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Monday, February 1, 2016

Betting on sure things

Revolving doors on Wall Street

Jess Cornaggia, Kimberly Cornaggia & Han Xia

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Credit analysts often leave rating agencies to work at firms they rate. We use benchmark rating agencies as counterfactuals to measure rating inflation in a difference-in-differences framework and find that transitioning analysts award inflated ratings to their future employers before switching jobs. We find no evidence that analysts inflate ratings of other firms they rate. Market based measures of hiring firms' credit quality further indicate that transitioning analysts' inflated ratings become less informative. We conclude that conflicts of interest at the analyst level distort credit ratings. More broadly, our results shed light on the economic consequences of revolving doors.

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Do Brokers of Insiders Tip Other Clients?

William McNally, Andriy Shkilko & Brian Smith

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine trading activity around insider transactions on the Toronto Stock Exchange and find evidence that some traders mimic insider positions. Our unique data set allows us to establish a direct connection between insiders, their brokerages, and the brokerages' other clients. The findings are consistent with the possibility that some brokerages tip their clients about insider trades. Insiders in our sample have good timing; returns are usually positive (negative) after insider purchases (sales). Insiders' good timing translates to the mimicking transactions, which appear to be profitable net of trading costs. Evidence consistent with tipping is observed mainly for smaller independent brokerages.

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When does the stock market listen to economic news? New evidence from copulas and news wires

Ivan Medovikov

Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study association between macroeconomic news and stock market returns using the statistical theory of copulas, and a new comprehensive measure of news based on textual review and classification of news wires. We find the impact of economic news on equity returns to be nonlinear and asymmetric. In particular, controlling for economic conditions and surprises associated with releases of economic data, we find that the market reacts strongly and negatively to the most unfavourable macroeconomic news, but appears to largely discount the good news. Further, the most-unfavorable news creates price drift, and we document that selling stocks short in the wake of unusually-bad news yields annual abnormal gross returns greater than four percent.

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Nominal price illusion

Justin Birru & Baolian Wang

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore the psychology of stock price levels and provide evidence that investors suffer from a nominal price illusion in which they overestimate the room to grow for low-priced stocks relative to high-priced stocks. While it has become increasingly clear that nominal price levels influence investor behavior, why prices matter to investors is a question that as of yet has gone unanswered. We find widespread evidence that investors systematically overestimate the skewness of low-priced stocks. In the broad cross-section of stocks, we find that investors substantially overweight the importance of price when forming skewness expectations. Asset pricing implications of our findings are borne out in the options market. A zero-cost option portfolio strategy that exploits investor overestimation of skewness for low-priced stocks generates significant abnormal returns. Finally, investor expectations of future skewness increase drastically on days that a stock undergoes a split to a lower nominal price. Empirically, however, future physical skewness decreases following splits.

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Attracting Attention in a Limited Attention World: Exploring the Causes and Consequences of Extreme Positive Earnings Surprises

Allison Koester, Russell Lundholm & Mark Soliman

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate why extreme positive earnings surprises occur and the consequences of these events. We posit that managers know before analysts when extremely good earnings news is developing, but can have incentives to allow the earnings news to surprise the market at the earnings announcement. In particular, managers can use an extreme positive earnings surprise to attract investor attention when they believe their stock is neglected and future performance is expected to be strong. Analysts, who must allocate scarce resources across many firms, can also be inattentive and miss signals that suggest good performance is going to be announced. Using various proxies for extreme positive earnings surprises, management expectations for future performance and desire for attention, and analyst neglect, we find evidence that an extreme positive earnings surprise is a predictable event. These findings are incremental to controlling for a firm's information environment, earnings volatility, and operating leverage. Finally, we show that extreme positive earnings surprises are a successful method for attracting attention, with significant increases in the number of institutional owners, the number of analysts, and trading volume during the subsequent three years.

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The Calm before the Storm

Ferhat Akbas

Journal of Finance, February 2016, Pages 225-266

Abstract:
I provide evidence that stocks experiencing unusually low trading volume over the week prior to earnings announcements have more unfavorable earnings surprises. This effect is more pronounced among stocks with higher short-selling constraints. These findings support the view that unusually low trading volume signals negative information, since, under short-selling constraints, informed agents with bad news stay by the sidelines. Changes in visibility or risk-based explanations are insufficient to explain the results. This evidence provides insights into why unusually low trading volume predicts price declines.

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Does Dodd-Frank affect OTC transaction costs and liquidity? Evidence from real-time CDS trade reports

Yee Cheng Loon & Zhaodong (Ken) Zhong

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines transaction costs and liquidity in the index CDS market by matching intraday quotes to real-time trade reports made available through the Dodd-Frank reforms. We find that the average relative effective spread is 0.27% of price level or 2.73% of CDS spread. Dodd-Frank does affect transaction costs and liquidity. Liquidity improves after the commencement of public dissemination of OTC derivatives trades. Moreover, cleared trades, trades executed on exchange-like venues, end-user trades, and bespoke trades exhibit lower trading costs, price impact, and price dispersion. These findings improve our understanding of the OTC derivatives market that is undergoing fundamental changes.

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Do stock splits signal undervaluation?

Mohammad Karim & Sayan Sarkar

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Signaling theory of stock splits postulates that managers use stock splits to convey favorable private information to the market about the fair value of the firm and thus attempts to reduce or eliminate undervaluation. In this paper, we investigate this proposition using three different misvaluation estimates. Contrary to the undervaluation hypothesis, we find that split firms are overvalued, rather than undervalued for the seven years surrounding split announcements. Moreover, the overvaluation reaches its peak in the split announcement year and declines in the post-split period. Overall, our results suggest that firms do not use stock splits to signal undervaluation.

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Speculative Investors and Transactions Tax: Evidence from the Housing Market

Yuming Fu, Wenlan Qian & Bernard Yeung

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of a policy change in transaction tax on speculators. The policy intervention took place in Singapore's housing market; it effectively raised the transaction cost in a segment favored by short-term speculators. Relative to the unaffected control sample, we find that the rise in transaction cost, equivalent to a two- to three-percentage-point increase in transaction tax, reduced speculative trading in the treatment segment by 75% and raised its price volatility by 18%. It also significantly reduced price informativeness. We further show that the results are likely due to a relatively greater withdrawal by informed speculators than by destabilizing speculators following the transaction cost increase.

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Firm geographic dispersion and financial analysts' forecasts

Petya Platikanova & Marco Maria Mattei

Journal of Banking & Finance, March 2016, Pages 71-89

Abstract:
Using a text-based measure of geographic dispersion that captures the economic ties between a firm and its geographically distributed economic interests, this study provides evidence that financial analysts issue less accurate, more dispersed and more biased earnings forecasts for geographically dispersed firms. We observe the degree to which a firm has an overlapping distribution of economic centers in comparison to industry competitors and suggest that geographically similar firms have lower information gathering costs and thereby more precise earnings forecasts. Empirical evidence supports this prediction. We further find that the geographic dispersion across the U.S. is less likely to affect forecast precision when a firm has economic activities in states with highly correlated local shocks. Our findings suggest that the effect of geographic dispersion is more pronounced for soft-information environments where information is more difficult to make impersonal by using technological advances. Consistent with the information asymmetry argument, we find that geographically dispersed firms have less comparable and more discretionary managed earnings, have less extensive than industry competitors segment information, are more likely to restate sale segment information, and issue annual and quarterly filings with a delay.

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Does Increased Competition Affect Credit Ratings? A Reexamination of the Effect of Fitch's Market Share on Credit Ratings in the Corporate Bond Market

Kee-Hong Bae, Jun-Koo Kang & Jin Wang

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, October 2015, Pages 1011-1035

Abstract:
We examine two competing views regarding the impact of competition among credit rating agencies on rating quality: the view that rating agencies do not sacrifice their reputation by inflating firm ratings, and the view that competition among rating agencies arising from the conflict of interest inherent in an "issuer pay" model creates pressure to inflate ratings. Using Fitch's market share as a measure of competition among rating agencies and controlling for the endogeneity problem caused by unobservable industry effects, we find no relation between Fitch's market share and ratings, suggesting that competition does not lead to rating inflation.

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The Impact of More Frequent Portfolio Disclosure on Mutual Fund Performance

Sitikantha Parida & Terence Teo

Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the impact of more frequent portfolio disclosures on performance of mutual funds. Since 2004, SEC requires all U.S. mutual funds to disclose their portfolio holdings on a quarterly basis from semi-annual previously. This change in regulation provides a natural setting to study the impact of frequency of disclosure on performance of mutual funds. Prior to the policy change, we find that successful semi-annual funds outperform successful quarterly funds by 17-20 basis points a month. After 2004, their performance goes down and they no longer outperform successful quarterly funds. This reduction in performance is higher for semi-annual funds holding illiquid assets. These results support our hypothesis that the performance of funds with more frequent disclosure, particularly of those holding illiquid assets, suffer more from front running activities. We also find complementary evidence that the profitability of a hypothetical front running strategy based on public disclosures goes up with the frequency of portfolio disclosures.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Not in the mood

Major Depression With Seasonal Variation: Is It a Valid Construct?

Megan Traffanstedt, Sheila Mehta & Steven LoBello

Clinical Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is based on the theory that some depressions occur seasonally in response to reduced sunlight. SAD has attracted cultural and research attention for more than 30 years and influenced the DSM through inclusion of the seasonal variation modifier for the major depression diagnosis. This study was designed to determine if a seasonally related pattern of occurrence of major depression could be demonstrated in a population-based study. A cross-sectional U.S. survey of adults completed the Patient Health Questionnaire–8 Depression Scale. Regression models were used to determine if depression was related to measures of sunlight exposure. Depression was unrelated to latitude, season, or sunlight. Results do not support the validity of a seasonal modifier in major depression. The idea of seasonal depression may be strongly rooted in folk psychology, but it is not supported by objective data. Consideration should be given to discontinuing seasonal variation as a diagnostic modifier of major depression.

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The Power of Language and Labels: “The Mentally Ill” Versus “People With Mental Illnesses”

Darcy Haag Granello & Todd Gibbs

Journal of Counseling & Development, January 2016, Pages 31–40

Abstract:
Undergraduate students (N = 221), adults in a community sample (N = 211), and professional counselors and counselors-in-training (N = 269) were given a measure of tolerance. Within each sample, half of the participants were given a version that used the term “the mentally ill” and half were given a version that used the term “people with mental illnesses.” Individuals receiving the version with the term “the mentally ill” had lower levels of tolerance. Professional counselors had the largest differences in tolerance on the basis of language.

