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Uncertainty is of considerable interest for understanding the behavior of individuals as well as the movements in key macroeconomic and financial variables. Despite its importance, direct measures of uncertainty aren’t widely available. Because of this data limitation, a common practice is to use survey-based measures of forecast dispersion—reflecting disagreement among respondents—to proxy for uncertainty. Is this a reliable practice? Here, we review the distinction between disagreement and uncertainty as concepts, and show that this conceptual distinction carries over to their empirical counterparts, suggesting that disagreement is not generally a good proxy for uncertainty.
In the first of this two post series, we investigated the relationship between state aid and local funding before and after the Great Recession. We presented robust evidence that sharp changes in state aid brought about by the prolonged downturn influenced local budget decision-making. More specifically, we found that relative to the pre-recession relationship, a dollar decline in state aid resulted in a $0.19 increase in local revenue and a $0.14 increase in property tax revenue in New York school districts. In this post, we dive deeper to consider whether there were variations in this compensatory response across school districts, using an approach described in our recent study. For example, one might expect that there would be differences in willingness and ability to offset cuts in state aid across districts with varying levels of property wealth, which in turn might lead to differences in responses. Was this really the case?
Correction: Earlier, we inadvertently posted the content of the second post in this two-part series under today’s headline. We have updated the blog with the correct content and will post part two on November 12. We apologize for the error.
It’s well known that the Great Recession led to a massive reduction in state government revenues, in spite of the federal government’s attempt to ease budget tightening through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act aid to states. School districts rely heavily on aid from higher levels of government for their funding, and, even with the federal stimulus, total aid to school districts declined sharply in the post-recession years. But the local school budget process gives local residents and school districts a powerful tool to influence school spending. In this post, we summarize our recent study in which we investigate how New York school districts reacted when state aid declined sharply following the recession.
We read with interest a new Brookings Institution report, Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon?, assessing the weight of the student debt burden. It was also pleasing to see the New York Times, several of our Twitter followers, and others citing work on this blog in counterpoint.
Basit Zafar, Zachary Bleemer, Meta Brown, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
U.S. student debt has more than tripled since 2004, and at over $1 trillion is now substantially greater than both credit card and auto debt balances. There are substantial potential benefits to be gained from taking out a student loan to fund a college education, including higher earnings and lower unemployment rates for college grads. However, there are significant costs to having student debt: The loans frequently carry relatively high interest rates, delinquency is common and costly (involving potential late fees and collection fees), and the federal government has the power to garnish the wages of individuals with delinquent federally guaranteed student loans (in fact, reported federal recovery rates on defaulted direct student loans exceed70 percent). The ability of U.S. households to make well-informed decisions regarding higher education and student loan take-up for themselves (or members of their households) depends on the extent to which they accurately perceive the costs and benefits of such choices. To what extent does the American public understand the implications of student loan indebtedness? To shed light on this question, we went out and surveyed U.S. households.
Last year, our blog presented results from the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel (CCP) indicating that, at a time of unprecedented growth in student debt, student borrowers were collectively retreating from housing and auto markets. In this post, we compare our 2012 findings to the news for 2013.
Higher education is pivotal in our society—yet, its landscape is changing. Over the past decade, the private, for-profit sector of higher education has seen unprecedented growth, and its market share is at an all-time high. While we know much about traditional four-year public and private non-profit institutions, the for-profit sector seems more opaque. What services does it provide? Who enrolls at for-profits, and how has their enrollment changed during the Great Recession? What are their tuition levels? How about their net prices and student loans? And do their students succeed? We shed some light on these important questions in today’s economic press briefing at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and in a new set of interactive maps and charts released today by the New York Fed.
A key institution that was significantly affected by the Great Recession is the school system, which plays a crucial role in building human capital and shaping the country’s economic future. To prevent major cuts to education, the federal government allocated $100 billion to schools as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly known as the stimulus package. However, the stimulus has wound down while many sectors of the economy are still struggling, leaving state and local governments with budget squeezes. In this post, we present some key findings on how school finances in New York State fared during this period, drawing on our recent study and a series of interactive graphics. As the stimulus ended, school district funding fell dramatically and districts across the state enacted significant cuts across the board, affecting not only noninstructional spending but also instructional spending—the category most closely related to student learning.
morning, the New York Fed released a set of interactive maps and charts illuminating school finances in New York and New
Jersey. These user-friendly graphics illustrate the progression of various
school finance indicators over time. They also make clear the large variability
in finances across districts and states.
Stories abound about recent college graduates who are struggling to find good jobs in today’s economy, especially with student debt levels rising so quickly. But just how bad are the job prospects for recent college graduates when one moves beyond anecdotes and looks at the data? How widespread is unemployment? And how common is it for college graduates to work in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree—that is, how widespread is underemployment? We examined these questions at today’s economic press briefing at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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