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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 10, October 2008

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
In a weak housing market households get 'locked in' to their homes and are prevented from 'moving up' to larger homes and better neighborhoods. Using two decades of American Housing Survey data from 1985-2005, researchers Fernando Ferreira, Joseph Gyourko, and Joseph Tracy estimate that negative home equity reduces homeowners' mobility. Indeed, mobility is almost 50 percent lower for owners with negative equity in their homes than for those with positive equity. In...

Research Summaries

Article
The share of national income going to employees is at approximately the same level now as it was in 1970. The relation between wages and productivity is important because it is a key determinant of the standard of living of the employed population as well as of the distribution of income between labor and capital. If wages rise at the same pace as productivity, then labor's share of national income remains essentially unchanged. In Did Wages Reflect Growth in...
Article
Nearly all of the variation in aid to students is generated by only a handful of the more than 70 data items used in the current aid formula. In Complexity and Targeting in Federal Student Aid: A Quantitative Analysis (NBER Working Paper No. 13801), co-authors Susan Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton write that the complexity and uncertainty in the federal system of financial aid for college students - primarily Pell Grants and Stafford Loans - undermine its efficacy...
Article
Women between the ages of 18 and 64 spent 18 fewer hours on housework each week in 2005 than they did in 1900. However, men aged 18-to-64 took up much of the slack, spending about 13 more hours on housework in 2005 than in 1900. In Time Spent in Home Production in the 20th Century: New Estimates from Old Data (NBER Working Paper No. 13985), Valerie Ramey investigates how much time is spent on "homemaking," which includes food preparation, house cleaning, care of...
Article
Introducing affirmative action causes a substantial increase in the number of female competitors, and this supply effect reduces the cost of requiring equal representation of women. Despite decades of striving for gender equality, there are still large differences between men and women in the labor market. Women are more likely to hold clerical or nurturing jobs while men are more visible in manufacturing. Across fields, men are disproportionately found in...
Article
The Personal Annuitized Average Wage Security [would be] designed to satisfy both those who want a system that redistributes wealth and shares intergenerational risk, and those who want a self-balancing system that encourages individual ownership of retirement benefits that cannot be revoked by a future government. In Reforming Social Security with Progressive Personal Accounts (NBER Working Paper No. 13979), John Geanakopolos and Stephen Zeldes describe a new type of...

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