The NBER Reporter 2020 Number 1: Books

Capital in the Nineteenth Century

Robert E. Gallman and Paul W. Rhode

    A nation's capital stock is widely recognized as a crucial determinant of the productivity of its workers and the standard of living of its citizens. Tracking the evolution of capital is therefore a critical input to economic history. Economist Robert E. Gallman (1926–98) gathered extensive data on US capital stock and created a legacy that has, until now, been difficult for researchers to access and appraise in its entirety.

    Gallman measured American capital stock from a range of perspectives, viewing it as the accumulation of income saved and invested, and as an input into the production process. He used the level and change in the capital stock as proxy measures for long-run economic performance. Analyzing data in this way from the end of the colonial period to the turn of the 20th century, Gallman provided a firm empirical foundation for our knowledge of the 19th century — the period during which the United States began to experience per capita income growth and became a global economic leader. Gallman's research was painstaking and his analysis meticulous, but he did not publish the material supporting his findings during his lifetime. Here Paul W. Rhode completes this project, giving permanence to a great economist's insights and craftsmanship.

Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy, volume 1

Matthew J. Kotchen, James H. Stock, and Catherine D. Wolfram, editors

     This volume presents six new papers on environmental and energy economics and policy. Robert Stavins evaluates carbon taxes versus a cap-and-trade mechanism for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, arguing that specific design features of either instrument can be more consequential than the choice of instrument itself. Lucas Davis and James Sallee show that the exemption of electric vehicles from the gasoline tax is likely to be efficient as long as gasoline prices remain below social marginal costs, even though it results in lower tax revenue. Caroline Flammer analyzes the rapidly growing market for green bonds and highlights the importance of third-party certification to the financial and environmental performance of publicly traded companies. Antonio Bento, Mark Jacobsen, Christopher Knittel, and Arthur van Benthem develop a general framework for evaluating the costs and benefits of fuel economy standards and use it to account for the differences between several recent studies of changes in these standards. Nicholas Muller estimates a measure of output in the US economy over the last 60 years that accounts for air pollution damages, and shows that pollution effects are sizable, affect growth rates, and have diminished appreciably over time. Finally, Marc Hafstead and Roberton Williams illustrate methods of accounting for employment effects when evaluating the costs and benefits of environmental regulations.

The Roles of Immigrants and Foreign Students

in US Science, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Ina Ganguli, Shulamit Kahn, and Megan MacGarvie, editors

     The number of immigrants in the US science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce and among recipients of advanced STEM degrees at US universities has increased in recent decades. Given the contribution of STEM workers to economic growth and the current public debate about immigration, there is a need for evidence on the economic impacts of immigration on the STEM workforce and on innovation. Using new data and rigorous empirical analysis, this volume examines various aspects of the relationship between immigration, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including the effects of changes in the number of immigrants and their skill composition on the rate of innovation; the relationship between high-skilled immigration and entrepreneurship; the differences between immigrant and native entrepreneurs; and the post-graduation migration patterns of STEM doctoral recipients, in particular their likelihood of returning to their home country. The volume also examines the roles of the US higher education system and US visa policy in attracting foreign students for graduate study and retaining them after graduation.

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