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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 7, July 2013

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
The combination of targeted economic policies and policies that support growth has had a significant impact on poverty. In Winning the War: Poverty from the Great Society to the Great Recession (NBER Working Paper No. 18718), Bruce Meyer and James Sullivan contradict the belief that efforts to reduce poverty in the United States have met with little success over the last half century. They find that moving from traditional income-based measures of poverty to a...

Research Summaries

Article
Average highway congestion delays increased 47 percent when public transit service was not available. While some have questioned the benefits of mass transit systems, which are used by only a small fraction of commuters, research by Michael Anderson suggests that transit riders likely would otherwise commute along already heavily congested roadways, and that congestion along those roadways would increase if mass transit were scaled back. In Subways, Strikes, and...
Article
Almost 80 percent of foreign-born Ph.D.s who earned degrees between 1960 and 2008 reported intending to stay. The share of U.S. science and engineering Ph.D.s earned by foreign-born students rose from 23 percent in 1970 to 56 percent in 2007. In Attracting Talent: Location Choices of Foreign-Born Ph.D.s in the US (NBER Working Paper No. 18780), Jeffrey Grogger and Gordon Hanson note that science-and-engineering graduates have "relatively high propensities to produce...
Article
Endowments outperformed other investors early on because they had access to the most successful funds while other investors did not. During the 1990s, returns among endowments investing in private equity funds soared and endowments outperformed other private equity investors. This was not the case between 1999 and 2006. In Limited Partner Performance and the Maturing of the Private Equity Industry (NBER Working Paper No. 18793), Berk Sensoy, Yingdi Wang, and Michael...
Article
There are many similarities between the most recent boom and previous events: rising prices reflected optimistic expectations, and credit market conditions played a supporting role. Between January 2000 and March 2006, the Case-Shiller 20-city real estate price index rose by 76 percent in real terms. Between March 2006 and May 2009, it declined by 36 percent. In A Nation of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation and American History (NBER Working Paper No. 18825), Edward...
Article
The drivers of dirtier vehicles respond substantially more to changes in fuel prices than the drivers of clean vehicles. Driving a car produces an externality -- pollution -- that imposes various economic costs, but drivers do not directly pay for that externality. The efficient economic remedy would tax individual drivers based on their vehicles' emissions, but that is currently impractical. Taxing gasoline purchases, which are related to emissions, is an indirect...

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