Public Policy is social agreement written down as a universal guide for social action. We at The Policy ThinkShop share information so others can think and act in the best possible understanding of "The Public Interest."

Jobs Return to Peak, but Quality Lags – WSJ

America’s work is work, but it’s not working very well.   Let us explain.

The world economy has been transformed the American job market does not now seem able to sustain the large middle class that many argue made American great and unique.

“The U.S. finally clawed back all the jobs lost since the recession hit in late 2007, a watershed in a grindingly slow recovery that finds a labor market still in many ways weaker now than before the downturn.U.S. payrolls in May hit an all-time high after the first four-month stretch of job creation above 200,000 since the boom days of the late 1990s, according to the Labor Departments latest employment report. In all, employers added 217,000 jobs last month, nudging payrolls above the prior peak in January 2008.”

More via Jobs Return to Peak, but Quality Lags – WSJ.

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Blogosphere, Job Sector

Coping with Grief and Loss: A guide to healing when mourning the death of a loved one – Harvard Health Publications

Perhaps one of the most terrible things about life is that it ends.   At the same time, the fragility of life is perhaps what also makes it beautiful and precious for many of us.  And so, it is perhaps most painful when we have to see others die than it is to finally succumb ourselves.  In the behavioral health profession this process of experiencing the death of others is referred to at grief and loss…  Most of us do not handle it very well.  Both the lead up to it, the moment when it happens and then our often long process of trying to understand and deal with it.

The Policy ThinkShop recommends the following Harvard medical resource to help you broaden your perspective on death and dying–the inevitable crisis we often face more than once in our lives.


“Compassionate advice for dealing with the loss of a loved one. The loss of a loved one can be a profoundly painful experience. The grief that follows may permeate everything, making it hard to eat, sleep, or muster much interest in the life going on around you.

This emotional maelstrom can affect behavior and judgment. It’s common, for example, to feel agitated or exhausted, to sob unexpectedly, or to withdraw from the world. Some people find themselves struggling with feelings of sorrow, numbness, anger, guilt, despair, irritability, relief, or anxiety.

While no words can erase grief, Coping with Grief and Loss can help you navigate this turbulent time.

In its pages, you’ll find advice on comforting yourself, commemorating your loved one, and understanding the difference between grief and depression. You’ll also find special sections on coping with the loss of a child, parent, or spouse.

Coping with Grief and Loss also includes information on navigating life when a loved one is terminally ill, on end-of-life planning, and on ways to talk about death.

Loss affects people in different ways. There is no “right” way to grieve, and no timetable or schedule for grieving. This Special Health Report aims to help you cope with the loss of a loved one at your own pace and in your own way. It offers numerous physical, emotional, and social strategies that help healing take place.”

More via Coping with Grief and Loss: A guide to healing when mourning the death of a loved one – Harvard Health Publications.

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, News

Your kid got “As” and you did all you could possibly do to ensure their success… But Jr. is still dependent on you and you are trying to prepare to retire and rest? How can this be???

The National Center for Education Statistics is following the young.  It is doing so for very important reasons.  What becomes of America’s youth post educational experience?

This query is significant for most today because the recent deep and lingering recession has shaken many of the tenets families have long taken for granted: Go to college, do well, graduate, marry well, do well…  This “fairy tale” may no longer be the case for a significant number of young adults.  This is especially troubling for baby boomer parents who have experience a lifetime of social mobility and progress.  As the baby boomers age, they are increasingly troubled by an unexpected contradiction in today’s economy:  you may have done all the rights things and your parents may have done their very best, and you are still not ready for success years after you left your university cocoon.

The Policy ThinkShop invites you to read and comment on the following report by the National Center for Education Statistics so that you can help us give perspective to the growing debate addressing the inadequacies of our educational system as these relate to the emerging labor market.

Full Report courtesy of The Policy ThinkShop:

“The Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) tracks the educational and developmental experiences of a nationally representative sample of high school sophomores in the United States.1 This First Look report provides a descriptive portrait of these 2002 tenth-graders a decade later, when most were about 26 years old and had been out of high school for 8 years. In so doing, this report draws heavily on information collected during the 2012 third follow-up data collection.2 By this time, many members of the cohort had already completed postsecondary education, started or even changed careers, and started to form families.”

More via:

Full report at:

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Blogosphere, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Education Policy, Education Reform, News, Parenting

Many Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire

If you are 50 years or older this year, you are a baby boomer.  You are part of the largest generation and you and your demographic cohort have been making waves and will continue to do so well past mid century into the 2050s.   Ironically, the baby boomers made much of their generational ruckus by not getting along with their parents and the lifestyle given to them by those parents which they proceeded to tear asunder.  Well, it appears that the boomers are at it once again, making waves, changing the lifestyle of previous “Seniors” and once again creating a conflict between the old and the young… This time it is the boomers who are the elders and, once again, they are in conflict—this time with the generation behind them.  They are refusing to leave a job market that has already been quite harsh to the generations behind the boomers ….

