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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Out of the woods

Experimental evidence for the co-evolution of hominin tool-making teaching and language

Thomas Morgan et al.
Nature Communications, January 2015

Abstract:
Hominin reliance on Oldowan stone tools — which appear from 2.5 mya and are believed to have been socially transmitted — has been hypothesized to have led to the evolution of teaching and language. Here we present an experiment investigating the efficacy of transmission of Oldowan tool-making skills along chains of adult human participants (N=184) using five different transmission mechanisms. Across six measures, transmission improves with teaching, and particularly with language, but not with imitation or emulation. Our results support the hypothesis that hominin reliance on stone tool-making generated selection for teaching and language, and imply that (i) low-fidelity social transmission, such as imitation/emulation, may have contributed to the ~700,000 year stasis of the Oldowan technocomplex, and (ii) teaching or proto-language may have been pre-requisites for the appearance of Acheulean technology. This work supports a gradual evolution of language, with simple symbolic communication preceding behavioural modernity by hundreds of thousands of years.

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Increased Affluence Explains the Emergence of Ascetic Wisdoms and Moralizing Religions

Nicolas Baumard et al.
Current Biology, 5 January 2015, Pages 10–15

Background: Between roughly 500 BCE and 300 BCE, three distinct regions, the Yangtze and Yellow River Valleys, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Ganges Valley, saw the emergence of highly similar religious traditions with an unprecedented emphasis on self-discipline and asceticism and with “otherworldly,” often moralizing, doctrines, including Buddhism, Jainism, Brahmanism, Daoism, Second Temple Judaism, and Stoicism, with later offshoots, such as Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam. This cultural convergence, often called the “Axial Age,” presents a puzzle: why did this emerge at the same time as distinct moralizing religions, with highly similar features in different civilizations? The puzzle may be solved by quantitative historical evidence that demonstrates an exceptional uptake in energy capture (a proxy for general prosperity) just before the Axial Age in these three regions.

Results: Statistical modeling confirms that economic development, not political complexity or population size, accounts for the timing of the Axial Age.

Conclusions: We discussed several possible causal pathways, including the development of literacy and urban life, and put forward the idea, inspired by life history theory, that absolute affluence would have impacted human motivation and reward systems, nudging people away from short-term strategies (resource acquisition and coercive interactions) and promoting long-term strategies (self-control techniques and cooperative interactions).

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Infectious disease, behavioural flexibility and the evolution of culture in primates

Collin McCabe, Simon Reader & Charles Nunn
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 January 2015

Abstract:
Culturally transmitted traits are observed in a wide array of animal species, yet we understand little about the costs of the behavioural patterns that underlie culture, such as innovation and social learning. We propose that infectious diseases are a significant cost associated with cultural transmission. We investigated two hypotheses that may explain such a connection: that social learning and exploratory behaviours (specifically, innovation and extractive foraging) either compensate for existing infection or increase exposure to infectious agents. We used Bayesian comparative methods, controlling for sampling effort, body mass, group size, geographical range size, terrestriality, latitude and phylogenetic uncertainty. Across 127 primate species, we found a positive association between pathogen richness and rates of innovation, extractive foraging and social learning. This relationship was driven by two independent phenomena: socially contagious diseases were positively associated with rates of social learning, and environmentally transmitted diseases were positively associated with rates of exploration. Because higher pathogen burdens can contribute to morbidity and mortality, we propose that parasitism is a significant cost associated with the behavioural patterns that underpin culture, and that increased pathogen exposure is likely to have played an important role in the evolution of culture in both non-human primates and humans.

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Warfare and reproductive success in a tribal population

Luke Glowacki & Richard Wrangham
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 January 2015, Pages 348–353

Abstract:
Intergroup conflict is a persistent feature of many human societies yet little is known about why individuals participate when doing so imposes a mortality risk. To evaluate whether participation in warfare is associated with reproductive benefits, we present data on participation in small-scale livestock raids among the Nyangatom, a group of nomadic pastoralists in East Africa. Nyangatom marriages require the exchange of a significant amount of bridewealth in the form of livestock. Raids are usually intended to capture livestock, which raises the question of whether and how these livestock are converted into reproductive opportunities. Over the short term, raiders do not have a greater number of wives or children than nonraiders. However, elders who were identified as prolific raiders in their youth have more wives and children than other elders. Raiders were not more likely to come from families with fewer older maternal sisters or a greater number of older maternal brothers. Our results suggest that in this cultural context raiding provides opportunities for increased reproductive success over the lifetime.

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Recent origin of low trabecular bone density in modern humans

Habiba Chirchir et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 January 2015, Pages 366–371

Abstract:
Humans are unique, compared with our closest living relatives (chimpanzees) and early fossil hominins, in having an enlarged body size and lower limb joint surfaces in combination with a relatively gracile skeleton (i.e., lower bone mass for our body size). Some analyses have observed that in at least a few anatomical regions modern humans today appear to have relatively low trabecular density, but little is known about how that density varies throughout the human skeleton and across species or how and when the present trabecular patterns emerged over the course of human evolution. Here, we test the hypotheses that (i) recent modern humans have low trabecular density throughout the upper and lower limbs compared with other primate taxa and (ii) the reduction in trabecular density first occurred in early Homo erectus, consistent with the shift toward a modern human locomotor anatomy, or more recently in concert with diaphyseal gracilization in Holocene humans. We used peripheral quantitative CT and microtomography to measure trabecular bone of limb epiphyses (long bone articular ends) in modern humans and chimpanzees and in fossil hominins attributed to Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus robustus/early Homo from Swartkrans, Homo neanderthalensis, and early Homo sapiens. Results show that only recent modern humans have low trabecular density throughout the limb joints. Extinct hominins, including pre-Holocene Homo sapiens, retain the high levels seen in nonhuman primates. Thus, the low trabecular density of the recent modern human skeleton evolved late in our evolutionary history, potentially resulting from increased sedentism and reliance on technological and cultural innovations.

