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The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
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The European Union enacted its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to protect the personal data of citizens and harmonize privacy policies across member states. The regulation strengthened consumers’ privacy rights and required app developers to ask customers’ permission before they could use their data to, say, target online ads or conduct other revenue-producing activities. Developers also had to guarantee that customers could access, rectify, erase, and...

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Americans spend an average of $200 and 12.5 hours per year filing individual income tax returns. More than 40 percent of filers, particularly filers with lower incomes, could save that money and time if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prefilled their tax returns, Lucas Goodman, Katherine Lim, Bruc(e Sacerdote, and Andrew Whitten find in Automatic Tax Filing: Simulating a Prepopulated Form 1040 (NBER Working Paper 30008). Using a random, representative sample of...
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Court cases brought against Teva Pharmaceuticals and a number of other generic drug manufacturers allege that for several years beginning in 2013, they participated in a price-fixing scheme that substantially increased the prices of many generic drugs. In Does Entry Remedy Collusion? Evidence from the Generic Prescription Drug Cartel (NBER Working Paper 29886), Amanda Starc and Thomas G. Wollmann exploit these price increases to study the factors that lead drug...
In September 2021, El Salvador became the first country to make bitcoin legal tender, requiring all businesses to accept the cryptocurrency. In an attempt to popularize and regularize its use, the government gave citizens financial incentives to download a special cryptocurrency app. Half the nation’s households downloaded the app when the bitcoin law went into effect. Since the start of 2022, however, very few households have joined the early movers. Among early...
The COVID-19 pandemic has had important effects not just in hospital intensive care units, but in maternity wards as well. In The US COVID-19 Baby Bust and Rebound (NBER Working Paper 30000), Melissa Schettini Kearney and Phillip B. Levine document a large drop in births associated with conceptions during the first several months of the pandemic. In The Missing Baby Bust: The Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Contraceptive Use, Pregnancy, and Childbirth...
From December 2019 to November 2021, US house prices grew by 23.8 percent, the fastest rate on record. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped where and how Americans work. In November 2021, 42.8 percent of employees worked from home either part- or full-time. Some reports suggest that a significant fraction of pandemic-induced remote work may become permanent. In Housing Demand and Remote Work (NBER Working Paper 30041), John A. Mondragon and Johannes...
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