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Pleasure Now, Pain Later: Positive Fantasies About the Future Predict Symptoms of Depression

Gabriele Oettingen, Doris Mayer & Sam Portnow

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Though common sense suggests that positive thinking shelters people from depression, the four studies reported here showed that this intuition needs to be qualified: Positive thinking in the form of fantasies about the future did indeed relate to decreased symptoms of depression when measured concurrently; however, positive fantasies predicted more depressive symptoms when measured longitudinally. The pattern of results was observed for different indicators of fantasies and depression, in adults and in schoolchildren, and for periods of up to 7 months (Studies 1–4). In college students, low academic success partially mediated the predictive relation between positive fantasies and symptoms of depression (Study 4). Results add to existing research on the problematic effects of positive fantasies on performance by suggesting that indulging in positive fantasies predicts problems in mental health.

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Firearms matter: The moderating role of firearm storage in the association between current suicidal ideation and likelihood of future suicide attempts among United States military personnel

Lauren Khazem et al.

Military Psychology, January 2016, Pages 25-33

Abstract:
The relationship between firearm ownership and suicide is well documented. This study hypothesized that how soldiers store their firearms would moderate the relationship between suicidal ideation and the self-reported likelihood of engaging in a future suicide attempt, and that this relationship would be explained by fearlessness about death. There were 432 military personnel (91.3% men, 74.2% White, Mage = 27.60) who endorsed current ownership of a private firearm and who were recruited from a military base in the southeastern United States (94.5% National Guard). Firearm storage moderated the relationship between suicidal ideation and the self-reported likelihood of engaging in a future suicide attempt, but this relationship was not explained by fearlessness about death. Individuals who reported keeping their firearms loaded and stored in an unsecure location exhibited higher mean levels of fearlessness about death. Findings highlight the need for research examining contributors to suicide risk in the context of firearm storage, and provide support for suicide prevention efforts involving restricting means.

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Poor but Happy? Income, Happiness, and Experienced and Expected Meaning in Life

Sarah Ward & Laura King

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies demonstrate that income is positively associated with meaning in life (MIL) and that this relationship is moderated by positive affect (PA). Moreover, people’s forecasts about these associations resemble the actual data. Study 1 (N = 1,666) used a nationally representative sample to demonstrate that PA moderates the effect of income on MIL. At high levels of PA, income was unrelated to MIL, but at low PA, income was positively associated with MIL. Study 2 (N = 203) provided experimental support for the interaction between income and PA interaction using a PA induction. Although income predicted MIL in the control condition, it was unrelated to MIL following a PA induction. Study 3 (N = 277) demonstrated that people forecast their future lives will be more meaningful if they are wealthy versus poor, which was especially true among people who expect to be unhappy.

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Worrying About the Future: An Episodic Specificity Induction Impacts Problem Solving, Reappraisal, and Well-Being

Helen Jing, Kevin Madore & Daniel Schacter

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has demonstrated that an episodic specificity induction — brief training in recollecting details of a recent experience — enhances performance on various subsequent tasks thought to draw upon episodic memory processes. Existing work has also shown that mental simulation can be beneficial for emotion regulation and coping with stressors. Here we focus on understanding how episodic detail can affect problem solving, reappraisal, and psychological well-being regarding worrisome future events. In Experiment 1, an episodic specificity induction significantly improved participants’ performance on a subsequent means-end problem solving task (i.e., more relevant steps) and an episodic reappraisal task (i.e., more episodic details) involving personally worrisome future events compared with a control induction not focused on episodic specificity. Imagining constructive behaviors with increased episodic detail via the specificity induction was also related to significantly larger decreases in anxiety, perceived likelihood of a bad outcome, and perceived difficulty to cope with a bad outcome, as well as larger increases in perceived likelihood of a good outcome and indicated use of active coping behaviors compared with the control. In Experiment 2, we extended these findings using a more stringent control induction, and found preliminary evidence that the specificity induction was related to an increase in positive affect and decrease in negative affect compared with the control. Our findings support the idea that episodic memory processes are involved in means-end problem solving and episodic reappraisal, and that increasing the episodic specificity of imagining constructive behaviors regarding worrisome events may be related to improved psychological well-being.

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Secret Society 123: Understanding the Language of Self-Harm on Instagram

Megan Moreno et al.

Journal of Adolescent Health, January 2016, Pages 78–84

Purpose: Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) content is present on social media and may influence adolescents. Instagram is a popular site among adolescents in which NSSI-related terms are user-generated as hashtags (words preceded by a #). These hashtags may be ambiguous and thus challenging for those outside the NSSI community to understand. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the meaning, popularity, and content advisory warnings related to ambiguous NSSI hashtags on Instagram.

Methods: This study used the search term “#selfharmmm” to identify public Instagram posts. Hashtag terms co-listed with #selfharmmm on each post were evaluated for inclusion criteria; selected hashtags were then assessed using a structured evaluation for meaning and consistency. We also investigated the total number of Instagram search hits for each hashtag at two time points and determined whether the hashtag prompted a Content Advisory warning.

Results: Our sample of 201 Instagram posts led to identification of 10 ambiguous NSSI hashtags. NSSI terms included #blithe, #cat, and #selfinjuryy. We discovered a popular image that described the broader community of NSSI and mental illness, called “#MySecretFamily.” The term #MySecretFamily had approximately 900,000 search results at Time 1 and >1.5 million at Time 2. Only one-third of the relevant hashtags generated Content Advisory warnings.

Conclusions: NSSI content is popular on Instagram and often veiled by ambiguous hashtags. Content Advisory warnings were not reliable; thus, parents and providers remain the cornerstone of prompting discussions about NSSI content on social media and providing resources for teens.

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Are natural disasters in early childhood associated with mental health and substance use disorders as an adult?

Johanna Catherine Maclean, Ioana Popovici & Michael French

Social Science & Medicine, February 2016, Pages 78–91

Abstract:
Understanding factors that influence risk for mental health and substance use disorders is critical to improve population health and reduce social costs imposed by these disorders. We examine the impact of experiencing a natural disaster — a serious fire, tornado, flood, earthquake, or hurricane — by age five on adult mental health and substance use disorders. The analysis uses data from the 2004 to 2005 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions. The analysis sample includes 27,129 individuals ages 21–64 years. We also exploit information on parenting strategies to study how parents respond to natural disasters encountered by their children. We find that experiencing one or more of these natural disasters by age five increases the risk of mental health disorders in adulthood, particularly anxiety disorders, but not substance use disorders. Parents alter some, but not all, of their parenting strategies following a natural disaster experienced by their children. It is important to provide support, for example through counseling services and financial assistance, to families and children exposed to natural disasters to mitigate future mental health and substance use problems attributable to such exposure.

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Retrospective Appraisals Mediate the Effects of Combat Experiences on PTS and Depression Symptoms in U.S. Army Medics

Barbara Pitts & Martin Safer

Journal of Traumatic Stress, forthcoming

Abstract:
A life-threatening traumatic experience can cause physical and psychological distress, but it can also be remembered with pride from having demonstrated one's courage and abilities under severe circumstances. Characteristics of the event, early response, as well as later personal reflection, together determine the individual's response to a traumatic event. We investigated how traumatic combat experiences and retrospective appraisals of those experiences affected reports of symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression in 324 U.S. Army medics. Higher levels of combat experiences were associated with both appraisals of threat to life (r = .40) and appraisals of personal benefit of the deployment (r = .15). Threat appraisals were associated with increases (r = .33 and .29), whereas benefit appraisals were associated with decreases (r = −.28 and −.30, respectfully), in symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression. These opposing mediation pathways led to weak or nonsignificant total effects, which concealed the effects of combat intensity on posttraumatic stress (R2 = .28) and depression (R2 = .24). Acknowledging the beneficial effects that a combat experience had on one's life was associated with less intense behavioral health symptoms and offset the detrimental effects of traumatic combat experiences.

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Effect of a legal prime on clinician’s assessment of suicide risk

Noah Chase Berman et al.

Death Studies, Winter 2016, Pages 61-67

Abstract:
The present study evaluates how liability influences mental health clinicians’ assessment of suicide risk. In this online vignette-based experiment, clinicians (N = 268) were either primed with a legal standard prior to a case vignette or presented the case vignette alone. Clinicians then rated the patient’s likelihood of suicide and need for hospitalization. Results indicated that trainees provided significantly lower ratings of suicide risk following presentation of the legal standard, but this was not associated with hospitalization endorsement. Results have training and legal implications for improving the accuracy of suicide risk assessment in both trainees and licensed professionals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Can't resist

The taming of desire: Unspecific postponement reduces desire for and consumption of postponed temptations

Nicole Mead & Vanessa Patrick

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2016, Pages 20-35

Abstract:
The present investigation began with the conjecture that people may do better by saying "some other time" instead of "no, not ever" in response to temptations. Drawing from learning theories, we hypothesized that people interpret unspecific postponement ("I can have it some other time") as a signal that they do not strongly value the postponed temptation. In this way, unspecific postponement may reduce desire for and consumption of postponed temptations, both in the present moment and over time. Four experiments tested those hypotheses. A multiphase study using the free-choice paradigm supported the learning account for the effects of postponement: unspecific postponement reduced immediate desire for a self-selected temptation which in turn statistically accounted for diminished consumption during the week after the manipulation - but only when postponement was induced, not when it was imposed (Experiment 1). Supporting the hypothesis that unspecific but not specific postponement connotes weak valuation, only unspecific postponement reduced attention to (Experiment 2) and consumption of (Experiment 3) the postponed temptation. Additionally, unspecific postponement delayed consumption primarily among those who were highly motivated to forgo consumption of the temptation (Experiment 3). A final multiphase experiment compared the effectiveness of unspecific postponement to the classic self-control mechanism of restraint, finding that unspecific postponement (vs. restraint) reduced consumption of the temptation in the heat of the moment and across 1 week postmanipulation (Experiment 4). The current research provides novel insight into self-control facilitation, the modification of desire, and the differential effects of unspecific and specific intentions for reducing unwanted behavior.