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Gracility of the modern Homo sapiens skeleton is the result of decreased biomechanical loading

Timothy Ryan & Colin Shaw
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 January 2015, Pages 372–377

Abstract:
The postcranial skeleton of modern Homo sapiens is relatively gracile compared with other hominoids and earlier hominins. This gracility predisposes contemporary humans to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. Explanations for this gracility include reduced levels of physical activity, the dissipation of load through enlarged joint surfaces, and selection for systemic physiological characteristics that differentiate modern humans from other primates. This study considered the skeletal remains of four behaviorally diverse recent human populations and a large sample of extant primates to assess variation in trabecular bone structure in the human hip joint. Proximal femur trabecular bone structure was quantified from microCT data for 229 individuals from 31 extant primate taxa and 59 individuals from four distinct archaeological human populations representing sedentary agriculturalists and mobile foragers. Analyses of mass-corrected trabecular bone variables reveal that the forager populations had significantly higher bone volume fraction, thicker trabeculae, and consequently lower relative bone surface area compared with the two agriculturalist groups. There were no significant differences between the agriculturalist and forager populations for trabecular spacing, number, or degree of anisotropy. These results reveal a correspondence between human behavior and bone structure in the proximal femur, indicating that more highly mobile human populations have trabecular bone structure similar to what would be expected for wild nonhuman primates of the same body mass. These results strongly emphasize the importance of physical activity and exercise for bone health and the attenuation of age-related bone loss.

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Ancient mitochondrial DNA from the northern fringe of the Neolithic farming expansion in Europe sheds light on the dispersion process

Helena Malmström et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 January 2015

Abstract:
The European Neolithization process started around 12 000 years ago in the Near East. The introduction of agriculture spread north and west throughout Europe and a key question has been if this was brought about by migrating individuals, by an exchange of ideas or a by a mixture of these. The earliest farming evidence in Scandinavia is found within the Funnel Beaker Culture complex (Trichterbecherkultur, TRB) which represents the northernmost extension of Neolithic farmers in Europe. The TRB coexisted for almost a millennium with hunter–gatherers of the Pitted Ware Cultural complex (PWC). If migration was a substantial part of the Neolithization, even the northerly TRB community would display a closer genetic affinity to other farmer populations than to hunter–gatherer populations. We deep-sequenced the mitochondrial hypervariable region 1 from seven farmers (six TRB and one Battle Axe complex, BAC) and 13 hunter–gatherers (PWC) and authenticated the sequences using postmortem DNA damage patterns. A comparison with 124 previously published sequences from prehistoric Europe shows that the TRB individuals share a close affinity to Central European farmer populations, and that they are distinct from hunter–gatherer groups, including the geographically close and partially contemporary PWC that show a close affinity to the European Mesolithic hunter–gatherers.

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Mitochondrial DNA variation in the Viking age population of Norway

Maja Krzewińska et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 January 2015

Abstract:
The medieval Norsemen or Vikings had an important biological and cultural impact on many parts of Europe through raids, colonization and trade, from about AD 793 to 1066. To help understand the genetic affinities of the ancient Norsemen, and their genetic contribution to the gene pool of other Europeans, we analysed DNA markers in Late Iron Age skeletal remains from Norway. DNA was extracted from 80 individuals, and mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms were detected by next-generation sequencing. The sequences of 45 ancient Norwegians were verified as genuine through the identification of damage patterns characteristic of ancient DNA. The ancient Norwegians were genetically similar to previously analysed ancient Icelanders, and to present-day Shetland and Orkney Islanders, Norwegians, Swedes, Scots, English, German and French. The Viking Age population had higher frequencies of K*, U*, V* and I* haplogroups than their modern counterparts, but a lower proportion of T* and H* haplogroups. Three individuals carried haplotypes that are rare in Norway today (U5b1b1, Hg A* and an uncommon variant of H*). Our combined analyses indicate that Norse women were important agents in the overseas expansion and settlement of the Vikings, and that women from the Orkneys and Western Isles contributed to the colonization of Iceland.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Into the night

Eveningness Is Associated with Higher Risk-Taking, Independent of Sex and Personality

Davide Ponzi, Claire Wilson & Dario Maestripieri
Psychological Reports, December 2014, Pages 932-947

Abstract:
This study tested the hypotheses that eveningness is associated with higher risk-taking propensities across different domains of risk and that this association is not the result of sex differences or confounding covariation with particular personality traits. Study participants were 172 men and women between 20 and 40 years of age. Surveys assessed chronotype, domain-specific risk-taking and risk-perception, and Big Five personality dimensions. Eveningness was associated with greater general risk-taking in the specific domains of financial, ethical, and recreational decision making. Although risk-taking was associated with both risk perception and some personality dimensions, eveningness predicted risk-taking independent of these factors. Higher risk-taking propensities among evening types may be causally or functionally linked to their propensities for sensation- and novelty-seeking, impulsivity, and sexual promiscuity.

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2D:4D Digit Ratio Predicts Delay of Gratification in Preschoolers

Sergio Da Silva, Bruno Moreira & Newton Da Costa
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
We replicate the Stanford marshmallow experiment with a sample of 141 preschoolers and find a correlation between lack of self-control and 2D:4D digit ratio. Children with low 2D:4D digit ratio are less likely to delay gratification. Low 2D:4D digit ratio may indicate high fetal testosterone. If this hypothesis is true, our finding means high fetal testosterone children are less likely to delay gratification.

