Books: Summer, 2009

Featured in print Reporter

The following volumes may be ordered directly from the University of Chicago Press Distribution Center, at 

For more information on ordering and electronic distribution, see

Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 23

Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 23, edited by Jeffrey R. Brown and James M. Poterba, is now available from the University of Chicago Press Journals Division for $60.00 (clothbound).This annual series of volumes presents current academic research findings on taxation and government spending.

Volume 23 includes studies of the effects of the Social Security earnings test on labor supply; the meaning of U.S. corporate tax losses; how globalization affects the design of a tax system; and whether federal provision of goods and services crowds out their provision by state and local governments or the private sector.

Brown and Poterba are Research Associates in the NBER’s Programs on Public Economics and Aging and co-organizers of this conference. Brown is also a Professor in the Finance Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Poterba is a professor of economics at MIT and President of the NBER.

Studies of Labor Market Intermediation

Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, edited by David H. Autor, will be available from the University of Chicago Press this October for $110.00.

From the traditional craft hiring hall to the website “,” many different institutions are designed to facilitate the matching of workers with firms. These Labor Market Intermediaries (LMIs) range from criminal records’ providers, public employment offices, labor unions, and temporary help agencies, to centralized medical residency matches. This volume describes how these third-party actors intercede where workers and firms meet, thus aiding, impeding, and, in some cases exploiting the matching process. Building a conceptual foundation for analyzing the roles that these economic actors serve in the labor market, this volume develops a sense of their significance to market operation and to worker welfare. Cross-national in scope, it brings together research on a set of market institutions that are typically treated as isolated entities, thus setting a research agenda for analyzing the changing shape of employment in an era of rapid globalization and technological change.

Autor is a Research Associate in the NBER’s Programs on Labor Studies and Education and a Professor of Economics at MIT.


International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms

International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms, edited by Richard B. Freeman and Kathryn L. Shaw, is available from the University of Chicago Press for $99.00.

In recent years, globalization and the expansion of information technology have reshaped managerial practices, forcing multinational firms to adjust their business practices to different environments and domestic companies to face competition from new foreign competitors. In this 2009 NBER Conference Volume, a distinguished group of contributors examines the phenomenon of widespread differences in managerial practices across firms, establishments within firms, and countries. The eight studies combine qualitative and quantitative analyses of business practices, including the use of teams, incentive pay, lean manufacturing, and quality control. The book offers a much-needed model for measuring the productivity and performance of international firms in a fast-paced global economy.

Freeman directed the NBER’s Program of Research on Labor Studies for many years; Shaw is a Research Associate in the Program. He is also the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. Shaw is the Ernest C. Arbuckle Professor of Economics at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.


The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective

The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, edited by Jonathan Gruber, will be available this fall from the University of Chicago Press. This NBER Conference Report costs $110.00.

In the United States, one of the most important public policy issues is how to improve the life prospects of disadvantaged youth who, in their formative years, face low-quality school systems, poor access to health care, and high crime environments. This volume examines various aspects of disadvantage and a variety of ways of increasing the ability of low-income youths to improve their circumstances later in life. The nine essays in this volume help to document the serious short- and long-term negative consequences of childhood disadvantage and provide nuanced evidence of the impact of public policy designed to help needy children. Gruber directs the NBER’s Program on Health Care and is a Profesor of Economics at MIT.


Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being

Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being, edited by Alan B. Krueger, will be available from the University of Chicago Press in October for $75.00.

Economists and social scientists are increasingly interested in the study and effects of subjective well-being. Putting forward a new method for measuring, comparing, and analyzing the relationship between happiness and the way people spend their time -- across countries, regions, and history -- this book helps to set the agenda for future research. It introduces the system of National Time Accounting (NTA), which relies on individuals’ own evaluations of their emotional experiences during various uses of time – this represents a distinct improvement in measuring well-being from such objective measures as the Gross National Product. A distinguished group of contributors here summarize the NTA methodology, provide illustrative findings about happiness based on NTA, and subject the system to a rigorous conceptual and methodological critique that only serves to strengthen the approach. Because subjective well-being is topical in economics, psychology, and other social sciences, this book should have cross-disciplinary appeal.

Krueger is on leave from the NBER and Princeton University’s Economics Department. He is currently the Department of the Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy.