NBER Working Papers by Michael D. Frakes

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Working Papers

July 2014Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents?: Evidence from Micro-Level Application Data
with Melissa F. Wasserman: w20337
This paper explores how examiner behavior is altered by the time allocated for reviewing a patent application. Insufficient examination time may crowd out examiner search effort, impeding the ability to form time-intensive prior-art-based rejections (especially, obviousness rejections) and thus leaving examiners more inclined to grant otherwise invalid applications. To test this prediction, we trace the behavior of individual examiners over the course of a series of certain promotions that carry with them a substantial reduction in expected examination time. For these purposes, we use novel micro-level application data spanning a ten year period and estimate examiner fixed-effects specifications that allow us to control flexibly for examiner heterogeneity. We find evidence demonstratin...
January 2014Does Medical Malpractice Law Improve Health Care Quality?
with Anupam B. Jena: w19841
Despite the fundamental role of deterrence in justifying a system of medical malpractice law, surprisingly little evidence has been put forth to date bearing on the relationship between medical liability forces on the one hand and medical errors and health care quality on the other. In this paper, we estimate this relationship using clinically validated measures of health care treatment quality constructed with data from the 1979 to 2005 National Hospital Discharge Surveys and the 1987 to 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System records. Drawing upon traditional, remedy-centric tort reforms—e.g., damage caps—we estimate that the current liability system plays at most a modest role in inducing higher levels of health care quality. We contend that this limited independent role for ...
July 2005Does Falling Smoking Lead to Rising Obesity?
with Jonathan Gruber: w11483
The strong negative correlation over time between smoking rates and obesity have led some to suggest that reduced smoking is increasing weight gain in the U.S.. This conclusion is supported by the findings of Chou et al. (2004), who conclude that higher cigarette prices lead to increased body weight. We investigate this issue and find no evidence that reduced smoking leads to weight gain. Using the cigarette tax rather than the cigarette price and controlling for non-linear time effects, we find a negative effect of cigarette taxes on body weight, implying that reduced smoking leads to lower body weights. Yet our results, as well as Chou et al., imply implausibly large effects of smoking on body weight. Thus, we cannot confirm that falling smoking leads in a major way to rising obesit...

Published: Gruber, Jonathan and Michael Frakes. "Does Falling Smoking Lead To Rising Obesity?," Journal of Health Economics, 2006, v25(2,Mar), 183-197.

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