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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 2, February 2015

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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People whose petitions were approved had higher earnings, lower mortality rates, more employment, and fewer home foreclosures. In recent years, nearly one in ten American households has filed for bankruptcy, and yet it has long been unclear whether bankruptcy protection actually benefits debtors. In Debt Relief and Debtor Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Consumer Bankruptcy Protection (NBER Working Paper No. 20520), Will Dobbie and Jae Song use a new dataset...

Research Summaries

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Article
Student visas allow workers to enter the U.S., obtain a degree, and transition to a work visa, an alternative to trying to obtaining scarce temporary work visas. Between 1993 and 2010, the share of foreign-born workers holding information technology (IT) jobs in the United States doubled - from 15.5 percent to 31.5 percent of the IT workforce. U.S. higher education and immigration policies were key factors behind this rise, according to Finishing Degrees and...
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Article
  Direct measurement of the technique effect shows that improvements in production techniques account for almost all of the decline in emissions. From 1990 to 2008, U.S. and E.U. manufacturing output grew while pollution emitted by manufacturers fell. One explanation for this trend is that developed countries have been offshoring pollution-intensive parts of their manufacturing sectors. Another is that manufacturing has shifted toward the use of cleaner...
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Barring underwriters from boards penalized railroads by denying them access to lower-cost financing for larger investments and led to lower market valuations. To facilitate access to external finance, firms often establish relationships with financial intermediaries such as commercial banks. These relationships allow firms to mitigate financial frictions by enabling the intermediary to gain access to information and monitor management. On the other hand, close...
Article
Studies indicate Americans can be encouraged to work longer and delay Social Security claiming. As the U.S. population ages and people spend more years in retirement, the issue of when to begin collecting payouts from retirement plans, and in what form to take them, has attracted growing attention from both retirees and policymakers. Two NBER working papers tackle this financially thorny issue, one looking at private retirement plans and the other at the public...
Article
A study of poorly-performing North Carolina schools shows that replacing administration and staff improves student test score performance at all levels. Title I is a federal program that provides funding to local school districts in the United States. The funds are supposed to be used to improve the academic achievement of students from low-income families. Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, school districts receiving this funding are required to track...

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