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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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16 November 2018

Who's for Medicaid Expansion? Lessons from Maine

David A. Matsa and Amalia R. Miller analyze Maine’s first-in-the-nation vote on whether to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and find that support for expansion was strongly correlated with voter education. Areas with more uninsured individuals also tended to vote in favor, while those with more high-income individuals voted against.

15 November 2018

Immigration Enforcement on Student Enrollment

Partnerships between federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities and local police that allow police to enforce immigration laws were associated with a nearly 10 percent reduction in Hispanic student enrollment — about 300,000 students — in partnership areas before 2012, according to research by Thomas Dee and Mark Murphy.

14 November 2018

When Does Product Liability Risk Chill Innovation?

A major surge in liability risk for US suppliers of polymers used to manufacture medical implants had a large and negative impact on downstream innovation, but no significant effect on upstream polymer patenting, Alberto Galasso and Hong Luo find.
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Labor Market Consequences of International Trade:
Distributional Consequences and Welfare Effects

Has greater international economic integration raised real incomes for average Americans? Who wins and who loses in response to international trade has been debated for centuries; David Ricardo developed the theory of comparative advantage in England in the early 1800s when the Corn Laws placed tariffs on imported corn. Today, the trade question is hotly debated from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street. It was the subject of a recent NBER research project supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation. Key findings were presented at an October 4th conference in Washington.

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The NBER Digest

Removing the Possibility of Malpractice Suits
Reduces Inpatient Medical Expenditures by 5%




Comparing active-duty patients treated on base who cannot sue their physicians to active-duty patients treated off base who can sue, researchers find that doctors who are immune from suits order fewer diagnostic tests, and total cost of care for their patients declines 5 percent. A summary of the study is featured in the November edition of The NBER Digest. Also featured in this month’s issue are studies exploring the apparent inattentiveness of investors to some valuable information, the impact of artificial intelligence on international trade, the influence of parental education and school quality on intergenerational upward mobility, the role of leverage feedback loops in the 2015 Chinese stock market crash, and the effectiveness of a Border Patrol program to curb illegal entry to the United States.

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The NBER Reporter

Exploring How Taxation Influences Quantity, Quality,
and Location Decisions of Inventors and Firms




Taxation levels affect both the quality and quantity innovation, and the location decisions of inventors and firms, according to studies discussed in the latest edition of the quarterly NBER Reporter. Also in this edition of the quarterly Reporter, NBER researchers write about their inquiries into the economics of drug development, what really happened when the housing market collapsed, the role of liquidity in the 2007–09 financial crisis, and the sometimes unforeseen consequences of energy and environmental policies.

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The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health

Machine Learning, a Subset of Artificial Intelligence,
Has Numerous Applications for Healthcare Challenges




The advent of AI brought vast expectations that the new technology could provide new tools and insights in a wide variety of fields. A recent meeting of healthcare economists, summarized in the current issue of the NBER's Bulletin on Aging and Health, presented concrete examples of how machine learning can aid healthcare researchers and practitioners. One presentation demonstrated the ability of machine learning to predict which patients were most at risk for heart-attack related complications, while another uncovered predictors of potential opioid abuse among Medicare patients. Also in this issue of the Bulletin on Aging and Health: A historical exploration of the male-female life expectancy gap and estimates for the remaining lifetime medical expenses for retirees.

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