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Founded in 1920, the National Bureau of Economic Research is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community. Over the years the NBER's research agenda has encompassed a wide variety of issues that confront our society. Early research focused on the aggregate economy, examining in detail the business cycle and long-term economic growth. Simon Kuznets' pioneering work on national income accounting, Wesley Mitchell's influential study of the business cycle, and Milton Friedman's research on the demand for money and the determinants of consumer spending were among the early studies done at the NBER. Toward a Firmer Basis of Economic Policy: The Founding of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Solomon Fabricant, 1984
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    We characterize the factors that determine who becomes an inventor in America by using de-identified data on 1.2 million inventors from patent records linked to tax records. We establish three sets of results. First, children from high-income (top 1%) families are ten times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families. There are similarly large gaps by race and gender. Differences in innate ability, as measured by test scores in early childhood, explain relatively little of these gaps. Second, exposure to innovation during childhood has significant causal effects on children's propensities to become inventors. Growing up in a neighborhood or family with a high innovation rate in a specific technology class leads to a higher probability of patenting in exactly the same technology class. These exposure effects are gender-specific: girls are more likely to become inventors in a particular technology class if they grow up in an area with more female inventors in that technology class. Third, the financial returns to inventions are extremely skewed and highly correlated with their scientific impact, as measured by citations. Consistent with the importance of exposure effects and contrary to standard models of career selection, women and disadvantaged youth are as under-represented among high-impact inventors as they are among inventors as a whole. We develop a simple model of inventors' careers that matches these empirical results. The model implies that increasing exposure to innovation in childhood may have larger impacts on innovation than increasing the financial incentives to innovate, for instance by cutting tax rates. In particular, there are many "lost Einsteins" -- individuals who would have had highly impactful inventions had they been exposed to innovation.

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    This paper examines the effect of a court-ordered hiring guidelines intended to increase the share of black teachers employed in a school district in Louisiana. We find that the court-ordered hiring policy significantly increased the share of teachers who are black in the district relative to the rest of the state, and to a matched synthetic control sample. The policy also increased the share of new teachers hired who are black, and decreased the student-teacher representation gap, defined as the difference in enrollment share black among students and teachers in a district. There were increases in the share of black teachers observed in both predominately white and predominately black schools in the district. The policy had no measurable impacts--either positive or negative--on district-level measures of student achievement.

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    In this paper we merge three datasets - individual income data, patenting data, and IQ data - to analyze the determinants of an individual's probability of inventing. We find that: (i) parental income matters even after controlling for other background variables and for IQ, yet the estimated impact of parental income is greatly diminished once parental education and the individual's IQ are controlled for; (ii) IQ has both a direct effect on the probability of inventing an indirect impact through education. The effect of IQ is larger for inventors than for medical doctors or lawyers. The impact of IQ is robust to controlling for unobserved family characteristics by focusing on potential inventors with brothers close in age. We also provide evidence on the importance of social family interactions, by looking at biological versus non-biological parents. Finally, we find a positive and significant interaction effect between IQ and father income, which suggests a misallocation of talents to innovation.

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    Prosocial incentives and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are seen by many firms as an effective way to motivate workers. Recent empirical results seem to support the expectation that prosocial incentive, e.g. in the form of a charitable donations by the firm, can increase effort and motivation - sometimes even better than monetary incentives. We argue that the benefits crucially depend on the perceived intention of the firm. Workers use prosocial incentives as a signal about the firm's type and if used instrumentally in order to profit the firm, they can backfire. We show in an experiment in collaboration with an Italian firm, that monetary and prosocial incentives work very differently. While monetary incentives used instrumentally increase effort, instrumental charitable incentives backfire compared to non-instrumental incentives. This is especially true for non-prosocially-motivated workers who do not care about the prosocial cause but use prosocial incentives only as a signal about the firm. The results contribute to the understanding of the limits of prosocial incentives by focusing on their signaling value to the agent about the principal's type.

