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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 12, December 2013

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
The productivity rise during the recent recession came mostly because employees worked harder, not because employers kept good workers and got rid of laggards. During the Great Recession, the aggregate number of hours worked in the United States fell 10.01 percent, but output dropped only 7.16 percent. Thus, output per worker rose. This could be the result of changes in the mix of workers who are employed, with higher-productivity workers retaining their jobs during...

Research Summaries

Article
State-provided incentives for biotechnology companies lead to significant increases in the number of private-sector "star scientists" and biotech workers employed in the state. States spend billions of dollars through tax credits and other subsidies designed to attract cutting-edge technology companies and to spur creation of innovation clusters. In State Incentives for Innovation, Star Scientists and Jobs: Evidence from Biotech (NBER Working Paper No. 19294),...
Article
Between 2007 and 2011, changes in local unemployment explain at least two-thirds of the increase in SNAP enrollment. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called Food Stamps, is one of the largest and most expensive programs in the United States' means-tested welfare system. In 2011, it provided benefits worth $72 billion to 45.3 million people. It has grown rapidly in recent years, with some pointing to poor economic conditions, and others...
Article
Despite reducing the number of macro brewers from three to two, the efficiency gains created by the merger offset the incentive to increase prices in the average regional market in the long run. Mergers can have many effects, and they may vary across industries and markets. In Efficiencies Brewed: Pricing and Consolidation in the U.S. Beer Industry (NBER Working Paper No. 19353), Orley Ashenfelter, Daniel Hosken and Matthew Weinberg analyze the 2008 merger between...
Article
Well-designed incentives can induce post-secondary students to increase investments in educational attainment. Many policies designed to raise student achievement in the United States focus on raising the effort that students devote to their studies, for example by offering rewards for achieving prescribed benchmarks. These strategies are based on the belief that because the payoffs to education may be too far in the future to motivate some students, financial...
Article
Assets and employment grow more slowly early in the CEO's tenure than in later years. The chief executive officer (CEO) and the top management team are widely viewed as critical to a company's success or failure, yet it is often difficult to identify specific actions by corporate leaders that affect firm fortunes. One way to address this question is to study how a firm's activities vary over the CEO's term in office. A CEO's incentives and power inside the firm are...

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