CAHS has published some very interesting research in the past on this subject:
- For information town by town in our state a great starting point is Connecticut´s Kids Count Data Book.
- The Kids Count Data Center has all the data sets available in electronic form, and enables you to play with the data right there. You can plot, for instance, the differences between Hartford and its suburbs.
- Pulling Apart: Connecticut Inequality from 1977 to Present (with CT Voices for Children): on how Connecticut went from being one of the most egalitarian places in the world to one of the most unequal states in the country.
- Opportunity in Connecticut: The Impact of Poverty, Race and Education on Family Economic Success (PowerPoint here): a good overview on how race and poverty impact income mobility in the state.
- Less about poverty, but a stark picture of disparities: The Geography of Gun Violence in Connecticut.
We want all children to succeed in school. We all say that, but we know that achieving this is not easy - although Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the country, disparities in test scores between towns and racial groups are by many measures the among the biggest in the country. We want to make sure that all kids, however, are able to thrive: if we want responsible, productive taxpayers down the road, it makes sense that everyone in our communities, parents, educators, schools, work together to do so.
Research shows that one of the main drivers in school achievement is the level of education of the parents. College-educated partents are more likely to read to them, encourage them to go to college, and help them with homework. The more educated they are, the more likely it is that their children will do well in school and graduate. For groups that are traditionally less educated, consequently, we have kids that start school with a build in disadvantage, even if their parents are fully committed to their children.
The obvious question, then, is which children are more likely to face this barrier. Sheryl Horowitz, here at CAHS, has used ACS data through IPUMS to anwer this with a graph:
The numbers are pretty clear - 66% of white parents in Connecticut have a post secondary credential; 27% African American and 32% Hispanic parents do so. These numbers can and do become a source of disparities in education.
We want all children to succeed, but not all children begin their education at the same place. As Connecticut moves to close the achievement gap, we need to include common sense measures aimed at helping both children and parents succeed. Our school and pre-K system needs to look beyond just children, and start thinking on both kids and parents.
Thirty years ago, in the 1980s, close to 60% of the income of all Americans came from work. Today, this figure is barely over 50%. This numbers come from a wonderful study produced by Wells Fargo (you can find it here). Danielle Kurtzleben, at Vox, highlights this chart that explains were income is coming from now:
Surprised? Government transfers have increased its share five points, although the reason behind this is simple: demographics. There are many more Americans on social security now than 34 years ago, meaning that a higher share of income comes from the government, not from wages. This is part of a long term trend - and it is one of the few things that have contributed to the very modest rise in income for most Americans in the last few decades.
Of course, this graph doesn´t tell us much about how income is being distributed, and how it compares to the returns of capital. We discussed this last month, talking about inequality - more here. Spoiler alert: it is not pretty.
A new report, released this morning by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, finds that while overall Connecticut's children are doing well compared to national standards, the state's black and Hispanic children remain far behind in important development measures. CAHS is the Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT grantee for Connecticut.
The KIDS COUNT® policy report, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, ranked Connecticut ninth, using a first-of-its-kind index measuring child progress.
The report, which can be viewed here, contains both national and state-level data, and the new Race for Results index has been designed to see how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups. The indicators for the index were chosen based on the goal that all children should grow up in economically successful families, live in supportive communities and meet developmental, health and educational milestones. Examples of the indicators, reported by race, include the percent of babies born at normal birth-weight, the percent of young children enrolled in an early learning program, and the percent of high school students graduating on time. Each state is ranked, from 1 to 50, based on a combined "Race for Results" index score.
Overall, Connecticut ranks 9th in the nation. This high-rank masks the persistent and large disparities between races here in the state. Connecticut's white children ranked third compared to their peers across the 50 states, just behind New Jersey and Massachusetts. Black children ranked 16 out of 46 states in the index, and Connecticut's Hispanic children ranked 24 out of 47 states (in some states the population of black and Hispanic children was too small to provide enough data for comparison).
So while the main driver behind our high ranking is from white children doing very well, black and Hispanic children contribute by doing better than one-half to two-thirds of the rest of the country. The good news, however, is tempered when we look internally and compare the scores between white and minority children, to reveal a stark inequality in Connecticut. The differences in scores places Connecticut 39th (out of 46) when comparing white children to black children , and nearly last (46 out of 47) in the difference between white and Hispanic children.
