Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
CA Governor Signs Landmark Legislation, Expands Access to Retirement Saving Plans to More than Six Million Californians
- Published on Thursday, October 04, 2012
SCEPA applauds California Governor Jerry Brown for signing the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust, SB 1234, into law. The Act will expand access to retirement savings plans to the 6.3 million private sector workers who currently have do not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. The law creates the first retirement savings plan for private-sector employees administered by the state.
Statements of support for the law from State Senator Kevin de Leon, who co-sponsored the bill, and the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) are available online. Articles from the New York Times, which recently came out in support of the law, the Sacramento Bee, and 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio also cover this landmark legislation.
The California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program will provide a low-fee, low-risk savings vehicle that would be a win-win for employers and employees in the state. Employers will not have to worry about fiduciary or administrative duties; they will have to do nothing more than send a small percentage of an employee’s paycheck via payroll deduction into the new program, unless the employees opt out. Employees will have an efficient way of saving for retirement through the workplace. The new savings program would achieve economies of scale that would be passed on to employees in the form of lower fees without adding to the state’s pension obligations. The state must conduct a feasibility study before implementing its plan.
“When half of the workforce has no retirement plan, it is more important than ever that we come up with innovative solutions – and the states are at the forefront of this fight,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, director of SCEPA. “We hope they will be an incubator for a comprehensive national solution.” Ghilarducci is the author of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts, a policy proposal that served as a model for the California legislation.
On September 14th, the Pension Rights Center, SCEPA, and Dēmos, a New York-based advocacy nonprofit, hosted a forum with state officials to discuss proposals to expand pension coverage for private sector workers at the state level. Titled “Retirement Security for All: A Forum for State Action,” the event included officials from California, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. With an emphasis on collaborative reform efforts, the forum was an acknowledgement of the increasingly urgent need to address a lack of retirement security.
Earlier this year, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass a state-administered retirement plan for the private sector. Its plan covers employees at nonprofit organizations, while California’s plan would cover any eligible private-sector worker. Other states and New York City are considering similar arrangements.
SCEPA Faculty Fellow & INET Launch Blog to Provide Critical Analysis of Influential Microeconomic Text
- Published on Thursday, October 04, 2012
SCEPA Faculty Fellow Sanjay Reddy has joined with INET, a non-profit think tank supporting diversity in economic thought, to launch a new blog to provide alternative perspectives to mainstream microeconomic theory. Titled Reading Mas-Colell, the blog will present commentary and interpretation on the textbook “Microeconomic Theory” by Andreu Mas-Colell, Michael Whinson, and Jerry Green (also known as the MWG). The text is widely used in Ph.D. programs in economics around the world.
Presenting microeconomic theory as a social enquiry, the blog will follow Professor Reddy’s Advanced Microeconomics course taught at the New School for Social Research. Professor Reddy and teaching assistant Raphaële Chappe will post weekly commentary and videos of Professor Reddy’s lectures. A welcome message from Reddy and Chappe is available as well as an initial discussion of topics such as the implications of human agency, the social construction of economic concepts, the political role of economic theory, and the role of mathematics.
- Published on Thursday, September 27, 2012
In the United States, approximately one-third of jobs do not pay enough for full-time workers to provide for their families. One of the major barriers to implementing policies to ensure sufficient wages is the conventional argument that increasing the minimum wage would cause increased unemployment, making it more difficult for low-skill workers and young people to find jobs.
SCEPA Working Paper, "Low Pay, Employment and Labor Market Regulation: Lessons from France?" by SCEPA Faculty Fellow David R. Howell, Bert M. Azizoglu, and Anna Okatenko, finds that the conventional assumption about the relationship between the minimum wage and unemployment rates is false. In fact, the authors find that France has been able to increase the minimum wage without causing adverse effects on employment rates.
This research challenges assumptions about labor policy in the United States. Specifically, the authors find that French policymakers have "all but outlawed low-wage work" by increasing the minimum wage above the standard low-wage threshold, ensuring that even low-education and low-skill jobs provide sufficient wages. While wages were increasing in the mid-1990s, unemployment and employment rates have remained stable or even improved.
The paper contributes three major findings that have significant policy implications in the United States:
- Due to a lack of regulation in the U.S. labor market, the share of low-wage jobs in the United States has been stable at around 30 percent over the last three decades, but there are significant increases in the number of low-paying jobs for young workers, especially men.
- The aggregate data from France offers no suggestion that increases to the minimum wage will raise levels of unemployment, even for less-educated or young French workers.
- Despite an increase in wages and higher labor costs for employers in France during the last two decades, French labor market performance, as measured by the adequate employment rate (AER), has improved relative to the United States. In other words, the percentage of the French workforce that earns above the low-wage threshold and is not underemployed has increased relative to the United States.
These findings suggest revisiting the conventional debate on wages and employment.