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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Somebody else's babies

Religiosity, political conservatism, and support for legalized abortion: A bivariate ordered probit model with endogenous regressors

Steven Yen & Ernest Zampelli

Social Science Journal, March 2017, Pages 39–50

Abstract:
Using pooled data from the General Social Surveys, we estimated a bivariate ordered probit model of support for legalized elective- and traumatic-based abortions. Unlike past literature, we treat religiosity (practice and salience), religious orthodoxy, political ideology, and party identification as endogenous regressors. Religious orthodoxy is found to reduce the probability of supporting legalized abortions while religiosity increases it. Increases in political conservatism reduce the probability of supporting legalized abortions by substantial amounts. Surprisingly, movement along the party identification spectrum from strong Democrat to strong Republican increases the likelihood of supporting legalized abortion, likely reflecting the greater importance attached to limited government and the preservation of individual freedoms, after controlling for religious orthodoxy and self-placement along the liberal conservative dimension. Quantitatively, however, the negative impacts of increased political conservatism are dominant.

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The Effect of Minimum Wages on Adolescent Fertility: A Nationwide Analysis

Lindsey Rose Bullinger

American Journal of Public Health, March 2017, Pages 447-452

Methods: I used a difference-in-differences approach and vital statistics data measured quarterly at the state level from 2003 to 2014. All models included state covariates, state and quarter-year fixed effects, and state-specific quarter-year nonlinear time trends, which provided plausibly causal estimates of the effect of minimum wage on adolescent birth rates.

Results: A $1 increase in minimum wage reduces adolescent birth rates by about 2%. The effects are driven by non-Hispanic White and Hispanic adolescents.

Conclusions: Nationwide, increasing minimum wages by $1 would likely result in roughly 5000 fewer adolescent births annually.

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Abortion, Contraception, and Non-Marital Births: Re-Interpreting the Akerlof-Yellen-Katz Model of Pre-Marital Sex and Shotgun Marriage

Saul Hoffman

Eastern Economic Journal, March 2017, Pages 352–361

Abstract:
In a well-known paper, Akerlof, Yellen, and Katz proposed a counter-intuitive explanation for the rise of non-marital births in the United States that emphasized how birth control and abortion weakened the responsibility of men to their unmarried partner’s pregnancy. The paper is regularly cited by social conservatives to support measures to restrict sex education and access to contraception and abortion. I argue that this use of the paper’s findings stems from specific modeling assumptions about “types” of women. I present a reformulation of the model using more reasonable “types” that generates precisely the same results, but with radically different policy implications.

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Over-the-Counter Access to Oral Contraceptives for Adolescents

Krishna Upadhya et al.

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Abstract:
Oral contraceptives (OCs) are used by millions of women in the U.S. The requirement to obtain OCs by prescription from a clinician may serve as a barrier to contraceptive initiation and continuation for women, in particular adolescents. Over-the-counter (OTC) availability would reduce this barrier and could further reduce unintended pregnancy rates. This review explores the scientific issues and regulatory processes involved in switching OCs to OTC status for minor adolescents. We review: (1) the regulatory criteria for switching a drug to OTC status; (2) risk of pregnancy and safety during use of OCs including combined oral contraceptives and progestin-only pills for adolescents; (3) the ability of adolescents to use OCs consistently and correctly; (4) OTC access to OCs and potential effect on sexual risk behaviors; and (5) the potential for reduced opportunities for clinicians to counsel and provide recommended reproductive health care to adolescents. We find strong scientific rationale for including adolescents in any regulatory change to switch OCs to OTC status. OCs are safe and highly effective among adolescents; contraindications are rarer among adolescents compared to adult women. Ready access to OCs, condoms, and emergency contraception increases their use without increasing sexual risk behaviors.

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Fetal health stagnation: Have health conditions in utero improved in the US and Western and Northern Europe over the past 150 years?

Eric Schneider

Social Science & Medicine, April 2017, Pages 18–26

Abstract:
Many empirical studies have shown that health conditions in utero can have long lasting consequences for health across the life course. However, despite this evidence, there is no clear consensus about how fetal health has changed in the very long run. This paper analyses historical birth weights and perinatal mortality rates to construct a coherent picture of how health conditions in utero have changed over the past 150 years. In short, the evidence suggests that fetal health has been relatively stagnant. Limited evidence on birth weights shows that they had already reached their current levels in North America and Northern and Western Europe by the late nineteenth century, and they have changed very little in between. Perinatal mortality rates have fallen dramatically since the late 1930s, but this decline was mainly caused by improvements in intrapartum treatments after the introduction of Sulfa drugs and antibiotics. Thus, the health benefits associated with the perinatal mortality decline were concentrated among those at risk and did not influence the population at large. Finding stagnant fetal health during a period when many other indicators of health improved dramatically is provocative and suggests two conclusions: either fetal health did not improve or the indicators used to measure fetal health, indicators still widely used today, may not accurately capture all aspects of health in utero. If fetal health has been stagnant, then better conditions in utero cannot explain cohort improvements in life expectancy over the twentieth century. If the indicators of fetal health are problematic, then researchers must move beyond birth weight and perinatal mortality to understand how developmental plasticity based on the prenatal environment influences later life health.

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Population Density, Fertility, and Demographic Convergence in Developing Countries

David de la Croix & Paula Gobbi

Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether the population tends towards a long-run stationary value depends on forces of demographic convergence. One such force is the result of fertility rates being negatively affected by population density. We test the existence of such an effect in 44 developing countries, matching georeferenced data from the Demographic and Health Surveys for half a million women with population density grids. We find a causal relationship from population density to fertility such that a rise in density from 10 to 1,000 inhabitants per square kilometer corresponds to a decrease in fertility of about 0.7 children. The corresponding half-life for population dynamics is of the order of four–five generations.

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Global Trends in Adolescent Fertility, 1990–2012, in Relation to National Wealth, Income Inequalities, and Educational Expenditures

John Santelli et al.

Journal of Adolescent Health, February 2017, Pages 161–168

Purpose: National wealth, income inequalities, and expenditures on education can profoundly influence the health of a nation's women, children, and adolescents. We explored the association of trends in national socioeconomic status (SES) indicators with trends in adolescent birth rates (ABRs), by nation and region.

Methods: An ecologic research design was employed using national-level data from the World Bank on birth rates per 1,000 women aged 15–19 years, national wealth (per capita gross domestic product or GDP), income inequality (Gini index), and expenditures on education as a percentage of GDP (EduExp). Data were available for 142 countries and seven regions for 1990–2012. Multiple linear regression for repeated measures with generalized estimating equations was used to examine independent associations.

Results: ABRs in 2012 varied >200-fold — with the highest rates in Sub-Saharan Africa and lowest rates in the Western Europe/Central Asia region. The median national ABR fell 40% from 72.4/1,000 in 1990 to 43.6/1,000 in 2012. The largest regional declines in ABR occurred in South Asia (70%), Europe/Central Asia (63%), and the Middle East/North Africa (53%) — regions with lower income inequality. In multivariable analyses considering change over time, ABRs were negatively associated with GDP and EduExp and positively associated with greater income inequality.

Conclusions: ABRs have declined globally since 1990. Declines closely followed rising socioeconomic status and were greater where income inequalities were lower in 1990. Reducing poverty and income inequalities and increasing investments in education should be essential components of national policies to prevent adolescent childbearing.

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“The Mommy Deployment”: Military Spouses and Surrogacy in the United States

Elizabeth Ziff

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines narratives of women who are surrogates and are married to members of the military in the United States. I show how this group of women invoke and transpose their structured military experiences and institutional understandings of sacrifice, duty, and responsibility when constructing their surrogate experience. Using semistructured interviews with 33 military spouses who have been surrogates, I trace the parallels they narrate between their role as military spouse and their role as surrogate — with metaphors of deployment, relocation, and the “hurry up and wait” game, in addition to strict daily regimentation. Through this work, I highlight the often-surprising transposition between militarized and surrogacy narratives invoked by surrogates and show how the practice of surrogacy allows them to tap into the narratives they have crafted through their experiences as a spouse to make a difference in the lives of others, contribute financially to their own families, and to gain a sense of importance outside of their everyday roles. The narratives provide for a better understanding of the commercially arranged surrogate experience in the United States and the state-structured military spouse experience by exposing the skills, language, and habits utilized by this group of women.

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Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment

Augustine Kong et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 31 January 2017, Pages E727–E732

Abstract:
Epidemiological and genetic association studies show that genetics play an important role in the attainment of education. Here, we investigate the effect of this genetic component on the reproductive history of 109,120 Icelanders and the consequent impact on the gene pool over time. We show that an educational attainment polygenic score, POLYEDU, constructed from results of a recent study is associated with delayed reproduction (P < 10−100) and fewer children overall. The effect is stronger for women and remains highly significant after adjusting for educational attainment. Based on 129,808 Icelanders born between 1910 and 1990, we find that the average POLYEDU has been declining at a rate of ∼0.010 standard units per decade, which is substantial on an evolutionary timescale. Most importantly, because POLYEDU only captures a fraction of the overall underlying genetic component the latter could be declining at a rate that is two to three times faster.

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Role of Humor in the Persuasiveness of Entertainment Narratives on Unprotected Sexual Behavior

Michelle Futerfas & Xiaoli Nan

Journal of Health Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research involving the persuasive impact of entertainment narratives on health attitudes and behavior has largely been limited to dramatic narratives. The current research focuses on humorous narratives related to unprotected sex. We conducted an experiment (N = 161) in which female viewers were exposed to a humorous story line about unprotected sex, an identical story line with humor edited out, or a story line unrelated to unprotected sex. Our findings suggested that humor increased perceived severity of unintended pregnancy, while having no effect on counterarguing. Also, the presence of humor reduced behavioral intentions to engage in unprotected sex. Implications of the findings for safe sex communication are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Joining the modern world

The Long-Term Effect of Demographic Shocks on the Evolution of Gender Roles: Evidence from the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Edoardo Teso

Harvard Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
How do demographic shocks affect the long-run evolution of female labor force participation and gender norms? This paper focuses on the emergence of a female biased sex ratio in Africa as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade. This historical shock affected the division of labor along gender lines, as women substituted for the missing men by taking up areas of work that were traditionally male prerogatives. By exploiting variation in the degree to which different ethnic groups were affected by the transatlantic slave trade, I show that a temporary historical shock to the division of labor can have a persistent effect on the role of women in society: women whose ancestors were more exposed to the transatlantic slave trade are today more likely to be in the labor force, have lower levels of fertility, and are more likely to participate in household decisions. The marriage market and the cultural transmission of internal norms across generations represent important mechanisms explaining persistence.

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The Macrogenoeconomics of Comparative Development

Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
The importance of evolutionary forces for comparative economic performance across societies has been the focus of a vibrant literature, highlighting the roles played by the Neolithic Revolution and the prehistoric “out of Africa” migration of anatomically modern humans in generating worldwide variations in the composition of human traits. This essay surveys this literature and examines the contribution of a recent hypothesis regarding the evolutionary origins of comparative economic development, set forth in Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, to this important line of research.

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The Effect of Aid on Growth: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment

Sebastian Galiani et al.

Journal of Economic Growth, March 2017, Pages 1–33

Abstract:
The literature on aid and growth has not found a convincing instrumental variable to identify the causal effects of aid. This paper exploits an instrumental variable based on the fact that, since 1987, eligibility for aid from the International Development Association (IDA) has been based partly on whether or not a country is below a certain threshold of per capita income. The paper finds evidence that other donors tend to reinforce rather than compensate for reductions in IDA aid following threshold crossings. Overall, aid as a share of gross national income (GNI) drops about 59 % on average after countries cross the threshold. Focusing on the 35 countries that have crossed the income threshold from below between 1987 and 2010, a positive, statistically significant, and economically sizable effect of aid on growth is found. A 1 percentage point increase in the aid to GNI ratio from the sample mean raises annual real per capita growth in gross domestic product by approximately 0.35 percentage points.

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Spatial Competition, Innovation and Institutions: The Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence

Klaus Desmet, Avner Greif & Stephen Parente

Stanford Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Why do some countries industrialize much earlier than others? One widely-accepted answer is that markets need to be large enough for producers to find it profitable to bear the fixed cost of introducing modern technologies. This insight, however, has limited explanatory power, as illustrated by England having industrialized nearly two centuries before China. This paper argues that a market-size-only theory is insufficient because it ignores that many of the modern technologies associated with the Industrial Revolution were fiercely resisted by skilled craftsmen who expected a reduction in earnings. Once we take into account the incentives to resist by factor suppliers’ organizations such as craft guilds, we theoretically show that industrialization no longer depends on market size, but on the degree of spatial competition between the guilds’ jurisdictions. We substantiate the relevance of our theory for the timing of industrialization in England and China (i) by providing historical and empirical evidence on the relation between spatial competition, craft guilds and innovation, and (ii) by showing that a model of our theory calibrated to historical data on spatial competition correctly predicts the timing of industrialization in both countries. The theory can therefore account for both the Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence.

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The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam

Melissa Dell, Nathaniel Lane & Pablo Querubin

NBER Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
This study examines how the historical state conditions long-run development, using Vietnam as a laboratory. Northern Vietnam (Dai Viet) was ruled by a strong centralized state in which the village was the fundamental administrative unit. Southern Vietnam was a peripheral tributary of the Khmer (Cambodian) Empire, which followed a patron-client model with weaker, more personalized power relations and no village intermediation. Using a regression discontinuity design across the Dai Viet-Khmer boundary, the study shows that areas historically under a strong state have higher living standards today and better economic outcomes over the past 150 years. Rich historical data document that in villages with a strong historical state, citizens have been better able to organize for public goods and redistribution through civil society and local government. This suggests that the strong historical state crowded in village-level collective action and that these norms persisted long after the original state disappeared.

