AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 7, July 2020

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Due to federal relief efforts, two-thirds of unemployed workers are receiving benefits larger than their lost earnings, and a fifth are receiving benefits that are at least double their lost earnings. Paying unemployment insurance benefits to those who lose their jobs provides them with financial support as they look for work. If a state sets benefits too high, it may discourage job-finding and delay beneficial labor reallocation. If benefits are too low, the...

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Article
In the first three months, employment fell 30 percent for those in the bottom quintile of the wage distribution, compared with a 5 percent drop among those in the top quintile. The first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a historic decline in employment in the United States. More than a fifth of the workforce was laid off through the end of April, an experience that was unprecedented in the post-World War II period. Many job losses came from businesses...
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Article
A greater proportion of American companies are older, larger, and more profitable than in the late 20th century, which explains much of the increase in corporate payouts. Since 2000, corporations have spent three times as much buying back shares and paying dividends as in the period 1971 to 1999. The trend has sparked concern in some quarters that firms are foregoing internal investments that might boost innovation or make their workers more productive....
Article
A typical hospital merger would raise the price of an average hospital stay by 4.3 percent in a market at the 25th percentile of insurer concentration, but by only 1 percent in one at the 75th percentile. The ability of hospitals to raise prices after mergers is significantly blunted in markets with few health insurers, according to findings reported in Countervailing Market Power and Hospital Competition (NBER Working Paper 27005). Eric Barrette, Gautam...
Article
In 2017, securities issued by corporations based in tax havens — mostly offshore financial centers — accounted for 10 percent of the value of outstanding corporate bonds worldwide and about 8 percent of global equity. Official statistics on foreign investment show that investors from the United States, the eurozone, and other large developed nations invest relatively little in large, fast-growing, emerging markets. These statistics are misleading, according to the...
Article
In locations where ride hailing has become prevalent, fatalities, vehicle miles traveled, gasoline consumption, and traffic congestion have increased. While ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft provide convenient transportation and flexible job opportunities, a new study suggests that these benefits may also come with a number of costs. Fatalities among automobile occupants and pedestrians, gasoline consumption, and traffic congestion have all risen since...
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