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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 10, November 2007

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
An increase in SSRI sales of one pill per person per year -- about a 12 percent increase over year 2000 sales levels -- is associated with a decrease in deaths from suicide of about 5 percent. Furthermore, now that SSRIs are off patent, spending an additional $20,000 on them in the United States could avert one death from suicide; that is a cost per life saved far below the cost of most other public health or regulatory government intervention. Selective serotonin...

Research Summaries

Article
Increased caloric intake accounted for 93 percent of the change in adult obesity from 1990 to 2001 (the remainder is attributable to reduced energy expenditure). Aside from the physiological fact that the number of calories consumed must be larger than the number expended in order to gain weight, the causes of the dramatic increase in obesity over the last few decades are not well understood. Although some experts point to the decline in work-related physical activity...
Article
The divorce rate today -- 3.6 divorces per one thousand couples per year -- is at its lowest level since 1970... For marriages that occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s, the figures clearly show that the probability of divorce before each anniversary rose for each successive marriage cohort. For first marriages that occurred in the 1980s, the proportion that had dissolved by each anniversary was consistently lower and it is lower again for marriages that occurred in the...
Article
Time spent paying taxes is important for keeping taxes visible and salient to taxpayers, thereby making it politically harder for the government to raise taxes...The introduction of electronic toll booths causes drivers to pay higher tolls - some 20 to 40 percent higher - than if electronic collection had never been introduced. Every year, as April 15 approaches, taxpayers must take the time to calculate - and then pay - their federal and state income taxes. Indeed,...
Article
A typical comparison of a high-spending area and a low-spending one means a 50 percent difference in health care spending intensity...This disparity is associated with a 1.6 percentage-point lower mortality rate among heart emergency patients. Based on that estimate, the additional cost of a statistical life-year-saved is on the order of $50,000. Health care spending is a major concern in the United States, amounting to over $2 trillion per year or 16 percent of GDP....
Article
The number of personal bankruptcy filings in the United States increased more than fivefold between 1980 and 2004. By then, more Americans were filing for bankruptcy than were graduating from college or getting divorced. The number of personal bankruptcy filings in the United States increased more than fivefold between 1980 and 2004. By then, more Americans were filing for bankruptcy than were graduating from college or getting divorced. When Congress reformed...

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