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The benefits of behaving badly on occasion: Successful regulation by planned hedonic deviations

Rita Coelho do Vale, Rik Pieters & Marcel Zeelenberg

Journal of Consumer Psychology, January 2016, Pages 17-28

Abstract:
This research tests the idea that goal-pursuit that requires extended inhibition of desires, such as weight loss and financial saving, can benefit from including planned hedonic deviations in the goal-striving plan. Two controlled experiments (simulated and real dieting) demonstrate that including planned goal deviations during extended goal striving, compared with following a straight and rigid goal striving process, (1) helps regain self-regulatory resources, (2) helps maintain consumers' motivation to pursue with regulatory tasks, and (3) has a positive impact on affect experienced, which all contribute to facilitate long-term goal-adherence. A third study, conducted with current goal-strivers provides further evidence of the benefits of planned hedonic deviations for goal pursuit across a variety of goals. This reveals that it may be beneficial for long-term goal-success to occasionally be bad, as long it is planned.

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Risk Preferences and Misconduct: Evidence from Politicians

Dylan Minor

Harvard Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
When seeking new leaders, business and government organizations alike often need individuals that are less risk averse, or even risk-seeking, in order to improve performance. However, individuals amenable to increased risk-taking may be more likely to engage in misconduct. To study this issue, we explore US political scandals and the implicated politicians' portfolio choices. We find that a politician allocating all of her portfolio to risky investments has double the odds of being involved in a political sandal compared to a politician allocating all of her portfolio to safe investments. This suggests that those who are more willing to take risks in their personal finances are also more likely to engage in misconduct. We validate portfolio choice as a measure of risk preferences by correlating actual high-stakes investment choices (average $700,000 US) to conventional laboratory lottery choices (average $51 US) of wealthy investors.

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Adolescents in Peer Groups Make More Prudent Decisions When a Slightly Older Adult Is Present

Karol Silva, Jason Chein & Laurence Steinberg

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Adolescents make more reckless decisions when with peers than when alone, which poses a challenge for organizations that place adolescents in situations in which risky and myopic decision making is problematic. We asked whether the effect of peers on adolescents' decision making is mitigated by the presence of a slightly older adult. We examined whether target subjects' risk taking was greater when they were in groups of 4 late-adolescent males (ages 18-22) than when they were in groups that mixed 3 late-adolescent males with 1 slightly older adult (age 25-30); risk taking in both of these conditions was compared with that of adolescents tested alone. We found that adolescents took more risks and expressed stronger preference for immediate rewards when they were grouped with 3 same-age peers than when they were alone. When 1 adolescent was replaced by someone slightly older, however, adolescents' decision making and reward processing resembled that seen when adolescents were tested alone. Adding a young adult to a work team of adolescents may improve group decision making.

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Wearing a Bicycle Helmet Can Increase Risk Taking and Sensation Seeking in Adults

Tim Gamble & Ian Walker

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans adapt their risk-taking behavior on the basis of perceptions of safety; this risk-compensation phenomenon is typified by people taking increased risks when using protective equipment. Existing studies have looked at people who know they are using safety equipment and have specifically focused on changes in behaviors for which that equipment might reduce risk. Here, we demonstrated that risk taking increases in people who are not explicitly aware they are wearing protective equipment; furthermore, this happens for behaviors that could not be made safer by that equipment. In a controlled study in which a helmet, compared with a baseball cap, was used as the head mount for an eye tracker, participants scored significantly higher on laboratory measures of both risk taking and sensation seeking. This happened despite there being no risk for the helmet to ameliorate and despite it being introduced purely as an eye tracker. The results suggest that unconscious activation of safety-related concepts primes globally increased risk propensity.

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Unexpected but Incidental Positive Outcomes Predict Real-World Gambling

Ross Otto, Stephen Fleming & Paul Glimcher

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Positive mood can affect a person's tendency to gamble, possibly because positive mood fosters unrealistic optimism. At the same time, unexpected positive outcomes, often called prediction errors, influence mood. However, a linkage between positive prediction errors - the difference between expected and obtained outcomes - and consequent risk taking has yet to be demonstrated. Using a large data set of New York City lottery gambling and a model inspired by computational accounts of reward learning, we found that people gamble more when incidental outcomes in the environment (e.g., local sporting events and sunshine) are better than expected. When local sports teams performed better than expected, or a sunny day followed a streak of cloudy days, residents gambled more. The observed relationship between prediction errors and gambling was ubiquitous across the city's socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods and was specific to sports and weather events occurring locally in New York City. Our results suggest that unexpected but incidental positive outcomes influence risk taking.

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Trust matters: Seeing how an adult treats another person influences preschoolers' willingness to delay gratification

Laura Michaelson & Yuko Munakata

Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Holding out for a delayed reward in the face of temptation is notoriously difficult, and the ability to do so in childhood predicts diverse indices of life success. Prominent explanations focus on the importance of cognitive control. However, delaying gratification may also require trust in people delivering future rewards as promised. Only limited experimental work has tested this idea, and such studies with children were focused on general reward expectations, so evidence was ambiguous as to whether social trust played a role. The present study provides the first targeted test of a role for social trust in children's willingness to delay gratification. Children observed an adult behave in either a trustworthy or untrustworthy manner toward another adult, then were tested in the classic delay of gratification task by that adult. Children were less likely to wait the full delay period, and waited less time overall, for a reward promised by an untrustworthy adult, relative to children tested by a trustworthy adult. These findings demonstrate that manipulations of social trust influence delaying gratification, and highlight intriguing alternative reasons to test for individual differences in delaying gratification and associated life outcomes.

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Conditional or Unconditional? The Effects of Implementation Intentions on Driver Behavior

Sarah Brewster et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
Implementation intentions (if-then plans) exert conditional effects on behavior, meaning that their ability to change behavior is conditional upon encountering the critical situation specified in the if component of the plan. In the present study, we tested whether implementation intentions can exert unconditional effects on behavior. Consistent with the process of operant generalization, we hypothesized that implementation intentions would change behavior, not only in situations that are contextually identical to those specified in the if component but also in contextually similar situations. Implementation intentions were not expected to generate behavior-change in contextually different situations to those specified. Participants (N = 139) completed questionnaires measuring speeding behavior and motivation to speed. Experimental participants then specified implementation intentions to avoid speeding in critical situations that were contextually identical, similar, or different to those subsequently encountered on a driving simulator. Control participants received educational information about the risks of speeding. All participants then drove on a driving simulator. Consistent with the hypotheses participants in both the contextually identical and similar conditions exceeded the speed limit less frequently than did controls. There was no difference in speeding behavior between the contextually different and control conditions. Implications of the findings for behavior-change are discussed.

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Variation in an Iron Metabolism Gene Moderates the Association Between Blood Lead Levels and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children

Joel Nigg et al.

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a heritable neurodevelopmental condition, there is also considerable scientific and public interest in environmental modulators of its etiology. Exposure to neurotoxins is one potential source of perturbation of neural, and hence psychological, development. Exposure to lead in particular has been widely investigated and is correlated with neurodevelopmental outcomes, including ADHD. To investigate whether this effect is likely to be causal, we used a Mendelian randomization design with a functional gene variant. In a case-control study, we examined the association between ADHD symptoms in children and blood lead level as moderated by variants in the hemochromatosis (HFE) gene. The HFE gene regulates iron uptake and secondarily modulates lead metabolism. Statistical moderation was observed: The magnitude of the association of blood lead with symptoms of ADHD was altered by functional HFE genotype, which is consistent with a causal hypothesis.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 29, 2016

Representing you

Failure at the top: How power undermines collaborative performance

John Angus Hildreth & Cameron Anderson

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2016, Pages 261-286

Abstract:
All too commonly, we see groups of leaders fail to accomplish their stated goals when working together - legislators who cannot agree on a bill, heads of state who cannot draft meaningful environmental policy, or boards of trustees who make disastrous decisions for their school. The current research examines whether groups of leaders fail as often as they do in part because of the power each leader is accustomed to possessing among his or her constituents. In multiple studies we found that high power individuals, when working together in groups, performed worse than did other groups: individuals randomly assigned power in an initial task were less creative when they then worked together in groups on a subsequent task (Studies 1A and 4). Individuals with higher power who worked together in groups were also less likely to reach agreement on a difficult negotiation task, whether these groups comprised actual executives from an extant organization (Study 2) or participants randomly assigned power in the laboratory (Study 3). Mediation analyses suggest that groups of high power individuals performed worse because they fought over their relative status in the group, were less focused on the task, and shared information with each other less effectively. However, high power individuals were more effective when working on tasks that required less coordination: they were more creative (Studies 1B and 4) and persisted longer on a difficult task than other groups. Therefore, group processes are the key problem for groups of high power individuals when they work together.

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Virtues, Vices, and Political Influence in the U.S. Senate

Leanne ten Brinke et al.

Psychological Science, January 2016, Pages 85-93

Abstract:
What qualities make a political leader more influential or less influential? Philosophers, political scientists, and psychologists have puzzled over this question, positing two opposing routes to political power - one driven by human virtues, such as courage and wisdom, and the other driven by vices, such as Machiavellianism and psychopathy. By coding nonverbal behaviors displayed in political speeches, we assessed the virtues and vices of 151 U.S. senators. We found that virtuous senators became more influential after they assumed leadership roles, whereas senators who displayed behaviors consistent with vices - particularly psychopathy - became no more influential or even less influential after they assumed leadership roles. Our results inform a long-standing debate about the role of morality and ethics in leadership and have important implications for electing effective government officials. Citizens would be wise to consider a candidate's virtue in casting their votes, which might increase the likelihood that elected officials will have genuine concern for their constituents and simultaneously promote cooperation and progress in government.

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The political economy of the Essential Air Service program

Joshua Hall, Amanda Ross & Christopher Yencha

Public Choice, October 2015, Pages 147-164

Abstract:
We find that congressional influences affect the amount of airport subsidies that a congressional district receives through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program. The EAS program was passed with the goal of helping to continue commercial air service to rural communities following deregulation in the 1970s. Using data from 1998-2014, we find strong and consistent evidence that subsidies are higher in districts having congressional representation on the House Transportation and Ways and Means Committees. Our empirical results, when combined with news reports of members claiming credit for securing EAS funding, are consistent with the EAS serving private and public interests.

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How Does Corporate Political Activity Allowed by Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Affect Shareholder Wealth?

Thomas Stratmann & J.W. Verret

Journal of Law and Economics, August 2015, Pages 545-559

Abstract:
The US Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission significantly altered the regulatory landscape for corporate political activity by permitting unlimited corporate expenditures by independent politically active groups. This paper uses that event to determine the impact of corporate political activity on the stock prices of those firms that are most likely to utilize these new opportunities for political engagement. Our findings show that corporate political activity enhances shareholder wealth, particularly in firms that are small to medium sized, firms that spend relatively less on lobbying, and firms operating in more heavily regulated industries.

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Hierarchical Accountability in Government

Razvan Vlaicu & Alexander Whalley

Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies a setting where a relatively uninformed voter holds a policymaker accountable through an informed intermediary. In equilibrium the voter uses the intermediary to insulate the policymaker from pandering incentives when the voter's policy expertise is low or the policymaker's congruence is high. The voter can thus enjoy the benefits of bureaucratic expertise without forfeiting electoral responsiveness. We examine the model's predictions using U.S. city-level data, and find that hierarchically-accountable managers reduce popular city employment, and adjust it more flexibly, than electorally-accountable mayors. The estimated incentive effects are smaller in cities with high voter expertise and larger during election years, and are robust to instrumentation by precipitation shocks that influenced early 20th century manager government adoptions for reasons obsolete today.

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Firm-level political capabilities and subsequent financial performance

Richard Brown

Journal of Public Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
While there is a robust literature on corporate political activity, scholars have not adequately framed these activities as being part of a strategy to garner political capabilities. In this paper, we incorporate political capabilities and argue that those firms that more intensely commit resources to political activities have associated subsequent performance benefits. In a sample of 87 Fortune 500 firms from 2005 to 2011, we find that both political action committee and lobbying intensity were associated with higher return on invested capital and return on assets after controlling for other factors. Additionally, we find support that the cumulative effect of political action committee and lobbying intensity on performance is also significant. Finally, we moderate the main effects with industry concentration and find that returns are greater in more consolidated industries.

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Public Support for Sale: Government Spending and Public Approval of Federal Agency Performance

Susan Miller

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Federal agencies award thousands of grants and contracts each year. Although we have considerable insight into the implications of these expenditures for politicians, we know little about their consequences for agencies. I develop a theory that links agency spending in citizens' states to their support of agency performance, with the expectation that this relationship is conditioned by citizen-agency ideological congruence. I contend that agency spending serves as an information shortcut for citizens when evaluating agencies because it is often visible in a way that other agency activities, such as regulatory decisions, are not. When a citizen fundamentally supports the policies and projects an agency is funding, the positive effect of spending may be enhanced. I find support for these expectations. This article contributes to our understanding of the ways in which expenditures shape opinion toward agencies, which is important given the significance of public sentiment for an agency's political survival.

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I the People? Self-Interest and Demand for Government Responsiveness

Jan Rosset, Nathalie Giger & Julian Bernauer

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether elected representatives should be responsive to the wishes of the majority of citizens has been an issue often discussed from a normative perspective. This article shifts the focus by looking at the determinants of support for responsiveness among citizens. Its core argument is that attitudes toward responsiveness vary systematically depending on the policy gains an individual can expect from a government that is responsive to the preferences of the majority of citizens. The analysis of data from the European Social Survey and 21 countries confirms these expectations. Individuals whose ideological stances are reflected well by the incumbent government are less favorable to the idea that governments should be responsive to the preferences of the majority, while one's proximity to the ideological location of the median citizen increases the odds of support for majority responsiveness. Our findings are stable across a large variety of European democracies.

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Character Endorsements and Electoral Competition

Archishman Chakraborty & Parikshit Ghosh

American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
When an elite-controlled media strategically endorses candidates in order to promote its own ideological agenda, office-seeking parties may completely pander to the media, under moderate ideological conflict between voters and the elite. Larger ideological conflict leads to polarization - parties either become media darlings or run populist campaigns. The welfare effects are: (a) delegation by the media owner to a more moderate editor is Pareto improving, (b) the median voter is never better off delegating voting rights to the informed elite, (c) a majority of voters may be better off if the informed media did not exist.

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Legislative Responsiveness to Constituency Change

Kristina Miler

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across democracies, elected officials are expected to represent their constituents, but how do legislators react to changes in their constituency? This core question of legislative responsiveness is examined in the context of the bicameral U.S. Congress where more than 100 legislators have served in both chambers since 1960. These chamber-changers provide a unique vantage point for examining constituency representation, including competing expectations based on the electoral connection and the ideological stability of legislative voting. Based on analyses of original data, I find overwhelming evidence of legislative responsiveness to both constituency change and constituency stability. Moreover, when legislators' constituencies change, they respond by changing their behavior in ways that reflect both the direction and magnitude of constituency change.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cultural capital

The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom

Sara Lowes et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
We use variation in historical state centralization to examine the impact of institutions on cultural norms. The Kuba Kingdom, established in Central Africa in the early 17th century by King Shyaam, had more developed state institutions than the other independent villages and chieftaincies in the region. It had an unwritten constitution, separation of political powers, a judicial system with courts and juries, a police force and military, taxation, and significant public goods provision. Comparing individuals from the Kuba Kingdom to those from just outside the Kingdom, we find that centralized formal institutions are associated with weaker norms of rule-following and a greater propensity to cheat for material gain.

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Norms Regulating Emotional Expressions Relate to National Level Generalized Trust

Joanna Schug, Seung Hee Yoo & Gagan Atreya

Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
A number of evolutionarily inspired theories have proposed that facial expressions of emotion can serve as signals of trustworthiness due to their automatic and uncontrollable nature. However, facial expressions of emotion can be concealed and modified in a number of ways, and the nature of this modification can vary across cultures. In this study, we use national level data to examine the relation between generalized trust and variability in cultural norms, known as display rules, which regulate the emotional expressions of individuals on a societal level. Based on research which suggests that the development of generalized trust requires individuals to be able to make dispositional rather than situational attributions for behavior, we argue that the development of trust is inhibited in countries where individuals are likely to conceal or modify their emotional expressions depending on context, rather than express their emotions consistently across situations. We show that generalized trust is lower in countries where there is more within-individual variability in the cultural norms regulating emotional expressions, and that overall emotional expressiveness tends to be positively related with generalized trust only in countries with lower within-individual variability in norms regulating emotional expression.

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The Effect of Board Directors from Countries with Different Genetic Diversity Levels on Corporate Performance

Manthos Delis et al.

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We link genetic diversity in the country of origin of the firms' board members with corporate performance via board members' nationality. We hypothesize that our approach captures deep-rooted differences in cultural, institutional, social, psychological, physiological, and other traits that cannot be captured by other recently measured indices of diversity. Using a panel of firms listed in the North American and UK stock markets, we find that adding board directors from countries with different levels of genetic diversity (either higher or lower) increases firm performance. This effect prevails when we control for a number of cultural, institutional, firm-level, and board member characteristics, as well as for the nationality of the board of directors. To identify the relationship, we use - as instrumental variables for our diversity indices - the migratory distance from East Africa and the level of ultraviolet exposure in the directors' country of nationality.

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A Genetic Component to National Differences in Happiness

Michael Minkov & Michael Harris Bond

Journal of Happiness Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
National differences in subjective well-being (SWB) have been attributed to socioeconomic, climatic, and genetic factors. We focus on one particular facet of SWB - happiness or positive affect - measured by the nationally representative World Values Survey (WVS). We find that national percentages of very happy people across the three latest WVS waves (2000-2004, 2005-2009, 2010-2014) are consistently and highly correlated with national prevalence of the rs324420 A allele in the FAAH gene, involved in the hydrolysis of anandamide, a substance that reportedly enhances sensory pleasure and helps reduce pain. Climatic differences are also significantly associated with national differences in happiness, whereas economic wealth, recent economic growth, rule of law, pathogen prevalence, and the distribution of short versus long alleles in the serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4 are not significant predictors of national happiness.

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Will you remember me? Cultural differences in own-group face recognition biases

Andy Ng, Jennifer Steele & Joni Sasaki

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2016, Pages 21-26

Abstract:
East Asians often define their ingroups based on preexisting social relationships (e.g., friends, family), whereas North Americans define their ingroups largely based on broader social categories (e.g., race, nationality; Brewer & Yuki, 2007). In the present research we examined the consequences of this cultural difference for own-group face recognition biases. In Study 1, European Canadians and first-generation East Asian Canadians were assigned to minimal groups. Consistent with previous findings, European Canadians showed superior memory for own-group faces; however, as expected, first-generation East Asian Canadians did not. In Study 2, using university affiliation as the experimentally manipulated social group, European Canadians again showed superior memory for own-group faces, whereas first-generation East Asian Canadians did not. The results are consistent with current theorizing and suggest that the effect of mere social categorization on face recognition is moderated by culture.

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Collectors and Collections: Critical Recognition of the World's Top Art Collectors

L.E.A. Braden

Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines differential recognition of top art collectors. Using the population of 617 international art collectors named by ARTnews, ArtReview, and Art+Auction from 1990 to 2011, I examine factors that affect the extent of a collector's recognition through naming on ARTnews's annual list of the world's top collectors. The research draws on both humanities and sociological perspectives to model two sets of characteristics that may affect the amount of critical recognition conferred on a collector. First, conceiving that recognition is based on the art object, status characteristics of art collections are considered. Next, characteristics of the art collection's owner (rather than the art objects themselves) are considered. Findings indicate that the extent of recognition a collector receives is based on both collection and collector attributes, even when holding the other constant. Notably, collections specializing in art originating from both culturally dominant and peripheral regions are favored with extended critical recognition, though only collectors residing in culturally dominant regions are consistently distinguished. Overall, results suggest that important overarching status characteristics of object and owner affect the extent to which elite taste and expertise are critically recognized, with the expectation that the greater the extent of recognition, the greater the validation.

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Cultural Variations in the Relationship Between Anger Coping Styles, Depression, and Life Satisfaction

Peter Smith et al.

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hypotheses are tested that ways of handling anger and their consequences will differ in student samples drawn from dignity cultures (United Kingdom and Finland), honor cultures (Turkey and Pakistan), and face cultures (Hong Kong and China). In line with our hypotheses, holding anger in and controlling anger correlate positively in face cultures but not in other samples, whereas holding anger in and letting anger out correlate positively in honor cultures but not in other samples. Furthermore, holding anger in and letting anger out are more strongly predictive of high depression and low life satisfaction in honor cultures than in other samples. The results provide support for the cross-cultural validity of Spielberger's Anger Expression Inventory and for the proposition that differences in ways of handling anger can be understood in terms of contrasting cultural contexts.

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Automatic Mechanisms for Social Attention Are Culturally Penetrable

Adam Cohen et al.

Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are mechanisms for social attention influenced by culture? Evidence that social attention is triggered automatically by bottom-up gaze cues and is uninfluenced by top-down verbal instructions may suggest it operates in the same way everywhere. Yet considerations from evolutionary and cultural psychology suggest that specific aspects of one's cultural background may have consequence for the way mechanisms for social attention develop and operate. In more interdependent cultures, the scope of social attention may be broader, focusing on more individuals and relations between those individuals. We administered a multi-gaze cueing task requiring participants to fixate a foreground face flanked by background faces and measured shifts in attention using eye tracking. For European Americans, gaze cueing did not depend on the direction of background gaze cues, suggesting foreground gaze alone drives automatic attention shifting; for East Asians, cueing patterns differed depending on whether the foreground cue matched or mismatched background cues, suggesting foreground and background gaze information were integrated. These results demonstrate that cultural background influences the social attention system by shifting it into a narrow or broad mode of operation and, importantly, provides evidence challenging the assumption that mechanisms underlying automatic social attention are necessarily rigid and impenetrable to culture.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

No means

Does Welfare Reduce Poverty?

George Borjas

Research in Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 made fundamental changes in the federal system of public assistance in the United States, and specifically limited the eligibility of immigrant households to receive many types of aid. Many states chose to protect their immigrant populations from the presumed adverse effects of welfare reform by offering state-funded assistance to these groups. I exploit these changes in eligibility rules to examine the link between welfare and poverty rates in the immigrant population. My empirical analysis documents that the welfare cutbacks did not increase poverty rates. The immigrant families most affected by welfare reform responded by substantially increasing their labor supply, thereby raising their family income and slightly lowering their poverty rate. In the targeted immigrant population, therefore, welfare does not reduce poverty; it may actually increase it.

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Wealth and Welfare: Divergent Moral Reactions to Ethical Consumer Choices

Jenny Olson et al.

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines perceptions of low-income consumers receiving government assistance and the choices they make, showing that this group is viewed differently than those with more resources, even when making identical choices. A series of five experiments reveal that ethical purchases polarize moral judgments: whereas individuals receiving government assistance are perceived as less moral when choosing ethical (vs. conventional) products, income earners, particularly high-income individuals, are perceived as more moral for making the identical choice. Price is a central component of this effect, as equating the cost of ethical and conventional goods provides those receiving government assistance some protection against harsh moral judgments when choosing ethically. Moreover, earning one's income drives perceptions of deservingness, or the right to spend as one desires. Those who receive assistance via taxpayer dollars are under greater scrutiny (frequently resulting in harsher moral judgments) by others. In addition to influencing perceptions of individual consumers, the results demonstrate that such attributions extend to groups who make ethical choices on others' behalf, and that these attributions have real monetary consequences for non-profit organizations.

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Economic Hardship and Biological Weathering: The Epigenetics of Aging in a U.S. Sample of Black Women

Ronald Simons et al.

Social Science & Medicine, February 2016, Pages 192-200

Methods: Structural equation modeling and longitudinal data from a sample of 100 Black, middle-aged women residing in the United States was used to investigate the effect of income on a recently developed epigenetic measure of biological aging. This measure can be used as a "biological clock" to assess, at any point during adulthood, the extent to which an individual is experiencing accelerated or decelerated biological aging.

Results: Low income displayed a robust association with accelerated aging that was unaffected after controlling for other SES-related factors such as education, marital status, and childhood adversity. Further, our analyses indicated that the association between income and biological aging was not explained by health-related behaviors such as diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, or having health insurance. Rather, in large measure, it was financial pressure (difficulty paying bills, buying necessities, or meeting daily expenses) that accounted for the association between low income and accelerated aging.

Conclusions: These findings support the view that chronic financial pressures associated with low income exerts a weathering effect that results in premature aging.

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Debunking the Stereotype of the Lazy Welfare Recipient: Evidence from Cash Transfer Programs Worldwide

Abhijit Banerjee et al.

Harvard Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Targeted transfer programs for poor citizens have become increasingly common in the developing world. Yet, a common concern among policy makers - both in developing as well as developed countries - is that such programs tend to discourage work. We re-analyze the data from 7 randomized controlled trials of government-run cash transfer programs in six developing countries throughout the world, and find no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work.

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The link between poor quality nutrition and childhood antisocial behavior: A genetically informative analysis

Dylan Jackson

Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2016, Pages 13-20

Method: Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Birth Cohort are employed, which includes a large, nationally representative sample of twin pairs. DeFries-Fulker (DF) analysis is used to test the current hypothesis.

Results: The results suggest that poor quality nutrition during preschool increases the extent of antisocial behavior during elementary school after the influence of genes and the shared environment are taken into account.

Conclusions: The relationship between poor quality nutrition and subsequent behavioral problems is robust to shared environmental and genetic influences, with variation in eating behaviors between twins predicting their relative likelihood of exhibiting antisocial behaviors.

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SNAP Recency and Educational Outcomes

Anna Gassman-Pines & Laura Bellows

Duke University Working Paper, November 2015

Abstract:
The largest food assistance program in the U.S. and an important part of the U.S. safety net, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides cash-like benefits to low-income individuals and families to use only for purchasing food. Understanding how SNAP benefit receipt affects children and families is crucial to both research and policy efforts aimed at supporting the healthy development of low-income children. This paper links the timing of SNAP benefit receipt to children's end-of-grade (EOG) achievement test scores in North Carolina (NC). Using administrative data from the NC Departments of Public Instruction and Health and Human Services, we analyze the recency of SNAP benefit transfer and children's test scores for over 148,000 SNAP-receiving public school students. Results indicate differences in students' EOG performance in both reading and math based on the recency of SNAP benefit transfer. Although the relationship is stronger for reading than for math, the relationship between students' test scores and SNAP receipt appears to be roughly curvilinear. Test scores peak in the third week following benefit transfer.

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Formerly Homeless People Had Lower Overall Health Care Expenditures After Moving Into Supportive Housing

Bill Wright et al.

Health Affairs, January 2016, Pages 20-27

Abstract:
The provision of supportive housing is often recognized as important public policy, but it also plays a role in health care reform. Health care costs for the homeless reflect both their medical complexity and psychosocial risk factors. Supportive housing attempts to moderate both by providing stable places to live along with on-site integrated health services. In this pilot study we used a mixture of survey and administrative claims data to evaluate outcomes for formerly homeless people who were living in a supportive housing facility in Oregon between 2010 and 2014. Results from the claims analysis showed significantly lower overall health care expenditures for the people after they moved into supportive housing. Expenditure changes were driven primarily by reductions in emergency and inpatient care. Survey data suggest that the savings were not at the expense of quality: Respondents reported improved access to care, stronger primary care connections, and better subjective health outcomes. Together, these results indicate a potential association between supportive housing and reduced health care costs that warrants deeper consideration as part of ongoing health care reforms.

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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? The Safety Net and Poverty in the Great Recession

Marianne Bitler & Hilary Hoynes

Journal of Labor Economics, January 2016, Pages S403-S444

Abstract:
Much attention has been given to the large increases in safety net spending during the Great Recession. We examine the relationship between poverty, the safety net, and business cycles historically and test whether there has been a significant change in this relationship. We find that post-welfare reform, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families did not respond during the Great Recession and extreme poverty is more cyclical than in prior recessions. Food Stamps and Unemployment Insurance are providing more protection - or no less protection - in the Great Recession, and there is some evidence of less cyclicality for 100% poverty.

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Health Selection into Neighborhoods Among Families in the Moving to Opportunity Program

Mariana Arcaya et al.

American Journal of Epidemiology, 15 January 2016, Pages 130-137

Abstract:
Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing was a randomized experiment that moved very low-income US families from high-poverty neighborhoods to low-poverty neighborhoods starting in the early 1990s. We modeled report of a child's baseline health problem as a predictor of neighborhood outcomes for households randomly assigned to move from high- to low-poverty neighborhoods. We explored associations between baseline health problems and odds of moving with the program upon randomization (1994-1997), neighborhood poverty rate at follow-up (2002), and total time spent in affluent neighborhoods and duration-weighted poverty. Among 1,550 households randomized to low-poverty neighborhoods, a smaller share of households reporting baseline child health problems (P = 0.004) took up the intervention (38%) than those not reporting a health problem (50%). In weighted and covariate-adjusted models, a child health problem predicted nearly 40% lower odds of complying with the experimental condition (odds ratio = 0.62, 95% confidence interval: 0.42, 0.91; P = 0.015). Among compliers, a baseline child health problem predicted 2.5 percentage points' higher neighborhood poverty at take-up (95% confidence interval: 0.90, 4.07; P = 0.002). We conclude that child health problems in a household prior to randomization predicted lower likelihood of using the program voucher to move to a low-poverty neighborhood within the experiment's low-poverty treatment arm and predicted selection into poorer neighborhoods among experimental compliers. Child morbidity may constrain families attempting to improve their life circumstances.

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Low-income Children's Participation in the National School Lunch Program and Household Food Insufficiency

Jin Huang & Ellen Barnidge

Social Science & Medicine, February 2016, Pages 8-14

Abstract:
Assessing the impact of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) on household food insufficiency is critical to improve the implementation of public food assistance and to improve the nutrition intake of low-income children and their families. To examine the association of receiving free/reduced-price lunch from the NSLP with household food insufficiency among low-income children and their families in the United States, the study used data from four longitudinal panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP; 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008), which collected information on household food insufficiency covering both summer and non-summer months. The sample included 15,241 households with at least one child (aged 5-18) receiving free/reduced-price lunch from the NSLP. A dichotomous measure describes whether households have sufficient food to eat in the observed months. Fixed-effects regression analysis suggests that the food insufficiency rate is 0.7 (95%CI: 0.1, 1.2) percentage points higher in summer months among NSLP recipients. Since low-income families cannot participate in the NSLP in summer when the school is not in session, the result indicates the NSLP participation is associated with a reduction of food insufficiency risk by nearly 14%. The NSLP plays a significant role to protect low-income children and their families from food insufficiency. It is important to increase access to school meal programs among children at risk of food insufficiency in order to ensure adequate nutrition and to mitigate the health problems associated with malnourishment among children.

