NBER Working Papers

Biological Health Risks and Economic Development
by Elizabeth Frankenberg, Jessica Y. Ho, Duncan Thomas #21277
Abstract; PDF

Suicide, Age, and Wellbeing: an Empirical Investigation
by Anne Case, Angus Deaton #21279
Abstract; PDF

Choosing a Human Capital Measure: Educational Attainment Gaps and Rankings
by Barbara M. Fraumeni #21283
Abstract; PDF

Compassion or Cash: Evaluating Survey Response Incentives and Valuing Public Goods
by V. Kerry Smith, Sharon L. Harlan, Michael McLaen, Jacob Fishman, Carlos Valcarcel, Marcia Nation #21288
Abstract; PDF

Can Employment Reduce Lawlessness and Rebellion? A Field Experiment with High-Risk Men in a Fragile State
by Christopher Blattman, Jeannie Annan #21289
Abstract; PDF

Human Capital Quality and Aggregate Income Differences: Development Accounting for U.S. States
by Eric A. Hanushek, Jens Ruhose, Ludger Woessmann #21295
Abstract; PDF

Why Work More? The Impact of Taxes, and Culture of Leisure on Labor Supply in Europe
by Naci H. Mocan, Luiza Pogorelova #21297
Abstract; PDF

The Welfare Effects of Supply-Side Regulations in Medicare Part D
by Francesco Decarolis, Maria Polyakova, Stephen P. Ryan #21298
Abstract; PDF

The Effects of Earnings Disclosure on College Enrollment Decisions
by Justine Hastings, Christopher A. Neilson, Seth D. Zimmerman #21300
Abstract; PDF

Self-Protection Investment Exacerbates Air Pollution Exposure Inequality in Urban China
by Siqi Zheng, Cong Sun, Matthew E. Kahn #21301
Abstract; PDF

Recent Declines in Labor’s Share in US Income: A Preliminary Neoclassical Account
by Robert Z. Lawrence #21296
Abstract; PDF

Beyond Statistics: The Economic Content of Risk Scores
by Liran Einav, Amy Finkelstein, Raymond Kluender, Paul Schrimpf #21304
Abstract; PDF

Cigarette Taxes and Youth Smoking: Updated Estimates Using YRBS Data
by Benjamin Hansen, Joseph J. Sabia, Daniel I. Rees #21311
Abstract; PDF

Inequality when Effort Matters
by Martin Ravallion #21394
Abstract; PDF

Early Math Coursework and College Readiness: Evidence from Targeted Middle School Math Acceleration
by Shaun Dougherty, Joshua Goodman, Darryl Hill, Erica Litke, Lindsay C. Page #21395
Abstract; PDF

Household Surveys in Crisis
by Bruce D. Meyer, Wallace K.C. Mok, James X. Sullivan #21399
Abstract; PDF

Do Risk Preferences Change? Evidence from Panel Data before and after the Great East Japan Earthquake
by Chie Hanaoka, Hitoshi Shigeoka, Yasutora Watanabe #21400
Abstract; PDF

School Entry Cutoff Date and the Timing of Births
by Hitoshi Shigeoka #21402
Abstract; PDF

Bargaining, Sorting, and the Gender Wage Gap: Quantifying the Impact of Firms on the Relative Pay of Women
by David Card, Ana Rute Cardoso, Patrick Kline #21403
Abstract; PDF

The Impact of Teacher-Student Gender Matches: Random Assignment Evidence from South Korea
by Jaegeum Lim, Jonathan Meer #21407
Abstract; PDF

Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth
by Sandra E. Black, Paul J. Devereux, Petter Lundborg, Kaveh Majlesi #21409
Abstract; PDF

U.S. Census Bureau Open Source

The U.S. Census Bureau is committing to an open source policy. Their mission, “is to serve as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. We honor privacy, protect confidentiality, share our expertise globally, and conduct our work openly. Where possible, the US Census Bureau will actively participate in open source projects aimed at increasing value to the public through our data dissemination efforts.”

Read a current list of the open source projects here.

