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Building for proximity: The role of activity centers in reducing total miles traveled

June 29, 2023

American households live amid a transportation conundrum. From a technological perspective, no developed country makes greater use of private vehicles and their incredible ability to cover long distances in relatively little time. The problem is that all those vehicles come at a real cost to society: growing environmental damage, unsafe roads, higher household transportation spending, and rising costs to maintain all the infrastructure. Even as electric vehicles promise to reduce the climate impacts of driving, this latest innovation still fails to address car dependency's other persistent costs to society.Building for proximity could offer a more holistic solution. Helping people live closer to the centers of economic activity—from downtown hubs to local Main Streets—should reduce the distances people need to travel for many of their essential trips. Shorter trip distances, in turn, make walking, bicycling, and transit more attractive and can improve quality of life. And as more people travel by foot instead of a private vehicle, officials can feel empowered to build complete streets that include lower speed limits, protected bike lanes, and other amenities.

Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Front: Helping Ukrainians Win the War and the Peace by Having Their Backs against Oligarchy

June 20, 2023

Remarkably, while fighting for their lives against Russian invasion, Ukrainians continue to wage their long internal battle against oligarchy and corruption. Ukraine is midway through this generational struggle, which began on the streets of the Maidan in Kyiv nearly a decade ago. In 2014, after deposing a kleptocratic president whose campaigns were bankrolled by agents of the Kremlin, Ukrainians got to work transforming this post-Soviet oligarchy into a modern European state under the rule of law.Continuing to uproot oligarchy—a critical part of winning the war, rebuilding the country, and preparing for EU accession—will require heavy domestic and foreign support. Anti-corruption must be central in that support. This issue drove Ukrainians into the streets a decade ago. It has topped voters' minds in every Ukrainian election since, helped trigger the largest war in Europe since WWII, and is now motivating Ukrainians to win even at enormous cost. Transparency and accountability mechanisms are essential to reassuring Western taxpayers that their wartime aid to Ukraine is safeguarded. They must also be key conditions of the ambitious reconstruction and European modernization that will inspire freedom's cause globally. Countering corruption is as strategically vital today as the policy of containing communism was in the Cold War.

Scaling impact in education for transformative change: Practical recommendations from the Real-Time Scaling Labs

June 12, 2023

Transforming education systems is a complex process that requires understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the educational ecosystem and exploring new approaches, ideas, and initiatives to improve quality learning opportunities for children and youth. However, research shows it is not enough to simply identify effective education initiatives and expand them to more people. It takes a combination of technical expertise, understanding of local contexts, political strategy, collaborative partnership, flexible adaptation, and shared vision to scale and sustain the impact of education initiatives. Scaling cannot occur through one actor alone; it requires concerted and collaborative action by multiple actors at all levels of the education system.Too often, the work of scaling is not captured by typical monitoring and evaluation or research studies and lessons learned are not systematically documented. In response, in 2018 the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings launched a series of Real-time Scaling Labs (RTSLs) to generate more evidence and provide practical recommendations on how to expand, deepen, and sustain the impact of education initiatives leading to transformative change in education systems, especially for the most disadvantaged children and youth.The purpose of this report is to look across all six of the RTSL cases to analyze common themes, insights, and lessons learned about the process of scaling as well as interesting divergences, and to offer considerations for others looking to learn from or build on this work. This report is intended for governments, education implementers, donors, and researchers who are interested in collaborative approaches to scaling impact in education.

New voter turnout data from 2022 shows some surprises, including lower turnout for youth, women, and Black Americans in some states

May 18, 2023

Perhaps the most notable finding with respect to voter turnout is that 2022 turnout rates were nearly as high as the record-setting 2018 midterm turnout rates. Yet unlike the previous midterm elections, the groups with the highest Democratic voting margins—in particular, young people, Black Americans, women, and white female college graduates—did not show greater turnout increases than other groups, and often displayed lower turnout rates than in the 2018 midterms. These groups displayed higher turnout rates than in the low-turnout 2014 midterms, but either did not match or did not improve on their 2018 turnout levels. And only a minority of states registered turnout increases between 2018 and 2022, while an even smaller number showed increases among young and nonwhite voters.Overall, the data places a somewhat new lens on the results of last November's midterms. The stronger-than-expected Democratic performance was largely due to the voting preferences of the party's favored demographic blocs that turned out to vote. But the turnout rates for these blocs—while still higher than most pre-2018 elections—either declined or did not rise since the previous midterms.

We need to talk about well-being: Why the study of well-being is crucial for race relations and advancing prosperity

April 28, 2023

America's road toward a "more perfect union" is paved in race relations. Yet in recent years, there have been many signposts of discrimination and unrest indicating that the country has a very long way to go. In a first-of-its-kind analysis, this report uses newly available data from Gallup to show that measures of well-being offer a valuable way to chart our collective progress toward a diverse, thriving society. High well-being scores are correlated with greater individual and community stability, high racial and ethnic diversity, and lower rates of so-called "deaths of despair," making it a more holistic indicator of how people are faring than traditional, narrower measures such as income or educational attainment. The data underscores that although levels of well-being in the United States remain high relative to other countries, they have declined recently, especially among young adults.

The EU and U.S. diverge on AI regulation: A transatlantic comparison and steps to alignment

April 25, 2023

The EU and the U.S. are jointly pivotal to the future of global AI governance. Ensuring that EU and U.S. approaches to AI risk management are generally aligned will facilitate bilateral trade, improve regulatory oversight, and enable broader transatlantic cooperation.The U.S. approach to AI risk management is highly distributed across federal agencies, many adapting to AI without new legal authorities. Meanwhile, the U.S. has invested in non-regulatory infrastructure, such as a new AI risk management framework, evaluations of facial recognition software, and extensive funding of AI research. The EU approach to AI risk management is characterized by a more comprehensive range of legislation tailored to specific digital environments. The EU plans to place new requirements on high-risk AI in socioeconomic processes, the government use of AI, and regulated consumer products with AI systems. Other EU legislation enables more public transparency and influence over the design of AI systems in social media and e-commerce.