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    Puerto Rico's unique characteristics as a U.S. territory allow us to examine the channels through which (sub)sovereign default risk can have real effects on the macroeconomy. Post-2012, during the period of increased default probabilities, the cointegrating relationship between real activity in Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland breaks down and Puerto Rico spirals into a significant decline. We exploit the cross-industry variation in default risk exposure to identify the impact of changes in default risk on employment. The evidence suggests that there are significantly higher employment growth declines in government demand and external finance dependent industries. An additional real effect of default anticipation is that heightened default risk Granger causes Puerto Rico's austerity measures. An event study analysis using government bond yields and stock returns confirms that news of increased default risk increases the cost of capital for the Puerto Rican government and for publicly traded Puerto Rican firms.

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    Occupational licensure, one of the most significant labor market regulations in the United States, may restrict the interstate movement of workers. We analyze the interstate migration of 22 licensed occupations. Using an empirical strategy that controls for unobservable characteristics that drive long-distance moves, we find that the between-state migration rate for individuals in occupations with state-specific licensing exam requirements is 36 percent lower relative to members of other occupations. Members of licensed occupations with national licensing exams show no evidence of limited interstate migration. The size of this effect varies across occupations and appears to be tied to the state specificity of licensing requirements. We also provide evidence that the adoption of reciprocity agreements, which lower re-licensure costs, increases the interstate migration rate of lawyers. Based on our results, we estimate that the rise in occupational licensing can explain part of the documented decline in interstate migration and job transitions in the United States.

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    The current historical consensus on the economic causes of the inexorable Nazi electoral success between 1930 and 1933 suggests this was largely related to the Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression (high unemployment and financial instability). However, these factors cannot fully account for the Nazi's electoral success. Alternatively it has been speculated that fiscally contractionary austerity measures, including spending cuts and tax rises, contributed to votes for the Nazi party especially among middle- and upper-classes who had more to lose from them. We use voting data from 1,024 districts in Germany on votes cast for the Nazi and rival Communist and Center parties between 1930 and 1933, evaluating whether radical austerity measures, measured as the combination of tax increases and spending cuts, contributed to the rise of the Nazis. Our analysis shows that chancellor Bruening's austerity measures were positively associated with increasing vote shares for the Nazi party. Depending on how we measure austerity and the elections we consider, each 1 standard deviation increase in austerity is associated with a 2 to 5 percentage point increase in vote share for the Nazis. Consistent with existing evidence, we find that unemployment rates were linked with greater votes for the Communist party. Our findings are robust to a range of specifications including a border-pair policy discontinuity design and alternative measures of radicalization such as Nazi party membership. The coalition that allowed a majority to form government in March 1933 might not have been able to form had fiscal policy been more expansionary.

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    We investigate whether and to what extent macroprudential policies affect the financial link between the center economies (CEs, i.e., the U.S., Japan, and the Euro area), and the peripheral economies (PHs). We first estimate the correlation of the policy interest rates between the CEs and the PHs and use that as a measure of financial sensitivity. We then estimate the determinants of the estimated measure of financial sensitivity as a function of country-specific macroeconomic conditions and policies. The potential determinant of our focus is the extensity of macroprudential policies. From the estimation exercise, we find that a more extensive implementation of macroprudential policies would lead PHs to (re)gain monetary independence from the CEs when the CEs implement expansionary monetary policy; when PHs run current account deficit; when they hold lower levels of international reserves (IR); when their financial markets are relatively closed; when they are experiencing an increase in net portfolio flows; and when they are experiencing credit expansion.

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    Using U.S. Census data, we track firms at birth and compare the growth pattern of IPO firms and their matched always-private counterparts over their life cycle. Firms that are larger at birth with faster initial growth are more likely to attain a larger size and to subsequently go public. We estimate a model to predict the propensity to become public ("public quality") using initial conditions. Firms in the top percentile of public quality grow 29 times larger than the remaining firms fifteen years later if they actually become public and 14 times larger if they stay private, showing a large selection effect for IPO status. Public firms respond more to demand shocks after their IPO and are more productive than their matched private counterparts. This effect is stronger in industries that are capital intensive and dependent on external financing. Overall, initial conditions predict firm growth trajectories, selection into public status and responsiveness to demand shocks. We find no evidence of public market myopia when matching by initial conditions.

