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Friday, April 10, 2015

For the people

Seeing Like an Autocrat: Liberal Social Engineering in an Illiberal State

Calvert Jones
Perspectives on Politics, March 2015, Pages 24-41

Abstract:
Recent studies of autocratic liberalization adopt a rationalist approach in which autocrats’ motives and styles of reasoning are imputed or deduced. By contrast, I investigate these empirically. I focus on liberal social engineering in the Persian Gulf, where authoritarian state efforts to shape citizen hearts and minds conform incongruously to liberal ideals of character. To explain this important but under-studied variant on autocratic liberalization, I present evidence from rare palace ethnography in the United Arab Emirates, including analysis of the jokes and stories ruling elites tell behind closed doors and regular interviews with a ruling monarch. I find that autocrats’ deeply personal experiences in the West as young men and women supplied them with stylized ideas about how modern, productive peoples ought to act and how their own cultures underperform. The evidence also reveals that such experiences can influence autocrats, even years later, leading them to trust in Western-style liberal social engineering as the way forward, despite the risks. Ethnographic findings challenge the contemporary scholarly stereotype of the autocrat as a super-rational being narrowly focused on political survival, illustrating how memory and emotion can also serve as important influences over reasoning and can drive liberal change.

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Islam and Democracy at the Fringes of Europe: The Role of Useful Historical Legacies

Arolda Elbasani
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyzes how the Muslim majority has engaged with, and contributed to parallel processes of democratization and European integration in post-Communist Albania. The assessment of Muslims' choices focuses on the Central organization, the Albanian Muslim Community, which is recognized by the state as the only authority in charge of all the administrative and spiritual issues pertinent to the community of Sunni believers, and serves as the main hub of respective religious activities in the country. The analysis of democratization, and Muslims' respective choices, are divided into two different periods, namely democratic transition (1990–1998) and democratic consolidation (1998–2013), each facing democratizing actors, including Muslim groups, with different challenges and issues. We argue that the existence of a useful pool of arguments from the past, the so-called Albanian tradition, has enabled Muslims to contravene controversial foreign influences and recast Islam in line with the democratic and European ideals of the Albanian post-communist polity. This set of historical legacies and arguments explain Muslims' similar positioning toward democracy throughout different stages marked by different institutional restrictions and state policies.

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On the endogeneity of political preferences: Evidence from individual experience with democracy

Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln & Matthias Schündeln
Science, 6 March 2015, Pages 1145-1148

Abstract:
Democracies depend on the support of the general population, but little is known about the determinants of this support. We investigated whether support for democracy increases with the length of time spent under the system and whether preferences are thus affected by the political system. Relying on 380,000 individual-level observations from 104 countries over the years 1994 to 2013, and exploiting individual-level variation within a country and a given year in the length of time spent under democracy, we find evidence that political preferences are endogenous. For new democracies, our findings imply that popular support needs time to develop. For example, the effect of around 8.5 more years of democratic experience corresponds to the difference in support for democracy between primary and secondary education.

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Democratization Under the Threat of Revolution: Evidence From the Great Reform Act of 1832

Toke Aidt & Raphaël Franck
Econometrica, March 2015, Pages 505–547

Abstract:
We examine the link between the threat of violence and democratization in the context of the Great Reform Act passed by the British Parliament in 1832. We geo-reference the so-called Swing riots, which occurred between the 1830 and 1831 parliamentary elections, and compute the number of these riots that happened within a 10 km radius of the 244 English constituencies. Our empirical analysis relates this constituency-specific measure of the threat perceptions held by the 344,000 voters in the Unreformed Parliament to the share of seats won in each constituency by pro-reform politicians in 1831. We find that the Swing riots induced voters to vote for pro-reform politicians after experiencing first-hand the violence of the riots.

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Making Democracy Work: Culture, Social Capital and Elections in China

Gerard Padró i Miquel et al.
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
This paper aims to show that culture is an important determinant of the effectiveness of formal democratic institutions, such as elections. We collect new data to document the presence of voluntary and social organizations and the history of electoral reforms in Chinese villages. We use the presence of village temples to proxy for culture, or more specifically, for social (civic) capital and show that their presence greatly enhances the increase in public goods due to the introduction of elections. These results support the view that social capital complements democratic institutions such as elections.

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Explaining the Oil Advantage: Effects of Natural Resource Wealth on Incumbent Reelection in Iran

Paasha Mahdavi
World Politics, April 2015, Pages 226-267

Abstract:
Why does natural resource wealth prolong incumbency? Using evidence from parliamentary elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the author shows that natural resource revenues boost incumbent reelection rates because they are used to provide public or private goods to constituents, which incentivizes voters to reelect incumbents over challengers. To test this hypothesis, the author employs originally assembled data on five parliamentary elections in Iran (1992–2008) in longitudinal hierarchical regression analyses at the district and province levels. By leveraging Iran's mixed-member electoral system, he shows that the resource-incumbency mechanism works primarily in single-member districts with little evidence of an incumbency advantage for politicians in resource-rich multimember districts. Building on the rentier theory of natural resource wealth, the results suggest that voting for the incumbent is attributable to patronage and public goods distribution. The findings offer new insights into the understudied context of Iranian legislative elections, illustrate the mechanisms driving the relationship between resource wealth and incumbency advantage at the subnational level in a nondemocratic setting, and highlight the mediating effects of electoral institutions on the resource-incumbency relationship.

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Transnational Women's Activism and the Global Diffusion of Gender Quotas

Melanie Hughes, Mona Lena Krook & Pamela Paxton
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The rapid global spread of quotas for women constitutes one of the most significant political developments of the last thirty years. It transformed the composition of legislatures worldwide. Yet we lack a solid understanding of the forces driving quota diffusion. In this article, we consider how global pressure from the international women's movement affects national gender quota adoption. In the first quantitative analysis of this question on a global scale, we use event history techniques to examine global, transnational, and national influences on quota adoption in 149 countries between 1989 and 2008. Contributing to work on international norm diffusion, we find a crucial role for women's activism, but uncover a negative interaction between increased global pressures and domestic ties to women's transnational organizing. We suggest global pressure to adopt quotas may be weakened by the diverse agendas of women's activist organizations, by perceived threats to male elites posed by women's agitation, or both.

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Repression by Proxy: How Military Purges and Insurgency Impact the Delegation of Coercion

Kristine Eck
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do regimes delegate authority over a territory to nonstate militias, in effect voluntarily sacrificing their monopoly over the use of violence? This article argues that two factors increase the probability of states delegating control to a proxy militia, namely, military purges and armed conflict. Military purges disrupt intelligence-gathering structures and the organizational capacity of the military. To counteract this disruption, military leaders subcontract the task of control and repression to allied militias that have the local intelligence skills necessary to manage the civilian population. This argument is conditioned by whether the state faces an armed insurgency in a given region since intelligence, control, and repression are needed most where the state is being challenged. This hypothesis is tested on unique data for all subnational regions within Myanmar during the period 1962 to 2010 and finds that proxy militias are more likely to be raised in conflict areas after military purges.

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How Is Power Shared in Africa?

Patrick Francois, Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi
Econometrica, March 2015, Pages 465–503

Abstract:
Is African politics characterized by concentrated power in the hands of a narrow group (ethnically determined) that then fluctuates from one extreme to another via frequent coups? Employing data on the ethnicity of cabinet ministers since independence, we show that African ruling coalitions are surprisingly large and that political power is allocated proportionally to population shares across ethnic groups. This holds true even restricting the analysis to the subsample of the most powerful ministerial posts. We argue that the likelihood of revolutions from outsiders and coup threats from insiders are major forces explaining allocations within these regimes. Alternative allocation mechanisms are explored. Counterfactual experiments that shed light on the role of Western policies in affecting African national coalitions and leadership group premia are performed.

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Ethno-Regional Favouritism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Pelle Ahlerup & Ann-Sofie Isaksson
Kyklos, May 2015, Pages 143–152

Abstract:
Studies of political favouritism in Africa often treat ethnic and regional favouritism as interchangeable concepts. The present paper distinguishes between the two and investigates their relative influence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Focusing on whether individuals perceive their ethnic group to be unfairly treated by government, we assess the importance of being a co-ethnic of the country president, of living in the president's region of origin and of the regional share of president co-ethnics. Empirical findings drawing on detailed individual level survey data covering more than 19 000 respondents across 15 African countries suggest that ethnic and regional favouritism are not the same, but rather have independent effects.

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Landholding Inequality, Political Strategy, and Authoritarian Repression: Structure and Agency in Bismarck’s “Second Founding” of the German Empire

Henry Thomson
Studies in Comparative International Development, March 2015, Pages 73-97

Abstract:
Canonical works and recent studies posit that authoritarian repression, like that targeting Social Democrats during the “Second Founding” of the German Empire, depends on structural factors such as landholding inequality. However, at this juncture, the role of these variables was more complex than that in the “grand sweep” of German history. Liberal support for the 1878 Antisocialist Law was the result of an interaction between the strategy of the government and structures in society at large. Public outcry surrounding an assassination attempt on the Kaiser was provoked by the Chancellor through the press, and utilized as a political instrument by calling new elections. Liberals contesting districts with high landholding inequality came under conservative pressure led by landed aristocrats, and were forced to take up stances supporting repression. This first step in the “Second Founding” of the Empire marked an important move away from liberal governance which precluded democratic reform in Imperial Germany.

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Income and democracy: The modernization hypothesis re-visited via alternative non-linear models

Suzanna-Maria Paleologou
Empirical Economics, March 2015, Pages 909-921

Abstract:
This paper introduces a new approach to examine the relationship between income and democracy by employing panel count data models to explicitly allow for the fact that the primary indices of democracy are non-negative integers with upper bounds. We find evidence that though income and democracy are positively related the magnitude of the coefficient is extremely small implying that there is no evidence of a causal effect, and thus there is no support for the modernization hypothesis. Moreover, once we control for income endogeneity, the relationship between income and democracy turns to be insignificant or even negative.

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Media freedom and gender equality: A cross-national instrumental variable quantile analysis

Aniruddha Mitra, James Bang & Arnab Biswas
Applied Economics, Spring 2015, Pages 2278-2292

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of media freedom on gender equality in education for a sample of 63 countries taken over the period 1995–2004. Our analysis is motivated by the idea that the impact of media freedom on gender equality may differ over the conditional distribution of the response variable. Using instrumental variable quantile regression to control for endogeneity in per capita income, we find that greater freedom of the media improves gender equality only in the 0.25 and 0.50 quantiles of the conditional distribution. Countries with the greatest disparities in gender outcomes experience no significant impact of media freedom.

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Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts

Dara Kay Cohen & Ragnhild Nordås
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing research maintains that governments delegate extreme, gratuitous, or excessively brutal violence to militias. However, analyzing all militias in armed conflicts from 1989 to 2009, we find that this argument does not account for the observed patterns of sexual violence, a form of violence that should be especially likely to be delegated by governments. Instead, we find that states commit sexual violence as a complement to — rather than a substitute for — violence perpetrated by militias. Rather than the logic of delegation, we argue that two characteristics of militia groups increase the probability of perpetrating sexual violence. First, we find that militias that have recruited children are associated with higher levels of sexual violence. This lends support to a socialization hypothesis, in which sexual violence may be used as a tool for building group cohesion. Second, we find that militias that were trained by states are associated with higher levels of sexual violence, which provides evidence for sexual violence as a “practice” of armed groups. These two complementary results suggest that militia-perpetrated sexual violence follows a different logic and is neither the result of delegation nor, perhaps, indiscipline.

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Elites and Corruption: A Theory of Endogenous Reform and a Test Using British Data

Mircea Popa
World Politics, April 2015, Pages 313-352

Abstract:
Eighteenth-century Britain displayed patterns of corruption similar to those of developing countries today. Reforms enacted in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries eliminated many of these patterns. This article develops a theoretical argument that seeks to explain why the British elite enacted anticorruption reforms and provides evidence using a new data set of members of the House of Commons. The author argues that the shock that pushed the British elite from preferring the old corrupt regime to preferring the reformed one was an increase in government spending and a corresponding increase in the costs of tolerating corruption. Features unique to Britain allowed the reformist outcome to emerge and illuminate why such an outcome is difficult to achieve in general.

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Repression and Terrorism: A Cross-National Empirical Analysis of Types of Repression and Domestic Terrorism

James Piazza
Terrorism and Political Violence, forthcoming

Abstract:
While some scholars have theorized that repression reduces terrorism because it raises the costs of participating in terrorist activity by dissidents, others argue that repression stimulates terrorism by either closing off nonviolent avenues for expressing dissent or by provoking or sharpening grievances within a population. This study investigates these contradictory sets of expectations by considering whether or not different specific types of repression yield different effects on patterns of terrorism in 149 countries for the period 1981 to 2006. By assessing the impact of nine specific types of repression on domestic terrorism, the study produces some interesting findings: while, as expected, forms of repression that close off nonviolent avenues of dissent and boost group grievances increase the amount of domestic terrorism a country faces, types of repression that raise the costs of terrorist activity have no discernible suppressing effect on terrorism.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, April 9, 2015

No place like home

“Back Off”! Helicopter Parenting and a Retreat From Marriage Among Emerging Adults

Brian Willoughby et al.
Journal of Family Issues, April 2015, Pages 669-692

Abstract:
The present study used a sample of 779 unmarried emerging adult college students to test the hypothesis that higher levels of helicopter parenting would be related to less positive marital attitudes. Helicopter parenting entails intense and intrusive involvement by parents under the guise of caring and protection. Using hierarchical multiple regression models, results suggested that helicopter parenting was not associated with the general importance placed on marriage but did influence emerging adults’ beliefs about the advantages of being single versus being married and their expected age of marriage. Higher reported helicopter parenting among emerging adults was associated with stronger beliefs that being single held more advantages than being married and an expected delay of eventual marriage. Other results suggested that parental warmth with mothers and fathers was also an important correlate of emerging adults’ marital attitudes.

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Origins of narcissism in children

Eddie Brummelman et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 24 March 2015, Pages 3659–3662

Abstract:
Narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth, and contribute to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism, however, are not well understood. Here, we report, to our knowledge, the first prospective longitudinal evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. We compared two perspectives: social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation) and psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth). We timed the study in late childhood (ages 7–12), when individual differences in narcissism first emerge. In four 6-mo waves, 565 children and their parents reported child narcissism, child self-esteem, parental overvaluation, and parental warmth. Four-wave cross-lagged panel models were conducted. Results support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory: Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation, not by lack of parental warmth. Thus, children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”). Attesting to the specificity of this finding, self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth, not by parental overvaluation. These findings uncover early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism, and may inform interventions to curtail narcissistic development at an early age.

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Caregiving and 5-HTTLPR Genotype Predict Adolescent Physiological Stress Reactivity: Confirmatory Tests of Gene × Environment Interactions

Jennifer Sumner et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
A theory-driven confirmatory approach comparing diathesis–stress and differential susceptibility models of Gene × Environment (G × E) interactions was applied to examine whether 5-HTTLPR genotype moderated the effect of early maternal caregiving on autonomic nervous system (ANS) stress reactivity in 113 adolescents aged 13–17 years. Findings supported a differential susceptibility, rather than diathesis–stress, framework. Carriers of one or more 5-HTTLPR short alleles (SS/SL carriers) reporting higher quality caregiving exhibited approach ANS responses to a speech task, whereas those reporting lower quality caregiving exhibited withdrawal ANS responses. Carriers of two 5-HTTLPR long alleles (LL carriers) were unaffected by caregiving. Findings suggest that 5-HTTLPR genotype and early caregiving in interaction are associated with ANS stress reactivity in adolescents in a “for better and for worse” fashion, and they demonstrate the promise of confirmatory methods for testing G × E interactions.

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Further Examination of the Immediate Impact of Television on Children’s Executive Function

Angeline Lillard et al.
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies examined the short-term impact of television (TV) on children’s executive function (EF). Study 1 (N = 160) showed that 4- and 6-year-olds’ EF is impaired after watching 2 different fast and fantastical shows, relative to that of children who watched a slow, realistic show or played. In Study 2 (N = 60), 4-year-olds’ EF was as depleted after watching a fast and fantastical educational show as it was after a fast and fantastical entertainment one, relative to that of children who read a book based on the educational show. Study 3 (N = 80) examined whether show pacing or fantasy was more influential, and found that only fantastical shows, regardless of their pacing, disrupted 4-year-olds’ EF. Taken together, these studies show that 10–20 min watching televised fantastical events, relative to other experiences, results in lower EF in young children.

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Fathers’ Methods of Child Discipline: Does Incarceration Lead to Harsh and Physical Punishment? A Research Note

Elizabeth Ehrhardt Mustaine & Richard Tewksbury
American Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2015, Pages 89-99

Abstract:
Using Data from Wave 9 of the Fragile Families and Child Well Being Study (2011) this study examines predictors of fathers’ use of harsh physical child discipline methods. Central to the investigation is the question of whether fathers who have been incarcerated experience a brutalization effect of imprisonment which is manifested in harsh physical means of child discipline. Also examined are measures of demographics, scope and quality of interactions with child(ren), interactions with mother, attitudes/beliefs about the fathering role and degree of satisfaction derived from parenting. Results show that the most influential measures are those regarding scope and quality of interactions with child(ren). Whether or not a father has been incarcerated shows no statistically significant effect on methods of child discipline.

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Family environment and the malleability of cognitive ability: A Swedish national home-reared and adopted-away cosibling control study

Kenneth Kendler et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cognitive ability strongly aggregates in families, and prior twin and adoption studies have suggested that this is the result of both genetic and environmental factors. In this study, we used a powerful design — home-reared and adopted-away cosibling controls — to investigate the role of the rearing environment in cognitive ability. We identified, from a complete national Swedish sample of male–male siblings, 436 full-sibships in which at least one member was reared by one or more biological parents and the other by adoptive parents. IQ was measured at age 18–20 as part of the Swedish military service conscription examination. Parental educational level was rated on a 5-point scale. Controlling for clustering of offspring within biological families, the adopted siblings had an IQ 4.41 (SE = 0.75) points higher than their nonadopted siblings. Each additional unit of rearing parental education was associated with 1.71 (SE = 0.44) units of IQ. We replicated these results in 2,341 male–male half-sibships, in which, controlling for clustering within families, adoption was associated with a gain of IQ of 3.18 (SE = 0.34) points. Each additional unit of rearing parental education was associated with 1.94 (SE = 0.18) IQ units. Using full- and half-sibling sets matched for genetic background, we found replicated evidence that (i) rearing environment affects IQ measured in late adolescence, and (ii) a portion of the IQ of adopted siblings could be explained by the educational level of their adoptive parents.

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Childhood Health and Human Capital: New Evidence from Genetic Brothers in Arms

John Parman
Journal of Economic History, March 2015, Pages 30-64

Abstract:
Negative shocks to childhood health can have a lasting impact on the economic success of an individual by altering families' schooling investment decisions. This article introduces a new dataset of brothers serving in World War II and uses it to demonstrate that improvements in childhood health led to substantial increases in educational attainment in the first one-half of the twentieth century. By exploiting variation in health within families, the data show that this relationship between childhood health and educational attainment holds even after controlling for both observed and unobserved household and environmental characteristics.

