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2013 Online Paper Collection

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The following represents a selected cross section of papers presented at the 2013 Fall Research Conference in Washington, D.C. last November. The conference included more than 200 sessions, featuring over 700 papers on the most cutting edge public policy research being conducted today. This collection of 33 papers exemplifies the types of issues and research discussed at the conference. As you will see below, the papers are broken out into the policy areas for the 2013 conference; each area has at least one paper in this collection. The collection is meant to give Association members, members of the greater public policy community, students, practitioners, and policymakers a sense of the research that APPAM members do, the policy issues their research addresses, and the insight they can and do provide in the policy making process.

Cross-Cutting

Cross-cutting papers offer a diversity of disciplines, methods, policy areas and analysis, and policy management perspectives in their research.

Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Security

How can emerging environmental and natural resource issues be approached from a variety of directions, including the assessment of regulatory reform vs. legal solutions; the role of science and technology in addressing consequences of environmental and resource challenges; and the evaluation of policy options in both national and global settings?

Fragile, At-Risk Families and Youth

How do current policies mitigate the risk certain segments of society face? How successful are current policies in unemployment, welfare, crime, teenage pregnancy, foster care, and asset building in helping to mitigate these risks?

Global Policy

Complex and shifting economic, political, technological, and social challenges at the international level require increasingly coordinated actions across traditional political boundaries. Such challenges also influence policy development and implementation at the national level. How do lessons learned nationally influence international policy interventions and vice versa? How are national and global needs reconciled?

The Impact of Politics on the Policy Process

How does the study of political processes and the enironments in which they play out inform policy evaluation, forumulation, and deliberation? How can policy research and analysis benefit from the study of the dynamic interaction among policy makers, instutional structures, and the processes they use to conduct their work?

Methods and Emperical Design

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the experimental and non-experimental designs and quantitative and qualitative methods we use in our research? How can these be improved? Are we using the most appropriate methods and designs to most accurately inform policy debates? Are we examining the appropriate variables? What new types of data are emerging and how might they be used?

Poverty and Social Policy

Has our understanding of poverty and its consequences changed? What are the social implications of sustained poverty? What roles do social policy play in mitigating/eliminating the consequences of poverty?

Public and Nonprofit Management and Finance

What implications do actions like strengthening management’s role in policy development, operating effectively with reduced budgets, ensuring success in networked government enterprises, adjusting to changing government roles, developing and utilizing effective performance management protocols, etc., have for policy outcomes? What is the role of regulation in policy assessment? How are we evaluating the impacts of budget cuts?

Social Equity

How have social equity issues changed? What are new challenges (e.g. LBGT)? How have recurring issues (e.g. gender, race, national origin, religious, etc.) evolved?

Social Insurance and Income Maintenance

How has the use of insurance as the distribution method of choice in government assistance programs changed? What are the implications of these shifts? How successful are these programs and what implications do they have for creating a viable safety net for eligible populations?

Social Investment

How can we grow the country’s productive capacity and enhance citizen participation in the economy? What are the consequences of the erosion of the middle class, the shift in the nature of jobs, pressures on the education system (including teacher quality), and the growing stress of immigration policies?

Cross-Cutting

The Economic and Financial Status of Older Americans: Trends and Prospects
by Bill Emmons and Brian Noeth, St Louis Federal Reserve Bank
Asset Holding and Financial Capability in Later Life: Focus on Vulnerable Populations        

The global financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession reduced the income and wealth of many families, but older families generally fared better than young and middle-aged families. The Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances reveals that being young was a significant risk factor during the downturn, regardless of a family’s race, ethnicity, or education level.

Ethnic Concentration, Co-Ethnic Participation: Mexican-American Civic Participation and Destination Context       
by Abigail Williams, Trinity College
from the session The Wellbeing of Latinos in Traditional and New Destinations     

Immigrant dispersion to non-traditional destinations offers scholars the opportunity to better understand the contextual mechanisms associated with immigrant civic and political incorporation. This paper analyzes how immigrant civic participation varies with co-ethnic concentration for the largest immigrant ethnic group in the United States.

Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Security

How Does the Form and Structore of Collaborative Management Relate to Environmental Outcomes?
by Tyler Scott, University of Washington
from the session Collaboration in Natural Resources Management      

Using a representative watershed quality data series in conjunction with a watershed management regime database, the author addresses the question of whether - and how - collaborative governance improves environmental outcomes. The relationship between the EPA's National Rivers and Streams Assessment and Wadeable Streams Assessment is analyzed between collaborative governance and watershed quality for 357 watersheds.    

Fragile, At-Risk Families and Youth

Breakfast at the Desk: The Impact of Universal Breakfast Programs on Academic Performance   
by Dallas D. Dotter, Mathematica Policy Research
from the session Exploring the Impact of School Breakfast Policy           

Between 12 and 30 percent of school-aged children reportedly skip breakfast on a given weekday. To mitigate any impacts on health and academic performance, many schools implement universally free breakfast programs for students. This paper exploits the staggered implementation of an in-classroom breakfast program in San Diego elementary schools, which provides meals to all students during class time, to determine the impacts of universally free school breakfasts on student attendance rates, classroom behavior and academic performance.

Income and Child Maltreatment: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit     
by Lawrence M. Berger, Sarah A. Font, and Kristen S. Slack, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University
from the session Targeting Resources: Before and After Child Protective Services’ Involvement

Following the strategy used by Dahl and Lochner (2012), we take advantage of differences between states and over time in the generosity of the total state and federal Earned Income Tax Credit to identify exogenous variation in family income. Our individual-level data are drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth-cohort of relatively disadvantaged urban children who have been followed from birth to age nine.

The Impact of Subsidized Birth Control for College Women: Evidence from the Deficit Reduction Act
by Emily Gray Collins, University of Michigan, and Brad Hershbein, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
from the session Strategies for Preventing Teen Pregnancy        

This paper uses a unique natural experiment to investigate the sensitivity of American college women’s contraceptive choice and sexual behavior to the price of prescription birth control. With the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Congress inadvertently and unexpectedly increased the effective price of birth control pills (“the Pill”) at college health centers more than three-fold, from $5 to $10 a month to between $30 to $50 a month. Using two different data sets, we employ multiple empirical strategies—including interrupted time-series, quasi-difference-in-differences, and fixed effects—for identification, and we find consistent results across data sets and methodologies.

The Role of Contraception in Preventing Abortion, Nonmarital Childbearing, and Child Poverty    
by Quentin Karpilow, Brookings Institution; Jennifer Manlove, Child Trends; Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution; and Adam Thomas, Georgetown University
from the session Strategies for Preventing Teen Pregnancy        

We simulate the effects of changes in contraceptive behavior among unmarried young women and men on rates of nonmarital childbearing, abortion, and child poverty. These simulations are motivated by previous studies showing, first, that disadvantaged women are disproportionately likely to experience unplanned and nonmarital pregnancies and, second, that many individuals at risk of unintended pregnancy do not use contraception or do not use it consistently and correctly.

Global Policy

On the Unintended Consequences of Anti-drug Eradication Programs in Producing Countries
by Sandra Rozo, University of California, Los Angeles
from the session Issues Surrounding Sanctions, Illicit Economy       

While the war against drugs has consumed approximately 40 billion dollars per year in the last four decades, there is very limited evidence on its effectiveness. This paper studies the e ects of the biggest anti-drug program ever applied in a drug-producing country.

Methods and Empirical Design

Misattribution of Teacher Value Added  
by Umut Özek and Zeyu Xu, American Institutes for Research
from the session Complicating Factors in Teacher Assessment   

The federal Race to the Top competition provided significant impetus for states to adopt “value added” models as a part of their teacher evaluation systems. Such models typically link students to their teachers in the spring semester when statewide tests are administered and estimate a teacher’s performance based on her students’ learning between the test date in the previous school year and the test date in the current year.          

Social Capital and Environmental Justice: An Agent-Based Model
by Adam Eckerd, Virginia Tech; Heather E. Campbell, Claremont Graduate University; and Yushim Kim, Arizona State University
from the session Methods for Addressing Social System Complexity in Policy Evaluation with an Application to Public Health           

Among several competing explanations for observed environmental injustices in society, this paper focuses on the hypothesis regarding communities’ potentials to engage in collective actions against the siting of unwanted facilities. By assuming that residents have a propensity to mount political opposition to the siting of an environmental disamenity, we build an agent-based model using assumptions of the Coase theorem.

Poverty and Social Policy

Fragile Health and Fragile Wealth: Mortgage Strain Among African American Homeowners
by Danya Keene, Yale University; Julia Lynch, University of Pennsylvania; and Amy Baker, Hunter College
from the session Housing and Well-Being Across the Life Span   

The dominant public discourse around the recent mortgage and foreclosure crisis has primarily focused on recent housing market dynamics such as subprime lending and declining housing values. In this paper, we present an alternative narrative about mortgage default and foreclosure that emerged from 28 in-depth interviews with working-class, African American homeowners who were at risk of losing their homes.

Is Student Loan Debt Discouraging Home Buying Among Young Adults?           
by Jason Houle, Dartmouth College, and Lawrence Berger, University of Wisconsin
from the session Housing and Well-Being Across the Life Span   

Amid concern that high levels of consumer debt may be slowing the housing market recovery, many media outlets and financial experts have suggested that rising student loan debt is discouraging home-buying among young adults. This is a major concern given that college educated young people are integral to the growth of the economy and the housing market in particular (Brown and Caldwell 2013). But despite the recent concern surrounding this issue, there is very little empirical research that actually interrogates the claim that student loan debt has discouraged home buying among young adults.

Reservation Prices: An Economic Analysis of Cigarette Purchases on Indian Reservations
by Philip DeCicca, McMaster University; Donald Kenkel, Cornell University; and Feng Liu, Shanghai University
from the session New Evidence of the Policy Impacts on Health Behaviors          

The special legal status of Indian tribes in the U.S. means that state excise taxes are not necessarily collected on cigarette purchases on Indian reservations. We focus on two understudied but basic empirical economic questions this raises. Using novel data from national and New York surveys that asked directly about cigarette prices and purchases from reservations, we ask two questions: What is the economic incidence of the tax break, and has the tax break increased consumer demand for low-quality cigarettes relative to high-quality cigarettes?

The Effect of SNAP on Poverty
by Laura Tiehen, USDA;  Dean Jolliffe, World Bank; and Timothy Smeeding, University of Wisconsin
from the session Understanding the Effects of Social Policy on Poverty   

The annual effects of SNAP on poverty itself were first estimated in the late 1970s and then regularly after the Census Bureau began to record recipients and amounts of food stamps in 1979. This paper follows in that tradition and examines SNAP’s effectiveness as an antipoverty weapon.

The Poverty-Reducing Effect of Medicaid
by Benjamin D. Sommers and Donald Oellerich, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
from the session Understanding the Effects of Social Policy on Poverty

Medicaid provides health insurance for 54 million Americans. Using the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure (which subtracts out-of-pocket medical expenses from family resources), we estimated the impact of eliminating Medicaid. In our counterfactual, Medicaid beneficiaries would become uninsured or gain other insurance.

Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure
by Liana Fox, Irv Garfinkel, Neeraj Kaushal, Jane Waldfogel, and Christopher Wimer, Columbia University
from the session Understanding the Effects of Social Policy on Poverty

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. So it is an appropriate time to look at historical trends in poverty and the role government has played in combating poverty. While much has been written on this topic, we provide the first estimates of historical trends in poverty and the role of government anti-poverty policies using an improved measure of poverty known as the supplemental poverty measure (SPM). Our analyses cover the period 1967-2011.

Public and Nonprofit Management and Finance

From Blurred to Blended: Exploring the Institutional Environment and Public Benefit of For-Profit B-Corporations
by Stephanie Moulton, The Ohio State University and Adam Eckerd, Virginia Tech
from the session Managing with Markets         

While the distinctions between organizational sectors have never been particularly clear, the emergence of new corporate forms that intentionally blend for-profit organizational forms with public purposes blur the lines further. More than 600 organizations nationwide are now certified as “B-Corporations”, legally integrating public purposes, accountability and transparency into their founding documents and stated corporate missions.