H/T Flowing Data

Playing with Mortality Visualizations

Nathan Yau of Flowing Data has been doing some interesting (and beautiful) visualizations of when and how people die. First was Years You Have Left to Live, Probably. Next was Causes of Death. And today he posted How You Will Die.

Classifying Countries by Income

The World Bank has released a new working paper by Neil Fantom and Umar Serajuddin reviewing the World Bank’s classification of countries by income.


The World Bank has used an income classification to group countries for analytical purposes for many years. Since the present income classification was first introduced 25 years ago there has been significant change in the global economic landscape. As real incomes have risen, the number of countries in the low income group has fallen to 31, while the number of high income countries has risen to 80. As countries have transitioned to middle income status, more people are living below the World Bank’s international extreme poverty line in middle income countries than in low income countries. These changes in the world economy, along with a rapid increase in the user base of World Bank data, suggest that a review of the income classification is needed. A key consideration is the views of users, and this paper finds opinions to be mixed: some critics argue the thresholds are dated and set too low; others find merit in continuing to have a fixed benchmark to assess progress over time. On balance, there is still value in the current approach, based on gross national income per capita, to classifying countries into different groups. However, the paper proposes adjustments to the methodology that is used to keep the value of the thresholds for each income group constant over time. Several proposals for changing the current thresholds are also presented, which it is hoped will inform further discussion and any decision to adopt a new approach.

Read a summary of the findings.
Download the PDF.

Marriage, Cohabitation and Relationship Quality

Scott Stanley, writing for Family Studies, contrasts his own work with a study by Sarah Mernitz and Claire Kamp Dush which finds that people experience emotional gains when they move in together regardless of marital status. Stanley’s analysis finds that, for a variety of reasons, this isn’t necessarily true.

Inequality and Political Turmoil

Jay Ulfelder, writing for FiveThirtyEight, argues that the widely held belief that economic inequality causes political upheaval is a difficult thing to prove:

Just because a belief is widely held, however, does not make it true. In fact, it’s still hard to establish with confidence whether and how economic inequality shapes political turmoil around the world. That’s largely because of the difficulty in measuring inequality; on this subject, the historical record is full of holes. Social scientists are busy building better data sets, but the ones we have now aren’t sufficient to make strong causal claims at the global level.

Philip Cohen’s response to the piece is on his blog, Family Inequality.

Pre-K and Academic Achievement

Andrew Flowers of FiveThirtyEight examines a recent study by Lipsey, Farran and Hofer of Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K program, which finds that kids from low income families who went to pre-K tend to fare worse academically than those who did not. Flowers also looks at a new NBER working paper which disputes this result.

Full text of the papers:
A Randomized Control Trial of a Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Program on Children’s Skills and Behaviors through Third Grade

Early Childhood Education

U.S. Fertility Rate

The big news from the National Vital Statistics Report, Births: Final Data for 2014, was that the general fertility rate increased in 2014 for the first year since 2007.

Anna Sutherland, writing for Family Studies, highlights some other findings: The U.S. Fertility Rate May (Finally) Be Recovering from the Recession.

How Americans Spend Their Day

Nathan Yau of Flowing Data created a beautiful visualization of how Americans spend an average day.

More specifically, I tabulated transition probabilities for one activity to the other, such as from work to traveling, for every minute of the day. That provided 1,440 transition matrices, which let me model a day as a time-varying Markov chain.

Baby Boomers, Cohabitation, and Marriage

Jennifer Murff, writing for the Family Studies blog, discusses the trend of the Baby Boom generation choosing cohabitation over marriage.

My mom’s story is not unique—far from it. Baby Boomers are cohabiting at a high and increasing rate. In 2000, when the oldest Baby Boomers were in their early fifties, there were 1.2 million cohabiting Americans over age 50; in 2013, by comparison, there were 3.3 million. For older Americans who are divorced and want to find love for a second (or a third) time—marriage is not in the cards, it seems. Unlike Millennials, many of whom cohabit to test the waters with a partner before making a long-term commitment, Boomers may cohabit rather than marry for more complicated reasons.