We believe that the findings of this report highlights a troubling reality in the state -- that children of color are not receiving the same opportunities as their white peers. We also believe that the findings are a call to action, and that the index underscores the need to invest in high quality early childhood education, workforce development programs, and wrap-around supports for low-income and vulnerable parents.
We have prepared a short document that uses the report's indicators to compare Connecticut's children with children nationwide - the chart can be viewed here.
The minimum wage is one of the most hotly debated topics on economics, and there is an extensive literature on the subject to rely on. Here is what we know on the effects of a minimum wage increase, and why it is good policy for Connecticut:
- Low wages have a direct cost from the state: we end up subsidizing employers as workers have to apply to government benefits to make ends meet. Wal Mart is probably thebiggest welfare queen in the country, in many ways.
- This graph is still the best reason to raise the minimum wage. Right now, most economists think raising it is a good idea.
- From last year: Wade Gibson and Matt Santacroce´s report on who earns the minimum wage in Connecticut, and how it will help the state´s economy.
- There is a widespread consensus that raising the minimum wage reduces poverty, according to this literature review by Arin Dube at UMass Amherst.
- The classic study on how minimum wage increases affects jobs is this one by David Card and Allan Kruger. The found that the evidence that it killed jobs was almost non existent.
- Since then, further research has shed some additional light on the effects of the minimum wage. Mike Konczal has a good review here. Most evidence still points in the same direction: minimum wage increases raise incomes and reduce poverty without destroying jobs.
- For the truly dedicated, the operational word on why this happens is monopsony. The labor market is "special" as "buyers" of labor (that is, employers) have more market power than sellers (that is, workers). Follow the link to see some basic economic modeling.
- The CBO recently published an analysis on the effects of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 at the Federal level. Their take is that it would increase the earnings of 16.5 million workers, and move 900.000 individuals out of poverty. The only families that see a (very modest) drop of income are those making six times the federal poverty level. The report does say that the increased minimum wage might eliminate some jobs (500,000, to be exact), but the tradeoff in terms of families with higher incomes (and which families get those incomes - mostly working poor) is probably worth it.
We at CAHS support the increase - any potential costs are modest, and the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks. Any economic policy has trade offs. An increase in the minimum wage greatly favors those that are the most in need.
Download this report on PDF: GED in CT - a look at the data
The old GED exam is changing. Starting next year, the traditional pen-and-paper test will give way to a new, computer-based system. The transition raises some important issues: the new exam is more expensive, testing facilities need to be upgraded, and test-takers need to be made aware of the new format. CAHS is monitoring these changes, and working with other organizations and state officials to ensure that the new GED test improves on the old.
As we move to the new system, this is an opportunity to look at where Connecticut stands in terms of adult education.
Connecticut leads the US in state resources allocated per adult without a High School Degree or GED. We invest a considerable amount of money in adult education, as it stands now.
Connecticut is ranked first in adult education spending, nation wide. But, what are the returns of this investment? We enroll a lot of students in our adult education system.
Connecticut is ranked 7th in adult education enrollment in the country; we are working with a considerable amount of students in pursuit of their GEDs. As a result, the percentage of adults without a High School diploma or GED is well bellow the national average:
These figures, however, are not as impressive as the look. Connecticut is ranked 15th nationwide for adults 25 to 54 with a GED or High School diploma; 16th for adults 18 to 64. With all the investment and all the enrollments, the current adult education system is not reaching everyone. The breakdown by groups shows who:
Connecticut ranks 6th in the nation for educational attainment for non-Hispanic whites. On the other hand we rank 16th for Hispanics, 25th for African-Americans and 23rd for minorities, on aggregate. We are barely above average with groups other than non-Hispanic whites. This is a reflection of Connecticut’s vast wealth and income disparities (Connecticut ranks 49th on income gap between the top and bottom quintile of working families), and of the achievement gap in our education system, in part one of the consequences of inequality.
As Connecticut embarks on a new GED, we need to make sure our investment in adult education is going where it is needed.
 All data from the Population Reference Bureau for the Working Families Project and Complete College America.
Way back in 2009, when the CBO was estimating how much people were going to pay for health insurance in the soon-to-be-created exchanges, they gave a pretty startling number: $433 a month per person, on average, for a silver plan.
