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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 4, April 2015

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Researchers find that tax credits for higher education have little or no effect on college attendance; the credits are essentially transfer payments - and not primarily to the needy. In 2014, the federal government spent about $23 billion on three programs offering tax credits to households paying for higher education. In The Returns to the Federal Tax Credits for Higher Education (NBER Working Paper No. 20833), George B. Bulman and Caroline M. Hoxby find that...

Research Summaries

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Article
  Rising temperature and rainfall are associated with lower productivity and increased conflict, according to recent research. Higher temperatures and greater rainfall, both potential consequences of climate change, are linked to increased conflict and declining productivity in two recent NBER studies. Temperature has the greater impact, but rainfall variation also plays a role. The poorest countries usually are believed to be most affected by long-...
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Article
The greater the changes required by new technologies, the author reasons, the more growth may slow in the short run, but once adaptation occurs growth should accelerate. Growth economists are divided on whether the U.S. is facing a period of "secular stagnation" - an extended period of slow economic growth in the coming decades. In Secular Stagnation: The Long View (NBER Working Paper No. 20836), Barry Eichengreen considers four factors that could contribute to a...
Article
  Participation decreases the probability of incarceration and mortality, which has important implications for analyzing the net benefits of the program. Throughout the United States, public employment and subsidized employment programs attempt to support individuals' labor market prospects. In many cases, these programs focus on encouraging youth employment, and summer youth employment in particular. Three primary justifications are offered for such...
Article
  While still small, the share of top earners who are women has increased over time, and women's chances of falling out of the top group have declined. Individuals in the top 1 percent of the income distribution in the United States earn 15 percent of all pre-tax income and pay 40 percent of all individual income taxes. In The Glass Ceiling and the Paper Floor: Gender Differences Among Top Earners, 1981-2012 (NBER Working Paper No. 20560), Fatih Guvenen,...
Article
Older people value having the broadest possible network more than the young do, and everyone values "star" hospitals. Consumers have long been known to focus on policy prices and on the ability to keep their current physicians when choosing health-care insurance plans. In Measuring Consumer Valuations of Limited Provider Networks (NBER Working Paper No. 20812), Keith Marzilli Ericson and Amanda Starc find that many consumers also put a high value on having the...

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