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Sharp increases in the amounts paid out in liability-insurance claims are responsible for the huge rise over the past two years in insurance premiums paid by municipal governments, day-care centers, and various industries, a new analysis has concluded.

"Rapid increases in rates derive largely from the most obvious source--unexpected increases in payouts, amplified by the large reserves that must be carried by [some] lines," Peter Huber writes in the Oct. 2 issue of Science.

Mr. Huber, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, rejects other possible causes for the rise in premiums, such as insurance-company problems or rapid shifts in the business cycle.

He notes, for example, that there is no "crisis" in other types of insurance, such as automobile liability and workers' compensation.

But the volume of personal-injury lawsuits and the average size of jury awards have risen significantly over the past few years, he writes.

In some segments of the industry, such as those covering day-care centers and the administration of childhood vaccines, actual awards have been small, he says, but "the possibilities for enormous awards under fast-changing legal standards are beyond dispute."

Mr. Huber notes that strict caps on liability awards appear to have an impact on premiums, but that "modest changes," such as those most states have enacted in the past two years, have had little visible impact.

Full-day kindergarten programs are more likely to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students than half-day programs, a report by a Johns Hopkins University researcher concludes.

The report reviews nine studies that compare the effects of full- versus half-day programs. Eight concluded that disadvantaged and underachieving students make greater short-term gains from the longer school day, and one found the benefits of shorter and longer days to be the same for those students.

Copies of "Full or Half Day Kindergarten--Does it Matter?" are available for $4 each from the Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools, Johns Hopkins University, 3505 Charles Street, Baltimore, Md. 21218.

Public institutions of higher education have kept their costs down and have limited tuition increases, according to a new report on costs at public colleges and universities. Public institutions in 1986-87 spent 4 percent more than the previous year to educate students, about the same rise in costs faced by other industries, the report found. And because funds allocated by state and local governments account for three-fourths of the cost of education at public colleges, the report says, they are still affordable. Tuition has remained at about 10 percent of personal disposable income over the past decade, it notes.

Copies of "State Profiles, Financing Higher Education 1978-1987" can be purchased for $18.50 each from Research Associates of Washington, 2605 Klingle Road, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008.

Vol. 07, Issue 07

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