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    The behavioral responses to taxes and subsidies are often subject to various behavioral biases and transaction costs--what we define as "microfrictions." We develop a theoretical framework to show how these microfrictions--and their heterogeneity across the population and policy instruments--affect the design of Pigouvian policies. Standard Pigouvian pricing still holds with transaction costs, but requires adjustment with behavioral biases. We use transaction-level data from the US appliance market to estimate the heterogeneous behavioral responses to an array of energy fiscal policies and to quantify microfrictions. We then assess optimal fiscal policies and find that it is rarely optimal to couple a Pigouvian tax on energy with an investment subsidy in this context. We also find that energy labels--intended to increase the salience of energy information--can interact in perverse ways with both taxes and subsidies.

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    We test the hypothesis that greater stock price informativeness (SPI) leads to higher firm-level productivity (TFP). Management, directly or indirectly, learns more from more informative stock prices, so that more informative stock prices should make firms more productive. We find a positive relation between SPI and TFP. The relation is stronger for smaller, younger, riskier, less capital-intensive, and financially-constrained firms. Product market competition and better governance amplify the relation, while diversification weakens it. We address endogeneity concerns with fixed effects, instrumental variables, and the use of brokerage house research department closures and S&P 500 additions as plausibly exogenous events.

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    This paper examines two behavioral factors that diminish people's ability to value a lifetime income stream or annuity, drawing on a survey of about 4,000 adults in a U.S. nationally representative sample. Our first main finding is that experimentally increasing the complexity of the annuity choice reduces respondents' ability to value the annuity. We measure lack of ability to value an annuity by the difference between the sell and buy values people assign to the annuity. Our second main result is that people's ability to value an annuity increases when we experimentally induce them to think jointly about the annuitization decision and about the decision of how quickly or slowly to spend down assets in retirement. Accordingly, we conclude that narrow choice bracketing is an impediment to annuitization, yet the impediment can be lessened with a relatively straightforward intervention.

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    We conducted a randomized controlled trial, enrolling low-income uninsured adults to determine whether cash incentives are effective at encouraging a primary care provider (PCP) visit, and at lowering utilization and spending. Subjects were randomized to four groups: untreated controls, and one of three incentive arms with incentives of $0, $25, or $50 for visiting a PCP within six months of group assignment. Compared to the untreated controls, subjects in the incentive groups were more likely to have a PCP visit in the initial six months. They had fewer ED visits in the subsequent six months, but outpatient visits did not decline. We also used the exogenous variation generated by the experiment to obtain causal evidence on the effects of a PCP visit. We observed modest reductions in emergency department use and increased outpatient use, but no reductions in overall spending.

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    This paper examines the impact of a property rights reform in rural China that allowed farmers to lease out their land. We find the reform led to increases in land rental activity in rural households. Consistent with a model of transaction costs in land markets, our results indicate that the formalization of leasing rights resulted in a redistribution of land toward more productive farmers. Consequently, the aggregate productivity of land increased significantly. We also find that the reform increased the responsiveness of land allocation across crops to changes in crop prices.

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    We study two fast crashes using orders/cancellations/trades data with trader identities for a stock trading in the spot and single stock futures markets on the National Stock Exchange of India during April-June/2006 when there was no algorithmic trading. Spot (futures) prices fell by 6.1% (4.6%) and 11.1% (12.3%) within 15 minutes during crashes. Buying by capital constrained short-term-traders who were the primary intraday liquidity providers was not sufficient to halt price decline. Domestic mutual funds, slow to move in, bought sufficient quantities leading to price recovery. Crashes and recoveries began in the spot market though volume was higher in futures.

