AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 2, February 2012

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
House prices are a relevant factor in a couple's decision to have a baby. Housing prices have a significant impact on a family's decision to have children, according to a new study by Lisa Dettling and Melissa Schettini Kearney. In House Prices and Birth Rates: The Impact of the Real Estate Market on the Decision to Have a Baby (NBER Working Paper No. 17485), they find that a 10 percent increase in home prices leads to a 1 percent decrease in births among non-...

Research Summaries

Article
The acquisition rate follows a u-shape: ... higher when firms are young ... and when they are mature...than when they are middle-aged. In Corporate Acquisitions, Diversification, and the Firm's Lifecycle (NBER Working Paper No. 17463), Asli Arikan and Rene Stulz analyze a dataset of over 6,000 firms that initiated an initial public offering (IPO) between 1975 and 2002 to study when public corporations make acquisitions over their lifecycle. The evidence here is...
Article
Boards were more likely to receive updates than to make decisions [and] ... they were rarely presented with alternatives. In What Do Boards Really Do? Evidence from Minutes of Board Meetings (NBER Working Paper No. 17509), Miriam Schwartz-Ziv and Michael Weisbach find that boards spend most of their time monitoring management rather than making business decisions. However, on occasion they do make managerial decisions. The researchers analyzed a year's worth of...
Article
The effect of source-country female labor supply on an immigrant woman's work hours in the United States remains strong and positive even after the researchers control for her own labor supply before coming to the United States. The share of the U.S. population that is foreign-born has risen from 4.8 percent in 1970 to 12.2 percent in 2009. Furthermore, the combined Asian and Latin American share of U. S. immigrants was 81.1 percent in 2009, a fact that may be...
Article
High payout taxes lock in capital at firms that generate internal cash flows. Payouts of corporate earnings, whether in the form of dividends or share repurchases, are subject to taxation in most countries. Those taxes drive a wedge between the cost of internal equity finance, from retained earnings, and external equity finance, from new share issues. Higher taxes on corporate payouts are expected to "lock in" investment in currently-profitable firms that generate...
Article
The quality of new music has not fallen since Napster. Napster was the first widely used program that allowed music lovers to share music by exchanging MP3 files, thereby allowing millions of people to enjoy music without paying for it. Recorded music revenues plunged, raising a concern that piracy would stem the flow of good new music. In Copyright Protection, Technological Change, and the Quality of New Products: Evidence from Recorded Music Since Napster (NBER...

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