the next, but there is no question that income matters greatly to health. Just as there are many pathways linking income and health, there are many policies and programs that influence and shape these pathways. In this brief we focus on the emerging evidence and prospects for income-related policies to improve population health.

April 13, 2015
Research Report
 

The greater one’s income, the lower one’s likelihood of disease and premature death. Americans at all income levels are less healthy than those with higher incomes. Not only is income associated with better health, but wealth affects health as well. Though it is easy to imagine how health is tied to income for the very poor or the very rich, the relationship between income and health is a gradient: discrepancies exist at every level of the economic ladder. Middle-class Americans are healthier than those living in or near poverty, but they are less healthy than the upper class.

April 13, 2015
Research Report
 

Public safety in the District of Columbia has improved significantly over the past 10 years. The new mayoral administration should build on the progress of the past decade with a holistic approach to public safety that incorporates social service delivery into existing law enforcement responses and emphasizes prevention over reaction.

April 13, 2015
Brief
 

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial assistance to low-income working families with children. The credit encourages work for many, though may reduce work or wages for some. Counted in the poverty measure, the EITC would have been credited with lifting 6.5 million people out of poverty in 2012. The credit fails to provide substantial benefits to workers without children, is complicated, has a high erroneous payment rate, and creates substantial marriage penalties for some low- and moderate-income couples. Extending the credit to workers without children or replacing it with an individual worker credit could solve some or all of these criticisms.

April 9, 2015
Journal Article
 

Moving Beyond a Culture of Compliance to a Culture of Continuous Improvement is a resource guide to help leadership, management, supervisory, and data-focused staff in Head Start/Early Head Start programs (1) understand how data, including data they already collect, can help them achieve their program goals; (2) learn techniques for fostering a culture of learning in their organization; and (3) increase their ability to identify and address gaps and continuously improve their programs. This guide draws from Data Use for Continuous Quality Improvement: What the Head Start Field Can Learn from Other Disciplines. A Literature Review and Conceptual Framework

April 9, 2015
Research Report
 

Housing authorities are in a unique position to support educators, low-income students, and their caregivers outside the school day. This study describes the partnership between the housing authority and school district in Vancouver, Washington. The core elements of Vancouver Housing Authority’s partnership with Vancouver Public Schools are: the pilot Stable Housing Voucher Program, a data-sharing agreement, and the shared hiring of an AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) member. In addition, VHA operates several of its own education-related initiatives as part of the Skyline Campus of Learners at the Skyline Crest housing development.

April 9, 2015
Research Report
 

Housing authorities are in a unique position to support educators, low-income students, and their caregivers outside the school day. This study describes the partnership between the housing authority and school district in New Haven, Connecticut. The initiative, HANH Believes, provides case management and other educational supports to children and youth who attend New Haven Public Schools, early childhood programs, magnet and charter schools, and GED programs.

April 9, 2015
Research Report
 

Housing authorities are in a unique position to support educators, low-income students, and their caregivers outside the school day. This study describes the partnership between the housing authority and school district in Akron, Ohio. Akron’s housing and education partnership has been developing along two tracks: the Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) is a set of programs and supports offered to young children living in AMHA developments and their families; and the Reach Opportunity Center at Summit Lake is a community-based education resource center that is owned and operated by AMHA and APS.

April 9, 2015
Research Report
 

Assisted-housing providers are in a unique position to support educators, low-income students, and their caregivers outside the school day. By partnering with schools and school districts, housing providers can help address challenges outside school that can become barriers to learning—such as housing instability, truancy, and health problems. Their roles as developers and landlords create opportunities to connect housing and education. This report summarizes key elements that shape and strengthen the partnerships in three diverse settings: Akron, Ohio, New Haven, Connecticut, and Vancouver Washington.

April 9, 2015
Research Report
 

This brief examines the GSEs’ historical and current role in financing multifamily housing and finds that their post-crisis role has declined to more normalized levels. It also finds that even as the GSEs have continued to meet or exceed their multifamily housing goals in recent years, financing for certain underserved segments of the market has fallen steeply. Given these declines, policymakers and regulators should consider maintaining or increasing the GSEs’ footprint in the multifamily market, especially in underserved segments. Though the recent tools employed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to slow the declines in GSE volume have been somewhat effective, they alone likely won’t prevent the GSEs’ role from shrinking further.

