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An NBER Conference Report

Attempting to Set the Agenda for AI Research


Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) highlight the potential of this technology to affect productivity, growth, inequality, market power, innovation, and employment. This newly published NBER conference report, edited by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb, seeks to set the agenda for research on AI’s economic impacts. It covers four broad themes: AI as a general purpose technology; the relationships between AI, growth, jobs, and inequality; regulatory responses to changes brought on by AI; and the effects of AI on the way economic research is conducted. It explores the economic influence of machine learning, the branch of computational statistics that has driven much of the recent excitement around AI, as well as the economic impact of robotics and automation and the potential economic consequences of a still-hypothetical artificial general intelligence.

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The NBER Bulletin on Health

First Edition of Free Bulletin on Health Features
Study of Air Pollution's Effect on Dementia Diagnoses




Researchers exploring the effects of air pollution on dementia find that higher exposure to fine-particulate air pollution increases the probability of receiving a dementia diagnosis. They estimate that the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to regulate this pollution prevented approximately 140,000 dementia diagnoses in 2013, and that the value of the associated increase in length and quality of life exceeded $150 billion. Their study is featured in the new NBER Bulletin on Health. Also featured are studies of intergenerational wounds from the Civil War and the effects of Medicare Advantage plans on opioid prescribing.

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New NBER Research

23 May 2019

Monopsony Power and Labor Share in China and India

Wyatt J. Brooks, Joseph P. Kaboski, Yao Amber Li, and Wei Qian estimate that monopsony power lowers the labor share of national income by up to 10 percentage points in China, and 15 percentage points in India. This effect is smaller today than in the past as firm concentration in the labor markets of both countries has decreased.

22 May 2019

Do Private Prisons Affect Criminal Sentencing?

Opening of a private prison in a state increases the length of sentences relative to what the crime’s and defendant’s characteristics predict, according to a study by Christian Dippel and Michael Poyker. The researchers infer that the cost savings from private prisons lead judges to pass longer sentences.

21 May 2019

Risk Management in Financial Institutions

Hedging of interest rate and foreign exchange risk is greater at better- capitalized financial institutions, but is reduced significantly when institutions suffer loan losses due to drops in house prices, Adriano A. Rampini, S. Viswanathan, and Guillaume Vuillemey find.
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New Book Examines Personalized and Precision Medicine


Personalized and precision medicine (PPM) — targeting therapies by taking into account factors such as individuals' genetic, environmental, and lifestyle characteristics — is an increasingly important approach to treatment and prevention of illness. Its rise presents challenges to traditional clinical, reimbursement, and regulatory landscapes because it is costly to develop and introduces a wide range of scientific, clinical, ethical, and economic issues. How will information on accuracy of diagnosis and success of treatment be disseminated? Who will bear the cost? Will benefits be available only in developed countries?

Economic Dimensions of Personalized and Precision Medicine, an NBER Conference Report edited by Ernst R. Berndt, Dana P. Goldman, and John W. Rowe, explores the intersection of scientific, clinical, and economic factors affecting development of PPM, including its effects on the drug pipeline, on reimbursement of PPM diagnostics and treatments, and on funding of the underlying research. It also examines recent empirical applications of PPM.

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Lingering Low Interest Rates despite Long Recovery
Indicate the Lasting Shock of the Great Recession

It's common for policymakers to cut interest rates to stimulate an economy after a negative shock, but normally rates would rise as time passes and the economy recoveres. Laura Veldkamp of Columbia University and the NBER analyzes why, more than a decade after the Great Recession, that has not happened.

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The NBER Digest

Top Earners Make More from Running Businesses
Than from Interest, Rents, and Other Capital Income




Among households in the top 0.1 percent of the income distribution, most receive more income from their human capital than from their financial capital, according to findings of a study featured in the current edition of The NBER Digest. Also featured in this issue of the free monthly Digest are studies of middle-skill jobs in urban areas, fertility trends in the United States, current trade policies, mineral rights sales in Texas, and regional recovery rates after the Great Recession.

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NBER in the News




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On the News

Trade War Impacts Rattle Markets, Hit Consumers


With tension ratcheting up in U.S.-China trade relations The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and many other national media outlets are full of reports on the trade war between the world’s biggest economies. The impacts of the conflict have been extensively researched by NBER affiliates in studies such as:

The Return to Protectionism
The Impact of the 2018 Trade War on U.S. Prices and Welfare
The Production Relocation and Price Effects of U.S. Trade Policy: The Case of Washing Machines.

A non-technical summary of trade war impact studies appears in the current edition of the NBER’s free monthly Digest.


The NBER Reporter

Survey Expectations versus Rational Expectations:
Investors Put their Money Where their Mouths Are




Surveys of expectations were an important research tool in the 1950s and ‘60s, but faded with the rise of rational expectations theory. More recently, rational expectations models in both macroeconomics and finance have reached dead ends and researchers are finding that actual behavior of survey respondents is predicted more successfully by their survey responses than by rational expectations models. People literally put their money where their mouths are — not where it ought to be in rational expectations models. A full report is in the current edition of the NBER Reporter. Also featured in this edition of the free quarterly Reporter are articles on patents and innovation, charitable-giving behaviors, the NBER Education program, and financial misconduct.

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