Going Beyond Service Delivery: Exploring the Prevalence of Citizen Participation in Government Contracting       
by Anna A. Amirkhanyan, American University; Hyun Joon Kim, Korea University; and Kristina T. Lambright, Binghamton University
from the session Citizen Engagement Tools and Processes

The objective of this study is to investigate the nature, scope, causes and implications of citizen participation in government contracting. Focusing on government contracts in the field of health and human services, this study is based on 33 in-depth interviews with county government contract monitoring officers, as well as managers of nonprofit and for-profit organizations in New York, Maryland, and Virginia. Our analysis suggests that a wide variety of citizen participation tools are used both by county governments and their private contractors such as client input, advisory boards, and public hearings.     

The Emergence of Civic Engagement Networks: Microprocesses and Macro Outcomes  
by Juliet Musso and Christopher Weare, University of Southern California         
from the session Citizen Engagement Tools and Processes       

There is an enduring focus on the need to create intermediary institutions that support civic discourse and strengthen engagement of ordinary citizens with elite decision makers. Such innovations in civic institutions are held by reformers to foster civil society networks that facilitate collective action, promote civic culture, and facilitate “coming to public judgment” that moves beyond mass opinion to communicate reasoned compromises to decision makers.

The Performance of Performance-based Contracting in Human Services: A Quasi-experiment      
by Jiahuan Lu, University of Maryland  
from the session Government Investment Approaches    

Performance-based contracting (PBC) is becoming increasingly attractive to public human service agencies. By attaching contract compensation to contractors’ performance achievement, PBC is expected to encourage quality services, better outcomes, and less monitoring. However, current empirical evidence on the effectiveness of PBC is still limited and mixed.

The Role of Intergovernmental Aid in Defining Fiscal Sustainability at the Sub-National Level       
by Hyunjung Ji, Jeong J. Ahn, and Jeffrey I. Chapman, Arizona State University
from the session Intergovernmental Finance & Sustainability       

This paper addresses the concept of fiscal sustainability in the context of a federal system; there are at least three reasons why fiscal sustainability matters in this context. First, the notion of local governments entering bankruptcy proceeds is no longer a theoretical notion. Second, previous formal sustainability analysis has primarily focused on the aggregate primary balance and debt, with little disaggregation. Finally, there is a need to examine if city and county governments are fiscally sustainable if there is no intergovernmental aid from the state or federal governments.

Social Equity

Opportunity Mapping: A Conceptual Analysis and Application to the Baltimore Metropolitan Area

by Chao Liu, Eli Knaap, and Gerrit-Jan Knaap, University of Maryland
from the session Racial Segregation in Housing  

With encouragement and assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development many local governments and metropolitan coalitions are mapping opportunity to inform the development of regional sustainable communities plans. The notion that the neighborhood in which a person lives shapes their social and economic opportunities is not new, but how opportunity is to be measured, displayed, and used to guide policy decision making remains under examined.

The White/Black Educational Gap, Stalled Progress, and the Long-Term Consequences of the Emergence of Crack Cocaine Markets           
by Williamn N. Evans, University of Notre Dame; Craig Garthwaite, Northwestern University; and Timothy J. Moore, George Washington University
from the session Education Policy, Social Phenomena, and Gaps in Outcomes              

We propose the rise of crack cocaine markets as an explanation for the end to the convergence in black-white educational outcomes that began in the mid-1980s. After constructing a measure to date the arrival of crack markets in cities and states, we show large increases in murder and incarceration rates after these dates. Black high school completion rates also decline, and we estimate that factors associated with crack markets can account for between 36 and 73 percent of the fall in black male high school completion rates. We argue that the primary mechanism is reduced educational investments in response to decreased returns to schooling. 

Social Insurance and Income Maintenance

Household Responses to Food Subsidies: Evidence from India 
by Tara Kaul, University of Maryland
from the session Food Security and SNAP Recipiency    

This paper uses household survey data to examine the effect of food subsidies on the nutritional outcomes of poor households in India. The national food security program, known as the Public Distribution System (PDS), takes the form of a monthly quota of cereals (rice and/or wheat) available for purchase at substantially discounted prices. The effect of the program is studied by exploiting the geographic and household size specific variations in the value of the subsidy that result from differences in state program rules and local market prices.

