New NBER Research

7 October 2015

The Financial Feasibility of Delaying Social Security:
Evidence from Administrative Tax Data

Most people claim Social Security before the full retirement age despite large and growing returns for deferring. Gopi Shah Goda, Shanthi Ramnath, John B. Shoven, and Sita Nataraj Slavov find evidence that early claimers have higher subjective and actual mortality rates than those who claim later, suggesting that private information about expected future lifetimes may influence claiming behavior.

6 October 2015

Workfare and Human Capital Investment in India

Each year of exposure to India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, a large workfare program, decreases school enrollment by 2 percentage points and math scores by 2 percent of a standard deviation amongst children aged 13-16, research by Manisha Shah and Bryce Millett Steinberg shows. This study suggests that anti-poverty programs which raise wages could have the unintended effect of lowering human capital investment.

5 October 2015

'Soft Power' Affects Exports

A country's exports are higher if it is perceived by importers to be exerting a positive global influence relative to other nations, Andrew K. Rose finds. A one percent net increase in perceived positive influence raises exports by around 0.8 percent, indicating that countries which cultivate 'soft power' realize a commercial return.
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How Powerful Are Fiscal Multipliers?

Recent analysis suggests that a $1 increase in government spending or decrease in taxes stimulates $1.50 to $2 in output during recessions, but only about $0.50 during expansions, Alan Auerbach and Yuriy Gorodnichenko write in the current issue of the NBER's quarterly Reporter. Also featured in this issue are reports on the rising interest in macroprudential policies, the democracy/development relationship, the economics of happiness, and the effects of early childhood interventions.

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New in the NBER Digest

How China's Transition to a Developed Economy
Differed from the Experiences of the West

Dividing Chinese enterprises into "heavy" and "light" sectors rather than comparing the state-owned and privately-owned sectors provides fresh insight into the country's macroeconomy, according to research presented in the October issue of the NBER Digest. Other reports in this month's Digest examine the credibility of China's unemployment statistics, the recession-era shopping habits of Americans, the power of nudges, barriers to new technology, and the impact on hospitals of patients who don't pay up.

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Understanding the Sources of Inequality

in Schools, Health Care, and Environment

Roland Fryer of Harvard University and the NBER, winner of this year's John Bates Clark Medal for outstanding work by a young economist, outlines some of the important sources of inequality and key questions driving economic analysis of the phenomenon. See a selection of NBER research into inequality, by Fryer and others.

Enterprising America

Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective

The rise of America from a colonial outpost to one of the world's most sophisticated and productive economies was facilitated by the establishment of a variety of economic enterprises pursued within a framework of laws and institutions that set the rules for their organization and operation. To better understand the historical processes central to American economic development, this NBER Conference Report brings together contributors who address the economic behavior of American firms and financial institutions and the legal institutions that shaped their behavior in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the topics are the rise of incorporation and its connection to manufacturing in factories, the organization and operation of large cotton plantations in comparison with factories, the regulation and governance of banks, the transportation revolution's influence on bank stability and survival, and the emergence of long-distance credit in the context of an economy that was growing rapidly and becoming increasingly integrated across space.

Available from The University of Chicago Press.

The Methods Lectures, 2015

What Economists Can Learn from Machine Learning

Susan Athey of Stanford University and the NBER discusses the benefits to economics of using machine learning methodology to deal with heterogeneity, and the benefits to computer science of the social sciences' approach to causal inference. View recordings of the full Methods Lectures

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