Economics

Sustaining Nonprofit Performance: The Case for Capacity Building and the Evidence to Support It

Sustaining Nonprofit Performance: The Case for Capacity Building and the Evidence to Support It
Brookings Institution,

Light, P.C.
08/01/2004

"The nonprofit sector survives because it has a self-exploiting work force: wind it up and it will do more with less until it just runs out. But at some point, the spring must break."

America’s nonprofit organizations face a difficult present and an uncertain future. Money is tight. Workloads are heavy, employee turnover is high, and charitable donations have not fully rebounded from the recent economic downturn. Media and political scrutiny remains high, and public confidence in nonprofits has yet to recover from its sharp decline in the wake of well-publicized scandals.

In a recent survey, only 14 percent of respondents believed that nonprofits did a very good job of spending money wisely; nearly half said that nonprofit leaders were paid too much, compared to 8 percent who said they earned too little. Yet the nonprofit sector has never played a more important role in American life. As a generation of nonprofit executives and board members approaches retirement, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that their organizations are prepared to continue their missions—that they are built to last in a supremely challenging environment.

Paul Light, renowned expert on public service and nonprofit management, strongly argues for capacity-building measures as a way to sustain and improve the efforts of the nonprofit sector. With innovative data and insightful analysis, he demonstrates how nonprofits that invest in technology, training, and strategic planning can successfully advance their goals and restore public faith in their mission and capabilities. He explains the ways in which restoration of that faith is critical to the survival of nonprofits—another important reason for improving and then sustaining performance. Organizations that invest adequately in their infrastructure and long-term planning are the ones that will survive and continue to serve. The New York Times, Monday September 13, 2004

Children Facing Economic Hardship in the United States: Differentials and Changes in the 1990's

Children Facing Economic Hardship in the United States: Differentials and Changes in the 1990's
Demographic Review, June 2004, Vol 10, Article 11.

Lu, H.H., Palmer, J., Song, Y., Lennon, M.C. & Aber, J.L.
06/18/2004

This paper helps document significant improvements in the child low-income rate as well as the significant decrease in the proportion of children who relied on public assistance in the United States during the 1990s. Many disadvantaged groups of children were less likely to live in poor or low-income families in the late 1990s than such children a decade earlier. The improvement in the child low-income rates of these disadvantaged groups was accompanied by a substantial increase in parental employment. However, parental employment appears to do less to protect children from economic hardship than it did a decade earlier. This paper shows that working families� children in many disadvantaged social groups, especially groups in medium risk ranks�children in families with parents between ages 25 to 29, with parents who only had a high-school diploma, and in father-only families�suffered the largest increase in economic hardship. Our results indicate that the increased odds of falling below low income lines among children in working families facing multiple disadvantaged characteristics and the increased proportion of these children in various subgroups of working families in the 1990s can help explain the increased economic hardship among subgroups in the medium risk ranks listed above. Finally, the paper also notes that the official measure of poverty tends to underestimate low-income rates.

Confronting the Tradeoffs in Medicaid Cost Containment

Confronting the Tradeoffs in Medicaid Cost Containment
Citizens Budget Commission, February

Brecher, C. & Spiezio, S.
02/01/2004

A common pressure on the State and City budgets is the rapid growth in spending for Medicaid. For this reason, the Committee asked the CBC staff to explore ways to control Medicaid expenditures. In a series of meetings that reviewed analyses prepared by the staff, the Committee identified the important tradeoffs inherent in trying to curb Medicaid expenditures. This report reflects the Committee’s thinking on how to address these difficult tradeoffs in ways that best reflect the values most important to the future fiscal and economic health of New York City and New York State, including a deep concern for the ability of poorer New Yorkers to have access to needed medial care.

After the Bell—Family Background and Educational Success

After the Bell—Family Background and Educational Success
(Edited, with an Introduction; co-edited by Karen Albright). From conference organized in conjunction with the Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. June 4-5, London & New York: Routledge,

Conley, D.
01/01/2004

This book looks at the social and economic factors of schooling and will prove an intriguing read for sociologist, social economists and policy-makers.

