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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 12, December 2012

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
The ACA's dependent coverage mandate increased the percentage of 19-25 year olds with health insurance from 66 to 70 percent, an increase of about 938,000 individuals. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required that health insurers extend dependent coverage to the children of their insured by September 22, 2010, as long as those children were under age 26, and regardless of whether they were married, dependent on their parents, or occupying a different residence. There...

Research Summaries

Article
Loss-aversion incentives increased math test scores between 0.2 and 0.4 standard deviations. In recent years, a number of U.S. states and school districts have implemented teacher financial-incentive plans, also known as merit pay, with the goal of increasing student achievement. Some past studies have shown that such reform attempts, which pay teachers bonuses after their students hit certain goals, have had limited effects on student achievement. In Enhancing the...
Article
[There is] enormous variation in government efficiency as measured by the probability and the time of returning ... [a mis-addressed] letter. Alberto Chong, Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer examine the operations of the postal services in 159 countries as a lens for measuring the quality of government in those nations. In an experiment, they mailed ten letters to non-existent business addresses in each of the countries and then recorded...
Article
When the price of gasoline increases ... the market share of regular gasoline increases while the market share of higher quality gasoline falls. While conventional economic theory suggests that decisionmakers treat a dollar as a dollar no matter how it was earned or is to be spent, in practice some households may engage in "mental accounting" -- setting aside special budgets for certain purposes, like food, clothing, or transportation. Households that budget this way...
Article
Replacing a bad boss with a good one increases productivity of each subordinate's output by more than 10 percent. One extreme view of the labor market holds that bosses are irrelevant and that worker productivity is unaffected by the choice of supervisor. Anyone can do the supervisor's job because the supervisor has little direct impact on worker output. At the other extreme, is the view that workers are indistinguishable and that the output of the firm depends only...
Article
A city's industrial mix, and the size and types of firms in it, can have very long-lasting effects on its entrepreneurial culture. Cities with a high level of entrepreneurship experience more job growth than cities with few entrepreneurs, but exactly why is not known. In Entrepreneurship and Urban Growth: An Empirical Assessment with Historical Mines (NBER Working Paper No. 18333), authors Edward Glaeser, Sari Pekkala Kerr, and William Kerr search for an answer by...

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