How Job Displacement Affects Social Security Claiming and Work at Older Ages in the Short and Long Term       
by Till von Wachter, University of California, Los Angeles; Jae Song, Social Security Administration; and Joyce Manchester, Congressional Budget Office
from the session Long-Term Unemployment       

An often-voiced concern in recessions is that unemployed older workers claim Social Security earlier than they would have in the absence of job loss, leading to lower Social Security benefits and hastening permanent withdrawal from the labor force. A separate question receiving less attention is whether workers rely on employment at older ages to make up losses in earnings from displacement.

Supported from Both Sides? Changes in the Dynamics of Joint Participation in SNAP and UI Following the Great Recession  
by Alix Gould-Werth  and H. Luke Shaefer, University of Michigan
from the session What Can Panel Data Tell Us About Participation in Federal Food Assistance Programs During the Great Recession?      

This paper uses panel data from the nationally representative Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) from years 2000-2011, to examine changes in the prevalence and character of joint participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Unemployment Insurance (UI) among job losers during the Great Recession. Descriptive as well as multivariate analyses are presented.

Why Has Growth in Spending for Fee-for-Service Medicare Slowed?      
by Michael Levin, Congressional Budget Office, and Melinda Buntin, Vanderbilt University
from the session Effects of Changes in Medicare          

Growth in spending per beneficiary in the fee-for-service portion of Medicare has slowed substantially in
recent years. The slowdown has been widespread, extending across all of the major service categories,
groups of beneficiaries that receive very different amounts of medical care, and all major regions. We
estimate that slower growth in payment rates and changes in observable factors affecting beneficiaries’
demand for services explain little of the slowdown in spending growth for elderly beneficiaries between
the 2000–2005 and 2007–2010 periods. 

Social Investment

Configuring Legitimacy: A Framework for Legitimation in Armed Conflict
by Eric Schoon, Alexandra Joosse, and H. Brinton Milward, University of Arizona        
from the session Impacts of Mobility and Student Flows in K-12 Education        

Legitimacy is a central concern for defining and developing public policy in response to covert and illegal networks. However, while scholarship on violent conflict has identified legitimacy as a critical concern for the success and resilience of both violent insurgencies and the governments fighting them, the relevance of this insight for policy development suffers from two critical limitations. First, the effects of legitimation vary widely from case to case, resulting in a broad consensus that legitimacy is a purely local phenomenon, and limiting the generalizability of insights gained from any given case. Second, conceptualizations of legitimacy are widely inconsistent within the literature on violent conflict, and are often too abstract to be effectively applied in the context of policy analysis.          

Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT
by Thomas Dee, Stanford University and James Wyckoff, University of Virginia 
from the session Selecting and Motivating Teachers     

Teachers in the United States are compensated largely on the basis of fixed schedules that reward experience
and credentials. However, there is a growing interest in whether performance-based incentives based
on rigorous teacher evaluations can improve teacher retention and performance. The evidence available
to date has been mixed at best. This study presents novel evidence on this topic based on IMPACT,
the controversial teacher-evaluation system introduced in the District of Columbia Public Schools
by then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Short-Time Compensation as a Tool to Mitigate Job Loss? Evidence on the U.S. Experience During the Recent Recession           
by Katharine G. Abraham, University of Maryland, and Susan N. Houseman, Upjohn Institute for Employment Research    
from the session The Public Workforce System During and After the Great Recession   

During the recent recession only 17 states offered short-time compensation (STC)—pro-rated unemployment benefits for workers whose hours are reduced for economic reasons. New federal legislation will encourage the expansion of STC. Exploiting cross-state variation in STC, we present new evidence indicating that jobs saved during the recession as a consequence of STC could have been significant in manufacturing, but that the overall scale of the STC program was generally too small to have substantially mitigated aggregate job losses in the 17 states. Expansion of the program is necessary for STC to be an effective counter-cyclical tool in the future.

 
 
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