Examining the Slowdown in U.S. Rate of Growth:
It Has More to Do with Technology than with China

Peter Klenow of Stanford University and the NBER reviews proposed causes of the United States' declining rate of growth: low growth at young firms, rapid spread of robots, the challenge from China. He and other researchers, whose work can be found on the Bureau's new page on Productivity and Growth, are increasingly focused on the impacts of technological change. The impacts of robotics and other new technologies are cause for concern, but not a reason to reject the changes, they argue. Reallocation of labor and creative destruction, Klenow says, are essential to growth.

Women’s Trade Union League Parade, 1908

Organizations, Civil Society, and the Roots of Development

Modern developed nations are rich and politically stable in part because their citizens are free to form organizations and have access to the relevant legal resources. Yet an estimated 80 percent of the world’s people live in countries that do not allow these freedoms. Why?

Contributors to Organizations, Civil Society, and the Roots of Development, a new NBER volume from the University of Chicago Press, seek to answer this question by exploring how developing nations of the 18th and 19th centuries — including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany — made the transition to allowing their citizens the right to form organizations. Initial patterns of change were in the opposite direction, as political coalitions restricted potential rivals for political control. Ultimately, however, it became clear that these restrictions threatened the foundation of social and political order.

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New NBER Research

15 December 2017

Does Family Planning Benefit Children?

Children born after introduction of U.S. family planning programs in 1964-1973 were 7 percent less likely to live in poverty and 12 percent less likely to live in households receiving public assistance, a study by Martha J. Bailey, Olga Malkova, and Zoë M. McLaren finds. Direct effects of family planning programs on parents’ incomes account for roughly two thirds of the gains.

14 December 2017

Vehicle Emissions, Inspections, and a Changing Fleet

Research by Nicholas J. Sanders and Ryan Sandler suggests that automobile emissions inspections have become less effective at reducing local air pollution as high-polluting vehicles from the 1970s and 1980s leave the road.

13 December 2017

Implications of Medicaid Financing Reform
for State Government Budgets

Medicaid financing formulas can shift hundreds of dollars per capita from losing to “winning” states. Jeffrey Clemens and Benedic Ippolito find that during the Great Recession, the current matching system reduced state budget shortfalls by 2 to 3.5 percent of own-source revenues relative to an acyclical block grant system.
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The NBER Digest

Tax Rules and Modest Investment by Firms Drive
Rise in Accumulation of Corporate Cash since 2000

While some prominent firms have amassed very large cash holdings, a study summarized in the December issue of The NBER Digest finds that, viewed in historical perspective, current corporate cash holding are not unusual, but the reasons for accumulation have changed. Also featured in this month's edition of The Digest: A comparison of flood-risk fears among coastal and inland dwellers in Rhode Island, an evaluation of the efficacy of performance ticket auctions in discouraging speculators, a study of the impact of cutbacks in H-1B visas, an analysis of housing wealth fluctuations on seniors' health care choices, and an examination of small-, medium-, and large-farm productivity in India.
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The NBER Reporter

Integrated Assessment Models Have Transformed
Scholars’ Approaches to Coping with Climate Change

The science, economics, and policy of climate change involve fields ranging from atmospheric chemistry to game theory, creating an imperative for development of models that integrate knowledge from multiple domains into a single framework. William Nordhaus, creator of two such models, writes about his work in the current edition of The NBER Reporter. Also featured in this quarter's issue, NBER affiliates report on their work identifying barriers to postsecondary educational achievement in the United States, exploring gender discrimination in the developing world, and linking an influential 200-year-old theory to modern economics. The issue includes text and video of the annual Martin Feldstein Lecture.
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The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health

Under-Reporting of Deaths among Non-Whites
May Be Cause of Inaccurate Mortality Calculations

Contrary to social scientists’ expectations, traditional mortality rate models have shown blacks and Hispanics having significantly lower mortality rates than non-Hispanic whites at the oldest ages. A study summarized in the current edition of the NBER's Bulletin on Aging and Health finds that these anomalies can be explained by varying degrees of unreported deaths among races. The researchers find that an error-corrected model that accounts for unreported deaths produces mortality rates that are in line with socioeconomic expectations.
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