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The Reporter

A free quarterly publication featuring program updates, several summaries of affiliates' research, and news about the NBER
Public economics is the study of government intervention in the market economy, designed to move outcomes away from the market equilibrium. The two primary motivations for such interventions are improving market efficiency and redistributing resources across populations. The field is principally concerned with analyzing the effects of various tools — such as tax policies and social insurance programs — that are designed to achieve these aims. The NBER Public Economics...

Reseach Summaries

Author(s): Jessica Wachter
A rare disaster is an event for which there is a small probability of an extremely bad outcome, leading to a large deterioration in the quality of life. Examples of rare disasters include global warfare, pandemics, and financial crises. Indeed, a pandemic illustrates a key principle about the distribution of possible outcomes of such events. The laws of geometric growth imply that many contagious illnesses die out. Some however spread quickly and pervasively, in a...
Author(s): Diego Restuccia
Differences in agricultural systems are highly relevant to the large income differences between rich and poor countries. There are two complementary reasons for this: poor countries are much less productive in agriculture than in the rest of the economy when compared with rich countries, and poor countries allocate most of their labor to agriculture. Whereas in rich countries less than 5 percent of the labor force works in agriculture, more than 70 percent is employed there...
Author(s): Luigi Pistaferri
In the workhorse competitive labor market model used by economists, knowing whom we work for is irrelevant for understanding the sources of wage risk and wage inequality. Workers carry the risk of shocks to their productivity wherever they work, and they bear it fully. But imperfections in the labor, credit, and insurance markets weaken this extreme view. Job search costs on the two sides of the labor market, as well as the presence of non-monetary components that workers...
Since the 1980s, incarceration rates have risen substantially in most countries, tripling in the United States and nearly doubling in many European countries. These trends raise important questions about the effectiveness of prisons and how well ex-convicts reintegrate into society. Time spent in prison can deter offenders from future crime or rehabilitate offenders by providing vocational training or wellness programs. However, incarceration can also lead to recidivism...


    Olivier Blanchard was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association. Katharine G. Abraham was the inaugural recipient of the Society of Labor Economists’ Prize for Contributions to Data and Measurement. Lee Alston, Jeremy Atack, Michael Bordo, Barry Eichengreen, Stanley Engerman, Price Fishback, Claudia Goldin, Naomi Lamoreaux, Gary Libecap, Peter Lindert, Robert A. Margo, Joel Mokyr, Larry Neal, Hugh Rockoff, Richard Steckel, Richard Sylla, Peter...
    Fifteen researchers, 10 post-doctoral scholars and five pre-doctoral students, have been named to NBER fellowships for the 2020–21 academic year. These fellows are selected by review panels following widely disseminated calls for applications. Post-Doctoral Fellowships Emilie Jackson, who is analyzing how the shift from traditional employment to self-employment affects tax revenues and the demand for government benefits, and Sean Myers, who studies the funding of state...

Conferences and Meetings

  • Article
    The Role of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Economic Growth An NBER conference on The Role of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Economic Growth took place in Mountain View, California, January 7–8. Research Associates Aaron Chatterji of Duke University, Josh Lerner of Harvard University, and Scott Stern of MIT, and Michael J. Andrews of NBER organized the meeting, which was sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. These researchers’ papers were presented and...

  • Article
    Industrial Organization Members of the NBER’s Industrial Organization Program met February 7–8 at Stanford University. Research Associate Julie H. Mortimer of Boston College and Faculty Research Fellows Christopher Neilson of Princeton University and Michael Sinkinson of Yale University organized the meeting. These researchers’ papers were presented and discussed: Mo Xiao, University of Arizona, and Zhe Yuan, Alibaba Group, “License Complementarity and Package...
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