National Bureau of Economic Research
Latest from the NBER
A research summary from the monthly NBER Digest
Measuring the Productivity Impact of Generative AI
Customer support agents using an AI tool to guide their conversations saw a nearly 14 percent increase in productivity, with 35 percent improvements for the lowest skilled and least experienced workers, and zero or small negative effects on the most experienced/most able workers, Erik Brynjolfsson, Danielle Li, and Lindsey R. Raymond report in Generative AI at Work (NBER Working Paper 31161).
Using call data from roughly 5,000 agents working for a Fortune 500 software company, the researchers…
Challenges of Globalization in the Measurement of National Accounts
NBER releases Challenges of Globalization in the Measurement of National Accounts, an examination of multinational business activities, including how multinational enterprises arrange their financing and assign ownership of intellectual property to avoid tax and regulatory burdens.
From the NBER Reporter: Research, program, and conference summaries
Sin Taxes: Good, Better, Best
Economists have long recognized that when consuming a good produces externalities, welfare can be raised by imposing corrective taxes. More recently, there has been a growing belief that some goods should be taxed because of internalities — harms that people might impose on themselves due to limited attention, misunderstanding of financial instruments, systematically biased beliefs about themselves such as overconfidence, or lapses of self-control. One of the agendas that we have pursued at the intersection of public economics and behavioral economics is the optimal design of corrective taxes and subsidies to mitigate both externalities and internalities. Relative to externalities, internalities have received much less attention from economists, but they have been a key focus of our work — and,…
From the NBER Bulletin on Health
Epigenetic Influences on the Descendants of Union Army POWs
The number of adults worldwide who are overweight or obese is rising, with much of the increase driven by developing countries. Famine exposure at early ages is a contributing factor, and it is not clear whether such exposure transmits across generations. In Overweight Grandsons and Grandfathers’ Starvation Exposure (NBER Working Paper 30599), Dora Costa develops novel evidence on this issue by studying the grandchildren of Union Army veterans, some of whom were prisoners of war (POWs).
Prior to July 1863, most POWs in the US Civil War were immediately exchanged. For those in this group who survived to 1900, the average time in captivity was 16 days. Between July 1863 and July 1864 prisoner exchanges stopped; survivors’ time in captivity grew to an average of 231 days. After July 1864, exchanges resumed; time in captivity...
From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability
Comparing Behavioral Approaches to Increasing Savings
Many older American households approaching retirement age have accumulated little in the way of retirement savings. Over the past two decades, behavioral researchers have explored a variety of potential “nudges” designed to increase retirement savings. Many of these interventions have been shown to have substantial impacts on retirement savings behavior. However, validating, comparing, and selecting from different approaches can be difficult. Existing studies differ in their samples, the characteristics of firms included, study periods, and outcomes, which can alter the impact of policy interventions. In addition, the existing literature has largely not explored the relative cost-effectiveness of the various options.
In How Do Behavioral Approaches to Increase Savings Compare? Evidence from Multiple Interventions in the US Army (NBER RDRC Working Paper NB22-10), researchers Richard Patterson and William Skimmyhorn examine the relative efficacy and cost-effectiveness of four policy options designed...
From the NBER Bulletin on Entrepreneurship
Startups Drive Commercialization of High-Impact Innovations
Startups have more incentive than incumbent firms to engage in potentially disruptive R&D because large, established firms have more to lose from the discovery of new technologies that replace traditional ways of doing things. With no existing operations, startups have nothing to lose and much to gain from disruptive innovation.
In Of Academics and Creative Destruction: Startup Advantage in the Process of Innovation (NBER Working Paper 30362), Julian Kolev, Alexis Haughey, Fiona Murray, and Scott Stern focus on patents that emerged from university-based research ecosystems. Innovative researchers often prefer the creative freedom...
Featured Working Papers
On average, a 1 percentage point easing of the IMF US Financial Conditions Index is associated with approximately a 10 percent higher volume of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, a study by Katharina Bergant, Prachi Mishra, and Raghuram Rajan finds.
Non-ESG mutual funds include more high ESG stocks after the creation of an ESG sibling, and, the high ESG stocks they select exhibit superior performance, Shangchen Li, Hongxun Ruan, Sheridan Titman, and Haotian Xiang find when analyzing a data sample spanning the 2013-2020 period. Despite being more constrained, the ESG funds outperform their non-ESG siblings.
Teenage girls who observe a peer's pregnancy have fewer sexual partners and are less likely to have unprotected sex, especially when the peer’s pregnancy results in a live birth, Priyanka Anand and Lisa B. Kahn find.
Economic hardship among prime-age Americans, related to the Great Recession, and the increase in depression among young people during the 2010s have contributed to a nearly 40 percent rise in the US suicide rate since 2000, according to an analysis by Dave E. Marcotte and Benjamin Hansen.
In the post-war US, a deterioration in the fiscal position of the federal government forecasts a decline in government spending, but not an increase in tax revenue, according to new research by John Y. Campbell, Can Gao, and Ian W.R. Martin.
In the News
Recent citations of NBER research in the media
Books & Chapters
Through a partnership with the University of Chicago Press, the NBER publishes the proceedings of four annual conferences as well as other research studies associated with NBER-based research projects.