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Social Closure, Surnames and Crime

Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Vanin

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the effect of social closure on crime and tax evasion rates using disaggregated data for Italian municipalities. We propose an original and innovative measure of social closure based on the diversity of surname distribution, which reflects a community's history of migration and inbreeding. We find that, all else equal, communities with a history of social closure have lower crime rates and higher tax evasion rates than more open communities. The effect of social closure is likely to be causal, it is relevant in magnitude, statistically significant, and robust to changes in the set of included controls, in the specific measures of dependent and independent variables, in the specification of the regression equation, and in the possible sample splits. Our findings are consistent with the idea that social closure strengthens social sanctions and social control, thus leading to more cooperative outcomes in local interactions, but it reduces cooperation on a larger scale.

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Agricultural Diversity, Structural Change and Long-run Development: Evidence from the U.S.

Martin Fiszbein

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
This paper examines the role of agricultural diversity in the process of development. Using data from U.S. counties and exploiting climate-induced variation in agricultural production patterns, I show that mid-19th century agricultural diversity had positive long-run effects on population density and income per capita. Examining the effects on development outcomes over time, I find that early agricultural diversity fostered structural change during the Second Industrial Revolution. Besides stimulating industrialization, agricultural diversity boosted manufacturing diversification, patent activity, and new labor skills, as well as knowledge- and skill-intensive industries. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that diversity spurs the acquisition of new ideas and new skills because of the presence of cross-sector spillovers and complementarities.

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Flexible Supply of Apprenticeship in the British Industrial Revolution

Nadav Ben Zeev, Joel Mokyr & Karine van der Beek

Journal of Economic History, March 2017, Pages 208-250

Abstract:
We use annual information on apprenticeships in England between 1710–1805 to estimate the dynamic supply-responsiveness in this market in the presence of the increasingly powerful technological shocks as the Industrial Revolution proceeded apace. Using both an Instrumental Variable method and a dynamic Vector Autoregression framework (VAR) system to identify the long-run response functions, we find evidence of an elastic supply, sufficiently high as to allow quantities to rise considerably in response to demand shocks. This finding lends support to the view that Britain's apprenticeship institution was the source of its advantage in skilled mechanical labor, so critical to its economic success.

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Technology-Skill Complementarity in Early Phases of Industrialization

Raphaël Franck & Oded Galor

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
The research explores the effect of industrialization on human capital formation. Exploiting exogenous regional variations in the adoption of steam engines across France, the study establishes that, in contrast to conventional wisdom that views early industrialization as a predominantly deskilling process, the industrial revolution was conducive for human capital formation, generating wide-ranging gains in literacy rates and educational attainment.

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Reform Support in Times of Crisis: The Role of Family Ties

Elias Brumm & Johannes Brumm

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We argue that an important determinant of voters' support for economic reform is the strength of family ties. While the “crisis hypothesis” predicts that crises facilitate reform, we show in a political economy model that this relation can break down, and even reverse, when agents take into account the effect of reform on their family members. Applied to southern European countries with strong family ties, the model rationalizes why the extremely high (youth) unemployment following the Great Recession has not led to more substantial labor market reforms. In such countries austerity might block rather than foster additional structural reforms.

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Who governs or how they govern: Testing the impact of democracy, ideology and globalization on the well-being of the poor

Eunyoung Ha & Nicholas Cain

Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of regime type, government ideology and economic globalization on poverty in low- and middle-income countries around the world. We use panel regression to estimate the effect of these explanatory variables on two different response variables: national poverty gap (104 countries from 1981 to 2005) and child mortality rate (132 countries from 1976 to 2005). We find consistent and significant results for the interactive effect of democracy and government ideology: strong leftist power under a democratic regime is associated with a reduction in both the poverty gap and the child mortality rate. Democracy, on its own, is associated with a lower child mortality rate, but has no effect on the poverty gap. Leftist power under a non-democratic regime is associated with an increase in both poverty measures. Trade reduces both measures of poverty. Foreign direct investment has a weak and positive effect on the poverty gap. From examining factors that influence the welfare of poor people in less developed countries, we conclude that who governs is as important as how they govern.

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Keeping It in the Family: Lineage Organization and the Scope of Trust in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jacob Moscona, Nathan Nunn & James Robinson

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We present evidence that the traditional structure of society is an important determinant of the scope of trust today. Within Africa, individuals belonging to ethnic groups that organized society using segmentary lineages exhibit a more limited scope of trust, measured by the gap between trust in relatives and trust in non-relatives. This trust gap arises because of lower levels of trust in non-relatives and not higher levels of trust in relatives. A causal interpretation of these correlations is supported by the fact that the effects are primarily found in rural areas where these forms of organization are still prevalent.

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Political freedom and corporate payouts

Omrane Guedhami, Chuck Kwok & Liang Shao

Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2017, Pages 514–529

Abstract:
We study the effect of a country's political freedom status on corporate payouts around the world. In both OLS and two-stage regressions, we find that firms in less free countries pay out more cash, suggesting that low political freedom is associated with a less friendly investment environment. Consistent with this view, we further find that firms reduce payouts when a country's political freedom status improves, while they tend to pay out past excess cash and cut future investment in the face of a deterioration in political freedom. In additional analysis, we also find that firms in less free countries do not pay out cash mainly to ease agency concerns: cash payouts in these countries are more volatile and hence less valuable.

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The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-National Investigation

Lanse Minkler & Nishith Prakash

Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We construct and use a new historical data set on economics and social rights from the constitutions of 195 countries and an instrument variable strategy to answer two important questions. First, do economic and social rights provisions in constitutions reduce poverty, measured as headcount income and health outcomes? Second, does the strength of constitutional language of the economic and social rights matter? Constitutional provisions can be framed either more weakly as directive principles or more strongly as enforceable law. Our results suggest three findings. First, we do not find an association between constitutional rights generally framed and poverty. Second, we do not find an association between economic and social rights framed as directive principles and poverty. Third, we do find a strong negative association between economic and social rights framed as enforceable law and poverty when we use legal origins as our IV. These results persist for indices of constitutional rights and also when we restrict the sample to non-OECD countries. The policy implication is that constitutional provisions framed as enforceable law provide effective meta-rules with incentives for policymakers to initiate, fund, monitor and enforce poverty reduction policies.

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Early-Life Disease Exposure and Occupational Status: The Impact of Yellow Fever during the 19th Century

Martin Saavedra

Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using city-of-birth data from the 100-percent sample of the 1880 Census merged to city-level fatality counts, I estimate the relationship between early-life yellow fever exposure and adult occupational status. I find that white males with immigrant mothers were less likely to become professionals and more likely to become unskilled laborers or report occupational nonresponse if they were born during yellow fever epidemics. They also reported occupations with lower 1900 occupational income scores. The children of U.S.-born mothers (who were less susceptible to the disease) were relatively unaffected. Furthermore, I find no evidence that epidemics 3 to 4 years after birth affect adult occupational status, and the results are robust to controlling for local trade during an individual's birth year.

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Inter-communal institutions in medieval trade

Mika Kallioinen

Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the institutional structure of medieval overseas trade to explain why trade thrived even in the absence of the state. The literature has dealt mainly with intra-coalition or intra-community relations. However, the literature does not answer the question of how institutions could be created that could support interaction between a large number of distant communities and between merchants who did not necessarily know one another. This article presents such an institution that prevailed in the Baltic Sea region in the late middle ages, referred to here as the inter-communal conciliation mechanism. In case of a dispute, conciliation took place between town councils, rather than the merchants involved in the dispute, thus combining individual liability and communal enforcement. Exploration of the documents reveals a task-specific regularity of behaviour, which was the general practice among merchants to turn to the council of their own community when they had problems in a foreign town, instead of being obliged to solve disputes by themselves. This institution provided a permanent, centralized, and relatively impartial enforcement mechanism to respond to breaches. It was therefore well adapted to large, at least partially anonymous markets, such as the Baltic Sea region, with dozens of towns and thousands of merchants.

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Farmers at the heart of the ‘human capital revolution’? Decomposing the numeracy increase in early modern Europe

Franziska Tollnek & Joerg Baten

Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Did the early development of skills and numerical abilities occur primarily in urban centres and among the elite groups of society? This study assesses the human capital of different occupational groups in the early modern period and partially confirms this finding: skilled and professional groups had higher levels of numeracy and literacy than persons in unskilled occupations. However, there was another large group that developed substantial human capital and represented around one-third of the total population: farmers. By analysing numeracy and literacy evidence from six countries in Europe and Latin America, we argue that farmers contributed significantly to the formation of human capital and, consequently, to modern economic growth.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Options

“Switching On” creativity: Task switching can increase creativity by reducing cognitive fixation

Jackson Lu, Modupe Akinola & Malia Mason

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2017, Pages 63–75

Abstract:
Whereas past research has focused on the downsides of task switching, the present research uncovers a potential upside: increased creativity. In two experiments, we show that task switching can enhance two principal forms of creativity — divergent thinking (Study 1) and convergent thinking (Study 2) — in part because temporarily setting a task aside reduces cognitive fixation. Participants who continually alternated back and forth between two creativity tasks outperformed both participants who switched between the tasks at their discretion and participants who attempted one task for the first half of the allotted time before switching to the other task for the second half. Importantly, Studies 3a–3d reveal that people overwhelmingly fail to adopt a continual-switch approach when incentivized to choose a task switching strategy that would maximize their creative performance. These findings provide insights into how individuals can “switch on” creativity when navigating multiple creative tasks.

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Bayesian Instinct

Etan Green & David Daniels

University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Can people form rational beliefs when making split-second, sophisticated judgments? A long literature suggests not: people often form prior beliefs from biased sampling, and they tend to overweight those prior beliefs, except when they underweight them. This paper studies belief formation by professional umpires in Major League Baseball. Past research has noted a curious pattern in umpire decisions: despite instructions to call balls and strikes based solely on the location of the pitch, umpires make different calls in different game states for pitches at the same location. We show that a Bayesian model predicts these patterns almost exactly. Calls by umpires reflect an accurate, probabilistic, and state-specific understanding of their rational expectations over the location of the pitch — as well as an ability to integrate those prior beliefs according to Bayes rule. Given that umpires have barely a second to form beliefs and make a decision, we conclude that the instincts of professional umpires approximate a sophisticated level of rationality remarkably well.

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Doing many things at a time: Lack of power decreases the ability to multitask

Ran Alice Cai & Ana Guinote

British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies investigated the effects of power on the ability to pursue multiple, concomitant goals, also known as multitasking. It was predicted that powerless participants will show lower multitasking ability than control and powerful participants. Study 1 focused on self-reported ability to multitask in a sample of executives and subordinate employees. Studies 2 and 3 investigated the ability to dual-task and to switch between tasks, respectively, using dual-task and task-switching paradigms. Across the studies, powerless individuals were less able to effectively multitask compared with control and powerful participants, suggesting that the detrimental effects of lack of power extend beyond single-task environments, shown in past research, into multitasking environments. Underlying mechanisms are discussed.

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Contextual Influences on Message Persuasion: The Effect of Empty Space

Canice Kwan, Xianchi Dai & Robert Wyer

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The empty space that surrounds a text message can affect the message’s persuasiveness. Seven studies provide converging evidence in both field and laboratory settings that people find a message less persuasive, and are less likely to act on its implications, when it is surrounded by empty space than when it is not. These effects are mediated by perceptions of message strength. That is, message recipients infer that a message conveys a less strong opinion when empty space surrounds it and are consequently less likely to accept its implications. This effect does not occur when the space surrounding the message is generated randomly by a computer or when the message is attributed to a low credibility source. When a message is counterattitudinal, surrounding it by empty space decreases the disposition to counterargue its implications and increases acceptance of the position advocated. When recipients are under cognitive load, however, they use the space surrounding the message as a heuristic basis for judgment and are less persuaded when the message is surrounded by empty space. This research adds not only to persuasion literature and current advertising practices, but also to an understanding of different interpretations of empty space.

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The Excessive Choice Effect Meets the Market: A Field Experiment on Craft Beer Choice

Trey Malone & Jayson Lusk

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, April 2017, Pages 8–13

Abstract:
Research in psychology suggests that, somewhat paradoxically, providing consumers more choices can reduce the likelihood of making a purchase, producing the so-called excessive choice effect (ECE). To the extent an ECE exists, firms have an incentive to alleviate the effect through a variety of institutional nudges that promote consumers to make a choice. This study empirically tests the effectiveness of two institutional nudges on the ECE in a field experiment at a bar. Focusing on craft beer sales, we manipulate the number of options on the menu and use institutional nudges (a control menu, a menu with a special prominently displayed, and a menu with Beer Advocate scores). In the field experiment, the ECE was alive and well using the control menu, but the effect reversed itself when the menu included Beer Advocate Scores. Our results suggest the ECE might be turned on and off by manipulating search costs.

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Time Matters Less When Outcomes Differ: Unimodal vs. Cross-Modal Comparisons in Intertemporal Choice

Robin Cubitt, Rebecca McDonald & Daniel Read

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Unimodal intertemporal decisions involve comparing options of the same type (e.g., apples now versus apples later), and cross-modal decisions involve comparing options of different types (e.g., a car now versus a vacation later). As we show, existing models of intertemporal choice do not allow time preference to depend on whether the comparisons to be made are unimodal or cross-modal. We test this restriction in an experiment using the delayed compensation method, a new extension of the standard method of eliciting intertemporal preferences that allows for assessment of time preference for nonmonetary and discrete outcomes, as well as for both cross-modal and unimodal comparisons. Participants were much more averse to delay for unimodal than cross-modal decisions. We provide two potential explanations for this effect: one drawing on multiattribute choice, the other drawing on construal-level theory.

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Choosing one at a time? Presenting options simultaneously helps people make more optimal decisions than presenting options sequentially

Shankha Basu & Krishna Savani

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2017, Pages 76–91

Abstract:
This research examines an element of choice architecture that has received little attention — whether options are presented simultaneously or sequentially. Participants were more likely to choose dominating options when the options were presented simultaneously rather than sequentially, both when the dominance relationship was transparent (Experiment 1) and when it was not (Experiments 2–3). Depth of cognitive processing mediated the effect of option presentation on optimal choice (Experiment 4). Memory load was unlikely to be the underlying mechanism, as individual differences in working memory span did not predict optimal choice in the sequential condition (which places a greater memory load; Experiment 5), and manipulations of memory load did not reduce the benefits of simultaneous presentation (Experiments 6a–6c). Instead, participants’ working memory span predicted optimal choice in the simultaneous condition (which allows for more in-depth processing; Experiment 5), and a manipulation of processing load eliminated the benefits of simultaneous presentation (Experiment 7).

