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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 11, November 2019

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Real interest rates would have fallen much further in the last half century if governments had not expanded social insurance programs and taken on more debt. The long decline of real interest rates in developed nations is one of the central macroeconomic trends of the last half-century. Łukasz Rachel and Lawrence H. Summers present new evidence on the causes of this decline in On Secular Stagnation in the Industrialized World (NBER Working Paper 26198). The...

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After they join the program, colleges experience a 10 percent jump in the number of applications for admission; over a decade, that growth rises to 25 percent. The rapid expansion of a program enabling students to fill out a single application when applying to multiple colleges and universities has enabled participating institutions to enroll a larger percentage of out-of-state and foreign students as well as more freshmen who excelled on standardized tests. In...
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A study of Indonesian reforms finds that sharpening focus and boosting staff-to-taxpayer ratios produced major revenue gains at minor expense. Most low-income countries collect between 10 and 20 percent of their GDP in tax revenue, in comparison to high-income countries’ average of nearly 40 percent. This may in part be due to fundamental characteristics of developing economies, such as their less sophisticated banking systems or prevalence of informal labor...
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Home mortgage defaults exclude defaulting households from the housing market and tighten capital constraints on lenders. Both effects push down home prices and create a potential role for policy. Between 2006 and 2013, mortgage lenders foreclosed on about 8 percent of the homeowners in the United States. Foreclosures play a complex role in housing market dynamics, and a number of policies that were adopted during the Great Recession were designed to lower the...
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San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland leads in the number of semiconductor and computer science inventors; New York has the largest cluster in biology, chemistry, and medicine. More than half of all inventors in the United States in three high-tech fields — computer science and information technology; semiconductors; and biology and chemistry— work in clusters of 10 cities, and this concentration of talent into geographical high-tech centers has increased over time,...
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The health-care legislation has reduced the coverage gap between low-income and other citizens by 44 percent and the gap between non-whites and whites by 26.7 percent. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which began in 2014, has reduced health insurance coverage gaps across American citizens in different income, age, race, and marital status groups, according to a study by Charles J. Courtemanche, Ishtiaque Fazlul, James Marton, Benjamin D. Ukert,...

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