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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 11, November 2023

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest.
MinimumWages_figure_Final W31540
Increases to state minimum wages are associated with falling enrollment at local community colleges, according to a new study by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Julia A. Turner, and Sarah Turner. In Raising State Minimum Wages, Lowering Community College Enrollment (NBER Working Paper 31540), the researchers found that increases in state-level minimum wages were followed by enrollment reductions of just over 4 percent at two-year institutions in the...

Also in This Issue

Estimating Consumer Welfare Gains from Free Online Services Figure
Over the last decade, digital products such as Google, WhatsApp, and Facebook have proliferated. In the US and UK, for example, people now spend an average of 24 hours online each week. The statistics suggest the possibility of substantial welfare gains for consumers, who typically access these products at no cost. They also present a measurement challenge to traditional measurement methods that rely on price data to construct national accounts metrics such as GDP...
How Much Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Promote Green Electricity?
Industrialized countries aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 have several strategies for decarbonizing electricity generation. In the US, renewable portfolio standards (RPS) are among the most prominent. Most states have RPS programs that either require or encourage electricity suppliers to rely on renewable sources, such as solar and wind, for a minimum share of their electricity generation. Although RPS have been used for 30 years, their efficacy in promoting low-...
Americans’ readiness for retirement depends on three primary income streams — pensions, savings, and Social Security. These income streams have evolved over time in different ways for different racial and ethnic subsets of the US population. In Trends in the Retirement Preparedness of Black and Hispanic Households in the US (NBER Working Paper 31532), Edward N. Wolff uses data from the Survey of Consumer Finances to construct three comprehensive...
World trade grew steadily in the four decades before the 2008 global financial crisis. In the 1990s, the ratio of trade in goods and services to GDP was 38 percent for the world, 20 percent for the US, and 22 percent for China. By 2006, the ratios for the world and the US had grown to 60 percent and 27 percent respectively. China’s had reached 65 percent on the back of China’s rise as a key cog in global supply chains. In Global Supply Chains: The Looming “Great...
Banks face a tradeoff between lending out as many of their assets as possible to maximize interest revenue and keeping enough liquid assets on hand to stave off potential bank runs. Since a run on a specific bank can lead to broader financial contagion, governments typically intervene to constrain banks’ behavior through instruments like leverage ratio regulations. These regulations involve restrictions on the ratio of a bank’s Tier 1 capital — its shareholders’...
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