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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 10, October 2012

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
Fewer than 10 percent of individuals enroll in what for them would be the most cost-effective plans. In Plan Selection in Medicare Part D: Evidence from Administrative Data (NBER Working Paper No. 18166), co-authors Florian Heiss, Adam Leive, Daniel McFadden, and Joachim Winter analyze data on medical claims in Medicare Part D drug insurance programs. They find that fewer than 10 percent of individuals enroll in what for them would be the most cost-effective plans....

Research Summaries

Article
... when students were promised immediate rewards of $20 for improving effort on the current test relative to the last test, scores did improve... In The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance (NBER Working Paper No. 18165), co-authors Steven Levitt, John List, Susanne Neckermann, and Sally Sadoff note that "the crux of the education problem that we face with our urban youth" is that "effort is far removed from...
Article
Indian and Mexican factories aren't investing as much as their U.S. counterparts in process efficiency, quality, and in accessing foreign and domestic markets. As U.S. manufacturing plants age, they become more productive and employ more workers. But in India, old plants show little improvement over new plants in terms of workers or productivity. Mexico does a little better: the average 40-year-old plant employs double the workers of a young plant, but that's nowhere...
Article
The primary beneficiaries of depressed Midwest crude oil prices have been Midwest refiners rather than Midwest consumers. Beginning in 2011, increases in crude oil production from North Dakota's shale resource and Canada's tar sands created a transportation bottleneck as the pipelines capable of carrying oil from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast reached full capacity. This constraint caused the benchmark Midwest crude oil price to fall substantially below the "world" oil...
Article
Although U.S. firms held less cash than comparable foreign firms in the late-1990s, they held more cash than those firms by 2010. In Multinationals and the High Cash Holdings Puzzle (NBER Working Paper No. 18120), authors Lee Pinkowitz, René Stulz, and Rohan Williamson find that the cash holdings of American multinational companies increased sharply in the early 2000s and have continued to be unusually high since the financial crisis. Moreover, although U.S. firms...
Article
The end of rent control raised the overall valuation of Cambridge's housing stock by $1.8 billion between 1994 and 2004, more than $1 billion of which was due to spillovers to never-controlled houses. In 1995, two months after voters in a state-wide referendum approved the elimination of rent-control policies in communities across Massachusetts, controls on apartment rental prices were almost entirely abolished in the city of Cambridge. In Housing Market Spillovers:...

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