The NBER Digest

Some of the Long-term Unemployed Aren't Discouraged
but Have Overly Optimistic Expectations of Finding Jobs

A study featured in the latest edition of the NBER Digest finds that many people who have been unemployed for a long period are too optimistic about their job-finding prospects and, as a result, do not adjust their expectations downward as they remain jobless longer. Other studies summarized in this issue of the free monthly Digest examine the results of an early trade liberalization in France, report on the efficacy of efforts to reduce air pollution and promote solar energy, consider whether "forward guidance" at the consumer level could become a policy tool, measure the impacts on India of sudden demonetization, and compare the borrowing behavior of public and private firms.

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New NBER Research

22 February 2019

Higher Mark-ups Raise Inequality

In 2016, the top 20 percent of households consumed approximately as much as the bottom 60 percent, but had 13 times as much corporate equity, according to research by Joshua Gans, Andrew Leigh, Martin Schmalz, and Adam Triggs. Because stock ownership is more skewed than consumption, increased mark-ups, which raise profits, increase inequality.

21 February 2019

Downward Rigidity in Nominal Wages

Nominal wage cuts from one year to the next appear quite common, typically affecting 15 to 25 percent of job stayers in periods of low inflation, Michael W. Elsby and Gary Solon find.

20 February 2019

Family-Friendly Policies in the Labor Market

Women are less likely than men to have access to paid leave and this differential is entirely explained by part-time status, according to an analysis by Elizabeth L. Doran, Ann P. Bartel, and Jane Waldfogel. Gender differentials in access to employer-subsidized child care and access to scheduling flexibility are insignificant.
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Images and Realities of U.S. Immigrant Flows:
Which Countries’ Applicants are Favored, and Why

Immigrants to the United States from Algeria have higher educational attainment than those from Israel and Japan. Edward P. Lazear of Stanford University and the NBER has researched the dramatic differences in earnings, educational attainment, and entrepreneurship of immigrants from various countries.

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The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health

Black Men who Visit Black Primary Care Doctors
Are More Likely to Accept Preventative Health Care

Black men are less likely to visit a doctor and receive preventative services like diabetes screening than their non-black counterparts. A study summarized in the most recent issue of the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health finds that black male patients who see black doctors elect to receive recommended preventative health screenings at a much higher rate than those who see a non-black doctor. Also featured in this edition of the Bulletin: A look at the long-term impacts of Hurricane Katrina on survivors' mortality rates and an analysis of how fragmentation of the kidney exchange market constrict hospitals' efforts to match donors to recipients.

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Analyzing Employment Levels after the Great Recession,
Comparing Experiences in Phoenix and San Antonio

In the recovery following the Great Recession, the unemployment rate returned to a normal level but — contrary to the standard economics playbook — the share of adults with a job did not. Danny Yagan of the University of California, Berkeley and the NBER, explored two possible explanations, one directly related to the recession, one unrelated.

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Education, Skills, and Technical Change:
Implications for Future U.S. GDP Growth

Over the past few decades, U.S. business and industry have been transformed by the advances and redundancies produced by the knowledge economy. The workplace has changed, and much of the work differs from that performed by previous generations. Can human capital accumulation in the United States keep pace with the evolving demands placed on it? How can the workforce of tomorrow acquire the skills and competencies that are most in demand?

Education, Skills, and Technical Change explores various facets of these questions, providing an overview of educational attainment in the United States and the channels through which labor force skills and education affect GDP growth. Contributors to this volume focus on a range of educational and training institutions and bring new data to bear on how we understand the role of college and vocational education and the size and nature of the skills gap. This work links a range of research areas such as growth accounting, skill development, higher education, and immigration, and examines how well students are being prepared for the world of work now and in the future.

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Survey of Older Americans Finds Many are Lacking
in Understanding Needed for Key Financial Decisions

More than half of older Americans surveyed did not understand interest rates, inflation, and the meaning of diversifying risk reports Olivia S. Mitchell of the University of Pennsylvania and NBER, an author of numerous papers on topics including the timing of Social Security claiming, scams aimed at the elderly, and financial vulnerability on the verge of retirement.

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The NBER Reporter

Improving Weak Public Sector Worker Performance
in Developing Countries by Incentivizing Individuals

Poor delivery of health and educational services in developing countries directly affects the quality of life of millions of people. Research featured in the current edition of the NBER Reporter finds that rewarding individual performance works better than across-the-board salary increases in making improvements. Also in this edition of the quarterly are reports on research into comparative rates of return, the NBER's Household Finance Working Group, the role of financial factors in economic fluctuations, and the price and quality of prescription drugs.

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New Research Associates
and Faculty Research Fellows for 2018

The NBER appointed 58 new research associates and 45 new faculty research fellows in 2018. New appointees must be faculty members at North American colleges and universities, and are recommended by program directors in the culmination of a highly competitive process.
New appointees and their research program affiliations


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