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The Effect of Public Transportation Accessibility on Food Insecurity

Deokrye Baek

Eastern Economic Journal, Winter 2016, Pages 104-134

Abstract:
I examine whether access to public transportation reduces the probability of food insecurity for households. The data set combines information from the Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement and the National Transit Database from 2006 to 2009. I address a potential endogeneity problem using the changes in federal governmental transportation funding as instruments. I find evidence of a negative causal effect of public transportation accessibility on food insecurity. An extra bus-equivalent vehicle per 10,000 people decreases the probability of food insecurity of households by 1.6 percentage points. In particular, the impact of public transit is more prominent among poor households and poor African-American households.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Spiritual significance

Thinking from God's perspective decreases biased valuation of the life of a nonbeliever

Jeremy Ginges et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 January 2016, Pages 316-319

Abstract:
Religious belief is often thought to motivate violence because it is said to promote norms that encourage tribalism and the devaluing of the lives of nonbelievers. If true, this should be visible in the multigenerational violent conflict between Palestinians and Israelis which is marked by a religious divide. We conducted experiments with a representative sample of Muslim Palestinian youth (n = 555), examining whether thinking from the perspective of Allah (God), who is the ultimate arbitrator of religious belief, changes the relative value of Jewish Israelis' lives (compared with Palestinian lives). Participants were presented with variants of the classic "trolley dilemma," in the form of stories where a man can be killed to save the lives of five children who were either Jewish Israeli or Palestinian. They responded from their own perspective and from the perspective of Allah. We find that whereas a large proportion of participants were more likely to endorse saving Palestinian children than saving Jewish Israeli children, this proportion decreased when thinking from the perspective of Allah. This finding raises the possibility that beliefs about God can mitigate bias against other groups and reduce barriers to peace.

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Religion and Bank Loan Terms

Wen He & Maggie (Rong) Hu

Journal of Banking & Finance, March 2016, Pages 205-215

Abstract:
We examine whether religion affects the terms of bank loans. We hypothesize that lenders value the traits of religious adherents, such as risk aversion, ethical behavior and honesty, and thus offer favorable loan terms to religious borrowers. Consistent with this hypothesis, we find that corporate borrowers located in counties with a high level of religiosity are charged lower interest rates, have larger loan amounts and fewer loan covenants. These results suggest that the corporate culture of borrowers influences the availability and cost of bank loans.

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Teaching and Learning to Be Religious: Pedagogies of Conversion to Islam and Christianity

Juliette Galonnier & Diego de los Rios

Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic data, this article provides one of the first empirical analyses of religious classes for converts in the United States. Focusing on "new member classes" in two religious communities (a Muslim association and an evangelical Christian church), we introduce the concept of "pedagogies of conversion" to describe how religious organizations teach converts about their new religion and set up guidelines to frame the conversion process. By examining the pedagogical tools that religious instructors use on a daily basis to foster spirituality among new members, we investigate how converts learn to become religious people. We demonstrate that while there are significant differences in the doctrines (know-what) being taught in the Muslim and evangelical classrooms, the tips and pieces of advice delivered by instructors on how to be religious (know-how) are strikingly similar.

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Imagining Atheists: Reducing Fundamental Distrust in Atheist Intergroup Attitudes

Jordan LaBouff & Annie Ledoux

Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Atheists represent both one of the largest groups in the landscape of belief and one of the most universally derogated groups in American society. Two studies investigate the factors underlying negative and positive attitudes toward atheists. Study 1 demonstrates that religious fundamentalism and distrust uniquely predict more negative attitudes toward atheists. Study 2 investigates the malleability of intergroup attitudes toward atheists through an imagined interaction exercise. Participants who imagined an interaction with an atheist (relative to those who thought about atheists) reported less distrust toward atheists, and more willingness to engage and cooperate with atheists. These effects persisted even among those relatively high in religious fundamentalism.

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Demanding the Divine? Explaining Cross-National Support for Clerical Control of Politics

David Buckley

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
What explains cross-national variation in support for religious politics? More precisely, why do even observant believers show uneven demand for clerical control of politics? In contrast to theoretical alternatives, I argue that demand for clerical control of politics is a sign of relative weakness tied to low popular religious participation, which alters the risks and benefits of clerical political involvement. Two social mechanisms explain this relationship in contexts of active religious participation: strong networks between religious and state elites, and high levels of political diversity within religious communities. World Values Survey data provide statistical evidence that (a) support for clerical involvement in politics among regular participators is highest and (b) gaps between high and low religious participation citizens are largest where aggregate participation is lowest. Qualitative evidence regarding the theory's mechanisms draws on field interviews in the Philippines during recent church-state tension.

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Men, Muslims, and Attitudes toward Gender Inequality

Danielle Lussier & Steven Fish

Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Gender-based inequality is often regarded as a salient characteristic of Muslim societies, yet few works have systematically compared the status of women in Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Fish (2011) finds a gender gap in structural indicators of inequality in Muslim-majority countries that cannot be explained by levels of economic development, raising questions about whether attitudes favoring inequality are more prominent among Muslims. We investigate the impact of structural-situational factors and religious identification on attitudes toward gender-based inequality using hierarchical-level models. We find that: (1) Muslim self-identification and the size of a country's Muslim population predict attitudes supportive of inequality; (2) an individual's gender has a stronger effect on attitudes than does religious identification; and (3) measures of structural inequality also shape attitudes. The effects of these variables remain strong when we consider other contextual elements, such as gross domestic product per capita, education, age, location in the Middle East, and fuels dependence.

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The consequences of religious strictness for political participation

Charles Dahan & James Monogan

Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Contemporary media portray highly religious Americans as active political conservatives. This article examines how church strictness influences political participation by churchgoers. We argue that church strictness influences aspects of a person's life that are known to influence political participation, so assessing the effect of religion on participation requires considering intermediate factors. To evaluate our theory, we analyze the 2006 Portraits of American Life Study, which focused on the role of religion in society. We develop a recursive model of political participation, using multiple imputation to address missingness in the survey. The results indicate that indirect effects of strictness - through civic involvement, income, and religious participation - mitigate the assumed direct effect of strictness upon political participation. We conclude that, although religious groups show political activism in some specific arenas, strict churches are not strong political mobilizers in general, as many media portrayals may lead one to believe.

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Gendering (Non)Religion: Politics, Education, and Gender Gaps in Secularity in the United States

Joseph Baker & Andrew Whitehead

Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Gender gaps in religiosity among Western populations, such that women are more religious than men, are well documented. Previous explanations for these differences range from biological predispositions of risk aversion to patriarchal gender socialization, but all largely overlook the intersection of social statuses. Drawing on theories of intersectionality, we contribute to the cultural and empirical analysis of gender gaps in religiosity by documenting an interactive effect between gender, education, and political views for predicting religious nonaffiliation and infrequent attendance at religious services among Americans. For highly educated political liberals, gender gaps effectively disappear, such that men and women are almost equally likely to be secular (or religious). The results have implications for the long-standing disputes about the gendered "nature" of religiosity and highlight the importance of multiple intersecting statuses and modalities in shaping aggregate patterns of religiosity and secularity.

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Moral foundation priorities reflect U.S. Christians' individual differences in religiosity

Kathryn Johnson et al.

Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The moral domains of loyalty, authority, and purity have been linked with both religion and conservatism in Moral Foundations Theory. Yet there are important individual differences in religiosity. We sought to provide a more nuanced understanding of the relations between religiosity, conservatism, and the moral foundations identified in MFT. Participants were 450 Christians who completed an online survey assessing outreaching faith, religious commitment, belief in an authoritarian God, Biblical literalism, and the prioritization of each of the five moral foundations. Conservatism and religious commitment were significant positive predictors of Loyalty. Controlling for conservatism and religious commitment, we found that Fairness was predicted by outreaching faith; Care was positively predicted by outreaching faith and negatively predicted by belief in an authoritarian God; Authority was predicted by literalism; and Purity was predicted by literalism and authoritarian God representations. Our results highlight the need to consider individual differences in religious beliefs in theorizing about moral foundations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 25, 2016

Shipping the jobs

Winners and Losers in International Trade: The Effects on U.S. Presidential Voting

Bradford Jensen, Dennis Quinn & Stephen Weymouth

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies how international trade influences U.S. presidential elections. We expect the positive employment effects of expanding exports to increase support for the incumbent's party, and job insecurity from import competition to diminish such support. Our national-level models show for the first time that increasing imports are associated with decreasing incumbent vote shares, and increasing exports correlate with increasing vote shares for incumbents. These effects are large and politically consequential. We also construct U.S. county-level measures of employment in high- and low-skill tradable activities. We find increases in incumbent vote shares in counties with concentrations of employment in high-skilled tradable goods and services, and decreases in counties with concentrations of employment in low-skilled manufactured goods. Incumbent parties are particularly vulnerable to losing votes in swing states with high concentrations of low-skilled manufacturing workers with increasing trade exposure. Thus there is an Electoral College incentive to protect this sector.

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Trade, Education, and The Shrinking Middle Class

Emily Blanchard & Gerald Willmann

Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We develop a new model of trade in which educational institutions drive comparative advantage and the distribution of human capital within and across countries. Our framework exploits a multiplicity of sectors and a continuous support of human capital choices to demonstrate that freer trade can induce crowding out of the middle occupations towards the skill acquisition extremes in one country and simultaneous expansion of middle-income industries in another. Individual gains from trade may be non-monotonic in workers' ability, and middle ability agents can lose the most from trade liberalization. Comparing trade and education policy, our model indicates that targeted education subsidies like Trade Adjustment Assistance are the most effective mechanism to bolster the middle class.

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International Coordination

Jeffrey Frankel

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
After a 30-year absence, calls for international coordination of macroeconomic policy are back. This time the issues go by names like currency wars, taper tantrums, and fiscal compacts. In traditional game theory terms, the existence of spillovers implies that countries are potentially better off if they coordinate policies than under the Nash non-cooperative equilibrium. But what is the nature of the spillover and the coordination? The paper interprets recent macroeconomic history in terms of four possible frameworks for proposals to coordinate fiscal policy or monetary policy: the locomotive game, the discipline game, the competitive depreciation game and the competitive appreciation game. (The paper also considers claims that monetary coordination has been made necessary by the zero lower bound among advanced countries or financial imperfections among emerging markets.) Perceptions of the sign of spillovers and the direction of proposed coordination vary widely. The existence of different models and different domestic interests may be as important as the difference between cooperative and non-cooperative equilibria. In some cases complaints about foreigners' actions and calls for cooperation may obscure the need to settle domestic disagreements.

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Contracting and the Division of the Gains from Trade

Andrew Bernard & Swati Dhingra

NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
This paper examines the microstructure of import markets and the division of the gains from trade among consumers, importers and exporters. When exporters and importers transact through anonymous markets, double marginalization and business stealing among competing importers lead to lower profits. Trading parties can overcome these inefficiencies by investing in richer contractual arrangements such as bilateral contracts that eliminate double marginalization and joint contracts that also internalize business stealing. Introducing these contractual choices into a trade model with heterogeneous exporters and importers, we show that trade liberalization increases the incentive to engage in joint contracts, thus raising the profits of exporters and importers at the expense of consumer welfare. We examine the implications of the model for prices, quantities and exporter-importer matches in Colombian import markets before and after the US-Colombia free trade agreement. US exporters that started to enjoy duty-free access were more likely to increase their average price, decrease their quantity exported and reduce the number of import partners.

