10 things we learned at Brookings in July

The door of number 10 Downing Street is seen in central London, Britain May 7, 2015. Picture taken with a fisheye lens. Britain goes to the polls today in a knife-edge national election to elect a new parliament and prime minsiter. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth - LR2EB570P3HYC
Editor's note:

These are summaries of Brookings experts’ research. To get the full content, click through on the links.

From all of the research and analysis produced by Brookings experts in the month of July, here is a sample of just 10 items, highlighting interesting and important findings.

1. How MUCH automation WILL impact middle-class jobs IS VARIABLE

How much will automation impact the middle class? We don’t know yet

Forecasts of how artificial intelligence will affect the middle class vary from alarming projections of staggering job loss to modest estimates of little job loss. But, new jobs will also be created. Authors Marcus Casey and Sarah Nazu examine different forecasts of AI’s impact and the implications for middle class American families, noting that “the long-run labor market consequences of advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and other forms of automation technology remain uncertain.”

2. American teens are working less, IN SCHOOL more

A teen lifeguard is sitting and watching over the pool. He is about to blow his whistle.
Researchers from The Hamilton Project at Brookings find American teens’ participation in the labor force has been dropping significantly from 2000-2018. More than ever before, students are focused solely on school rather than splitting time between school and a job. The authors discuss these findings and reflect on what this emerging trend may mean for the U.S. economy as a whole.

3. To mitigate housing costs, California needs to build more apartments


In a recent report, Jenny Schuetz and Cecile Murray find that California cities use zoning to prevent development of multifamily buildings, resulting in housing shortages and rising costs of living. “Communities [in California] with high rents build fewer new apartments than lower-rent communities within the same metropolitan area,” the authors explain. “Hostility to new development runs deep, and affluent communities are highly adept at wielding the discretionary approval process to their benefit.”

4. Changing demographics are transforming the Republican and Democratic parties

A voting booth is seen as voting opens for the midterm election at P.S. 140 in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly - RC134B64D810
The two major political parties in the 2016 election were more divided by age, race, and education than at any point since 1980, and such demographics will continue to change the Republican and Democratic parties, according to the authors of a new report. “White noncollege voters, in particular, are projected to decline rapidly as a share of both parties’ coalitions across all states through 2036,” the authors write. That year will also see a generational shift. “By 2036, Millennial and Generation Z voters … will be heavily represented in both the Democratic Party and Republican Party coalitions, while the influence of Baby Boomer and the Silent Generation voters … will radically decline.”

5. Digitization POSES BOTH threatS and opportunitIES for Africa

Young startup promoters work on their computers in New Bonako village, Cameroon March 28, 2017 2017. Picture taken March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer - RC1B29F94700
Many policy analysts see digitization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution as threats to low-wage African countries that are already struggling with job creation. Brahima Sangafowa Coulibaly recommends that policymakers continue to support investments in digital infrastructure and access, expand education and training programs, bolster alternative industries, and step up revenue mobilization efforts to finance this agenda. “The digitization agenda should be carried out with greater urgency,” Coulibaly writes. “The scale of the disruption associated with new technologies will only grow with time.”

6. The party that can message most effectively on health care will be more successful in 2020

A protester wears a t-shirt as SoCal Health Care Coalition protests at UC San Diego in La Jolla, California, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake - RC18361BA750
As the health care debate takes a central role in the 2020 presidential election, Senior Fellow John Hudak examines how the positions of each party on various health care issues compare to the preferences of American voters. “In a setting where a policy issue is front and center to voters and those voters consider it very important to the electoral choices they make,” Hudak writes, “the party or candidate with ideas that connect with those voters can position herself to be very successful—but both parties have significant liabilities on the issue.”

7. New digital disinformation risks looming for 2020 election

Cybersecurity & Election Interference

From fake nudes to doctored images, digital disinformation is a threat to American democracy, asserts Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance Studies at Brookings. In a post for the Cybersecurity and Election Interference series, West breaks down new digital disinformation risks, in an era of increased polarization, to watch for as the 2020 political campaigns pick up speed. “America needs to reconsider its generally libertarian stance towards technology regulation,” West argues, “and enact guardrails against malicious and non-consensual uses of editing software.”

8. Social impact bonds in South Africa show promise for addressing youth unemployment

Khanyo Mchunu, 13, posing for a photograph in front of her house in Embo, South Africa, November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Rogan Ward SEARCH "CHRISTMAS WISHES" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. - RC13B192B6E0
Funded by the first social impact bond in South Africa—where 40 percent of people aged 15-34 are either unemployed, not in school, or not in training—Harambee Academy is helping excluded young people break into careers in technology and other growth sectors, and has placed 600 young people—the majority of them women—into jobs. Izzy Boggild-Jones and Emily Gustafsson-Wright break down how this and other impact bonds work, as well as key lessons learned.

9. US-UK relations decline as US-European relations improve slightly (but poor overall)

U.S. President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and Britain's Queen Elizabeth pose at the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in London, Britain June 3, 2019. Alastair Grant/Pool via REUTERS - RC19A2509000The fourth edition of the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard, a quarterly evaluation of U.S.-European relations, reveals the shifting relations between the United States and five key European countries, the European Union, and the continent itself. Brookings scholars and other experts on transatlantic affairs were polled to produce the Scorecard, which also tracks significant news events and President Trump’s conversations with European leaders.

10. We aren’t on the brink of a new Cold War with Russia and China

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1AA9284B20
Despite increasing discourse of a new Cold War with U.S. great-power rivals, Michael E. O’Hanlon and Sean Zeigler argue that current geopolitics do not resemble the dangers of the Cold War. They assert that Russia today has vastly different characteristics and motivations than the Soviet Union and given our close working relationship with Russia on global security concerns, it would be wrong to escalate conflict. Defusing tensions with Russia is both possible and necessary.

Betsy Broaddus, John Holland, Sophia Durham, and Sonia Gupta contributed significantly to this post.