AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 8, August 2020

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Similar businesses suffered similar declines in customer visits, regardless of whether they were in counties covered by shelter-in-place orders. Government policies restricting business operations and personal mobility were less important than consumers' self-imposed limitations in contributing to the steep drop in economic activity during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to findings presented in Fear, Lockdown, and Diversion: Comparing Drivers...

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Article
Spending on 'food at home' is up and spending for 'transportation' is down as a result of the pandemic, but the CPI weights of these categories are unchanged. The US Consumer Price Index (CPI) may understate the rate of inflation during the COVID-19 crisis because it does not reflect pandemic-induced shifts in spending patterns, according to findings reported in Inflation with COVID Consumption Baskets (NBER Working Paper 27352). Since the start of the pandemic...
Article
A decade of upheaval that brought traditional education to a standstill birthed a cohort of Chinese CEOs less inclined to spend on R&D. As part of his Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong shut down China's universities and colleges from 1966 to 1976. High school graduates were sent to work on farms and in factories, and many never again saw the inside of a classroom. In Education and Innovation: The Long Shadow of the Cultural Revolution (NBER...
Article
The gap in pollution exposure between disadvantaged and other communities narrowed by 21 percent for nitrogen dioxide, 24 percent for sulfur dioxide, and 30 percent for particulates following introduction of cap and trade. California's greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program has narrowed the disparity in local air pollution exposure between disadvantaged and other communities. That is the finding of Do Environmental Markets Cause Environmental Injustice? Evidence...
Article
Estimates of the long-term benefits of the SNAP program suggest that food stamps are a cost-effective use of public funds.  Providing access to food stamps for pregnant women and families with children under age five is associated with substantial subsequent gains in productivity, economic self-sufficiency, neighborhood quality, and physical health for those children when they reach adulthood. This is the central finding of Martha J. Bailey, Hilary W. Hoynes...
Article
Providing consumers with calorie information improves the accuracy of post-meal estimates of calorie counts by about 4 percent, or 65 calories. Listing calorie counts on restaurant menus reduces the likelihood that diners will underestimate the number of calories in their orders, according to John Cawley, Alex M. Susskind, and Barton Willage. Their study, Does Information Disclosure Improve Consumer Knowledge? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Restaurant...
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