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The “birds and the bees” differ for boys and girls: Sex differences in the nature of sex talks

Barry Kuhle et al.
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, April 2015, Pages 107-115

Abstract:
The daughter-guarding hypothesis posits that “parents possess adaptations with design features that function to defend their daughter’s sexual reputation, preserve her mate value, and protect her from sexual victimization” (Perilloux, Fleischman, & Buss, 2008, p. 219). One way that parents may attempt to guard their daughters’ sexualities is by conveying to them certain messages about sex. To explore this possibility we administered an online questionnaire that tested 8 sex-linked predictions derived from the daughter-guarding hypothesis about the content of parent–child communications about sex. Participants were undergraduates from a Northeastern U.S. Jesuit Catholic university (n = 226) and young adults recruited through Facebook (n = 391). As predicted, daughters were more likely than sons to recall receiving messages from their parents that (a) emphasized being discriminating in allocating sexual access; (b) emphasized abstinence; (c) encouraged them to deter, inhibit, and defend against their partners’ sexual advances; (d) encouraged them to not emulate depictions of sexual activity; (e) stipulated when they were old enough to date; and (f) curtailed contact with the opposite sex. Results supported several hypothesized design features of the daughter-guarding hypothesis. Parents may be socializing children in ways that fostered ancestral reproductive success through sex-linked birds-and-the-bees talks and messages.

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Long-Term Consequences of Adolescent Parenthood Among African-American Urban Youth: A Propensity Score Matching Approach

Luciana Assini-Meytin & Kerry Green
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: The aim of this study was to improve understanding of long-term socioeconomic consequences of teen parenting for men and women.

Methods: Analysis is based on the Woodlawn Study, a longitudinal study of an African-American cohort from a socially disadvantaged community in Chicago; data were collected at childhood (N = 1,242), adolescence (N = 705), young adulthood (age 32 years, N = 952), and midlife (age 42 years, N = 833). This analysis focused on the 1,050 individuals with data on teen parenting. We used propensity score matching to account for differences in background characteristics between teenage parents and their peers and used multiple imputation to account for differential attrition.

Results: The regression models after propensity score matching showed that at the age of 32 years, in comparison to nonteen mothers, teenage mothers were more likely to be unemployed, live in poverty, depend on welfare, and have earned a GED or completed high school compared to finishing college. At the age of 32 years, teen fathers were more likely to be without a job than nonteen fathers. At the age of 42 years, the effect of teen parenting for women remained statistically significant for education and income. There were no significant associations between teen parenting and outcomes for men at the age of 42 years.

Conclusions: Socioeconomic consequences of teenage parenting among African-Americans from disadvantaged background seem to be primarily concentrated in women and persist throughout adulthood. In addition to promoting the delay of parenting after the teenage years, it is critical to provide programs at early stages in the life course to mitigate the negative socioeconomic consequences of teenage motherhood as effects for women are broad.

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The “New Father”: Dynamic Stereotypes of Fathers

Sarah Banchefsky & Bernadette Park
Psychology of Men & Masculinity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Fathers have become increasingly involved in childcare and housework. According to social role theory, as fathers engage in more traditionally maternal roles and fewer traditionally paternal roles, they should be seen as having more maternal traits and fewer paternal traits over time, suggesting dynamic stereotypes of fathers. To test this hypothesis, participants were randomly assigned to imagine the typical mother or father in the year 1950, the present, or 2050 and to rate the likelihood that the parent would possess stereotypically maternal traits (e.g., kind, understanding) and paternal traits (e.g., stern, authoritative). In addition, they rated the likelihood that each parent would engage in traditionally maternal (e.g., arrange for babysitter) and paternal (e.g., provide household income) roles. Mothers and fathers were viewed as becoming more alike from the past to the present and continuing into the future, with fathers showing particularly marked change. Mediation analyses indicated that perceived changing roles drove perceived changes in parent traits, especially for fathers.

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Welfare-to-Work Reform and Intergenerational Support: Grandmothers' Response to the 1996 PRWORA

Christine Ho
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2015, Pages 407–423

Abstract:
The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA; Pub. L. 104-193) in the United States aimed at encouraging work among low-income mothers with children below age 18. In this study, the author used a sample of 2,843 intergenerational family observations from the Health and Retirement Study to estimate the effects of the reform on single grandmothers who are related to those mothers. The results suggest that the reform decreased time transfers but increased money transfers from grandmothers. The results are consistent with an intergenerational family support network where higher child care subsidies motivated the family to shift away from grandmother provided child care and where grandmothers increased money transfers to either help cover the remaining cost of formal care or to partly compensate for the loss in benefits of welfare leavers.

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Association between breastfeeding and intelligence, educational attainment, and income at 30 years of age: A prospective birth cohort study from Brazil

Cesar Victora et al.
Lancet Global Health, April 2015, Pages e199–e205

Background: Breastfeeding has clear short-term benefits, but its long-term consequences on human capital are yet to be established. We aimed to assess whether breastfeeding duration was associated with intelligence quotient (IQ), years of schooling, and income at the age of 30 years, in a setting where no strong social patterning of breastfeeding exists.

Methods: A prospective, population-based birth cohort study of neonates was launched in 1982 in Pelotas, Brazil. Information about breastfeeding was recorded in early childhood. At 30 years of age, we studied the IQ (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, 3rd version), educational attainment, and income of the participants. For the analyses, we used multiple linear regression with adjustment for ten confounding variables and the G-formula.

Findings: From June 4, 2012, to Feb 28, 2013, of the 5914 neonates enrolled, information about IQ and breastfeeding duration was available for 3493 participants. In the crude and adjusted analyses, the durations of total breastfeeding and predominant breastfeeding (breastfeeding as the main form of nutrition with some other foods) were positively associated with IQ, educational attainment, and income. We identified dose-response associations with breastfeeding duration for IQ and educational attainment. In the confounder-adjusted analysis, participants who were breastfed for 12 months or more had higher IQ scores (difference of 3•76 points, 95% CI 2•20–5•33), more years of education (0•91 years, 0•42–1•40), and higher monthly incomes (341•0 Brazilian reals, 93•8–588•3) than did those who were breastfed for less than 1 month. The results of our mediation analysis suggested that IQ was responsible for 72% of the effect on income.

Interpretation: Breastfeeding is associated with improved performance in intelligence tests 30 years later, and might have an important effect in real life, by increasing educational attainment and income in adulthood.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Suspects

Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from Secure Communities

Thomas Miles & Adam Cox
Journal of Law and Economics, November 2014, Pages 937-973

Abstract:
Prior research investigates whether immigrants commit more crimes than native-born people. Yet the central policy used to regulate immigration — detention and deportation — has received little empirical evaluation. This article studies a recent policy innovation called Secure Communities. This program permits the federal government to check the immigration status of every person arrested by local police and to take the arrestee into federal custody promptly for deportation proceedings. Since its launch, the program has led to a quarter of a million detentions. We utilize the staggered rollout of the program across the country to obtain differences-in-differences estimates of its impact on crime rates. We also use unique counts of the detainees from each county and month to estimate the elasticity of crime with respect to confined immigrants. The results show that the Secure Communities program has had no observable effect on the overall crime rate.

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Increased death rates of domestic violence victims from arresting vs. warning suspects in the Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment (MilDVE)

Lawrence Sherman & Heather Harris
Journal of Experimental Criminology, March 2015, Pages 1-20

Objectives: We explored death rates from all causes among victims of misdemeanor domestic violence 23 years after random assignment of their abusers to arrests vs. warnings.

Methods: We gathered state and national death data on all 1,125 victims (89 % female; 70 % African-American; mean age = 30) enrolled by Milwaukee Police in 1987–88, after 98 % treatment as randomly assigned.

Results: Victims were 64 % more likely to have died of all causes if their partners were arrested and jailed than if warned and allowed to remain at home (p = .037, 95 % CI = risk ratio of 1:1.024 to 1:2.628). Among the 791 African-American victims, arrest increased mortality by 98 % (p = .019); among 334 white victims, arrest increased mortality by only 9 % (95 % CI = RR of 1:0.489 to 1:2.428). The highest victim death rate across four significant differences found in all 22 moderator tests was within the group of 192 African-American victims who held jobs: 11 % died after partner arrests, but none after warnings (d = .8, p = .003). Murder of the victims caused only three of all 91 deaths; heart disease and other internal morbidity caused most victim deaths.

Conclusions: Partner arrests for domestic common assault apparently increased premature death for their victims, especially African-Americans. Victims who held jobs at the time of police response suffered the highest death rates, but only if they were African-American. Replications and detailed risk factor studies are needed to confirm these conclusions, which may support repeal or judicial invalidation of state-level mandatory arrest laws.

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Viewer Ethnicity Matters: Black Crime in TV News and Its Impact on Decisions Regarding Public Policy

Ryan Hurley et al.
Journal of Social Issues, March 2015, Pages 155–170

Abstract:
Content analyses have consistently documented the disproportionate portrayal of Black Americans as criminals in the news. This experiment examines the impact of such portrayals on consumers by investigating the relationship between viewer ethnicity, viewing Black criminal suspects in the news, and beliefs related to public policy. Participants viewed a 30-minute local newscast containing crime stories featuring a majority of Black suspects, White suspects, or no crime stories. Those exposed to crime stories featuring a majority of Black suspects were more likely to rate a nondescript inmate as personally culpable (i.e., unable to be rehabilitated). An interaction between participant ethnicity and treatment condition revealed that ethnic minority group members who view a majority of Black criminals demonstrated significantly lower police support than other participants. These data suggest a complex relationship between exposure to Black crime, racial/ethnic-group membership, and crime-related perceptions and have implications for priming and spreading activation.

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Per Se Drugged Driving Laws and Traffic Fatalities

Mark Anderson & Daniel Rees
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2015, Pages 122–134

Abstract:
In an effort to reduce drugged driving by 10 percent, the Office of National Drug Control Policy is encouraging all states to adopt per se drugged driving laws, which make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in the system. To date, 20 states have passed per se drugged driving laws, yet little is known about their effectiveness. Using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the period 1990-2010, the current study examines the relationship between these laws and traffic fatalities, the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5 through 34. Our results provide no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.

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The African-American Entrepreneur–Crime Drop Relationship: Growing African-American Business Ownership and Declining Youth Violence

Karen Parker
Urban Affairs Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although much of the urban violence literature focuses on the link between urban disadvantage and crime rates, in this article we explore the relationship between African-American entrepreneurship and rates of juvenile violence, net of the effects associated with labor market shifts and the concentration of disadvantage within these areas. That is, Black-owned businesses have increased considerably over time but have largely been neglected in the criminological literature. After generating two distinct measures of Black entrepreneurship, we test to see if Black-owned businesses were significant to the documented decline in juvenile violence in larger U.S. cities from 1990 to 2000. We find an inverse relationship between entrepreneurship and juvenile arrests involving violence across multiple cities in 1990 and 2000. Furthermore, when estimating a pooled cross-sectional time-series design, the growing presence of African-American businesses is a significant contributor to the change (decline) in Black youth violence during the period of the 1990 crime drop, while the rate of paid employees in Black firms remained unrelated to Black youth violence. In changing economic times, we discuss the importance of exploring ways to capture the presence of African-Americans in the urban economy.

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Exploring the Effect of Exposure to Short-Term Solitary Confinement Among Violent Prison Inmates

Robert Morris
Journal of Quantitative Criminology, forthcoming

Objectives: This study tracked the behavior of male inmates housed in the general inmate populations of 70 different prison units from a large southern state. Each of the inmates studied engaged in violent misconduct at least once during the first 2 years of incarceration (n = 3,808). The goal of the study was to isolate the effect of exposure to short-term solitary confinement (SC) as a punishment for their initial act of violent behavior on the occurrence and timing of subsequent misconduct.

Methods: This study relied upon archival longitudinal data and employed a multilevel counterfactual research design (propensity score matching) that involved tests for group differences, event history analyses, and trajectory analyses.

Results: The results suggest that exposure to short-term solitary confinement as a punishment for an initial violence does not appear to play a role in increasing or decreasing the probability, timing, or development of future misconduct for this particular group on inmates.

Conclusions: Upon validation, these findings call for continued research and perhaps a dialog regarding the utility of solitary confinement policies under certain contexts. This unique study sets the stage for further research to more fully understand how solitary impacts post-exposure behavior.

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Do execution moratoriums increase homicide? Re-examining evidence from Illinois

A. Ahrens, T.V. Kovandzic & L.M. Vieraitis B.
Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article revisits the event study by Cloninger and Marchesini (2006), who find that the declaration of the Illinois’ death penalty moratorium on 31 January 2000 had a homicide-promoting effect and resulted in 150 additional homicides over the period 2000–2003. We reassess the author’s identification strategy, which they refer to as ‘portfolio approach’ and which draws upon event studies in finance research. We argue that their methodology is not applicable in crime studies. Instead, we apply univariate time-series methods to test for a structural break at a known and unknown break date. We allow for unknown break points as the structural break might have occurred slightly earlier (criminals might have anticipated the moratorium) or later (due to persistence in criminal behaviour). In addition, we implement the synthetic control estimator which approximates the counterfactual homicide series by a weighted average of homicide outcomes in other US states. Based on various testing methods and two distinct data sets, we conclude that there is no empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that the Illinois’ execution moratorium significantly increased homicides.

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Violent victimization, confluence of risks and the nature of criminal behavior: Testing main and interactive effects from Agnew’s extension of General Strain Theory

Graham Ousey, Pamela Wilcox & Christopher Schreck
Journal of Criminal Justice, March–April 2015, Pages 164–173

Purpose: Important facets of the association between violent crime victimization and criminal offending remain unsettled. Drawing on key aspects of General Strain Theory, this study examined whether violent crime victimization affects overall offending proclivity as well as the character—violent vs. nonviolent—of criminal behavior. Additionally, it tested a recent theory extension positing that larger effects of violent victimization will be found among individuals with a greater confluence of criminogenic risk factors.

Methods: Multi-level latent variable item-response models are used to examine data from a sample of nearly 3,000 tenth-grade students from thirty Kentucky counties.

Results: Quantitative analyses indicated that greater violent victimization was associated with both higher scores on a latent index of overall offending and with an elevated propensity for violent criminality in particular. Contrary to expectations, effects of violent victimization on overall offending and the propensity for violence were not higher for individuals with higher scores on a multidimensional risk index.

Conclusion: In support of General Strain Theory, violent victimization elevates the overall amount of criminal offending and increases odds that crimes involve violent rather than nonviolent behaviors. However, variations in the preceding effects across levels of criminogenic risk are not consistent with the theory.

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Walking ATMs and the Immigration Spillover Effect: The Link Between Latino Immigration and Robbery Victimization

Raymond Barranco & Edward Shihadeh
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Media reports and prior research suggest that undocumented Latino migrants are disproportionately robbed because they rely on a cash-only economy and they are reluctant to report crimes to law-enforcement (the Walking ATM phenomenon). From this we generate two specific research questions. First, we probe for an immigration spillover effect – defined as increased native and documented Latino robbery victimization due to offenders’ inability to distinguish between the statuses of potential victims. Second, we examine the oft-repeated claim that Black robbers disproportionately target Latino victims. Using National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data from 282 counties, results show 1) support for an immigration spillover effect but, 2) no support for the claim that Latinos are disproportionately singled out by Black robbers. We discuss the implications of our findings.

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The Effect of Community Traumatic Events on Student Achievement: Evidence from the Beltway Sniper Attacks

Seth Gershenson & Erdal Tekin
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Community traumatic events such as mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and natural or man-made disasters have the potential to disrupt student learning in numerous ways. For example, these events can reduce instructional time by causing teacher and student absences, school closures, and disturbances to usual classroom routines. Similarly, they might also disrupt home environments. This paper uses a quasi-experimental research design to identify the effects of the 2002 “Beltway Sniper” attacks on student achievement in Virginia’s public schools. In order to identify the causal impact of these events, the empirical analysis uses a difference-in-differences strategy that exploits geographic variation in schools’ proximity to the attacks. The main results indicate that the attacks significantly reduced school-level proficiency rates in schools within five miles of an attack. Evidence of a causal effect is most robust for third grade reading and third and fifth grade math proficiency, suggesting that the shootings caused a decline in school proficiency rates of about five to nine percentage points. Particularly concerning from an equity standpoint, these effects appear to be entirely driven by achievement declines in schools that serve higher proportions of racial minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Finally, results from supplementary analyses suggest that these deleterious effects faded out in subsequent years.

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The Sliding Scale of Snitching: A Qualitative Examination of Snitching in Three Philadelphia Communities

Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Patrick Carr & Maria Kefalas
Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted an in-depth interview study with 77 young men in three moderate to high-crime neighborhoods in Philadelphia to hear their stories about community violence and relations with police. In this article, we have analyzed how Latino, African-American, and white young men experience policing and how they discuss the guidelines around cooperation with the police and what they view as snitching. Contrary to popular perception, talking to the police is not always banned in poor or high-crime neighborhoods. Instead, the respondents present a variety of personal rules that they use to assess when cooperation is called for. We argue that the policing they experience within disadvantaged neighborhoods shapes their frame of legal cynicism, which in turn makes decisions not to cooperate with the police more likely.

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The All-volunteer Force and Crime: The Effects of Military Participation on Offending Behavior

Jessica Craig & Nadine Connell
Armed Forces & Society, April 2015, Pages 329-351

Abstract:
Sampson and Laub’s age-graded theory of informal social control posits that social bonds created through marriage, military, and employment lead to a decrease of criminal behavior or desistance. Most research has focused primarily on the roles of marriage and employment in this process, ignoring the impact of military service on future offending behavior. However, recent US military involvement in the Middle East suggests that the effects of military experience on individuals should be reevaluated. Using data collected from a more recent sample of military-involved individuals, all of whom served in the All-volunteer Force, this study examines how participation in the military impacts offending and potential desistance. The results demonstrate that, overall, modern-day military involvement does not have the same protective effect on future offending as observed in World War II samples. Racial subgroup analyses, however, suggest that military involvement leads to a greater likelihood of desistance for minority service members.

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Bobbies and Baseball Players: Evaluating Patrol Officer Productivity Using Sabermetrics

Luke Bonkiewicz
Police Quarterly, March 2015, Pages 55-78

Abstract:
Patrol officer productivity is an understudied topic in police research. Prior studies on productivity have primarily relied on rudimentary statistics, such as calls for service and arrests. A more advanced method for evaluating productivity should (a) account for the diverse activities of patrol officers, (b) weight different productivity outputs, (c) evaluate officers in terms of available minutes for self-initiated activities (productive time), and (d) offer agencies the flexibility to select, prioritize, and weight patrol activities most relevant to their jurisdictions. Borrowing from a baseball sabermetric called Value Over Replacement Player, we create and test an innovative statistic called Value Over Replacement Cop. This metric analyzes 12 patrol activities and generates a single number by which to quantify and evaluate a patrol officer’s productivity. Using data from a midsize U.S. Police Department (325 sworn officers), we find strong support for the validity of this new metric.

