AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 6, June 2016

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Mismeasurement of the prices and quantities of digital goods and services cannot account for the decline in the growth of labor productivity. Labor productivity in the United States—defined as total output divided by total hours of labor—has been increasing for over a century and continues to increase today. However, its growth rate has fallen. One explanation for this phenomenon focuses on measurement difficulties, in particular the possibility that current tools...

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Evaluating scientific impact using short citation windows and focusing only on the most prominent journals may fail to recognize the value of novel research. Research based on an unusual or novel approach may lead to important breakthroughs in science, but peer evaluators are often overly cautious in evaluating such work, Jian Wang, Reinhilde Veugelers, and Paula Stephan find in Bias against Novelty in Science: A Cautionary Tale for Users of Bibliometric...
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The drop in aid experienced by countries after they cross a pre-defined income threshold provides opportunity to identify aid's impact. The effect of foreign aid on growth is the subject of ongoing debate. It is difficult to determine the effect of aid on growth when aid is an integral part of an economy; there are few "experiments" in the level of foreign aid. Sebastian Galiani, Stephen Knack, Lixin Colin Xu, and Ben Zou, the authors of The Effect of Aid on...
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Old Age Assistance, a means-tested benefit program introduced during the 1930s, accounted for nearly half of that decade's decline in labor supply for men aged 65-74. Whether government benefits discourage labor supply by individuals 65 and older, and if so by how much, has attracted research interest since the creation of such transfer programs. In Government Old-Age Support and Labor Supply: Evidence from the Old Age Assistance Program (NBER Working Paper No....
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A bias against deciding the same way in successive situations can affect whether a foreigner is deported, a business gets a loan, or a batter strikes out. A coin flip comes up heads three times in a row. What are the odds that it will be heads on the next toss? A rational decision-maker knows that they are 50-50. But it's easy to succumb to the belief that streaks don't occur by chance. This common misperception is known as the gambler's fallacy. In Decision-...
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Many come to the Middle East from countries with high levels of economic development, low income inequality, and highly developed political institutions. As of December 2015, approximately 30,000 fighters from at least 85 countries had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Although the great majority of ISIS recruits come from the Middle East and the Arab world, there are also many from Western nations, including most member-states of the European...

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