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Exporting Sweatshops? Evidence from Myanmar

Mari Tanaka

Stanford Working Paper, November 2015

Abstract:
While literature implies that access to the markets in high-income countries increases firm sizes and productivity in developing countries, how exporting and such changes affect employees' working conditions is largely unknown. In this paper, I investigate the causal effect of exporting on working conditions in Myanmar manufacturing firms. This analysis draws on a new survey I conducted on Myanmar manufacturing firms from 2013 to 2015. For identification, I use a natural experimental setting in Myanmar, where export profitability was highly limited in the mid 2000s, but significantly increased in the later years. I employ an instrumental variable strategy that examines the product and geographical characteristics of firms in 2005 that affected exporting status from 2013 to 2015. The results imply that exporting has significant positive effects on fire safety, health management, union formation, wage and the likelihood of receiving a labor compliance audit. The results also indicate that exporting led to increases in firm size and the adoption of management practices recommended in developed countries.

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Do the poor benefit from globalization regardless of institutional quality?

Andreas Bergh, Irina Mirkina & Therese Nilsson

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite significant progress towards the Millennium goals, more than one billion people live on less than 1.25 US dollars per day. Previous research suggests that globalization stimulates poverty reduction, but does not investigate what role institutions play in this relationship. Theoretically, globalization could act as either a complement or a substitute to institutional quality in reducing poverty. We find that the poverty-reducing effect of globalization is stronger when institutions are weak. In particular, increasing social globalization reduces poverty more when corruption is high and democratic accountability is low. Thus, globalization has the power to reduce poverty even in countries with low institutional quality.

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Migrants, Ancestors, and Investments

Konrad Burchardi, Thomas Chaney & Tarek Hassan

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
We use 130 years of data on historical migrations to the United States to show a causal effect of the ancestry composition of US counties on foreign direct investment (FDI) sent and received by local firms. To isolate the causal effect of ancestry on FDI, we build a simple reduced-form model of migrations: migrations from a foreign country to a US county at a given time depend on (i) a push factor, causing emigration from that foreign country to the entire United States, and (ii) a pull factor, causing immigration from all origins into that US county. The interaction between time-series variation in country-specific push factors and county-specific pull factors generates quasi-random variation in the allocation of migrants across US counties. We find that a doubling of the number of residents with ancestry from a given foreign country relative to the mean increases by 4.2 percentage points the probability that at least one local firm invests in that country, and increases by 31% the number of employees at domestic recipients of FDI from that country. The size of these effects increases with the ethnic diversity of the local population, the geographic distance to the origin country, and the ethno-linguistic fractionalization of the origin country.

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Globalization and Collective Labor Rights

Robert Blanton & Shannon Lindsey Blanton

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
The impact of globalization has been a perennial source of contention, and issues regarding labor rights have been a visible aspect of this struggle. Despite the popular controversy about a potential "race to the bottom" regarding globalization and labor rights, the empirical record on these linkages remains mixed. Moreover, despite the multifaceted nature of globalization, extant literature in this area has focused purely on several specific facets of economic globalization, such as trade and FDI. We focus on two additional aspects of globalization, social and political integration, as well as a broadly based measure of economic globalization, and examine how they influence collective labor rights - both in terms of labor laws, as well as their enforcement in practice - in the developing world from 1986 to 2002. We find that all three facets of globalization are negatively related to labor rights. Specifically, social, political, and economic globalization are related to the decoupling of labor practices from extant labor laws; that is, labor practices deteriorate while labor laws remain largely unaffected.

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Did China Tire Safeguard Save U.S. Workers?

Sunghoon Chung, Joonhyung Lee & Thomas Osang

European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although temporary trade barriers are perceived as a feasible policy instrument for securing domestic jobs in the presence of increased globalization and economic downturns, no study has assessed whether such temporary barriers have actually saved domestic jobs. To overcome this deficiency, we evaluate the China-specific safeguard case on consumer tires petitioned by the United States. Contrary to claims made by the Obama administration, we find that total employment and average wages in the tire industry were unaffected by the safeguard. Further analysis reveals that this result is not surprising as we find that imports from China are completely diverted to other exporting countries partly due to the strong presence of multinational corporations in the world tire market.

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Cables, Sharks and Servers: Technology and the Geography of the Foreign Exchange Market

Barry Eichengreen, Romain Lafarguette & Arnaud Mehl

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
We analyze the impact of technology on production and trade in services, focusing on the foreign exchange market. We identify exogenous technological changes by the connection of countries to submarine fiber-optic cables used for electronic trading, but which were not laid for purposes related to the foreign exchange market. We estimate the impact of cable connections on the share of offshore foreign exchange transactions. Cable connections between local markets and matching servers in the major financial centers lower the fixed costs of trading currencies and increase the share of currency trades occurring onshore. At the same time, however, they attenuate the effect of standard spatial frictions such as distance, local market liquidity, and restrictive regulations that otherwise prevent transactions from moving to the major financial centers. Our estimates suggest that the second effect dominates. Technology dampens the impact of spatial frictions by up to 80 percent and increases, in net terms, the share of offshore trading by 21 percentage points. Technology also has economically important implications for the distribution of foreign exchange transactions across financial centers, boosting the share in global turnover of London, the world's largest trading venue, by as much as one-third.

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English Language Premium: Evidence From A Policy Experiment In India

Tanika Chakraborty & Shilpi Kapur Bakshi

Economics of Education Review, February 2016, Pages 1-16

Abstract:
In this paper, we estimate the English premium in a globalizing economy, by exploiting an exogenous language policy intervention in India that abolished teaching of English in public primary schools. Our results indicate that a 10 percent lower probability of learning English in primary schools leads to a decline in weekly wages by 8 percent. On an average, this implies 26 percent lower wages for cohorts exposed to the policy change. We find supporting evidence that occupational choice played an important role in determining this wage-gap.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Whatever you need

The Charity of the Extremely Wealthy

Tom Coupe & Claire Monteiro

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we show that, compared to billionaires who have inherited their wealth, billionaires who have made their own wealth are more likely to sign the Giving Pledge and more likely to be in the Million Dollar Gifts list or the Philanthropy Top 50 list of big givers. If they give, self-made billionaires also tend to donate more money. We explore several possible explanations for this correlation between the origin of billionaires' wealth and their charitable giving, and present evidence that suggests that self-made billionaires tend to spend more money, both by giving money away and by buying expensive items.

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Single exposure to the word "Loving" and implicit helping behavior

Virginie Charles-Sire, Jordy Stefan & Nicolas Guéguen

Social Influence, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have reported that exposure to appeals for help containing the word "Love" increased donations. In this study, the effect of exposure to the single word "Loving" was examined on spontaneous helping behavior. Participants in the parking lots of several hypermarkets saw a male or a female confederate who was having difficulty loading a large heavy carton into a car. The confederate wore a T-shirt with a single word printed on the back: "Loving," "Helping," or no word. It was reported that more participants spontaneously offered to help the confederate when exposed to the word "Loving." The importance of this word and further concepts are used to explain these results.

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The Mother Teresa Effect: Counterproductive Effects of Touching an Altruist's Possessions on Charitable Giving

Amanda Morin et al.

Current Psychology, December 2015, Pages 693-701

Abstract:
Charities that recruit famous humanitarians, or obtain celebrity endorsements, may promote products associated with these altruistic superstars in an effort to increase donations. Previous research supports that "superstar" role models can promote desirable behavior. Charitable organizations may assume if people handle a product associated with a famous humanitarian, they will be inspired and more motivated to donate as a result. An opposite possibility is that physically handling reminders of an extreme altruist may result in contrast effects. Such positive exemplars may result in more negative perceptions of one's own charitable behavior, and decrease the perceived efficacy of one's own contributions. In two studies, participants did or did not touch items said to have belonged to a very altruistic person (Experiment 1) or to Mother Teresa (Experiment 2). Compared to participants in non-touch and other control conditions, those who physically touched items said to belong to an altruist subsequently donated fewer raffle tickets to charity. The results are related to theories of perceived efficacy, metacognitive processes, and the counterproductive influence of extremely positive role models.

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The dark side of donating: How donating may license environmentally unfriendly behavior

Marijn Meijers et al.

Social Influence, Fall 2015, Pages 250-263

Abstract:
Why people donate to charity or how people may be persuaded to donate to charity is a widely studied topic. What happens after people donated to charity, however, is largely understudied. On the one hand, people may be motivated to behave morally in subsequent decisions because of consistency concerns. On the other hand, people may feel licensed to behave less morally in subsequent decisions. In a quasi-experimental field study, we show that donating to charity may have a dark side to it, as it negatively affects subsequent, seemingly unrelated moral behavior. Specifically, our study shows the licensing effect in a real-world setting, as we find that people who donated to charity subsequently show lower intentions to be environmentally friendly.

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Charity, signaling, and welfare

Haley Brokensha, Lina Eriksson & Ian Ravenscroft

Politics, Philosophy & Economics, February 2016, Pages 3-19

Abstract:
Voices on the political right have long claimed that the welfare state ought to be kept small, and that charities can take over many of the tasks involved in helping those at the bottom of society. The arguments in favor of this claim are controversial, but even if they are accepted at face value the policy proposal remains problematic. For the proposal presupposes that charities would, in fact, be able to raise enough money to provide adequate help to those in need, and therefore assumes that charities are able to very significantly increase the number and/or size of donations they receive. We argue that there are good reasons for doubting that charities will be able to do this. Our argument turns on the fact that the most powerful strategy for eliciting donations - namely, allowing donors to use their donation to signal their pro-sociality - has an inbuilt upper limit. If too much emphasis is placed on the signaling opportunities donating to charity provides, donating no longer functions as an effective signal and the motivation to donate declines.

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Volunteering is prospectively associated with health care use among older adults

Eric Kim & Sara Konrath

Social Science & Medicine, January 2016, Pages 122-129

Objective: The purpose of this study was to prospectively examine whether volunteering was associated with a greater use of preventive health care services, but fewer doctor visits and nights spent in the hospital.

Methods: Participants (n=7,168) were drawn from the 2006 wave of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 51, and tracked for one wave (2 years). Logistic regression and generalized linear models were used for analyses.

