AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 10, October 2015

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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The government's policy of promoting heavy industry accounts for China's persistently rising investment rate and declining labor income share. Between 1997 and 2010, China's industries steadily increased their capital investment even though the investment-to-output ratio was increasing and labor's share of income was trending down. While traditional two-sector models of the Chinese economy are hard pressed to explain these phenomena, a variant that divides the...

Research Summaries

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High and rising unemployment in China created by massive layoffs during major changes in the structure of its labor market is not reflected in government figures. China's real unemployment rate is much higher than the official rate and, when correctly measured, is much closer to that in other nations at similar levels of development, according to Long Run Trends in Unemployment and Labor Force Participation in China (NBER Working Paper No. 21460). The study...
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Households saved by taking advantage of coupons, sales, generics, and large sizes, but the return on time spent saving in this way declined. During the December 2007-June 2009 recession, U.S. households in all demographics changed their food shopping behavior. On average, they devoted more time to shopping for better deals as unemployment rose. They increased their coupon usage, purchased more on sale, bought more generic goods, bought more goods in large sizes,...
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Among people who have trouble sticking to an exercise regimen, a push to make a commitment appears to be effective. Can the power of suggestion kick start an exercise habit? It depends. That's the conclusion Jay Bhattacharya, Alan M. Garber, and Jeremy D. Goldhaber-Fiebert reach in Nudges in Exercise Commitment Contracts: A Randomized Trial (NBER Working Paper No. 21406). The researchers followed 4,000 people who enrolled in a web-based exercise commitment...
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An experiment in the production of soccer balls suggests that sharing production gains with workers helps firms embrace change. Slow diffusion of promising new technology has long been the bane of inventors, innovators, company owners, and enterprising employees who recognize opportunities to improve productivity. In Organizational Barriers to Technology Adoption: Evidence from Soccer-ball Producers in Pakistan (NBER Working Paper No. 21417), David Atkin, Azam...
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Each newly uninsured person leads to nearly $900 in uncompensated care costs, of which hospitals absorb approximately two thirds as lost profits. When patients can't or won't pay for hospital care, who picks up the tab? During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, many proponents argued that hospitals made up for losses by charging other patients more, resulting in higher insurance premiums and co-pays. In Hospitals as Insurers of Last Resort (NBER Working...

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