Economics

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 Intergenerational Transmission of Context

The Intergenerational Transmission of Context
American Journal of Sociology, Jan 2008, Vol. 113 Issue 4, p931-969, 39p.

Sharkey, P.
01/01/2008

This article draws on the extensive literature on economic and social mobility in America to examine intergenerational contextual mobility, defined as the degree to which inequalities in neighborhood environments persist across generations. PSID data are analyzed to reveal remarkable continuity in neighborhood economic status from one generation to the next. The primary consequence of persistent neighborhood stratification is that the racial inequality in America's neighborhoods that existed a generation ago has been transmitted, for the most part unchanged, to the current generation. More than 70% of black children who grow up in the poorest quarter of American neighborhoods remain in the poorest quarter of neighborhoods as adults, compared to 40% of whites. The results suggest that racial inequality in neighborhood economic status is substantially underestimated with short-term measures of neighborhood income or poverty and, second, that the steps taken to end racial discrimination in the housing and lending markets have not enabled black Americans to advance out of America's poorest neighborhoods.

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.

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.

Fiscal Decentralization and Intergovernmental Relations in Developing Countries: Navigating a Viable Path to Reform

Fiscal Decentralization and Intergovernmental Relations in Developing Countries: Navigating a Viable Path to Reform
G. Shabbir Cheema and Dennis Rondinelli (eds) Decentralized Governance: Emerging Concepts and Practice, Washington, DC: Brookings,

Smoke, P.
06/01/2007

The trend toward greater decentralization of governance activities, now accepted as commonplace in the West, has become a worldwide movement. Today s world demands flexibility, adaptability, and the autonomy to bring those qualities to bear. In this thought-provoking book, the first in a new series on Innovations in Governance, experts in government and public management trace the evolution and performance of decentralization concepts, from the transfer of authority within government to the sharing of power, authority, and responsibilities among broader governance institutions.

The contributors to Decentralizing Governance assess emerging concepts such as devolution and capacity building; they also detail factors driving the decentralization movement such as the ascendance of democracy, economic globalization, and technological progress. Their analyses range across many regions of the world and a variety of contexts, but each specific case explores the objectives of decentralization and the benefits and difficulties that will likely result.

 

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.

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