Why the federal government needs to change how it collects data on Native Americans

March 30, 2023

This January, the White House released proposals for reclassifying racial data collection in the 2030 census. Most notably, the proposals include combining race and ethnicity into a single question, as well as creating a new racial category for Middle Eastern and North African people.While these changes are welcome and will go a long way toward helping create a more accurate picture of demographic identity in the U.S., they don't improve data representation for a group that has long been misrepresented: American Indians and Alaska Natives (here collectively referred to as "Native Americans"). In particular, the way the U.S. government currently collects, aggregates, and publishes race and ethnicity data can lead to the exclusion of more than three-quarters of Native Americans from some official data sets. These practices may bias research, contribute to negative policy impacts, and perpetuate long-standing misunderstandings about Native American populations.

A Roadmap for Immigration Reform: Identifying Weak Links in the Labor Supply Chain

March 27, 2023

The last time the U.S. enacted major immigration reform was the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. Since then, little has been done to fix what has become a broken system despite heated debate at the national, state, and local levels. Unfortunately, the immigration debate has also become increasingly disconnected from the exigencies of the U.S. economy, even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in which worker shortages and labor market dysfunction have become increasingly glaring. Worse still, the aging U.S. workforce and structural shifts toward a more service-oriented economy will likely deepen much of this dysfunction unless policymakers can agree to major reforms to shore up the U.S. workforce.This report aims to support these necessary reforms by highlighting the areas of the economy that are most in need of workers. Importantly, our approach not only highlights occupations that are—and will continue to be—in greatest demand, but also the occupations that are most complementary to the existing workforce, ensuring that efforts to meet these labor market needs will support all workers. At the core is a framework that we call the Occupational Opportunity Network, which identifies strategic occupations that will be in high demand for the next decade; are historically immigrant intensive; and have a high degree of complementarity with other occupations. In short, we define highly complementary occupations as those that are central to the U.S. workforce in the sense that they are used as inputs to many different industries and, within those industries, tend to augment the employment of other workers.

How better payment systems can improve public transportation

January 9, 2023

America's payment system is transforming as methods of transacting digitally grow. Digital transactions offer the opportunity to move money faster, cheaper, and more conveniently for customers and businesses. Digital transactions can also unlock new methods for businesses to operate; the online economy is only possible because of online payments.Our current payment system has solved one set of challenges to unlock the new economy, but the system causes significant problems for others. The current system has a cost structure that is expensive for digital micro-payments, which are small dollar payments. Furthermore, digital payments require accessing digital currency which is easy for the wealthy but can be expensive for those with less income. Finally, digital payment acceptance is fragmented, cumbersome, and slow, creating delays.These problems form a perfect storm when it comes to transit agencies. Public transit has a large share of low-dollar, high-volume payments. Transit agencies face unique challenges in adapting their fare payment systems to best meet the needs of riders while simultaneously solving concerns regarding user ease, speed, interoperability, and costs. Public transit is generally funded by a combination of user fees and subsidies by multiple levels of government. Federal, state, and local governments have all embraced public transit to serve multiple goals of providing basic mobility, supporting equity, catalyzing economic growth, and creating a more sustainable transportation system. The federal government's recent infrastructure legislation is a historic investment in transit that provides transit agencies a unique opportunity to improve payment collection systems. To achieve this, payment systems have to become more efficient and effective for low-dollar, high-volume transactions, a key characteristic of transit fare payments.

Can Democracies Cooperate with China on AI Research? Rebalancing AI Research Networks

January 9, 2023

China looms large in the global landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) research, development, and policymaking. Its talent, growing technological skill and innovation, and national investment in science and technology have made it a leader in AI.This working paper considers whether and to what extent international collaboration with China on AI can endure. In Part I, it presents the history of China's AI development and extraordinarily successful engagement with international research and development (R&D) and explains how this history has helped China become a global leader in the field. Part II shows how China has become embedded in international AI R&D networks, with China and the United States becoming each other's largest collaborator and China also a major collaborator with each of the other six countries participating in FCAI. Part III then provides an overview of the economic, ethical, and strategic issues that call into question whether such levels of collaboration on AI can continue, as well as the challenges and disadvantages of disconnecting the channels of collaboration. The analysis then looks at how engagement with China on AI R&D might evolve.

A more equitable distribution of the positive fiscal benefits of immigration

December 7, 2022

Immigration is good for the US economy and for the fiscal picture at the federal level, but some local areasexperience adverse fiscal impacts when new immigrants arrive. Edelberg and Watson propose a transparentsystem for redistributing resources from the federal government to these localities. Local areas wouldreceive $2,500 annually for each adult immigrant who arrived to the US within the past five years withouta college degree—those more likely to generate negative fiscal flows at the subnational level. The fundswould take the form of unrestricted transfers to local educational agencies through the existing Impact Aidprogram and to Federally Qualified Health Centers. This support would help to offset educational, health,and other costs to local areas associated with immigrant inflows, and more equitably share the overall fiscaland economic benefits of immigration. 

Renewing America, Revamping Immigration

December 7, 2022

Because immigration to the U.S. is low by international standards, increasing immigration is a policy that could have positive economic, cultural, humanitarian, and geopolitical impacts. This proposal suggests improvements to immigration policy that balance different objectives while considering social science theory and empirical findings, ethical issues, public opinion, and associated political constraints.