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New COVID-19 Working Papers: June 20, 2022

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Five new working papers distributed in the last two weeks report on the economic, health, and related consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and public policies that respond to it. Two focus on issues related to vaccines. The first presents evidence on the expected return and risk of a portfolio of investments in new mRNA vaccines; these are important inputs in assessing the viability of the private market for vaccine development (30126). The second reports on how receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine affected the demand for non-COVID-19 medical treatment (30139). Another study analyzes the contributions of temporary layoffs to overall unemployment, with particular emphasis on the recession associated with the pandemic (30134). One paper characterizes the diffusion of policies across US states, with particular application to COVID-19 related policies (30142), while another estimates the economic effects of pandemic-related federal aid to state and local governments (30168).

More than 560 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 Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed.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 the papers in reverse chronological order or filter by topic area.

A research summary from the monthly NBER Digest

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Exploring Links between Hospital Pricing and Quality of Care

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Over the last two decades, the US hospital sector has experienced significant consolidation, with over 1,600 mergers among the nation’s 6,000 hospitals. Nearly 70 percent of hospitals are now located in a highly concentrated market. During this period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for hospital services have grown more quickly than prices in virtually all other sectors. Legislators in various statehouses and the US Congress have put forward proposals to regulate hospitals’ prices.

In Do Higher-Priced Hospitals Deliver Higher-Quality Care? (NBER Working Paper 29809), Zack Cooper, Joseph J. Doyle Jr., John A. Graves and Jonathan Gruber test whether...

Managing Infrastructure Procurement

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Infrastructure projects, especially mega-projects, are notorious for costing more than projected and taking longer than expected to complete. In a keynote address at a recent NBER conference on transportation economics, Alexander Budzier of the University of Oxford presented evidence on the source of cost overruns and the effectiveness of various strategies for avoiding them. He considered the role of procurement policies as well as project management.

From the NBER Bulletin on Health

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Intended and Unintended Health Effects of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

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Almost all US states have implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) over the past 25 years in an effort to mitigate the risks of prescription drug abuse. Providers, pharmacists, and law enforcement can query these web-based databases, which track prescriptions of controlled substances within each state. PDMPs facilitate identification of potential misuse by patients and excessive prescribing by providers. Kentucky introduced the first electronic PDMP in July 1999 and two decades later Missouri was the only state without one.

In Behavioral Responses to Supply-Side Drug Policy during the Opioid Epidemic (NBER Working Paper 29596), Simone Balestra, Helge Liebert, Nicole Maestas and Tisamarie B. Sherry document...

From the NBER Reporter: Research, program, and conference summaries

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Assessing Environmental Regulation in Automobile Markets

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Spending on transportation is the second-largest category of personal expenditure in the United States, surpassed only by housing. Spending on automobiles is in turn the largest component of transportation expenditures, an amount that is on par with health care and food. Moreover, emissions from transportation constitute just under a third of total US greenhouse gas emissions, with light-duty vehicles accounting for almost two-thirds of this total. These figures make studying the economic effects of automobile market regulation especially important.

The effects of environmental regulations on automobiles are governed by complex interactions between consumer behavior and firm decisions in the markets for both new and used vehicles…

From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

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Opioid Use by SSDI Beneficiaries and the Effect of Opioid Prescribing on SSDI Claiming

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Chronic pain is a leading cause of work disability and a primary reason for receipt of SSDI benefits. Prescription opioids are frequently prescribed for chronic pain, but their use has been scrutinized in recent years due to concerns about addiction and overdose. Understanding how common prescription opioid use is among SSDI beneficiaries and how opioid use affects employment and SSDI applications is critical to the SSDI program.

Researchers Nicole Maestas, Tisamarie Sherry, and Alexander Strand explore these issues in a pair of new working papers. In Opioid Use among Social Security Disability Insurance Applicants, 2013–2018 (NBER RDRC Working Paper NB19-28-1), the three researchers...

From the NBER Bulletin on Entrepreneurship

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The Rise of Private Financing for Entrepreneurs

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In Private or Public Equity? The Evolving Entrepreneurial Finance Landscape (NBER Working Paper 29532), Michael Ewens and Joan Farre-Mensa survey the changes in the US entrepreneurial finance market over the last two decades. Their study begins by describing the differences between publicly listed and private firms, and then explores how several regulatory, technological, and competitive changes affecting both startups and investors have affected the costs and benefits of going public. The paper emphasizes the growing costs of the disclosures required of public firms, and also observes that major technological changes have reduced the initial capital investment…

Featured Working Papers

During the onset of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia, older users of an online learning platform were more likely to take telework courses, while younger workers increased enrollments in courses related to occupation-specific and computer-related skills, according to research by Ina Ganguli, Jamal I. Haidar, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Samuel W. Stemper, and Basit Zafar.

Administrative data from Michigan provide evidence that foster care placement substantially reduces the chances of adult arrests, convictions, and incarceration for children. Foster care also improves a range of children’s safety, academic, and behavioral outcomes, E. Jason Baron and Max Gross find.

The 1993 expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit reduced reports of physical or sexual assault and counts of physical or sexual intimate partner violence per 100 women surveyed, especially among unmarried women and Black women, Resul Cesur, Núria Rodriguez-Planas, Jennifer Roff and David Simon find.

Increased substance abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic accounts for between 9 and 26 percent of the decline in the US prime-age labor-force participation rate between February 2020 and June 2021, according to research by Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner and Karen Kopecky.

While there were significant efficiency improvements in US public transit from 2002 to 2019, this sector did not significantly reduce its carbon footprint during this time, Robert Huang and Matthew E. Kahn find.

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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.
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The COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses in different industries in disparate ways.  Those in customer contact...
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Research Spotlight
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was one of the central elements of the pandemic stimulus program. It was designed...
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The number of deaths from drug overdoses and alcohol abuse rose during the first 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic....
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Employment in the US declined early in the pandemic, and has remained below its pre-pandemic level as the number of...
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Research Spotlight
The rate of increase in the US Consumer Price Index during 2021 was the fastest in nearly three decades. There is an...
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