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Deciding for Others Reduces Loss Aversion

Ola Andersson et al.
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study risk taking on behalf of others, both when choices involve losses and when they do not. A large-scale incentivized experiment with subjects randomly drawn from the Danish population is conducted. We find that deciding for others reduces loss aversion. When choosing between risky prospects for which losses are ruled out by design, subjects make the same choices for themselves as for others. In contrast, when losses are possible, we find that the two types of choices differ. In particular, we find that subjects who make choices for themselves take less risk than those who decide for others when losses loom. This finding is consistent with an interpretation of loss aversion as a bias in decision making driven by emotions and that these emotions are reduced when making decisions for others.

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Ego Depletion in Color Priming Research: Self-Control Strength Moderates the Detrimental Effect of Red on Cognitive Test Performance

Alex Bertrams et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Colors have been found to affect psychological functioning. Empirical evidence suggests that, in test situations, brief perceptions of the color red or even the word “red” printed in black ink prime implicit anxious responses and consequently impair cognitive performance. However, we propose that this red effect depends on people’s momentary capacity to exert control over their prepotent responses (i.e., self-control). In three experiments (Ns = 66, 78, and 130), first participants’ self-control strength was manipulated. Participants were then primed with the color or word red versus gray prior to completing an arithmetic test or an intelligence test. As expected, self-control strength moderated the red effect. While red had a detrimental effect on performance of participants with depleted self-control strength (ego depletion), it did not affect performance of participants with intact self-control strength. We discuss implications of the present findings within the current debate on the robustness of priming results.

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Test of a potential causal influence of earlier age of gambling initiation on gambling involvement and disorder: A multilevel discordant twin design

Wendy Slutske et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, December 2014, Pages 1177-1189

Abstract:
The premise that an association between an earlier age of gambling initiation and the later development of disordered gambling is causal has not yet been empirically examined. The current study used a multilevel discordant twin design to examine the nature of this association. Participants were 3,546 same-sex twins (mean age = 37.7 years) from the Australian Twin Registry who completed a telephone interview that included an extensive assessment of gambling and related behaviors. Multilevel models were employed to estimate individual (within-twin-pair comparison) and family level (between-twin-pair comparison) effects, as well as the cross-level interaction between these effects. Family-level effects (genetic or environmental factors shared by family members) of age of gambling initiation robustly predicted later adult gambling frequency and disorder; the evidence for individual-level effects (unique factors not shared by family members, including a potentially causal effect of earlier age of gambling onset) was less robust. The results of this study suggest that the relation between earlier age of gambling initiation and later gambling involvement and disorder is primarily noncausal; efforts to delay the onset of gambling among young people may not necessarily reduce the number who later go on to develop gambling-related problems.

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The Ability to Follow Your Gut: Emotion-Understanding Ability Leverages Feelings to Avoid Risk

Jeremy Yip, Stéphane Côté & Dana Rose Carney
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Emotional intelligence facilitates decision-making about risk. We propose that emotionally intelligent individuals make better decisions because they adaptively use their immediate feelings as a source of information about different decision options. We examine whether emotion-understanding ability (a primary dimension of emotional intelligence) helps individuals rely on their skin-conductance responses as signals about the potential danger associated with risky decision options. By correctly identifying the source of their skin-conductance responses, individuals with higher emotion-understanding ability use their feelings as relevant information to avoid choosing risky decision options. As predicted, we find that individuals with higher emotion-understanding ability exhibited a stronger association between skin-conductance responses and avoidance of risky options in the Iowa Gambling Task, relative to individuals with lower emotion-understanding ability. We also find that emotional intelligence enhances decision-making independently of cognitive intelligence. These results suggest that emotional intelligence enables individuals to use their feelings adaptively to guide decisions about risk.

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Priming Memories of Past Wins Induces Risk Seeking

Elliot Ludvig, Christopher Madan & Marcia Spetch
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
People are often risk averse when making decisions under uncertainty. When those decisions are based on past experience, people necessarily rely on their memories. Thus, what is remembered at the time of the choice should influence risky choice. We tested this hypothesis by priming memory for past outcomes in a simple risky-choice task. In the task, people repeatedly chose between a safe option and a risky option that paid off with a larger or smaller reward with a 50/50 chance. Some trials were preceded by a priming cue that was previously paired with one of the outcomes. We found that priming cues associated with wins caused people to become risk seeking, whereas priming cues associated with relative losses had little effect. These results suggest that people can be induced to be more risk seeking through subtle reminders of previous winning experiences.

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Neural activation during response inhibition is associated with adolescents’ frequency of risky sex and substance use

Sarah Feldstein Ewing, Jon Houck & Angela Bryan
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
While many have identified the important role of the developing brain in youth risk behavior, few have examined the relationship between salient cognitive factors (response inhibition) and different types of real-world adolescent health risk behaviors (substance use and risky sex) within the same sample of youth. We therefore sought to examine these relationships with 95 high-risk youth (ages 14-18; M age = 16.29 years). We examined the relationship between blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response to an fMRI-based cognitive task designed to assess response inhibition (Go/NoGo) and past month risk behavior (number of substance use days; number of unprotected sex days). For this sample of youth, we found significant negative correlations between past month substance use and response inhibition within the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and right insula (uncorrected p < .001; extent threshold > 10 voxels). In addition, in the same contrast, we found significant positive correlations between past month risky sex and activation within the right IFG and left middle occipital gyrus (uncorrected p < .001; extent threshold > 10 voxels). These results suggest the particular relevance of these regions in this compelling, albeit slightly different pattern of response for adolescent substance use and risky sex.

