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What’s Inside the Summer 2012 JPAM

June 18, 2012 03:24 PM

A quick summary of items found in the Summer 2012 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.


Are Green Vehicles Worth the Extra Cost?
Kerry Krutilla and John D. Graham

hybridBecause of rising concerns about oil import security and climate change, curbing oil consumption is a central U.S. policy objective in recent years. This article provides a benefit-cost analysis of diesel-electric hybrid technology used in commercial package and delivery trucks. The Monte Carlo simulation is used to forecast economic returns in using hybrid technology in such vehicle classes from 2012 through 2030. A look at the private returns from using hybrid technology and the direct and indirect fiscal effects of their promotion is also presented.

Do “Carrots” Work? Examining the Effectiveness of EPA’s Compliance Assistance Program
Sarah Stafford

epaThis article examines how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) federal compliance assistance program has affected compliance at hazardous waste facilities across the country. To date, there is little empirical evidence on the effectiveness of existing compliance assistance programs. This article uses data on hazardous waste generators nationwide to assess the effect of these federal programs on improving hazardous waste regulations. The study finds that there is not a consistent relationship between traditional deterrence efforts, and that state-level programs may be used in place of more traditional enforcement.

Heat Waves, Droughts, and Preferences for Environmental Policy
Ann L. Owen, Emily Conover, Julio Videras, and Stephen Wu

droughtSeveral studies conducted over the last few years show that attitudes toward global warming and environmental policy has declined in concern. The authors investigate the role of weather conditions in affecting an individual’s preferences for environmental regulation as well as their general attitudes towards the issue of global warming. Empirical results show that individuals who have recently experienced extreme weather are more likely to support environmental protection laws, even if it means restricting individual freedoms.

Environmental Justice and Green-Technology Adoption
Paul Ong

toxic_chemicalsThis article provides an example of how an explicit Environmental Justice (EJ) program can be analyzed, to better ensure the effectiveness of future EJ policies and interventions. The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s program to phase out a toxic chemical used by dry cleaners is examined. The study illustrates the critical need to actively monitor and evaluate EJ policies and programs.

Subsidies for New Technologies and Knowledge Spillovers from Learning by Doing
Gregory F. Nemet

taxesSubsidizing the adoption of new energy technologies has proven a popular way to address the social problems associated with energy consumption. Policy analysts generally agree it would be substantially more efficient to price the associated negative externalities of energy use directly so that subsidies, which adversely increase demand for energy services, would not be needed. This article empirically examines one justification for subsidies that may not be substitutable by a tax.

Permanent Visas and Temporary Jobs: Evidence from Postdoctoral Participation of Foreign PhDs
Xiaohuan Lan

immigrationThere are two prominent features in the U.S. labor market for new PhD recipients in science and engineering: a large number of foreigners and the prevalence of postdoctoral education. In this article, the author links the two phenomena and shows that work visa restrictions create an extra supply of postdocs among foreign PhD students in the U.S.

Does Targeted, Disease-specific Public Research Funding Influence Pharmaceutical Innovation?
Margaret E. Blume-Kohout

scientist_counting_chromosomesThis article evaluates the effects of changes in the allocation of U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) disease-specific extramural research grant funding on downstream drug innovation. Evidence discovered by the author shows that simply increasing such funding may not be sufficient to stimulate greater downstream industry investment in bringing innovative therapies to market than would otherwise have occurred.

Growing Stem Cells: The Impact of Federal Funding Policy on the U.S. Scientific Frontier
Jeffrey L. Furman, Fiona Murray, and Scott Stern

stem_cellsThe question of whether and to what extent the U.S. Federal Government should support human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research was one of the most controversial and public science policy discussions of the last decade. This article provides direct evidence regarding the impact of the 2001 stem cell policy decision on hESC research in the U.S. and abroad. It also discusses how the targeted funding of research influences the direction and evolution of scientific research. The analysis illustrates the benefits of the citation-based approach, while highlighting the difficulties associated with science policy evaluation.


unfollowable_ordersStem cell science lies at the intersection of the advancement of technology, societal concepts of ethical behavior, and the role of government. In this Point/Counterpoint series, Kenneth A. Couch has invited two leading groups of authors to discuss the complex issues related to stem cell research and what might generally be learned from the issues at hand.

Stem Cells, Science, and Public Reasoning
J. Benjamin Hurlbut and Jason Scott Robert

Embryonic stem cell research policy has been a focus of political controversy for more than a decade. Despite extensive and ongoing debate, policy in this area remains unsettled. The question of what stem cell research policies are optimal must be accompanied by reflection on the forms of politics that can produce and maintain robust approaches to governance. It is worth taking stock of the approaches, practices, and politics that have culminated in the current state of affairs.

Expand and Regularize Federal Funding for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research
Jason Owen-Smith, Christopher Thomas Scott, and Jennifer B. McCormick

This article reviews the scientific and institutional history of the field of human pluripotent (embryonic and induced) stem cell research. As the current administration expands access to materials, as new technologies make different types of investigations probable, and as state and private alternatives to federal funding mature, the primary remaining opposition to the field lied in the uncertainty created by legal challenges and the slow implementation of administrative policies. The authors conclude that the best way forward is to expand and regularize federal funding through legislation that repeals and replaces the Dickey-Wicker amendment.

Good Governance Connects Science and Society
J. Benjamin Hurlbut and Jason Scott Robert

A rebuttal of “Expand and Regularize Federal Funding for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research” discussing the underlying democratic disagreement in current policies and research.

Democracy Is Working
Jason Owen-Smith, Christopher Thomas Scott, and Jennifer B. McCormick

A final rebuttal of Hurlbut and Robert’s “Good Governance Connects Science and Society.”

Methods for Policy Analysis

Can Non-Experimental Estimates Replicate Estimates Based on Random Assignment in Evaluations of School Choice? A Within-Study Comparison
Robert Bifulco

Admissions_Has_MovedSeveral recent studies have exploited randomized admission lotteries at oversubscribed choice schools to obtain estimates of school quality that are arguably free of selection bias. However, not all choice schools are oversubscribed and questions have been raised about the external validity of these studies. The analyses in this article improve upon earlier studies that have focused on elementary and secondary school programs; the results reinforce several lessons from the broader program evaluation literature. These results provide hope that with appropriate data, non-experimental methods can provide useful impact estimates in evaluations of school choice.

Policy Retrospectives

Innovation Inducement Prizes: Connecting Research to Policy
Heidi Williams

researchInnovation inducement prizes have been a key part of the Obama administration’s strategy to promote open government. Federal agencies have traditionally faced logistical barriers in using innovation inducement prizes. A recent federal policy change aims to change that trend by providing all federal agencies with broad authority to offer these prizes. Many agencies are pairing this new authority with, an online platform to be used to post problems and open calls for solutions. This article reviews and synthesizes the academic literature on innovation prizes, clarifies what has been learned, and highlights unresolved questions that would be fruitful to further academic research and policy experimentation.

Book Reviews

Collaborative Governance: Private Sector Roles for Public Goals in Turbulent Timesby John D. Donahue and Richard J. Zeckhauser
Reviewed by John M. Bryson

The Quest: Energy Security and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin
Reviewed by John C. Topping, Jr.

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