The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented fiscal actions in many nations, as governments have increased spending and provided tax relief to firms and households during a period of economic shutdown. Even after the pandemic recedes, its fiscal effects will continue, since most countries will face higher debt burdens as a result of their expansionary fiscal policies and the path of economic activity will take time to return to its pre-pandemic track. Gita Gopinath, the Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund, on leave from her role as an NBER research associate, summarized the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on both developed and developing nations in a plenary address at the NBER's Tax Policy and the Economy meeting in late September. Her presentation may be viewed in the video above. An archive of NBER videos on pandemic-related topics may be found here.
Four NBER working papers distributed this week investigate the COVID-19 pandemic, its economic effects, and public health and economic responses to it. One study analyzes the rise of precautionary saving in the early months of the pandemic (27964). A second explores how various local attributes, such as occupational mix and the degree of income inequality, affected the spread of the virus (27965). A third study describes new challenges that the pandemic poses for emerging markets (27966). The last new paper analyzes survey data from 15 countries and finds that respondents are prepared to trade off some civil liberties during the COVID-19 crisis in return for more favorable public health outcomes (27972).
More than 280 NBER working papers have presented pandemic-related research. These papers are open access and have been collected for easy reference. Like all NBER papers, they are circulated for discussion and comment, and have not been peer-reviewed. View them in reverse chronological order or by topic area.
For emerging market economies, the decade after an inflation stabilization is associated with a 2.2 percentage point increase in growth, and a trade liberalization, a 2.7 percentage point increase, Anusha Chari, Peter Blair Henry, and Hector Reyes find.
In cohorts of workers born in the 1940s and 1950s, there is a negative association between union membership and job satisfaction, but the association turns positive for those born between the 1960s and 1990s, according to a study by David G. Blanchflower and Alex Bryson.
A panel discussion of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Social Security in the US is summarized in the current issue of the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability. The panel was held as part of the NBER 2020 Summer Institute’s Economics of Social Security meeting and assessed potential effects of COVID-19 on Social Security fiscal projections. In April, SSA projections assumed a 15 percent reduction in earnings and payroll tax for one or two years, and then a full recovery. In this scenario, trust fund reserve depletion shifts forward from early 2035 to mid- or early 2034. Also featured in this issue of the free Bulletin are a summary of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium, a study of how labelling in retirement plans affects retirement rates, and a summary of new RDRC projects which intend to examine the COVID-19 effects on retirement and Social Security. Video and slides from the panel presentation are available here.
During the period of economic weakness following the Great Recession, recent college graduates had trouble finding toeholds on job ladders and have had weak earnings trajectories, but a study summarized in the October edition of The NBER Digest finds this also has been true for those entering the labor market in recent, economically stronger periods. Also featured in this issue of the free monthly Digest are studies of the democratization of access to firms’ financial information, and the effects of a youth employment program, and the ways Americans used the CARES Act stimulus, and COVID-19’s spread in nursing homes, and hedge fund performance fees.
The latest issue of the Bulletin on Health features a study that considers the role of Medicaid coverage in reducing mortality during flu pandemics. The study compares infant mortality during flu pandemics that occurred before and after Medicaid implementation (1957-58 and 1968-69). The researchers conclude that Medicaid reduced infant mortality in US counties that were most severely affected by the flu. They also infer that Medicaid reduced transmission of the flu, yielding health benefits even for households that were not enrolled in Medicaid. Also featured in this issue of the free Bulletin on Health are two studies that introduce methods for using currently available data to better understand COVID-19 infection rates, a study of the long-term impacts of OxyContin’s reformulation on fatal drug overdoses, and a profile of NBER research associate Doug Almond.
Members of older households face the prospect of living longer than expected and incurring large medical expenses. The implications for savings, consumption, and welfare are explored in research featured in the current edition of the NBER Reporter. Also in this issue of the Reporter, NBER affiliates write about work in the NBER’s Economics of Digitization project, and behavioral biases of analysts and investors, and making health care decisions in condtions of uncertainty, and impacts of tax credits on corporate behavior.
The 2020 Methods Lectures introduce differential privacy, a method of assessing the trade-off between releasing more-detailed information based on survey responses and protecting respondents' privacy, and illustrate its application in several settings. The lectures and associated slides are available to view online or download.
New NBER affiliates are appointed through a highly competitive process that begins with a call for nominations in January. Candidates are evaluated based on their research records and their capacity to contribute to the NBER's activities by program directors and steering committees. New affiliates must hold primary academic appointments in North America. On January 1, 2020, there were 1,581 NBER-affiliated researchers based at 180 institutions.