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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 3, March 2021

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Data on 800,000 commercially insured individuals in Philadelphia suggest that during lockdown essential workers were 55 percent more likely than others to get COVID-19. For 12 weeks beginning in March 2020, Pennsylvania closed all nonessential businesses as part of a program to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A new study examines how this lockdown affected the relative health of employees in essential and nonessential businesses. In The Impact of the...

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Article
After a ban on high-to-low ordering of debit charges, micro loans from alternative lenders in zip codes with below median income fell by about 16 percent. At the end of each business day, banks post the day’s transactions to their customers’ accounts. Some banks post deposits, debit card transactions, cash withdrawals, and wire transfers without regard to transaction size. If the funds in the account are insufficient to cover the charges, accounts with overdraft...
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Article
A 1 percent increase in spending on teacher salaries increases house prices by nearly 2 percent, while increased spending on capital projects has little or no effect. House prices can provide a lens for studying the extent to which households value public school spending and whether such funding is set at an efficient level. In A National Study of School Spending and House Prices (NBER Working Paper 28255), Patrick Bayer, Peter Q. Blair, and Kenneth Whaley...
Article
Survey data from Denmark, a very equal society, show that income inequality among individuals with similar education and in similar jobs is seen as the most unfair. The degree of income inequality is often underestimated, and individuals’ views on whether disparities are “fair” are strongly related to their own position in the income distribution. Inequality within a person’s own education group or occupation is viewed as particularly unfair. These are the main...
Article
Relative to privately funded university research, federally funded university research outputs are less likely to be patented and more likely to be commercialized in startups. Levels of government and private support for scientific research in the United States have varied over time. Over the last 15 years, government support for university R&D has markedly decreased. Funding sources also vary across research areas, within research areas over time, and even...
Article
A decline in business activity and the out-migration of residents take a toll on tax revenues and result in cutbacks of spending programs that benefit low-income households. Hurricanes struck more than 2,000 municipalities in US Atlantic and Gulf states between 1980 and 2017. Even a decade after the winds die down and the flood waters recede, municipalities thrashed by hurricanes still are experiencing lower revenues and associated declines in public services and...
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