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Not really the same: Computerized and real lotteries in decision making research

Aileen Oeberst, Susanne Haberstroh & Timo Gnambs
Computers in Human Behavior, March 2015, Pages 250–257

Abstract:
Computer technologies are routinely employed for many experimental procedures in decision-making research. Because computer-supported conduct has been shown to bias certain types of measures, the study evaluated the impact of computerized presentation of lotteries on risky choice tasks. A sample of 187 German undergraduates (147 women) participated in an experiment on financial decision-making. After presenting two types of lotteries participants had to choose between the risky and the conservative lottery. The experiment followed a 3 (presentation mode) × 2 (type of payoff) factorial design. Results indicated that the risky lottery was chosen more frequently when the lotteries were presented on computer as compared to real lotteries where participants drew balls from a closed box. Differences in risk perceptions mediated the mode effect on choice behavior. Moreover, risk taking decreased when the monetary payoff was made salient. Hence, computerized sampling and artificial payoffs (e.g., points) increased risky choices. Our findings therefore suggest that computer-supported sampling procedures in decision-making research might overestimate risk-taking behavior as compared to risk-taking in applied practice (i.e. in non-virtual sampling scenarios using monetary payoffs).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 16, 2015

Learning the hard way

Education's Gambling Problem: Earmarked Lottery Revenues and Charitable Donations to Education

Daniel Jones
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
I examine the impact that lotteries introduced to support education have on voluntary contributions to education. State lotteries, and the causes they are introduced to support, are highly publicized. This provides the opportunity to assess whether donors are crowded-out by government spending of which they are almost certainly aware. Using donor-level survey data and nonprofits' tax returns, I find that donations to education-related organizations fall with the introduction of a lottery. This result is driven by donors' response to the new (highly publicized) government revenue source (rather than a decrease in nonprofit fundraising efforts).

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The Value of Smarter Teachers: International Evidence on Teacher Cognitive Skills and Student Performance

Eric Hanushek, Marc Piopiunik & Simon Wiederhold
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Differences in teacher quality are commonly cited as a key determinant of the huge international student performance gaps. However, convincing evidence on this relationship is still lacking, in part because it is unclear how to measure teacher quality consistently across countries. We use unique international assessment data to investigate the role of teacher cognitive skills as one main dimension of teacher quality in explaining student outcomes. Our main identification strategy exploits exogenous variation in teacher cognitive skills attributable to international differences in relative wages of nonteacher public sector employees. Using student-level test score data, we find that teacher cognitive skills are an important determinant of international differences in student performance. Results are supported by fixed-effects estimation that uses within-country between-subject variation in teacher skills.

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Who Enters Teaching? Encouraging Evidence That the Status of Teaching Is Improving

Hamilton Lankford et al.
Educational Researcher, December 2014, Pages 444-453

Abstract:
The relatively low status of teaching as a profession is often given as a factor contributing to the difficulty of recruiting teachers, the middling performance of American students on international assessments, and the well-documented decline in the relative academic ability of teachers through the 1990s. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, a number of federal, state, and local teacher accountability policies have been implemented toward improving teacher quality over the objections of some who argue the policies will decrease quality. In this article, we analyze 25 years of data on the academic ability of teachers in New York State and document that since 1999 the academic ability of both individuals certified and those entering teaching has steadily increased. These gains are widespread and have resulted in a substantial narrowing of the differences in teacher academic ability between high- and low-poverty schools and between White and minority teachers. We interpret these gains as evidence that the status of teaching is improving.

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House Price Growth when Children are Teenagers: A Path to Higher Earnings?

Daniel Cooper & María José Luengo-Prado
Journal of Urban Economics, March 2015, Pages 54–72

Abstract:
This paper examines whether rising house prices immediately prior to children entering college have an impact on their earnings as adults. Higher house prices provide homeowners with additional funding to invest in their children’s human capital but also raise housing costs. The results show that a one percentage point increase in house prices, when children are 17 years old, results in roughly 0.9 percent higher annual income for the children of homeowners, and 1.5 percent lower annual income for the children of renters. House price appreciation at age 17 also leads to higher college enrollment rates at age 19 and an increased likelihood of attendance at higher ranked colleges and universities for children of homeowners, as well as lower college enrollment rates for children of renters.

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Is there an educational penalty for being suspended from school?

Deborah Cobb-Clark et al.
Education Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Suspension from school is a commonly used, yet controversial, school disciplinary measure. This paper uses unique survey data to estimate the impact of suspension on the educational outcomes of those suspended. It finds that while suspension is strongly associated with educational outcomes, the relationship is unlikely to be causal, but rather likely stems from differences in the characteristics of those suspended compared to those not suspended. Moreover, there is no evidence that suspension is associated with larger educational penalties for young people from disadvantaged family backgrounds compared to those from more advantaged family backgrounds. These results hold regardless of whether self-reported suspension or mother-reported suspension is considered. The absence of a clear negative causal impact of suspension on educational outcomes suggests that suspension may continue to play a role in school discipline without harming the educational prospects of those sanctioned.

