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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 4, April 2017

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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The influx of foreign computer scientists enabled by the program lowered wages of domestic workers in the field, stimulated growth in related fields, and reduced consumer prices. Who are the winners and losers in the special visa program that enables U.S. companies to employ high-skilled foreign workers on a temporary basis in specialized occupations? In Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the U.S. (NBER Working Paper No. 23153), John Bound,...

Research Summaries

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Article
Termination of the program between the U.S. and Mexico at the end of 1964 led employers to adopt more labor-saving technology rather than to raise domestic wages or employment. The 1964 termination of the bracero program, which recruited Mexican guest workers to work on American farms, had "little measurable effect on the labor market for domestic farm workers." That is the conclusion of Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy: Evidence from the...
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Technology areas where immigrant inventors were prevalent between 1880 and 1940 experienced more patenting between 1940 and 2000. Immigrants are over-represented, relative to their population shares, among those who receive patents and develop new technologies. In Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity (NBER Working Paper No. 23137), Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby, and Tom Nicholas examine the long-run links between immigration and innovation. They find that...
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Future earnings differ substantially across college majors, but so do instructional costs. They don't always line up. Are policies designed to encourage students to enroll in the most remunerative professions a cost-effective use of private and public educational dollars? How would tuition vary if it were tied to the instructional costs of each degree program? These are among the questions raised by Joseph G. Altonji and Seth D. Zimmerman in The Costs of and Net...
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Public research universities are accepting surging numbers of students from China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia in an effort to balance their books. Rapid economic growth has increased the numbers of college-ready students in developing economies, especially China, but these countries' research universities have not expanded fast enough to accommodate the increases. As a result, large numbers of international students have applied to universities in the United...
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Market mechanisms led to increased coordination across utilities and less output from high-cost generators, substantially reducing the cost of producing electricity. In the last two decades, more than half of the wholesale electricity transmission systems in the United States have adopted some form of market mechanism to determine which power plants would operate. Based on an examination of hourly supply and demand patterns on the U.S. electrical grid, Steve...

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