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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 3, March 2018

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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WWII-era Book Republication Program lowered prices for German books, facilitating a broad geographical diffusion and utilization of the information in these volumes. In Effects of Copyrights on Science — Evidence from the U.S. Book Republication Program (NBER Working Paper No. 24255), Barbara Biasi and Petra Moser estimate the welfare costs of long-lived copyrights in fields in which new advances depend critically on access to existing work. They do this by...

Research Summaries

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Article
Deep discounts in crude prices resulting from a supply glut in the upper Midwest and plains states produced varying cost shocks for producers. In market equilibrium, the prices a firm sets for its products depend not only on its own production costs, but on the production costs of its competitors as well. The recent fracking boom generated cost shocks that differed for different firms, providing researchers with an opportunity to study the extent to which prices...
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Article
About 40 percent of retirees surveyed were willing to return to work in a job like their previous one, but 60 percent would return if the schedule were flexible. The share of Americans over 65 is projected to hit 40 percent by 2050, up from 20 percent in 2007. As the percentage of older Americans rises, concern is growing about the financial strains associated with a larger number of retirees being supported by each active worker. There's also worry that some...
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  The advent of the online market for used books has raised prices but improved welfare for both sellers and buyers, especially where unusual titles are concerned. Online shopping has become ubiquitous. Has this raised profits or raised consumer welfare? Both, at least in one market. In Match Quality, Search, and the Internet Market for Used Books (NBER Working Paper No. 24197), Glenn Ellison and Sara Fisher Ellison find that digitization of the used book...
Article
In contrast, members of licensed occupations with national licensing exams move across state boundaries at much higher rates. Between 1980 and 2010, interstate migration in the United States fell. In 1980, 3 percent of U.S. residents made an interstate move; that number dropped to about 1.5 percent in 2010. The fraction of the employed population changing jobs fell from 16 percent to 11 percent over the same period. The decline in geographic and employment...
Article
Firms may forego profits when their desire for reductions in managerial overhead leads them to abandon price discrimination. Large U.S. retailers manage chains of standardized food, drug, or merchandise stores with multiple locations in multiple states. In Uniform Pricing in U.S. Retail Chains (NBER Working Paper No. 23996) Stefano DellaVigna and Matthew Gentzkow use scanner data to show that such retail chains charge nearly uniform prices despite wide variations...

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