Policies of Interest

Here are a few policies that my research/work has been centered around. Enjoy a brief summary of them, and I will soon include links to literature directly related to each of these. A large amount of this information comes directly from sources which will be included in the literature links. I take no credit. 

  • Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program)
    • When did it start:
      • 1935
      • Payments under SSI began in January 1974
    • Size:
      • As of December 2019, the number of recipients was about 8.1 million.
      • $1.1 Trillion in with 98.7% going toward benefit payments in 2019 
    • Summary:
      • Social Security helps older Americans, workers who
        become disabled, and families in which a spouse or
        parent dies. As of June 2020, about 180 million people
        worked and paid Social Security taxes and about 65
        million people received monthly Social Security benefits.
      • Social Security replaces a percentage of a worker’s
        pre-retirement income based on your lifetime earnings.
        The amount of your average wages that Social Security
        retirement benefits replaces varies depending on your
        earnings and when you choose to start benefits. I
    • Features/Facts:
      • Social Security is largely a pay-as-you-go program. Most of the payroll taxes collected from today’s workers are used to pay benefits to today’s recipients. This has major implications as demographics have changed over time and the size of the working population has changed relative to those collecting SSI
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
    • When did it start: 
      • 1938
      • Has experienced regular amendments and change
        • 1947 Portal-to-Portal Act
        • 1949 Fair Labor Standards Amendment
        • 1955 amendment
        • 1961 amendment
        • 1963 Equal Pay Act
        • 1966 amendment
        • 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act
        • 1974 Fair Labor Standards Amendments
        • 1977 Fair Labor Standards Amendments
        • 1983 Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
        • 1985 Fair Labor Standards Amendments
          1986 Amendment
        • 1986 Department of Defense Authorization Act
        • 1989 Fair Labor Standards Amendments
        • 1996 Small Business Job Protection Act
        • 2004 rule change
        • 2007 Fair Minimum Wage Act
        • 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
        • 2016 rule change
      • Proposed amendments
        • 2009/2013 Paid Vacation Act
        • 2014 Minimum Wage Fairness Act
        • 2015 Healthy Families Act
        • 2016 Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act
    • Size:
      • More than 143 million American workers are protected (or “covered”) by the FLSA
    • Summary:
      • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. Covered nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Overtime pay at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.
    • Features/Facts:
      • The FLSA has not always looked like it does today. In fact, it has been regularly updated to expand and modify who is and who is not eligible for protection under the FLSA. A recent study by Derenoncourt and Montialoux (2021) highlighted how the expansion in the 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act impacted the black-white wage gap. It did this by extending federal minimum wage coverage to agriculture,
        restaurants, nursing homes, and other services that were previously uncovered and where nearly a third of black workers were employed. The 1967 extension of the minimum wage can explain more than 20% of the reduction in the racial earnings and income gap during the civil rights era.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
    • When did it start:
      • Enacted in 1975
      • Tax Reform Act of 1986
      • Further expanded in 1990, 1993, 2001, and 2009
    • Size:
      • As of December 2020, about 25 million taxpayers received about $62 billion in EITC. The average amount of EITC received nationwide was $2,461
      • The earned income tax credit, EITC, is the federal government’s largest benefit for workers
    • Summary:
      • A tax credit for working individuals with low incomes. It is designed to have phases intended to encourage more participation in the labor market
    • Features/Facts:
      • Tax Year 2020 Income Limits and Range of EITC
Number of Qualifying ChildrenFor Single/Head of Household or Qualifying Widow(er), Income Must be Less ThanFor Married Filing Jointly, Income Must be Less ThanRange of EITC
No Child$15,820$21,710$2 to $538
One Child$41,756$47,646$9 to $3,584
Two Children$47,440$53,330$10 to $5,920
Three or More Children$50,954$56,844$11 to $6,660
  • Unemployment Insurance
    • When did it start: 
      • Started at the Federal-State level via the Social Security Act of 1935
      • Upheld in 1937 after being challenged as unconstitutional 
    • Size:
      • At the peak in May 2020, ~25 million people were enrolled in Unemployment Insurance
      • The average continued claims (insured unemployed) in 2019 were ~1.7 million. 
    • Summary:
      • Unemployment insurance is a form of social insurance, with contributions paid into the system on behalf of working people so that they have income support if they lose their jobs. The system also helps sustain consumer demand during economic downturns by providing a continuing stream of dollars for families to spend.