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'Ain't No Rest for the Wicked': Population, Crime, and the 2013 Government Shutdown

Ricard Gil & Mario Macis
Johns Hopkins University Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
The vast majority of the empirical literature on crime has focused on the effects of "supply-side" shocks such as the severity of laws and enforcement. In this paper we analyze the effects of a large and unexpected "demand-side" shock: the drop in daytime population in Washington, DC caused by the government shutdown of October 1-16, 2013. We derive implications from a simple theoretical model where criminals choose effort and allocate it across different criminal activities. We test these implications using the city of Baltimore as the comparison group, and employing difference-in-differences methods. Consistent with the model's predictions (and inconsistent with alternative explanations), we find a 3% decline in crime in DC during the shutdown period, with the net effect resulting from a 9% decline during the day hours, and a 5% increase in crime during the evening and night hours, indicating reallocation of criminals' effort induced by the shutdown.

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Adolescent Criminal Behavior, Population Heterogeneity, and Cumulative Disadvantage: Untangling the Relationship Between Adolescent Delinquency and Negative Outcomes in Emerging Adulthood

Matthew Makarios, Francis Cullen & Alex Piquero
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
Developmentalists suggest that adolescent criminal involvement encourages later life failure in the social domains of education, welfare, and risky sexual activities. Although prior research supports a link between crime and later life failure, relatively little research has sought to explain why this relationship exists. This research attempts to understand why crime leads to negative social outcomes by testing hypotheses derived from the perspectives of population heterogeneity and cumulative disadvantage. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, the results reveal that net of control variables and measures of population heterogeneity, adolescent criminal behavior consistently predicts school failure, being on welfare, and risky sexual activities. The findings also suggest that after controlling for delinquency, adolescent arrest negatively affects these factors. Furthermore, stable criminal traits and adolescent delinquency interact when predicting measures of poor social adjustment in early adulthood.

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Anarchy in the UK: Economic Deprivation, Social Disorganization, and Political Grievances in the London Riot of 2011

Juta Kawalerowicz & Michael Biggs
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Thousands rioted in London in August 2011, with the police losing control of parts of the city for four days. This event was not an ethnic riot: participants were ethnically diverse and did not discriminate in choosing targets for looting or destruction. Whereas the sociological literature has focused on variation in rioting across cities, we examine variation within London by mapping the residential addresses of 1,620 rioters — who were subsequently arrested and charged — on to 25,022 neighborhoods. Our findings challenge the orthodoxy that rioting is not explained by deprivation or by disorganization. Rioters were most likely to come from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Rioters also tended to come from neighborhoods where ethnic fractionalization was high, and from areas with few charitable organizations. Political grievances also emerge as important. Rioters were more likely to come from boroughs where the police had previously been perceived as disrespectful.

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Strangers, Acquaintances, and Victims: Victimization and Concern About Crime Among Women

Kevin Drakulich
Sociological Forum, March 2015, Pages 103–126

Abstract:
Women report greater concerns about the danger posed by strangers despite greater victimization by acquaintances. Using a survey of Seattle residents, this article investigates one understudied dimension of this seeming incongruity: the actual effect of victimization by a stranger or acquaintance on concerns about crime. The results suggest different patterns for different crimes: relationship to the offender does not matter for burglaries while acquaintance sexual assaults and stranger nonsexual assaults, respectively, hold the largest associations with concerns. Implications are discussed for research on fear of crime, acquaintance victimizations, and perceptions of neighborhoods.

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The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Private Law Enforcement: Evidence from University Police

Paul Heaton et al.
RAND Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Over a million people in the United States are employed in private security and law enforcement, yet very little is known about the effects of private police on crime. The current study examines the relationship between a privately-funded university police force and crime in a large U.S. city. Following an expansion of the jurisdictional boundary of the private police force, we see no short-term change in crime. However, using a geographic regression discontinuity approach, we find large impacts of private police on public safety, with violent crime in particular decreasing. These contradictory results appear to be a consequence of delayed effect of private police on crime.

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On the Move: Incarceration, Race, and Residential Mobility

Cody Warner
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study examines the relationship between incarceration and post-prison residential mobility. In spite of recent research examining the residential context following incarceration, we know little about if or how incarceration affects individual patterns of residential mobility. This study starts to fill this gap in knowledge by drawing on nationally representative data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). I find that individuals with a history of incarceration are more likely to move after prison than they are before prison. This relationship holds even after accounting for various time-varying and time-stable sources of spuriousness, including other known correlates of mobility. Additional analyses suggest that this effect is strongest early in the reentry period, and that there exists important racial variation in the relationship between incarceration and mobility. These results imply that, while housing stability is an important feature of successful prisoner reentry, incarceration contributes to larger patterns of residential instability.

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Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods

Johanna Lacoe & Ingrid Gould Ellen
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate the impact of mortgage foreclosures on the location of criminal activity within a blockface. Drawing on routine activity theory, disorder theory, and social disorganization theory, the study explores potential mechanisms that link foreclosures to crime.

Methods: To estimate the relationship between foreclosures and localized crime, we use detailed foreclosure and crime data at the blockface level in Chicago and a difference-in-difference estimation strategy.

Results: Overall, mortgage foreclosures increase crime on blockfaces. Foreclosures have a larger impact on crime that occurs inside residences than on crime in the street. The impact of foreclosures on crime location varies by crime type (violent, property, and public order crime).

Conclusions: The evidence supports the three main theoretical mechanisms that link foreclosure activity to local crime. The investigation of the relationship by crime location suggests that foreclosures change the relative attractiveness of indoor and outdoor locations for crime commission on the blockface.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dialect

Globalization and the transmission of social values: The case of tolerance

Niclas Berggren & Therese Nilsson
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Tolerance – respecting those who are different – is arguably of particular importance in an era of globalization, where a potential for economic, social and personal development is increasingly a function of interaction with others different from oneself. We investigate whether globalization induces parents to want to instill tolerance in their children, the main idea being that this quality would equip children for greater success in a more integrated world. Using a survey measure, we indeed find that globalization enhances the willingness to transmit such social values. More precisely, economic and social, but not to the same extent political, globalization has this effect, as shown by using the KOF Index of Globalization in regression analysis of up to 59 countries. Extreme bounds analysis and outlier tests indicate robustness. Overall, our results suggest that certain kinds of globalization seem able to shape values in ways considered desirable by many.

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A transformative taste of home: Home culture primes foster expatriates’ adjustment through bolstering relational security

Jeanne Ho-Ying Fu, Michael Morris & Ying Yi Hong
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2015, Pages 24–31

Abstract:
Past research encourages expatriates to immerse themselves in the host culture, avoiding reminders of their home culture. We counter that, for expatriates still struggling to adjust, home culture stimuli might prime a sense of relational security, emboldening them to reach out to locals and hence boost cultural adjustment. In Study 1, American exchange students in Hong Kong felt more adjusted to Hong Kong after incidental exposure to iconic American practices (vs. Chinese or neutral), an effect partially mediated by relational security and not by other exchange student concerns. Study 2 surveyed exchange students from Hong Kong at three points in time: before, during and after a study abroad term. The intervention of writing about home culture (vs. host culture) symbols during their trip helped adjustment for those with pre-trip insecurities about interacting with locals but not those lacking these insecurities. The boost in adjustment from the home culture primes had a lasting impact, visible in the post-trip evaluations of the study abroad experience by students in the initially insecure group.

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Are the world's languages consolidating? The dynamics and distribution of language populations

David Clingingsmith
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars have conjectured that the return to speaking a language increases with the number of speakers. Long-run economic and political integration would accentuate this advantage, increasing the population share of the largest languages. I show that, to the contrary, language size and growth are uncorrelated except for very small languages (<35,000 speakers). I develop a model of local language coordination over a network. The steady-state distribution of language sizes follows a power law and precisely fits the empirical size distribution of languages with ≥35,000 speakers. Simulations suggest the extinction of 40% of languages with <35,000 speakers within 100 years.

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The cosmopolitan elite in Germany: Transnationalism and postmaterialism

Marc Helbling & Céline Teney
Global Networks, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we investigate cosmopolitan attitudes among the people often considered the most cosmopolitan – the elite. Studying the typical class of frequent travellers provides a particularly good opportunity to study the relationship between transnational activities and cosmopolitanism. We also comprehensively investigate the link between postmaterialist values and cosmopolitan attitudes. We test our arguments using an original dataset that includes a relatively large sample of the German positional top elite in the years 2011 and 2012. A comparison between these data and data from a general population survey shows that while transnational activities affect the attitudes of ordinary citizens, increased travelling does not make elites more cosmopolitan. We discuss several reasons why this might be the case. We also observe that postmaterialist values and the ideological environment of the elite play a key role. Finally, we tentatively suggest that cosmopolitan elites do not endanger national social cohesion, as some fear they might. We show that cosmopolitanism and localism are not mutually exclusive and that members of the German elite feel even more attached to their nation than ordinary Germans.

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The Male Breadwinner/Female Homemaker Model and Perceived Marital Stability: A Comparison of Chinese Wives in the United States and Urban China

Yan Yu
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, March 2015, Pages 34-47

Abstract:
From in-depth interviews with Chinese immigrant wives in the United States and the Chinese couples in urban China in 2004, researcher found a surprising result in terms of their interpretations of the impact of the male-breadwinner ideal upon perceived marital stability. Over half of the sampled Chinese immigrant wives in the United States reported that they became stay-at-home mothers after their immigration, and most believed that becoming a stay-at-home mother had stabilized their marriage. The traditionally defined gender role for women was actually not as much condemned by the Chinese immigrant wives as it would be if they were in China. When asked whether or not the Chinese urban wives would like to follow the male-breadwinner ideal, a common response was “No way!” Among urban Chinese couples, wives as well as husbands strongly believed that the male-breadwinner ideal would destabilize rather than stabilize their marriage. In this paper, researcher has put forth a hypothesis that the existing familial, economic, and cultural conditions in the United States and urban China play a role in shaping the Chinese couples’ perceptions of the traditional family model and their decision to either adapt or reject it in association with their perceived marital stability.

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Culture, Ethnicity and Diversity

Klaus Desmet, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Romain Wacziarg
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
We investigate the empirical relationship between ethnicity and culture, defined as a vector of traits reflecting norms, attitudes and preferences. Using surveys of individual values in 76 countries, we find that ethnic identity is a significant predictor of cultural values, yet that within-group variation in culture trumps between-group variation. Thus, in contrast to a commonly held view, ethnic and cultural diversity are unrelated. We explore the correlates of cultural diversity and of the overlap between culture and ethnicity, finding that the level of economic development is positively associated with cultural diversity and negatively associated with the overlap between culture and ethnicity. Finally, although only a small portion of a country's overall cultural heterogeneity occurs between groups, this does not imply that cultural differences between groups are irrelevant. Indeed, we find that civil conflict becomes more likely when there is greater overlap between ethnicity and culture.

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Cultural influences on Facebook practices: A comparative study of college students in Namibia and the United States

Anicia Peters, Heike Winschiers-Theophilus & Brian Mennecke
Computers in Human Behavior, August 2015, Pages 259–271

Abstract:
Facebook has been adopted in many countries with over 80% of its user-base being outside of the US and Canada. Yet, despite this global dominance, not much is understood of Facebook usage by individuals in non-western cultures. A cross-cultural study was conducted with undergraduate students in the United States and Namibia to examine Facebook use. The study used a mixed method of online surveys and focus groups in both countries. The research examined issues such as motivations for use, friendships, privacy and trust, and life changing events such as relationships, births, deaths, religion and politics. Findings suggest cultural influence on both online and offline practices as well as appropriation and re-contextualization to fit existing offline cultural practices. While we find that participants from the United States are changing their online behavior toward increased self-censorship, more users from Namibia, where family and community structures are important, continue to engage in online behavior that is more open and transparent. Findings also suggest an expressive privacy paradox for United States participants, who are generally less concerned with updating their privacy settings while simultaneously practicing self-censorship.

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Human language reveals a universal positivity bias

Peter Sheridan Dodds et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 24 February 2015, Pages 2389–2394

Abstract:
Using human evaluation of 100,000 words spread across 24 corpora in 10 languages diverse in origin and culture, we present evidence of a deep imprint of human sociality in language, observing that (i) the words of natural human language possess a universal positivity bias, (ii) the estimated emotional content of words is consistent between languages under translation, and (iii) this positivity bias is strongly independent of frequency of word use. Alongside these general regularities, we describe interlanguage variations in the emotional spectrum of languages that allow us to rank corpora. We also show how our word evaluations can be used to construct physical-like instruments for both real-time and offline measurement of the emotional content of large-scale texts.

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Sex differences in suicide rates and suicide methods among adolescents in South Korea, Japan, Finland, and the US

Subin Park
Journal of Adolescence, April 2015, Pages 74–77

Abstract:
Sex differences in suicide rates and suicide methods was compared among adolescents in South Korea, Japan, Finland, and the United States. This study analyzed suicide rates and suicide methods of adolescents aged 15–19 years in four countries, using the World Health Organization mortality database. Among both male and female adolescents, the most common method of suicide was jumping from heights in South Korea and hanging in Japan. In Finland, jumping in front of moving objects and firearms were frequently used by males, but not by females. In the United States, males were more likely to use firearms, and females were more likely to use poison. The male to female ratio of suicide rates was higher in the United States (3.8) and Finland (3.6) than in Korea (1.3) and Japan (1.9). Sex differences in suicide methods may contribute to differences in the suicide rates among males and female adolescents in different countries.

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Factors Influencing the Allowance of Cousin Marriages in the Standard Cross Cultural Sample

Ashley Hoben, Abraham Buunk & Maryanne Fisher
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to examine variance in the practice and acceptance of cousin marriage in select areas of the world. This study uses Murdock’s Standard Cross Cultural Sample (SCCS). The SCCS includes 186 societies ranging from contemporary hunter and gatherers to early historic states to contemporary industrial people. It is hypothesized that cousin marriages are more likely to occur in small, isolated communities, and in communities that experience high rates of pathogen prevalence. That is, the variance in the practice of cousin marriage may reflect functional responses to various local ecological and environmental pressures. The results demonstrate that geographic isolation and pathogen prevalence are both independent and significant positive predictors of whether or not a society practices cousin marriage. These findings suggest that consanguineous marriage may be an adaptive solution to the problem of mate selection, depending on the environment in which one lives. Consequently, the biological advantages may lead to and/or become an individual preference, which is then reinforced by the local culture. We contend that although social and cultural explanations are of obvious importance, they can only provide partial explanations, and much can be gained from incorporating an evolutionary perspective.

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Cultural differences in recognition of subdued facial expressions of emotions

Fang Zhang et al.
Motivation and Emotion, April 2015, Pages 309-319

Abstract:
A relative in-group advantage for recognizing emotional facial expressions presented at full intensity has been documented. The present study examined whether this in-group advantage also existed for the recognition of subdued expressions. American and Chinese participants judged Caucasian and Chinese angry, sad, and happy expressions at subtle, low, and moderate intensity levels. An in-group advantage was found at the low and moderate intensity levels for angry expressions (the effect was partial at moderate intensity), and at the moderate intensity level for sad expressions. But at milder expression intensities, the in-group advantage disappeared, replaced by a main cultural effect in recognition accuracy. American judges were more accurate than Chinese judges in judging both Caucasian and Chinese expressions at the subtle intensity level for angry expressions and at both the subtle and low intensity levels for sad expressions. The present findings suggest that the in-group advantage resides in recognizing expressions of mid-range intensities but diminishes in recognizing milder expressions, and when the in-group advantage stops, cultural differences in sensitivity to very subtle expressions come to fore, at least for negative emotions involving potential threats to social harmony. The present findings suggest that Americans may be better able to detect very subtle facial expressions of sadness and anger, which may have implications for our understanding of cross-cultural differences in emotion.

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Choosing Across Cultures: The Effect of Choice Complexity on Treatment Outcomes

Jill Brown et al.
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research has revealed that having choice over treatments can improve their efficacy. However, it is currently unknown if the benefits of treatment choice hold for complex decisions and different cultures. The effects of differing numbers of treatment options were explored across two cultural contexts: United States and Japan. Participants were exposed to an uncomfortable stimulus and provided with up to 15 placebo treatment options they believed would reduce discomfort. There was a significant interaction such that participants from Japan benefited most from fewer treatment options (2 and 5) compared with more treatment options (10 and 15). Participants from the United States, however, showed either no change in discomfort or less discomfort as the number of choices increased. Additionally, participants from Japan reported less satisfaction with the decision process when they had more treatment options to choose from whereas U.S. participants reported similar, if not slightly higher, satisfaction with more treatment options. Further, a second study indicated that a positive experience with the decision process mediated the relationship between choice complexity and treatment efficacy for Japanese participants. These data demonstrate the importance of culture and choice complexity when discussing treatment choice and resulting outcomes in the medical context.

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How Do We Assign Ourselves Social Status? A Cross-Cultural Test of the Cognitive Averaging Principle

Matthew Andersson
Social Science Research, July 2015, Pages 317–329

Abstract:
Subjective social status (SSS), or one’s perceived social standing, is linked robustly to mental and physical health and is thought to be determined in part by a cognitive average of one’s past, present and expected socioeconomic status. However, this averaging principle awaits a formal test. Further, cultures differ with regard to how they perceive and discount time. In this study, I draw upon cross-sectional data from the United States and Japan (2005 MIDUS non-Hispanic whites and 2008 MIDJA), which measured subjective status in terms of one’s perceived standing within a personally defined community. I compare equal and unequal cognitive averaging models for their goodness of fit relative to a traditional present-based model. Socioeconomic status is assessed broadly, in terms of past, present and expected overall work and financial situations. In the United States, averaging models do not fit the data consistently better than a present-based model of SSS. However, in Japan, averaging models do fit SSS consistently better. These fit conclusions are robust to controlling for negative affect.

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How Facial Cues of Models Affect Attention to Websites in Asian and American Cultures

Qiuzhen Wang, Michel Wedel & Xuan Liu
University of Maryland Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Gaze direction and the facial expression of emotion are the two most important facial cues in non-verbal communication. This research involves three eye tracking experiments to investigate the joint effects of facial expression (neutral/happy) and gaze direction (direct/averted) of models on websites on visual attention among American and Chinese participants. They reveal that among both cultures a gaze cue primes initial attention to the product or brand and show that positive affect from the happy expression when a model looks at the viewer carries over to the product or brand. For American participants, a model that looks at the viewer with a happy expression draws more attention to the brand, while for Chinese participants a model that looks at the product with a happy expression draws more attention to the brand. These differences are explained from a cultural difference in using the eyes and mouth as cues to recognize and interpret smiles in Asian and Western cultures, respectively. Further, the match in ethnicity between a model and the viewer exacerbated the attention effects of facial expression.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, April 6, 2015

Poll position

What the Demolition of Public Housing Teaches Us about the Impact of Racial Threat on Political Behavior

Ryan Enos
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does the context in which a person lives affect his or her political behavior? I exploit an event in which demographic context was exogenously changed, leading to a significant change in voters' behavior and demonstrating that voters react strongly to changes in an outgroup population. Between 2000 and 2004, the reconstruction of public housing in Chicago caused the displacement of over 25,000 African Americans, many of whom had previously lived in close proximity to white voters. After the removal of their African American neighbors, the white voters' turnout dropped by over 10 percentage points. Consistent with psychological theories of racial threat, their change in behavior was a function of the size and proximity of the outgroup population. Proximity was also related to increased voting for conservative candidates. These findings strongly suggest that racial threat occurs because of attitude change rather than selection.