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Uncertainty Increases the Reliance on Affect in Decisions

Ali Faraji Rad & Michel Tuan Pham

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do psychological states of uncertainty influence the way people make decisions? We propose that such states increase the reliance on affective inputs in judgments and decisions. In accord with this proposition, results from six studies show that the priming of uncertainty (vs. certainty) consistently increases the effects of a variety of affective inputs on consumers’ judgments and decisions. Primed uncertainty is shown to amplify the effects of the pleasantness of a musical soundtrack (study 1), the attractiveness of a picture (study 2), the appeal of affective attributes (studies 3 and 4), incidental mood states (study 6), and even incidental states of disgust (study 5). Moreover, both negative and positive uncertainty increase the influence of affect in decisions (study 4). The results additionally show that the increased reliance on affective inputs under uncertainty does not necessarily come at the expense of a reliance on descriptive attribute information (studies 2 and 5), and that the increased reliance on affect under uncertainty is distinct from a general reliance on heuristic or peripheral cues (study 6). The phenomenon may be due to uncertainty threatening the self, thereby encouraging a reliance on inputs that are closer to the self and have high subjective validity.

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Monkeys choose as if maximizing utility compatible with basic principles of revealed preference theory

Alexandre Pastor-Bernier, Charles Plott & Wolfram Schultz

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 March 2017, Pages E1766–E1775

Abstract:
Revealed preference theory provides axiomatic tools for assessing whether individuals make observable choices “as if” they are maximizing an underlying utility function. The theory evokes a tradeoff between goods whereby individuals improve themselves by trading one good for another good to obtain the best combination. Preferences revealed in these choices are modeled as curves of equal choice (indifference curves) and reflect an underlying process of optimization. These notions have far-reaching applications in consumer choice theory and impact the welfare of human and animal populations. However, they lack the empirical implementation in animals that would be required to establish a common biological basis. In a design using basic features of revealed preference theory, we measured in rhesus monkeys the frequency of repeated choices between bundles of two liquids. For various liquids, the animals’ choices were compatible with the notion of giving up a quantity of one good to gain one unit of another good while maintaining choice indifference, thereby implementing the concept of marginal rate of substitution. The indifference maps consisted of nonoverlapping, linear, convex, and occasionally concave curves with typically negative, but also sometimes positive, slopes depending on bundle composition. Out-of-sample predictions using homothetic polynomials validated the indifference curves. The animals’ preferences were internally consistent in satisfying transitivity. Change of option set size demonstrated choice optimality and satisfied the Weak Axiom of Revealed Preference (WARP). These data are consistent with a version of revealed preference theory in which preferences are stochastic; the monkeys behaved “as if” they had well-structured preferences and maximized utility.

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Overconfidence over the lifespan

Julia Prims & Don Moore

Judgment and Decision Making, January 2017, Pages 29–41

Abstract:
This research investigated how different forms of overconfidence correlate with age. Contrary to stereotypes that young people are more overconfident, the results provide little evidence that overestimation of one’s performance or overplacement of one’s performance relative to that of others is correlated with age. Instead, the results suggest that precision in judgment (confidence that one knows the truth) increases with age. This result is strongest for probabilistic elicitations, and not present in quantile elicitations or reported confidence intervals. The results suggest that a lifetime of experience, rather than leading to better calibration, instead may increase our confidence that we know what we’re talking about.

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Losses and External Outcomes Interact to Produce the Gambler’s Fallacy

Julia Mossbridge, Christopher Roney & Satoru Suzuki

PLoS ONE, January 2017

Abstract:
When making serial predictions in a binary decision task, there is a clear tendency to assume that after a series of the same external outcome (e.g., heads in a coin flip), the next outcome will be the opposing one (e.g., tails), even when the outcomes are independent of one another. This so-called “gambler’s fallacy” has been replicated robustly. However, what drives gambler’s fallacy behavior is unclear. Here we demonstrate that a run of the same external outcome by itself does not lead to gambler’s fallacy behavior. However, when a run of external outcomes is accompanied by a concurrent run of failed guesses, gambler’s fallacy behavior is predominant. These results do not depend on how participants’ attention is directed. Thus, it appears that gambler’s fallacy behavior is driven by a combination of an external series of events and a concurrent series of failure experiences.

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Risk Aversion, the Disposition Effect, and Group Decision Making: An Experimental Analysis

Wlademir Prates, Newton da Costa & Anderson Dorow

Managerial and Decision Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article reports a laboratory experiment comparing the behavior of individuals and groups in terms of their susceptibility to the disposition effect. A total of 174 students took part in six experimental sessions in which they made decisions individually, in pairs, or in three-person groups. It was observed that the disposition effect was attenuated when the decisions were made in groups of two or three members. It was also noted that the attenuating effect of group decision making was the result of a reduction in the proportion of gains realized, indicating that the groups were less risk averse than individuals.

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Personality, Information Acquisition, and Choice under Uncertainty: An Experimental Study

Guillaume Fréchette, Andrew Schotter & Isabel Trevino

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article studies the role of personality in choice under risk and uncertainty. We explore the hypothesis that personality plays a role in decision making in situations of uncertainty but not in situations of risk. In addition to offering support for this main hypothesis, we explore the various pathways through which personality exerts its influence. What we find is that in uncertain environments, where decision makers are able to acquire information about the unknown probability distributions they face, personality variables influence the type of information people acquire, which then influences their choice. Our experimental design brings in two novel aspects of choice under uncertainty: information acquisition and advice. The findings indicate that indeed, under uncertainty, personality matters for choice in a way it does not under risk. Furthermore, the results suggest that personality can play a role at multiple levels, such as people's preferences for certain types of information and the likelihood of following advice.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trade you

Trade Shocks and the Provision of Local Public Goods

Leo Feler & Mine Senses

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze the impact of trade-induced income shocks on the size of local government and the provision of public services. Areas in the US with declining labor demand and incomes due to increasing import competition from China experience relative declines in housing prices and business activity. Since local governments are disproportionately funded through property and sales taxation, declining property values and a decrease in economic activity translate into less revenue, which constrains the ability of local governments to provide public services. State and federal governments have limited ability to smooth local shocks, and the impact on the provision of public services is compounded when local income shocks are highly correlated with shocks in the rest of the state. The outcome is a relative decline not only in incomes but also in the quality of public services and amenities in trade exposed localities.

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Trade, Politics, and the Poor: Is Sen Right and Bhagwati Wrong?

Nita Rudra & Daniel Tirone

Studies in Comparative International Development, March 2017, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
The current debate between two of the world's finest economists - Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati -has not only roiled India but also attracted global attention. Is trade liberalization associated with improved welfare outcomes for the poor, as Bhagwati contends? Or is Sen correct that policymakers in liberalizing economies need to change their governance priorities to focus on redistribution? This analysis draws on existing literature to develop testable hypotheses that attempt to resolve the Sen-Bhagwati divide. Using fixed effect panel regressions and simultaneous equation models, we find that although there is empirical support for both arguments, the results on balance favor Sen: The positive relationship between trade and improved poverty is conditional upon more equitable distributions of income. In effect, Bhagwati's predictions about the beneficial impacts of openness on social welfare occur only in a subset of developing nations, findings which have very different implications for the poor in developing countries.

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The Impact of Brexit on Foreign Investment and Production

Ellen McGrattan & Andrea Waddle

NBER Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
In this paper, we estimate the impact of increasing costs on foreign producers following a withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (popularly known as Brexit). Our predictions are based on simulations of a multicountry neoclassical growth model that includes multinational firms investing in research and development (R&D), brands, and other intangible capital that is used nonrivalrously by their subsidiaries at home and abroad. We analyze several post-Brexit scenarios. First, we assume that the United Kingdom unilaterally imposes tighter restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI) from other E.U. nations. With less E.U. technology deployed in the United Kingdom, U.K. firms increase investment in their own R&D and other intangibles, which is costly, and welfare for U.K. citizens is lower. If the European Union remains open, its citizens enjoy a modest gain from the increased U.K. investment since it can be costlessly deployed in subsidiaries throughout Europe. If instead we assume that the European Union imposes the same restrictions on U.K. FDI, then E.U. firms invest more in their own R&D, benefiting the United Kingdom. With costs higher on both U.K. and E.U. FDI, we predict a significant fall in foreign investment and production by U.K. firms. The United Kingdom increases international lending, which finances the production of others both domestically and abroad, and inward FDI rises. U.K. consumption falls and leisure rises, implying a negligible impact on welfare. In the European Union, declines in investment and production are modest, but the welfare of E.U. citizens is significantly lower. Finally, if, during the transition, the United Kingdom reduces current restrictions on other major foreign investors, such as the United States and Japan, U.K. inward FDI and welfare both rise significantly.

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Dying for Globalization? The Impact of Economic Globalization on Industrial Accidents

Robert Blanton & Dursun Peksen

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: We combine data on economic globalization with data on major industrial accidents, and examine the relationship between these variables across 137 countries for the period 1971-2012.

Results: We find a significant positive relationship between economic globalization and the probability of industrial accidents. Results further suggest that the impact of state policies encouraging globalization, such as the removal of barriers to trade and capital flows, is stronger than that of trade and investment flows themselves.

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Foreign Risk, Domestic Problem: Capital Allocation and Firm Performance Under Political Instability

Burcin Col, Art Durnev & Alexander Molchanov

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We argue in this paper that firms with foreign operations misallocate capital and underperform when they face political instability abroad. We develop and test a dynamic model of firm capital allocation under foreign political instability. The model shows that as a political regime becomes less stable, independent of whether the regime becomes less business-friendly or more business-friendly, firms invest suboptimally (i.e., they either overinvest or underinvest), and their marginal q's diverge further from an optimal level. Using elections and textual analysis of local media during national elections, we construct a novel index of political instability. We find that U.S. firms and industries with a greater exposure to election-induced political instability experience disruptions of investment efficiency that lead to lower valuations and lower total factor productivity. Therefore, international trade is a significant conduit of foreign political instability into U.S. markets.

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Trade Policy and Redistribution when Preferences are Non-Homothetic

Quy-Toan Do & Andrei Levchenko

NBER Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
We compare redistribution through trade restrictions vs. domestic lump-sum transfers. When preferences are non-homothetic, even domestic lump-sum transfers affect relative prices. Thus, contrary to the conventional wisdom, domestic lump-sum transfers are not necessarily superior to distortionary trade policy. We develop this argument in the context of food export bans imposed by many developing countries in the late 2000s.

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Capacity Constrained Exporters: Identifying Increasing Marginal Cost

JaeBin Ahn & Alexander McQuoid

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study revisits a central assumption of standard trade models: constant marginal cost technology. The presence of increasing marginal costs for exporters introduces significant market interdependence across borders missing from traditional models of international trade that rely on constant marginal cost technology. Such market interdependence represents an additional channel through which local shocks are transmitted globally. To identify increasing marginal cost at the level of the firm, we build in flexible production assumptions that nest increasing, decreasing, and constant marginal cost technology to an otherwise standard international trade model. We derive an estimating equation that can be taken directly to the data. Our structural equation explicitly guides our inference on the shape of the marginal cost curve from estimated coefficients. The results suggest that increasing marginal cost is predominant at the firm level. Moreover, utilizing plant-level information on physical and financial capacity constraints, we find that the degree of increasing marginal cost is significantly exacerbated by both types of constraints. The evidence suggests that access to larger markets through greater international integration may not have the expected welfare gains typically predicted in standard models.

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When Britain turned inward: Protection and the shift towards Empire in Interwar Britain

Alan de Bromhead et al.

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
International trade became much less multilateral during the 1930s. Previous studies, looking at aggregate trade flows, have argued that discriminatory trade policies had comparatively little to do with this. Using highly disaggregated information on the UK's imports and trade policies, we find that policy can explain the majority of Britain's shift towards Imperial imports in the 1930s. Trade policy mattered, a lot.

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Network structure impacts global commodity trade growth and resilience

Ali Kharrazi, Elena Rovenskaya & Brian Fath

PLoS ONE, February 2017

Abstract:
Global commodity trade networks are critical to our collective sustainable development. Their increasing interconnectedness pose two practical questions: (i) Do the current network configurations support their further growth? (ii) How resilient are these networks to economic shocks? We analyze the data of global commodity trade flows from 1996 to 2012 to evaluate the relationship between structural properties of the global commodity trade networks and (a) their dynamic growth, as well as (b) the resilience of their growth with respect to the 2009 global economic shock. Specifically, we explore the role of network efficiency and redundancy using the information theory-based network flow analysis. We find that, while network efficiency is positively correlated with growth, highly efficient systems appear to be less resilient, losing more and gaining less growth following an economic shock. While all examined networks are rather redundant, we find that network redundancy does not hinder their growth. Moreover, systems exhibiting higher levels of redundancy lose less and gain more growth following an economic shock. We suggest that a strategy to support making global trade networks more efficient via, e.g., preferential trade agreements and higher specialization, can promote their further growth; while a strategy to increase the global trade networks' redundancy via e.g., more abundant free-trade agreements, can improve their resilience to global economic shocks.

