As we close out 2018, we are highlighting 10 of the most important and interesting things we learned from Brookings research this year.
1. Artificial intelligence is already impacting the world in significant ways
Brookings President John Allen and Darrell West, the vice president and director of Governance Studies, explored the extensive benefits of utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) in everything from law to smart cities. West and Allen weighed the regulations required to maximize AI’s value while protecting its human users and offered nine steps for maximizing AI’s benefits in the future.
2. Millennials are the most diverse generation in American history
Metropolitan Policy Program Senior Fellow William Frey analyzed the demographic makeup of the millennial generation, now America’s largest generation, which he believes will become a bridge to the country’s more diverse future. Racial and ethnic minorities comprise more than half of the millennial population in 10 states, and over 40 percent of millennials in an additional 10 states.
3. Challenges remain for meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
In a paper released in advance of the UN General Assembly in September, Homi Kharas, John McArthur, and Krista Rasmussen considered how many people are being left behind in the efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As part of their report, the authors examined which countries and regions will miss targets if current trends persist, noting that “independent of population size, countries like Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan, and Somalia will be furthest from the absolute targets in 2030.”
4. President Trump’s staff turnover rates are high (and we have a tool to track them)
In a series of interactive features, Katie Dunn Tenpas, Elaine Kamarck, and Nicholas Zeppos are tracking the turnover rates of President Trump’s cabinet secretaries and the “A Team” (senior-ranking advisers in the executive office of the president). The interactives provide information on each staffers’ previous position, their successor, and the nature of their departure. They also allow readers to compare turnover in President Trump’s White House to prior administrations.
5. Keys for managing the U.S.-China relationship
According to Ryan Hass, the relationship between the United States and China under Donald Trump and Xi Jinping has “deteriorated further and faster than at any point since the establishment of official ties in 1979.” Hass outlines potential principles for managing competition between the two countries, allowing each to pursue their strategic goals while preventing future conflict.
6. The U.S. remains the largest foreign aid donor
In August, Brookings and the Aspen Institute convened the 15th annual Brookings Blum Roundtable, an annual forum of global leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners to discuss innovative ideas and initiatives to alleviate global poverty. In the post-roundtable report, Brookings scholars observed that “U.S. leadership on development cooperation extends not just from the federal government in Washington, but also from the thousands of single and multi-tiered networks of individuals and institutions across the country.” However, they added, “changing from the frame of U.S. government leadership being in charge to American leadership building and guiding networks is important. It requires a web craft rather than a statecraft mindset.”
7. Homes in majority black neighborhoods are worth 23 percent less than those with few or no black residents
Researchers Andre Perry, Jonathan Rothwell, and David Harshbarger examine the real estate markets and homeownership in black neighborhoods, finding that “owner-occupied homes in black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses.” They note that “differences in home and neighborhood quality to not fully explain the devaluation of homes in black neighborhoods.”
8. There is no universal definition of the middle class
In a new paper and series of infographics, Economic Studies program experts describe the various ways academics define the middle class. Definitions tend to vary based on scholars’ backgrounds and what questions their studies try to address, but are typically based on one of three factors: cash (or, economic resources), credentials, or culture. The authors—Richard Reeves, Katherine Guyot, and Eleanor Krause—invite readers to submit comments and their own definitions by emailing email@example.com.
9. Trump’s foreign policy is self-interested, perhaps at the cost of our allies
In his analysis of President Trump’s approach diplomacy, Senior Fellow Bob Kagan argues that this administration disregards the post-World War II security bargain the United States created with its allies, and in doing so, is ignoring America’s prior moral, political, and strategic commitments. He writes: “The United States as rogue superpower, neither isolationist nor internationalist, neither withdrawing nor in decline, but active, powerful and entirely out for itself.
10. Bernanke, Geithner, and Paulson reflect on the government’s response to the financial crisis
Throughout September, experts from across and outside Brookings reflected on the government’s response to the financial crisis of 2007-2009, highlighted by a series of events hosted by the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and the Program on Financial Stability at the Yale School of Management. In one of several noteworthy panel discussions, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretaries Tim Geithner and Hank Paulson, three of the architects of the government’s response to the financial crisis, discussed the most challenging parts of the recession and the reasoning behind the decisions they made while in office.
Banner image: USA midfielder Tobin Heath (17) celebrates her goal with midfielder Carli Lloyd (10) in the first half against Thailand at MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, September 15, 2016 (REUTERS, Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)