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Unions’ Capacity to Mitigate Income Inequality
Varies with Skills of the Workers Being Organized

What is the nature of the relationship between growing inequality, slow wage growth, and declines in union membership? What explains the income gap between union and nonunion households? Suresh Naidu, an associate professor of economics and public affairs at Columbia University and an NBER researcher, discusses what he and his colleagues have found.

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The NBER Digest

Broad Consolidation of Dept. of Defense Contractors
Increased No-Bid, Cost-Plus Deals but Not Total Costs




Mergers among U.S. Department of Defense contractors from 1985 through 2001 led to an increase in the award of noncompetitive contracts, decreased use of fixed-price contracts, and increased reliance on cost-plus contracts, according to research summarized in the January edition of the NBER Digest Although the market concentration meant less competition, the researchers find no evidence that it increased total acquisition costs. Also featured in this issue of the monthly Digest: a study of effects of neighborhood environments on children's future possibilities, a look at trends in U.S. retention of STEM PhDs from abroad, an examination of the influence of U.S. monetary policy on global lending, and a comparison of pricing changes among retailers and an analysis of the association between early retirement and mortality.

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New NBER Research

24 January 2019

Market Access, Trade Costs, and Technology Adoption

Shilpa Aggarwal, Brian Giera, Dahyeon Jeong, Jonathan Robinson, and Alan Spearot estimate that reducing travel costs by 50 percent in rural areas of Tanzania — approximately the effect of paving rural roads — doubles the rate of technology adoption in agriculture.

23 January 2019

The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers

Using data from Tennessee, Seth Gershenson, Cassandra M. D. Hart, Joshua Hyman, Constance Lindsay, and Nicholas W. Papageorge determine that black students assigned to a black teacher in grades K-3 are 5 percentage points (7 percent) more likely to graduate from high school and 4 percentage points (13 percent) more likely to enroll in college than peers not assigned a black teacher.

22 January 2019

Age and Education Influence U.K. Attitudes on Brexit

U.K. voters become more Eurosceptical as they age, but the share of today’s younger cohorts that are pro-E.U. is higher than the share of young cohorts in the past. Barry Eichengreen, Rebecca Mari, and Gregory Thwaites find that prospectively, the ageing of the electorate will be offset in part by the growing number of younger, better-educated, more pro-Europe citizens.
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International Social Security Project Analyzes
Pension Programs and Workforce Participation

The emergence of increasingly generous pension plans was associated with a decline in labor force participation by older people during the 20th century; more recently, pension reforms and cutbacks have incentivized workers to stay on the job. Courtney Coile of Wellesley College and the NBER is a long-time researcher in an NBER project that has studied retirement decisions and related issues for more than 20 years.

The NBER International Social Security Project book series
The Evolution of Retirement Incentives in the U.S.


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Factors Contributing to Global Poverty's Persistence:
Financial, Environmental, Physical, and Psychological


What turns poverty into a cycle that perpetuates across generations? The Economics of Poverty Traps, a new NBER book edited by Christopher B. Barrett, Michael R. Carter, and Jean-Paul Chavas, explores the hypothesis that poverty is self-reinforcing because the equilibrium behaviors of poor people perpetuate low standards of living. Contributions explore the dynamic, complex processes by which households accumulate assets and increase their productivity and earnings potential, as well as the conditions under which some individuals, groups, and economies struggle to escape poverty. Investigating the full range of phenomena that combine to generate poverty traps — gleaned from behavioral, health, and resource economics as well as the sociology, psychology, and environmental literatures — the volume presents new evidence that highlights insights and identifies limits to current analyses of poverty traps.

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How the Ongoing Shutdown of the U.S. Government
Is — and Isn't — Like the One that Occurred in 2013

Matthew D. Shapiro, who is professor of economics at the University of Michigan and a research associate at the NBER, was a member of a team that made an in-depth study of how government workers coped with interruption of their incomes during the 2013 Federal government shutdown. [After this recording was made, Congress voted that furloughed federal employees eventually will receive back pay.]

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The NBER Reporter

The Role of Financial Factors in Economic Fluctuations:
Credit Spreads as Forecasters of Economic Events




The NBER's working group on household finance has convened researchers studying how the presence or absence of financial education programs, self-interested financial advisers, and pension plan participation requirements influence consumer behaviors that affect their financial well-being. A report on this research field is featured in the new issue of the NBER Reporter. Also in this edition of the quarterly Reporter are articles on research into the role of financial factors in economic fluctuations, the price and quality of prescription drugs, public sector personnel management in developing countries, and comparative rates of return.

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New Research Associates
and Faculty Research Fellows for 2018




The NBER appointed 58 new research associates and 45 new faculty research fellows in 2018. New appointees must be faculty members at North American colleges and universities, and are recommended by program directors in the culmination of a highly competitive process.
New appointees and their research program affiliations

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health

Black Men who Visit Black Primary Care Doctors
Are More Likely to Accept Preventative Health Care




Black men are less likely to visit a doctor and receive preventative services like diabetes screening than their non-black counterparts. A study summarized in the most recent issue of the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health finds that black male patients who see black doctors elect to receive recommended preventative health screenings at a much higher rate than those who see a non-black doctor. Also featured in this edition of the Bulletin: A look at the long-term impacts of Hurricane Katrina on survivors' mortality rates and an analysis of how fragmentation of the kidney exchange market constrict hospitals’ efforts to match donors to recipients.

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