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  • Center for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper posted December 6, 2013 by Mary Clare Reim Rebuilding Social Capital Through Community Institutions

    Increasing a person's potential for upward economic mobility involves strengthening three forms of capital that a person needs to possess: financial, human, and social.[1] Financial capital may be built by promoting a culture of savings and economic stability. Human capital refers to the marketable skills learned through education, health, and mentoring, which later…

  • Commentary posted September 26, 2013 by Donald Schneider We Know What the U.S. Needs

    International comparisons of economic mobility are tricky. They presume that mobility is a function of opportunity and merit. But “immobility” can arise from a variety of factors. For example, social rigidities more commonly associated with developing economies — where economic success can depend on traits like bloodline or religion — can produce intergenerational…

  • Center for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper posted July 29, 2013 by Donald Schneider A Guide to Understanding International Comparisons of Economic Mobility

    It is common these days to read articles claiming that the American Dream is dead. In particular, many media stories draw on international data to convey the idea that it is now easier to move up the economic ladder in several other countries, including those in northern Europe, than in the United States. Typical of the headlines, for instance, are: “The American…

  • Commentary posted June 7, 2013 by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. How to Put a Thrill Into Saving Money

    To move up the economic ladder in America, you need to save money. Savings allow people to get over bumps in the road without a disaster. Like when you get really sick and can’t work for a month. Or when you need to cover moving expenses to take a better job in another city. Or when you want to take a night class in bookkeeping to qualify for a promotion. But about a…

  • Center for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper posted May 29, 2013 by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D., David C. John, Sean Rust Boosting Economic Mobility Through Prize-Linked Savings

    Discussions of economic mobility explore why some people are successful in moving up the economic ladder during their lifetime while others are not. While there is much debate about the degree of opportunity in America, there is general agreement that there seem to be significant and worrying obstacles facing Americans starting out in households at the bottom end of the…

  • Commentary posted May 6, 2013 by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. Opportunity Conservatism

    A robust debate is under way about the future of conservatism, and there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the 2012 election and current trends in American politics. Unfortunately, the conversation so far has largely consisted of calls for modifying basic conservative positions, especially on social policy, and for targeting government spending and programs to…

  • Commentary posted April 3, 2013 by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. Is Medicaid Expansion Really a No-Brainer for States?

    Even after the Supreme Court struck down a requirement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that required states to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income individuals,* states still seemed to have a juicy carrot to do so. That’s because 100% of the extra cost for states will be met by Uncle Sam for the first 3 years, starting in 2014. And although the federal share of costs…

  • Commentary posted March 25, 2013 by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. Providing Affordable Service is Best Left to the Private Sector

    The debate about health care in America unfortunately obscures some important areas of agreement. But the noise also masks some fundamental differences of opinion about the role of government in health care. Let's start with areas of agreement. Polls show clearly that most Americans believe that every lawful resident of this country should be able to count on some basic…

  • Commentary posted March 15, 2013 by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. Building a Savings Culture to Generate Wealth

    Note: This article first appeared March 15, 2013 in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. A recent YouTube video called “Wealth Inequality in America” has received millions of views and a number of responses from across the ideological spectrum. Created by "Politizane," this video was inspired by a study by economists Dan Ariely at Duke University and Michael L. Norton…

  • Center for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper posted February 6, 2013 by Diane Calmus The Long-Term Care Financing Crisis

    The Obama Administration’s suspension of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act provisions of the Affordable Care Act halted a new federal entitlement program that was fiscally unsound. The repeal of the CLASS Act as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act provides an opportunity for a necessary discussion. The debate over the CLASS Act…

  • Commentary posted January 16, 2013 by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. Are Health Costs Really Slowing

    A recent report from the actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has the Washington community all atwitter because it may suggest that health costs are permanently slowing down. The CMS team found that health spending slowed in 2011 for the third year, growing no faster than the rest of the economy. Health spending as a proportion of gross…

  • Center for Policy Innovation Discussion Paper posted December 21, 2012 by Diane Calmus Improving Economic Mobility Through Increased Savings

    Abstract: Since the recession began, Americans’ rate of savings has been on the rise. Yet too many still do not have savings to buffer them against an emergency. This is especially true for low-income Americans, far too many of whom are just a medical bill or broken-down car away from financial ruin. Fortunately, our better understanding of the role of savings in…

  • Backgrounder posted December 11, 2012 by Alison Acosta Fraser, William W. Beach, Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. Saving the American Dream: The Fiscal Cliff and Beyond

    Abstract: Unless Congress and the President act promptly and wisely, sequestration under the Budget Control Act (BCA) will undermine military readiness, and the nearly $500 billion tax increase starting on January 1, 2013, will greatly harm an already weak economy. However, this fiscal cliff can be avoided. The key to avoiding this and future fiscal calamities is reform…

  • Commentary posted November 8, 2012 by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. End of the Threat to Obamacare? Not at All

    President Obama’s narrow victory has left proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) breathing a collective sigh of relief, believing that the legislation is safe. It’s true, of course, that the election’s outcome has ended the prospect of a new administration using Republican majorities in both chambers and the budget reconciliation process to force outright repeal. But…

  • Lecture posted October 15, 2012 by The Honorable Trent Franks, Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D., The Honorable Ken Blackwell, Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D. The Common Defense: What It Means to Conservatives

    Abstract: The Preamble of the Constitution gives paramount importance to the federal government to “provide for the common defence.” Yet there is a troubling misconception that all federal spending is more or less equal. The Founders recognized that, as George Washington famously said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”…