Widespread Variation in How Families
Responded When K-12 Education Moved On-Line


The COVID-19 pandemic led primary and secondary schools across the US to close their doors and shift to on-line learning in March 2020. Families scrambled to find ways to support their children's learning. Research Associate Joshua Goodman, in a joint study (27555) with Andrew Bacher-Hicks and Christine Mulhern, finds substantial geographic variation in the intensity of search for on-line educational resources. The jump in search activity was greatest in high-income urban areas and in places with excellent internet access. Goodman summarizes these findings, and their implications in the short video above.

Four NBER working papers distributed this week examine the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and analyze various policy responses to it. The studies amass evidence from past pandemics to address the potential long-run effects of COVID-19 (27805), investigate the credit market impact of the Federal Reserve’s pandemic-relief actions (27809), estimate the impact of a large public gathering on the spread of COVID-19 (27813), and analyze access to a potential future vaccine among minority groups under the current CDC vaccine distribution guidelines and an alternative “reserve system” allocation rule (27817).

More than 240 NBER working papers have presented pandemic-related research. These papers are open access and have been collected for easy reference. Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed. View them in reverse chronological order or by topic area.

The NBER Digest

Information and Communications Technology Boom
Productivity in US but not Europe in 1995-2005

Research featured in the September edition of The NBER Digest indicates that the divergence in productivity growth between the United States and Western European nations in 1995-2005 was grounded in American investment in information and communications technologies. Also in this issue of the free, monthly Digest are summaries of studies on the impact of the Voting Rights Act on arrests of Black citizens, and the current state of infrastructure investment in the United States, and the offshoring effects of restricting H-1B visas, and the post-war effect of US R&D spending during World War II, and variation in public and private insurers’ reimbursements to hospitals.
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New NBER Research

18 September 2020

Conflicting Interests and the Effect of Fiduciary Duty

After the Department of Labor proposed a rule in 2016 to hold brokers to a fiduciary standard when dealing with retirement accounts, sales of high-expense variable annuities fell 52 percent, sales became more sensitive to expenses, and insurers increased the relative availability of low-expense products, Mark L. Egan, Shan Ge, and Johnny Tang find

17 September 2020

Occupational Licensing and Labor Market Fluidity

Occupational licensing requirements represent barriers to entry for both non-employed and employed workers, Morris M. Kleiner and Ming Xu find. Licensed workers’ wage growth is higher than non-licensed workers, whether they stay in the same occupation in the year after licensing or switch occupations.

16 September 2020

The Dynamics of the Smoking Wage Penalty

Heavy smoking in young adulthood results in a wage penalty at age 30 of 14.8 percent for women and 9.3 percent for men, Michael E. Darden, Julie L. Hotchkiss, and M. Melinda Pitts find.
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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

Panel Discussion: Implications of COVID-19 for Social
Security in the US at the NBER 2020 Summer Institute

A panel discussion of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Social Security in the US is summarized in the current issue of the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability. The panel was held as part of the NBER 2020 Summer Institute’s Economics of Social Security meeting and assessed potential effects of COVID-19 on Social Security fiscal projections. In April, SSA projections assumed a 15 percent reduction in earnings and payroll tax for one or two years, and then a full recovery. In this scenario, trust fund reserve depletion shifts forward from early 2035 to mid- or early 2034. Also featured in this issue of the free Bulletin are a summary of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium, a study of how labelling in retirement plans affects retirement rates, and a summary of new RDRC projects which intend to examine the COVID-19 effects on retirement and Social Security. Video and slides from the panel presentation are available here.
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Bulletin on Health

The Enduring Impacts of OxyContin Reformulation

The latest issue of the Bulletin on Health features a study that examines the long-term consequences of the reformulation of OxyContin on fatal drug overdoses. In 2010, an abuse-deterrent reformulation of OxyContin was introduced, with the goal of reducing opioid addiction and overdoses. The study concludes that this change instead generated an increase in fatal drug overdoses, by reducing the supply of abusable prescription drugs and inducing opioid addicts to switch to illicit drug markets. Also featured in this issue of the free Bulletin on Health are two studies that introduce methods for using currently-available data to better understand COVID-19 infection rates, a study of the role of Medicaid coverage in reducing infant mortality during flu pandemics, and a profile of NBER research associate Doug Almond.
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The NBER Reporter

Patient Care Under Conditions of Uncertainty
in Normal Times and in the Era of COVID-19

Aggressive treatment may reduce the risk of disease development or the severity of disease that does develop, but it also could generate health side effects and greater financial costs. How to choose is explored in research featured in the current edition of the NBER Reporter. Also in this issue of the Reporter, NBER affiliates write about impacts of tax credits on corporate behavior, medical spending and savings in elderly households, and research in the NBER's decade-long project on the Economics of Digitization project, and behavioral biases of analysts and investors.
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2020 Summer Institute Methods Lectures

The 2020 Methods Lectures introduce differential privacy, a method of assessing the trade-off between releasing more-detailed information based on survey responses and protecting respondents' privacy, and illustrate its application in several settings. The lectures and associated slides are available to view online or download.


NBER Videos

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