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Discriminatory Product Differentiation: The Case of Israel's Omission from Airline Route Maps

Joel Waldfogel & Paul Vaaler

University of Minnesota Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
While product differentiation is generally benign, it can be employed to discriminate against customer groups, either to enhance profitability by appealing to discriminatory customers or in unprofitable ways that indulge owners' tastes for discrimination. We explore discriminatory product differentiation in the airline market through airlines' depiction of Israel on their online route maps and whether their online menus include kosher meal options. We first show that several international airlines omit Israel from their online route maps. Three of these airlines are members of the major international airline alliances. With data on over 100 airlines, we then document that Israel map denial is more likely for airlines with passengers from countries exhibiting greater anti-Semitism. Owner tastes also matter: denial is more likely for state-owned airlines in countries that do not recognize Israel. Kosher meal options on online menus follow similar patterns, suggesting anti-Semitic rather than anti-Zionist motivations. Israel denial does not reduce the probability of alliance membership with alliance leaders having few airline alternatives to choose from in the Middle East.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Early risers

Ancient X chromosomes reveal contrasting sex bias in Neolithic and Bronze Age Eurasian migrations

Amy Goldberg et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 March 2017, Pages 2657–2662

Abstract:
Dramatic events in human prehistory, such as the spread of agriculture to Europe from Anatolia and the late Neolithic/Bronze Age migration from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, can be investigated using patterns of genetic variation among the people who lived in those times. In particular, studies of differing female and male demographic histories on the basis of ancient genomes can provide information about complexities of social structures and cultural interactions in prehistoric populations. We use a mechanistic admixture model to compare the sex-specifically–inherited X chromosome with the autosomes in 20 early Neolithic and 16 late Neolithic/Bronze Age human remains. Contrary to previous hypotheses suggested by the patrilocality of many agricultural populations, we find no evidence of sex-biased admixture during the migration that spread farming across Europe during the early Neolithic. For later migrations from the Pontic Steppe during the late Neolithic/Bronze Age, however, we estimate a dramatic male bias, with approximately five to 14 migrating males for every migrating female. We find evidence of ongoing, primarily male, migration from the steppe to central Europe over a period of multiple generations, with a level of sex bias that excludes a pulse migration during a single generation. The contrasting patterns of sex-specific migration during these two migrations suggest a view of differing cultural histories in which the Neolithic transition was driven by mass migration of both males and females in roughly equal numbers, perhaps whole families, whereas the later Bronze Age migration and cultural shift were instead driven by male migration, potentially connected to new technology and conquest.

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Evolutionary population history of early Paleoamerican cranial morphology

Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, André Strauss & Mark Hubbe

Science Advances, February 2017

Abstract:
The nature and timing of the peopling of the Americas is a subject of intense debate. In particular, it is unclear whether high levels of between-group craniometric diversity in South America result from multiple migrations or from local diversification processes. Previous attempts to explain this diversity have largely focused on testing alternative dispersal or gene flow models, reaching conflicting or inconclusive results. Here, a novel analytical framework is applied to three-dimensional geometric morphometric data to partition the effects of population divergence from geographically mediated gene flow to understand the ancestry of the early South Americans in the context of global human history. The results show that Paleoamericans share a last common ancestor with contemporary Native American groups outside, rather than inside, the Americas. Therefore, and in accordance with some recent genomic studies, craniometric data suggest that the New World was populated by multiple waves of dispersion from northeast Asia throughout the late Pleistocene and early Holocene.

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Ardipithecus ramidus and the evolution of language and singing: An early origin for hominin vocal capability

Gary Clark & Maciej Henneberg

HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we analyse the possibility that the early hominin Ardipithecus ramidus had vocal capabilities far exceeding those of any extant non-human primate. We argue that erect posture combined with changes in craniofacial morphology, such as reduced facial and jaw length, not only provide evidence for increased levels of pro-sociality, but also increased vocal ability. Reduced length of the face and jaw, combined with a flexed cranial base, suggests the larynx in this species was situated deeper in the neck than in chimpanzees, a trait which may have facilitated increased vocal ability. We also provide evidence that Ar. ramidus, by virtue of its erect posture, possessed a degree of cervical lordosis significantly greater than chimpanzees. This is indicative of increased mobility of the larynx within the neck and hence increased capacity to modulate vocalisations. In the paleoanthropological literature, these changes in early hominin skull morphology have to date been analysed in terms of a shift in mating and social behaviour, with little consideration given to vocally mediated sociality. Similarly, in the literature on language evolution there is a distinct lacuna regarding links between craniofacial correlates of social and mating systems and vocal ability. These are surprising oversights given that pro-sociality and vocal capability require identical alterations to the common ancestral skull and skeletal configuration. We therefore propose a model which integrates data on whole organism morphogenesis with evidence for a potential early emergence of hominin socio-vocal adaptations. Consequently, we suggest vocal capability may have evolved much earlier than has been traditionally proposed. Instead of emerging in the Homo genus, we suggest the palaeoecological context of late Miocene and early Pliocene forests and woodlands facilitated the evolution of hominin socio-vocal capability. We also propose that paedomorphic morphogenesis of the skull via the process of self-domestication enabled increased levels of pro-social behaviour, as well as increased capacity for socially synchronous vocalisation to evolve at the base of the hominin clade.

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Archaeogenomic evidence reveals prehistoric matrilineal dynasty

Douglas Kennett et al.

Nature Communications, February 2017

Abstract:
For societies with writing systems, hereditary leadership is documented as one of the hallmarks of early political complexity and governance. In contrast, it is unknown whether hereditary succession played a role in the early formation of prehistoric complex societies that lacked writing. Here we use an archaeogenomic approach to identify an elite matriline that persisted between 800 and 1130 CE in Chaco Canyon, the centre of an expansive prehistoric complex society in the Southwestern United States. We show that nine individuals buried in an elite crypt at Pueblo Bonito, the largest structure in the canyon, have identical mitochondrial genomes. Analyses of nuclear genome data from six samples with the highest DNA preservation demonstrate mother–daughter and grandmother–grandson relationships, evidence for a multigenerational matrilineal descent group. Together, these results demonstrate the persistence of an elite matriline in Chaco for ∼330 years.

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Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates

Malcolm MacIver et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The evolution of terrestrial vertebrates, starting around 385 million years ago, is an iconic moment in evolution that brings to mind images of fish transforming into four-legged animals. Here, we show that this radical change in body shape was preceded by an equally dramatic change in sensory abilities akin to transitioning from seeing over short distances in a dense fog to seeing over long distances on a clear day. Measurements of eye sockets and simulations of their evolution show that eyes nearly tripled in size just before vertebrates began living on land. Computational simulations of these animal’s visual ecology show that for viewing objects through water, the increase in eye size provided a negligible increase in performance. However, when viewing objects through air, the increase in eye size provided a large increase in performance. The jump in eye size was, therefore, unlikely to have arisen for seeing through water and instead points to an unexpected hybrid of seeing through air while still primarily inhabiting water. Our results and several anatomical innovations arising at the same time suggest lifestyle similarity to crocodiles. The consequent combination of the increase in eye size and vision through air would have conferred a 1 million-fold increase in the amount of space within which objects could be seen. The “buena vista” hypothesis that our data suggest is that seeing opportunities from afar played a role in the subsequent evolution of fully terrestrial limbs as well as the emergence of elaborated action sequences through planning circuits in the nervous system.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Seeing it

Inferring Perspective Versus Getting Perspective: Underestimating the Value of Being in Another Person’s Shoes

Haotian Zhou, Elizabeth Majka & Nicholas Epley

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People use at least two strategies to solve the challenge of understanding another person’s mind: inferring that person’s perspective by reading his or her behavior (theorization) and getting that person’s perspective by experiencing his or her situation (simulation). The five experiments reported here demonstrate a strong tendency for people to underestimate the value of simulation. Predictors estimated a stranger’s emotional reactions toward 50 pictures. They could either infer the stranger’s perspective by reading his or her facial expressions or simulate the stranger’s perspective by watching the pictures he or she viewed. Predictors were substantially more accurate when they got perspective through simulation, but overestimated the accuracy they had achieved by inferring perspective. Predictors’ miscalibrated confidence stemmed from overestimating the information revealed through facial expressions and underestimating the similarity in people’s reactions to a given situation. People seem to underappreciate a useful strategy for understanding the minds of others, even after they gain firsthand experience with both strategies.

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Of guns and snakes: Testing a modern threat superiority effect

Baptiste Subra et al.

Cognition and Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies suggest that ancient (i.e. evolutionary-based) threats capture attention because human beings possess an inborn module shaped by evolution and dedicated to their detection. An alternative account proposes that a key feature predicting whether a stimulus will capture attention is its relevance rather than its ontology (i.e. phylogenetic or ontogenetic threat). Within this framework, the present research deals with the attentional capture by threats commonly encountered in our urban environment. In two experiments, we investigate the attentional capture by modern threats (i.e. weapons). In Experiment 1, participants responded to a target preceded by a cue, which was a weapon or a non-threatening stimulus. We found a larger cuing effect (faster reaction times to valid vs. invalid trials) with weapons as compared with non-threatening cues. In Experiment 2, modern (e.g. weapons) and ancient threats (e.g. snakes) were pitted against one another as cues to determine which ones preferentially capture attention. Crucially, participants were faster to detect a target preceded by a modern as opposed to an ancient threat, providing initial evidence for a superiority of modern threat. Overall, the present findings appear more consistent with a relevance-based explanation rather than an evolutionary-based explanation of threat detection.

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The “Common Good” Phenomenon: Why Similarities Are Positive and Differences Are Negative

Hans Alves, Alex Koch & Christian Unkelbach

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Positive attributes are more prevalent than negative attributes in the social environment. From this basic assumption, 2 implications that have been overlooked thus far: Positive compared with negative attributes are more likely to be shared by individuals, and people’s shared attributes (similarities) are more positive than their unshared attributes (differences). Consequently, similarity-based comparisons should lead to more positive evaluations than difference-based comparisons. We formalized our probabilistic reasoning in a model and tested its predictions in a simulation and 8 experiments (N = 1,181). When participants generated traits about 2 target persons, positive compared with negative traits were more likely to be shared by the targets (Experiment 1a) and by other participants’ targets (Experiment 1b). Conversely, searching for targets’ shared traits resulted in more positive traits than searching for unshared traits (Experiments 2, 4a, and 4b). In addition, positive traits were more accessible than negative traits among shared traits but not among unshared traits (Experiment 3). Finally, shared traits were only more positive when positive traits were indeed prevalent (Experiments 5 and 6). The current framework has a number of implications for comparison processes and provides a new interpretation of well-known evaluative asymmetries such as intergroup bias and self-superiority effects.

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The Grounded Nature of Psychological Perspective-Taking

Thorsten Erle & Sascha Topolinski

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Psychological perspective-taking is a powerful social cognition that helps us to understand other people. It creates feelings of closeness and sympathy, motivates us to help others, and is important for positive social relationships. In contrast to the impressive knowledge about its consequences, relatively little is known about how exactly people achieve them. The present paper addresses this question from a grounded cognition perspective, drawing on recent findings on the embodiment of visuospatial perspective-taking. Visuospatial perspective-taking involves a mental transformation of one’s body schema into the physical location of another person. We argue that when people psychologically “put themselves in another person’s shoes,” this simulation of physical proximity happens, too, and is one source of perceived closeness. In five experiments (total N = 1067), participants completed a visuospatial perspective-taking task. During half of the trials, angular disparity between the target person and the participant was high and participants had to adopt the target’s visual perspective (which involves an embodied simulation). During the remaining trials, angular disparity was low and participants could solve the task egocentrically. Taking another’s perspective led participants to adopt the thoughts of the target person more strongly (Experiments 1–3) and increased the perceived similarity of that person to the self (Experiment 4) and participants’ liking of that person (Experiment 5). These effects were independent of task difficulty (Experiment 2), and only present during trials where an embodied transformation happened (i.e., at high angular disparities; Experiment 3). Implications for psychological and visuospatial perspective-taking research and related phenomena are discussed.

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Neuroplus biofeedback improves attention, resilience, and injury prevention in elite soccer players

Aiace Rusciano, Giuliano Corradini & Ivilin Stoianov

Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Performance and injury prevention in elite soccer players are typically investigated from physical-tactical, biomechanical, and metabolic perspectives. However, executive functions, visuospatial abilities, and psychophysiological adaptability or resilience are also fundamental for efficiency and well-being in sports. Based on previous research associating autonomic flexibility with prefrontal cortical control, we designed a novel integrated autonomic biofeedback training method called Neuroplus to improve resilience, visual attention, and injury prevention. Herein, we introduce the method and provide an evaluation of 20 elite soccer players from the Italian Soccer High Division (Serie-A): 10 players trained with Neuroplus and 10 trained with a control treatment. The assessments included psychophysiological stress profiles, a visual search task, and indexes of injury prevention, which were measured pre- and posttreatment. The analysis showed a significant enhancement of physiological adaptability, recovery following stress, visual selective attention, and injury prevention that were specific to the Neuroplus group. Enhancing the interplay between autonomic and cognitive functions through biofeedback may become a key principle for obtaining excellence and well-being in sports. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that shows improvement in visual selective attention following intense autonomic biofeedback.

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Familiar Real-World Spatial Cues Provide Memory Benefits in Older and Younger Adults

Jessica Robin & Morris Moscovitch

Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
Episodic memory, future thinking, and memory for scenes have all been proposed to rely on the hippocampus, and evidence suggests that these all decline in healthy aging. Despite this age-related memory decline, studies examining the effects of context reinstatement on episodic memory have demonstrated that reinstating elements of the encoding context of an event leads to better memory retrieval in both younger and older adults. The current study was designed to test whether more familiar, real-world contexts, such as locations that participants visited often, would improve the detail richness and vividness of memory for scenes, autobiographical events, and imagination of future events in young and older adults. The predicted age-related decline in internal details across all 3 conditions was accompanied by persistent effects of contextual familiarity, in which a more familiar spatial context led to increased detail and vividness of remembered scenes, autobiographical events, and, to some extent, imagined future events. This study demonstrates that autobiographical memory, imagination of the future, and scene memory are similarly affected by aging, and all benefit from being associated with more familiar (real-world) contexts, illustrating the stability of contextual reinstatement effects on memory throughout the life span.

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Harnessing the Placebo Effect: Exploring the Influence of Physician Characteristics on Placebo Response

Lauren Howe, Parker Goyer & Alia Crum

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Methods: After inducing an allergic reaction in participants through a histamine skin prick test, a health care provider administered a cream with no active ingredients and set either positive expectations (cream will reduce reaction) or negative expectations (cream will increase reaction). The provider demonstrated either high or low warmth, or either high or low competence.

Results: The impact of expectations on allergic response was enhanced when the provider acted both warmer and more competent and negated when the provider acted colder and less competent.

