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The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health

Fragmentation in the Kidney Exchange Market
Equates to Inefficient Matching of Donors to Recipients




Nearly 100,000 patients are on the wait list for a kidney transplant and the wait times are years long. A study summarized in the current edition of the NBER's Bulletin on Aging and Health documents significant fragmentation in the kidney exchange market, which the researchers find constricts hospitals' opportunities to find replacement kidneys that may patients' blood types and other needs. Also in this edition of the Bulletin: A look at the long-term impacts of Hurricane Katrina on survivors' mortality rates and a study of how a doctors' race affects their patients' utilization of preventative medical treatments.

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New NBER Research

13 December 2018

ACA Insurance Expansions and the Already Insured

Colleen M. Carey, Sarah Miller, and Laura R. Wherry find no evidence that Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansions reduced utilization of health services by Medicare beneficiaries. These findings do not support the view that the ACA expansions reduced access to care for the already-insured.

12 December 2018

Who Leaves After a Wage Cut?

After a sales commission reduction at a telemarketing firm that led to a 7 percent decline in median take-home pay for sales workers, Jason Sandvik, Richard Saouma, Nathan Seegert, and Christopher Stanton find higher turnover among the most productive workers. They do not find any increase in work effort. Their results support the conjecture that concerns about retaining workers drive firms’ reluctance to reduce compensation.

11 December 2018

Persistent Low Returns and Household Retirement Saving

Vanya Horneff, Raimond Maurer, and Olivia S. Mitchell find that in periods of persistently lower real capital market returns, older workers build up less wealth in retirement saving accounts, claim Social Security benefits later, and work more. Lower returns are also associated with less wealth inequality.
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A Key Question after the Financial Crisis:
When’s the Right Time to Raise Interest Rates?

Kristin Forbes of MIT and the NBER focuses on policy related questions in international macroeconomics. Some of her recent work has explored the relationship between currency valuations and inflation in an effort to better understand when to deploy monetary policy.
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The NBER Digest

Presence of Peers at Outset of STEM PhD Programs
Boosts Percentage of Women Who Earn Doctorates




In STEM cohorts in which they have no female peers, women are 12 percentage points less likely than men in the same program to complete their PhD within six years, research featured in the December issue of The NBER Digest shows. Also summarized in this month’s edition are studies measuring the fall of costs and rise of revenues in the cloud, examining the influence of immigrants’ education levels on natives’ nationalist sentiments, analyzing outcomes for students at for-profit colleges, and calculating the impacts of Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened beverages, exploring an unintended consequence of regulations that discourage banks’ foreign exchange borrowing.

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The NBER Reporter

Subprime Lenders Wrongly Blamed for Housing Crisis;
Broad-Based Expansion of Credit Fueled Speculation




African-American and Hispanic homebuyers were hurt most by the avalanche of mortgage foreclosures when the housing market collapsed, but not because they were holding subprime mortgages. Research discussed in the current edition of the NBER Reporter finds that a general expansion of credit fueled speculation and that minorities paid higher mortgage costs whether they used prime or subprime loans. Also in this edition of the quarterly Reporter, NBER affiliates write about their explorations of the role of liquidity in the 2007–09 financial crisis, the sometimes unforeseen consequences of energy and environmental policies, the effects of taxation on innovation, and the changing process of pharmaceutical development.

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Understanding Recent Trends in the
Social Security Disability Insurance Program

Disability Insurance is a central component of the Social Security program in the United States. The number of disability insurance recipients rose from under 5 million in 2000 to nearly 9 million in 2014, before beginning a gradual decline to just over 8.5 million today. During the 2018 NBER Summer Institute, NBER researchers Jeffrey Liebman and Nicole Maestas of Harvard University, along with Social Security Administration actuaries Stephen Goss and Karen Glenn, examined recent trends in disability insurance applications and awards, and potential explanations for those trends.

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