New NBER Research
24 May 2013
Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, Rachel Glennerster, and Cynthia Kinnan report the results of an experiment in Hyderabad, India in which 104 slums were randomly split into two groups, one of which was selected for the opening of a branch of a microfinance institution called Spandana. They find that after 15-18 months of Spandana operations, households in the chosen slums were almost 9 percentage points more likely to have a microcredit loan, but they were no more likely to have started a new business. Even three years later, household consumption and average business profitability did not differ much between the slum areas with and without Spandana. The introduction of this microfinance institution was not associated with changes in health, education, or women’s empowerment.
23 May 2013
Robert Fairlie and Jonathan Robinson randomly provided free computers to 1,123 students in grades 6-10 attending 15 schools across California. These students did not previously have a computer, so their computer use increased substantially. However, the experiment had no effects on grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance, or disciplinary actions.
22 May 2013
Mark Jacobsen and Arthur Van Benthem examine the timing of decisions to scrap used cars and the relationship between changes in scrap rates, the gasoline price, and used car resale values. They find that a gasoline price increase or decrease of $1 alters the number of fuel-efficient versus fuel-inefficient vehicles scrapped by 18 percent. They estimate the sensitivity of scrap decisions to changes in used car values – something they call the "scrap elasticity" – to be about -0.7. In terms of fuel economy standards, these scrap elasticities suggest that 13-23 percent of expected fuel savings will "leak away" through the used vehicle market
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21 May 2013
Menzie Chinn, Laurent Ferrara, and Valérie Mignon re-examine the relationship between employment and GDP as put forth in Okun’s Law. They find that since the end of the most recent recession in 2009, U.S. employment on average has been about 1 percent below the level implied by the long run output-employment relationship defined by Okun's Law. Their results suggest that about 1.2 million of the jobs lost cannot be explained by cyclical economic factors but instead are part of a trend in joblessness.
20 May 2013
Paul Gertler and Christel Vermeersch find that when medical care providers in Rwanda are paid based on performance, even when they receive no higher compensation than other providers who are not paid for performance, their productivity increases by 20 percent. The researchers also find that this payment scheme results in significant improvements in children's health.
17 May 2013
Alvaro Garcia and Nico Voigtländer explore whether gains from trade due to exporting are the result of reallocating resources to more productive producers or of increased efficiency within exporting firms over time. Using data on Chilean manufacturing plants, they find no apparent within-plant increases in revenue productivity after export entry. However, they find that marginal costs drop by 15-25 percent on average when plants begin to export. Prices drop by the same order of magnitude, and volume grows.
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16 May 2013
Filipe Campante and Quoc-Anh Do find that more isolated U.S. state capitals are associated with greater levels of political corruption. Specifically, they show that the spatial distribution of a state's population relative to that of its capital affects certain accountability mechanisms, including newspaper coverage, voter knowledge and information, and voter turnout. They also find that isolated capitals are associated with more money raised and spent in state-level campaigns.
15 May 2013
Marianne Bertrand, Jessica Pan, and Emir Kamenica analyze U.S. Census data for 1970-2010 and find that a couple is less likely to get married if the woman's income exceeds the man's. Once married, the wife is less likely be in the labor force, and if she is working tends to earn less than would be predicted based on education and other attributes if her potential income exceeds her husband's. They also find that couples where the wife earns more than the husband are less satisfied with their marriages and are more likely to divorce.
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