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Reading What the Mind Thinks From How the Eye Sees

Daniel Lee & Adam Anderson

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human eyes convey a remarkable variety of complex social and emotional information. However, it is unknown which physical eye features convey mental states and how that came about. In the current experiments, we tested the hypothesis that the receiver’s perception of mental states is grounded in expressive eye appearance that serves an optical function for the sender. Specifically, opposing features of eye widening versus eye narrowing that regulate sensitivity versus discrimination not only conveyed their associated basic emotions (e.g., fear vs. disgust, respectively) but also conveyed opposing clusters of complex mental states that communicate sensitivity versus discrimination (e.g., awe vs. suspicion). This sensitivity-discrimination dimension accounted for the majority of variance in perceived mental states (61.7%). Further, these eye features remained diagnostic of these complex mental states even in the context of competing information from the lower face. These results demonstrate that how humans read complex mental states may be derived from a basic optical principle of how people see.

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Social Information Influences Emotional Experience and Late Positive Potential Response to Affective Pictures

Emily Willroth, Leonie Koban & Matthew Hilimire

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotion experience and regulation frequently occur in social settings. Social influence is a common source of unconscious change in judgment in many contexts, but it has yet to be investigated as a form of automatic emotion regulation. Here, we demonstrate that nonpredictive social information (i.e., high or low “emotion intensity ratings from other people” that were not related to the actual intensity of the pictures) about the intensity of pleasant and unpleasant picture stimuli can influence self-reported emotional experience and the magnitude of the late positive potential, an event-related potential associated with the detection of emotional salience and sustained attention to motivationally significant stimulus features. These results show that emotional responses to pleasant and unpleasant affective pictures can be altered by nonpredictive social information on both the behavioral and the neurophysiological level.

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Explaining Sad People’s Memory Advantage for Faces

Peter Hills et al.

Frontiers in Psychology, February 2017

Abstract:
Sad people recognize faces more accurately than happy people (Hills et al., 2011). We devised four hypotheses for this finding that are tested between in the current study. The four hypotheses are: (1) sad people engage in more expert processing associated with face processing; (2) sad people are motivated to be more accurate than happy people in an attempt to repair their mood; (3) sad people have a defocused attentional strategy that allows more information about a face to be encoded; and (4) sad people scan more of the face than happy people leading to more facial features to be encoded. In Experiment 1, we found that dysphoria (sad mood often associated with depression) was not correlated with the face-inversion effect (a measure of expert processing) nor with response times but was correlated with defocused attention and recognition accuracy. Experiment 2 established that dysphoric participants detected changes made to more facial features than happy participants. In Experiment 3, using eye-tracking we found that sad-induced participants sampled more of the face whilst avoiding the eyes. Experiment 4 showed that sad-induced people demonstrated a smaller own-ethnicity bias. These results indicate that sad people show different attentional allocation to faces than happy and neutral people.

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Composition in portraits: Selfies and wefies reveal similar biases in untrained modern youths and ancient masters

Nicola Bruno, Carole Bode & Marco Bertamini

Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, May/June 2017, Pages 279-293

Abstract:
Previous analyses suggest that artists prefer poses showing the left side of the subject’s face when composing a portrait, but showing the right side when composing their own self-portrait. There is also some evidence that artists may prefer compositions with key features on the right of the picture. Do these findings generalize to spontaneous, pseudo-artistic productions by individuals with no formal training in painting and art history? To investigate this issue, we tested a sample of 104 British schoolchildren and teenagers (mean age = 13.8 years; 80 females). We analysed posing biases in individual photographic self-portraits (“selfies”) as well as of self-portraits including also the portrait of a friend (“wefies”). Our results document a bias for showing the left cheek in selfies, a bias for placing the selfie-taker on the right in wefies, and a bias for showing two left cheeks over two right cheeks, again in wefies. These biases are reminiscent of what has been reported for selfies in adult non-artists and for portraits and self-portraits by artists in the 16th–18th centuries. Thus, these results provide new evidence in support of a biological basis for side biases in portraits and self-portraits independently of training and expertise.

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Are Portrait Artists Superior Face Recognizers? Limited Impact of Adult Experience on Face Recognition Ability

Jeremy Tree et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across 2 studies, the authors asked whether extensive experience in portrait art is associated with face recognition ability. In Study 1, 64 students completed a standardized face recognition test before and after completing a year-long art course that included substantial portraiture training. They found no evidence of an improvement in face recognition after training over and above what would be expected by practice alone. In Study 2, the authors investigated the possibility that more extensive experience might be needed for such advantages to emerge, by testing a cohort of expert portrait artists (N = 28), all of whom had many years of experience. In addition to memory for faces, they also explored memory for abstract art and for words in a paired-associate recognition test. The expert portrait artists performed similarly to a large, normative comparison sample on memory for faces and words but showed a small advantage for abstract art. Taken together, the results converge with existing literature to suggest that there is relatively little plasticity in face recognition in adulthood, at which point our substantial everyday experience with faces may have pushed us to the limits of our capabilities.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 17, 2017

Surprise medical bill

A Kinked Health Insurance Market: Employer-Sponsored Insurance under the Cadillac Tax

Coleman Drake et al.

American Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Affordable Care Act imposes a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health insurance plans in excess of defined thresholds beginning in 2020. Using economic theory and a microsimulation model, we predict how employers will respond to the Cadillac tax by adjusting wages and health insurance benefits. In its first year, 13.34 percent of individual and 16.73 percent of family employer-sponsored health insurance plan holders will be affected by the Cadillac tax; these percentages will increase to 35.33 and 42.01 percent, respectively, by 2025. Over 99 percent of those affected will reduce their health insurance benefits to the thresholds. Effectively, the Cadillac Tax will impose a hard cap on health insurance benefits, causing a clustering of benefits at the thresholds and a sharp reduction in the variance of benefits. Revenue from the Cadillac tax through 2025 will total $204 billion, all but $42 million of which will stem from “indirect” revenues – health insurance benefits shifted into taxable wages. This shift will increase wage growth and decrease benefit growth for those affected by the Cadillac tax. We simulate a cap on the tax exclusion of employer-sponsored insurance premiums and conduct sensitivity analyses with linear regression metamodeling.

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Sticking Points: Common-Agency Problems and Contracting in the U.S. Healthcare System

Brigham Frandsen, Michael Powell & James Rebitzer

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We propose a "common-agency" model for explaining inefficient contracting in the U.S. healthcare system. In our setting, common-agency problems arise when multiple payers seek to motivate a shared provider to invest in improved care coordination. Our approach differs from other common-agency models in that we analyze "sticking points," that is, equilibria in which payers coordinate around Pareto-dominated contracts that do not offer providers incentives to implement efficient investments. These sticking points offer a straightforward explanation for three long observed but hard to explain features of the U.S. healthcare system: the ubiquity of fee-for-service contracting arrangements outside of Medicare; problematic care coordination; and the historic reliance on small, single specialty practices rather than larger multi-specialty group practices to deliver care. The common-agency model also provides insights on the effects of policies, such as Accountable Care Organizations, that aim to promote more efficient forms of contracting between payers and providers.

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Oregon’s Medicaid Reform And Transition To Global Budgets Were Associated With Reductions In Expenditures

John McConnell et al.

Health Affairs, March 2017, Pages 451-459

Abstract:
In 2012 Oregon initiated an ambitious delivery system reform, moving the majority of its Medicaid enrollees into sixteen coordinated care organizations, a type of Medicaid accountable care organization. Using claims data, we assessed measures of access, appropriateness of care, utilization, and expenditures for five service areas (evaluation and management, imaging, procedures, tests, and inpatient facility care), comparing Oregon to the neighboring state of Washington. Overall, the transformation into coordinated care organizations was associated with a 7 percent relative reduction in expenditures across the sum of these services, attributable primarily to reductions in inpatient utilization. The change to coordinated care organizations also demonstrated reductions in avoidable emergency department visits and improvements in some measures of appropriateness of care, but also exhibited reductions in primary care visits, a potential area of concern. Oregon’s coordinated care organizations could provide lessons for controlling health care spending for other state Medicaid programs.

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State Health Insurance Mandates and Labor Market Outcomes: New Evidence on Old Questions

Yaa Akosa Antwi & Johanna Catherine Maclean

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
In this study we re-visit the relationship between private health insurance mandates, access to employer-sponsored health insurance, and labor market outcomes. Specifically, we model employer-sponsored health insurance access and labor market outcomes across the lifecycle as a function of the number of high cost mandates in place at labor market entrance. Our analysis draws on a long panel of workers from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and exploits variation in five high cost state mandates between 1972 and 1989. Four principal findings emerge from our analysis. First, we find no strong evidence that high cost state health insurance mandates discourage employers from offering insurance to employees. Second, employers adjust both wages and labor demand to offset mandate costs, suggesting that employees place some value on the mandated benefits. Third, the effects are persistent, but not permanent. Fourth, the effects are heterogeneous across worker types. These findings have implications for thinking through the full labor market effects of health insurance expansions.

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Medicaid, Family Spending, and the Financial Implications of Crowd-Out

Marcus Dillender

Journal of Health Economics, May 2017, Pages 1–16

Abstract:
A primary purpose of health insurance is to protect families from medical expenditure risk. Despite this goal and despite the fact that research has found that Medicaid can crowd out private coverage, little is known about the effect of Medicaid on families’ spending patterns. This paper implements a simulated instrumental variables strategy with data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to estimate the effect of an additional family member becoming eligible for Medicaid on family-level health insurance coverage and spending. The results indicate that an additional family member becoming eligible for Medicaid increases the number of people in the family with Medicaid coverage by about 0.135 to 0.142 and decreases the likelihood that a family has any medical spending in a quarter by 2.7 percentage points. As previous research often finds with different data sets, I find evidence that Medicaid expansions crowd out some private coverage. Unlike most other data sets, the Consumer Expenditure Survey allows for considering the financial implications of crowd-out. The results indicate that families that transition from private coverage to Medicaid are able to spend significantly less on health insurance expenses, meaning Medicaid expansions can be welfare improving for families even when crowd-out occurs.

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The Effect of Health Insurance on Home Payment Delinquency: Evidence from ACA Marketplace Subsidies

Emily Gallagher, Radhakrishnan Gopalan & Michal Grinstein-Weiss

Washington University in St. Louis Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We use administrative income tax data coupled with survey responses from roughly five thousand households living near the federal poverty line (FPL) to estimate the effect of health insurance coverage on rent and mortgage delinquency. Our identification strategy centers on states that did not expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We employ a fuzzy Regression Discontinuity (RD) design, exploiting the income eligibility threshold to receive Marketplace subsidies in those states (100% FPL) as our source of exogenous variation in insurance coverage. Marketplace subsidies result in an 11–12 percentage point increase in the prevalence of private health insurance. Households with private insurance are 40–63 percentage points less likely to be delinquent on home payments as compared to similar uninsured households. Consistent with health insurance protecting household liquidity against health shocks, medical spending is a smaller part of liquid assets for insured households that experience a health shock.

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Do People with Health Insurance Coverage Who Live in Areas with High Uninsurance Rates Pay More for Emergency Department Visits?

James Kirby & Joel Cohen

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Data Sources: The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey linked to county-level data from the American Community Survey, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, and the Area Health Resources Files.

Study Design: We use a nationally representative sample of emergency department visits that took place between 2009 and 2013 to estimate the association between the percent uninsured in counties and the amount paid for a typical visit. Final estimates come from a diagnosis-level fixed-effects model, with additional controls for a wide variety of visit, individual, and county characteristics.

Principal Findings: Among those with private insurance, we find that an increase of 1 percentage point in the county uninsurance rate is associated with a $20 increase in the mean emergency department payment. No such association is observed among visits covered by other insurance types.

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Constraints on Formulary Design Under the Affordable Care Act

Martin Andersen

Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
I study the effect of prescription drug essential health benefits (EHB) requirements from the Affordable Care Act on prescription drug formularies of health insurance marketplace plans. The EHB regulates the number of drugs covered but leaves other dimensions (cost sharing and utilization management) of the formulary unregulated. Using data on almost all formularies in the country, I demonstrate that requiring insurers to cover one additional drug adds 0.22 drugs (3.3%) to the average formulary, mostly owing to firms increasing the number of drugs covered to comply with the EHB requirement. The EHB requirement also increases the probability that a drug is subject to utilization management and is assigned to a higher (more costly) formulary tier. My results suggest that newly covered drugs are 22.3 percentage points more likely to be subject to utilization management, compared to 36.7% for the average covered drug. Using formularies for Medicare Advantage plans, which are subject to uniform, nationwide benefit design standards, and the formulary status of newly approved drugs that do not satisfy the EHB requirement, I reject the hypotheses that consumer demand or effects on plan entry can explain my results.

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Recent Evidence on the ACA and Employment: Has the ACA Been a Job Killer? 2016 Update

Bowen Garrett, Robert Kaestner & Anuj Gangopadhyaya

Urban Institute Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
This brief examines effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on labor market outcomes using data from the Current Population Survey from 2000 to 2016. Results indicate that through 2016, the ACA had little to no adverse effect on employment and usual hours worked per week. Levels of part-time work (29 or fewer hours per week) have fallen since 2014, but remain at somewhat higher levels than would be expected at this stage of the economic recovery. The higher-than-expected rate of part-time work is driven by increases in voluntary part-time employment. Involuntary part-time employment was lower than expected. These findings suggest that the ACA did not lead to widespread cutbacks in workers’ hours by employers attempting to avoid employer mandate penalties, but may have led some workers to reduce the number of hours they chose to work.

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Pediatric and Adult Physician Networks in Affordable Care Act Marketplace Plans

Charlene Wong et al.

Pediatrics, forthcoming

Methods: Data on physician networks, including physician specialty and address, in all 2014 individual marketplace silver plans were aggregated. Networks were quantified as the fraction of providers in the underlying rating area within a state that participated in the network. Narrow networks included none available networks (ie, no providers available in the underlying area) and limited networks (ie, included <10% of the available providers in the underlying area). Proportions of narrow networks between pediatric and adult specialty providers were compared.