April 8, 2015
Research Report
 

Despite considerable attention to the recent slowdown in health spending growth, there has been little focus on how this slowdown has changed future spending projections.This paper examines the national health spending projections from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and explores how those projections have changed over time. Current projections suggest that national health expenditures will be $2.5 trillion less over the 2014-2019 period than under the original Affordable Care Act (ACA) forecast from September 2010. We describe some of the factors that have contributed to the declining projections and consider the extent to which the ACA has played a role.

April 8, 2015
Research Report
 

Mentally ill offenders possess a unique set of circumstances and needs. However, all too often, they cycle through the criminal justice system without appropriate care to address their mental health. Their recurring involvement in the criminal justice system is a pressing concern. This report provides a national landscape on the processing and treatment of mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system. It also highlights challenges involved in the reintegration of mentally ill offenders into society, the diversity of policies and protocols in state statutes to address such challenges, and promising criminal justice interventions for mentally ill offenders.

April 7, 2015
Research Report
 

Recent public pension reforms have focused on cutting benefits and raising required employee contributions to close plan funding gaps. This approach usually makes government employment less attractive to younger employees who expect to spend less than a full career in public service. Alternative approaches could distribute benefits more equally across the workforce and appeal to both younger, shorter-term employees and older, longer-term employees. This brief identifies five such options, including revising the plan benefit formula, offering alternative plan designs, and extending Social Security coverage to all state and local government employees.

April 6, 2015
Brief
 

Financial problems have led to significant pension cuts for Illinois public school teachers. An alternative approach would be to replace the existing traditional defined benefit plan with a cash balance plan, which combines features of 401(k)-type plans and traditional pensions. Our simulations show that 72 percent of Illinois public school teachers hired before 2011—and 56 percent of those with five or more years of completed service—would fare better in the simulated cash balance plan than the existing plan, even though the cash balance plan would be no more costly to taxpayers.

April 6, 2015
Brief
 

Efforts to reform the retirement plans provided to state and local government employees are gaining momentum across the country. Yet, the debate has focused almost exclusively on the financial problems of public pension plans, drowning out a broader discussion of how well these plans serve government employees, employers, and taxpayers. This report identifies promising reform options that could more fairly distribute retirement benefits across the public-sector workforce and help governments recruit and retain productive employees. Options include revising the plan benefit formula, offering alternative plan designs, and extending Social Security coverage to all state and local government employees.

April 6, 2015
Research Report
 

California teacher pensions vary widely depending on when teachers begin their careers and how long they teach. Teachers who spend their entire careers in the plan receive large pensions. However, teachers who join the plan at relatively young ages and spend less than full careers in the classroom accumulate few retirement benefits, and those benefits are often worth less than the value of the teachers’ required plan contributions. As policymakers address the California teacher pension plan’s funding problems, they should consider altering the plan’s benefit formula to more equitably distribute pension benefits across the workforce.

April 6, 2015
Brief
 

Tight credit standards curbed mortgage lending activity from 2009 to 2013. Based on our estimates, if the cautious standards of 2001 had been in place rather than the more severe standards that were in place over these five years, lenders would have made more than 4 million additional loans. The number of potential loans that were not made—which we call “missing loans”—grew from 0.50 million in 2009 to 1.25 million in 2013. African American and Hispanic families have been particularly affected by this tight credit environment.

April 2, 2015
Research Report
 

This brief and set of detailed tables, released by The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, provides estimates of the number and rate of uninsurance in Massachusetts by various geographic units ranging from congressional districts to counties to neighborhoods. The resource is based on the 2009 to 2013 five-year file of the American Community Survey (ACS). This information, also broken down by age and gender, can serve as a resource to help target outreach and enrollment efforts aimed at the remaining uninsured in the state.

Read the full publication here

April 2, 2015
Research Report