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21 New Studies of Economic Impact
of COVID-19 and Policy Responses


All NBER papers related to COVID-19 are open-access and have been collected for easy reference. View them in reverse chronological order or by topic area.


Research Associate David Autor of MIT described several recent trends in the US labor market, and how they are likely to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, at the NBER's annual Corporate Associates Symposium. Watch the video here.

Twenty-one NBER working papers distributed this week provide new insights on economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and potential virus containment policies. A total of 115 NBER working papers have presented new pandemic-related research.

This week’s studies range widely in focus and methodology. They address the consequences of broad-based versus targeted lockdown policies (27232), how various scenarios for reopening the economy might affect economic and health outcomes (27244), measurement issues that arise when tracking the virus’ transmission rate (27218) and the predictive value of antibody tests (27226), document the inadequacy of home environments to protect against disease exposure in many developing nations (27200), study the power of bailouts to avoid corporate bankruptcies (27207), and document the pandemic’s impact so far on labor markets (27208, 27243, 27246). They present summary data on the risks and prospective returns of vaccine development (27212), on the replacement rate of unemployment insurance benefits (27216), on how South Korea’s public disclosure of where individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 lived affected social interaction patterns (27220), on the role of shorter global supply chains in reducing the risk of pandemic-related production disruptions (27224), on the role of financial market imperfections in determining the macroeconomic impact of the pandemic (27228), on the impact of shelter-in-place laws on individual behavior and virus transmission (27229, 27235, 27236), on factors that determine beliefs about the pandemic and the extent of social distancing (27237, 27245), on the future of social safety nets (27239), and on forecasting the evolution of country-level COVID-19 cases (27248).



The NBER Digest

When Lombardy and Venetia Adopted Napoleonic-Era Copyright Laws, Quantity and Quality of Operas Rose




After Napoleon conquered the Italian states of Lombardy and Venetia in the late 18th century, those states embraced French copyright law. A study featured in the current edition of The NBER Digest finds that, two decades later, the number of new operas by composers in Lombardy and Venetia had increased threefold, while operatic output in other Italian states increased only 50 percent. Also featured in this issue of the free monthly Digest are studies of the effectiveness of limiting personal mobility in containing the COVID-19's spread in China, the social and economic toll of the 1918–20 influenza pandemic, the bank panics that contributed to the Great Depression, the effect of working with female colleagues on male judges' hiring of clerks, and winners and losers in a major New York City subway infrastructure investment.
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New NBER Research

29 May 2020

Budget Impacts of the ACA's Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid expansion increased total spending in expansion states by between 6 and 9 percent compared to non-expansion states, Jonathan Gruber and Benjamin D. Sommers find. They find no evidence of higher state spending, and estimate states that did not expand Medicaid passed up $43 billion in federal subsidies in 2018.

28 May 2020

Globalization Effects: Offshoring and Reorganization

Responses to an offshoring survey suggest that trade liberalization enables firms to offshore production of low-quality varieties, freeing up domestic resources for the development, production, and marketing of higher-quality varieties, Andrew B. Bernard, Teresa C. Fort, Valerie Smeets, and Frederic Warzynski report.

27 May 2020

Reforming Inefficient Energy Pricing in China

When a commonly used fixed-payment system for heating was replaced with individually-metered pricing in China, the result was a long-run reduction in heating usage and a substantial welfare gain, Koichiro Ito and Shuang Zhang find.
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Due to the coronavirus situation, all in-person NBER meetings scheduled for April and May 2020 have been canceled.

NBER Has Appointed 16 Research Associates
and 45 Faculty Research Fellows


The NBER Board of Directors appointed 16 Research Associates at its April 2020 meeting. Five were previously Faculty Research Fellows, and one was a former Research Associate who resigned to serve a term on the Board. ( ...more... )


Bulletin on Health

Informational Letters About Tax Penalties for Uninsurance
Raised Insurance Coverage and Reduced Mortality




In 2017, researchers randomly selected households that had previously paid a tax penalty for lack of health insurance and sent them an informational letter about how to avoid paying the penalty in the future. The spring issue of the free Bulletin on Health features a study that compares the outcomes of those who received the letters to the outcomes of those who did not. The researchers report that receipt of the letter was associated with increases in health insurance coverage and small decreases in subsequent mortality. Also featured in this issue of the Bulletin on Health are summaries of a study of how Medicare eligibility impacts cancer outcomes, a study of how a diabetes diagnosis affects subsequent health care and health outcomes, and a profile of NBER research associate Adriana Lleras-Muney.
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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

How the Timing of Government Benefits’ Arrival
Affects Finances of Low-Income and Elderly People




Many low-income and elderly people are reliant on government programs to make ends meet. A mismatch in the timing of when benefits are received and when bills are due can affect these households' ability to pay for necessary goods and services. A study summarized in the current issue of the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability finds that when residents of low-income neighborhoods receive their electricity bill within a day of benefit receipt, they are significantly less likely to make a late payment or have an outstanding balance. Also featured in this issue are a summary of how student loan forgiveness affects disability insurance applications, a study of the effectiveness of state-level sick pay mandates, and a feature on the NBER Retirement and Disability Research Center’s Training Fellowship program.
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The NBER Reporter

Agricultural Productivity in Rich and Poor Nations:
The Impact of Land Institutions and Misallocation




In rich countries less than 5 percent of the labor force works in agriculture, while in poor countries more than 70 percent is employed there. At the same time, real labor productivity is more than 35 times higher in rich nations. An article in the current edition of the NBER Reporter discusses efforts to explain and reduce the gap. Also in this edition of the free quarterly NBER Reporter, NBER affiliates write about their inquiries into the role of the firm in explaining the structure and evolution of wages and worker risk, and the benefits of rehabilitative incarceration of criminals, and importance of barriers to take-up of government initiatives, and the impact of rare events on financial markets.
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