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Field experiment evidence of substantive, attributional, and behavioral persuasion by members of Congress in online town halls

William Minozzi et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 31 March 2015, Pages 3937–3942

Abstract:
Do leaders persuade? Social scientists have long studied the relationship between elite behavior and mass opinion. However, there is surprisingly little evidence regarding direct persuasion by leaders. Here we show that political leaders can persuade their constituents directly on three dimensions: substantive attitudes regarding policy issues, attributions regarding the leaders’ qualities, and subsequent voting behavior. We ran two randomized controlled field experiments testing the causal effects of directly interacting with a sitting politician. Our experiments consist of 20 online town hall meetings with members of Congress conducted in 2006 and 2008. Study 1 examined 19 small meetings with members of the House of Representatives (average 20 participants per town hall). Study 2 examined a large (175 participants) town hall with a senator. In both experiments we find that participating has significant and substantively important causal effects on all three dimensions of persuasion but no such effects on issues that were not discussed extensively in the sessions. Further, persuasion was not driven solely by changes in copartisans’ attitudes; the effects were consistent across groups.

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Party Activists as Campaign Advertisers: The Ground Campaign as a Principal-Agent Problem

Ryan Enos & Eitan Hersh
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
As a key element of their strategy, recent Presidential campaigns have recruited thousands of workers to engage in direct voter contact. We conceive of this strategy as a principal-agent problem. Workers engaged in direct contact are intermediaries between candidates and voters, but they may be ill-suited to convey messages to general-election audiences. By analyzing a survey of workers fielded in partnership with the 2012 Obama campaign, we show that in the context of the campaign widely considered most adept at direct contact, individuals who were interacting with swing voters on the campaign’s behalf were demographically unrepresentative, ideologically extreme, cared about atypical issues, and misunderstood the voters’ priorities. We find little evidence that the campaign was able to use strategies of agent control to mitigate its principal-agent problem. We question whether individuals typically willing to be volunteer surrogates are productive agents for a strategic campaign.

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An Absence of Malice: The Limited Utility of Campaigning Against Party Corruption

Michael Cobb & Andrew Taylor
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine whether repeated scandals within one party generate collective sanctions for fellow partisans. Do voters punish a party’s candidates because of multiple corruption scandals? Our data come from a unique survey conducted prior to the 2010 legislative elections in North Carolina, a state that had recently seen a number of high-profile corruption scandals involving Democrats exclusively. Although Republicans campaigned energetically against “the party of corruption,” we find the impact of that campaign was muted. Respondents who accurately identified at least one scandal rated the Democratic Party less favorably and thought Republicans would do better at responding to corruption. Nevertheless, vote choice was unrelated to knowledge of corruption scandals, and Republicans did not benefit from any effects on voter turnout. Importantly, respondents’ partisanship only sometimes mediated attitudes and did not affect behavior. We conclude that voters might in theory prefer “clean” parties, but their political actions are uninfluenced by that preference, a finding that has unfortunate implications for democracy.

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Estimating Voter Registration Deadline Effects with Web Search Data

Alex Street et al.
Political Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Electoral rules have the potential to affect the size and composition of the voting public. Yet scholars disagree over whether requiring voters to register well in advance of Election Day reduces turnout. We present a new approach, using web searches for “voter registration” to measure interest in registering, both before and after registration deadlines for the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Many Americans sought information on “voter registration” even after the deadline in their state had passed. Combining web search data with evidence on the timing of registration for 80 million Americans, we model the relationship between search and registration. Extrapolating this relationship to the post-deadline period, we estimate that an additional 3–4 million Americans would have registered in time to vote, if deadlines had been extended to Election Day. We test our approach by predicting out of sample and with historical data. Web search data provide new opportunities to measure and study information-seeking behavior.

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Exposure to Political Discussion in College is Associated With Higher Rates of Political Participation Over Time

Casey Klofstad
Political Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
While individuals who are exposed to political discussion are more politically active, analytical biases make it difficult to show evidence of causation. It is also uncertain how long the relationship between discussion and participation lasts. Here both questions are addressed with panel data collected from individuals who were randomly assigned to their college dormitories. The data show that exposure to political discussion in college leads to higher levels of participation, immediately while still in college and years into the future after graduation. As political behavior is habitual, the initial increase in participation after being exposed to political discussion is a mechanism underlying the long-run relationship between discussion and participation.

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Candidates or Districts? Reevaluating the Role of Race in Voter Turnout

Bernard Fraga
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Leading theories of race and participation posit that minority voters are mobilized by co-ethnic candidates. However, past studies are unable to disentangle candidate effects from factors associated with the places from which candidates emerge. I reevaluate the links between candidate race, district composition, and turnout by leveraging a nationwide database of over 185 million individual registration records, including estimates for the race of every voter. Combining these records with detailed information about 3,000 recent congressional primary and general election candidates, I find that minority turnout is not higher in districts with minority candidates, after accounting for the relative size of the ethnic group within a district. Instead, Black and Latino citizens are more likely to vote in both primary and general elections as their share of the population increases, regardless of candidate race.

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Candidate Race, Partisanship, and Political Participation: When Do Black Candidates Increase Black Turnout?

Amir Shawn Fairdosi & Jon Rogowski
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
A sizable literature in American politics documents increased levels of voter turnout among black citizens when coracial candidates are on the ballot or hold office. However, due to a paucity of black Republican candidates, existing research has been unable to identify whether increased participation occurs irrespective of the candidate’s partisanship. Using data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we find that, while the presence of a black Democratic House candidate was associated with increased black voter turnout, there was no association between black Republican candidates and black turnout. These results are robust to model specification, issues of statistical power, and contextual differences across districts. We report further evidence that black citizens’ perceptions of black candidates’ ideologies and character traits differed substantially based on the candidate’s party. Our results have implications for understanding how citizens engage in politics when salient political identities come into conflict. The results further suggest that Republican efforts to recruit black candidates are unlikely to mobilize black voters.

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Alphabetically Ordered Ballots and the Composition of American Legislatures

Barry Edwards
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although research demonstrates that favorable ballot position can deliver candidates a small windfall of votes in local, nonpartisan, and primary elections, it is not clear whether ballot order laws have had any impact on the composition of U.S. legislatures. In this article, I estimate the substantive significance of ballot order rules by comparing the legislators of states that alphabetically order ballots to those elected by states that randomize or rotate ballot order. I also compare legislators elected by states that started or stopped alphabetically ordering ballots in recent decades. I find that states that alphabetically order ballots disproportionately elect candidates with early alphabet surnames. My research challenges the prevailing belief that ballot order affects only minor elections and suggests that seemingly innocuous rules have altered our political landscape. I conclude that arbitrary ballot ordering rules should be reformed to remedy their substantial impact on political representation.

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Reevaluating the Sociotropic Economic Voting Hypothesis

Thomas Hansford & Brad Gomez
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
One of the canonical causal claims in political science links individuals’ evaluations of the national economy with their votes. Yet there are reasons to expect that these economic perceptions are endogenous to vote choice, meaning that existing cross-sectional models cannot provide a valid test of the causal retrospective voting claim. Using an instrumental variables approach, we assess the effect of sociotropic evaluations on the decision to vote for the incumbent president or his party’s candidate in eight recent U.S. presidential elections. In contrast with prior work, our results reveal that while there is a correlation between sociotropic evaluations and vote choice, individuals’ subjective evaluations only exert a causal effect on votes when there is not an incumbent president on the ballot. These results suggest that, when incumbents are on the ballot, individuals’ economic perceptions are particularly clouded by appraisals of the incumbent and thus do not operate as an exogenous influence on votes.

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Connecting people to politics over time? Internet communication technology and retention in MoveOn.org and the Florida Tea Party Movement

Deana Rohlinger & Leslie Bunnage
Information, Communication & Society, May 2015, Pages 539-552

Abstract:
Although there is a growing consensus that Internet communication technology (ICT) affects collective action in the twenty-first century, we know very little about what keeps individuals involved in ICT-based organizations over time. Our paper addresses this lacuna by examining whether individuals stay involved in two organizations that use ICT to structure interaction differently over a two-year period. We draw on interview and participant observation data with 38 supporters of MoveOn.org, which structures interaction hierarchically, and the Florida Tea Party Movement, which structures interaction horizontally, to assess how individuals think about each organization's use of ICT and how this shapes individual efficacy and voice – two factors that we find critical to keeping individuals engaged in organizations over time. We show that how a group uses ICT to structure interaction affects the kinds of efficacy and voice individuals are likely to experience. Organizations that use ICT to hierarchically structure interactions are effective at mobilizing people or money quickly and at achieving short-term goals, but very ineffective at creating a community of activists on the ground. The opposite is true of groups that use ICT horizontally. They are effective at creating a political community, but the conflicts that arise among supporters narrow group membership, hinder mobilization, and undercut organizational political clout over time. We conclude with a discussion of our results for understanding ICT and activism in the digital age.

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Making Young Voters: The Impact of Preregistration on Youth Turnout

John Holbein & Sunshine Hillygus
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has cast doubt on the potential for various electoral reforms to increase voter turnout. In this article, we examine the effectiveness of preregistration laws, which allow young citizens to register before being eligible to vote. We use two empirical approaches to evaluate the impact of preregistration on youth turnout. First, we implement difference-in-difference and lag models to bracket the causal effect of preregistration implementation using the 2000–2012 Current Population Survey. Second, focusing on the state of Florida, we leverage a discontinuity based on date of birth to estimate the effect of increased preregistration exposure on the turnout of young registrants. In both approaches, we find preregistration increases voter turnout, with equal effectiveness for various subgroups in the electorate. More broadly, observed patterns suggest that campaign context and supporting institutions may help to determine when and if electoral reforms are effective.

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Election Laws and Agenda Setting: How Election Law Restrictiveness Shapes the Complexity of State Ballot Measures

Kerri Milita
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recently, many U.S. states that allow citizen initiatives have passed laws designed to make it more difficult for an initiative to qualify for the ballot (e.g., by increasing the number of signatures required to get on the ballot), thereby making it harder for citizens to bypass the legislature and make direct changes to public policy. Such laws have reduced both the number of measures that make the ballot and the number that pass on Election Day. I show that laws governing access of initiatives to the ballot also shape the policy agenda; provisions making it harder for proposals to get on the ballot decrease the complexity of the initiatives on the ballot. As less complex initiatives are more likely to be understood by voters and voters are reluctant to vote for measures they do not understand, more restrictive laws actually increase the likelihood that an initiative will pass.

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Do Interest Group Endorsements Cue Individual Contributions to House Candidates?

Anne Baker
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Non-incumbents face an uphill battle in their quest to raise sufficient funds to compete effectively against seated House incumbents and, alternatively, in competitive open-seat House contests. Interest group endorsements are thought to contribute to their electoral success, but whether endorsements help non-incumbent House candidates raise contributions from individuals, as a component of this success, remains unknown. Their heavy reliance upon individual contributions to finance their campaigns as well as the prominence of the groups making a large number of endorsements justifies an explicit test of this relationship. Using contribution data from the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) between 2006 and 2012 paired with endorsement tabulations in both a set of regression and matching analyses, I uncover evidence that endorsements increase individual contributions to the candidate over the course of the election cycle. The results underpin the value of endorsements to non-incumbent candidates as well as their utility for the endorsing groups wishing to influence House elections.

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Does party support help candidates win?

Anne Baker
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The parties’ congressional campaign committees have made it their business to strategically provide contributions to candidate campaigns in order to help their candidates win. However, the effectiveness of these contributions in terms of increasing the competitiveness of party-sponsored candidates remains untested. Using contribution data from the U.S. Federal Election Commission in a series of mixed effects models as well as a matching analysis, the receipt of direct party contributions and coordinated support is shown to significantly improve the competitive position of challengers but not open seat candidates in races for the House. Further, independent expenditures by the parties do not significantly increase candidates’ competitiveness. The implications of these results for future party strategies are explored.

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Economic Voting in Big-City U.S. Mayoral Elections

Daniel Hopkins & Lindsay Pettingill
Georgetown University Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Retrospective voting is a central explanation for voters' support of incumbents. Yet despite the variety of conditions facing American cities, past research has devoted little attention to retrospective voting for mayors. Local economic conditions are widely reported, making them one likely source of retrospective voting. To test that possibility, we turn to the largest data set to date on big-city mayoral elections between 1990 and 2011. Neither crime rates nor property values consistently influence incumbent mayors' vote shares, nor do changes in local conditions. However, low city-level unemployment relative to national unemployment correlates with higher incumbent support. The urban voter is a particular type of retrospective voter, one who compares local economic performance to conditions elsewhere. Moreover, these effects are present only in cities that dominate their media markets. At a time when the audiences for local media are declining, this research suggests that those outlets play a critical role in facilitating retrospective voting.

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In a Different Voice? Explaining the Use of Men and Women As Voice-Over Announcers in Political Advertising

Patricia Strach et al.
Political Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
We draw on a comprehensive database of American political advertising and television audience profile data to investigate the ways in which gender influences choices about the use of voice-overs in political advertising. Our findings suggest that although men voice the vast majority of political ads, campaigns do strategically choose the sex of the voice-over announcer and that it systematically varies with candidate characteristics, ad tone, and, to a lesser extent, issues. Moreover, using survey data, we show that the choice of voice-over influences the perceived credibility of the ad.

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Competition and property tax limit overrides: Revisiting Massachusetts' Proposition 2½

Zackary Hawley & Jonathan Rork
Regional Science and Urban Economics, May 2015, Pages 93–107

Abstract:
This paper looks at the role of spatial proximity of other towns' decisions to hold an override vote on the decision of a Massachusetts town to hold an initial override vote under Proposition 2½. We find that if a neighboring town has already held a vote at some point in the past, a town's likelihood of holding an initial vote increases by 10–15%. A prior vote being successful has a strong impact, whereas losing votes are relatively ignored. The presence of spatial dependence remains when we look at the specific purpose of override vote, or at the annual number of votes that have occurred between 1982 and 2010. This result is consistent across weighting schemes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Go for it

(Too) optimistic about optimism: The belief that optimism improves performance

Elizabeth Tenney, Jennifer Logg & Don Moore
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, March 2015, Pages 377-399

Abstract:
A series of experiments investigated why people value optimism and whether they are right to do so. In Experiments 1A and 1B, participants prescribed more optimism for someone implementing decisions than for someone deliberating, indicating that people prescribe optimism selectively, when it can affect performance. Furthermore, participants believed optimism improved outcomes when a person's actions had considerable, rather than little, influence over the outcome (Experiment 2). Experiments 3 and 4 tested the accuracy of this belief; optimism improved persistence, but it did not improve performance as much as participants expected. Experiments 5A and 5B found that participants overestimated the relationship between optimism and performance even when their focus was not on optimism exclusively. In summary, people prescribe optimism when they believe it has the opportunity to improve the chance of success - unfortunately, people may be overly optimistic about just how much optimism can do.

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Hunger promotes acquisition of nonfood objects

Alison Jing Xu, Norbert Schwarz & Robert Wyer
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 March 2015, Pages 2688-2692

Abstract:
Hunger motivates people to consume food, for which finding and acquiring food is a prerequisite. We test whether the acquisition component spills over to nonfood objects: Are hungry people more likely to acquire objects that cannot satisfy their hunger? Five laboratory and field studies show that hunger increases the accessibility of acquisition-related concepts and the intention to acquire not only food but also nonfood objects. Moreover, people act on this intention and acquire more nonfood objects (e.g., binder clips) when they are hungry, both when these items are freely available and when they must be paid for. However, hunger does not influence how much they like nonfood objects. We conclude that a basic biologically based motivation can affect substantively unrelated behaviors that cannot satisfy the motivation. This presumably occurs because hunger renders acquisition-related concepts and behaviors more accessible, which influences decisions in situations to which they can be applied.

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The self: Your own worst enemy? A test of the self-invoking trigger hypothesis

Brad McKay et al.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The self-invoking trigger hypothesis was proposed by Wulf and Lewthwaite [Wulf, G., & Lewthwaite, R. (2010). Effortless motor learning? An external focus of attention enhances movement effectiveness and efficiency. In B. Bruya (Ed.), Effortless attention: A new perspective in attention and action (pp. 75-101). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press] as a mechanism underlying the robust effect of attentional focus on motor learning and performance. One component of this hypothesis, relevant beyond the attentional focus effect, suggests that causing individuals to access their self-schema will negatively impact their learning and performance of a motor skill. The purpose of the present two studies was to provide an initial test of the performance and learning aspects of the self-invoking trigger hypothesis by asking participants in one group to think about themselves between trial blocks - presumably activating their self-schema - to compare their performance and learning to that of a control group. In Experiment 1, participants performed 2 blocks of 10 trials on a throwing task. In one condition, participants were asked between blocks to think about their past throwing experience. While a control group maintained their performance across blocks, the self group's performance was degraded on the second block. In Experiment 2, participants were asked to practice a wiffleball hitting task on two separate days. Participants returned on a third day to perform retention and transfer tests without the self-activating manipulation. Results indicated that the self group learned the hitting task less effectively than the control group. The findings reported here provide initial support for the self-invoking trigger hypothesis.

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Volitional Personality Trait Change: Can People Choose to Change Their Personality Traits?

Nathan Hudson & Chris Fraley
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has found that most people want to change their personality traits. But can people actually change their personalities just because they want to? To answer this question, we conducted 2, 16-week intensive longitudinal randomized experiments. Across both studies, people who expressed goals to increase with respect to any Big Five personality trait at Time 1 tended to experience actual increases in their self-reports of that trait - as well as trait-relevant daily behavior - over the subsequent 16 weeks. Furthermore, we tested 2 randomized interventions designed to help participants attain desired trait changes. Although 1 of the interventions was inefficacious, a second intervention that trained participants to generate implementation intentions catalyzed their ability to attain trait changes. We also tested several theoretical processes through which volitional changes might occur. These studies suggest that people may be able to change their self-reported personality traits through volitional means, and represent a first step toward understanding the processes that enable people to do so.

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Competition Breeds Desire

Britta Larsen et al.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, January/February 2015, Pages 81-86

Abstract:
Desire spurs competition; here we explore whether the converse is also true. In one study, female quartets (N = 58) completed anagrams, with the winner to receive compact speakers; controls anagrammed without competition. In the other study, female quartets (N = 74) described their ideal first date to a male judge, who chose the best description; controls read to him others' date descriptions without competition. In both studies, creating competition increased desire and altered how much participants wanted, but not how much they liked, the competed-for thing. Competition may activate a general "wanting system," producing overvaluing in settings from stock markets to partner selection.

