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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 4, April 2010

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
The magnitude of [the] acceleration [in U.S. productivity growth between 1995 and 2006] has been overstated, with a sizable share of the gains actually being accounted for by the benefits of international trade. Productivity growth in the United States appears to have accelerated dramatically since 1995. Some research has attributed that growth to declining prices for information technology (IT) products. In Effects of Terms of Trade Gains and Tariff Changes on the...

Research Summaries

Article
86 percent of [credit] constrained firms reported they bypassed attractive investments because of concerns over raising money from outside the company [in Q4 2008, compared with only] 44 percent of unconstrained firms. Murillo Campello, John Graham, and Campbell Harvey emailed a survey to 10,000 chief financial officers (CFOs) of public and private companies from 39 countries in the fourth quarter of 2008, asking for details of their decision making strategies during...
Article
Social pressure is an important determinant of door-to-door giving. In the United States alone, annual individual giving to charity exceeds 2 percent of GDP, with approximately 90 percent of people donating a total of more than $300 billion in 2008. While the stakes are clearly quite high, there is still disagreement on the precise factors that motivate some people to give and others to refrain from donating. In Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in...
Article
The median growth of the 20 advanced nations in this study fell by half as their debt levels moved from less than 30 percent of GDP to 90 percent or more. Nations typically see growth slow when their debt levels reach 90 percent of gross domestic product. The median growth rate falls by 1 percent and average growth falls even more, according to Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff writing in Growth in a Time of Debt (NBER Working Paper No. 15639). Using a newly...
Article
In the population that ... received WIC assistance, average birth weight increased by approximately 29 grams, or 10 percent. The Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), established in 1972, directly aids low-income pregnant and lactating women and young children by providing nutritional counseling and food vouchers for items including eggs, cheese, milk, tuna, carrots and iron-fortified infant formula. Widely used and broadly supported, WIC has a...

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