Martin Feldstein Remembered at the NBER;
Harvard Service Held at Memorial Church Saturday

Martin S. Feldstein, who died on June 11, was president of the National Bureau of Economic Research for nearly 30 years. The George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard and chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers 1982–84, he was one of the most prolific and influential economists of the past half century. This film is excerpted from remembrances offered on July 25, during the NBER’s Summer Institute. Harvard University hosted a memorial service Saturday, September 14, at Harvard Memorial Church.

Obituary and links to news coverage

New NBER Research

16 September 2019

Anti-Poverty Program Put to the Test in Afghanistan

The Targeting the Ultra Poor program in Afghanistan successfully lifted households out of poverty, raising consumption, assets, psychological well-being, total time spent working, financial inclusion, and women’s empowerment, according to Guadalupe Bedoya, Aidan Coville, Johannes Haushofer, Mohammad Isaqzadeh, and Jeremy P. Shapiro.

13 September 2019

Exploring Efforts to Limit Prescription Opioid Initiation

New policies intended to reduce opioid initiation by limiting initial prescription length often increase the frequency of short prescriptions, in some cases increasing the amount of opioids dispensed to new users, Daniel W. Sacks, Alex Hollingsworth, Thuy D. Nguyen, and Kosali I. Simon find.

12 September 2019

Effects of Algorithms on Health Insurance Selection

Providing algorithmic, personalized information to consumers choosing health insurance plans increased plan switching, cost savings, time spent choosing a plan, and satisfaction with the choice process, Kate Bundorf, Maria Polyakova, and Ming Tai-Seale find.
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The NBER Reporter

With Sales of Fair Trade-Certified Imports Soaring,
Studies Examine Who in the Production Chain Benefits

Consumers in developed countries who want to help lift producers in developing countries out of poverty have shown a willingness to pay significantly higher prices for Fair Trade-certified products – coffee in particular. In the current issue of the free, quarterly NBER Reporter, a researcher discusses what's been learned about who benefits most, and least. This edition of The Reporter also includes articles by NBER researchers about the work of NBER Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program affiliates, the labor market effects of the business cycle, the challenges posed by China's aging population, and the viability of the sustainable investing proposition.

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Latest Volumes of NBER's Macroeconomics Annual
and Tax Policy and the Economy Are Now Available

In the NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2018, researchers examine the relative safety of the U.S. financial sector today and before the last financial crisis; effects of the crisis on the perceived risk, and possible propagation of large, rare shocks; finite-horizon forward planning compared with rational expectations; changes in the manufacturing sector and employment among prime-aged Americans; "factorless income"; and the effects of border adjustment taxes.

In Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 33, the researchers use asset pricing to value implicit fiscal debts and account for risk properties; study the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the behavior of corporations; investigate whether pre-announced consumption tax changes affect the timing of durable goods purchases; and examine "tax equivalences" and return-free tax filing.

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The NBER Digest

Despite Era of Low Unemployment and Low Inflation,
Researchers Say Phillips Curve May Not Be Dead

Recent decades of both low unemployment and low inflation in the United States have led to discussion of whether the relationship between the two embodied in the Phillips curve remains valid. An analysis featured in the current issue of The NBER Digest suggests that inflation could rise if the labor market, which is near record lows, overheats. Other studies in this edition of the free, monthly Digest analyze returns from U.S. government programs, document reduction in the percentage of black teachers in Southern schools that desegregated, and gauge the influence of early-career research experience, and show that borrowers who are aware of their FICO scores are less likely to be overdue on loan payments, and measure the impacts of R&D tax credits.

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Transparency and Reproducibility in Economic Research

Edward Miguel of the University of California, Berkeley and the NBER presented the 2019 NBER Summer Institute Methodology Lecture on "Research Transparency and Reproducibility." He described the importance of ensuring that researchers can replicate, and build on, empirical research findings, and summarized a number of emerging practices that are designed to facilitate reproducibility. The full presentation and accompanying slides are available to download free.

Bulletin on Health

Penicillin's Introduction in Post-World War II Italy
Greatly Reduced Mortality and Regional Disparities

The summer issue of the Bulletin on Health features a study of the distributional impact of penicillin's introduction on mortality in Italy following World War II. Researchers find that mortality rates for penicillin-sensitive causes of death fell by 58 percent, relative to the mean in earlier years. Furthermore, penicillin’s introduction reduced the dispersion of penicillin-sensitive mortality rates across regions by 68 percent, explaining 40 percent of all-cause convergence over this period. Also featured in the summer issue of the Bulletin on Health are studies of the effects of heating costs on winter deaths, and the effects of California’s change in vaccine laws on vaccination and medical exemption rates.
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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

The Insurance and Liquidity Value
of Social Security Survivors Benefits?

In 2015, the Social Security program paid over $95 billion in survivors benefits to 4.2 million surviving spouses. Research that is the first to explore the protective role of survivors benefit receipt against the short-run financial consequences of a spousal death finds that attaining benefit eligibility is associated with a 34-percentage point increase in Social Security receipt and a 3.1-percentage point decline in labor force participation. Also summarized in this first issue of the free Bulletin on Retirement and Disability: research that estimates the total value of Great Recession-induced disability insurance (DI) awards and a study of the effects of DI awards on the financial outcomes of applicants.
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