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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 1, January 2009

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
Researchers also have long puzzled over why governments seem to inflate their economies beyond the rate which would earn them the most from printing money (seigniorage). While domestic debt may not explain every situation, it does appear to play a major role in many periods of high inflation and hyperinflation. One enduring mystery of international economics is why so many nations default on the debts they owe abroad even though those external debts seem relatively...

Research Summaries

Article
Social Security rules' changes increased full-time work by married men aged 65 to 67 by about 9 percent between 1992 and 2004, encouraged later retirement, promoted the return to full-time work after retiring, and facilitated working part-time after retirement. In How Changes in Social Security Affect Recent Retirement Trends (NBER Working Paper No. 14105), co-authors Alan Gustman and Thomas Steinmeier find that changes in Social Security rules have changed the shape...
Article
When the average number of years since introduction for prescription drugs falls by five years, the authors estimate, the mean age at death rises by eleven months. In Pharmaceutical Innovation and the Longevity of Australians: A First Look (NBER Working Paper No. 14009), co-authors Frank Lichtenberg and Gautier Duflos find that the benefits of new pharmaceuticals significantly exceed their costs. Using 1995-2003 data on actual prescriptions from the set of about 700...
Article
Welfare reforms have reduced both the probability that women aged 21-49 will attend high school and that those aged 24-49 will attend college, by 20-25 percent. Over many decades, welfare programs in the United States focused on education and training as a means of developing "human capital"- skills and knowledge that increase the value of labor. The goal was to help those on public assistance become self-sufficient, aiding them in the ascent out of poverty. By the...
Article
Child health is important not only for its own sake but also because it affects children's future prospects more broadly, as well as the prospects of their children. Differences in education can explain a significant fraction of the variation in wages and incomes among adults, as well as the variation in many other positive outcomes. But what determines a child's educational success? Most studies point to family background as the number one factor. Children in higher...
Article
The association between height and earnings may be driven by the influence of early life health and nutrition on adult height, educational attainment, and occupational choice. In Making Sense of the Labor Market Height Premium: Evidence From the British Household Panel Survey (NBER Working Paper No. 14007), authors Anne Case, Christina Paxson, and Mahnaz Islam use nine waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) to investigate the large labor market height...

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