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Research Archive

January 29, 2024

The Value of a Bachelor’s Degree

Key Points As public confidence in higher education has declined, Americans have become less sanguine about the bachelor’s degree and skeptical of its potential return on investment. Nonetheless, four-year degrees continue to be associated with significant economic and noneconomic benefits for individuals and communities. For those who want to attend college, have adequate financing options, and can finish their degrees, the benefits of…

January 12, 2024

Small-Dollar Demonstration Projects Can’t Hide That a National Guaranteed Income Program Would Cost Trillions

Abstract While some have declared that short-term guaranteed income demonstrations (patterned on universal basic income schemes) are working almost universally, such cheerleading misses a major drawback: the enormous costs that would arise if such programs operated at a national level, as proponents intend. This report reviews the costs of some recent proposals to operate such…

October 12, 2023

Blue-State Benefits: How Federal Grants Fail to Consider Population Shift

Abstract The federal government annually awards hundreds of billions of dollars in grants to states. In this report, I examine funding for the largest federal grant programs for 2020–22, focusing on grants-in-aid that do not fully adjust for population change. For states losing population, I calculate “avoided reductions,” the difference between the grants a state…

June 22, 2023

The Cost of Thriving Has Fallen: Correcting and Rejecting the American Compass Cost-of-Thriving Index

AbstractThe Cost-of-Thriving Index (COTI), developed by American Compass Executive Director Oren Cass, asks whether families can afford a middle-class lifestyle. It compares the costs of five goods and services to the income of a typical full-time male earner. Cass concludes that the cost of thriving has increased dramatically, from 40 weeks of work in 1985…

May 1, 2023

Promoting Mobility Through SNAP: Toward Better Health and Employment Outcomes

Abstract The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is among the nation’s largest safety-net programs, helping low-income households afford food, improve nutrition, and support employment. As program expenditures continue to grow, assessing SNAP from the perspective of employment and health outcomes is crucial. We analyze administrative and survey data to document trends in employment and health…