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Observing the Observers: The OAS in the 2019 Bolivian Elections

March 10, 2020

This study focuses primarily on the 'Final Report' of the OAS audit of the election results and shows how the authors of that report misrepresent the data and evidence found in the audit in an attempt to further bolster their claims of intentional manipulation on the part of Bolivia's former electoral authorities. The OAS Final Report identifies many real problems with the management of the elections that should be addressed. However, despite claims to the contrary, it does not provide any evidence that those irregularities altered the outcome of the election, or were part of an actual attempt to do so.

Preliminary Analysis of the Findings of the Final Report on the OAS Audit

December 12, 2019

The OAS final audit of the Bolivian elections, published on December 4th, concludes that there was "intentional manipulation" and "serious irregularities" that make it impossible to verify the results of the election. Members of the de facto government and other critics of former president Evo Morales have used the findings of the OAS audit to corroborate allegations of electoral fraud leveled in the hours and days following the vote. But the following analysis shows that the report itself presents a biased and misleading account of the audit's findings, presenting serious inaccuracies and downplaying or ignoring altogether any evidence that runs counter to the fraud narrative that the OAS has promoted since the day after the election.This analysis is not meant to serve as a validation of the electoral results themselves. Rather, it is an analysis of the OAS's actual findings and of the neutrality and rigor of the audit itself. This is not about supporting one political party or candidate over another. Nor is it solely about Bolivia. This is about the need for independent electoral observation in the hemisphere, and about accountability for an organization that has abandoned any semblance of neutrality under the leadership of Secretary General Luis Almagro.

What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote Count? The Role of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission

November 8, 2019

This paper presents results from statistical analysis of election returns and tally sheets from Bolivia's October 20 elections. This analysis finds no evidence that irregularities or fraud affected the official result that gave President Evo Morales a first-round victory. The paper presents a step-by-step breakdown of what happened with Bolivia's vote counts (both the unofficial quick count, and the slower official count), seeking to dispel confusion over the process. The report includes the results of 500 simulations that show that Morales's first-round victory was not just possible, but probable, based on the results of the initial 83.85 percent of votes in the quick count.

Bolivia’s Economic Transformation: Macroeconomic Policies, Institutional Changes, and Results

October 1, 2019

Bolivia's economy has undergone a structural economic transformation during Evo Morales's presidency. This paper looks at the government's macroeconomic policies, institutional and policy changes, as well as overall economic and social indicators in the 13 years since the Morales government took office.

Headwinds to Growth: The IMF Program in Ecuador

July 15, 2019

This report examines Ecuador's March 2019 agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and finds that Ecuador is likely to have lower GDP per capita, higher unemployment, and increased macroeconomic instability under the program. Even the program itself, the authors note, projects Ecuador to have a recession this year and increased unemployment for each of the first three years of the program. But these projections are optimistic, the report concludes.

Young Workers in Nonstandard Work Arrangements, 2005-2017

June 24, 2019

Nonstandard or alternative employment relations refer to employment by a temporary help agency or contract company or as an on-call worker or day laborer. We refer to these nonstandard employment relations (which involve an employer and employee) plus independent contracting collectively as nonstandard or alternative work arrangements in this report. Contingent workers are workers who do not expect their job to last or who report that their jobs are temporary. Contingent workers and workers in alternative work arrangements are measured separately. Both have become increasingly prominent in theoretical and policy thinking about how employment has changed in recent years in the United States and other postindustrial countries. The reason for that prominence is because of a subset of independent contractors, the gig worker. As this report clarifies, gig work is a type of independent contractor whose work is mediated by electronic platforms such as Uber, GrubHub, or TaskRabbit.Information on the extent of nonstandard work arrangements, and how they have changed during the past several decades, has only recently been available. The May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement (CWS) — conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 12 years after the last CWS and 22 years after the first — provides an opportunity to examine how contingent work and nonstandard work arrangements have changed over the last two-plus decades. In-depth analyses of these changes between 2005 and 2017 were provided in a report by Eileen Appelbaum, Arne Kalleberg, and Hye Jin Rho. The report, "Nonstandard Work Arrangements and Older Americans, 2005-2017," was released jointly by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Economic Policy Institute. This report will build on the earlier analysis with special attention to how younger workers, ages 21 to 25, with a college degree and with less than a college degree, have fared.