City Taxes, City Spending: Essays in Honor of Dick Netzer

City Taxes, City Spending: Essays in Honor of Dick Netzer
Northampton, Mass: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.,

Schwartz, A.E.
01/01/2004

In a festschrift to Netzer a public finance economist well known for his research on state and local taxation, urban public services, and nonprofit organizations eight chapters apply microeconomics to problems facing urban areas and use statistical analysis to gain insight into practical solutions. The essays look at alternative methods of financing urban government, such as a land value tax and the impact of sales and income taxes on property taxation; at government expenditures, including housing subsidies; and at subsidies to nonprofit arts groups as well as the role of the nonprofit sector in providing K-12 education. Of interest to the fields of public finance, urban economics, and public administration.

Do Changes in Pension Incentives Affect Retirement? A Longitudinal Study of Subjective Retirement Expectations

Do Changes in Pension Incentives Affect Retirement? A Longitudinal Study of Subjective Retirement Expectations
Journal of Public Economics, July

Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H.
01/01/2004

This paper investigates the responsiveness of individuals’ retirement decisions to forward-looking measures of pension accumulations. In contrast to previous research, we use within-person variation in retirement incentives and are able to control for unobserved heterogeneity in tastes for retirement by studying a panel of subjective retirement expectations. We confirm that individuals do respond as expected to pension incentives, even when we control for individual fixed effects. However, the magnitude of these responses differs when estimated from models based on within-person versus cross-sectional variation: the inclusion of fixed effects reduces the response by about half.

Expenditure Assignment Under Indonesia's Decentralization: A Review of Progress and Issues for the Future

Expenditure Assignment Under Indonesia's Decentralization: A Review of Progress and Issues for the Future
in J. Alm and J. Martinez, Reforming Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations and the Rebuilding of Indonesia. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar,

Smoke, P.
01/01/2004

Indonesia is currently facing some severe challenges, both in political affairs and in economic management. One of these challenges is the recently enacted decentralization program, now well underway, which promises to have some wide-ranging consequences. This edited volume presents original papers, written by a select group of widely recognized and distinguished scholars, that take a hard, objective look at the many effects of decentralization on economic and political issues in Indonesia. There are many questions about this program: how will it be implemented, is there capacity at the local level to implement its reforms, is there sufficient local political accountability to make it work, and how will the decentralization affect the broader program of economic growth and stabilization? Topics covered include: the historical and political dimensions of decentralization, its macroeconomic effects, its effects on poverty alleviation, the assignment of expenditure and revenue functions across levels of government, the design of transfers, the role of natural resource taxation and the effects of local government borrowing. An authoritative, comprehensive collection, Reforming Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations and the Rebuilding of Indonesia will be of interest to economists and policy makers as well as students of public finance, development, and Asian economics.

How Does Job Loss Affect the Timing of Retirement?

How Does Job Loss Affect the Timing of Retirement?
Contributions to Economic Analysis & Policy 2004: Vol. 3: No. 1, Article 5.

Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H.
01/01/2004

This paper estimates the extent to which reduced employment following job loss among older workers can be explained as a response to altered pension incentives and earnings opportunities. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we first examine how workers’ earnings, assets, pensions and the resulting financial incentive to retire are affected by job loss. We find important effects of job loss on the main financial components of workers’ incentive to retire. We then examine retirement behavior after job loss, controlling for these changed retirement incentives, along with any additional effects of displacement not captured by retirement incentives. We find that the observed increased rates of retirement among displaced workers go far beyond these purely financial considerations. Very little of the reduced employment among older job losers can be explained by changes in wages and pension-related retirement incentives. Other barriers to reemployment may be more important explanations for the low employment rates of recently displaced older workers.

New York City

New York City
Encyclopedia of Homelessness. Berkshire Publishing,

Weitzman, B.C. & Fischer, S.N.
01/01/2004

At any given moment, about 3 million American women, men, and children are homeless. And another 5 million Americans spend over 50% of their incomes on housing, meaning that one missed paycheck, one health crisis, or one unpaid utility bill can push them out the door into homelessness. Homelessness is one of the major social problems and personal and family tragedies of the contemporary world. No community, city, or nation is immune and the lack of affordable housing and a decline in secure, well-paying jobs means that the problem will only get worse. The Encyclopedia of Homelessness is the first systematic effort to organize and summarize what we know about this complex topic that impacts not only the homeless but all of society. The Encyclopedia focuses on the current situation in the United States with a comparative sampling of homelessness around the world.

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