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The Returns to the Federal Tax Credits for Higher Education

George Bulman & Caroline Hoxby
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Three tax credits benefit households who pay tuition and fees for higher education. The credits have been justified as an investment: generating more educated people and thus more earnings and externalities associated with education. The credits have also been justified purely as tax cuts to benefit the middle class. In 2009, the generosity of and eligibility for the tax credits expanded enormously so that their 2011 cost was $25 billion. Using selected, de-identified data from the population of potential filers, we show how the credits are distributed across households with different incomes. We estimate the causal effects of the federal tax credits using two empirical strategies (regression kink and simulated instruments) which we show to be strong and very credibly valid for this application. The latter strategy exploits the massive expansion of the credits in 2009. We present causal estimates of the credits' effects on postsecondary attendance, the type of college attended, the resources experienced in college, tuition paid, and financial aid received. We discuss the implications of our findings for society's return on investment and for the tax credits' budget neutrality over the long term (whether higher lifetime earnings generate sufficient taxes to recoup the tax expenditures). We assess several explanations why the credits appear to have negligible causal effects.

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Charters Without Lotteries: Testing Takeovers in New Orleans and Boston

Atila Abdulkadiroğlu et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Lottery estimates suggest oversubscribed urban charter schools boost student achievement markedly. But these estimates needn’t capture treatment effects for students who haven’t applied to charter schools or for students attending charters for which demand is weak. This paper reports estimates of the effect of charter school attendance on middle-schoolers in charter takeovers in New Orleans and Boston. Takeovers are traditional public schools that close and then re-open as charter schools. Students enrolled in the schools designated for closure are eligible for “grandfathering” into the new schools; that is, they are guaranteed seats. We use this fact to construct instrumental variables estimates of the effects of passive charter attendance: the grandfathering instrument compares students at schools designated for takeover with students who appear similar at baseline and who were attending similar schools not yet closed, while adjusting for possible violations of the exclusion restriction in such comparisons. Estimates for a large sample of takeover schools in the New Orleans Recovery School District show substantial gains from takeover enrollment. In Boston, where we can compare grandfathering and lottery estimates for a middle school, grandfathered students see achievement gains at least as large as the gains for students assigned seats in lotteries. Larger reading gains for grandfathering compliers are explained by a worse non-charter fallback.

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Leveling Up: Early Results from a Randomized Evaluation of Post-Secondary Aid

Joshua Angrist et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Does financial aid increase college attendance and completion? Selection bias and the high implicit tax rates imposed by overlapping aid programs make this question difficult to answer. This paper reports initial findings from a randomized evaluation of a large privately-funded scholarship program for applicants to Nebraska's public colleges and universities. Our research design answers the challenges of aid evaluation with random assignment of aid offers and a strong first stage for aid received: randomly assigned aid offers increased aid received markedly. This in turn appears to have boosted enrollment and persistence, while also shifting many applicants from two- to four-year schools. Awards offered to nonwhite applicants, to those with relatively low academic achievement, and to applicants who targeted less-selective four-year programs (as measured by admissions rates) generated the largest gains in enrollment and persistence, while effects were much smaller for applicants predicted to have stronger post-secondary outcomes in the absence of treatment. Thus, awards enabled groups with historically-low college attendance to ʽlevel up,ʼ largely equalizing enrollment and persistence rates with traditionally college-bound peers, particularly at four-year programs. Awards offered to prospective community college students had little effect on college enrollment or the type of college attended.

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The Housing and Educational Consequences of the School Choice Provisions of NCLB: Evidence from Charlotte, NC

Stephen Billings, Eric Brunner & Stephen Ross
University of North Carolina Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We examine housing market and residential mobility changes that occur soon after a school fails to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in Charlotte, NC. Students within attendance zones of failing schools are given priority in lotteries for oversubscribed schools, potentially increasing the attractiveness of living in a failing school attendance zone. We find that housing prices, homebuyer income and the probability of attending a non-assigned school increase in the highest quality neighborhoods within failing school attendance zones. Our results are driven largely by the behavior of new residents who exploit the school choice advantages offered by failure to achieve AYP.

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Experimentally Estimated Impacts of School Vouchers on College Enrollment and Degree Attainment

Matthew Chingos & Paul Peterson
Journal of Public Economics, February 2015, Pages 1–12

Abstract:
We provide the first experimental estimates of the long-term impacts of a voucher to attend private school by linking data from a privately sponsored voucher initiative in New York City, which awarded the scholarships by lottery to low-income families, to administrative records on college enrollment and degree attainment. We find no significant effects on college enrollment or four-year degree attainment of the offer of a voucher. However, we find substantial, marginally significant impacts for minority students and large, significant impacts for the children of women born in the United States. Negative point estimates for the children of non-minority and foreign-born mothers are not statistically significant at conventional levels. The information needed to match students to administrative data on postsecondary outcomes was available for 99 percent of the sample. We find evidence of substantial bias due to attrition in the original evaluation, which relied on data collected at follow-up sessions.

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Does Education Loan Debt Influence Household Financial Distress? An Assessment Using the 2007-09 SCF Panel

Jeffrey Thompson & Jesse Bricker
Federal Reserve Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
This paper uses the recent 2007-09 SCF panel to examine the influence of student loans on financial distress. Families with student loans in 2007 have higher levels of financial distress than families without such loans, and these families were more susceptible to transitions to financial distress during the early stages of the Great Recession. This correlation persists once we control for a host of other demographic, work-status, and household balance sheet measures. Families with an average level of student loans were 3.1 percentage points more likely to be 60 days late paying bills and 3 percentage points more likely to be denied credit. During this same time period, families with other types of consumer debt were no more or less likely to be financially distressed. Education loans enable students to go to college and improve their employment and earnings prospects. On average, families with education loans in the 2007-09 SCF saw higher income growth between surveys. Further, the value of completing a degree is evident in the data: families without a degree but with education debt drive much of the correlations between financial distress and education loans.

