If Unconventional Policies Are Swiftly Adopted,
the Zero Lower Bound May Actually Be Irrelevant

The global financial crisis of 2007–08 and the recession that followed led many central banks to lower rates down to near zero — their theoretical lower bound. Given the impossibility of further reductions in the short-term nominal rate, which is the usual instrument of monetary policy in normal times — central banks increasingly relied on unconventional monetary policies. A study presented at this year's NBER Annual Conference on Macroeconomics found that, in the case of the United States, it worked.

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New NBER Research

13 November 2019

Impacts of Oakland's Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax

Roughly 60 percent of the Oakland’s sugar-sweetened beverage tax was passed on to consumers, but there was no substantial change in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, research by John Cawley, David E. Frisvold, Anna Hill, and David Jones shows.

12 November 2019

Efficient Deployment of Police Resources in Rajasthan

Analyzing data from a randomized controlled experiment associated with an anti-drunk driving campaign in Rajasthan, India, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Daniel Keniston, and Nina Singh find that rotating the location of checkpoints reduced night accidents by 17 percent and night deaths by 25 percent, while fixed checkpoints had no significant effects.

11 November 2019

Workers are Attracted to Socially Responsible Firms

When a firm advertises work as socially oriented, it attracts employees who are more productive, produce higher quality work, and have more highly valued leisure time, an experiment by Daniel Hedblom, Brent R. Hickman, and John A. List finds.
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NBER in the News

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Bulletin on Health

Federally Mandated Medicaid Reimbursement Increases
Expanded Patient Access to Care, While They Lasted

The fall issue of the Bulletin on Health features a study of increases in Medicaid reimbursement rates that were federally mandated from 2013 to 2015. This policy change increased Medicaid payments for certain primary care services by 60 percent, on average, and substantially reduced geographic dispersion in the level of payments. Researchers find that the increased reimbursement expanded access to care, improved self-reported health, and reduced school absences among primary school-aged children. Also featured in the fall issue of the Bulletin on Health are studies of birth outcomes at hospitals with relatively high c-section rates, and the longevity of Medicare beneficiaries who move from one location to another.
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Tax Policy and the Economy Conference Focuses
on Impacts of Changes in Laws and Regulations

The 34th annual conference of the NBER's Tax Policy and the Economy Project was held at the National Press Club in Washington. Research papers were presented on the effect of the Affordable Care Act on business size, how the 2017 tax cuts and reforms are expected to influence charitable giving, the influence of tax wedge changes on organizational forms, options for encouraging "emergency" savings, and alternatives to the current structure of Medicare.
Summaries of the papers, with links to full texts

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The NBER Digest

Colleges' Use of the Common App Reduces Frictions
in the Admissions Process and Boosts Applications

The Common Application, a program used by more than 700 colleges and universities that enables students to fill out a single application to apply for admission to multiple schools, has caused total applications and applications from out-of-state and foreign students to increase sharply, research featured in the latest edition of the NBER Digest shows. Also featured in the November issue are working papers examining: new strategies for improving tax collection in developing countries, the impacts of foreclosures on the housing market, the few places where most American inventors live, the first four years of the Affordable Care Act, and signs of stagnation in the developed world's economy.
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The NBER Reporter

New Databases and Analytic Approaches Open
Ways to Study Violence, Small Wars, and Insurgencies

Evidence suggests that in the conflict in Afghanistan a US military investment in the billions of dollars yearly, directed at countering improvised explosive devices, was effectively countered by insurgent technological adaptation and investments of tens of millions of dollars, according to research featured in the current edition of the NBER Reporter. Also in this issue of the free NBER quarterly are reports on declining US productivity growth, long-term unemployment, evidence-based health care policy, and belief formation.

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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

Effects of Mandatory State-Level Medigap Coverage
To the Under-65 Medicare-Eligible Population

Research summarized in the current issue of the Bulletin in Retirement and Disability shows that states requiring Medigap insurers to offer at least one Medigap plan to the under-65 Medicare population measurably and substantially improves that population's health. Also in the current issue, are summaries of the 2019 Retirement and Disability Research Consortium Meeting held August 1-2 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, research on the effects of Medicaid privatization in Texas, and a panel discussion on the economic determinants of fertility decisions held this past July at the NBER Summer Institute's Social Security meeting.
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Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer
Win Nobel Prize for Experimental Research Methods
that Transformed Development Economics

              Abhijit Banerjee                     Esther Duflo                     Michael Kremer

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of MIT, and Michael Kremer of Harvard University, all of whom are long-serving NBER research associates, were awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. The prize recognizes their contributions to development economics and the study of global poverty, in particular their championing of randomized controlled trials as methodologies for analyzing how a wide range of policy interventions – in health, education, credit markets, and local governance, among others – can contribute to poverty alleviation.
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