AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 1, January 2002

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
For healthier patients... doctors and hospitals substituted coronary artery bypass surgery for other cardiac surgical treatments. This shift increased expenditures, but failed to produce any measurable health benefits. For sicker patients, doctors and hospitals avoided performing cardiac surgical treatments of all types. These changes were particularly harmful, leading sicker patients to have substantially higher frequencies of heart failure and repeated heart attacks, and...

Research Summaries

Article
Annual expenditures of approximately $10 billion on drug incarceration almost pay for themselves through reductions in health care costs and lost productivity attributable to illegal drug use, even ignoring any crime reductions associated with such incarceration. The number of Americans incarcerated on drug-related offenses rose 15-fold between 1980 and 2000, to its current level of 400,000. Despite this enormous increase, there has been no systematic, empirical...
Article
There is no evidence that changes in income inequality affect changes in mortality. Adult and elderly mortality rates declined most rapidly during the period when income inequality increased. A new study of mortality rates in Britain and the United States finds no simple relationship between income growth, patterns of income inequality, and the substantial declines in mortality rates in the two countries since 1950. In Mortality, Income, and Income Inequality Over...
Article
A policy that seeks to limit currency fluctuations could end up fostering more instability in emerging markets because it relies so heavily on swapping exchange rate uncertainties for interest rate uncertainties. As many developing countries have tied their currencies to the U.S. dollar (in varying degrees), some analysts believe that exchange rate volatility among industrialized nations is at least partially to blame for the financial crises that plague emerging...

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