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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 4, December 2019

The Reporter

A free quarterly publication featuring program updates, several summaries of affiliates' research, and news about the NBER
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Author(s): Jonathan Gruber
The rise of the US health-care sector over the past several decades has been remarkable. As Figure 1 shows, in 1970, the country devoted slightly more than 6 percent of GDP to health care, about 1 percent more than other nations. Today, the nation devotes almost 18 percent of GDP to health care, which is larger than spending on cars, clothing, food, furniture, housing, fuel, and recreation combined — and is a full 8 percent above the average in comparable countries....

Research Summaries

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Article
Author(s): Thomas Philippon
Business concentration and profit margins have increased across most industries in the United States over the past 20 years. Figure 1 illustrates these trends together with the declines of the labor share and private investment. The ratio of after-tax corporate profits to value added has risen from an average of 7 percent from 1970 through 2002 to an average of 10 percent in the period since 2002. Firms used to reinvest about 30 cents of each dollar of profit. Now they only...
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Article
Author(s): Matthew S. Jaremski
The financial crisis of 2008–09 intensified interest in how relationships within the financial system can amplify and transmit shocks. At a basic level, firms took advantage of rising real estate prices by scaling up lending and leverage, which fueled further increases in asset prices. When asset price growth slowed, problems at individual financial institutions suggested problems at other firms and triggered a reduced ability to borrow for many firms, whether or not they...
Article
Behavioral health disorders include serious mental illness and substance use disorders. These conditions are costly both to affected individuals and to society. Individuals with behavioral health disorders experience interpersonal problems, employment difficulties, reduced overall health, and increased risk of death. Behavioral health disorders can complicate general health treatment. These conditions are costly to society because they place demands on the criminal justice,...
Article
Author(s): Camelia M. Kuhnen
Recent work in neuroscience and neuroeconomics has provided valuable insights into the factors that drive individuals' formation of expectations. These insights can be used by economists to better understand individuals' beliefs and behaviors. Moreover, aggregate-level implications can be drawn from these micro-level findings. Neuroscientist Brian Knutson and I documented an asymmetry in the brain in the processing of gain and loss information.1 This discovery of...

News

    Article
      Abhijit Banerjee is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT and a co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). He is a research associate in the NBER programs on Development Economics and Economic Fluctuations and Growth. Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT and a co-director of JPAL. She is a research associate in four NBER programs:...
    Article
    The NBER Board of Directors appointed 41 new research associates at its September 2019 meeting. Research associates (RAs) must be tenured faculty members at North American colleges or universities; their appointments are recommended to the board by the directors of the NBER's 20 research programs, typically after consultation with a steering committee of leading scholars. The new research associates are affiliated with 26 different colleges and universities;...

Meetings & Conferences, Fall 2019

Meetings

  • Chinese Economy Members of the NBER's Chinese Economy Working Group met September 26–27 in Cambridge. Research Associates Nancy Qian of Northwestern University, Shang-Jin Wei of Columbia University, and Daniel Xu of Duke University organized the meeting. These researchers' papers were presented and discussed: Jing Cai, University of Maryland and NBER, and Adam Szeidl, Central European University, "Direct and Indirect Effects of Financial Access on SMEs" Li Feng...

Conferences

  • Article
    Tax Policy and the Economy An NBER conference on Tax Policy and the Economy took place in Washington, DC, September 26. Research Associate Robert A. Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University organized the meeting, which was sponsored by the Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation. These researchers' papers were presented and discussed:   Jonathan Meer, Texas A&M University and NBER, and Benjamin Priday, Texas A&M University, "The Impact of Income, Wealth, and Tax...

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