The 10 most popular Brookings content pieces of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we take a look back at the 10 most popular pieces of content published at Brookings this year. From a quick response to “fake news” out of Saudi Arabia to a deep dive into how upper middle class Americans are hoarding opportunities, these were the pieces that captured your attention and helped set the tone for an eventful year.

And so, counting down from 10 to the most popular piece of the year …

10. Meet the out-of-work


Even in the midst of a prolonged economic expansion with a low national unemployment rate, jobs are not always available and not everyone who wants work can find it. In a report and interactive, Martha Ross and Natalie Holmes explored who these out-of-work American are, and offered solutions to help them find jobs.

9. Shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet


To help stabilize the financial system and promote economic recovery, starting in late 2008 the Federal Reserve purchased large quantities of financial assets. Since October 2014, the Fed hasn’t purchased assets at the same rate, but has kept the size of its balance sheet constant, buying just enough to replace maturing securities. Despite a current tightening campaign, Ben Bernanke argued that the Fed shouldn’t begin to shrink its balance sheet until short-term interest rates are well away from their effective lower bound.

8. Backing into World War III

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) looks at Chinese President Xi Jinping during a joint press briefing in Beijing's Great Hall of the People June 25, 2016. REUTERS/Greg Baker/Pool - RTX2I54B

Americans tend to take the fundamental stability of the international order for granted. But according to Robert Kagan, history shows that world orders do collapse. At this stage, he argued, the United States must check the assertive, rising powers of Russia and China before it’s too late, rather than accept spheres of influence.

7. Views among college students regarding the First Amendment: Results from a new survey

Counter protesters rally at a cancelled No Marxism in America event in Berkeley, California, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Kate Munsch - RC1BDEE0B810

In an effort to explore the critical issue of the First Amendment on college campuses, John Villasenor conducted a national survey of 1,500 undergraduate students at U.S. four-year colleges and universities. The results showed that for many students, there is a significant divergence between the actual and perceived scope of First Amendment freedoms.

6. Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century

Ed Weaver, 64, walks down Maywood Avenue.

As part of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton explained that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s.

5. Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It


In his best-selling book, Richard Reeves argued that the separation of the upper middle class from everyone else is both an economic and social problem, and that the practice of “opportunity hoarding” is especially prevalent among parents who want to perpetuate privilege to the benefit of their children. (Are you a dream hoarder? Play this interactive game to find out.)

4. The geography of desperation in America

Job seeker Dave Mugavero waits in front of the training offices of Local Union 46, a union representing metallic lathers and reinforcing ironworkers, in the Queens borough of New York April 30, 2012. Some 500 people who have waited in front of the offices for a week after the State Department of Labor and the union announced that they were looking to hire iron and wood apprentices were given forms to apply for the 50 available positions on Monday, according to the union. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR31F2T

America today is as divided as it has ever been, in terms of incomes and opportunities, politics, and, perhaps most importantly, hopes and dreams. Carol Graham, Sergio Pinto, and John Juneau II set out to identify where in the U.S. people are least optimistic and most concerned about their futures, and how these feelings of despair differ among races.

3. Which cities are well positioned to land Amazon’s HQ2?

Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery in the Manhattan borough of New York City, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo - TM3EC7S0RRX01

As American cities clamored for Amazon’s attention during a competitive selection process for the tech giant’s second headquarters, Joseph Parilla examined data to see which metro areas in North America were most likely to be top contenders for the lucrative bid.

2. The Wall: The real costs of a barrier between the United States and Mexico

fencing and a U.S. flag along the U.S.-Mexico border

In her Brookings Essay, Vanda Felbab-Brown explored the true costs of building a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, including (but not limited to) the estimated $12 to $21.6 billion price tag of construction.

1. The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is fake news

U.S. President Donald Trump tours the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX36W7G

During President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, his administration announced that he had concluded a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom. The only problem, said Bruce Riedel, is that there was no deal.