The NBER Reporter 2018 Number 4: Books

Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 19

Josh Lerner and Scott Stern, editors

    This volume focuses on the interaction between public policy and innovation. The first chapter documents the dramatic globalization of R&D and how this development has affected the efforts of U.S. multinationals to operate on the global technology frontier. The next chapter synthesizes research on the impact of trade shocks on innovation and explains how these shocks' effects depend on the firms, industries, and countries affected. The third chapter examines the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model of research management — an approach to funding and managing high-risk R&D — and offers a method for diagnosing which research efforts are "ARPA-able." Next is a study of the Orphan Drug Act and the key changes in the U.S. healthcare landscape and in drug discovery and development since passage of the act in 1983. The last two chapters focus on artificial intelligence (AI). One describes how AI diffuses through the economy and discusses implications for economic inequality, antitrust concerns, and intellectual property rights. The other investigates issues surrounding firm competition and labor force participation, such as data portability and Universal Basic Income, and evaluates ways to address these issues.

The Economics of Poverty Traps

Christopher B. Barrett, Michael R. Carter,
and Jean-Paul Chavas, editors

     What circumstances or behaviors turn poverty into a cycle that perpetuates across generations? The answer to this ques-tion carries especially important implications for the design and evaluation of policies and projects intended to reduce poverty. Yet a major challenge analysts and policymakers face in understanding poverty traps is the sheer number of mechanisms — not just financial, but also environmental, physical, and psychological — that may contribute to the persistence of poverty globally.      This volume 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 — this volume presents new evidence that highlights both the insights and the limits of a poverty trap lens.

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Education, Skills, and Technical Change:

Implications for Future U.S. GDP Growth

Studies in Income and Wealth, Volume 77
Charles R. Hulten and Valerie A. Ramey, editors

     Over the past few decades, U.S. business and industry have been transformed by the advances and redundancies produced by the knowledge economy. The workplace has changed, and much of the work differs from that performed by previous genera-tions. Can human capital accumulation in the United States keep pace with the evolving demands placed on it, and how can the workforce of tomorrow acquire the skills and competencies that are most in demand?
     Education, Skills, and Technical Change explores various facets of these questions, providing an overview of educa-tional attainment in the United States and the channels through which labor force skills and education affect GDP growth. Contributors to this volume focus on a range of educational and training institutions and bring new data to bear on how we understand the role of college and vocational education and the size and nature of the skills gap. This work links a range of re-search areas — such as growth accounting, skill development, higher education, and immigration — and also examines how well students are being prepared for the world of work now and in the future.

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