A lot of studies looked similar, and critics started talking about "sticker shock" once the law was implemented. The Affordable Care Act would be forcing people to get expensive insurance that they can not pay, and so on.
Well, we are starting to see the exchanges come to life, and it turns out that the premiums are coming much lower than everyone expected. California just published the list of plans and premiums from their (gigantic) exchange, and the cheapest silver plan for a 40 year old male costs $276 a month, or a 63% of the expected cost. This premiums would be for unsubsidized plans; for individuals below 400% the Federal Poverty line, the costs would be actually much lower (in grey, the subsidy amount):
¿Surprising? Well, sometimes it turns out that legislation does work as intended; a big pool of potential clients, plus standardized, comparable plans, plus plenty of competition between insurance companies translates into pretty affordable prices. Admittedly California is a huge market with more than seven million uninsured and their exchange have pretty detailed cost-control regulations, but the basic structure of Obamacare is sound, so it is not surprising that it might just deliver.
The most important bit of this prices, by the way, are not the premiums for forty-somethings; the success of the law lies in convincing low risk, young patients to enroll instead of paying the penalty. The premiums on that end are pretty affordable, all things considered. Here we have the cheapest bronze (less generous) plans:
Again, not too bad, and the subsidies make a huge difference. This legislation might just work as promised. And that´s very good news. The rates so far in Connecticut don´t look terrible, but we haven´t seen the insurance carriers competing yet. We´ll see.
Tomorrow CAHS will be presenting the Kids Count data book for 2013 (1 pm, Legislative Office Building, Hartford - be there!) tracking seventeen indicators in child well-being in the state of Connecticut. The book has four main focus areas:
- Economic well-being: town by town data on child poverty, EITC, reduced and free school lunch, SNAP recipients and Care 4 Kids enrollment.
- Health and Safety: town by town data on low and very low birth babies, pre-natal care, infant mortality, child death and Husky insurance.
- Education: town by town data on Pre- Kindergarten experience, CMT grade reading goals (4th grade), CAPT 10th grade goals and graduation rates.
- Family and community: town by town data of substantiated child abuse and neglect, teen birth and preventable teen deaths.
The recession has proved challenging, and the indicators on the data set point in that direction. There are, however, some bright spots in some areas:
- Family and community: two of the three indicators, teen births and preventable teen deaths, had substantial improvements, with 20%+ drops. Abuse numbers, however, got considerably worse.
- Health and safety: all but one indicator improved or remained stable. Even in this context, the only indicator that worsened (infant mortality) only had a modest increase between 2004 and 2009.
- Education: all four indicators had minor improvements in the past few years; preK and graduation rates being close to flat.
- Economic well being: this set of indicator was mixed - poverty is up, as well as kids eligible for free or reduced price lunch at schools. The safety net, however, has helped softening the blow; income support programs expanded eligibility and covered many new families, providing additional support when and where it was needed.
Overall, the situation is not a good one: there are more kids in poverty, and the huge disparities between the poor inner cities and wealthy suburbs in the state have widened. The safety net, however, has helped to limit the damage done by the recession, and our education system, although still showing a huge achievement gap between poor and wealthy districts, is slowly getting better.
We are not improving fast enough, that´s for sure. And we need to do more. But it is not all bad news.
We will release the full report and data from the Kids Count book tomorrow at our event at the Capitol, as well as online. The full report includes town by town data for all indicators, and will be available for download after the event. Join us tomorrow to hear from CAHS´staff and our panelist analyzing the data, and get a free copy of the book.
CAHS will release the 2012 Kids Count data book April 30th at 1 pm in an event at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Join us!
Low birth weight is strongly associated with infant mortality. It is usually the result ofeither premature birth (before 37 weeks of gestation) or fetal growth restriction. Kids Count tracks this indicator as it is closely relates to infant mortality and is strongly related to the quality and access to medical care of the mother during pregnancy. Low income women are at a greater risk of facing this issue, so town-by-town disparities are usually large.
What we have found in the numbers is a tale of regional disparities. The percentage of low birth weight kids have gone up in some counties from 2007 to 2009 (Fairfield, New Haven) but has dropped in some areas (Lichfield, Middesex, Hartford). Town by town differences are still significant, however, with inner cities having consistently higher averages than their region.
We will release data points from the book and analysis in the coming days. The full report includes town by town data for several indicators, and will be available for download after the event.