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New Working Papers Explore
A Range of Virus Containment Strategies


Four new NBER working papers, distributed this week, examine economic and health outcomes of the coronavirus outbreak under various containment strategies in the United States, China, and Italy.

One shows that testing at a higher rate in conjunction with targeted quarantine policies can reduce both the economic impact of the coronavirus and peak symptomatic infections. Another explores the benefits of randomly testing the general population to determine the asymptomatic infection rate. An analysis of Chinese efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak measures the effectiveness of the lockdown of Wuhan and enhanced social distancing policies in other cities. And a study of Italians' expectations about the duration of self-isolation requirements demonstrates the importance of communication and persuasion for effective virus containment strategies.

Other recent NBER studies of the impact of coronavirus containment efforts, as well as earlier studies of economic and other consequences of previous epidemics, are available here.



Bulletin on Health

Medicare Eligibility Reduces Cancer Mortality for Women




The spring issue of the Bulletin on Health features a study examining the impact of Medicare eligibility at age 65 on cancer detection and outcomes. The researchers show that cancer detection shifts sharply upward at the age of Medicare eligibility, while cancer mortality shifts downward with Medicare eligibility. The effects are concentrated among women, especially among racial minorities. Also featured in this issue of the free Bulletin on Health are: a study of how a diabetes diagnosis affects subsequent health care and health outcomes, a study of how an informational letter about the tax penalty for lacking health insurance affected insurance coverage and mortality, and a profile of NBER research associate Adriana Lleras-Muney.
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New NBER Research

1 April 2020

Innovation, Diversification, and Firm Growth

In a study of Japan’s cotton spinning industry in the early 20th century, Serguey Braguinsky, Atsushi Ohyama, Tetsuji Okazaki, and Chad Syverson find that the most successful firms first experimented with technologically challenging, vertically differentiated products, then expanded their product portfolios horizontally.

31 March 2020

Workplace Knowledge Flows

Encouraging workers to talk about their sales techniques with a randomly chosen partner during short meetings substantially lifted average sales revenue in a field experiment run by Jason Sandvik, Richard Saouma, Nathan Seegert, and Christopher T. Stanton.

30 March 2020

Unpacking Skill Bias: Automation and New Tasks

Using industry-level estimates of worker displacement due to automation and of worker reinstatement due to new tasks, Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo show that since 1987, the combined effects of these two forces has been to shift towards greater demand for skills in the US economy.
More Research

The Roles of Immigrants and Foreign Students
in US Science, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship


Ina Ganguli, Shulamit Kahn,
and Megan MacGarvie, editors

Using new data and rigorous empirical analysis, this new NBER book examines various aspects of the relationship between immigration, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including the effects of changes in the number of immigrants and their skill composition on the rate of innovation; the relationship between high-skilled immigration and entrepreneurship; the differences between immigrant and native entrepreneurs; and the post-graduation migration patterns of STEM doctoral recipients. The volume also examines the role of the US higher education system and US visa policy in attracting foreign students for graduate study and retaining them after graduation.

For more information or to order

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Due to the coronavirus situation, all in-person NBER meetings scheduled for April and May 2020 have been canceled.

The NBER Digest

Why Has the Euro Not Gone International?
There Are Few Safe Euro-Denominated Assets




The euro was launched in 2002 in hopes of providing Europe with an international currency of the stature of the dollar. Today, its use is largely confined to the European Union and former French colonies in Africa. Analysis featured in the April edition of The NBER Digest finds that this is because of an inadequate supply of high-quality euro-denominated assets that international investors and central banks can use as stores of value. Also in this issue of the free monthly Digest are summaries of studies examining advance market commitments, H-1B visa allocation methods, the sleep-productivity, the effect of prize structure on an innovation competition, and consumer valuation of product licensing.
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The NBER Reporter

An Approach to Incurable Behavioral Health Disorders:
Manage Them by Providing Insurance of Treatment




Recent government data suggest that in 2017, 4.2 percent of all US adults — 11.2 million people — met diagnostic criteria for serious mental illness, and 7.2 percent — 19.2 million people — had substance abuse disorders, and at least 70,237 individuals died from drug overdoses. Research reviewed in the current edition of the NBER Reporter finds major benefits from expanded access to treatment through Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions. Also in this edition of the free, quarterly Reporter, in which NBER affiliates summarize work in sub-fields of economics, are articles on household expectations, costs of health care, and market concentration, and financial market dynamics
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Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

What Drives Prescription Opioid Abuse?




While the magnitude of the US opioid crisis is fairly well understood, its causes are less well established. This issue is the topic of study of a paper summarized in the current issue of the free Bulletin on Retirement and Disability. The research finds that opioid abuse jumps shortly after a move and remains at the new higher level for up to five years after the move, suggesting that place-specific factors may explain about one-fourth of opioid abuse. Also featured in this issue: a summary of research on how perception of pain differs by education level, an exploration of trends in work and disability application among people with mental illness, and a joint Q&A with NBER research associates Richard Frank and Ellen Meara, both of Harvard University.
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