Results: Among the 1836 unique silver plan networks, the proportions of narrow networks were greater for pediatric (65.9%) than adult specialty (34.9%) networks (P < .001 for all specialties). Specialties with the highest proportion of narrow networks for children were infectious disease (77.4%) and nephrology (74.0%), and they were highest for adults in psychiatry (49.8%) and endocrinology (40.8%). A larger proportion of pediatric networks (43.8%) had no available specialists in the underlying area when compared with adult networks (10.4%) (P < .001 for all specialties). Among networks with available specialists in the underlying area, a higher proportion of pediatric (39.3%) than adult (27.3%) specialist networks were limited (P < .001 except psychiatry).

Conclusions: Narrow networks were more prevalent among pediatric than adult specialists, because of both the sparseness of pediatric specialists and their exclusion from networks. Understanding narrow networks and marketplace network adequacy standards is a necessary beginning to monitor access to care for children and families.

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Does Regulation of Physicians Reduce Health Care Spending?

Scott Barkowski

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The medical community argues that physician fear of legal liability increases health care spending. Theoretically, though, the effect could be positive or negative, and empirical evidence has supported both cases. Previous studies, however, have ignored the fact that physicians face risk from industry oversight groups like state-level medical licensing boards in addition to civil litigation risk. This article addresses this omission by incorporating previously unused data on punishments by oversight groups against physicians, known as adverse actions, along with malpractice payments data to study state-level health care spending. My analysis suggests that, contrary to conventional wisdom, spending does not rise in response to increased risk. An increase in adverse actions of 16 (the year-to-year average) is associated with statistically significant, annual decreases in state spending on hospital care of approximately $22 million, and on prescription drugs of nearly $10 million. Malpractice payments are estimated to have smaller, statistically insignificant effects.

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Patient Outcomes at Urban and Suburban Level I Versus Level II Trauma Centers

Amy Kaji et al.

Annals of Emergency Medicine, forthcoming

Study objective: Regionalized systems of trauma care and level verification are promulgated by the American College of Surgeons. Whether patient outcomes differ between the 2 highest verifications, Levels I and II, is unknown. In contrast to Level II centers, Level I centers are required to care for a minimum number of severely injured patients, have immediate availability of subspecialty services and equipment, and demonstrate research, substance abuse screening, and injury prevention. We compare risk-adjusted mortality outcomes at Levels I and II centers.

Methods: This was an analysis of data from the 2012 to 2014 Los Angeles County Trauma and Emergency Medical Information System. The system includes 14 trauma centers: 5 Level I and 9 Level II centers. Patients meeting criteria for transport to a trauma center are routed to the closest center, regardless of verification level. All adult patients (≥15 years) treated at any of the trauma centers were included. Outcomes of patients treated at Level I versus Level II centers were compared with 2 validated risk-adjusted models: Trauma Score–Injury Severity Score (TRISS) and the Haider model.

Results: Adult subjects (33,890) were treated at a Level I center; 29,724, at a Level II center. We found lower overall mortality at Level II centers compared with Level I, using TRISS (odds ratio 0.68; 95% confidence interval 0.59 to 0.78) and Haider (odds ratio 0.84; 95% confidence interval 0.73 to 0.97).

Conclusion: In this cohort of patients treated at urban and suburban trauma centers, treatment at a Level II trauma center was associated with overall risk-adjusted reduced mortality relative to that at a Level I center. In the subset of penetrating trauma, no differences in mortality were found. Further study is warranted to determine optimal trauma system configuration and allocation of resources.

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Los Angeles Safety-Net Program eConsult System Was Rapidly Adopted And Decreased Wait Times To See Specialists

Michael Barnett et al.

Health Affairs, March 2017, Pages 492-499

Abstract:
Lack of timely access to specialty care is a significant problem among disadvantaged populations, such as those served by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. In 2012 the department implemented an electronic system for the provision of specialty care called the eConsult system, in which all requests from primary care providers for specialty assistance were reviewed by specialists. In many cases, the specialist can address the primary care provider’s question via an electronic dialogue, thereby eliminating the need for the patient to see a specialist in person. We observed rapid growth in the use of eConsult: By 2015 the system was in use by over 3,000 primary care providers, and 12,082 consultations were taking place per month, compared to 86 in the third quarter of 2012. The median time to an electronic response from a specialist was one day, and 25 percent of eConsults were resolved without a specialist visit. Three to four years after implementation, the median time to a specialist appointment decreased significantly, while the volume of visits remained stable. eConsult systems are a promising and sustainable intervention that could improve access to specialist care for underserved patients.

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Convenient Access to Professional Interpreters in the Hospital Decreases Readmission Rates and Estimated Hospital Expenditures for Patients With Limited English Proficiency

Leah Karliner, Eliseo Pérez-Stable & Steven Gregorich

Medical Care, March 2017, Pages 199–206

Design: Natural experiment on a medicine floor of an academic hospital.

Participants: Patients age 50 years or above discharged between January 15, 2007 and January 15, 2010.

Exposure: Dual-handset interpreter telephone at every bedside July 15, 2008 to Mar 14, 2009.

Results: Of 8077 discharges, 1963 were for LEP, and 6114 for English proficient patients. There was a significant decrease in observed 30-day readmission rates for the LEP group during the 8-month intervention period compared with 18 months preintervention (17.8% vs. 13.4%); at the same time English proficient readmission rates increased (16.7% vs. 19.7%); results remained significant in adjusted analyses. This improved readmission outcome for the LEP group was not maintained during the subsequent postintervention period when the telephones became less accessible. There was no significant intervention impact on length of stay in either unadjusted or adjusted analyses. After accounting for interpreter services costs, the estimated 119 readmissions averted during the intervention period were associated with estimated monthly hospital expenditure savings of $161,404.

Conclusions: Comprehensive language access represents an important, high value service that all medical centers should provide to achieve equitable, quality healthcare for vulnerable LEP populations.

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The Reduction in ED and Hospital Admissions in Medical Home Practices Is Specific to Primary Care–Sensitive Chronic Conditions

Lee Green et al.

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To determine whether the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) transformation reduces hospital and ED utilization, and whether the effect is specific to chronic conditions targeted for management by the PCMH in our setting.

Data Sources and Study Setting: All patients aged 18 years and older in 2,218 primary care practices participating in a statewide PCMH incentive program sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) in 2009–2012.

Study Design: Quantitative observational study, jointly modeling PCMH-targeted versus other hospital admissions and ED visits on PCMH score, patient, and practice characteristics in a hierarchical multivariate model using the generalized gamma distribution.

Principal Findings: Both hospital and ED utilization were reduced proportionately to PCMH score. Hospital utilization was reduced by 13.9 percent for PCMH-targeted conditions versus only 3.8 percent for other conditions (p = .003), and ED utilization by 11.2 percent versus 3.7 percent (p = .010). Hospital PMPM cost was reduced by 17.2 percent for PCMH-targeted conditions versus only 3.1 percent for other conditions (p < .001), and ED PMPM cost by 9.4 percent versus 3.6 percent (p < .001).

Conclusions: PCMH transformation reduces hospital and ED use, and the majority of the effect is specific to PCMH-targeted conditions.

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Direct-To-Consumer Telehealth May Increase Access To Care But Does Not Decrease Spending

Scott Ashwood et al.

Health Affairs, March 2017, Pages 485-491

Abstract:
The use of direct-to-consumer telehealth, in which a patient has access to a physician via telephone or videoconferencing, is growing rapidly. A key attraction of this type of telehealth for health plans and employers is the potential savings involved in replacing physician office and emergency department visits with less expensive virtual visits. However, increased convenience may tap into unmet demand for health care, and new utilization may increase overall health care spending. We used commercial claims data on over 300,000 patients from three years (2011–13) to explore patterns of utilization and spending for acute respiratory illnesses. We estimated that 12 percent of direct-to-consumer telehealth visits replaced visits to other providers, and 88 percent represented new utilization. Net annual spending on acute respiratory illness increased $45 per telehealth user. Direct-to-consumer telehealth may increase access by making care more convenient for certain patients, but it may also increase utilization and health care spending.

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The Returns to Nursing: Evidence from a Parental Leave Program

Benjamin Friedrich & Martin Hackmann

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Nurses comprise the largest health profession. In this paper, we measure the effect of nurses on health care delivery and patient health outcomes across sectors. Our empirical strategy takes advantage of a parental leave program, which led to a sudden, unintended, and persistent 12% reduction in nurse employment. Our findings indicate detrimental effects on hospital care delivery as indicated by an increase in 30-day readmission rates and a distortion of technology utilization. The effects for nursing home care are more drastic. We estimate a persistent 13% increase in nursing home mortality among the elderly aged 85 and older. Our results also highlight an unintended negative consequence of parental leave programs borne by providers and patients.

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Home Health Care: Nurse–Physician Communication, Patient Severity, and Hospital Readmission

Michael Pesko et al.

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Data Source/Study Setting: We linked Visiting Nurse Services of New York electronic medical records for patients with congestive heart failure in 2008 and 2009 to hospitalization claims data for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries.

Study Design: Linear regression models and a propensity score matching approach were used to assess the relationship between communication failure and 30-day readmission, separately for patients with high-risk and low-risk readmission probabilities.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Natural language processing was applied to free-text data in electronic medical records to identify failures in communication between home health nurses and physicians.

Principal Findings: Communication failure was associated with a statistically significant 9.7 percentage point increase in the probability of a patient readmission (32.6 percent of the mean) among high-risk patients.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Defining characteristics

Stigma by Prejudice Transfer: Racism Threatens White Women and Sexism Threatens Men of Color

Diana Sanchez et al.

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the current research, we posited the stigma-by-prejudice-transfer effect, which proposes that stigmatized group members (e.g., White women) are threatened by prejudice that is directed at other stigmatized group members (e.g., African Americans) because they believe that prejudice has monolithic qualities. While most stigma researchers assume that there is a direct correspondence between the attitude of prejudiced individuals and the targets (i.e., sexism affects women, racism affects racial minorities), the five studies reported here demonstrate that White women can be threatened by racism (Study 1, 3, 4, and 5) and men of color by sexism (Study 2). Robust to perceptions of liking and the order in which measures were administered, results showed that prejudice transfers between racism and sexism were driven by the presumed social dominance orientation of the prejudiced individual. In addition, important downstream consequences, such as the increased likelihood of anticipated stigma, expectations of unfair treatment, and the attribution of negative feedback to sexism, appeared for stigmatized individuals.

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White Female Bystanders' Responses to a Black Woman at Risk for Incapacitated Sexual Assault

Jennifer Katz et al.

Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated White female college students' responses to risk for an incapacitated sexual assault involving a Black potential victim. Participants (N = 160) read about attending a party where they saw a man lead an intoxicated woman into a private bedroom. The potential victim was referred to as having either a distinctively Black name (e.g., LaToya) or a non-distinct control name (e.g., Laura). After random assignment to one of these two conditions, participants reported on their intent to intervene and their perceptions of the situation and the potential victim. As expected, participants assigned to the Black potential victim condition reported less intent to intervene, less personal responsibility to intervene, and greater perceived victim pleasure than participants assigned to the control condition. Neither the certainty of risk nor the perceived victim blame differed as a function of the potential victim's race. In path analyses, personal responsibility to intervene mediated the relationship between victim race and intent to intervene. The current results suggest that White women in college may choose not to help Black women at risk for sexual assault. Bystander education programs should explicitly address race as a potential barrier to helping others in need.

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Two Axes of Subordination: A New Model of Racial Position

Linda Zou & Sapna Cheryan

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Theories of race relations have been shaped by the concept of a racial hierarchy along which Whites are the most advantaged and African Americans the most disadvantaged. However, the recent precipitated growth of Latinos and Asian Americans in the United States underscores the need for a framework that integrates more groups. The current work proposes that racial and ethnic minority groups are disadvantaged along 2 distinct dimensions of perceived inferiority and perceived cultural foreignness, such that the 4 largest groups in the United States are located in 4 discrete quadrants: Whites are perceived and treated as superior and American; African Americans as inferior and relatively American compared with Latinos and Asian Americans; Latinos as inferior and foreign; and Asian Americans as foreign and relatively superior compared to African Americans and Latinos. Support for this Racial Position Model is first obtained from targets' perspectives. Different groups experience distinct patterns of racial prejudice that are predicted by their 2-dimensional group positions (Studies 1 and 2). From perceivers' perspectives, these group positions are reflected in the content of racial stereotypes (Study 3), and are well-known and consensually recognized (Study 4). Implications of this new model for studying contemporary race relations (e.g., prejudice, threat, and interminority dynamics) are discussed.

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Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others?

Erin Kearns, Allison Betus & Anthony Lemieux

Georgia State University Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
Terrorist attacks often dominate news coverage as reporters seek to provide the public with information about the event, its perpetrators, and the victims. Yet, not all incidents receive equal attention. Why do some terrorist attacks receive more media coverage than others? We argue that social identity is the largest predictor of news coverage, while target type, being arrested, and fatalities will also impact coverage. We examined news coverage from LexisNexis Academic and CNN.com for all terrorist attacks in the United States between 2011 and 2015. Controlling for target type, fatalities, and being arrested, attacks by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 449% more coverage than other attacks. Given the disproportionate quantity of news coverage for these attacks, it is no wonder that people are afraid of the Muslim terrorist. More representative media coverage could help to bring public perception of terrorism in line with reality.

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Ideology and Voice: Salient Multiculturalism Enhances Ethnic Minority Group Members' Persuasiveness in Intergroup Interaction

Jacquie Vorauer & Matthew Quesnel

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
What situational forces might enhance ethnic minority group members' voice and ability to exert social influence during exchanges with dominant group members? Two experiments involving face-to-face dyadic intergroup interaction examined whether making multiculturalism salient to minority group members would increase the extent to which they persuaded a dominant interaction partner of their own point of view on a series of controversial social issues. Results were consistent with this hypothesis and further indicated that minority group members expressed their own point of view more clearly and directly when multicultural ideology was made salient to them as compared to when it was not, which contributed (marginally) to their heightened persuasiveness. Salient multiculturalism did not have comparable effects on dominant group members' persuasiveness or clarity of expression. These results raise the possibility that making multicultural ideology salient might set the stage for minority group members to have a stronger voice in intergroup exchanges.

