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Economic security requires new measures of well-being

UB researcher says personal savings, policy change are needed to achieve goals, economic stability

( BUFFALO, N.Y. - Economic well-being for low-income families in the U.S. is often determined by federal measures that establish basic requirements for essentials such as food, shelter and clothing, but a new study by a University at Buffalo research team suggests that such a definition is unrealistically narrow. To help families move out of poverty, the existing perspective of economic well-being and its short-term focus on basic needs should reflect possibilities for long-term stability, including a savings plan, rather than day-to-day survival, says Yunju Nam, an associate professor in the UB School of Social Work. "My co-authors and I developed new measures for savings and asset accumulation that consider lasting economic security," says Nam, lead author of the study, published online in the Journal of Consumer Affairs. "These measures promote economic development that can help families improve their economic situation, something that current policy inhibits," she says. Nam says the lack of a savings plan for low-income families is not merely a matter of scare resources. In fact, previous research indicates that it's a lack of information regarding how much to put away that's responsible for most families failing to save. A downloadable photo of Nam is available here: Furthermore, current social welfare policies often discourage savings, since public benefits can be cut when a savings account reaches a certain level. The study specifies precautionary, retirement, homeownership and education savings goals. Using data from various sources, the study estimates the monthly savings amount required to meet each goal while considering time (e.g., different saving periods, interest rates and inflation). Those measures are all forward-thinking variables, rooted in present realities but looking toward conceivable futures, Nam says, which respect material living conditions, but also prepare for potentialities, like job loss, and inevitabilities, like retirement. "Depending on the circumstances, we calculated savings between $155 and $572 each month to address all four goals." No previous asset-based economic measure or set of measures includes all four types of savings, the authors write in their paper. Though these new measures serve as pathways to economic stability, Nam says their practicality can only be realized through related policy development. "That's the piece the wider public needs to recognize," she says. Nam hopes the study creates a new awareness for what she says are "much needed changes." For instance, many states with 529 college savings plans encourage participation through tax-deductions, but the amount of the deduction was arbitrarily set, and fails to encourage participation by low-income families. The current study, however, provides the framework for a more appropriate figure. Many social welfare programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, impose asset-eligibility tests under which benefits can also be cut if previously eligible families start building a savings account. "Without these changes, families, especially low-income families, cannot adequately save," says Nam. "Most of our social welfare policies are based on short-term consumption needs," she says. "New policies are needed that encourage savings and the estimates provided in our study can be useful to help develop those policies. "If we can recognize that families need to save, and then raise the asset ceiling for benefits, then we can stop trading long-term goals for short-term needs."



Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, September 2015

To arrange for an interview with a researcher, please contact the Communications staff member identified at the end of each tip. For more information on ORNL and its research and development activities, please refer to one of our media contacts. If you have a general media-related question or comment, you can send it to MATERIALS - Solar bake test for NASA ... To test an instrument for a spacecraft that will fly closer to the sun than any before, engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of California-Berkeley used ORNL's powerful ...

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In use for more than a century, inhaled anesthetics like nitrous oxide and halothane have made modern surgery possible. Now, in experiments in mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere have added to evidence that certain so-called "volatile" anesthetics -- commonly used during surgeries -- may also possess powerful effects on the immune system that can combat viral and bacterial infections in the lung, including influenza and pneumonia. A report on the experiments is published in the September 1 issue of the journal Anesthesiology. The Johns Hopkins and University ...

NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite sees Tropical Depression 14E disorganized

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Tropical Depression 14E was born in the Eastern Pacific Ocean early on September 1 when NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite passed overhead and looked at it in infrared light. Infrared light shows temperature, which is helpful in determining cloud top temperatures of the thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone line Tropical Depression 14E (TD 14E). The colder the storm, the higher they stretch into the troposphere (lowest layer of the atmosphere) and the stronger the storms tend to be. On September 1 at 0900 UTC (5 a.m. EDT), NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite passed ...

NASA sees wind shear affecting Hurricane Ignacio

NASA sees wind shear affecting Hurricane Ignacio
Hurricane Ignacio is staying far enough away from the Hawaiian Islands to not bring heavy rainfall or gusty winds, but is still causing rough surf. Infrared satellite data on September 1 shows that wind shear is adversely affecting the storm and weakening it. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder or AIRS instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite gathers infrared data that reveals temperatures. When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Ignacio on September 1 at 11:41 UTC (7:41 a.m. EDT), the AIRS data and showed some high, cold, strong thunderstorms surrounded the center ...

Could tiny jellyfish propulsion drive design of new underwater craft?

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EUGENE, Ore. - Sept. 1, 2015 - The University of Oregon's Kelly Sutherland has seen the future of under-sea exploration by studying the swimming prowess of tiny jellyfish gathered from Puget Sound off Washington's San Juan Island. In a paper with four colleagues in the Sept. 2 issue of the journal Nature Communications, Sutherland details how a tiny type of jellyfish - colonial siphonophores - swim rapidly by coordinating multiple water-shooting jets from separate but genetically identical units that make up the animal. Information on the biomechanics of a living organism ...

Marine animal colony is a multi-jet swimming machine, scientists report

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WOODS HOLE, MASS.--Marine animals that swim by jet propulsion, such as squid and jellyfish, are not uncommon. But it's rare to find a colony of animals that coordinates multiple jets for whole-group locomotion. This week in Nature Communications, scientists report on a colonial jellyfish-like species, Nanomia bijuga, that uses a sophisticated, multi-jet propulsion system based on an elegant division of labor among young and old members of the colony. This locomotive solution, the team suggests, could illuminate the design of underwater distributed-propulsion vehicles. "This ...

Can marijuana help transplant patients? New research says maybe

Here's another discovery to bolster the case for medical marijuana: New research in mice suggests that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, may delay the rejection of incompatible organs. Although more research is necessary to determine if there are benefits to humans, this suggests that THC, or a derivative, might prove to be a useful antirejection therapy, particularly in situations where transplanted organs may not be a perfect match. These findings were published in the September 2015 issue of The Journal of Leukocyte Biology. "We are excited to demonstrate for ...


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[] Economic security requires new measures of well-being
UB researcher says personal savings, policy change are needed to achieve goals, economic stability is a service of DragonFly Company. All Rights Reserved.
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