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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 12, December 2005

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
Early retirement increases expenditures by increasing the number of retirees. It also reduces the tax revenues generated by people in the labor force. As a result, reforms that increase the early retirement age, or impose reductions in retirement benefits for those who retire earlier, could reduce overall program costs. Although blaming the looming insolvency of developed country social security systems on aging populations is popular, critics often fail to recognize...

Research Summaries

Article
Over the past century the average age at which individuals produce notable inventions and ideas has increased steadily. Innovative thinkers are innovating later than they used to. While conventional wisdom holds that creative thinkers do their best work when they are young, a study by NBER researcher Benjamin Jones shows that over the past century the average age at which individuals produce notable inventions and ideas has increased steadily. In Age and Great...
Article
A single percent reduction in mortality from cancer or heart disease would be worth nearly $500 billion to current and future Americans. During the twentieth century, life expectancy at birth for a representative American increased by roughly thirty years. In 1900, nearly 18 percent of males born in the United States died before their first birthday - today, it isn't until age 62 that cumulative mortality reaches that level. This remarkable increase in longevity...
Article
Better schools and school desegregation tended to raise the earnings of southern-born African-American men, but not all of that progress can be attributed to the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The public profile of that landmark ruling overshadows the slow, long-term process that raised the quality of schooling available to southern black children. In Evaluating the Role of Brown v. Board of Education in School Equalization, Desegregation, and...
Article
Wage convergence has been weaker on average for Mexican immigrants than for other immigrant groups. The population of Mexican-born persons residing in the United States has increased at an unprecedented rate in recent decades. This increase can be attributed to both legal and illegal immigration. During the entire decade of the 1950s, only about 300,000 legal Mexican immigrants entered the United States, making up 12 percent of the immigrant flow. In the 1990s, 2.2...
Article
The fact that so much foreign money has been of the FDI variety has helped shield China from the kind of jolts recently administered to other Asian economies where a higher proportion of investment was indirect -- such as bank lending or stock portfolios. Strong evidence of China's emergence as a global economic powerhouse are these twin facts: a large foreign exchange reserve that China is holding, especially in dollar-denominated assets, and a large amount of...

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