AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 1, January 2011

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
The [2009] reduction in withholding led to a substantially lower rate of spending than the one-time payments [of 2008]. To stimulate the U.S. economy in 2001, households were sent a tax rebate (paper) check. In 2008, households also received economic stimulus payments in the form of a paper check or electronic funds transfer. But in 2009, working households instead got a reduction in income tax withholding corresponding to a tax credit, while retiree households...

Research Summaries

Article
...Monopoly power substantially increases a patient's risk of death. In 2006, England's National Health Service (NHS) adopted a set of reforms intended to foster competition among hospitals. These reforms included paying hospitals fixed, regulated prices for treating patients (similar to the Medicare hospital payment system in the United States) and mandating that all patients be given the choice of five hospitals. Prior to this reform, the local public agencies...
Article
The average new Gainesville home built after the new code took effect used 48 kWh [4 percent] less electricity and 1.5 fewer therms [6 percent less natural gas] per month than a home built right before the code took effect. Since the oil embargo of 1973, most states have tried to improve energy efficiency by making their residential building codes more stringent. Now U.S. legislators are looking to implement national energy-efficiency codes as part of energy and...
Article
The average amount of bank financing [for start-up firms] is seven times greater than the average amount of insider-financed debt. In The Capital Structure Decisions of New Firms (NBER Working Paper No. 16272), co-authors Alicia Robb and David Robinson investigate the capitalization choices that firms make in their initial year of operation. Using a novel dataset that tracks firms' funding decisions through their early years of operation, they find that these firms...
Article
Mutual fund families that sell via the direct channel ... outperform comparable funds sold through other distribution channels by 1 percent per year. Some mutual fund investors seek to optimize their investment returns by taking a do-it-yourself approach: they choose to invest in low-cost fund families with the best-performing funds. Others prefer a fund family that provides personalized service through a broker. Because brokers have no financial incentive to...
Article
Coeducation mattered to a greater extent in the more distant past than in the more recent and celebrated period of change. Women represent 57 percent of all BAs in the United States today, and more than 97 percent of women will graduate from coeducational institutions. But until 1835, there were no coeducational institutions of higher education in the United States. Still, 60 percent of college women (in four-year institutions) attended coeducational institutions in...

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