National Bureau of Economic Research
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Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 2
NBER releases Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy and the Economy, volume 2, a compendium of six new studies of the determinants and implications of entrepreneurial and innovative activity across the economy.
From the NBER Bulletin on Health
Epigenetic Influences on the Descendants of Union Army POWs
The number of adults worldwide who are overweight or obese is rising, with much of the increase driven by developing countries. Famine exposure at early ages is a contributing factor, and it is not clear whether such exposure transmits across generations. In Overweight Grandsons and Grandfathers’ Starvation Exposure (NBER Working Paper 30599), Dora Costa develops novel evidence on this issue by studying the grandchildren of Union Army veterans, some of whom were prisoners of war (POWs).
Prior to July 1863, most POWs in the US Civil War were immediately exchanged. For those in this group who survived to 1900, the average time in captivity was 16 days. Between July 1863 and July 1864 prisoner exchanges stopped; survivors’ time in captivity grew to an average of 231 days. After July 1864, exchanges resumed; time in captivity...
A research summary from the monthly NBER Digest
Patterns of Inventor Employment and Creative Output
Many analyses of economic growth have focused on presumably relevant ratios in the innovation pipeline, such as research and development spending as a share of GDP and the proportion of the labor force employed in the research sector. Recent data from the US raise questions, however, about the links. Total factor productivity growth has slowed markedly since 2005 even though the share of inventors in the labor force has grown by over 70 percent.
In Where Have All the “Creative Talents” Gone? Employment Dynamics of US Inventors (NBER Working Paper 31085), Ufuk Akcigit and Nathan Goldschlag find that innovative capacity also depends upon the distribution of inventors across firm types. Incumbent firms, defined as those over 21 years old with at least 1,000 employees, may...
From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability
Comparing Behavioral Approaches to Increasing Savings
Many older American households approaching retirement age have accumulated little in the way of retirement savings. Over the past two decades, behavioral researchers have explored a variety of potential “nudges” designed to increase retirement savings. Many of these interventions have been shown to have substantial impacts on retirement savings behavior. However, validating, comparing, and selecting from different approaches can be difficult. Existing studies differ in their samples, the characteristics of firms included, study periods, and outcomes, which can alter the impact of policy interventions. In addition, the existing literature has largely not explored the relative cost-effectiveness of the various options.
In How Do Behavioral Approaches to Increase Savings Compare? Evidence from Multiple Interventions in the US Army (NBER RDRC Working Paper NB22-10), researchers Richard Patterson and William Skimmyhorn examine the relative efficacy and cost-effectiveness of four policy options designed...
From the NBER Reporter: Research, program, and conference summaries
Life-Cycle Impacts of Graduating in a Recession
Young adults who enter the labor market during recessions can experience negative impacts to their economic, family, and health outcomes that endure into middle age and beyond. Those who join the workforce in a downturn have lower long-term earnings, higher rates of disability, fewer marriages, less successful spouses, and fewer children. In middle age they also have higher mortality due to lung, liver, and heart disease. The long-lasting effects of labor market shocks to young adults have important implications for assessing the costs of recessions and government interventions.
Young adulthood — the period from age 18 to 25 — is a time of profound changes that affect the entire life cycle. During this time, the vast majority of people transition from…
From the NBER Bulletin on Entrepreneurship
Startups Drive Commercialization of High-Impact Innovations
Startups have more incentive than incumbent firms to engage in potentially disruptive R&D because large, established firms have more to lose from the discovery of new technologies that replace traditional ways of doing things. With no existing operations, startups have nothing to lose and much to gain from disruptive innovation.
In Of Academics and Creative Destruction: Startup Advantage in the Process of Innovation (NBER Working Paper 30362), Julian Kolev, Alexis Haughey, Fiona Murray, and Scott Stern focus on patents that emerged from university-based research ecosystems. Innovative researchers often prefer the creative freedom...
Featured Working Papers
Access to universal health insurance — Medicare — at age 65 is associated with a drop in debt collections of 30 percent nationally, with the largest reductions in southern areas with higher shares of Black residents, people with disabilities, and for-profit hospitals, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, Maxim Pinkovskiy, Jacob Wallace find.
The surge in US inflation in 2021-22 was amplified by simultaneous disruptions to foreign supply chains and to domestic labor supply that made it difficult to substitute for US labor inputs by expanding imports of intermediate goods that embody foreign labor, and allowed domestic producers to increase prices without losing market share, according to Mary Amiti, Sebastian Heise, Fatih Karahan, and Ayşegül Şahin.
Firms whose workforces are more exposed to Generative AI earned excess returns of 0.4 percent per day relative to firms with lower exposures after the release of ChatGPT. Returns varied substantially across and within industries, research by Andrea L. Eisfeldt, Gregor Schubert, and Miao Ben Zhang shows.
Most workers would prefer to work longer hours than their current job permits, and would accept a lower per-hour wage if they were offered an extended workweek, a study by Marta Lachowska, Alexandre Mas, Raffaele Saggio, and Stephen A. Woodbury finds.
Math and ELA achievement growth among Michigan middle schoolers dropped 0.22 and 0.03 standard deviations more than expected, respectively, between 2019 and 2022, with larger declines for Black, Latino, and economically disadvantaged students, Katharine O. Strunk, Bryant G. Hopkins, Tara Kilbride, Scott A. Imberman, and Dongming Yu find.
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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.