      • The UI system is state run, and overseen by the federal government. This means that UI looks very different across state lines. The basic program in most states provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to unemployed workers, replacing about half of their previous wages, up to a maximum benefit amount. At the start of the recession in February 2020, average weekly benefits were about $387 nationwide but ranged from a low of $215 in Mississippi to $550 in Massachusetts, and they were only $161 in Puerto Rico.
    • Features/Facts:
      • Because it is state run and funded, this is a program that is vulnerable to funding shortages. States are not able to print their own money, so they depend on having enough tax dollars coming into the system to support it. 
      • The combo of income support for individual who are out of work and macroeconomic support for aggregate demand in economic downturns makes this a very powerful tool for policy makers
      • The 2020 relief measures expand eligibility through the PUA, but only temporarily. Permanent, comprehensive UI reform would expand eligibility, raise benefit levels, and automatically provide extra weeks of benefits in a recession, which would strengthen the program’s automatic stimulus response in a weakening economy.
  • Medicare
    • When did it start: 
      • 1966
    • Size:
      • ~62 million Medicare beneficiaries  
      • Medicare spending grew 6.7% to $799.4 billion in 2019, or 21% of total national health expenditure
    • Summary:
    • Features/Facts:
      • National health spending is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.4 percent for 2019-28 and to reach $6.2 trillion by 2028. 
      • Because national health expenditures are projected to grow 1.1 percentage points faster than gross domestic product per year on average over 2019–28, the health share of the economy is projected to rise from 17.7 percent in 2018 to 19.7 percent in 2028. 
      • Price growth for medical goods and services (as measured by the personal health care deflator) is projected to accelerate, averaging 2.4 percent per year for 2019–28, partly reflecting faster expected growth in health sector wages. 
      • Among major payers, Medicare is expected to experience the fastest spending growth (7.6 percent per year over 2019-28), largely as a result of having the highest projected enrollment growth.
      • The insured share of the population is expected to fall from 90.6 percent in 2018 to 89.4 percent by 2028.
  • Medicaid
    • When did it start:
    • Size:
      • 70.5 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid as of September 2020
    • Summary:
      • Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income Americans and families. It is funded by both the federal and state government.
      • This is also a national health insurance program — doubly spooky
    • Features/Facts:
      • Medicaid requirements are not standardized across states, which was one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Medicaid expansion was intended to make Medicaid available for everyone up to 133% of the poverty line. Unfortunately, this was challenged and overturned by the Supreme Court. States  no longer had to expand Medicaid following the ACA. 
Federal poverty levels in 2019
People in householdPoverty guideline
1$12,490
2$16,910
3$21,330
4$25,750
5$30,170
6$34,590
7$39,010
8$43,430
Over 8 peopleAdd $4,420 per extra person
  • Affordable Care Act of 2010
    • When did it start:
      • Enacted in March 2010
      • Enrollment in the state and federal Marketplaces started in October 2013
      • Medicaid expansion occurred at different times as states opted in 
    • Size:
      • More than 20 million people gained health coverage
      • Social impact on how health care and health insurance is view nationally 
    • Summary:
      • Individual Mandate – All individuals must have health insurance which meets the law’s minimum standards or face a penalty when filling taxes for the year.
      • Employer Mandate – Employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be required to provide health insurance or pay a fine per worker.
      • Insurance Exchanges – State-based health insurance exchanges were established where the unemployed, the self-employed and workers who are not covered by employer-sponsored health insurance (ESHI) can purchase insurance.
      • Premium Subsidies – Individuals and families whose income is between the 133 percent and 400 percent of the FPL receive subsidies for the purchase of health insurance from the insurance exchanges.
      • Medicaid Expansion – All adults in households with income under 133% of Federal poverty line (FPL), and in states which adopt the expansion, are eligible for receiving Medicaid coverage with no cost sharing.
    • Features/Facts:
      • Medicaid expansion, along with marketplace subsidies and reforms, cost the federal government $128 billion
      •  Use of primary and specialty care services and prescription drug access are higher among low-income adults in states that expanded Medicaid.
      • The reduction in the number of uninsured has been shown to have substantial positive effects across many different outcomes beyond just access to care.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)