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Monday, December 9, 2019

Automation, Employment,and Inequality

At Axios, Kaveh Waddell and Alison Snyder write that automation is a sleeper political issue.
Why it matters: "If we stay on the trajectory we're on currently, we're going to have greater income inequality, less social mobility, greater political unrest and greater income insecurity," says Elizabeth Reynolds, executive director of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future.
The big picture: The effects of automation fit into a puzzle that includes trade policy. But while trade and China hog political attention, automation gets passed over, leaving a gaping hole in critical preparations for the future of work.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

America: Threat or Ally?

Laura Silver at Pew:
The United States stands out to many around the world as the country their own nation can rely on most, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Pluralities or majorities in around half of the 17 countries where an open-ended question was asked named the U.S. as their most dependable ally going forward. At the same time, substantial shares of people in some countries also perceive Washington as their greatest threat.
Israelis are the most likely to name the U.S. as a reliable partner (82%) among the countries surveyed. In fact, no more than 2% of Israelis name any other country as a dependable ally. In recent years, Israelis have diverged from people in most other countries surveyed with their widespread sense that relations with the U.S. have improved in recent years and that the U.S. is doing more to address global problems.
Substantial shares in some countries also perceive Washington as their greatest threat – even in some in which the U.S. is the most named top ally. In Mexico, 56% say the U.S. is the greatest threat to their country, while 27% cite the U.S. as their most dependable ally (around 5% say both, concurrently). ... The other countries with the biggest shares of people naming the U.S. as a threat include Turkey (46%), Argentina (40%), Brazil (18%), Nigeria (14%) and Tunisia (12%).

Saturday, December 7, 2019

SNAP and Poverty

From the Census:
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) reduced poverty by just over 1 percentage point for the three-year period from 2016 to 2018, according to recently released U.S. Census Bureau data. 
The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) shows that SNAP – formerly known as food stamps – cut the poverty rate from 14.2% to 13.1%. This means that with SNAP benefits, an average 3.5 million fewer people were living below the poverty line during that three-year period. 
However, there are notable state-level variations; New Mexico, Louisiana and Rhode Island were among the states where SNAP had the greatest anti-poverty impact (see Table 1 and Figure 1). 
Figure 1


Friday, December 6, 2019

Billionaires and Philanthropy

Felix Salmon at Axios:
[T]ax cuts have removed philanthropic incentives for many Americans. That's because the standard deduction is so large that the middle class no longer sees any benefit from itemizing charitable deductions.
Philanthropy is increasingly looking to supplant or replace government.
  • Swiss bank UBS, in its fifth annual report on billionaires, says that many "are seeking new ways to engineer far-reaching environmental and social change."
  • Within our lifetime, we will see “the reemergence of a benevolent aristocracy," UBS's head of Ultra High Net Worth, Josef Stadler, told Forbes.
How it works: Individuals like Charles Koch, Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates use their philanthropies to advocate for societal changes and interventions that they would like to see enacted by governments. Often they engage in explicit lobbying, and often that lobbying is successful, both domestically and internationally.
  • Older philanthropies may no longer be controlled by their founders, but care just as much about changing global public policy. The Ford Foundation, for instance, has focused on combating inequality around the world — something that can only be done if it gets governments on board.
What they're saying:
Foundations are an unaccountable, nontransparent, perpetual, and lavishly tax-advantaged exercise of power."
— Rob Reich, Stanford University

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Abortion Down

A total of 623,471 abortions for 2016 were reported to CDC from 48 reporting areas. Among these 48 reporting areas, the abortion rate for 2016 was 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births. From 2015 to 2016, the total number of reported abortions decreased 2% (from 636,902), the abortion rate decreased 2% (from 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years), and the abortion ratio decreased 1% (from 188 abortions per 1,000 live births). From 2007 to 2016, the total number of reported abortions decreased 24% (from 825,240), the abortion rate decreased 26% (from 15.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years), and the abortion ratio decreased 18% (from 226 abortions per 1,000 live births). In 2016, all three measures reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis (2007–2016).
Number, rate,* and ratio† of abortions performed, by year — selected reporting areas,§ United States, 2007–2016
* Number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years.
† Number of abortions per 1,000 live births.
§ Data are for 48 reporting areas; excludes California, District of Columbia, Maryland, and New Hampshire.

  This figure is a line graph of the number, rate, and ratio of abortions performed, by year, in the United States during 2007–2016. From 2007 to 2016, the total number of reported abortions decreased 24%, the abortion rate decreased 26%, and the abortion ratio decreased 18%.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Giving Tuesday

Jessie Li at Axios:
Most Americans have donated their time and their money to social causes and charities in the last year, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll on philanthropy that breaks down the most popular charitable giving causes.
The bottom line: Education tops the list of causes Americans have supported, followed by human services and health — but they give less to the arts and international affairs.

The big picture: Education is the top cause for both millennials (46%) and Gen X (42%). Gen Z supports health causes most (47%), while Boomers support religion (41%) more than other causes.
International affairs ranks last in giving for all age groups, with only 6% of Americans saying that they’ve donated to related causes in the last 12 months.
A June report from Giving USA:
Amid a complex climate for charitable giving, American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities in 2018, according to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for theYear 2018.
Total charitable giving rose 0.7% measured in current dollars over the revised total of $424.74 billion contributed in 2017. Adjusted for inflation, total giving declined 1.7%. (Please see below for a more detailed breakdown of the numbers for each philanthropic source and sector.)
A number of competing factors in the economic and public policy environments may have affected donors’ decisions in 2018, shifting some previous giving patterns. Many economic variables that shape giving, such as personal income, had relatively strong growth, while the stock market decline in late 2018 may have had a dampening effect. The policy environment also likely influenced some donors’ behavior. One important shift in the 2018 giving landscape is the drop in the number of individuals and households who itemize various types of deductions on their tax returns. This shift came in response to the federal tax policy change that doubled the standard deduction. More than 45 million households itemized deductions in 2016. Numerous studies suggest that number may have dropped to approximately 16 to 20 million households in 2018, reducing an incentive for charitable giving.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Upper-Income Investors and Charity

Megan Brenan and Lydia Saad at Gallup:
With near unanimity, 97% of upper-income investors in the U.S. say they have donated money to a charitable organization in the past year, according to a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of investors. Majorities of upper-income investors identify four factors as major reasons behind their decision to donate -- 78% strongly believe in the causes they support, 71% want to make a difference, 62% enjoy helping others, and 56% have a personal connection to the issue or organization.
Although less than half of upper-income investors say the following are major reasons behind their donations, majorities consider them to be at least a minor reason: moral obligation, desire to give back after benefiting from others' generosity in the past, setting an example for their children and being taught to do so by parents. Far fewer say tax savings and social pressure motivate them to donate.