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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 5, May 2009

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
A gasoline tax increase of the magnitude currently contemplated by policymakers would have only a modest short-run impact on carbon emissions. Some policymakers and economists have proposed a carbon tax for the United States. In practice, such a tax must take the form of a tax on the consumption of energy products, such as gasoline. How effective would this be in controlling carbon emissions? In Estimating the Effect of a Gasoline Tax on Carbon Emissions (NBER...

Research Summaries

Article
Part D erased socioeconomic gradients in drug coverage among the elderly. Before Part D, individuals in the highest education or income category were significantly less likely to lack coverage than their less-advantaged counterparts. Fifty to sixty percent of senior citizens who did not have drug coverage in 2004 took advantage of Medicare Part D, Medicare's prescription drug benefit, when it took effect in 2006. As a result, the share of seniors without drug coverage...
Article
Differences in macroeconomic policy choices, not differences in institutions, account for the differing growth experiences of Barbados and Jamaica. Economists have long believed that there is a correlation between institutions and economic performance. Rich countries, they argue, have laws that provide incentives to engage in productive economic activity. Investors rely on secure property rights, facilitating investment in human and physical capital. Government power...
Article
Profitable firms pay more for health insurance only in markets with ten or fewer major carriers, and the effect is most pronounced in markets with six or fewer carriers. In the United States, more than 67 percent of individuals with health insurance coverage purchase private insurance. Unfortunately, because data on private insurance are complex and difficult to obtain, more researchers have focused their attention on public insurance than on private markets. However...
Article
[the] 10 percent equity loss translates to a total loss of about $40,500 (in 1998 dollars) per voter, [which] represents a combination of a transfer to workers as well as lost profit due to inefficiencies caused by the union. A successful effort to unionize a workplace apparently reduces the market value of affected publicly-traded firms, even if there is no immediate change in their operating performance. In Long-Run Impacts of Unions on Firms: New Evidence From...
Article
...paying for old persons to leave the labor force reduces the employment rate and increases the unemployment rate of youth and of persons in their prime age working years. Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: the Relationship to Youth Employment (NBER Working Paper No. 14647) summarizes the results of the fourth phase of an ongoing NBER project that will be published in full by the University of Chicago Press in a book of the same title. The...

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