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Alchian on Tenure: Some Long Awaited Empirical Evidence

William Brown
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Armen Alchian made many important contributions to our understanding of organizations. One of the most important insights was related to organizations of higher education and the existence of tenure. However, the primary empirical predictions of his explanation for tenure have remained unexplored. This paper provides some empirical evidence on these predictions. Alchian’s predictions receive strong support. The results indicate that tenure is significantly more likely to occur in nonprofit institutions than in for-profit institutions, tenure is more common in public institutions than in private nonprofit institutions, and among private nonprofit institutions the incidence of tenure is positively related to the level of endowment support and negatively related to the institution’s reliance on tuition and fees.

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Do High School Athletes Get Better Grades During the Off-Season?

Katie Schultz
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A great deal of recent research has employed instrumental variables to estimate the effect of participation in athletics on academic or labor market outcomes, finding evidence of small positive effects from participation. This research proposes several theories of how participation affects success but cannot distinguish between them. I ask a fundamentally different question, whether an athlete performs better or worse, academically, during the season in which they participate in sports, focusing on the time allocation theory of participation. Time spent on sports may substitute from time on academics or negative leisure activities, causing academic performance to improve or decline in-season, respectively. This paper finds a small negative and significant in-season effect on academic performance for varsity athletes and a small positive and significant in-season effect on academic performance for junior varsity (JV) athletes. Decreases in in-season grade point average (GPA) for varsity athletes occur through a decline in performance in English and history courses, while increases in in-season GPA for JV athletes operate through an improvement in math and science courses. Results are robust to controlling for various measures of course ease across semesters. The relatively small in-season effects suggest that estimates of the effects of participation in the rest of the literature operate primarily through mechanisms other than time allocation.

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Life in the Fast Lane: Effects of Early Grade Acceleration on High School and College Outcomes

Katie Larsen McClarty
Gifted Child Quarterly, January 2015, Pages 3-13

Abstract:
Research has repeatedly demonstrated the positive effects of acceleration for gifted and talented students. This study expands the literature by not only evaluating the impact of early grade skipping on high school and college outcomes but also examining the role of postacceleration opportunities on subsequent performance. Using a representative national sample, accelerated students were compared with older grade-level peers who had similar academic and demographic backgrounds. Results suggest that, on average, accelerated students consistently and significantly outperformed their nonaccelerated peers, both in high school and in college. Furthermore, postacceleration educational opportunities provided additional benefit; students who skipped a grade and also participated in challenging academic programs (e.g., Advanced Placement, high-ability instructional groups) demonstrated particularly high achievement. Results suggest that gifted learners profit most when acceleration is coupled with additional opportunities for advanced study.

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Grades and Rank: Impacts of Non-Financial Incentives on Test Performance

Nina Jalava, Juanna Schrøter Joensen & Elin Pellas
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does effort respond to being graded and ranked? This paper examines the effects of non-financial incentives on test performance. We conduct a randomized field experiment on more than a thousand sixth graders in Swedish primary schools. Extrinsic non-financial incentives play an important role in motivating highly skilled students to exert more effort. We find significant differences in test scores between the intrinsically motivated control group and three of four extrinsically motivated treatment groups. The only treatment not increasing test performance is criterion-based grading on an A-F scale, which is the typical grading method. Test performance is significantly higher if employing rank-based grading or giving students a symbolic reward. The motivational strengths of the non-financial incentives differ across the test score distribution, across the skill distribution, with peer familiarity, and with respect to gender. Boys are only motivated by rank-based incentives, while girls are also motivated by receiving a symbolic reward. Rank-based grading and symbolic rewards tend to crowd out intrinsic motivation for students with low skills, while girls also respond less to rank-based incentives if tested with less familiar peers.

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Group-Average Observables as Controls for Sorting on Unobservables When Estimating Group Treatment Effects: The Case of School and Neighborhood Effects

Joseph Altonji & Richard Mansfield
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We consider the classic problem of estimating group treatment effects when individuals sort based on observed and unobserved characteristics that affect the outcome. Using a standard choice model, we show that controlling for group averages of observed individual characteristics potentially absorbs all the across-group variation in unobservable individual characteristics. We use this insight to bound the treatment effect variance of school systems and associated neighborhoods for various outcomes. Across four datasets, our most conservative estimates indicate that a 90th versus 10th percentile school system increases the high school graduation probability by between 0.047 and 0.085 and increases the college enrollment probability by between 0.11 and 0.13. We also find large effects on adult earnings. We discuss a number of other applications of our methodology, including measurement of teacher value-added.

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Patterns and Trends in Grade Retention Rates in the United States, 1995–2010

John Robert Warren, Emily Hoffman & Megan Andrew
Educational Researcher, December 2014, Pages 433-443

Abstract:
Although grade retention may be consequential for a number of important educational and socioeconomic outcomes, we know surprisingly little about the actual rate at which students are made to repeat grades. We build on Hauser, Frederick, and Andrew’s 2007 measure of grade retention using data from the 1995 through 2010 Current Population Surveys. We make technical improvements to their measure, provide more recent estimates, and validate the measure against external criteria. Our measure describes large disparities in grade retention rates by sex, race/ethnicity, geographic locale, and students’ socioeconomic circumstances. However, both absolute retention rates and disparities in retention rates have declined markedly since 2005. We conclude by describing how our measures might be used to model the impact of economic and policy contexts on grade retention rates.

