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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 1, January 2022

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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Accounting for growth in pass-through businesses attenuates the decline in labor’s share of corporate value-added by nearly a third. Over the last 40 years, labor’s share of corporate value-added in the US national income accounts has declined from about 63 to about 58 percent. In The Rise of Pass-Throughs and the Decline of the Labor Share (NBER Working Paper 29400), Matthew Smith, Danny Yagan, Owen M. Zidar, and Eric Zwick find that about a third of this decline...

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Article
In 21 states, employers cannot ask job candidates about their salary histories, but employers can nonetheless make inferences based on whether candidates voluntarily disclose them. In response to claims that historical salary differences related to race, gender, or ethnicity may be perpetuated when job applicants are asked to disclose their salary histories, 21 US states have made it illegal for employers to ask prospective employees about their prior compensation...
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Article
Simple training can be a cost-effective and scalable way to promote the adoption of profitable and sustainable agricultural technologies. In Harvesting the Rain: The Adoption of Environmental Technologies in the Sahel (NBER Working Paper 29518) Jenny C. Aker and Kelsey Jack study the barriers to smallholder farmers’ adoption of sustainable technologies. They focus on a technique called rainwater harvesting (RWH) that helps reduce land degradation and restore soil...
Article
When Germany temporarily cut its value-added tax rates, aggregate consumer spending rose by 34 billion euros, mostly on durable goods. To increase aggregate demand during economic downturns, central banks have historically cut interest rates to increase consumer spending. But when nominal rates are at or near the zero lower bound, unconventional means by monetary or fiscal authorities may be needed to jump-start the economy. Cutting the value-added tax (VAT) or...
Article
Pass rates on spring 2021 math and English tests fell among students in all types of learning environments, but the decline was greatest in districts with more remote instruction. Students who spent a higher fraction of the COVID-19 pandemic receiving in-person instruction performed significantly better on standardized tests in the spring of 2021 than those who were taught mostly remotely, according to a study of scores in 12 US states. In Pandemic Schooling...
Article
Access to home office space, home computers, and the internet, when paired with at-home labor, substantially trimmed the output losses associated with business closures. The COVID-19 pandemic reduced total economic output by an average of 13 percent between the first and second quarters of 2020 across the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan. In “Potential Capital,” Working from Home, and Economic Resilience (NBER Working...
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