The NBER Reporter

Exploring the Effects of Recessions on Routine Work,
Employee Mobility, and Careers of New College Grads

The Great Recession accelerated adoption of technologies that replaced routine labor, causing a rapid depreciation of the skills of workers in routine-task occupations, research summarized in the current issue of the free, quarterly NBER Reporter shows. Effects of recessions on worker mobility and on the careers of new college graduates also are discussed. This issue of The Reporter also includes articles by NBER researchers about their work on the social challenges posed by China's aging population, the efficacy of the sustainable investing proposition, the economics of Fair Trade, and the work of the NBER's Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program.

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New NBER Research

22 July 2019

Communication in Banks and Small Business Lending

Reducing bank headquarters-to-branch travel time boosts small business lending in the branch’s county, Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Qilin Peng, and Wensi Xie find.

19 July 2019

Avoiding Consumer Cost-Sharing in Group Health Plans

A typical health insurance claim is about 1.4 percentage points (5.3 percent) more likely to be filed as workmen’s compensation when the claimant’s group health plan would require an average deductible (about $630) compared to a group plan with no deductible, Olesya Fomenko and Jonathan Gruber calculate.

18 July 2019

Understanding Weak Capital Investment

Nicolas Crouzet and Janice C. Eberly document that the rise of intangible capital, factors such as software, intellectual property, brand, and innovative business processes, can explain much of the weakness in physical capital investment since 2000.
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NBER in the News

The NBER's Project on Long-Term Asset Management, which focuses on the theory and practice of long-term investing, held its fourth annual meeting in Cambridge on May 9–10, with the support of Norges Bank Investment Management. Researchers presented papers on topics ranging from the changing ownership structure of equity markets to the returns on real assets such as infrastructure investments to the valuation of private equity investments. The keynote address was delivered by Harvard University Professor John Campbell.

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The NBER Digest

Companies that Invest in Cutting-Edge IT Systems
May Find It Helps with Recruitment of Young Workers

A study featured in the current edition of The NBER Digest finds that some information technology workers, particularly younger ones, are willing to exchange some amount of compensation in the relative short term for the chance to obtain valuable skills in the longer term. Also summarized in this issue of the free, monthly Digest: an investigation into why some talentedIT workers accept lower wages, a look at how much car buyers care about fuel efficiency, an analysis of the impacts of cancelling student debt, an examination of high- and low-debt countries' responses to financial crises, and a look at the effects of wartime patent secrecy regulations, and a report on the impact of more lighting in high-crime areas.

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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

How Did the Great Recession Affect
the Disability Insurance Program?

New analysis of over 10 million disability insurance (DI) applications shows that nearly 1 million former workers who applied for DI during and following the great recession would not have applied had the recession not hit. The researchers estimate that the resulting recession-induced DI awards will result in an additional $56 billion in DI benefits over the lifetime of the beneficiaries. Also summarized in this first issue of the free Bulletin on Retirement and Disability: research on the importance of survivors benefits to the well-being of widows and a study of the effects of DI awards on the financial outcomes of applicants.
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Bulletin on Health

California's Ban on Non-Medical Vaccine Exemptions
Was Largely Offset by a Rise in Medical Exemptions

The second issue of the free Bulletin on Health features a study of California’s decision to eliminate all non-medical exemptions from vaccine requirements for school entry beginning in 2016. Researchers find that the resulting decrease in non-medical exemptions was substantially offset by an increase in medical exemptions. Nonetheless, overall vaccination rates among children entering kindergarten increased by between 2 and 5 percentage points. Also featured in the summer issue of the Bulletin on Health are studies of the effects of heating costs on winter deaths and the impact of penicillin’s introduction on the distribution of mortality in Italy following World War II.

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Martin Feldstein, 1939-2019
Renowned Economist and NBER President Emeritus

Martin Feldstein, president of the NBER for nearly 30 years, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984, and one of the most prolific and influential economists of the last half century, passed away on Tuesday, June 11. He was 79.

Feldstein’s leadership of the NBER had a profound and lasting effect on applied economic research. He was appointed president of the NBER in 1977 and, aside from his years of CEA service, served in this role until 2008. He transformed the organization and created the network structure that today encompasses nearly 1,600 affiliated scholars. He moved the NBER headquarters from New York City to Cambridge, launched the NBER Summer Institute and regular meetings of program groups, and promoted NBER working papers as an important channel for dissemination of economic research. Feldstein recognized the value of enhanced communication, at conferences and through sharing pre-publication manuscripts, in advancing research progress. He authored or coauthored 165 NBER working papers and edited 19 NBER books.


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