The Effect of Marijuana Decriminalization Laws and Labor Market Outcomes

November 28, 2016

Between 1976 and 2016, U.S. incarceration swelled by nearly 500%. While similar numbers of white and black men were incarcerated during this period, black men were incarcerated at about five times the rate as white men when adjusting for population. As much as 6% of the U.S. black male population was behind bars at any given point from the late 1990s through the mid 2000s. Arrests for marijuana possession are an important contributor to the growing incarceration rate: Black males are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana related offense than whites (ACLU, 2014). Over this time period, twenty one states passed marijuana decriminalization laws. The key feature of these laws is that they decrease the penalty for marijuana possession from an arrestable offense to, at most, a civil violation, similar to a traffic ticket. Exogenous variation in these laws is used in this study to estimate how changes in the probability of being arrested for marijuana possession affects labor market outcomes for black and white males.


The Effect of State Mandated Sex Education on Teenage Sexual Behaviors and Health

November 28, 2016

Sex education is an informational policy tool intended to reduce the future costs of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. As the level of concern over teenage pregnancy and STDs as economic and public health issues increased over time, states implemented and encouraged the teaching of sex education. The debate over school based sex education in the United States is centered on two major questions. Firstly, do schools have a responsibility to teach students about issues related to sex? Secondly, if schools teach sex education, what type of information should be presented? Using data from multiple sources, including the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveys, National Vital Statistics, and the CDC’s Wonder statistics on STDs, this study presents the first examination of the effect of state level sex education mandates on teenage sexual behaviors, STDs, and birth rates.


Initial Findings of the Seattle Minimum Wage Study

November 17, 2016

The City of Seattle minimum wage ordinance went into effect in April 2015, with a minimum wage of $10 or $11 depending on the size of the employer and whether the employer provides health insurance. The mandate covers nearly all workers in the City of Seattle, regardless of where the employer is headquartered. The wage rate is scheduled to increase incrementally every January through 2021 and is tied to inflation thereafter.


Inventory of Research on Economic Self-Sufficiency

October 27, 2016

This research brief describes a critical first step in the development of ESSPRI’s research agenda. It summarizes a lengthier document (found at that inventories what is known about policies to encourage economic self-sufficiency. This inventory helps delineate what we currently know about how existing policies affect economic self-sufficiency, and, perhaps more importantly, highlights the pressing questions we need to answer. The inventory tries to identify what we do and do not know about the longer-term effects of policies intended to encourage economic self-sufficiency, where existing research seems to reach a consensus, where it is in disagreement, and where there is little research on these longer-term effects. The inventory does not cover every possible policy that could increase work or earnings. Rather, the emphasis is on policies targeting populations for which achieving economic self-sufficiency is a challenge, and on evaluations that have a longer-run perspective and try to provide evidence on economic self-sufficiency in adulthood. To better serve the goal of providing one-stop shop for information on policies designed to increase economic self-sufficiency, the research inventory is a live document that will be updated as new research emerges. Feedback in the form of suggested research to add to the inventory or comments on the interpretation of the existing research can be sent to


Evaluation of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire

October 27, 2016

Big Brothers and Big Sisters (BBBS) of Orange County and the Inland Empire was founded with the goal of improving outcomes of children by providing professionally trained adult mentors. Such a program entails substantial costs, including identifying, training, and matching qualified mentors, the time of the mentors, and general operational costs. There is, at this point, limited evidence regarding the effectiveness of the BBBS program. It is of interest to practitioners and funders of the program, and others like it, to study the relationship between BBBS participation and measures of youth success in order to determine whether the program is achieving its goals.








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