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The Reporter

A free quarterly publication featuring program updates, several summaries of affiliates' research, and news about the NBER
Author(s): Michael Grossman
The NBER's Program in Health Economics focuses on the determinants of health. Two areas of particular interest are the economics of obesity and the economics of substance use. The program members' research has been widely supported by federal research grants and by private foundations. The Economics of Obesity Genetic factors cannot account for the rapid increase in obesity since 1980 -- these factors change slowly over long periods of time. Therefore, economists have...

Research Summaries

Author(s): Severin Borenstein
Long before U.S. electricity restructuring began in the 1990s there was a recognition that the marginal cost of producing electricity could change significantly hour to hour. Combined with the high cost of storing electricity, this meant that the true opportunity cost of consuming electricity also would vary constantly. For many decades economists have argued that retail electricity prices should fluctuate accordingly - this is known as real-time pricing (RTP) -- but the...
Author(s): Esther Duflo
Developing countries have rapidly increased access to primary school, but the quality of education has remained low. Many children are now in school, but they are hardly learning. In India, for example, a 2007 nationwide survey by Pratham 1, a large education nonprofit, found that 97 percent of the of-age children are in primary school, but only 51 percent of third graders could read a simple first-grade paragraph, and only 33 percent could do simple subtraction. If...
There is a widespread consensus among the American public that rates of teen pregnancy and unintended pregnancies to young, unmarried women are too high. Approximately 30 percent of teenage girls in the United States become pregnant, and 20 percent give birth by age 20. In addition, half of all pregnancies in the United States are reported by the mother as unintended. More than one-third of these (1.1 million pregnancies in 2001) are to unmarried women in their twenties....
Economists generally agree that an important feature of any modern macroeconomic theory is an explicit aggregation of the microeconomic behavior of all agents in the economy. In the last century, the profession has gone from the formulation of some general aggregate relationships governing the evolution of the economy to detailed theories that explicitly incorporate the observed heterogeneity in many characteristics of agents and firms. Adding these microeconomic details has...


    NBER Researchers in Public Service Research Associate Christina D. Romer, the former co-director of NBER's Program on Monetary Economics, a former member of the Business Cycle Dating Committee, and a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, has been confirmed as Chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Research Associate Lawrence H. Summers, a member of several NBER Programs including Public Economics and Monetary Economics and a faculty...


    Developments in the Economics of Aging Developments in the Economics of Aging, edited by David A. Wise, will be available from the University of Chicago Press this spring for $99.00. The number of Americans eligible to receive Social Security benefits will increase from 45 million to nearly 80 million in the next twenty years. Retirement systems therefore must adapt to meet the demands of the largest aging population in our nation's history. In this NBER Conference...

Meetings and Conferences: Winter, 2009


  • Article
    Measuring Economic Activity in Markets for Ideas, Innovation, and Other Intangibles The NBER's Program on Technological Change and Productivity Measurement met in Cambridge on December 5. Program Director Ernst R. Berndt of NBER and MIT and Wesley M. Cohen of NBER and Duke University organized the meeting. The following topics were discussed: James Bessen, Boston University, "More Machines or Better Machines" Rachel Soloveichik, Bureau of Economic Analysis, "...


  • Article
    Micro and Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Globalization An NBER/Universities Research Conference on "Micro and Macroeconomic Effects of Financial Globalization" took place in Cambridge on December 5 and 6. The organizers were Ross Levine, NBER and Brown University, and Carlos Vegh, NBER and University of Maryland. These papers were discussed: Matteo Iacoviello, Boston College, and Raoul Minetti, Michigan State University, "Foreign Lenders in Emerging Economies...

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