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Performance Pay, Test Scores, and Student Learning Objectives

Ryan Balch & Matthew Springer
Economics of Education Review, February 2015, Pages 114–125

Abstract:
Austin Independent School District's (AISD) REACH pay for performance program has become a national model for compensation reform. This study analyzes the test scores of students enrolled in schools participating in the REACH program to students enrolled in schools within AISD not participating in the program. We also investigate the relationship between student learning objectives (SLOs), the program's primary measure of individual teacher performance, and teacher performance as measured by value-added student test scores. The AISD REACH program is associated with positive student test score gains in both math and reading during the initial year of implementation. Student test score gains are maintained in the second year, but we do not find any additional growth. We also find that SLOs are not significantly correlated with a teacher's value-added student test scores.

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Long Run Effects of Free School Choice: College Attainment, Employment, Earnings, and Social Outcomes at Adulthood

Victor Lavy
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Research in economics of education about the effectiveness of educational programs and interventions have centered primarily on standardized test scores as a measure of success. However, since the ultimate goal of education is to improve lifetime well-being, attention shifted recently to long term consequences at adulthood, for example post-secondary schooling. However, the type of educational interventions studied is still limited and much remained to be unraveled. In this paper I study the long term consequences of free school choice by taking advantage of an experiment conducted two decades ago in the city of Tel Aviv, Israel. This school choice program was very effective in improving high school attainment and cognitive achievements six years later (Lavy 2010) and now I examine whether these effects persist beyond high school. The results indicate that treated students experience significant gains in post-secondary enrollment and in completed years of education and also have higher earnings at age 30. These significant positive treatment effects reflect mainly an increase in academic education, through increased enrollment in three-years academic colleges but not in research universities, and some shift away from vocational education at adulthood. Additional gains are reductions in eligibility and recipiency of disability welfare allowances.

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When Small Words Foretell Academic Success: The Case of College Admissions Essays

James Pennebaker et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
The smallest and most commonly used words in English are pronouns, articles, and other function words. Almost invisible to the reader or writer, function words can reveal ways people think and approach topics. A computerized text analysis of over 50,000 college admissions essays from more than 25,000 entering students found a coherent dimension of language use based on eight standard function word categories. The dimension, which reflected the degree students used categorical versus dynamic language, was analyzed to track college grades over students' four years of college. Higher grades were associated with greater article and preposition use, indicating categorical language (i.e., references to complexly organized objects and concepts). Lower grades were associated with greater use of auxiliary verbs, pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, and negations, indicating more dynamic language (i.e., personal narratives). The links between the categorical-dynamic index (CDI) and academic performance hint at the cognitive styles rewarded by higher education institutions.

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Summer Nudging: Can Personalized Text Messages and Peer Mentor Outreach Increase College Going Among Low-Income High School Graduates?

Benjamin Castleman & Lindsay Page
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several recent low-cost interventions demonstrate that simplifying information about college and financial aid and helping students access professional assistance can generate substantial improvements in students’ postsecondary outcomes. We build on this growing literature by investigating the impact of two applications of behavioral principles to mitigate summer “melt,” the phenomenon that college-intending high school graduates fail to matriculate in college anywhere in the year following high school. One intervention utilized an automated and personalized text messaging campaign to remind college-intending students of required pre-matriculation tasks and to connect them to counselor-based support. Another employed near-aged peer mentors to provide summer outreach and support. The interventions substantially increased college enrollment among students who had less academic-year access to quality college counseling or information. Both strategies are cost-effective approaches to increase college entry among populations traditionally underrepresented in higher education and, more broadly, highlight the potential for low-cost behavioral nudges and interventions to achieve meaningful improvements in students’ educational outcomes.

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Do Differences in School Quality Matter More Than We Thought? New Evidence on Educational Opportunity in the Twenty-first Century

Jennifer Jennings et al.
Sociology of Education, January 2015, Pages 56-82

Abstract:
Do schools reduce or perpetuate inequality by race and family income? Most studies conclude that schools play only a small role in explaining socioeconomic and racial disparities in educational outcomes, but they usually draw this conclusion based solely on test scores. We reconsider this finding using longitudinal data on test scores and four-year college attendance among high school students in Massachusetts and Texas. We show that unexplained differences between high schools are larger for college attendance than for test scores. These differences are arguably caused by differences between the schools themselves. Furthermore, while these apparent differences in high school effectiveness increase income disparities in college attendance, they reduce racial disparities. Social scientists concerned with schools’ role in transmitting inequality across generations should reconsider the assumption that schools either increase or reduce all disparities and should direct attention to explaining why high schools’ effects on specific outcomes and groups of students appear to vary so much.

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School Choice & Social Stratification: How Intra-District Transfers Shift the Racial/Ethnic and Economic Composition of Schools

Kristie Phillips, Elisabeth Larsen & Charles Hausman
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The liberation model hypothesizes that school choice liberates students from underperforming schools by giving them the opportunity to seek academically superior schooling options outside of their neighborhoods. Subsequently, school choice is hypothesized to diminish stratification in schools. Data from one urban school district is analyzed to test these hypotheses. We specifically examine which factors influence the propensity for parents to participate in choice, and how school choice changes the racial/ethnic and economic composition of schools. We further examine how school choice influences similar changes within distinct sociogeographic areas within the district. We find that families who are zoned to more racially/ethnically and economically diverse schools in sociogeographically diverse areas are more likely to participate in school choice. We also find that intra-district choice is associated with a slight increase in social stratification throughout the district, with more substantial stratification occurring in the most demographically diverse areas and schools.