Results: In analyses that adjusted for sociodemographic factors and baseline health, volunteers were 30% more likely to receive flu shots (OR=1.30, 95% CI=1.16-1.47), 47% more likely to receive cholesterol tests (OR=1.47, 95% CI=1.24-1.74); female volunteers were 53% more likely to receive mammograms/x-rays (OR=1.53, 95% CI=1.28-1.83) and 21% more likely to receive Pap smears (OR=1.21, 95% CI=1.03-1.41); male volunteers were 59% more likely to receive prostate exams (OR=1.59, 95% CI=1.29-1.95). In a model that adjusted for sociodemographic factors, volunteers spent 38% fewer nights in the hospital (RR=0.62, 95% CI=0.52-0.76), however volunteering was not associated with frequency of doctor visits (RR=0.94, 95% CI=0.87-1.02). The association between volunteering and number of nights spent in the hospital was minimally affected after adjusting for potential confounding (baseline health) and explanatory variables (health behaviors, social integration, stress, positive psychological factors, personality).

Conclusion: This is the first known study to examine the association between volunteering and health care use. If future studies replicate these findings, the results may be used to inform the development of new strategies for increasing preventive health screenings, lowering health care use and costs, and enhancing the health of older adults.

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Ex-post Blindness as Excuse? The Effect of Information Disclosure on Giving

Serhiy Kandul

Journal of Economic Psychology, February 2016, Pages 91-101

Abstract:
People passing by beggars without leaving a penny are not necessarily pure money-maximizers. In the world of sincere and dishonest recipients, some donors might anticipate the disutility they will suffer at the moment they realize their help is misdirected and reduce their willingness to donate to avoid these psychological costs. I employ a dictator game with ex-ante uncertainty about recipient's endowment and requests from recipients to study how donors react to ex-post revelation of recipient's type. I observe no difference in donations with and without ex-post information about recipient's endowment. However, if donors could choose if they want to receive such information themselves, nearly a third of dictators choose to remain ignorant. Those dictators who choose to ex-post reveal the endowment of the recipient give significantly more.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Seemingly

Testosterone and Estrogen Impact Social Evaluations and Vicarious Emotions: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study

Andreas Olsson et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The abilities to “read” other peoples’ intentions and emotions, and to learn from their experiences, are critical to survival. Previous studies have highlighted the role of sex hormones, notably testosterone and estrogen, in these processes. Yet it is unclear how these hormones affect social cognition and emotion using acute hormonal administration. In the present double-blind placebo-controlled study, we administered an acute exogenous dose of testosterone or estrogen to healthy female and male volunteers, respectively, with the aim of investigating the effects of these steroids on social-cognitive and emotional processes. Following hormonal and placebo treatment, participants made (a) facial dominance judgments, (b) mental state inferences (Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test), and (c) learned aversive associations through watching others’ emotional responses (observational fear learning [OFL]). Our results showed that testosterone administration to females enhanced ratings of facial dominance but diminished their accuracy in inferring mental states. In men, estrogen administration resulted in an increase in emotional (vicarious) reactivity when watching a distressed other during the OFL task. Taken together, these results suggest that sex hormones affect social-cognitive and emotional functions at several levels, linking our results to neuropsychiatric disorders in which these functions are impaired.

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Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers’ emotional states in a congruent direction

Jean-Julien Aucouturier et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has shown that people often exert control over their emotions. By modulating expressions, reappraising feelings, and redirecting attention, they can regulate their emotional experience. These findings have contributed to a blurring of the traditional boundaries between cognitive and emotional processes, and it has been suggested that emotional signals are produced in a goal-directed way and monitored for errors like other intentional actions. However, this interesting possibility has never been experimentally tested. To this end, we created a digital audio platform to covertly modify the emotional tone of participants’ voices while they talked in the direction of happiness, sadness, or fear. The result showed that the audio transformations were being perceived as natural examples of the intended emotions, but the great majority of the participants, nevertheless, remained unaware that their own voices were being manipulated. This finding indicates that people are not continuously monitoring their own voice to make sure that it meets a predetermined emotional target. Instead, as a consequence of listening to their altered voices, the emotional state of the participants changed in congruence with the emotion portrayed, which was measured by both self-report and skin conductance level. This change is the first evidence, to our knowledge, of peripheral feedback effects on emotional experience in the auditory domain. As such, our result reinforces the wider framework of self-perception theory: that we often use the same inferential strategies to understand ourselves as those that we use to understand others.

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Mouth-watering words: Articulatory inductions of eating-like mouth movements increase perceived food palatability

Sascha Topolinski & Lea Boecker

Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explored the impact of consonantal articulation direction of names for foods on expected palatability for these foods (total N = 256). Dishes (Experiments 1-2) and food items (Experiment 3) were labeled with names whose consonants either wandered from the front to the back of the mouth (inward, e.g., PASOKI) or from the back to the front of the mouth (outward; e.g., KASOPI). Because inward (outward) wandering consonant sequences trigger eating-like (expectoration-like) mouth movements, dishes and foods were rated higher in palatability when they bore an inward compared to an outward wandering name. This effect occurred already under silent reading and for hungry and satiated participants alike. As a boundary condition, this articulation effect did occur when also additional visual information on the product was given (Experiment 3), but vanished when this visual information was too vivid and rich in competing palatability cues (Experiment 2). Future marketing can exploit this effect by increasing the appeal of food products by using inward wandering brand names, that is, names that start with the lips and end in the throat.

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Products as Self-Evaluation Standards: When Owned and Unowned Products have Opposite Effects on Self-Judgment

Liad Weiss & Gita Venkataramani Johar

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers frequently evaluate their own traits before making consumption decisions (e.g., “am I thin enough for skinny jeans?”). The outcome of these self-evaluations depends on the standard consumers use and on whether they evaluate “self” in assimilation or contrast to that standard. Previous self-judgment research has focused on self-standards that arise from social aspects of the environment, including people and groups. We propose that self-judgment is sometimes made relative to other standards that originate from different aspects of the environment, namely material objects, including products and goods. Two experiments demonstrate that consumers classify products they own as “self,” and products they do not own as “not-self.” Consequently, consumers judge their own physical and personal traits (e.g., height, sincerity) in assimilation to traits of products they own, but in contrast to traits of products they do not own, even following imposed ownership, when a person acquires an object they may not have chosen themselves. Extending this paradigm, experiment three shows that simply wearing products can evoke ephemeral felt ownership, leading to consumers taking on product traits. We discuss implications for modern consumers, who often acquire objects inadvertently through gifts, and are frequently exposed to products they do not own through advertisements.

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Not Quite So Blind: Semantic Processing Despite Inattentional Blindness

Robert Schnuerch et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We often fail to detect clearly visible, yet unexpected objects when our attention is otherwise engaged, a phenomenon widely known as inattentional blindness. The potentially devastating consequences and the mediators of such failures of awareness have been studied extensively. Surprisingly, however, hardly anything is known about whether and how we process the objects that go unnoticed during inattentional blindness. In 2 experiments, we demonstrate that the meaning of objects undetected due to inattentional blindness interferes with the classification of attended stimuli. Responses were significantly slower when the semantic content of an undetected stimulus contradicted that of the attended, to-be-judged object. We thus clarify the depth of the “blindness” caused by inattention, as we provide compelling evidence that failing to detect the unexpected does not preclude its processing, even at postperceptual stages. Despite inattentional blindness, our mind obviously still has access to something as refined as meaning.

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These two are different. Yes, they’re the same: Choice blindness for facial identity

Melanie Sauerland et al.

Consciousness and Cognition, February 2016, Pages 93-104

Abstract:
We examined the manipulability of face identity judgements by combining a sorting task for unfamiliar faces with a standard test of choice blindness. In Experiment 1, 50 participants completed a sorting task and then justified grouping specific pairs of photos together or apart. On manipulated trials, the presented pairings were different from those the participants had actually produced. Detection rates for these identity manipulations were strikingly low (∼21%). Moreover, participants readily provided justifications for identity decisions that they had not made, typically referring to specific facial features. Experiment 2 was conducted along similar lines and confirmed that lower task difficulty and higher confidence in one’s face identity judgements increase detection rates. We conclude that observers can easily be led to believe that they made identity judgements they did not make. As well as underscoring the fragility of unfamiliar face matching, our findings have implications for identity judgements in legal settings.

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“Priming” Hand Hygiene Compliance in Clinical Environments

Dominic King et al.

Health Psychology, January 2016, Pages 96-101

Introduction: Effective hand hygiene is the single most important procedure in preventing hospital-acquired infections. Traditional information/education-based interventions have shown only modest benefits on compliance. This study set out to investigate whether priming via olfactory and visual cues influences hand hygiene compliance.

Method: Randomized controlled trial set in a surgical intensive care unit (SICU) at a teaching hospital in Miami, Florida. The primary outcome data involved observations - a mix of health professionals and service users were observed entering the SICU by 2 trained observers and their hand hygiene compliance was independently verified. Interventions included either an olfactory prime (clean, citrus smell) or visual prime (male or female eyes). The primary outcome measure was hand hygiene compliance (HHC) measured by the visitor using the hand gel dispenser.

Results: At a 5% level there was significant evidence that a clean, citrus smell significantly improves HHC (46.9% vs. 15.0%, p = .0001). Compared to the control group, a significant improvement in HHC was seen when a picture of “male eyes” was placed over the hand gel dispenser (33.3% vs. 15.0%, p < .038). No significant improvement in HHC was seen when a picture of female eyes was placed over the same hand gel dispenser (10.0% vs. 15.0%, p = .626).

Conclusions: This is one of the first studies to demonstrate that priming can influence HHC in a clinical setting. The findings suggest that priming interventions could be used to change other behaviors relevant to public health.

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Social learning across psychological distance

David Kalkstein et al.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2016, Pages 1-19

Abstract:
While those we learn from are often close to us, more and more our learning environments are shifting to include more distant and dissimilar others. The question we examine in 5 studies is how whom we learn from influences what we learn and how what we learn influences from whom we choose to learn it. In Study 1, we show that social learning, in and of itself, promotes higher level (more abstract) learning than does learning based on one’s own direct experience. In Studies 2 and 3, we show that when people learn from and emulate others, they tend to do so at a higher level when learning from a distant model than from a near model. Studies 4 and 5 show that thinking about learning at a higher (compared to a lower) level leads individuals to expand the range of others that they will consider learning from. Study 6 shows that when given an actual choice, people prefer to learn low-level information from near sources and high-level information from distant sources. These results demonstrate a basic link between level of learning and psychological distance in social learning processes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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