24 March 2017

Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity

Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby, and Tom Nicholas find that technology areas where immigrant inventors were prevalent between 1880 and 1940 experienced more patenting and citations between 1940 and 2000 than other fields. Immigrant inventors were more productive during their life cycle than native born inventors, but were paid less.

23 March 2017

Social Ties and Favoritism in Chinese Science

Hometown ties to members of the fellow selection committee of the Chinese Academies of Sciences and Engineering increase candidates' selection probability by 39 percent, according to research by Raymond Fisman, Jing Shi, Yongxiang Wang, and Rong Xu. Hometown-connected candidates who are elected are half as likely to have a high-impact publication as elected fellows without connections.

22 March 2017

The Global Rise of Corporate Saving

In the early 1980s, global investment was funded mostly by household saving, but now nearly two-thirds is funded by corporate saving. Peter Chen, Loukas Karabarbounis, and Brent Neiman attribute the sectoral saving shift to declines in the real interest rate, the price of investment goods, and corporate income taxes.

21 March 2017

Effects of Immigration Restrictions

Michael A. Clemens, Ethan G. Lewis, and Hannah M. Postel find that the exclusion of almost half a million Mexican seasonal agricultural workers from the United States in the mid-1960s failed to raise wages or substantially increase employment for domestic workers in the sector. Farmers adopted less labor-intensive technologies, and shifted their crop mix, in response to this policy.

20 March 2017

Recent Growth Boom in Developing Economies:
A Structural Change Perspective

In contrast to the East Asian experience, none of the recent growth accelerations in Latin America, Africa, or South Asia was driven by rapid industrialization, according to an analysis by Xinshen Diao, Margaret McMillan, and Dani Rodrik. They were based on either rapid within-sector labor productivity growth (Latin America) or growth-increasing structural change (Africa), but rarely both at the same time.

17 March 2017

Are SNAP Benefits Fungible?

Justine S. Hastings and Jesse M. Shapiro study the spending patterns of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. They estimate that the marginal propensity to consume SNAP-eligible food out of SNAP benefits is between 0.5 and 0.6, much higher than the propensity to consume such food out of cash income. The findings suggest that beneficiaries do not regard SNAP benefits as cash-equivalent.

16 March 2017

Effects of Middle School Vaccination Requirements

State requirements that students obtain a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster prior to middle school entry increased vaccine take-up by 29 percent and reduced whooping cough incidence in the population by 53 percent in a study by Christopher S. Carpenter and Emily C. Lawler.

15 March 2017

Price-Linked Subsidies and Health Insurance Markups

Price-linked subsidies in health insurance programs, in which subsidies depend on the prices set by competing insurers, weaken price competition, leading to higher markups and subsidy costs for the government, according to research by Sonia P. Jaffe and Mark Shepard. Price-linking increases prices by up to 5 percent.

14 March 2017

Firm Heterogeneity in Consumption Baskets:
Evidence from Home and Store Scanner Data

Rich and poor households source their consumption from different parts of the firm size distribution, a study byBenjamin Faber and Thibault Fally finds. Larger, more productive firms cater more to the taste of wealthier households. This generates differences in inflation rates across households, amplifies nominal income inequality over time, and leads to a more regressive distribution of gains from international trade.

13 March 2017

Distortionary Effects of Incentives in Government:
Evidence from China's 'Death Ceiling' Program

In a 2004 program designed to motivate Chinese bureaucrats to reduce accidental deaths, each province received a ‘death ceiling’ that, if exceeded, would impede government officials' promotions. Raymond Fisman and Yongxiang Wang observe a sharp discontinuity in reported deaths at the ceiling, suggestive of manipulation. Provinces with safety incentives for municipal officials experienced larger declines in accidental deaths.
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us