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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 11, November 2022

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Significant changes in manufacturing in the twentieth century were driven by the advent and diffusion of automated machine tools. In Automation after the Assembly Line: Computerized Machine Tools, Employment, and Productivity in the United States (NBER Working Paper 30400), Leah Platt Boustan, Jiwon Choi, and David Clingingsmith find that industries that were more exposed to computer numerical control (CNC) machines from 1970 to 2010 increased capital investment more...

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The figure is a dual-axis line chart titled, "Patent Value and Quality by Firm Size."  The left-hand axis, which ranges from zero to 40, plots the average patent value in millions of dollars, and the right-hand axis, which spans from 1 to 1.6, plots the average number of citations per patent. The x-axis represents firm size; it spans the first through fourth sales quartiles.   Patent value begins below $5 million in the first sales quartile, but increases in firm size: patent value is around $35 million in
Article
Larger firms tend to profit more from their inventions than do their smaller counterparts. In Invention Value, Inventive Capability, and the Large Firm Advantage (NBER Working Paper 30354), Ashish Arora, Wesley M. Cohen, Honggi Lee, and Divya Sebastian find that this does not occur because large firms produce inventions of higher technical quality. Rather, it is because they extract more value from their inventions, likely through more effective commercialization,...
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Article
  In the late nineteenth century, unrestricted hunting pushed the North American bison population from nearly 8 million to near extinction. For the Native Americans of the Great Plains, the Northwest, and the Rocky Mountains, this eliminated a resource that had served as their primary source of livelihood for over 10,000 years and that featured in almost every facet of life. In The Slaughter of the Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains (NBER...
Article
Firstborn children in families with incomes below the threshold to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit have significantly better outcomes as adults if their parents receive cash transfers following their birth. In Investing in Infants: The Lasting Effects of Cash Transfers to New Families (NBER Working Paper 30373), Andrew C. Barr, Jonathan Eggleston, and Alexander A. Smith track the impact of tax refunds in the first year of a firstborn’s life. Drawing on...
Article
As the US population grows older, supporting employment at older ages can be an important contributor to economic growth. In The Rise of Age-Friendly Jobs (NBER Working Paper 30463), Daron Acemoglu, Nicolaj Søndergaard Mühlbach, and Andrew J. Scott build an index to assess whether occupations in the US economy have become more accommodating to older workers. Their resulting Age-Friendliness Index (AFI), aggregated across all jobs, increased by 8 percent between 1990...
Article
In the past 15 years, a number of emerging nations have gained the ability to borrow abroad in their own currency. Historically, borrowing in foreign currencies created problems when unexpected shocks hit, as in the Latin American crisis in the 1980s or the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. Emerging nations prefer to borrow in their local currency because it reduces their exposure to risk. If an adverse shock hits the domestic economy, the currency can...
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