No-Vacation Nation, Revised

May 22, 2019

The United States continues to be the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation and holidays. This report is the third revision of No-Vacation Nation (2007) and No-Vacation Nation Revisited (2013) comparing the statutory requirements for paid vacations and paid holidays in 21 rich countries (16 European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand) and the United States. Workers in the European Union are legally guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days per year, with some countries mandating up to at least 30 days. Nearly all other rich countries also provide paid holidays to supplement the paid vacation required to their workers.Close to 1 in 4 US workers do not receive paid vacation or paid holidays. The absence of a mandated paid vacation time policy disparately impacts lower-wage workers, those employed part-time, and workers employed by smaller businesses. Throughout the report, we distinguish between paid vacations — also referred to as paid annual leave — and paid holidays, which are organized around particular fixed dates in the calendar. Our analysis does not cover paid leave for other reasons such as sick leave, parental leave, or leave to care for sick relatives.

Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela

April 1, 2019

This paper looks at some of the most important impacts of the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US government since August of 2017. It finds that most of the impact of these sanctions has not been on the government but on the civilian population.The sanctions reduced the public's caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela's economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans.Even more severe and destructive than the broad economic sanctions of August 2017 were the sanctions imposed by executive order on January 28, 2019 and subsequent executive orders this year; and the recognition of a parallel government, which as shown below, created a whole new set of financial and trade sanctions that are even more constricting than the executive orders themselves.We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well.

The Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry: Beyond Government-Granted Monopolies

March 6, 2019

Patent monopolies on prescription drugs raise their price by one or two orders of magnitude above the free market price. In this way, they are equivalent to tariffs of several thousand percent or even tens of thousands of percent. Just as tariffs lead to economic distortions, and provide incentives for corruption, so do patent monopolies on prescription drugs. We continually see evidence of this as drug companies are routinely found to make payoffs to keep generics out of the market, promote their drugs for uses for which they are inappropriate, and conceal evidence they are less effective than claimed, or even harmful.  The enormous distortions from patent monopolies mean that there are large potential gains from  working around them. This working paper discusses four mechanisms for getting drug prices closer to free market levels with actions at the state or local level or by private actors.

Nonstandard Work Arrangements and Older Americans, 2005–2017

February 28, 2019

Nonstandard or alternative employment relations refer to employment by a temporary help agency or contract company or as an on-call worker or day laborer. We refer to these nonstandard employment relations (which involve an employer and employee) and independent contracting collectively as nonstandard or alternative work arrangements in this report. Contingent workers are workers who do not expect their job to last or who report that their jobs are temporary. Contingent workers and workers in alternative work arrangements are measured separately. Both have become increasingly prominent in theoretical and policy thinking about how employment has changed in recent years in the United States and other post-industrial countries.Until recently, only relatively poor information on the extent of contingent work and nonstandard work arrangements and how this has changed during the past several decades has been available. The May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement (CWS) — conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 12 years after the last CWS and 22 years after the first — provides an opportunity to examine how contingent work and nonstandard work arrangements have changed over the last two-plus decades. This report examines these changes between 2005 and 2017, with special attention to how older workers — ages 55 to 65 and 65+ — have fared.

Who Pays if We Raise the Social Security Payroll Tax Cap? (2019 update)

February 13, 2019

Most Americans know that their earnings are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Not as many are aware that the amount of earnings subject to the tax, while liable to change, is capped at the same level for everyone, regardless of total earnings. This year, the maximum wage earnings subject to the payroll tax is $132,900.The cap on the Social Security payroll tax means that those with the highest earnings effectively pay a lower rate. People who earn a million dollars a year pay this tax on about an eighth of their earnings. People who earn a quarter of a million dollars pay the tax on just over half their earnings. It is important to note that this just applies to wage earnings, not other forms of income. If the individual earning $250,000 a year makes another $250,000 from investments, then they end up paying the Social Security tax on about a fourth of their income. The vast majority of workers fall below the $132,900 cap though, and have significantly less stock or other income, if any. As a result, all or most of their income is subject to the payroll tax.

Passing Paid Leave Laws Is Just the Beginning: Lessons from the Field on Raising Awareness

February 4, 2019

In the absence of national paid leave laws, some states have responded by creating programs that provide partial replacement of lost wages when urgent health or family needs mean workers must miss work. The three states with the longest track records are California, which implemented paid family leave in 2004; New Jersey, which implemented it in 2008; and Rhode Island, which followed in 2014. All three have had paid medical leave to address a worker's own serious illness for 70 years or more. Today, six states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that provide workers with paid family and medical leave. Despite the existence of these state laws, both awareness and usage — especially among workers in low-paid jobs and members of minority communities — have been low.This report examines a number of innovative projects in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island designed to produce usable knowledge about what works — and what doesn't — in raising awareness among workers most likely to need paid family leave and least likely to know about it. It draws the lessons learned in the field and provides guidance to advocates in states with paid family and medical leave programs as they design interventions to address this challenge.