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The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
Figure for working papers 29739 and w29784. April 2022 Digest
Two recent NBER working papers develop new strategies for measuring the tightness of US labor markets and conclude that during 2021, these markets were significantly tighter than standard yardsticks, such as the aggregate unemployment rate, indicated. In How Tight Are US Labor Markets? (NBER Working Paper 29739), Alex Domash and Lawrence H. Summers explore the relationships between four different slack indicators — the number of unemployed people actively seeking a...

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Working Paper Figure w29800
A federal welfare reform that took effect August 22, 1996, required that low-income children with disabilities be medically evaluated as part of the Social Security Administration’s process for determining whether they would continue receiving cash assistance as adults in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Nearly all children on SSI who turned 18 after the reform were evaluated to determine whether their disability impeded their ability to work enough to...
Working Paper Figure w29562
Upending a decades-long effort to reduce global trade barriers, China and the United States began mutually escalating tariffs on $450 billion in trade flows in 2018 and 2019. These tariff increases reduced trade between the US and China, but little is known about how trade was affected in the rest of the world. In The US-China Trade War and Global Reallocations (NBER Working Paper 29562), Pablo Fajgelbaum, Pinelopi K. Goldberg, Patrick J. Kennedy, Amit Khandelwal, and...
Two new studies show that school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced parents’ labor market activity. They reach different conclusions about which demographic groups were most affected, one concluding that it was parents without college degrees, the other pointing to mothers with school-aged children. These disparities may be the result of the studies’ analysis of somewhat different time periods and geographic areas. In The Impact of School...
For decades, the United States appeared to enjoy a special privilege: although it imported more goods and services than it exported, its net foreign asset (NFA) position remained only slightly negative. Since the Great Recession, that privilege has disappeared and the NFA position — the difference between the foreign assets held by Americans and the US assets owned by foreigners — has declined sharply, even when measured as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP...
Enclosure involved privatizing rural land in England that had been in common ownership and consolidating scattered plots that had been farmed by individual households. The process began in the Middle Ages, and originally took place only when there was unanimous local agreement. At the beginning of the 18th century, large parts of the country had not been enclosed. Around 1700, Parliament allowed owners of three-quarters of the land in an area, by value, to petition...
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