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Why children differ in motivation to learn: Insights from over 13,000 twins from 6 countries

Yulia Kovas et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, July 2015, Pages 51-63

Abstract:
Little is known about why people differ in their levels of academic motivation. This study explored the etiology of individual differences in enjoyment and self-perceived ability for several school subjects in nearly 13,000 twins aged 9-16 from 6 countries. The results showed a striking consistency across ages, school subjects, and cultures. Contrary to common belief, enjoyment of learning and children's perceptions of their competence were no less heritable than cognitive ability. Genetic factors explained approximately 40% of the variance and all of the observed twins' similarity in academic motivation. Shared environmental factors, such as home or classroom, did not contribute to the twin's similarity in academic motivation. Environmental influences stemmed entirely from individual specific experiences.

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Manipulating motor performance and memory through real-time fMRI neurofeedback

Frank Scharnowski et al.
Biological Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Task performance depends on ongoing brain activity which can be influenced by attention, arousal, or motivation. However, such modulating factors of cognitive efficiency are unspecific, can be difficult to control, and are not suitable to facilitate neural processing in a regionally specific manner. Here, we non-pharmacologically manipulated regionally specific brain activity using technically sophisticated real-time fMRI neurofeedback. This was accomplished by training participants to simultaneously control ongoing brain activity in circumscribed motor and memory-related brain areas, namely the supplementary motor area and the parahippocampal cortex. We found that learned voluntary control over these functionally distinct brain areas caused functionally specific behavioral effects, i.e. shortening of motor reaction times and specific interference with memory encoding. The neurofeedback approach goes beyond improving cognitive efficiency by unspecific psychological factors such as attention, arousal, or motivation. It allows for directly manipulating sustained activity of task-relevant brain regions in order to yield specific behavioral or cognitive effects.

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Time to Move On? When Entity Theorists Perform Better Than Incremental Theorists

Daeun Park & Sara Kim
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that when confronted with failure, individuals with a fixed view of intelligence (entity theorists) perform worse on subsequent tasks than those with a malleable view of intelligence (incremental theorists). This study finds that entity theorists perform worse than incremental theorists only when they believe that a subsequent task measures the same ability as the task they previously failed. However, when individuals believe that the subsequent task measures an ability unrelated to the ability needed for the initial failed task, incremental theorists perform worse than entity theorists. Across five studies, we show that entity theorists are more likely to choose a different-ability task as a second task and perform better than incremental theorists on that task. We also examine the role of thoughts about previous failure in the performance differences.

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Prioritising - the Task Strategy of the Powerful?

Petra Schmid, Marianne Schmid Mast & Fred Mast
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that power increases focus on the main goal when distractor information is present. As a result, high-power people have been described as goal-focused. In real life, one typically wants to pursue multiple goals at the same time. There is a lack of research on how power affects how people deal with situations in which multiple important goals are present. To address this question, one hundred and fifty-eight participants were primed with high or low power or assigned to a control condition, and were asked to perform a dual-goal task with three difficulty levels. We hypothesised and found that high-power primed people prioritise when confronted with a multiple goal situation. More specifically, when task demands were relatively low, power had no effect; participants generally pursued multiple goals in parallel. However, when task demands were high, the participants in the high-power condition focused on a single goal whereas participants in the low-power condition continued using a dual-task strategy. This study extends existing power theories and research in the domain of goal pursuit.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hanging out

A social chemosignaling function for human handshaking

Idan Frumin et al.
eLife, March 2015

Abstract:
Social chemosignaling is a part of human behavior, but how chemosignals transfer from one individual to another is unknown. In turn, humans greet each other with handshakes, but the functional antecedents of this behavior remain unclear. To ask whether handshakes are used to sample conspecific social chemosignals, we covertly filmed 271 subjects within a structured greeting event either with or without a handshake. We found that humans often sniff their own hands, and selectively increase this behavior after handshake. After handshakes within gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own right shaking hand by more than 100%. In contrast, after handshakes across gender, subjects increased sniffing of their own left non-shaking hand by more than 100%. Tainting participants with unnoticed odors significantly altered the effects, thus verifying their olfactory nature. Thus, handshaking may functionally serve active yet subliminal social chemosignaling, which likely plays a large role in ongoing human behavior.

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Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs: Cross-Cultural Evidence from Social Networking

Tamas David-Barrett et al.
PLoS ONE, March 2015

Abstract:
The ability to create lasting, trust-based friendships makes it possible for humans to form large and coherent groups. The recent literature on the evolution of sociality and on the network dynamics of human societies suggests that large human groups have a layered structure generated by emotionally supported social relationships. There are also gender differences in adult social style which may involve different trade-offs between the quantity and quality of friendships. Although many have suggested that females tend to focus on intimate relations with a few other females, while males build larger, more hierarchical coalitions, the existence of such gender differences is disputed and data from adults is scarce. Here, we present cross-cultural evidence for gender differences in the preference for close friendships. We use a sample of ~112,000 profile pictures from nine world regions posted on a popular social networking site to show that, in self-selected displays of social relationships, women favour dyadic relations, whereas men favour larger, all-male cliques. These apparently different solutions to quality-quantity trade-offs suggest a universal and fundamental difference in the function of close friendships for the two sexes.

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Laughter's Influence on the Intimacy of Self-Disclosure

Alan Gray, Brian Parkinson & Robin Dunbar
Human Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
If laughter functions to build relationships between individuals, as current theory suggests, laughter should be linked to interpersonal behaviors that have been shown to be critical to relationship development. Given the importance of disclosing behaviors in facilitating the development of intense social bonds, it is possible that the act of laughing may temporarily influence the laugher's willingness to disclose personal information. We tested this hypothesis experimentally by comparing the characteristics of self-disclosing statements produced by those who had previously watched one of three video clips that differed in the extent to which they elicited laughter and positive affect. The results show that disclosure intimacy is significantly higher after laughter than in the control condition, suggesting that this effect may be due, at least in part, to laughter itself and not simply to a change in positive affect. However, the disclosure intimacy effect was only found for observers' ratings of participants' disclosures and was absent in the participants' own ratings. We suggest that laughter increases people's willingness to disclose, but that they may not necessarily be aware that it is doing so.

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Sibling composition, executive function, and children's thinking about mental diversity

Katie Kennedy, Kristin Hansen Lagattuta & Liat Sayfan
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, April 2015, Pages 121-139

Abstract:
Prior investigations of relations between sibling composition and theory of mind have focused almost exclusively on false belief understanding in children 6 years of age and younger. The current work expands previous research by examining whether sibling composition predicts 4- to 11-year-olds' (N = 192) more advanced mental state reasoning on interpretive theory of mind tasks. Even when controlling for age and executive function, children with a greater number of older siblings or with more same-sex siblings demonstrated stronger knowledge in both their predictions and explanations that people with different past experiences can have diverse interpretations of ambiguous stimuli. These data provide some of the first documentation of sibling constellations that predict individual differences in theory of mind during middle childhood.

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Fostering diverse friendships: The role of beliefs about the value of diversity

Angela Bahns, Lauren Springer & Carla The
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Encouraging dialogue between people of differing social backgrounds and beliefs can reduce prejudice and lead to greater appreciation of diversity, which in turn fosters attitudinally diverse friendships. We investigated how beliefs about the value of diversity relate to attitudinal diversity within relationship dyads. In a field study of naturally occurring relationship pairs in two neighborhoods of Boston (N = 89 dyads), participants completed measures of diversity beliefs and sociopolitical attitudes. People placed higher value on diversity in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood compared to people in the North End neighborhood, and relationship pairs were more attitudinally diverse in Jamaica Plain than in the North End. Attitudinal diversity within pairs was predicted by how highly the pair jointly valued diversity. Further, pairs' greater valuing of diversity in Jamaica Plain mediated the effect of neighborhood on attitude diversity. These findings suggest that individual differences in appreciation for diversity are meaningful predictors of diverse relationships.

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Affiliation-seeking among the powerless: Lacking power increases social affiliative motivation

Charleen Case, Kyle Conlon & Jon Maner
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although it is well known that many people possess fundamental desires for both social affiliation and power, research has only begun to investigate the interplay between these two core social motives. The current research tested the hypothesis that an individual's level of power would influence that person's level of social affiliative motivation. We predicted that, compared with participants in a control condition, (1) individuals who possess power would exhibit less social affiliative motivation; and (2) individuals who lack power would display greater social affiliative motivation. Although we found little evidence to support the former prediction, we observed consistent evidence across two experiments that supported the latter. In Experiment 1, priming participants with low power (versus control) led them to display greater interest in joining a campus service aimed at fostering new friendships among students. In Experiment 2, placing participants in a position of low power (versus control) led them to seek greater proximity to a partner. Together, these results suggest that lacking power motivates people to seek social affiliation.

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Desiring to connect to nature: The effect of ostracism on ecological behavior

Kai-Tak Poon et al.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, June 2015, Pages 116-122

Abstract:
Three experiments tested whether ostracism increases ecological behaviors through increased desires to connect to nature. Compared with non-ostracized participants, ostracized participants reported higher desires to connect to nature (Experiments 1 and 3) and were more willing to behave ecologically (Experiments 2 and 3). Furthermore, increased desires to connect to nature mediated the effect of ostracism on ecological inclinations (Experiment 3). Together, these findings suggest that people try to cope with the pain of ostracism by connecting to the natural environment and behaving ecologically. They also highlight the significance of desires for nature connectedness in explaining why ostracism increases ecological behavior. Implications are discussed.

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In your 20s it's quantity, in your 30s it's quality: The prognostic value of social activity across 30 years of adulthood

Cheryl Carmichael, Harry Reis & Paul Duberstein
Psychology and Aging, March 2015, Pages 95-105

Abstract:
Social connection, a leading factor in the promotion of health, well-being, and longevity, requires social knowledge and the capacity to cultivate intimacy. Life span development theorists have speculated that social information-seeking goals, emphasized at the beginning of early adulthood, give way to emotional closeness goals in later stages of early adulthood. Drawing on developmental theory (Baltes & Carstensen, 2003; Baltes, 1997), this 30-year prospective study assessed social activity at age 20 and age 30 with experience sampling methods, and psychosocial outcomes (social integration, friendship quality, loneliness, depression, and psychological well-being) at age 50. Results supported the hypothesis that the quantity (but not the quality) of social interactions at age 20, and the quality (but not the quantity) of social interactions at age 30 predict midlife psychosocial outcomes. Longitudinal structural models revealed that age-20 interaction quantity had a direct, unmediated effect on age-50 social and psychological outcomes. The effects of age-20 interaction quality on midlife outcomes, on the other hand, were mediated by age-30 interaction quality. Our findings are consistent with the idea that selection and optimization serve important functions in early adulthood, and that engaging in developmentally appropriate social activity contributes to psychosocial adjustment in the decades that follow.

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Growing to Trust: Evidence That Trust Increases and Sustains Well-Being Across the Life Span

Michael Poulin & Claudia Haase
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across the globe, populations are aging, which presents an unprecedented challenge to individual and societal well-being. We seek to (a) replicate and extend previous work on age-related differences in interpersonal trust and (b) examine associations between trust and well-being across the adult life span. Study 1, a cross-sectional study of 197,888 individuals (aged 14-99) from 83 countries assessed between 1981 and 2007, showed that (a) older versus younger adults showed higher interpersonal trust and (b) higher trust predicted higher well-being, especially for older adults. Study 2, a nationally representative three-wave cohort-sequential longitudinal study (spanning 4 years) of 1,230 individuals in the United States (aged 18-89), showed that (a) interpersonal trust increased longitudinally across age groups and (b) higher trust predicted increases in well-being longitudinally and vice versa. These findings suggest that interpersonal trust may be an important resource for successful development across the life span.

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Peers and Network Growth: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Sharique Hasan & Surendrakumar Bagde
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Much research suggests that social networks affect individual and organizational success. However, a strong assumption underlying this research is that network structure is not reducible to the individual attributes of social actors. In this article, we test this assumption by examining whether interacting with random peers causes exogenous growth of a person's network. Using three years of network data for students at an Indian college, we evaluate the effect of peers on network growth. We find strong evidence that interacting with random, but well-connected, roommates causes significant growth of a focal student's network. Further, we find that this growth also implies an increase in how close an actor moves to a network's center and whether that actor is likely to serve as a network bridge. Fundamentally, our results demonstrate that exogenous factors beyond individual agency - i.e., random peers - can shape network structure. Our results also provide a useful model for causally identifying the determinants of network structure and dynamics.

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Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing: A randomized controlled trial of endotoxin

Mona Moieni et al.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g., autism, schizophrenia) are partially characterized by social cognitive deficits, including impairments in the ability to perceive others' emotional states, which is an aspect of social cognition known as theory of mind (ToM). There is also evidence that inflammation may be implicated in the etiology of these disorders, but experimental data linking inflammation to deficits in social cognition is sparse. Thus, we examined whether exposure to an experimental inflammatory challenge led to changes in ToM. One hundred and fifteen (n=115) healthy participants were randomly assigned to receive either endotoxin, which is an inflammatory challenge, or placebo. Participants completed a social cognition task, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes (RME) test, at baseline and at the peak of inflammatory response for the endotoxin group. The RME test, a validated measure of ToM, evaluates how accurately participants can identify the emotional state of another person by looking only at their eyes. We found that endotoxin (vs. placebo) led to decreases in performance on the RME test from baseline to the peak of inflammatory response, indicating that acute inflammation can lead to decreases in the ability to accurately and reliably comprehend emotional information from others. Given that deficits in ToM are implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders, including those which may have an inflammatory basis, these results may have implications for understanding the links between inflammation, social cognition, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

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The oxytocin receptor gene and social perception

Martin Melchers et al.
Social Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social perception is an important prerequisite for successful social interaction, because it helps to gain information about behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of interaction partners. Previous pharmacological studies have emphasized the relevance of the oxytocin system for social perception abilities, while knowledge on genetic contributions is still scarce. In the endeavor to fill this gap in the literature, the current study searches for associations between participants' social perception abilities as measured by the interpersonal perception task (IPT) and the rs2268498 polymorphism on the OXTR-gene, which has repeatedly been linked to processes relevant to social functioning. N = 105 healthy participants were experimentally tested with the IPT and genotyped for the rs2268498 polymorphism. T-allele carriers (TT and TC genotypes) exhibited significantly better performance in the IPT than carriers of the CC-genotype. This difference was also significant for the subscales measuring the strength of social bonding (kinship and intimacy). As in previous studies, T-allele carriers exhibited better performance in measures of social processing indicating that the rs2268498 polymorphism is an important candidate for understanding the genetic basis of social functioning.

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Feeling Depleted and Powerless: The Construal-Level Mechanism

Junha Kim, Sujin Lee & Tuvana Rua
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 2015, Pages 599-609

Abstract:
Individuals exercise self-control daily to achieve desired goals; at the same time, people engage in social interaction daily and influence (feel powerful) or are influenced (feel powerless) by others. Does controlling the self have an unforeseen consequence for people's perception of their capacity to control others? Five studies - one correlational and four experimental - demonstrate that ego depletion from prior self-control determines one's personal sense of power; low-level, concrete mental construals account for this relationship. Our results showed that people with higher trait self-control reported a greater sense of power (Study 1). People who had depleted their self-control-related regulatory resources (vs. those who had not) experienced a lower sense of power (Study 2). The relationship between ego depletion and low sense of power was mediated by construal level (Study 3) and observed only when low-level, concrete construals were present, but not under high-level, abstract construals (Studies 4 and 5).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, April 3, 2015

Explanation of benefits

New Analysis Reexamines The Value Of Cancer Care In The United States Compared To Western Europe

Samir Soneji & JaeWon Yang
Health Affairs, March 2015, Pages 390-397

Abstract:
Despite sharp increases in spending on cancer treatment since 1970 in the United States compared to Western Europe, US cancer mortality rates have decreased only modestly. This has raised questions about the additional value of US cancer care derived from this additional spending. We calculated the number of US cancer deaths averted, compared to the situation in Western Europe, between 1982 and 2010 for twelve cancer types. We also assessed the value of US cancer care, compared to that in Western Europe, by estimating the ratio of additional spending on cancer to the number of quality-adjusted life-years saved. Compared to Western Europe, for three of the four costliest US cancers — breast, colorectal, and prostate — there were approximately 67,000, 265,000, and 60,000 averted US deaths, respectively, and for lung cancer there were roughly 1,120,000 excess deaths in the study period. The ratio of incremental cost to quality-adjusted life-years saved equaled $402,000 for breast cancer, $110,000 for colorectal cancer, and $1,979,000 for prostate cancer — amounts that exceed most accepted thresholds for cost-effective medical care. The United States lost quality-adjusted life-years despite additional spending for lung cancer: −$19,000 per quality-adjusted life-year saved. Our results suggest that cancer care in the United States may provide less value than corresponding cancer care in Western Europe for many leading cancers.

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The Insurance Value of Medical Innovation

Darius Lakdawalla, Anup Malani & Julian Reif
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Economists think of medical innovation as a valuable but risky good, producing health benefits but increasing financial risk. This perspective overlooks how innovation can lower physical risks borne by healthy patients facing the prospect of future disease. We present an alternative framework that accounts for all these aspects of value and links them to the value of health insurance. We show that any innovation worth buying reduces overall risk, thereby generating positive insurance value on its own. We conduct two empirical exercises to assess the significance of our insights. First, we calculate that conventional methods underestimate the value of historical health gains by 30-80%. Second, we examine a large set of medical technologies and calculate that insurance value on average adds 100% to the conventional valuation of those treatments. Moreover, we find that the physical risk-reduction value of these technologies is ten times greater than the financial risk they pose and the corresponding value of health insurance that insures this financial risk. Our analysis also suggests standard methods disproportionately undervalue treatments for the most severe illnesses, where physical risk to consumers is most costly.

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The effect of Medicaid expansions on demand for care from the Veterans Health Administration

Austin Frakt, Amresh Hanchate & Steven Pizer
Healthcare, forthcoming

Background: Adequate access to care at Veterans Health Administration (VA) medical centers has become a high-profile policy issue. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) could improve access to care for veterans, particularly if its Medicaid expansion is implemented in all states. The relationship between Medicaid expansion on the one hand and VA enrollment and utilization on the other has not previously been explored for all states.

Methods: Using VA and other public data from 2002 to 2008, we calculated a measure of Medicaid eligibility sensitive to state-year varying policy change but not changes in demographics or economic conditions. Next, controlling for potential confounding factors, we estimated fixed effects Poisson models of VA enrollment and inpatient and outpatient utilization. We then used these estimates to simulate the effect of the ACA׳s Medicaid expansion on demand for VA care.

