Another month flew by (plus a couple of extra days post-Thanksgiving) so here is another collection of some of the research and analysis from Brookings experts over the last month.
1. GROWING TRADE AND CYBERSECURITY LINKS INCREASE RISKS
Joshua Meltzer explains the intersection between trade and cybersecurity. “By treating goods, services, or data from high-risk countries less favorably than those from countries where cyber risk is lower,” he writes, “cybersecurity measures may violate various World Trade Organization and free trade agreement commitments.” Meltzer argues that moving forward, there needs to be a new set of trade rules focusing on cybersecurity, and taking into consideration “cybersecurity standards, commitments to risk-based cybersecurity measures, better sharing of information, and access to data.”
2. MOVING FEDERAL AGENCIES INTO THE HEARTLAND COULD BOOST LOCAL ECONOMIES
Alan Berube examines the Helping Infrastructure Restore the Economy (HIRE) Act, which mandates that the federal government move certain parts of federal agencies in the Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Commerce out of the Washington, D.C., metro area and into the heartland. “It’s right for our federal government to consider how, as a good-jobs employer, it might augment economic development in America’s struggling regions,” he says. However, it is important to consider community size and industry alignment for these agencies, rather than arbitrarily placing them in struggling states.
3. BETTER EDUCATED, BETTER PAID WORKERS ARE MOST VULNERABLE TO AI
Analysis from the Metropolitan Policy program has shown that workers with bachelor’s degrees are most exposed to risk from artificial intelligence, at more than five times as exposed as a worker with a high school diploma. Those with professional or advanced degrees will be almost four times as exposed. In terms of gender, men are also significantly more exposed, while women are heavily involved in “interpersonal” professions like healthcare and education that shelter them from AI.
4. CHINA HAS RESET ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH NORTH KOREA
Evans J.R. Revere describes North Korea as a “permanent nuclear-armed state,” which gives Pyongyang leverage over its neighbors, including China. Through a series of summits between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the two have built more stable, bilateral ties, which China may use to further destabilize ties between South Korea and the United States. The U.S. also can no longer rely on Beijing to support increased sanctions and pressure on North Korea to denuclearize.
5. SOUTHERN BORDER DETENTION CAMPS ARE A PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY FAILURE
John Hudak and Christine Stenglein examine health conditions faced by migrants in detention camps on the southern border. Three children have died from influenza complications while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection, but CBP has released a statement saying they would not begin administering vaccinations. “Even as detainees are held in substandard conditions by the federal government—without regular access to basic human needs, health care, and nutrition—the absence of policy planning from the Trump administration has exacerbated the problem by ensuring a lack of staff, in turn leading to large backlogs and extended processing times,” they write.
6. CONGRESS OVERSEES REGULATORY PROCESS THROUGH MEMBER COMMENTS
Rachel Augustine Potter discusses congressional oversight of the regulatory process through letters. While it may seem like Congress exercises limited oversight over the thousands of regulations published by federal agencies, her research shows that “congressional oversight may be more robust than it initially appears.” While Congress holds few hearings about regulations in the Federal Register, she notes that members of Congress send letters directly to federal agencies, often driven by ideological opposition to the rule or regulation in question.
7. CHINA’S ACTIONS IN SOUTH CHINA SEA UNDERMINE INTERNATIONAL LAW
Lynn Kuok argues that China’s actions in the South China Sea undermine international law. Her recommendations for U.S. policy include “regularly asserting maritime rights and freedoms and encouraging others to do so; continuing to hold bilateral and multilateral drills in the region with allies and partners; strengthening ties with its regional allies and partners, the Philippines in particular; communicating to China that building on Scarborough Shoal would have serious repercussions; supporting coastal states’ efforts to stand up to incursions into their exclusive economic zones; and cooperating with its allies and partners to promote development in the region.”
8. DECLINE OF LOCAL JOURNALISM CONTRIBUTES TO INCREASING PARTISANSHIP
Clara Hendrickson describes the crisis facing local journalism in the U.S. and the negative effects of this decline nationwide. “The traditional business model that once supported local newspapers–relying on print subscribers and advertising to generate revenue–has become difficult to sustain as the audience for local news continues to shrink and advertising dollars disappear,” she writes. As newspapers continue to lay of staff, they are unable to provide comprehensive coverage on issues like healthcare and education and have less capacity to investigate potential stories. This leads to a decrease in political engagement; communities with fewer reporters have seen fewer candidates running for local office; and turnout in state and local elections has fallen.
9. THE FACTS BEHIND STUDENT LOAN DEBT
Kadija Yilla and David Wessel outline five facts about student loan debt. Borrowers with graduate degrees make up 50% of student debt, despite constituting only 26% of households with student loan debt. Those with graduate degrees are also least likely to default on their loans, while those who borrowed to attend two-year for-profit institutions are most likely to default. In contrast, over half of bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with less than $20,000 in debt, while 30% graduate with no debt; however, even for students who do not have to pay tuition, many borrow in order to pay living expenses.
10. DECREASING THE NUMBER OF LOW WAGE WORKERS
Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman explain who the low wage workers in America are. Forty-four percent of Americans are classified as low-wage workers, they find, and women and Black workers are overrepresented in this group. In order to improve employment outcomes, Ross and Bateman suggest targeting the availability of jobs as well as the assets and circumstances of workers. Plus, they suggest improving worker skills, addressing bias and discrimination in employment, and promoting good jobs through economic development.