Two New NBER Books Explore
Productivity in Education and Agriculture

Productivity in Higher Education
How do the benefits of higher education compare with its costs, and how does this vary across individuals and institutions? Productivity in Higher Education uses rich and novel administrative data, modern econometric methods, and deep institutional understanding to explore these issues. Researchers examine the returns to undergraduate education, differences in costs by major, the productivity of for-profit schools, the productivity of various types of faculty, the effects of online education on the market, and the ways in which the productivity of institutions responds to market forces. Edited by Caroline M. Hoxby and Kevin Stange.
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Agricultural Productivity and Producer Behavior
While agricultural yields have increased steadily in the last half century, inflation-adjusted agricultural commodity prices have been trending downward as increases in supply outpace the growth of demand. Yet recent severe weather events, biofuel mandates, and a switch toward a more meat-heavy diet in emerging economies have boosted prices. Whether this is a temporary jump or the beginning of a longer-term trend is an open question. Agricultural Productivity and Producer Behavior explores issues including potential environmental consequences of yield growth, genetically modified crops, changing climatic factors, production responses to government regulations, and the role of crop diversification, disease management, and water-saving methods. Edited by Wolfram Schlenker.
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New NBER Research

22 November 2019

Subsidies and the African Green Revolution

A temporary subsidy for Mozambican maize farmers stimulated Green Revolution technology adoption and led to increased yields, with the effects persisting in later unsubsidized years, Michael Carter, Rachid Laajaj, and Dean Yang find. Spillovers account for the vast majority of subsidy-induced gains.

21 November 2019

High House Prices Boost Savings by Young Chinese

The savings rates of the young in China would be 21 percent lower if housing prices were at the same ratio to disposable income as in the United States, according to a study by Mark Rosenzweig and Junsen Zhang.

20 November 2019

Family Structure Effects of Expanding Legal Services

The War on Poverty’s Legal Services Program produced temporary increases in divorce and persistent increases in welfare participation and nonmarital birth rates, Andrew Goodman-Bacon and Jamein P. Cunningham find. Nonmarital births rose because marriage rates fell.
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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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How Republican and Democratic Investors
Reacted to the Outcome of the 2016 Election

The marked change in national leadership — both at the level of individual politicians and national parties — following the 2016 election produced a sharp change in investment behaviors, as households in predominantly Democratic zip codes tended to sell out of the stock market and buy into safe assets while those in Republican dominated zip codes bought into the market and sold safe assets to finance those investments. A study of why that happened was made by Jonathan A. Parker, Maarten Meeuwis, Antoinette Schoar, and Duncan I. Simester.

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The NBER Digest

Inventors in IT, Semiconductor, Biology and Chemistry
Live in a Few Clusters around Big Cities, Despite Cost

Geographic concentration of inventors has increased sharply in recent decades, contributing to greater productivity in the high-tech fields of computer science and information technology; semiconductors; and biology and chemistry, according to an analysis of patent data featured in the latest edition of the free, monthly NBER Digest. Also featured in the November issue are working papers exploring: the first four years of the Affordable Care Act, signs of stagnation in the developed world's economy, the effects of the Common Application on the college admissions process, the impacts of foreclosures on the housing market and new strategies for improving tax collection in developing countries.
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The NBER Reporter

Exploring the Factors Contributing to Increase
in Long-Term Unemployment in the United States

For more than 50 years, unemployed individuals were mostly short-term unemployed, even during recessions. But starting in 2007, the long-term unemployment share increased from roughly 20 percent to 45 percent of all unemployed Americans and remained at that elevated level for several years. Research featured in the current edition of the NBER Reporter explores why. Also in this issue of the free NBER quarterly are reports on evidence-based health care policy, belief formation, analysis of violent conflict, and declining US productivity growth.

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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

Texas' Privatization of Medicaid for Disabled Beneficiaries
Led to Improvements in Care and Higher Spending

Analysis of a policy change, summarized in the current issue of the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability, where the state of Texas transitioned adults with disabilities from the state-run insurance plan to private Medicaid plans. 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, how state Medigap requirements affect the health of SSDI beneficiaries, 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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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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