May 4, 2018

A New Slant

An article published this week in Quartz argues that America’s manufacturing sector is in far worse shape than most people realize and the decline in manufacturing employment has more to do with trade than automation.

Based on research by Susan Houseman, an economist at the Upjohn Institute, the author makes a few key points:

  • The way economists measure manufacturing output combined with the rapid pace of technological change in the computing sector makes it look like US firms are producing more computers than they actually are.
  • When you remove the computing sector, manufacturing’s real output in 2016 was lower than it was in 2007.
  • Research shows the impact of opening trade with China was far worse than anticipated.

Houseman

The Next Evolution

AEI published an interesting article this week (originally in Health Affairs but much easier to read on AEI) that argues the US should create an automatic health insurance enrollment program to stabilize the ACA. Automatic enrollment programs require the consumer to opt out of a service rather than opt in.

The article describes several successful examples of auto-enrollment programs and makes recommendations for how federal and state policies could help design an auto-enrollment health insurance system. It is a fairly long read but an interesting look at a path forward for the ACA.

Food for Thought

Two interesting articles caught my attention this week although they were originally published a few weeks ago.

The first, “Can Organics Help Rural America Rebound?,” gives a nuanced overview of the challenges and potential of organic farming in rural areas. Organic farmers can earn a premium for their crops, leading to higher median incomes and a decline in the overall poverty rate for “organic hotspots,” but high startup costs and a lack of customers willing to pay a premium limit the expansion of organic farming in rural areas.

organic hotspots

The second is an article from Psychology Today that provides a comprehensive overview of the “loneliness epidemic.” There have been several articles on the issue of loneliness recently (including our own Weekly Insight), but this one paints a picture of what loneliness actually is, how it impacts people, and what we can do about it. It is a long read but well worth it.


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