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School districts across the United States varied in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the shift to online instruction was nearly universal in April and May 2020, there was substantial heterogeneity in the mode of instruction during the 2020-21 academic year. A research team led by NBER Research Associate Emily Oster of Brown University has compiled detailed data on the prevalence of in-person schooling and linked this information to student achievement scores for school districts in a dozen states. In a new study (29497) with Clare Halloran of Brown University, Rebecca Jack of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and James Okun of MIT, Oster finds an overall decline in average test scores between 2020 and 2021. The researchers also find that school districts with less in-person instruction exhibit steeper declines. Oster summarizes the study's findings in the video above. An archive of NBER videos on pandemic-related research may be found here.
Two new working papers distributed this week report on the economic, health, and related consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and of public policies that respond to it. One studies decision-making by portfolio managers before and during the pandemic to test whether hard information, such as statistics collected on the internet, published reports, and content conveyed through virtual meetings, substitutes for soft information, which is usually gleaned from in-person discussions (29513). Another uses survey data from a dozen countries to explore the impact of the pandemic on public support for different governance regimes and on attitudes about the functioning of democracy (29514).
More than 490 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 Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed.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.
A research summary from the monthly NBER Digest
The Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 is widely viewed as the seminal decision outlawing racial segregation of schools. But a decade earlier, in Mendez v. Westminster, a federal district court ruled against segregation of Mexican Americans in California schools. This case was the first successful challenge to segregation based on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Filed against school districts in Orange County, the case never reached the national level because the defendants decided not to pursue it after losing at the appellate level in 1947.
The NBER is now accepting applications for 14 fellowships to support dissertation-writers and 10 fellowships to support post-doctoral researchers during the 2022-23 academic year. The fellowships support research on a range of topics. Most application deadlines are December 9, 2021. Details
From the NBER Bulletin on Entrepreneurship
In Diversity and Performance in Entrepreneurial Teams (NBER Working Paper 28684), Sophie Calder-Wang, Paul Gompers, and Kevin Huang analyze data from an entrepreneurship course at Harvard Business School (HBS) to explore the links between team diversity and entrepreneurial success.
The researchers collect data from a course taken by all 3,684 first-year MBA students in the classes of 2013 to 2016. Over a semester, teams of five to seven students worked together to design and launch microbusinesses, which faculty mentors and judges evaluated…
From the NBER Reporter: Research, program, and conference summaries
For nearly a century, the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs) have provided policymakers, investors, academics, and the lay public with essential indicators of economic performance. However, since their inception, it has been widely acknowledged, especially among economists, that the NIPAs are an incomplete gauge of output and growth. Critical omissions include the value of home production, leisure time, environmental pollution damage, and natural resources in situ.
Beginning with the seminal work of William Nordhaus and James Tobin in 1973, economists have estimated the magnitude of these gaps. Subsequent research estimating the magnitude of pollution damage in the United States and the global economy finds that they loom large relative to…
From the NBER Bulletin on Health
In 2016, 80 percent of Medicaid enrollees received their insurance through private managed care plans. These private plans take responsibility for providing medical care for Medicaid recipients in exchange for a fixed per-enrollee payment from the state.
These arrangements could restrain Medicaid spending if private firms had a greater incentive to control costs than the government does. However, such cost savings could have implications for patient health. Outcomes could improve, for example, if spending reductions are due to better preventive care. Alternatively, health could suffer if the cost savings reflect lower quality of care or reduced access to necessary care. Furthermore, the health...
From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability
Social Security is the primary source of income for most individuals aged 65 and up. Benefits depend on the worker’s earning history and on the age at which benefits are claimed, which may be as early as age 62. For each month beyond the Full Retirement Age (FRA) that the worker delays claiming (up to age 70), the monthly benefit amount is increased by the Delayed Retirement Credit (DRC).
The DRC has increased substantially over time, from 3 percent per year of delay for those born prior to 1925 to 8 percent per year of delay for those born in 1943 and later. The DRC increase was phased in gradually in 0.5 percentage point increments every two years. This change has strengthened the incentive to delay claiming for more recent birth cohorts. However, the effects of the policy change have not been extensively studied. …
Featured Working Papers
Using variation in the timing of US lottery wins, Mikhail Golosov, Michael Graber, Magne Mogstad, and David Novgorodsky find that on average an extra dollar of unearned income reduces pre-tax labor earnings by about 50 cents, decreases total labor taxes by 10 cents, and increases consumption by 60 cents.
Utilizing daily weather variation across Mississippi, Anita Mukherjee and Nicholas J. Sanders find that on days when the average temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the number of violent acts and the probability of violence occurring at correctional facilities are about 20 percent higher than on other days.
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