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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 11, November 2015

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Many of those who choose early benefits have sufficient assets to delay. Early claimers have worse self-reported health, shorter life expectancy, and are more likely to die earlier. Although full retirement age is 66, eligible Americans may choose to begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits at any time between age 62 and age 70. Even though benefits are reduced for those claiming before age 66, and increased for those who postpone claiming until age 70...

Research Summaries

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Article
Labor market rewards to performing routine tasks have fallen, while the returns to workers' ability to cooperate and adapt to changing circumstances have risen. Automation has played an important role in the recent evolution of the U.S. labor market, transforming the relative demand for workers with various skills and in different occupations. In The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market (NBER Working Paper No. 21473), David J. Deming...
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Article
The Home Affordable Refinancing Program led to more household spending but impediments to competition kept it from reaching its full potential. A number of government entities launched policies and programs designed to deal with the critical economic problems arising from the financial crisis of 2008, the housing market collapse, and the Great Recession. The Federal Reserve maintained a low-interest rate monetary policy in an effort to spur growth and help the...
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The gap between disadvantaged students and well-off students shrank when universal screening supplanted the traditional referral system. In Can Universal Screening Increase the Representation of Low Income and Minority Students in Gifted Education? (NBER Working Paper No. 21519), David Card and Laura Giuliano explore the experience of a school district that they describe as "one of the largest and most diverse" in the nation. Until 2005, the district selected...
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A large workfare program in India led to increased school dropout rates and lower test scores among poor youth. Dozens of nations in recent years have implemented programs guaranteeing employment on public works projects – workfare – in an effort to reduce poverty. In Workfare and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from India (NBER Working Paper No. 21543), Manisha Shah and Bryce Millett Steinberg examine the impact on human capital investment of one of the world'...
Article
Falling real interest rates in the south following the adoption of a common currency triggered an influx of capital, but the capital did not necessarily flow to the most productive firms. A possible explanation for the divergence in productivity growth between northern and southern Europe since the adoption of the euro in 1999 is that capital inflows to the south were allocated inefficiently by the region's less-developed financial markets. Gita Gopinath, Sebnem...

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