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Trebbi and Washington to Codirect Political Economy Program

​​Francesco Trebbi of the University of California, Berkeley and Ebonya L. Washington of Yale University

Francesco Trebbi of the University of California, Berkeley and Ebonya L. Washington of Yale University are the new codirectors of the NBER’s Political Economy Program, succeeding the late Alberto Alesina of Harvard University, who launched the program in 2006.

The new codirectors have studied a wide range of issues that span the field of political economy.

Trebbi is the Bernard T. Rocca Jr. Professor of Business and Public Policy at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. His research focuses on the determinants of polarization, lobbying and its effects, the design of political institutions, and the political economy of financial regulation. He has been an NBER affiliate since 2007.

Washington, an NBER affiliate since 2004, is the Samuel C. Park Jr. Professor of Economics at Yale. Her research examines the links between economic circumstances and political preferences, how candidate attributes affect voter turnout, the determinants of legislators' voting behavior, and the impact of the US Voting Rights Act of 1965. She currently chairs the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession.

The Economics of Vaccine Development and Distribution

Vaccines that protect against SARS-CoV-2 are a critical element in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent presentation to the NBER Corporate Associates Symposium, Research Associate Michael Kremer of the University of Chicago described the work that he and his collaborators have done on the economics of vaccine development and distribution.  The findings of this research, which are summarized in the video below, offer insights on the design of incentives for vaccine innovation, ways to obtain the maximum public health benefit from the distribution of fixed numbers of vaccine doses, and public policies that can enhance readiness for future pandemics.   An archive of NBER videos on pandemic-related research may be found here.


Three NBER working papers distributed this week report on economic, health, and related consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, or on the impact of public policies that respond to it. One studies the effect of school re-openings on the local transmission of the COVID-19 virus, using detailed district-level data from Texas (28753). Another develops a framework for measuring changes in welfare when the set of goods available to consumers changes, as it did when the pandemic shuttered many businesses (28754). A third paper analyzes the impact of rapid deployment of mask-wearing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions that slow virus diffusion on both pandemic-related deaths and economic activity (28760).

More than 400 NBER working papers have addressed various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These papers are open access and have been collected for easy reference. Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed. View them in reverse chronological order or by topic area.

NBER Appoints 15 Research Associates, 57 Faculty Research Fellows

The NBER Board of Directors appointed 15 research associates (RAs) at its April 2021 meeting. Two of them were previously faculty research fellows (FRFs). 

RA appointments are reserved for tenured faculty members. They are recommended to the Board by directors of the NBER's 20 research programs, typically after consultation with a steering committee of leading scholars. The new RAs are affiliated with 13 different colleges and universities; they received graduate training at 14 different institutions.  (Read More)

From the NBER Digest

...a free monthly publication of non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest

At-home charging data from California suggest that electric vehicles have been driven many fewer miles per year than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Estimates of the environmental benefits of electrification of the passenger vehicle fleet depend on the number of miles that each new electric car will displace from the gasoline-powered fleet. Using new data on the electricity use of electric vehicle (EV) owners in northern California from 2014 to 2017, Fiona...

From the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

...a free quarterly summarizing research in the NBER's Retirement and Disability Research Center

To understand whether older Americans have adequate financial resources to fund their retirement years, it is necessary to have accurate information about late-life income and assets. Several recent studies have suggested that administrative data and more widely-used survey data do not always provide the same picture of retirement resources. In The Evolution of Late-Life Income and Assets: Measurement in IRS Tax Data and Three Household Surveys (NBER RDRC Working...

From the Bulletin on Health

...a free summary of recent NBER Working Papers on health topics, distributed three times a year

Do treatment guidelines encourage use of effective treatment or impede provision of personalized health care? In Rules vs. Discretion: Treatment of Mental Illness in US Adolescents (NBER Working Paper 27890), researchers Emily Cuddy and Janet Currie address this important issue in the context of mental illness among adolescents. They use claims data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Alliance for Health Research to evaluate the effect of the initial treatment choice on...

From the NBER Reporter

...a free quarterly featuring affiliates writing about their research, program updates, and NBER news

In recent decades, global flows of assets and goods have grown rapidly relative to GDP and have shifted aggressively during crises such as the global financial crisis and the current pandemic. Corporations and governments increasingly borrow from foreign investors, who face more options for allocating their capital in terms of asset class, currency, and geography. A sense of “who owns what” around the world, and why, is required to understand what these trends mean for the...

Featured Working Papers

Rich countries have experienced more deaths per head than poor ones from the COVID-19 pandemic, and experienced larger declines in income, Angus Deaton finds. International income inequality has decreased during the pandemic.

An analysis of 12 air pollution offset markets by Joseph S. Shapiro and Reed Walker finds little association between emissions trading rights and  movement of pollution toward Black, Hispanic, or relatively poor communities.

Taking a high-stakes college admissions exam in the last two weeks of the SNAP benefit cycle reduces test scores and lowers the probability of attending a four-year college for low-income high school students, according to research by Timothy N. Bond, Jillian B. Carr, Analisa Packham, and Jonathan Smith.

Median household wealth rose 21.2 percent in real terms between 2016 and 2019 but was down 20.4 percent relative to 2007, though mean wealth more than fully recovered, Edward N. Wolff reports. The wealth share of the top one percent fell by 1.4 percentage points in the most recent three-year period.

The threat of unionization raises wages even for non-union workers, and raising the minimum wage increases the wages of some workers who are not paid the minimum, according to analysis of U.S. labor market data for the 1979-2017 period by Nicole M. Fortin, Thomas Lemieux, and Neil D. Lloyd.

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In the News

Recent citations of NBER research in the media

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Research Spotlights

NBER researchers discuss their work on subjects of wide interest to economists, policymakers, and the general public. Recordings of more-detailed presentations, keynote addresses, and panel discussions at NBER conferences are available on the Lectures page.
The Economics of Vaccine Development and Distribution
Research Spotlight
Vaccines that protect against SARS-CoV-2 are a critical element in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a...
Urban Rent Gradients Have Flattened During the Pandemic Graph
Research Spotlight
Rents and housing prices are usually highest at the center of dense urban areas, reflecting the value that residents...
Prioritization and mitigation policies
Research Spotlight
As vaccines to protect against SARS-CoV-2 have become increasingly available in the U.S. and other nations, how to...
Gendered Impact of COVID-19
Research Spotlight
Historically, the employment rate for men has fallen more during recessions than that for women, largely because men...
Covid and Debt Relief Slide
Research Spotlight
Between March and October 2020, required payments on nearly $2 trillion of household debt were suspended, meaning that...
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