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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 9, September 2020

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
When H-1B visas were capped in 2004, firms that were dependent on high-skilled foreign workers increased employment at foreign affiliates 27 percent more than less-dependent firms. Restrictions on the number of visas issued to highly skilled foreigners are designed to encourage US firms to hire American rather than foreign skilled workers. However, US multinational corporations (MNCs), which are responsible for 80 percent of domestic research and development, have...

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Federal support for research led to a surge in wartime patenting and also propelled innovation hubs that fostered post-war discoveries and related employment growth. A large, mission-driven government research and development (R&D) program can have far-reaching effects on the growth of technology clusters and the direction of technological progress. This is the conclusion of Daniel P. Gross and Bhaven N. Sampat in Inventing the Endless Frontier: The Effects of...
While Medicare pays similar rates to hospitals across the board, the prices private insurers negotiate vary significantly within and across hospitals based on insurers’ size and market share. The amount US hospitals receive for treating a patient depends on who’s paying the bill. In Variation in Health Care Prices Across Public and Private Payers (NBER Working Paper 27490), Toren L. Fronsdal, Jay Bhattacharya, and Suzanne Tamang use the American Hospital...
Growth in both labor productivity and total factor productivity — the combination of labor and capital productivity — slumped below pre-1995 levels in both the US and Western Europe after 2005. But between 1995 and 2005, the US saw a sharp acceleration of growth, while Western Europe did not. This temporary increase in US productivity growth is typically credited to a surge in investment in information and communications technology (ICT). In Transatlantic Technologies...
Arrest rates for Blacks fell in counties that were both covered by the VRA and had a high concentration of Black residents, relative to other counties. The 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) protected the voting rights of minority voters and effectively expanded the franchise, particularly in counties that were identified as “covered” under the law. In The Franchise, Policing, and Race: Evidence from Arrests Data and the Voting Rights Act (NBER Working Paper 27463),...
Real net investment per capita has drifted downward since the financial crisis and stands near its lowest level since 1983. Infrastructure provides critical support for economic activity, and assessing its role requires reliable measures. In the working paper Measuring Infrastructure in BEA’s National Economic Accounts (NBER Working Paper 27446), researchers Jennifer Bennett, Robert Kornfeld, Daniel Sichel, and David Wasshausen assess trends in basic, social, and...
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