Results: If the ACA׳s Medicaid expansion had been implemented in all states, enrollment for VA health coverage, acute inpatient care (days), and outpatient visits would have been 9%, 6%, and 12% lower, respectively. In states that did not expand Medicaid in 2014, VA enrollment, inpatient days, and outpatient visits were, respectively, 10, 6, and 13 percentage points higher than they would have been otherwise.

Conclusion: VA medical centers in states that did not expand Medicaid in 2014 are likely to have experienced a higher demand, and commensurately longer wait times. As policymakers continue to address VA capacity issues, they should be mindful of the potential role of Medicaid, and that it will change over time as more states adopt the expansion.

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Does Tort Reform Affect Physician Supply? Evidence From Texas

David Hyman et al.
International Review of Law and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does state tort reform affect physician supply? Tort reformers certainly believe so. Before Texas adopted tort reform in 2003, proponents claimed that physicians were deserting Texas in droves. After tort reform was enacted, proponents claimed there had been a dramatic increase in physicians moving to Texas due to the improved liability climate. We find no evidence to support either claim. Physician supply was not measurably stunted prior to reform, and it did not measurably improve after reform. This is true for all patient care physicians in Texas, high-malpractice-risk specialties, primary care physicians, and rural physicians.

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The Effect of Health Insurance Mandate on Labor Market Activity and Time Allocation: Evidence from the Federal Dependent Coverage Provision

Vinish Shrestha & Otto Lenhart
Emory University Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
The federal dependent coverage mandate, a part of the Affordable Care Act, went into effect in September 2010. Using data from the American Time Use Survey from 2008 to 2013 and implementing difference in difference models, this paper evaluates the effect of the federal mandate on labor market outcomes and time allocation among young adults. We find that young adults reduce their labor supply both on the intensive and extensive margin in response to the dependent coverage. Specifically, we show that the dependent coverage mandate reduces weekly market work time by 259 minutes, which corresponds to an 18% change compared to before the policy change. Subsequently, affected individuals reallocate the majority of forgone market work hours toward leisure activities. Furthermore, we provide evidence that the provision of health insurance coverage through the mandate reduces time spent on health. We argue that this finding demonstrates evidence for the existence of ex-ante moral hazard. We find that the effect of the policy is stronger in states with no state level dependent coverage mandates prior to 2010.

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Does Medicaid Coverage for Pregnant Women Affect Prenatal Health Behaviors?

Dhaval Dave, Robert Kaestner & George Wehby
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Despite plausible mechanisms, little research has evaluated potential changes in health behaviors as a result of the Medicaid expansions of the 1980s and 1990s for pregnant women. Accordingly, we provide the first national study of the effects of Medicaid on health behaviors for pregnant women. We exploit exogenous variation from the Medicaid income eligibility expansions for pregnant women and children during late-1980s through mid-1990s to examine effects on several prenatal health behaviors and health outcomes using U.S. vital statistics data. We find that increases in Medicaid eligibility were associated with increases in smoking and decreases in weight gain during pregnancy. Raising Medicaid eligibility by 12 percentage-points increased rates of any prenatal smoking and smoking more than five cigarettes daily by 0.7-0.8 percentage point. Medicaid expansions were associated with a reduction in pregnancy weight-gain by about 0.6%. These effects diminish at higher levels of eligibility, which is consistent with crowd-out from private to public insurance. Importantly, our evidence is consistent with ex-ante moral hazard although income effects are also at play. The worsening of health behaviors may partly explain why Medicaid expansions have not been associated with substantial improvement in infant health.

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Why the Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending Cannot Tell Us Much about the Efficiency or Quality of Our Health Care System

Louise Sheiner
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Fall 2014, Pages 1-72

Abstract:
Examining the geographic variation in Medicare and non-Medicare health spending, I find little support for the view that most of the variation can be attributed to differences in practice styles. Instead, I find that socioeconomic factors that affect the need for medical care, as well as interactions between the Medicare system and other parts of the health system, can account for most of the variation in spending. I also find that controlling for health attributes at the state level explains more of the state-level variation associated with omitted health attributes than controlling for them at the individual level, an econometric difference that likely explains much of the difference between my results and those of the Dartmouth group. More broadly, I find that geographic variations in health spending do not provide a useful way to examine the inefficiencies of our health system. States where Medicare spending is high differ in multiple ways from states where it is low, and it is difficult to isolate the effects of health spending intensity from the effects of the underlying state characteristics. I show, for example, that previous findings about the relationships between health spending, the share of physicians who are general practitioners, and health care quality, are likely the result of omitted factors rather than the result of causal relationships.

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Health Insurance, Familial Responsibilities and Job Satisfaction

Scott Adams & Benjamin Artz
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, March 2015, Pages 143-153

Abstract:
We observed that workers with health insurance provided by their employers reported lower job satisfaction in survey data. Middle-aged and middle-income workers, particularly those with young children at home, showed the strongest negative relationship between health insurance and job satisfaction. The most plausible explanation is that these workers were in suboptimal labor market situations because of their familial responsibilities to provide health insurance for their family relative to workers who were free to choose a better job match or not work at all. This is confirmed by workers with options to obtain health insurance from a source other than their own jobs, namely those likely eligible for parental insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, who showed no such negative relationship between health insurance and job satisfaction.

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Uncovering Waste in U.S. Healthcare

Joseph Doyle, John Graves & Jonathan Gruber
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
There is widespread agreement that the US healthcare system wastes as much as 5% of GDP, yet little consensus on what care is actually unproductive. This partly arises because of the endogeneity of patient choice of treatment location. This paper uses the effective random assignment of patients to ambulance companies to generate comparisons across similar patients treated at different hospitals. We find that assignment to hospitals whose patients receive large amounts of care over the three months following a health emergency do not have meaningfully better survival outcomes compared to hospitals whose patients receive less. Outcomes are related to different types of treatment intensity, however: patients assigned to hospitals with high levels of inpatient spending are more likely to survive to one year, while those assigned to hospitals with high levels of outpatient spending are less likely to do so. This adverse effect of outpatient spending is predominately driven by spending at skilled nursing facilities (SNF) following hospitalization. These results offer a new type of quality measure for hospitals based on utilization of SNFs. We find that patients quasi-randomized to hospitals with high rates of SNF discharge have poorer outcomes, as well as higher downstream spending once conditioning on initial hospital spending.

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Large, Sparse Optimal Matching with Refined Covariate Balance in an Observational Study of the Health Outcomes Produced by New Surgeons

Samuel Pimentel et al.
Journal of the American Statistical Association, forthcoming

"Using data from 498 hospitals, we compare 1252 pairs comprised of a new surgeon and an experienced surgeon working at the same hospital. We introduce a new form of matching that matches patients of each new surgeon to patients of an otherwise similar experienced surgeon at the same hospital, perfectly balancing 176 surgical procedures and closely balancing a total of 2.9 million categories of patients; additionally, the individual patient pairs are as close as possible. A new goal for matching is introduced, called 'refined covariate balance,' in which a sequence of nested, ever more refined, nominal covariates is balanced as closely as possible, emphasizing the first or coarsest covariate in that sequence...There is no evidence that mortality rates for new and experienced surgeons differ."

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Do Experiences with Medicare Managed Care Vary According to the Proportion of Same-Race/Ethnicity/Language Individuals Enrolled in One's Contract?

Rebecca Anhang Price et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To examine whether care experiences and immunization for racial/ethnic/language minority Medicare beneficiaries vary with the proportion of same-group beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage (MA) contracts.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Exactly 492,495 Medicare beneficiaries responding to the 2008–2009 MA Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Mixed-effect regression models predicted eight CAHPS patient experience measures from self-reported race/ethnicity/language preference at individual and contract levels, beneficiary-level case-mix adjustors, along with contract and geographic random effects.

Principal Findings: As a contract's proportion of a given minority group increased, overall and non-Hispanic, white patient experiences were poorer on average; for the minority group in question, however, high-minority plans may score as well as low-minority plans. Spanish-preferring Hispanic beneficiaries also experience smaller disparities relative to non-Hispanic whites in plans with higher Spanish-preferring proportions.

Conclusions: The tendency for high-minority contracts to provide less positive patient experiences for others in the contract, but similar or even more positive patient experiences for concentrated minority group beneficiaries, may reflect cultural competency, particularly language services, that partially or fully counterbalance the poorer overall quality of these contracts. For some beneficiaries, experiences may be just as positive in some high-minority plans with low overall scores as in plans with higher overall scores.

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The Impact of Consumer Inattention on Insurer Pricing in the Medicare Part D Program

Kate Ho, Joseph Hogan & Fiona Scott Morton
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Medicare Part D presents a novel privatized structure for a government pharmaceutical benefit. Incentives for firms to provide low prices and high quality are generated by consumers who choose among multiple insurance plans in each market. To date the literature has primarily focused on consumers, and has calculated how much could be saved if they chose better plans. In this paper we take the next analytical step and consider how plans will adjust prices as consumer search behavior improves. We use detailed data on enrollees in New Jersey to demonstrate that consumers switch plans infrequently and imperfectly. We estimate a model of consumer plan choice with inattentive consumers. We then turn to the supply side and examine insurer responses to this behavior. We show that high premiums are consistent with insurers profiting from consumer inertia. We use the demand model and a model of firm pricing to calculate how much lower Part D program costs would be if consumer inattention were removed and plans re-priced in response. Our estimates indicate that consumers would save $536 each, and the government would save $550 million total over three years, when firms' choice of markup is taken into account. Cost growth would also fall: by the last year of our sample government savings would amount to 8.2% of the cost of subsidizing the relevant enrollees.

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National Hospital Ratings Systems Share Few Common Scores And May Generate Confusion Instead Of Clarity

Matthew Austin et al.
Health Affairs, March 2015, Pages 423-430

Abstract:
Attempts to assess the quality and safety of hospitals have proliferated, including a growing number of consumer-directed hospital rating systems. However, relatively little is known about what these rating systems reveal. To better understand differences in hospital ratings, we compared four national rating systems. We designated “high” and “low” performers for each rating system and examined the overlap among rating systems and how hospital characteristics corresponded with performance on each. No hospital was rated as a high performer by all four national rating systems. Only 10 percent of the 844 hospitals rated as a high performer by one rating system were rated as a high performer by any of the other rating systems. The lack of agreement among the national hospital rating systems is likely explained by the fact that each system uses its own rating methods, has a different focus to its ratings, and stresses different measures of performance.

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Do "Consumer-Directed" Health Plans Bend the Cost Curve Over Time?

Amelia Haviland et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
“Consumer-Directed” Health Plans (CDHPs) combine high deductibles with personal medical accounts and are intended to reduce health care spending through greater patient cost sharing. Prior research shows that CDHPs reduce spending in the first year. However, there is little research on the impact of CDHPs over the longer term. We add to this literature by using data from 13 million individuals in 54 large US firms to estimate the effects of a firm offering CDHPs on health care spending up to three years post offer. We use a difference-in-differences analysis and to further strengthen identification, we balance observables within firm, over time by developing weights through a machine learning algorithm. We find that spending is reduced for those in firms offering CDHPs in all three years post. The reductions are driven by spending decreases in outpatient care and pharmaceuticals, with no evidence of increases in emergency department or inpatient care.

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Home Safety, Accessibility, and Elderly Health: Evidence from Falls

Michael Eriksen, Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley & Gary Engelhardt
Journal of Urban Economics, May 2015, Pages 14–24

Abstract:
This article presents estimates of the impact of home safety and accessibility features on the prevention of serious, non-fatal falls for elderly widowed individuals. As these features are not randomly assigned across homes, we develop an instrumental variable (IV) strategy that relies on the differential decline in the health and functional status of spouses to identify impacts. Specifically, we use the deceased spouse’s functional status when alive, as measured by limits to Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), as an IV for the presence of home safety and accessibility features for the surviving spouse in the years after widowhood, and then estimate the effect of these features on the likelihood of a serious fall for the widow using rich longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study. The presence of such features reduces the likelihood of a fall requiring medical treatment by 20 percentage points, a substantial effect. However, falls are not the type of health shock that is a main driver of housing tenure transitions among the elderly. Although somewhat speculative, cost-benefit estimates suggest that investments in home safety for the elderly may generate in the short run as much as a dollar-for-dollar reduction in medical expenditures.

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Modern Management Practices and Hospital Admissions

John McConnell et al.
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate whether the modern management practices and publicly reported performance measures are associated with choice of hospital for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). We define and measure management practices at approximately half of US cardiac care units using a novel survey approach. A patient's choice of a hospital is modeled as a function of the hospital's performance on publicly reported quality measures and the quality of its management. The estimates, based on a grouped conditional logit specification, reveal that higher management scores and better performance on publicly reported quality measures are positively associated with hospital choice. Management practices appear to have a direct correlation with admissions for AMI — potentially through reputational effects — and indirect association, through better performance on publicly reported measures. Overall, a one standard deviation change in management practice scores is associated with an 8% increase in AMI admissions.

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Ask Your Doctor? Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceuticals

Michael Sinkinson & Amanda Starc
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
We measure the impact of direct-to-consumer television advertising (DTCA) by drug manufacturers. Our identification strategy exploits shocks to local advertising markets generated by idiosyncrasies of the political advertising cycle as well as a regulatory intervention affecting a single product. We find that a 10% increase in the number of a firm's ads leads to a 0.76% increase in revenue, while the same increase in rival advertising leads to a 0.55% decrease in firm revenue. Results also indicate that a 10% increase in category advertising produces a 0.2% revenue increase for non-advertised drugs. Both the business-stealing and spillover effects would not be detected through OLS. Decomposition using micro data confirms that the effect is due mostly to new customers as opposed to switching among current customers. Simulations show that an outright ban on DTCA would have modest effects on the sales of advertised drugs as well as on non-advertised drugs.

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The Practice of Cranial Neurosurgery and the Malpractice Liability Environment in the United States

Kimon Bekelis et al.
PLoS ONE, March 2015

Object: The potential imbalance between malpractice liability cost and quality of care has been an issue of debate. We investigated the association of malpractice liability with unfavorable outcomes and increased hospitalization charges in cranial neurosurgery.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study involving patients who underwent cranial neurosurgical procedures from 2005-2010, and were registered in the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. We used data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) from 2005 to 2010 to create measures of volume and size of malpractice claim payments. The association of the latter with the state-level mortality, length of stay (LOS), unfavorable discharge, and hospitalization charges for cranial neurosurgery was investigated.

Results: During the study period, there were 189,103 patients (mean age 46.4 years, with 48.3% females) who underwent cranial neurosurgical procedures, and were registered in NIS. In a multivariable regression, higher number of claims per physician in a state was associated with increased ln-transformed hospitalization charges (beta 0.18; 95% CI, 0.17 to 0.19). On the contrary, there was no association with mortality (OR 1.00; 95% CI, 0.94 to 1.06). We observed a small association with unfavorable discharge (OR 1.09; 95% CI, 1.06 to 1.13), and LOS (beta 0.01; 95% CI, 0.002 to 0.03). The size of the awarded claims demonstrated similar relationships. The average claims payment size (ln-transformed) (Pearson’s rho=0.435, P=0.01) demonstrated a positive correlation with the risk-adjusted hospitalization charges but did not demonstrate a correlation with mortality, unfavorable discharge, or LOS.

Conclusions: In the present national study, aggressive malpractice environment was not correlated with mortality but was associated with higher hospitalization charges after cranial neurosurgery. In view of the association of malpractice with the economics of healthcare, further research on its impact is necessary.

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Physician Incentives and the Rise in C-sections: Evidence from Canada

Sara Allin et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
More than one in four births are delivered by Cesarean section across the OECD where fee-for-service remuneration schemes generally compensate C-sections more generously than vaginal deliveries. In this paper, we exploit unique features of the Canadian health care system to investigate if physicians respond to financial incentives in obstetric care. Previous studies have investigated physicians' behavioral response to incentives using data from institutional contexts in which they can sort across remuneration schemes and patient types. The single payer and universal coverage nature of Medicare in Canada mitigates the threat that our estimates are contaminated by such a selection bias. Using administrative data from nearly five million hospital records, we find that doubling the compensation received for a C-section relative to a vaginal delivery increases by 5.6 percentage points the likelihood that a birth is delivered by C-section, all else equal. This result is mostly driven by obstetricians, rather than by general practitioners. We also find that physicians' response to financial incentives is greater among patients over 34, which may reflect physicians' greater informational advantage on the risks of different delivery methods for this category of mothers.

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US Hospitals Experienced Substantial Productivity Growth During 2002–11

John Romley, Dana Goldman & Neeraj Sood
Health Affairs, March 2015, Pages 511-518

Abstract:
The need for better value in US health care is widely recognized. Existing evidence suggests that improvement in the productivity of American hospitals—that is, the output that hospitals produce from inputs such as labor and capital—has lagged behind that of other industries. However, previous studies have not adequately addressed quality of care or severity of patient illness. Our study, by contrast, adjusts for trends in the severity of patients’ conditions and health outcomes. We studied productivity growth among US hospitals in treating Medicare patients with heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia during 2002–11. We found that the rates of annual productivity growth were 0.78 percent for heart attack, 0.62 percent for heart failure, and 1.90 percent for pneumonia. However, unadjusted productivity growth appears to have been negative. These findings suggest that productivity growth in US health care could be better than is sometimes believed, and may help alleviate concerns about Medicare payment policy under the Affordable Care Act.

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The Efficiency of Slacking Off: Evidence from the Emergency Department

David Chan
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Work schedules play an important role in time-sensitive production utilizing workers interchangeably. Studying emergency department physicians in shift work, I find two types of strategic behavior induced by schedules. First, on an extensive margin, physicians "slack off" by accepting fewer patients near end of shift (EOS). Second, on an intensive margin, physicians distort patient care, incurring higher costs as they spend less time on patients accepted near EOS. I demonstrate a tradeoff between these two strategic behaviors, by examining how they change with shift overlap. Accounting for both costs of physician time and patient care, I find that physicians slack off at approximately second-best optimal levels.

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A Note on the Comparative Statics of Pay-for-Performance in Health Care

Tisamarie Sherry
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Pay-for-performance (P4P) is a widely implemented quality improvement strategy in health care that has generated much enthusiasm, but only limited empirical evidence to support its effectiveness. Researchers have speculated that flawed program designs or weak financial incentives may be to blame, but the reason for P4P's limited success may be more fundamental. When P4P rewards multiple services, it creates a special case of the well-known multitasking problem, where incentives to increase some rewarded activities are blunted by countervailing incentives to focus on other rewarded activities: these incentives may cancel each other out with little net effect on quality. This paper analyzes the comparative statics of a P4P model to show that when P4P rewards multiple services in a setting of multitasking and joint production, the change in both rewarded and unrewarded services is generally ambiguous. This result contrasts with the commonly held intuition that P4P should increase rewarded activities.

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Trends in Settings for Peripheral Vascular Intervention and the Effect of Changes in the Outpatient Prospective Payment System

Schuyler Jones et al.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 10 March 2015, Pages 920–927

Background: Peripheral vascular intervention (PVI) is an effective treatment option for patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). In 2008, Medicare modified reimbursement rates to encourage more efficient outpatient use of PVI in the United States.

