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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 5, May 2019

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Recent tariff increases are unprecedented in the post-World War II era in terms of breadth, magnitude, and the sizes of the countries involved. In 2018, the United States imposed tariffs on a variety of imported goods, and other countries responded with tariffs on imports from America. Two new NBER working papers analyze how this "trade war" has affected U.S. households and firms. The recent tariffs, which represent the most comprehensive protectionist U.S....

Research Summaries

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Article
Auctions facilitate better matches between land resources and the firms that can use them most productively, yielding sellers about $249,000 per lease more than negotiated sales. In Texas, the right to drill for oil and gas on land initially belonging to the Texas Permanent School Fund can be allocated in a number of different ways. If the land was purchased from the Permanent School Fund before 1931, the present-day surface owner negotiates mineral rights leases...
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Article
Frictions in financial intermediation in some regions may have slowed recovery by limiting consumer access to lower interest rates and refinancing opportunities. During the Great Recession, the United States experienced an estimated 6 million foreclosures, a steep rise in unemployment, and a sharp decline in consumer spending. The federal government responded with several programs intended to help distressed homeowners, and the Federal Reserve lowered interest...
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More than 70 percent of the human-capital rich are under age 60. They own mid- size companies in the white-collar, skilled service industries or in regional trade. Tax planning by business owner-managers has obscured understanding of how typical top earners make money. Indeed, even among households in the top 0.1 percent of the income distribution, most receive more income from their human capital than from their financial capital, according to Capitalists in...
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Non-college-educated workers in cities are far less likely to work in middle-skill occupations than in the past, and the urban wage premium has sharply eroded. American cities have historically been centers of opportunity, beckoning workers from elsewhere with the promise of economic mobility. In Work of the Past, Work of the Future (NBER Working Paper 25588), David Autor concludes that's a promise cities may no longer be able to keep. He finds that non-college...
Article
  One-third of the overall decline in fertility between 2007 and 2016 is attributable to a decline in the number of unintended births. Over the last ten years, the U.S. fertility rate declined by 13 percent, to the lowest level in the nation's history. The teen birth rate fell from its peak of 62 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 in 1991 to roughly 19 births per 1,000 women in 2017 — a 69 percent decline. Conversely, the birth rate for women over 30 has...

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