“True to their \”live to work\” reputation, some baby boomers are digging in their heels at the workplace as they approach the traditional retirement age of 65. While the average age at which U.S. retirees say they retired has risen steadily from 57 to 61 in the past two decades, boomers — the youngest of whom will turn 50 this year — will likely extend it even further. Nearly half (49%) of boomers still working say they don\’t expect to retire until they are 66 or …”

More via Many Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire.

Filed under: Aging, Blogosphere, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Job Sector, News, Parenting

Gallup’s Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2013

The Policy ThinkShop team wishes you and all of our visitors this year a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

Here are some fun facts about our health that will get us thinking about a healthier future and a happy 2014 from the Gallup organization:

Highlights from the health and well-being findings published in 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gallup published nearly 100 unique articles in 2013 about Americans\’ health and well-being. Through its daily surveys, conducted year-round, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uncovers new insights and provides the most up-to-date data available on Americans\’ mental state, exercise and eating habits, healthcare coverage, physical health, and financial well-being. The following list represents Gallup editors\’ picks for the top 10 most important findings from this year.

Lacking employment is most linked to having depression: For Americans, being unemployed, being out of the workforce, or working part time — but wanting full-time work — are the strongest predictors of having depression. Gallup found that these relationships hold true even after controlling for age, gender, income, education, race and ethnicity, marital status, having children, region, obesity, having health insurance, and being a caregiver. Bonus finding: Depression costs U.S. employers $23 billion in absenteeism each year.

Obesity is a growing problem for Americans: The adult obesity rate has been trending upward in 2013 will likely surpass rates since 2008, when Gallup and Healthways began tracking. The obesity rate has increased across almost all demographic groups.

Those who are actively disengaged at work are more likely to smoke: Eighteen percent of actively disengaged workers — those who are emotionally disconnected from their jobs — light up vs. 15% of other workers. Bonus finding: Workers who smoke cost the U.S. economy $278 billion annually.

Female veterans have a more optimistic life outlook: Female veterans of the U.S. military have a much more optimistic outlook on their lives than their male counterparts do. Female veterans\’ future life ratings are similar to those of women in the general U.S. population, but male veterans\’ ratings trail behind other men\’s ratings.

Heart attacks hit women harder, emotionally speaking: American women who say they have had a heart attack at some point in their lives have an average Emotional Health Index score that is eight points lower than the average score among women who have not had a heart attack. In comparison, the average Emotional Health Index score among men who have had a heart attack is four points lower than it is among men who have not.

Depression rate drops in areas hardest hit by Sandy: One year after Superstorm Sandy, reports of clinical depression among those living in the hardest hit areas have mostly recovered to levels seen before the storm. But reports of anger in the most affected areas have increased. Bonus finding: More residents smoke and fewer eat healthily than before the storm.

Income more to blame for obesity than food deserts: In a first-of-its-kind study exploring the relationship between adult obesity and food deserts, Gallup found that lack of access to grocery stores alone doesn\’t matter in terms of obesity; it only matters when Americans also have low incomes. But being low-income is associated with higher obesity rates, regardless of access to food.

Engaged employees have a healthier lifestyle: Employees who are engaged at work are more likely to report eating healthier, exercising more frequently, and consuming more fruits and vegetables than workers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged.

Single-parent households struggle more to afford food: Thirty-one percent of single-parent households said there were times in the past 12 months when they struggled to afford food, compared with 19% two-parent households. Younger parents and parents with three or more children also had more trouble affording food at times.

Among U.S. workers, lack of exercise is linked more to obesity than eating habits: Exercising fewer than three days a week is more closely linked to U.S. workers being obese than any of 26 other behavioral factors, including healthy eating. This held true even while controlling for age, ethnicity, race, marital status, gender, income, education, region, and religiosity.

via Gallup’s Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2013.

Filed under: Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, Happy New Year!!! From The Policy ThinkShop, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform

Popular Article on Healthcare: Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments | Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project

An aging America may not necessarily be a quiet and content America.  People born in the post war boom, challenged religion, government and authority in all their forms.  As an aging generation, they want the healthcare system to take care of them.

Baby boomers have grown up in what can be termed the age of technology and optimism, with mankind at the center of the universe and economic progress an ever churning engine.  Much of the healthcare conversation in America is not about doctors and patients but about costs and insurance.  Americans spend a great deal of money on healthcare.  All the recent talk about healthcare seems to be impacting expectations on the role of doctors and healthcare outcomes.  Americans expect doctors to save lives.

One of the challenges of healthcare in America is getting people to understand it, to connect their behavioral choices with healthcare outcomes and to value wellness over consumption.  Feeling good does not always lead to feeling well.  America can be an indulgent society and today’s youth want it all and they want it now.  Americans do not value their healthcare until it is a problem they can feel or until they understand what is happening to them as something that can threaten their mortality.  Americans want to live for ever and their attitudes regarding the role that a physician should play regarding preserving life is moving in that direction.

“At a time of national debate over health care costs and insurance, a Pew Research Center survey on end-of-life decisions finds most Americans say there are some circumstances in which doctors and nurses should allow a patient to die. At the same time, however, a growing minority says that medical professionals should do everything possible to save a patient’s …”

via Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments | Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

Filed under: Aging, Blogosphere, consumers, Death and Dying, Demographic Change, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Medicare, News, Public Health, Public Policy

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