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Whites demonstrate anti-Black associations but do not reinforce them

Jordan Axt & Sophie Trawalter

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2017, Pages 8-18

Abstract:
White people often associate Black people with negative information and outcomes. At the same time, many White people value not being or appearing prejudiced. In an inter-race context, these two forces may conflict. Whites may be better able to acquire anti-Black associations that align with their existing explicit or implicit attitudes, but may be unmotivated to strengthen these associations because they oppose their egalitarian values. Across five studies (N > 1100) including two pre-registered designs, Whites given a learning task were better able to initially acquire anti-Black racial associations but were unable or unwilling to then reinforce these associations. Conversely, Whites were less able to initially acquire pro-Black racial associations but then acquired and strengthened these associations. Finally, Whites were still unwilling or unable to reinforce anti-Black associations even when given a non-racial justification to do so. These results highlight the distinct but related influences of attitudes and prejudice concerns on race-related behavior.

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Relative Physical Position as an Impression-Management Strategy: Sex Differences in Its Use and Implications

Anastasia Makhanova, James McNulty & Jon Maner

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People's physical position relative to others may shape how those others perceive them. The research described here suggests that people use relative physical position to manage impressions by strategically positioning themselves either higher or lower relative to ostensible observers. Five studies supported the prediction that women take and display photographs portraying themselves in a low relative physical position to highlight their youthful features and appear attractive, whereas men take and display photographs portraying themselves in a high relative physical position to highlight their size and appear dominant. The effectiveness of these strategies was confirmed in two studies that measured social perceptions of male and female targets who varied in their relative position. In sum, as do members of other social species, people use relative physical position to manage social impressions, and although these impression-management strategies may have deep ancestral roots, they appear to manifest themselves through a contemporary human modality - photographs.

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Young children perceive less humanness in outgroup faces

Niamh McLoughlin, Steven Tipper & Harriet Over

Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated when young children first dehumanize outgroups. Across two studies, 5- and 6-year-olds were asked to rate how human they thought a set of ambiguous doll-human face morphs were. We manipulated whether these faces belonged to their gender in- or gender outgroup (Study 1) and to a geographically based in- or outgroup (Study 2). In both studies, the tendency to perceive outgroup faces as less human relative to ingroup faces increased with age. Explicit ingroup preference, in contrast, was present even in the youngest children and remained stable across age. These results demonstrate that children dehumanize outgroup members from relatively early in development and suggest that the tendency to do so may be partially distinguishable from intergroup preference. This research has important implications for our understanding of children's perception of humanness and the origins of intergroup bias.

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Genius begins at home: Shared social identity enhances the recognition of creative performance

Niklas Steffens et al.

British Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research examines the extent to which the recognition of creative performance is structured by social group membership. It does this by analysing the award of merit prizes for Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role for the international award of US-based Oscars and British-based BAFTAs since BAFTA's inception of this category in 1968. For both awards, the exclusive assessment criterion is the quality of artists' performance in the international arena. Results show that US artists won a greater proportion of Oscars than BAFTAs (odds ratio: 2.10), whereas British artists won a greater proportion of BAFTAs than Oscars (OR: 2.26). Furthermore, results support the hypothesis that these patterns are more pronounced as the diagnostic value of a quality indicator increases - that is, in the conferring of actual awards rather than nominations. Specifically, US artists won a greater proportion of Oscar awards than nominations (OR: 1.77), while British artists won a greater proportion of BAFTA awards than nominations (OR: 1.62). Additional analyses show that the performances of in-group actors in movies portraying in-group culture (US culture in the case of Oscars, British culture in the case of BAFTAs) are more likely to be recognized than the performances of in-group actors in movies portraying the culture of other (out-)groups. These are the first data to provide clear evidence from the field that the recognition of exceptional creative performance is enhanced by shared social identity between perceivers and performers.

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Whites for racial justice: How contact with Black Americans predicts support for collective action among White Americans

Hema Preya Selvanathan et al.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Advantaged group members have an important role to play in creating social change, and intergroup contact has tremendous implications in shaping intergroup relations. However, little research has examined how intergroup contact predicts advantaged group members' inclinations toward collective action to support the interests of disadvantaged groups. The present research investigates how contact with Black Americans shapes White Americans' willingness to engage in collective action for racial justice and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Three studies of White Americans (total N = 821) consistently reveal that positive contact with Black Americans predicts greater support for collective action through a sequential process of fostering greater feelings of empathy for Black Americans and anger over injustice. These findings hold even when taking into account other relevant psychological factors (i.e., White guilt and identification, negative contact, group efficacy, and moral convictions). The present research contributes to our understanding of how advantaged group members come to engage in social change efforts.

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Older but not younger infants associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music

Naiqi Xiao et al.

Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We used a novel intermodal association task to examine whether infants associate own- and other-race faces with music of different emotional valences. Three- to 9-month-olds saw a series of neutral own- or other-race faces paired with happy or sad musical excerpts. Three- to 6-month-olds did not show any specific association between face race and music. At 9 months, however, infants looked longer at own-race faces paired with happy music than at own-race faces paired with sad music. Nine-month-olds also looked longer at other-race faces paired with sad music than at other-race faces paired with happy music. These results indicate that infants with nearly exclusive own-race face experience develop associations between face race and music emotional valence in the first year of life. The potential implications of such associations for developing racial biases in early childhood are discussed.

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Is What You Feel What They See? Prominent and Subtle Identity Signaling in Intergroup Interactions

Ted Matherly & Anastasiya Pocheptsova Ghosh

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individuals often signal group affiliations to others, and the display of such identity signals is frequently rather subtle. While prior work has focused on understanding an individual's choices of subtle versus prominent signals, in this work, we look at the downstream consequences of such choices. Specifically, we explore how the prominence of identity signals may affect one's behavior in intergroup interactions. Drawing from literature on processing fluency, we propose that the use of difficult to process (subtle) identity signals in intergroup interactions leads signalers to experience identity threat, lowering confidence in their identity and leading them to engage in behaviors to recover from this experience. Across three different identity domains (college affiliation, political affiliation, and brand loyalty), we show that when individuals use difficult to process identity signals, they derogate out-group members in communication and behave less cooperatively in intergroup interactions. We find that these effects depend upon the observability of the signals by out-group members and only occur for individuals who are highly identified with the in-group. We also find that the effects are attenuated when behavior towards members of the out-group is made public.

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Trusting outgroup, but not ingroup members, requires control: Neural and behavioral evidence

Brent Hughes, Nalini Ambady & Jamil Zaki

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, March 2017, Pages 372-381

Abstract:
Trust and cooperation often break down across group boundaries, contributing to pernicious consequences, from polarized political structures to intractable conflict. As such, addressing such conflicts require first understanding why trust is reduced in intergroup settings. Here, we clarify the structure of intergroup trust using neuroscientific and behavioral methods. We found that trusting ingroup members produced activity in brain areas associated with reward, whereas trusting outgroup members produced activity in areas associated with top-down control. Behaviorally, time pressure - which reduces people's ability to exert control - reduced individuals' trust in outgroup, but not ingroup members. These data suggest that the exertion of control can help recover trust in intergroup settings, offering potential avenues for reducing intergroup failures in trust and the consequences of these failures.

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The influence of voice pitch on perceptions of trustworthiness across social contexts

Jillian O'Connor & Pat Barclay

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceptions of trustworthiness are an important predictor of social outcomes, such as monetary exchanges, criminal sentencing, and the attainment of leadership roles. Higher testosterone levels predict both lower voice pitch and untrustworthy behavior, across economic and mating contexts. Here, we tested the influence of voice pitch on perceptions of trustworthiness across general, economic, and mating-related (mate poaching, infidelity) contexts. We found that the context of trust and the sex of the speaker both changed how voice pitch affected perceived trustworthiness. Listeners were more trusting of higher-pitched female voices in economic and mate poaching contexts, but trusted lower-pitched female voices more in general. Listeners were more trusting of higher-pitched male voices in economic and mating-related contexts, and also tended to perceive higher-pitched male voices as more trustworthy in general. Listeners' attributions of trustworthiness were generally unrelated to perceptions of attractiveness from similarly-pitched voices, indicating that trust-related attributions were independent of preferences for higher- or lower-pitched voices. Furthermore, perceptions of general trustworthiness were associated with perceptions of economic trust, but were not consistently associated with perceptions of mating-related trust. These findings provide evidence that voice pitch alone is sufficient to influence trust-related perceptions, and demonstrates that listeners use voice pitch as a cue to trustworthy behavior.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dignity in poverty

Suicide and the Social Security Early Retirement Age

Jeffrey DeSimone

Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a regression discontinuity framework, this paper documents a previously unnoticed drop of 7%-8% in the U.S. suicide rate upon reaching age 62 during 1990-2014. This decline is concentrated among men, nearly doubled in size over the most recent decade as the income gap between those just older and younger narrowed, and represents the only trend break among ages 45-79. These findings, along with the observed timing of retirement and benefit claims and research on how income affects suicide, suggest that the likely explanation is Social Security early retirement benefit eligibility rather than retirement per se.

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Horizontal Immobility: How Narratives of Neighborhood Violence Shape Housing Decisions

Eva Rosen

American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
While poor families experience high residential instability, they also stay put for extended periods of time before moving. When they do move, they are likely to move laterally to a similarly disadvantaged place. These two processes - staying in place and churning - amount to "horizontal immobility." Why do people get stuck in disadvantaged environments? Prevailing understandings focus on constraints to residential choice, but even under limitations, families make active residential decisions. Drawing on fieldwork with 50 renters in a low-income, high-crime Baltimore neighborhood, this article proposes that neighborhoods themselves shape narratives governing residential decision-making. In high-crime neighborhoods, renters stay put as long as they can craft a story that justifies remaining. But when the narrative is ruptured by violent events, residents are pushed to action, often a move. The logic behind these moves is motivated by a desire to restore a sense of safety. The concept of "narrative rupture" sheds light on when a family decides to move, representing a mechanism for how residential decisions are shaped by neighborhood forces to reproduce poverty. This concept also contributes to theories of how culture shapes action: we are most likely to act when the narratives supporting our current course of action break down.

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Minimum Wages and Consumer Credit: Impacts on Access to Credit and Traditional and High-Cost Borrowing

Lisa Dettling & Joanne Hsu

Federal Reserve Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
Proponents of minimum wage legislation point to its potential to raise earnings and lift families out of poverty, while opponents argue that disemployment effects lead to net welfare losses. But these arguments typically ignore the possibility that minimum wage policy has spillover effects on other aspects of households' financial circumstances. This paper examines how state-level minimum wage changes affect the decisions of lenders and low-income borrowers. Using data derived from direct mailings of credit offers, debt recorded in credit reports, and survey-reported usage of alternative credit products, we broadly find that when minimum wages rise, access to credit expands for lower-income households, who in turn, use more traditional credit and less high-cost alternatives. Specifically, for each $1 increase in the minimum wage, lower-income households receive 7 percent more credit card offers, with higher limits and improved terms. Further, there is a drop in usage of high-cost borrowing: payday borrowing falls 40 percent. Finally, we find that borrowers are also better able to manage their debt: delinquency rates fall by 5 percent. Overall, our results suggest that minimum wage policy has positive spillover effects by relaxing borrowing constraints among lower income households.

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Minimum Wages and the Distribution of Family Incomes

Arindrajit Dube

University of Massachusetts Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Using the March Current Population Survey data from 1984 to 2013, I provide a comprehensive evaluation of how minimum wage policies influence the distribution of family incomes. I find robust evidence that higher minimum wages shift down the cumulative distribution of family incomes at the bottom, reducing the share of non-elderly individuals with incomes below 50, 75, 100, and 125 percent of the federal poverty threshold. The long run (3 or more years) minimum wage elasticity of the non-elderly poverty rate with respect to the minimum wage ranges between -0.22 and -0.55 across alternative specifications that subsume most of the approaches used in the literature to construct valid counterfactuals. Inverting the policy's effect on the cumulative distribution, I estimate minimum wage elasticities for unconditional quantiles of family incomes. The long run minimum wage elasticities for the 10th and 15th unconditional quantiles of equivalized family incomes range between 0.15 and 0.49 depending on specification. A reduction in public assistance partly offsets these income gains, which are on average 72% as large when using an expanded income definition including tax credits and non-cash transfers.

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Moving Up Matters: Socioeconomic Mobility Prospectively Predicts Better Physical Health

Jenny Cundiff et al.

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: Low socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood confers risk for poor physical health later in life. This study prospectively examines whether improvements in family SES protect youth from developing physical health problems by adulthood and whether such effects differ by race or age.

Method: Participants are a school-based sample of urban Black (53%) and White (47%) men (N = 311). Using latent growth curve modeling, we prospectively examined whether changes in family SES measured annually between Ages 7 and 16 predicted physical health diagnoses in adulthood (Age 32). Family SES was assessed as a weighted composite of parental education and occupational status. Physical health diagnoses were assessed as a count of self-reported medical conditions from a health history interview.

Results: Consistent with macroeconomic trends, on average, family SES increased until the early 1990s, then remained flat until rising again in the mid-1990s. During each of 3 independent developmental periods, boys raised in families who experienced more positive changes in SES reported fewer physical health diagnoses in adulthood. These effects did not vary significantly by race and remained after controlling for initial childhood SES, childhood health problems, concurrent adult SES, and weight (Body Mass Index or reported overweight).

Conclusions: Initial childhood SES did not predict physical health, whereas relative improvements in SES over a 10-year period did. If the families of Black and White boys were upwardly mobile, it appeared to protect them from developing physical disease, and upward mobility was additively protective across developmental periods examined here.

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The impact of welfare reform on the health insurance coverage, utilization and health of low education single mothers

Kimberly Narain et al.

Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 imposed time limits on the receipt of welfare cash benefits and mandated cash benefit sanctions for failure to meet work requirements. Many studies examining the health implications of PRWORA have found associated declines in health insurance coverage and healthcare utilization among single mothers but no impact of PRWORA on health outcomes. A limitation of this literature is that most studies cover a time period before time limits were implemented in all states and also before individuals began actually timing out. This work builds on previous studies by exploring this research question using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation that covers a time period after all states have implemented time limits (1991-2009). We use a difference-in-differences study design that exploits variability in eligibility for cash welfare benefits by marital status and state-level variation in timing of PRWORA implementation to identify the effect of PRWORA. Using ordinary least square regression models, controlling for state-level and federal policies, individual-level demographics and state and year fixed-effects, we find that PRWORA leads to 7 and 5 percentage point increases in self-reported poor health and self-reported disability among white single mothers without a diploma, respectively.

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Young child poverty in the United States: Analyzing trends in poverty and the role of anti-poverty programs using the Supplemental Poverty Measure

Jessica Pac et al.

Children and Youth Services Review, March 2017, Pages 35-49

Abstract:
Between 1968 and 2013, the poverty rate of young children age 0 to 5 years fell by nearly one third, in large part because of the role played by anti-poverty programs. However, young children in the U.S. still face a much higher rate of poverty than do older children in the U.S. They also continue to have a much higher poverty rate than do young children in other developed countries around the world. In this paper, we provide a detailed analysis of trends in poverty and the role of anti-poverty programs in addressing poverty among young children, using an improved measure of poverty, the Supplemental Poverty Measure. We examine changes over time and the current status, both for young children overall and for key subgroups (by child age, and by child race/ethnicity). Our findings can be summarized in three key points. First, poverty among all young children age 0-5 years has fallen since the beginning of our time series; but absent the safety net, today's poverty rate among young children would be identical to or higher than it was in 1968. Second, the safety net plays an increasing role in reducing the poverty of young children, especially among Black non-Hispanic children, whose poverty rate would otherwise be 20.8 percentage points higher in 2013. Third, the composition of support has changed from virtually all cash transfers in 1968, to about one third each of cash, credit and in-kind transfers today.

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How Are SNAP Benefits Spent? Evidence from a Retail Panel

Justine Hastings & Jesse Shapiro

NBER Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
We use a novel retail panel with more than six years of detailed transaction records to study the effect of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on household spending. We frame our approach using novel administrative data from the state of Rhode Island. The marginal propensity to consume SNAP-eligible food (MPCF) out of SNAP benefits is 0.5 to 0.6. The MPCF out of cash is much smaller. These patterns obtain even for households for whom SNAP benefits are economically equivalent to cash in the sense that benefits do not cover all food spending. We reject the hypothesis that households respect the fungibility of money in a semiparametric setup. A post-hoc model of mental accounting rationalizes these facts and others.

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Displaced in Place: Manufactured Housing, Mass Eviction, and the Paradox of State Intervention

Esther Sullivan

American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines housing insecurity within manufactured housing-the single largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the United States, home to about 18 million low-income residents. A large portion of manufactured housing is installed in mobile home parks, which can legally close at any time, displacing entire communities. Based on two years living within and being evicted from closing mobile home parks in two states, this comparative ethnography of mass eviction juxtaposes sites of distinctive state practices for managing the forced relocation of park residents. I analyze the experience of eviction in Florida, a site of explicit intervention and "model" legislation for mobile home park closures, in light of the experience in Texas, where the state has adopted a hands-off approach. I describe the paradoxical effects of Florida's protective, yet market-oriented, state housing interventions, which produced both a cottage industry of mobile home relocation services and a more protracted, pernicious eviction for displaced residents. I outline the specific mechanisms through which this paradox of state intervention occurred and consider the implications not only for mobile home parks but also for a variety of other state programs that are currently being delivered through an adaptive reliance on the private sector.

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Longitudinal trends in substance use and mental health service needs in child welfare

Orion Mowbray et al.

Children and Youth Services Review, February 2017, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
Caregiver substance use and mental health problems have long been discussed as concerns in promoting positive child welfare outcomes. Yet the absence of longitudinal data focused on racial/ethnic differences in service needs and substance use has limited child welfare systems in their ability to address potential disparities. This study examines racial/ethnic trends in service needs and patterns of substances used among child welfare-involved caregivers over a 15-year period (2000-2015) from a large, urban county located in the Midwestern United States. Substance use service needs showed an increase over time among White non-Hispanic individuals, and declined over time for all racial/ethnic minority groups. Mental health service needs increased over time, with White non-Hispanic individuals experiencing the largest increase. Co-occurring service needs showed a moderate increase for all groups. Trends associated with service needs across the lifespan were relatively similar across racial and ethnic groups, with needs peaking between ages 30 and 35. When examining specific substances used, cocaine use decreased over time for all individuals. However, marijuana use increased substantially for Black/African American individuals, while opioid use increased substantially for White non-Hispanic individuals. These results highlight key areas where trends among child welfare-involved caregivers differ from population-based trends and suggest that improved coordination between child welfare agencies, mental health and substance use treatment providers may be a key step in reducing the disparities observed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blessed and cursed

Roads More and Less Traveled: Different Emotional Routes to Creativity Among Protestants and Catholics

Emily Kim & Dov Cohen

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Western culture has 2 contradictory images of creativity: the artist as intensely emotional versus the artist as sublimator, for whom work becomes the outlet for what is repressed and denied. We show that both images are correct, but that the routes to creativity are culturally patterned, such that Catholic creatives are relatively more likely to take the emotionally intense route and Protestant creatives relatively more likely to take the sublimating route. This pattern is consistent for both the Big-C creativity of historical eminents (Studies 1 and 1b) and small-c creativity of student samples (Studies 2 and 3). The student samples also highlighted the moderating role of Protestant asceticism, as Protestants who were high in asceticism and who also repressed or minimized troublesome emotions were particularly creative. Analyses of behavioral data in previous lab experiments (Studies 2b and 3b) provided conceptual validation of the findings reported in Studies 2 and 3.

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Beyond the Classroom: The Implications of School Vouchers for Church Finances

Daniel Hungerman, Kevin Rinz & Jay Frymark

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Governments have used vouchers to spend billions of dollars on private education; much of this spending has gone to religiously-affiliated schools. We explore the possibility that vouchers could create a financial windfall for religious organizations operating private schools and in doing so impact the spiritual, moral, and social fabric of communities. We use a dataset of Catholic-parish finances from Milwaukee that includes information on both Catholic schools and the parishes that run them. We show that vouchers are now a dominant source of funding for many churches; parishes in our sample running voucher-accepting schools get more revenue from vouchers than from worshipers. We also find that voucher expansion prevents church closures and mergers. Despite these results, we fail to find evidence that vouchers promote religious behavior: voucher expansion causes significant declines in church donations and church spending on non-educational religious purposes. The meteoric growth of vouchers appears to offer financial stability for congregations while at the same time diminishing their religious activities.

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Moralizing Gods and Armed Conflict

Ahmed Skali

Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study documents a robust empirical pattern between moralizing gods, which prescribe fixed laws of morality, and conflict prevalence and fatalities, using spatially referenced data for Africa on contemporary conflicts and ancestral belief systems of individual ethnic groups prior to European contact. Moralizing gods are found to significantly increase conflict prevalence and casualties at the local level. The identification strategy draws on the evolutionary psychology roots of moralizing gods as a solution to the collective action problem in pre-modern societies. A one standard deviation increase in the likelihood of emergence of a moralizing god increases casualties by 18 to 36% and conflict prevalence by 4 to 8% approximately.

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God Versus Party: Competing Effects on Attitudes Concerning Criminal Punishment, National Security, and Military Service

Robert Thomson & Paul Froese

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore how images of God interact with political party to predict attitudes concerning the appropriate role of government in both criminal punishment and national security. Using the second wave of the Baylor Religion Survey (2007), we analyze the extent to which beliefs regarding God's moral judgment moderate the influence of party affiliation on opinions about the death penalty, fighting terrorism, punishing criminals, serving in the military, and U.S. involvement in the Iraq War. Specifically, we find that Democrats who believe in a judgmental God tend to support more conservative policies. In fact, attitudes converge such that the effects of party membership are erased if rival partisans both believe in a judgmental moral authority.

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Why Being Wrong can be Right: Magical Warfare Technologies and the Persistence of False Beliefs

Nathan Nunn & Raul Sanchez de la Sierra

NBER Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
Across human societies, one sees many examples of deeply rooted and widely-held beliefs that are almost certainly untrue. Examples include beliefs about witchcraft, magic, ordeals, and superstitions. Why are such incorrect beliefs so prevalent and how do they persist? We consider this question through an examination of superstitions and magic associated with conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Focusing on superstitions related to bulletproofing, we provide theory and case-study evidence showing how these incorrect beliefs persist. Although harmful at the individual-level, we show that they generate Pareto efficient outcomes that have group-level benefits.

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Child Abuse Scandal Publicity and Catholic School Enrollment: Does the Boston Globe Coverage Matter?

Ali Moghtaderi

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: This study examines the effect of negative publicity that arose from public notices of child abuse allegations in the Catholic Church on the enrollment share and number of Catholic schools in the United States.

Method: Fitting least square regressions using diocese-level panel data of Catholic school enrollment share and number of Catholic schools.

Results: I show that the reports of abuse prior to 2002 had no effect on enrollment. Yet, reports since 2002 have had a negative and long-lasting effect and explain about two-thirds of the decline in Catholic schooling. These are substantially larger declines than suggested in previous studies.

Conclusion: I argue that the differing responses to the public notices of child abuse between these two periods are derived from the availability heuristic. This is driven from a fundamental difference in media coverage of the scandal prior to 2002 and afterward. Allegations of child abuse in the Catholic Church received emphatic coverage only after 2002.

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Religion and work: Micro evidence from contemporary Germany

Jörg Spenkuch

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, March 2017, Pages 193–214

Abstract:
Using micro data from contemporary Germany, this paper studies the connection between Protestantism and modern-day labor market outcomes. To address the endogeneity in self-declared religion, I exploit a provision in a sixteenth-century peace treaty, which determined the geographic distribution of Catholics and Protestants. Reduced form and instrumental variable estimates provide no evidence of an effect of Protestantism on hourly wages. However, relative to their Catholic counterparts, Protestants do appear to work longer hours. The patterns in the data are difficult to reconcile with explanations based on institutional factors or religious differences in human capital acquisition. Religious differences in individuals’ values, however, can account for most of the estimated effects.

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Where Does Religion Matter Most? Personal Religiosity and the Acceptability of Wife-beating in Cross-National Perspective

Jong Hyun Jung & Daniel Olson

Sociological Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does religion justify violent acts against wives, or does it reduce approval of this type of intimate partner violence? We examine whether personal religiosity raises or lowers the acceptability of wife-beating. In addition, we investigate how the relationship between personal religiosity and attitudes toward wife-beating differs depending on the overall normative context of the country where a person lives. Using multilevel modeling with data from the fifth wave of the World Values Survey (2005–2008), we find that greater individual-level religiosity reduces the acceptability of wife-beating. More importantly, cross-level interactions show that these reductions are greatest in countries where there is a general lack of normative restraint as measured by the “anomie” scale. These observations suggest that religiosity may influence an individual's norms the most in countries where secular controls are absent or weak.

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Religious People Endorse Different Standards of Evidence When Evaluating Religious Versus Scientific Claims

Jonathon McPhetres & Miron Zuckerman

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has begun to investigate the relationship between religion and science. However, it remains unclear whether religious and nonreligious people differ on the standards of evidence used when evaluating claims in religious versus scientific contexts. Across three studies (N = 702), we presented participants with effects that were attributed to scientific methodology or to God and asked them to rate how many more times an effect needs to be repeated in order to have certainty in the outcome. Results showed that religious people requested fewer repetitions compared to nonreligious people when an effect was attributed to prayer, and fewer repetitions when an effect was attributed to prayer compared to scientific methodology. Nonreligious people were relatively consistent across conditions. These results suggest that religious people have less stringent standards of evidence when evaluating nonscientific claims. Directions for future research are also discussed.

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Islamic Headcovering and Political Engagement: The Power of Social Networks

Aubrey Westfall et al.

Politics and Religion, March 2017, Pages 3-30

Abstract:
This article explores the relationship between headcovering and women's political participation through an original online survey of 1,917 Muslim-American women. As a visible marker of religious group identity, wearing the headscarf can orient the integration of Muslim women into the American political system via its impact on the openness of their associational life. Our survey respondents who cover are more likely to form insular, strong ties with predominantly Muslim friend networks, which decreased their likelihood of voting and affiliating with a political party. Interestingly, frequency of mosque attendance across both covered and uncovered respondents is associated with a higher probability of political participation, an effect noted in other religious institutions in the United States. Yet, mosque attendance can simultaneously decrease the political engagement of congregants if they are steered into exclusively religious friend groups. This discovery reveals a tension within American Muslim religious life and elaborates on the role of religious institutions vs. social networks in politically mobilizing Muslim-Americans.

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Heightened religiosity and epilepsy: Evidence for religious-specific neuropsychological processes

Brick Johnstone, Greyson Holliday & Daniel Cohen

Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Fall 2016, Pages 704-712

Abstract:
It has been hypothesised that humans may have an innate neurologic tendency towards being religiously oriented, suggesting that we possess religious-specific neuropsychological processes. Persons with epilepsy provide a unique opportunity to study these relationships given the documented hyper-religious experiences observed with epilepsy. The current study evaluated 19 individuals with epilepsy to determine if epilepsy-related religious experiences (as measured by the Bear Fedio Inventory [BFI]) are reflective of a general increase in behaviours observed with epilepsy (e.g., philosophical thoughts, emotionality), or if they are reflective of a religious-specific orientation. Spearman correlations indicated that: (1) BFI religious-orientation scales are significantly related to philosophical concerns (i.e., nature of the universe), but not measures of emotionality and (2) BFI religious-orientation scales, but not philosophical or emotionality scales, are significantly associated with other commonly used measures of spirituality. These findings suggest that individuals may possess neuropsychological processes that are specific to religious orientations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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