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    We review the extensive literature since 2000 on the personality traits of entrepreneurs. We first consider baseline personality traits like the Big-5 model, self-efficacy and innovativeness, locus of control, and the need for achievement. We then consider risk attitudes and goals and aspirations of entrepreneurs. Within each area, we separate studies by the type of entrepreneurial behavior considered: entry into entrepreneurship, performance outcomes, and exit from entrepreneurship. This literature shows common results and many points of disagreement, reflective of the heterogeneous nature of entrepreneurship. We label studies by the type of entrepreneurial population studied (e.g., Main Street vs. those backed by venture capital) to identify interesting and irreducible parts of this heterogeneity, while also identifying places where we anticipate future large-scale research and the growing depth of the field are likely to clarify matters. There are many areas, like how firm performance connects to entrepreneurial personality, that are woefully understudied and ripe for major advances if the appropriate cross-disciplinary ingredients are assembled.

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    Inattention is a central, unifying theme for much of behavioral economics. It permeates such disparate fields as microeconomics, macroeconomics, finance, public economics, and industrial organization. It enables us to think in a rather consistent way about behavioral biases, speculate about their origins, and trace out their implications for market outcomes. This survey first discusses the most basic models of attention, using a fairly unified framework. Then, it discusses the methods used to measure attention, which present a number of challenges on which much progress has been done. It then examines the various theories of attention, both behavioral and more Bayesian. It finally discusses some applications. For instance, inattention offers a way to write a behavioral version of basic microeconomics, as in consumer theory, producer theory, and Arrow-Debreu. A last section is devoted to open questions in the attention literature. This chapter is a pedagogical guide to the literature on attention. Derivations are self-contained.

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    This paper describes current pattern of insurance coverage for precision medicines and, especially, companion diagnostics and explores what coverage would improve efficiency. We find that currently coverage is common for tests and treatments with clinical acceptance used at high volumes but is haphazard across both private insurers and Medicare for precision medicines in general. Analysis of the case of homogenous patient preferences finds that discovery and use of the test that converts an ordinary drug into a precision drug can either increase or decrease total spending, and might call for full or no coverage of test and treatments. Heterogeneity in marginal benefits from testing and treatment can call for partial coverage. Finally, varying threshold levels for diagnostic test results can lead to a demand curve to test and treatment that calls for partial cost sharing. Numerical examples and case studies of several test-treatment combinations illustrate these points.

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    One of the statements of purpose of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was "to assist those most impacted by the recession." The ARRA is assessed along this dimension using theoretical concepts from the risk-sharing literature. We estimate a model of income dynamics using a county-level panel of wage income in order to isolate the innovation to income. We then regress these income shocks on ARRA transfers and find 13.1% of the shock is offset by the transfer. While this is a long way from complete risk-sharing, the impacts are economically and statistically significant. Surprisingly, there are large state-contingent effects in the second and third quartiles 25.6% and 15.7% versus a mere 8.5% in the first quartile. By this metric, the policy of helping those most in need was not achieved.

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    Determining how to value net government obligations is a long-standing and fundamental question in public finance. Its answer is critical to cost-benefit analysis, the assessment of fiscal sustainability, generational accounting, and other economic issues. This paper posits and simulates a ten-period overlapping generations model with aggregate shocks to price safe and risky government net obligations, including options. Agents can't trade with future generations to hedge the model's productivity and depreciation shocks. Nor can they invest in anything other than one-period bonds and risky capital. Our results are surprising. We find that the pricing of short- as well as long-dated riskless obligations is anchored to the prevailing one-period risk-free return. More surprising, the prices of obligations whose values are proportional to the prevailing wage (e.g., Social Security benefits under a pay-go system with a fixed tax rate) are essentially identical to those of safe obligations, i.e., there is little risk adjustment. This is true notwithstanding our assumption of very large macro shocks. In contrast, government obligations provided in the form of options entail significant risk adjustment. We also show that the value of obligations to unborn generations depends on the nature of the compensating variation. Another finding is that the one-period bond market matters, but less than expected, to valuing obligations. Finally, our model lets us test the ability of arbitrage pricing to get prices right. Surprisingly, with the right specification, it comes close. Although highly stylized, our model suggests the potential of detailed, largescale CGE OLG models to price government obligations as well as non-marketed private securities in the presence of incomplete markets and macro shocks.