Methods: Using a 5% national sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries from 2006 to 2011, we examined age- and sex-adjusted rates of PVI by year, type of procedure, clinical setting, and physician specialty.

Results: A total of 39,339 Medicare beneficiaries underwent revascularization for PAD between 2006 and 2011. The annual rate of PVI increased slightly from 401.4 to 419.6 per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries (p = 0.17), but the clinical setting shifted. The rate of PVI declined in inpatient settings from 209.7 to 151.6 (p < 0.001), whereas the rate expanded in outpatient hospitals (184.7 to 228.5; p = 0.01) and office-based clinics (6.0 to 37.8; p = 0.008). The use of atherectomy increased 2-fold in outpatient hospital settings and 50-fold in office-based clinics during the study period. Mean costs of inpatient procedures were similar across all types of PVI, whereas mean costs of atherectomy procedures in outpatient and office-based clinics exceeded those of stenting and angioplasty procedures.

Conclusions: From 2006 to 2011, overall rates of PVI increased minimally. However, after changes in reimbursement, PVI and atherectomy in outpatient facilities and office-based clinics increased dramatically, neutralizing cost savings to Medicare and highlighting the possible unintended consequences of coverage decisions.

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Long-Term Care Utility and Late in Life Saving

John Ameriks et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Older wealthholders spend down assets slowly. To study this pattern, the paper introduces health dependent utility into a model in which different preferences for bequests, expenditures when in need of long-term care (LTC), and ordinary consumption combine with health and longevity uncertainty to determine saving behavior. To help separately identify motives, it develops Strategic Survey Questions (SSQs) that elicit stated preferences. The model is estimated using new SSQ and wealth data from the Vanguard Research Initiative. Estimates of the health-state utility function imply that motives associated with LTC are significantly more important than bequest motives in determining late in life saving.

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Copayments and Emergency Department Use Among Adult Medicaid Enrollees

Lindsay Sabik & Sabina Ohri Gandhi
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A number of state Medicaid programs have recently proposed or implemented new or increased copayments for nonemergent emergency department (ED) visits. Evidence suggests that copayments generally reduce the level of healthcare utilization, although there is little specific evidence regarding the effectiveness of copayments in reducing nonurgent ED use among Medicaid enrollees or other low-income populations. Encouraging efficient and appropriate use of healthcare services will be of particular importance for Medicaid programs as they expand under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This analysis uses national data from 2001 to 2009 to examine the effect of copayments on nonurgent ED utilization among nonelderly adult enrollees. We find that visits among Medicaid enrollees in state-years where a copayment is in place are significantly less likely to be for nonurgent reasons. Our findings suggest that copayments may be an effective tool for reducing use of the ED for nonurgent care.

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Staffing Subsidies and the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes

Andrew Foster & Yong Suk Lee
Journal of Health Economics, May 2015, Pages 133–147

Abstract:
Concerns about the quality of state-financed nursing home care has led to the wide-scale adoption by states of pass-through subsidies, in which Medicaid reimbursement rates are directly tied to staffing expenditure. We examine the effects of Medicaid pass-through on nursing home staffing and quality of care by adapting a two-step FGLS method that addresses clustering and state-level temporal autocorrelation. We find that pass-through subsidies increases staffing by about 1% on average and 2.7% in nursing homes with a low share of Medicaid patients. Furthermore, pass-through subsidies reduce the incidences of pressure ulcer worsening by about 0.9%.

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Effects of the Ten Percent Cap in Medicare Home Health Care on Treatment Intensity and Patient Discharge Status

Hyunjee Kim & Edward Norton
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To estimate the effect of the 10 percent cap introduced to Medicare home health care on treatment intensity and patient discharge status.

Data Sources: Medicare Denominator, Medicare Home Health Claims, and Medicare Provider of Services Files from 2008 through 2010.

Study Design: We used agency-level variation in the proportion of outlier payments prior to the implementation of the 10 percent cap to identify how home health agencies adjusted the number of home health visits and patient discharge status under the new law.

Principal Findings: Under the 10 percent cap, agencies dramatically decreased the number of service visits. Agencies also dropped relatively healthy patients and sent sicker patients to nursing homes.

Conclusions: The drastic reduction in the number of service visits and discontinuation of relatively healthy patients from home health care suggest that the 10 percent cap improved the efficiency of home health services as intended. However, the 10 percent cap increased other types of health care expenditures by pushing sicker patients to use more expensive health services.

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Public reporting and the evolution of diabetes quality

Jeffrey McCullough et al.
International Journal of Health Economics and Management, March 2015, Pages 127-138

Abstract:
We address three questions related to public reports of diabetes quality. First, does clinic quality evolve over time? Second, does the quality of reporting clinics converge to a common standard? Third, how persistent are provider quality rankings across time? Since current methods of public reporting rely on historic data, measures of clinic quality are most informative if relative clinic performance is persistent across time. We use data from the Minnesota Community Measurement spanning 2007–2012. We employ seemingly-unrelated regression to measure quality improvement conditional upon cohort effects and changes in quality metrics. Basic autoregressive models are used to measure quality persistence. There were striking differences in initial quality across cohorts of clinics and early-reporting cohorts maintained higher quality in all years. This suggests that consumers can infer, on average, that non-reporting clinics have poorer quality than reporting clinics. Average quality, however, improves slowly in all cohorts and quality dispersion declines over time both within and across cohorts. Relative clinic quality is highly persistent year-to-year, suggesting that publicly-reported measures can inform consumers in choice of clinics, even though they represent measured quality for a previous time period. Finally, definition changes in measures can make it difficult to draw appropriate inferences from longitudinal public reports data.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Rush to judgment

“Leave Your Comment Below”: Can Biased Online Comments Influence Our Own Prejudicial Attitudes and Behaviors?

Mark Hsueh, Kumar Yogeeswaran & Sanna Malinen
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increased use of online communication in everyday life presents a growing need to understand how people are influenced by others in such settings. In this study, online comments established social norms that directly influenced readers' expressions of prejudice both consciously and unconsciously. Participants read an online article and were then exposed to antiprejudiced or prejudiced comments allegedly posted by other users. Results revealed that exposure to prejudiced (relative to antiprejudiced) comments influenced respondents to post more prejudiced comments themselves. In addition, these effects generalized to participants' unconscious and conscious attitudes toward the target group once offline. These findings suggest that simple exposure to social information can impact our attitudes and behavior, suggesting potential avenues for social change in online environments.

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A Study of a Market Anomaly: “White Men Can’t Jump,” But Would You Bet On It?

Deniz Igan, Marcelo Pinheiro & John Smith
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, May 2015, Pages 13–25

Abstract:
We identify a largely efficient market in which there is a relationship between race and market outcomes. Examining data on NBA games, we find that teams with more black players tend to face larger point spreads and that these teams perform worse against the spread. These biased outcomes are significantly large and persistent so that we are able to identify profit opportunities. We also find evidence that the biased spread is set by the bookmakers rather than being moved as a result of excessive betting on the more black team. We examine several alternate explanations, and the racial composition measures remain significant in these specifications.

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Awareness of Intergroup Help Can Rehumanize the Out-Group

Tamar Saguy et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Dehumanizing the enemy is one of the most destructive elements of intergroup conflict. Past research demonstrated that awareness of harm that the in-group imposed on a specific out-group can increase out-group dehumanization as means of justifying the harm. In this research, we examined whether the opposite process would occur when people become aware of help given to an adversary. We reasoned that the need to justify a good deed toward a persistent enemy can result in more human-like out-group attributions. In two experiments, Israeli-Jews read about their group either helping Palestinians or not. In Study 1, awareness of help provided by the in-group to the out-group resulted in greater out-group humanization. In Study 2, we further established that when a third party helped the out-group, the rehumanization effect was not obtained, suggesting that the phenomenon is of specific intergroup nature. Theoretical and applied implications for conflict resolution are discussed.

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Applying imagined contact to improve physiological responses in anticipation of intergroup interactions and the perceived quality of these interactions

Keon West, Rhiannon Turner & Liat Levita
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This experiment (N = 49) is the first to show that imagined contact can buffer anticipatory physiological responses to future interactions, and improve the quality of these interactions. Participants imagined a positive interaction with a person with schizophrenia, or in a control condition, a person who did not have schizophrenia. They then interacted with a confederate whom they believed had schizophrenia. Participants in the imagined contact condition reported more positive attitudes and less avoidance of people with schizophrenia, displayed smaller anticipatory physiological responses, specifically smaller changes in interbeat interval and skin conductance responses, and had a more positive interaction according to the confederate. These findings support applying imagined contact to improve interactions with people with severe mental illnesses.

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Some extended psychological benefits of challenging social stereotypes: Decreased dehumanization and a reduced reliance on heuristic thinking

Francesca Prati et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
One way to promote equality is to encourage people to generate counterstereotypic role models. In two experiments, we demonstrate that such interventions have much broader benefits than previously thought — reducing a reliance on heuristic thinking and decreasing tendencies to dehumanize outgroups. In Experiment 1, participants who thought about a gender counterstereotype (e.g., a female mechanic) demonstrated a generalized decrease in dehumanization towards a range of unrelated target groups (including asylum seekers and the homeless). In Experiment 2 we replicated these findings using alternative targets and measures of dehumanization. Furthermore, we found the effect was mediated by a reduced reliance on heuristic thinking. The findings suggest educational initiatives that aim to challenge social stereotypes may not only have societal benefits (generalized tolerance), but also tangible benefits for individuals (enhanced cognitive flexibility).

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Affect and Understanding During Everyday Cross-Race Experiences

Robyn Mallett, Sharon Akimoto & Shigehiro Oishi
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research uses an event sampling method to test whether, compared to same-race interactions, everyday cross-race contact is better characterized by the presence of negative affect or the absence of positive affect. Everyday intergroup interactions have some positive and negative aspects, so the present research independently assesses positive affect and negative affect along with felt understanding and misunderstanding. Across 3 studies (Study 1, n = 107; Study 2, n = 112; Study 3, n = 146), we find that European, Asian, and African Americans report that everyday cross-race interactions generate less positive affect and felt understanding than same-race interactions. Yet cross-race interactions entail no more negative affect than same-race interactions. This supports the idea that positive emotions are mostly reserved for and experienced with the ingroup, rather than the idea that people feel animosity toward the outgroup. Given that nearly half of racial-minority group member’s everyday interactions are cross-race, their daily encounters are typically less positive than those of racial-majority group members. Feeling less well understood as a result of cross-race contact may increase the likelihood that racial-minority group members question whether they belong on a college campus.

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Multiple Forms of Prejudice: How Gender and Disability Stereotypes Influence Judgments of Disabled Women and Men

Jill Coleman, Amy Brunell & Ingrid Haugen
Current Psychology, March 2015, Pages 177-189

Abstract:
The present study examined how gender and disability stereotypes interact to influence social judgments. We predicted that people would judge a woman with physical disability more negatively than a woman with intellectual disability, but that there would be a less pronounced difference for judgments of men with physical and intellectual disability. Participants (N = 173) read short descriptions of a male or female character who was physically or intellectually disabled. They evaluated the character’s warmth and competence and reported how much social distance they wanted from the character. Contrary to our expectations, participants reported significantly less desire for social distance from physically disabled women than intellectually disabled women. As predicted, evaluations of men were not affected by the type of disability the target character possessed.

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Using Celebrity News Stories to Effectively Reduce Racial/Ethnic Prejudice

Srividya Ramasubramanian
Journal of Social Issues, March 2015, Pages 123–138

Abstract:
This article argues that exposure to admirable media celebrities from racial/ethnic outgroups is an effective, proactive, and viable strategy for prejudice reduction and intergroup harmony. It uses mediated contact and exemplification theories to demonstrate that reading news stories about likable outgroup media personalities who serve as counter-stereotypic exemplars can subtly modify racial attitudes, which are malleable and context-sensitive. Specifically, results from a between-participants experiment (N = 88) show that exposure to news stories about counter-stereotypic African American media personalities as compared to stereotypical ones reduces stereotypical perceptions and symbolic racist beliefs of White Americans about African Americans. Furthermore, these favorable attitudes translate into an increased willingness to support affirmative action policies.

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Effects of Right-Wing Populist Political Advertising on Implicit and Explicit Stereotypes

Florian Arendt, Franziska Marquart & Jörg Matthes
Journal of Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated the effects of antiforeigner political advertisements on implicit and explicit stereotypes. While stereotypical associations may become automatically activated (implicit stereotypes), individuals can reject these thoughts and decide not to use them for an overtly expressed judgment (explicit stereotypes). We hypothesized that even if citizens negated stereotypical content, advertisements might still affect implicit stereotypes. This hypothesis was tested using an experiment where participants (N = 186) were exposed to zero, two, four, or six stereotypical advertisements. The results showed that stereotypical advertisements did not influence explicit stereotypes but did influence implicit stereotypes, even in critical recipients who negated the stereotypical content.

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A Group’s Physical Attractiveness Is Greater Than the Average Attractiveness of Its Members: The Group Attractiveness Effect

Yvette van Osch et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 2015, Pages 559-574

Abstract:
We tested whether the perceived physical attractiveness of a group is greater than the average attractiveness of its members. In nine studies, we find evidence for the so-called group attractiveness effect (GA-effect), using female, male, and mixed-gender groups, indicating that group impressions of physical attractiveness are more positive than the average ratings of the group members. A meta-analysis on 33 comparisons reveals that the effect is medium to large (Cohen’s d = 0.60) and moderated by group size. We explored two explanations for the GA-effect: (a) selective attention to attractive group members, and (b) the Gestalt principle of similarity. The results of our studies are in favor of the selective attention account: People selectively attend to the most attractive members of a group and their attractiveness has a greater influence on the evaluation of the group.

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Documenting Portrayals of Race/Ethnicity on Primetime Television over a 20-Year Span and Their Association with National-Level Racial/Ethnic Attitudes

Riva Tukachinsky, Dana Mastro & Moran Yarchi
Journal of Social Issues, March 2015, Pages 17–38

Abstract:
The current study content analyzes the 345 most viewed U.S. television shows within 12 separate television seasons spanning the years 1987 to 2009. Using multilevel modeling, the results from this comprehensive content analysis then are used to predict national-level racial/ethnic perceptions (between the years 1988 and 2008) with data from the American National Election Studies (ANES). Content analysis results reveal severe underrepresentation of Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, and a tendency to depict ethnic minorities stereotypically (e.g., overrepresentation of hyper-sexualized Latino characters). Multilevel-modeling analysis indicates that both the quantity and quality of ethnic media representations contributes to Whites’ racial attitudes.

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Targeting Prejudice: Personal Self-Esteem as a Resource for Asians’ Attributions to Racial Discrimination

Mark Seery & Wendy Quinton
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although Asians in the United States are targets of racial prejudice and discrimination, cultural forces may hinder their acknowledging that such bias has occurred. High personal self-esteem (SE) may facilitate acknowledging discrimination — which is costly yet necessary to remedy unfair treatment — but the importance of personal SE for Asians has been questioned. This study investigated a novel question: Does high personal SE function as a psychological resource for Asians’ attributions to racial discrimination? Participants received negative performance feedback containing one of three levels of cues to a White evaluator’s prejudice (feedback only, less-clear cues, or more-clear cues). Participants with lower SE reported elevated attributions to discrimination only when cues were more clear, whereas participants with higher SE reported elevated attributions when any cues to prejudice were present. Results suggest that high personal SE serves as a psychological resource for Asian targets of prejudice, lowering the threshold for acknowledging discriminatory treatment.

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Semantic Information Influences Race Categorization From Faces

Konstantin Tskhay & Nicholas Rule
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is well established that low-level visual features affect person categorization in a bottom-up fashion. Few studies have examined top-down influences, however, and have largely focused on how information recalled from memory or from motivation influences categorization. Here, we investigated how race categorizations are affected by the context in which targets are perceived by manipulating semantic information associated with the faces being categorized. We found that presenting faces that systematically varied in racial ambiguity with race-congruent (vs. incongruent) semantic labels shifted the threshold at which perceivers distinguished between racial groups. The semantic information offered by the labels therefore appeared to influence the categorization of race. These findings suggest that semantic information creates a context for the interpretation of perceptual cues during social categorization, highlighting an active role of top-down information in race perception.

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Pre- and Post-Welfare Reform Media Portrayals of Poverty in the United States: The Continuing Importance of Race and Ethnicity

Bas van Doorn
Politics & Policy, February 2015, Pages 142–162

Abstract:
This article analyzes racial and ethnic patterns in media coverage of poverty in the United States, with a particular focus on depictions of African Americans and Hispanics. A content analysis of photos accompanying poverty-related stories published in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report from 1992 to 2010 shows that while Hispanics are underrepresented in media portrayals of the poor, African Americans are overrepresented, especially alongside stories on welfare, in times of economic growth and low unemployment, and in coverage unsympathetic to the poor more generally. I conclude that media coverage of poverty is unrepresentative in a manner consistent with stereotypes concerning African Americans and Hispanics, likely contributing to the endurance of such stereotypes and explaining the fact that welfare is as unpopular after welfare reform as it was prior to reform.

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Social Identity Threat in Response to Stereotypic Film Portrayals: Effects on Self-Conscious Emotion and Implicit Ingroup Attitudes

Toni Schmader, Katharina Block & Brian Lickel
Journal of Social Issues, March 2015, Pages 54–72

Abstract:
Disadvantaged ethnic groups are often portrayed stereotypically in film, but little is known about how such portrayals affect members of those groups. Two experiments examined the affective and attitudinal reactions of Mexican and European Americans to stereotypic film clips of Latinos. Results of Study 1 revealed that stereotypic films cue negative affect among Mexican Americans, regardless of the realism of the portrayals. In Study 2, both Mexican and European Americans felt more self-conscious when another ingroup member openly laughed at negative Latino stereotypes in a comedy. Across both studies, the importance of ethnic identity exacerbated negative reactions to stereotypic clips and predicted somewhat more negative implicit group attitudes among Mexican Americans. In contrast, group pride mitigated affective costs and predicted greater enjoyment of stereotypical film clips among European Americans. The implications for the role of mass media in creating social identity threat for disadvantaged ethnic groups are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

School choices

School District Lines Stratify Educational Opportunity by Race and Poverty

Jennifer Ayscue & Gary Orfield
Race and Social Problems, March 2015, Pages 5-20

Abstract:
School segregation has serious consequences for educational opportunity and success. Across the nation, school segregation by race and poverty is deepening and varies by state. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, this study explores the relationship between fragmentation - the degree to which metropolitan areas are split into many separate school districts - and segregation. Three measures of segregation - exposure, concentration, and evenness - are employed to analyze state- and metropolitan-level data between 1989 and 2010 in four states with different school district structures. Findings in this exploratory study indicate that states and metropolitan areas with more fragmented district structures are associated with higher levels of segregation. In comparison with the less fragmented states of North Carolina and Virginia, in the highly fragmented states of New York and New Jersey, the typical black and Latino student are exposed to smaller shares of white students, the typical white student is more isolated with other white peers, there are greater disparities in exposure to low-income students by race, the share of non-white segregated schools is substantially larger, and levels of multiracial unevenness are higher. (These states were selected from a set of in-depth state studies by the Civil Rights Project of the states from Maine to North Carolina; comparable data are not available for many other states.) Highly fragmented states and metropolitan areas with numerous small school districts cannot confront segregation by exclusively focusing their efforts within districts; in these areas, segregation is fundamentally occurring among districts rather than within districts. Instead, highly fragmented areas could use regional strategies, such as interdistrict transfer programs, regional magnet schools, and district consolidation, to make progress in desegregating their schools across school district lines.

