Below are 10 interesting findings from Brookings research during the month of May.
1. Another recession will happen; automatic policy responses can minimize the damage
In a new book produced jointly by the Hamilton Project at Brookings and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, experts lay out a set of policy changes to fiscal programs of the federal government that would improve and quicken the response to the next recession in the United States.
2. Some algorithms risk replicating or amplifying human biases
Nicol Turner Lee, Paul Resnick, and Genie Barton explore how to reduce consumer harms from biases in algorithms that today make many decisions that affect our lives. “If left unchecked,” the authors write, “biased algorithms can lead to decisions which can have a collective, disparate impact on certain groups of people even without the programmer’s intention to discriminate.”
3. Housing costs have risen faster than incomes over the last decade in the US
Jenny Schuetz examines housing stress for the middle class in terms of affordability, inadequate space, commute times, and homeownership. “Housing matters for the quality of life of the American middle class, in terms of quality, cost and location,” Schuetz writes. “There are wide variations in the kind of housing challenges faced by middle class families—by metro area, race, income level and family type. Policies to reduce housing stress are available, but will have to be carefully designed and implemented.”
4. Trump’s approach to Middle East peace on “a hopeless path”
Shibley Telhami argues that President Trump’s approach to a plan for Middle East peace “not only breaks with international law and long-held U.S. policies, it also enshrines historic U.S. responsibility in an unjust process that will ultimately backfire against Israel, the Palestinians, and American interests.”
5. Experts explain socialism
E.J. Dionne, Jr. and William Galston offer a primer on socialism. They explore why it has re-entered U.S. politics, what “democratic socialism” means in contrast to past versions, and what the political implications are. “The resurgence of socialism is a warning sign for those who want to preserve this system and an opportunity for those who would reform it,” they argue. “And, as has happened before, their two causes may come to overlap.”
6. US investment in infrastructure is sending mixed signals
Joseph Kane and Adie Tomer examine recent spending patterns on water and transportation infrastructure, concluding that “the country’s investments are sending mixed signals.” They note that spending on operations and maintenance is up, but overall spending is down.
7. Self-employment is good for your health
Using data from a German survey on individuals and their careers over time, Milena Nikolova finds that “becoming one’s own boss improves the mental health of those who were initially unemployed and of individuals who were formerly full-time employees.”
8. The future of Brexit is as uncertain as ever
After three failed attempts to get Parliament’s approval of a Brexit deal, and Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation announcement, Amanda Sloat looks at who might succeed May, the increasing U.S. role in the issue, and what happens next. If there is no parliamentary agreement or another extension, “no deal” is the default, she says.
9. A majority of people don’t read businesses’ terms of service
10. The pace of global poverty reduction is slowing
Two years ago, the World Poverty Clock indicated that one person escaped poverty every second. Last year, it was 0.8 people per second, and the latest projections show it has slowed even further. Homi Kharas, Kristofer Hamel, Martin Hofer, and Baldwin Tong conclude that, “The resulting new estimates and forecasts on the state of global poverty … point to a depressing new dynamic.”