Economic Development

Reversal of Fortunes: Low Income Neighborhoods in the 1990s

Reversal of Fortunes: Low Income Neighborhoods in the 1990s
Urban Studies, 45: 845-869.

O'Regan, K. & Ellen, I.G.
01/01/2008

This paper offers new empirical evidence about the prospects of lower-income, US urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. Using the Neighborhood Change Database, which offers a balanced panel of census tracts with consistent boundaries from 1970 to 2000 for all metropolitan areas in the US, evidence is found of a significant shift in the fortunes of lower-income, urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. There was a notable increase in the 1990s in the proportion of lower-income and poor neighbourhoods experiencing a gain in economic status. Secondly, in terms of geographical patterns, it is found that this upgrading occurred throughout the country, not just in selected regions or cities. Finally, it is found that the determinants of changes in lower-income, urban neighbourhoods shifted during the 1990s. In contrast to earlier decades, both the share of Blacks and the poverty rate were positively related to subsequent economic gain in these neighbourhoods during the 1990s.

The Political Manipulation of U.S. State Rainy Day Funds under Rules versus Discretion

The Political Manipulation of U.S. State Rainy Day Funds under Rules versus Discretion
State Politics and Policy Quarterly 8(2): 150-176.

Rose, S.
01/01/2008

Anecdotal evidence suggests that politicians manipulate rainy day funds for political purposes, but such claims remain untested in the literature. This article finds that lawmakers withdraw nearly three times more funds in response to a deficit shock of a given size if the shock occurs in an election year rather than a non-election year; this occurs despite the fact that the magnitude of shocks does not vary over the electoral cycle. This effect is stronger when incumbents are eligible for re-election than when they are term-limited. When it comes to preventing political manipulation, rainy day fund rules that increase the number of veto players who must approve of withdrawals seem to be more effective than rules that specify the economic conditions under which funds may be withdrawn.

From districts to schools: The distribution of resources across schools in big city school districts

From districts to schools: The distribution of resources across schools in big city school districts
Economics of Education Review Oct 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 5, p532-545, 14p

Rubenstein, R. & Schwartz, A.E., Stiefel, L., Bel Hadj Amor, H.
10/01/2007

While the distribution of resources across school districts is well studied, relatively little attention has been paid to how resources are allocated to individual schools inside those districts. This paper explores the determinants of resource allocation across schools in large districts based on factors that reflect differential school costs or factors that may, in practice, be related to the distribution of resources. Using detailed data on school resources and student and school characteristics in New York City, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, we find that schools with higher percentages of poor pupils often receive more money and have more teachers per pupil, but the teachers tend to be less educated and less well paid, with a particularly consistent pattern in New York City schools. We conclude with implications for policy and further research.

Options for Budget Reform in New York State

Options for Budget Reform in New York State
Citizens Budget Commission, October

Brecher, C. & CBC Staff.
10/01/2007

This background paper focuses on the greater accountability and transparency in fiscal decision making. It has been prepared to inform discussion among the participants at the first CBC agenda setting conference, scheduled for September 20, 2007. The paper is organized into three sections. The first is a definition of the problem; it defines in some detail the limited accountability and transparency that have characterized the New York State budget process in past years. The second section describes the progress made in addressing these problems during recent legislative sessions, focusing particularly on the 2007 session. The last section describes options that can be pursed in 2008 and subsequently to make even more substantial progress. The options are not all mutually exclusive, but they are relatively numerous. Conference participants are asked to review these options for discussion in the forum on September 20. The views expressed by experts attending the forum will be considered in the preparation of a final document that will summarize recommended actions for State leaders.

The President's Proposed Standard Deduction for Health Insurance: Evaluation and Recommendations

The President's Proposed Standard Deduction for Health Insurance: Evaluation and Recommendations
National Tax Journal, Sep 2007, Vol. 60 Issue 3, p433-454, 22p.

Burman, L.E., Furman, J., Leiserson, G. & Williams Jr, R.C.
09/01/2007

The President's proposal to replace the current exclusion of employer-paid health insurance premiums with a standard deduction for qualifying health insurance would level the playing field for employment-based coverage and private plans but would risk the loss of insurance for many workers, threaten existing risk- sharing pools, and unfairly favor the wealthy. This paper evaluates the President's plan, suggests changes that would improve it, and assesses alternatives that would address the plan's shortcomings and improve its likelihood of expanding coverage to many families who now lack insurance.

Welfare Program Performance

Welfare Program Performance
American Review of Public Administration, March, Vol. 37 Issue 1, p65-90, 26p.

Ratcliffe, C. & Nightingale, D.S. & Sharkey, P.
03/01/2007

Public agencies are increasingly expected to track their performance according to established criteria--to be held accountable for the expenditure of public funds and show that funds are being used to achieve intended outcomes. This analysis of South Carolina's Family Independence welfare program examines counties' performance on five employment-related outcomes: employment rate, employment entry rate, employment retention rate. earnings gain rate, and earned income closure rate. Counties' performance is statistically analyzed, adjusting for variation in external factors (e.g., labor market conditions and caseload characteristics) that influence program performance but that are outside the control of county program staff. This analysis shows that external factors influence employment-related performance, suggesting that states may want to vary counties' goals based on external factors, rather than expecting all counties to meet the same performance level. This analysis provides an example of how agencies can apply statistical analysis to measure, track, and analyze program performance.

Financial Performance and Outreach: A Global Analysis of Leading Microbanks

Financial Performance and Outreach: A Global Analysis of Leading Microbanks
Economic Journal, February 2007, Vol. 117, Issue 517, pp. F107-F133

Morduch, J., Cull, R. & Demirguc-Kunt, A.
02/01/2007

Microfinance promises to reduce poverty by employing profit-making banking practices in low-income communities. Many microfinance institutions have secured high loan repayment rates but, so far, relatively few earn profits. We examine why this promise remains unmet. We explore patterns of profitability, loan repayment, and cost reduction with unusually high-quality data on 124 institutions in 49 countries. The evidence shows the possibility of earning profits while serving the poor, but a trade-off emerges between profitability and serving the poorest. Raising fees to very high levels does not ensure greater profitability and the benefits of cost-cutting diminish when serving better-off customers.

Does Federally Subsidized Rental Housing Depress Neighborhood Property Values?

Does Federally Subsidized Rental Housing Depress Neighborhood Property Values?
Journal of Policy Analysis & Management, Spring 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 2, p257-280, 24p.

Ellen, I.G., Schwartz, A.E., Voicu, I. & Schill, M.H.
01/01/2007

Few communities welcome federally subsidized rental housing, with one of the most commonly voiced fears being reductions in property values. Yet there is little empirical evidence that subsidized housing depresses neighborhood property values. This paper estimates and compares the neighborhood impacts of a broad range of federally subsidized rental housing programs, using rich data for New York City and a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model. We find that federally subsidized developments have not typically led to reductions in property values and have, in fact, led to increases in some cases. Impacts are highly sensitive to scale, though patterns vary across programs.

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