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College Access, Initial College Choice and Degree Completion

Joshua Goodman, Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
The relatively low degree completion rate of U.S. college students has prompted debate over the extent to which the problem is attributable to the students or to their choice of colleges. Estimating the impact of initial college choice is confounded by the non-random nature of college selection. We solve this selection problem by studying the universe of SAT-takers in the state of Georgia, where minimum SAT scores required for admission to the four-year public college sector generate exogenous variation in initial college choice. Regression discontinuity estimates comparing the relatively low-skilled students just above and below this minimum threshold show that access to this sector increases enrollment in four-year colleges, largely by diverting students from two-year community colleges. Most importantly, access to four-year public colleges substantially increases bachelor's degree completion rates, particularly for low-income students. Conditional on a student's own academic skill, the institutional completion rate of his initial college explains a large fraction of his own probability of completion. Consistent with prior research on college quality and the two-year college penalty, these results may explain part of the labor market return to college quality.

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Inequality, marketisation and the left: Schools policy in England and Sweden

Timothy Hicks
European Journal of Political Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is argued in this article that the marketisation of schools policy has a tendency to produce twin effects: an increase in educational inequality, and an increase in general satisfaction with the schooling system. However, the effect on educational inequality is very much stronger where prevailing societal inequality is higher. The result is that cross-party political agreement on the desirability of such reforms is much more likely where societal inequality is lower (as the inequality effects are also lower). Counterintuitively, then, countries that are more egalitarian - and so typically thought of as being more left-wing - will have a higher likelihood of adopting marketisation than more unequal countries. Evidence is drawn from a paired comparison of English and Swedish schools policies from the 1980s to the present. Both the policy history and elite interviews lend considerable support for the theory in terms of both outcomes and mechanisms.

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Missed Signals: The Effect of ACT College-Readiness Measures on Post-Secondary Decisions

Andrew Foote, Lisa Schulkind & Teny Shapiro
Economics of Education Review, June 2015, Pages 39-51

Abstract:
In the face of shrinking government budgets and a growing need to train a high-skilled labor force, policymakers have become increasingly interested in cost-effective measures that induce more students to apply to and enroll in college. In this paper, we use a regression discontinuity design to identify the causal effect of students receiving information about their own college-readiness after taking the ACT on their subsequent college enrollment decisions. Using data from Colorado, where all high school students are required to take the ACT, we find that students who receive information that they are college-ready are no more likely to attend college than those that do not receive this information. We discuss possible reasons for these findings.

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The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative

Lisa Barrow, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Amy Claessens
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This project examines the effects of the introduction of new small high schools on student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district. Specifically, we investigate whether students attending small high schools have better graduation/enrollment rates and achievement than similar students who attend regular CPS high schools. We show that students who choose to attend a small school are more disadvantaged on average, including having prior test scores that are about 0.2 standard deviations lower than their elementary school classmates. To address the selection problem, we use an instrumental variables strategy and compare students who live in the same neighborhoods but differ in their residential proximity to a small school. In this approach, one student is more likely to sign up for a small school than another statistically identical student because the small school is located closer to the student's house and therefore the "cost" of attending the school is lower. The distance-to-small-school variable has strong predictive power to identify who attends a small school. We find that small schools students are substantially more likely to persist in school and eventually graduate. Nonetheless, there is no positive impact on student achievement as measured by test scores.

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Teachers' Pay for Performance in the Long-Run: Effects on Students' Educational and Labor Market Outcomes in Adulthood

Victor Lavy
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
The long term effect of teachers' pay for performance is of particular interest, as critics of these schemes claim that they encourage teaching to the test or orchestrated cheating by teachers and schools. In this paper, I address these concerns by examining the effect of teachers' pay for performance on long term human capital outcomes, in particular attainment and quality of higher education, and labor market outcomes at adulthood, in particular employment and earnings. I base this study on an experiment conducted a decade and a half ago in Israel and present evidence that the pay for performance scheme increased a wide range of long run human capital measures. Treated students are 4.3 percentage points more likely to enroll in a university and to complete an additional 0.17 years of university schooling, a 60 percent increase relative to the control group mean. These gains are mediated by overall improvements in the high school matriculation outcomes due to the teachers' intervention at 12th grade. The pay scheme led also to a significant 7 percent increase in annual earnings, to a 2 percent reduction in claims for unemployment benefits, and a 1 percent decline in eligibility for the government disability payment.

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How the Time of Day Affects Productivity: Evidence from School Schedules

Nolan Pope
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increasing the efficiency of the school system is a primary focus of policy makers. I analyze how the time of day affects students' productivity and if efficiency gains can be obtained by rearranging the order of tasks performed throughout the school day. Using a panel data set of nearly two million 6th through 11th grade students in Los Angeles county, I perform within teacher, class type, and student estimation of the time-of-day effect on students' learning as measured by GPA and state test scores. I find that given a school start time students' learn more in the morning than later in the school day. Having a morning instead of afternoon math or English class increases a student's GPA by 0.072 (0.006) and 0.032 (0.006) respectively. A morning math class increases state test scores by an amount equivalent to increasing teacher quality by one-fourth standard deviation or half of the gender gap. Rearranging school schedules can lead to increased academic performance.

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Peer Turnover and Student Achievement: Implications for Classroom Assignment Policy

Marc Luppino
Economics of Education Review, June 2015, Pages 98-111

Abstract:
This paper examines the effect of peer turnover on academic achievement using random variation in classroom composition induced by Tennessee's Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) experiment. In central city school districts, I find that first graders benefit from greater peer turnover. Conversely, turnover is found to have a negative effect on young students in schools outside of central city districts. These results are consistent with a model of classroom learning in which the educational returns to having a stronger social network depend on neighborhood context. They suggest that a richer understanding of peer continuity effects is essential for designing optimal classroom assignment policies.

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The Paradox of Success at a No-Excuses School

Joanne Golann
Sociology of Education, April 2015, Pages 103-119

Abstract:
No recent reform has had so profound an effect as no-excuses schools in increasing the achievement of low-income black and Hispanic students. In the past decade, no-excuses schools - whose practices include extended instructional time, data-driven instruction, ongoing professional development, and a highly structured disciplinary system - have emerged as one of the most influential urban school-reform models. Yet almost no research has been conducted on the everyday experiences of students and teachers inside these schools. Drawing from 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork inside one no-excuses school and interviews with 92 school administrators, teachers, and students, I argue that even in a school promoting social mobility, teachers still reinforce class-based skills and behaviors. Because of these schools' emphasis on order as a prerequisite to raising test scores, teachers stress behaviors that undermine success for middle-class children. As a consequence, these schools develop worker-learners - children who monitor themselves, hold back their opinions, and defer to authority - rather than lifelong learners. I discuss the implications of these findings for market-based educational reform, inequality, and research on noncognitive skills.

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Productivity Returns to Experience in the Teacher Labor Market: Methodological Challenges and New Evidence on Long-Term Career Improvement

John Papay & Matthew Kraft
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present new evidence on the relationship between teacher productivity and job experience. Econometric challenges require identifying assumptions to model the within-teacher returns to experience with teacher fixed effects. We describe the identifying assumptions used in past models and in a new approach that we propose, and we demonstrate how violations of these assumptions can lead to substantial bias. Consistent with past research, we find that teachers experience rapid productivity improvement early in their careers. However, we also find evidence of returns to experience later in the career, indicating that teachers continue to build human capital beyond these first years.

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Risky business: An analysis of teacher risk preferences

Daniel Bowen et al.
Education Economics, July/August 2015, Pages 470-480

Abstract:
A range of proposals aim to reform teacher compensation, recruitment, and retention. Teachers have generally not embraced these policies. One potential explanation for their objections is that teachers are relatively risk averse. We examine this hypothesis using a risk-elicitation task common to experimental economics. By comparing preferences of new teachers with those entering other professions, we find that individuals choosing to teach are significantly more risk averse. This suggests that the teaching profession may attract individuals who are less amenable to certain reforms. Policy-makers should take into account teacher risk characteristics when considering reforms that may clash with preferences.

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Does early schooling narrow outcome gaps for advantaged and disadvantaged children?

Agne Suziedelyte & Anna Zhu
Economics of Education Review, April 2015, Pages 76-88

Abstract:
This paper explores how starting school at a younger age affects the developmental score gaps between relatively advantaged and disadvantaged children. While previous findings suggest that delaying school entry may improve school readiness, less is known about whether it has differential effects for advantaged and disadvantaged children. For disadvantaged children, starting school early may be a better alternative to staying at home for longer as school provides a more stable and educational environment than the family home, overcompensating for the penalties of starting school early. This may be less applicable to relatively advantaged children who generally have greater access to resources in the home and who are more likely to utilise formal pre-school services. We use the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to investigate if there is support for this hypothesis. The endogeneity of school starting age is addressed using the regression discontinuity design. We find that an early school start generally improves children's cognitive skills, which is even more pronounced for disadvantaged children. In contrast, an early school start tends to negatively affect children's non-cognitive skills with both advantaged and disadvantaged children affected in similar ways. Thus, our findings suggest that an earlier school entry may narrow the gaps in cognitive skills, whereas the gaps in non-cognitive skills are not affected by the school starting age.

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The distributional effects of the multi-track year-round calendar: A quantile regression approach

Steven McMullen, Kathryn Rouse & Justin Haan
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Year-round school (YRS) calendars that redistribute the 180 school days more evenly across the calendar year are growing in popularity. Learning loss theory predicts student response to year-round calendars could vary substantially across achievement levels. Existing research on the heterogeneous effects of YRS focuses on estimating mean treatment effects by subgroup. We instead use a quantile regression approach with school and grade-by-year fixed effects to estimate the distributional impact of year-round calendars using a natural experiment setting in Wake County, NC. Contrary to the prior literature, we find evidence of a positive impact of year-round calendars for the lowest-performing students. However, even for these students, the estimated academic impact is small.

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Effects of professorial tenure on undergraduate ratings of teaching performance

Dorothy Cheng
Education Economics, May/June 2015, Pages 338-357

Abstract:
This study estimates the effect of professorial tenure on undergraduate ratings of learning, instructor quality, and course quality at the University of California, San Diego from Summer 2004 to Spring 2012. During this eight-year period, 120 assistant professors received tenure and 83 associate professors attained full rank. A differences-in-differences model controlling for teaching experience, study hours, response rate, and unobserved heterogeneity among terms, courses, and professors suggests that for a given professor, tenure does not have a significant impact on student ratings of teaching performance, at least in the immediate years after advancement. The results are similar for the promotion from associate to full professor.

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College-Going Benefits of High School Sports Participation: Race and Gender Differences Over Three Decades

Dara Shifrer et al.
Youth & Society, May 2015, Pages 295-318

Abstract:
The long touted athlete advantage in college enrollment has been tempered by assertions that this advantage is actually due to characteristics that precede participation. Moreover, it remains unclear whether the benefits of sports extend into contemporary times and apply equally to female and racial minority athletes. This study uses three nationally representative longitudinal data sets of students who were 10th graders in 1980, 1990, and 2002. We find that high school sports participation was positively associated with college enrollment, even with the utilization of propensity score modeling, for White boys and girls, Black boys, and Latino boys and girls during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The most important gender and race differences include Black female athletes' college-going disadvantage in the 1980s and 1990s, and girls' persistently lower rates of high school sports participation than boys'.

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Spillovers from Universities: Evidence from the Land-Grant Program

Shimeng Liu
Journal of Urban Economics, May 2015, Pages 25-41

Abstract:
This paper estimates the short- and long-run effects of universities on geographic clustering of economic activity, labor market composition and local productivity and presents evidence of local spillovers from universities. I treat the designation of land-grant universities in the 1860s as a natural experiment after controlling for the confounding factors with a combination of synthetic control methods and event-study analyses. Three key results are obtained. First, the designation increased local population density by 6 percent within 10 years and 45 percent in 80 years. Second, the designation did not change the relative size of local manufacturing sector. Third, the designation enhanced local manufacturing output per worker by $2136 (1840 dollars; 57 percent) in 80 years while the short-run effects were negligible. This positive effect on the productivity in non-education sectors suggests the existence of local spillovers from universities. Over an 80-year horizon, my results indicate that the increase in manufacturing productivity reflects both the impact of direct spillovers from universities and general agglomeration economies that arise from the increase in population.

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The Currents beneath the "Rising Tide" of School Choice: An Analysis of Student Enrollment Flows in the Chicago Public Schools

Irmak Sirer et al.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Spring 2015, Pages 358-377

Abstract:
Existing research highlights that families face geographic, social, and psychological constraints that may limit the extent to which competition can take hold in school choice programs. In this paper, we address the implications of such findings by creating a network of student flows from 11 cohorts of eighth-grade students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). We applied a custom algorithm to group together schools with similar sending and receiving patterns, and calculated the difference in mean achievement between a student's attended and assigned high schools. For all identified school groupings, we found that the students were on average moving to higher achieving schools. We also found that the movement toward higher achieving schools of the top achievement quartile of students was over twice as large as that of the bottom quartile, but that the flows of both the highest and lowest achieving student quartiles were toward higher achieving destinations. Our results suggest that student movements in CPS between the years of 2001 to 2005 were consistent with creating market pressure for improvement as well as increasing segregation by achievement. However, further research into how schools responded to those movements is required to make inferences about the level or consequences of competition generated by choice-related reforms during that time.

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Earlier school start times as a risk factor for poor school performance: An examination of public elementary schools in the commonwealth of Kentucky

Peggy Keller et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology, February 2015, Pages 236-245

Abstract:
Adequate sleep is essential for child learning. However, school systems may inadvertently be promoting sleep deprivation through early school start times. The current study examines the potential implications of early school start times for standardized test scores in public elementary schools in Kentucky. Associations between early school start time and poorer school performance were observed primarily for schools serving few students who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches. Associations were controlled for teacher-student ratio, racial composition, and whether the school was in the Appalachian region. Findings support the growing body of research showing that early school start times may influence student learning but offer some of the first evidence that this influence may occur for elementary school children and depend on school characteristics.

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Grade-Specific Experience, Grade Reassignments, and Teacher Turnover

Ben Ost & Jeffrey Schiman
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study documents that teacher turnover is strongly related to the pattern of grades that a teacher is asked to teach. Elementary teachers in North Carolina that teach the same grade in their first two years are approximately 20% more likely to stay than teachers who teach two different grades in their first two years of teaching. More generally, within total experience categories, teachers with the fewest years of grade-specific experience have the highest probability of turnover. We argue that this pattern is driven both by the disruption caused by grade reassignment and by the fact that teachers with stable grade assignments have effectively smaller workloads since they can reuse lesson plans and, more generally, apply grade-specific skills.

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Capitalization of Charter Schools into Residential Property Values

Scott Imberman, Michael Naretta & Margaret O'Rourke
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
While prior research has found clear impacts of schools and school quality on property values, little is known about whether charter schools have similar effects. Using sale price data for residential properties in Los Angeles County from 2008 to 2011 we estimate the neighborhood level impact of charter schools on housing prices. Using an identification strategy that relies on census block fixed-effects and variation in charter penetration over time, we find little evidence that the availability of charter schools affect housing prices on average. However, we do find that when restricting to charter schools located in the same school district as the household, housing prices outside Los Angeles Unified School District fall in response to an increase in nearby charter penetration.

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State Merit-Based Financial Aid Programs and College Attainment

David Sjoquist & John Winters
Journal of Regional Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of state merit-based student aid programs on college attendance and degree completion. Our primary analysis uses microdata from the 2000 United States Census and 2001-2010 American Community Survey to estimate the effects of exposure to merit programs on educational outcomes for 25 states that adopted such programs by 2004. We also utilize administrative data for the University System of Georgia to look more in depth at the effects of exposure to the HOPE Scholarship on degree completion. We find strong consistent evidence that exposure to state merit aid programs have no meaningfully positive effect on college completion.

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School Quality and Educational Attainment: Japanese American Internment as a Natural Experiment

Martin Saavedra
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 1942, the United States incarcerated all Japanese Americans on the West Coast, including children, in internment camps. Using non-West Coast Japanese Americans and non-Japanese Asians as control groups, I estimate the effect of attending a War Relocation Authority school on educational attainment. Non-linear difference-in-differences estimates suggest that attending school within the internment camps decreased the probability of receiving a post-collegiate education by approximately 4 to 5 percentage points and decreased the probability of receiving a college degree by between 2 and 7 percentage points. I find some evidence that attending a WRA school may have decreased the returns to education as well. By using un-incarcerated birth cohorts and races, placebo tests find no evidence that the identifying assumptions are violated.

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Salaries in Space: The Spatial Dimensions of Teacher Compensation

Jacob Fowles
Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article, drawing on a rich panel of administrative data comprising all public school teachers employed in Kentucky from 1997 to 2005, utilizes methods developed in spatial econometrics to test for spatial interdependence in the teacher remuneration policies utilized by public school districts. The results of the best fitting model suggest that a 1 percentage point increase in the salary generosity of a particular district's distance-weighted neighbors yields a 0.57 percentage point increase in the generosity of salaries within that district, even after controlling for relevant district characteristics and including time and district fixed effects. The results are discussed within the context of state education finance reforms, the school choice movement as well as the continued national focus on improving teacher quality as a primary mechanism to increase student achievement.

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Blissful Ignorance? A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Feedback on Students' Performance

Oriana Bandiera, Valentino Larcinese & Imran Rasul
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide evidence on whether providing university students with feedback on their past exam performance affects their future exam performance. Our identification strategy exploits a natural experiment in a leading UK university where different departments have historically different rules on the provision of feedback to their students. We find the provision of feedback has a positive effect on students' subsequent test scores: the mean impact corresponds to 13% of a standard deviation in test scores. The impact of feedback is stronger for more able students and for students who have less information to start with about the academic environment, while no subset of individuals is found to be discouraged by feedback. Our findings suggest that students have imperfect information on how their effort translates into test scores and that the provision of feedback might be a cost-effective means to increase students' exam performance.

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Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance

Louis-Philippe Beland & Richard Murphy
Louisiana State University Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
This paper investigates the impact of removing mobile phones from classrooms. Combining administrative data on student performance with a unique survey of school mobile phone policies in four cities in England, we investigate the impact of introducing a ban on mobile phones on student performance, exploiting variations in schools' autonomous decisions to ban mobile phones. Our results indicate that there is an increase in student performance after a school bans the use of mobile phones and that these gains are driven by the lowest-achieving students. This suggests that restricting mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequality.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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