Latest from the NBER
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.
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 Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed.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
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
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.
From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.