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National Bureau of Economic Research

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Lisa D. Cook Confirmed to Board of Governors of Federal Reserve

Lisa Cook Confirmed to Federal Reserve Board

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Lisa D. Cook, an NBER affiliate since 2018 in two programs, Development of the American Economy and Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, has been confirmed by the US Senate to serve as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. A professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University, she is the first Black woman to serve on the board in its 108-year history.

Cook’s research interests include economic growth, financial institutions and markets, and racial and gender disparities among workers in innovation-related fields. She will resign from the NBER when she takes up her new appointment.

New COVID-19 Working Papers: May 9, 2022

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Four 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 investigate how pandemic-related school closures affected student educational attainment (29979, 30010). Another examines the determinants of participation in protests against government-imposed lockdowns and mask mandates (29987). Yet another analyzes the sharp decline in US fertility early in the pandemic, and the subsequent strong rebound (30000).

More than 550 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 Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed.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

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Using Machine Learning to Predict Mutual Fund Performance

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In Machine-Learning the Skill of Mutual Fund Managers (NBER Working Paper 29723) Ron Kaniel, Zihan Lin, Markus Pelger, and Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh use a neural network to predict mutual fund performance. They estimate relationships among a large set of fund attributes to identify the US mutual funds with the best relative performance. They apply their model to predict the best-performing decile of funds each month and to…

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

Figure 1 for Peter Blair's summary 2022 number 1 Reporter

New Frontiers in Occupational Licensing Research

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When an occupation is licensed by the state, a worker must have a license to legally work for pay. For some occupations, obtaining a license can be as simple as filling out a form and paying a few hundred dollars. In other cases, obtaining a license could require passing an exam, completing years of training, or having a clean criminal record. In the United States and Europe, close to a quarter of the workforce is subject to occupational licensing requirements; by contrast only 11 percent of workers in the US are unionized.

Starting with Adam Smith, then Simon Kuznets and Milton Friedman, economists have long theorized that licensing an occupation requires trading off a…

From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

Center Paper Figure NB19-Q7 BRD 202201

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…

From the NBER Bulletin on Health

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The Persistent Mortality Advantage of a College Degree

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In 2019, Americans with a four-year college degree had six years greater life expectancy at age 25 than those without a degree. These educational differences in mortality have been growing in recent decades and are apparent across demographic groups. In Mortality Rates by College Degree before and during COVID-19 (NBER Working Paper 29328), Anne Case and Angus Deaton explore the evolution of these differences during the pandemic.

If every American faced an equal threat of infection and death from COVID-19, then the mortality gap between more and less educated individuals would have narrowed during the pandemic. However, the risks from COVID-19 were plausibly greater…

Featured Working Papers

Studying demographic and health surveys in 44 developing countries, Frances R. Lu and Tom Vogl estimate that women with at least one sibling who died in childhood face 39 percent higher odds of losing a child themselves than their same-age compatriots who did not experience a sibling death.

While the objective risk premia of major asset classes implied by regressions of excess returns are countercyclical, Stefan Nagel and Zhengyang Xu find that subjective risk premia for stocks, bonds, FX, and commodities do not display such cyclical variation.

Despite record growth in many measures of home prices and rents, the official measure of housing inflation – the rise in cost of residential services – was only four percent in the year ending in January 2022,  Marijn A. Bolhuis, Judd N. L. Cramer, and Lawrence H. Summers find. They conclude that housing service inflation is likely to contribute to raising the overall inflation measure in 2022 and 2023. 

Following the 1988 Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, Brian K. Kovak and Peter M. Morrow conclude that Canadian workers transitioned out of industries facing import competition, with the majority of industry adjustment occurring among new entrants to the labor market.

Many local governments are slow to refinance their long-term debt when interest rates decline.  Between 2001 and 2018, Huaizhi Chen, Lauren Cohen, and Weiling Liu estimate that US municipals lost over $31 billion from delayed refinancing, whereas the entire US corporate sector lost only $1.4 billion.

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In the News

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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.
COVID sectoral revenue decline figure 03032022
Research Spotlight
The COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses in different industries in disparate ways.  Those in customer contact...
PPP racial disparity figure final 02222022
Research Spotlight
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was one of the central elements of the pandemic stimulus program. It was designed...
substance deaths figure 02042022
Research Spotlight
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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Research Spotlight
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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