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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 2, February 2010

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
When customers received information on the energy consumption of their neighbors, average energy use declined by 1.2 to 2.1 percent. When utility customers are told how much energy their neighbors use, those who are consuming more than average tend to cut their consumption. Average energy use declines by 1.2 to 2.1 percent, and the savings are sustained for periods of many months, according to a new study by Ian Ayres, Sophie Raseman, and Alice Shih. In Evidence from...

Research Summaries

Article
Individuals who receive assistance with the FAFSA -- the federal application for financial aid -- and information about what aid is available are substantially more likely to submit the aid application, [and] to enroll in college ... Higher education can help individuals attain social and economic success, but decades of federal and state financial aid policies have not closed the gap between high- and low-income students' college attendance rates. Growing...
Article
The long-term care insurance ownership rate among those at genetic risk for developing HD (50 percent) is five times the rate of ownership in the general population (10 percent). Personalized genetic information is increasingly available, and continuing advances in technology are likely to make even more such information available in the future. For example, a perfectly predictive genetic test for Huntington Disease (HD) has been around since 1993. Individuals who...
Article
In the United States most innovating firms are publicly-traded conglomerates - a substantial fraction of innovation is concentrated in private firms and business groups in continental Europe. In Intracompany Governance and Innovation (NBER Working Paper No. 15304), authors Sharon Belenzon, Tomer Berkovitz, and Patrick Bolton find that while in the United States most innovating firms are publicly-traded conglomerates, a substantial fraction of innovation is...
Article
Farmers are 46 to 60 percent more likely to use fertilizer if offered a small, time-limited subsidy designed to limit the scope for procrastination (free delivery) immediately after harvest. Two recent NBER Working Papers report the results of randomized controlled trials in Kenya. In the first, Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya (NBER Working Paper No. 15131), co-authors Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer, and Jonathan Robinson...
Article
Consolidation explains very little of the steep increase in health insurance premiums in recent years. The private health insurance industry provides coverage to over 160 million non-elderly Americans, gathering $850 billion in annual premiums. These figures do not include publicly-insured individuals whose coverage is outsourced to private insurers, or the elderly who purchase private supplemental insurance. The annual growth in private health insurance premiums has...

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