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One Size does not Fit All: Multiple Dimensions of Ability, College Attendance and Wages

María Prada & Sergio Urzúa
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We investigate the role of mechanical ability as another dimension that, jointly with cognitive and socio-emotional, affects schooling decisions and labor market outcomes. Using a Roy model with a factor structure and data from the NLSY79, we show that the labor market positively rewards mechanical ability. However, in contrast to the other dimensions, mechanical ability reduces the likelihood of attending four-year college. We find that, on average, for individuals with high levels of mechanical and low levels of cognitive and socio-emotional ability, not attending four-year college is the alternative associated with the highest hourly wage (ages 25-30).

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The Longitudinal Effects of After-School Program Experiences, Quantity, and Regulatable Features on Children’s Social-Emotional Development

Christine Wade
Children and Youth Services Review, January 2015, Pages 70–79

Abstract:
Experiences of 298 children with their caregivers in after-school programs (ASPs) were examined as predictors of social-emotional functioning across first through fifth grade. Moderating effects of previous social-emotional problems, child gender, family income, quantity of care, and program regulatable features were also estimated. On average, ASP experiences negatively predicted externalizing problems and positively predicted social self-control and assertion. Interestingly, positive ASP experiences did not predict decreased externalizing behaviors, but instead children with negative experiences had higher levels of externalizing behavior problems. Changes in ASP experiences positively predicted changes in self-control scores, but only for boys. Finally, staff experience, staff wages, and changes in child-to-caregiver ratios predicted children’s ASP experiences and levels of social-emotional development.

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Unconditional Regard Buffers Children’s Negative Self-Feelings

Eddie Brummelman et al.
Pediatrics, December 2014, Pages 1119-1126

Background: Unconditional regard refers to the feeling that one is accepted and valued by others without conditions. Psychological theory suggests that experiences of unconditional regard lead children to feel that they are valuable despite setbacks. We hypothesized that reflecting on experiences of unconditional regard would buffer children’s negative self-feelings (eg, shame, insecurity, powerlessness) in the face of setbacks. To test this hypothesis, we randomized children to reflect on experiences of unconditional regard or other experiences, and examined their response to an academic setback 3 weeks later.

Methods: Participants (11–15 years old) were randomly assigned to reflect for 15 minutes on experiences of unconditional regard (n = 91), conditional regard (n = 80), or other social experiences (n = 76). Research personnel, teachers, and classmates remained blind to condition assignment. Three weeks later, after receiving their course grades, children reported their self-feelings. Course grades were obtained from school records. Receiving low course grades represents a salient and painful real-world setback for children.

Results: Replicating previous research, children who received lower grades experienced more negative self-feelings (P < .001). As predicted, this well-established relationship was significantly attenuated among children who had reflected, 3 weeks previously, on experiences of unconditional regard (Ps < .03). Reflecting on unconditional regard specifically reduced negative self-feelings after low grades (P = .01), not after average or high grades (Ps > .17).

Conclusions: Reflecting on unconditional regard buffered children’s selves against the adverse impact of an academic setback over an extended period of time. Unconditional regard may thus be an important psychological lever to reduce negative self-feelings in youth.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Right to rise

When Can Women Close the Gap? A Meta-Analytic Test of Sex Differences in Performance and Rewards

Aparna Joshi, Jooyeon Son & Hyuntak Roh
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on macro and micro domains in gender research, we meta-analytically test how occupational, industry, and job-level factors can either mitigate or exacerbate differences in performance evaluations (k = 93; n = 95,882) and rewards (k = 97; n = 378,850) between men and women. Based on studies conducted across a variety of work settings and spanning nearly thirty years, we found that the sex differences in rewards (d = .56) (including salary, bonuses, and promotions) were fourteen times larger than sex differences in performance evaluations (d = .04) and that differences in performance evaluations did not explain reward differences between men and women. The percentage of men in an occupation and the complexity of jobs performed by employees enhanced the male-female gap in performance and rewards. In highly prestigious occupations women performed equally but were rewarded significantly lower than men. Only a higher representation of female executives at the industry level enabled women to reverse the gender gap in rewards and performance evaluations. Our configurational analysis also revealed that some occupational, job, and industry level attributes of the work context are jointly associated with higher differences in rewards and performance evaluations.

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Stereotype Threat and the Evaluative Context of Communication

Matthew McGlone & Abigail Pfiester
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explored the impact of "stereotype threat" - that is, distress associated with the prospect of confirming a negative stereotype - on communication in evaluative contexts. Participants engaged in a conflict resolution simulation framed as diagnostic of their ability either to be a leader or to maintain close personal relationships. Women were less fluent and used more tentative language under leadership than relational maintenance framing, but men were less fluent and more tentative under relational maintenance than leadership framing. The influence of stereotype frame on the rates of disfluencies and tentative language was partially mediated by state anxiety. Our findings demonstrate that the effects of situationally induced stereotype threat on communication behavior are comparable to its effects on intellectual test performance. Consequences of stereotype threat for impression formation and strategies for reducing its impact on social interaction are discussed.

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Sex differences in academic achievement are not related to political, economic, or social equality

Gijsbert Stoet & David Geary
Intelligence, January-February 2015, Pages 137-151

Abstract:
The national differences in gender equality in economic and political participation have garnered considerable attention as an explanation of boys' better achievement in mathematics in most countries, but the debate is far from resolved. Using data from four international assessments of the academic achievement of 1.5 million 15 year olds (Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA), we demonstrate that the relation between sex differences in PISA achievement and national measures of gender equality is not consistent across assessments, and several of the positive findings are confounded by outliers. Further, for overall achievement across reading, mathematics, and science literacy girls outperformed boys in 70% of participating countries, including many with considerable gaps in economic and political equality, and they fell behind in only 4% of countries. The results raise doubts about the relation between national equality policies and mathematics achievement, and raise broader questions regarding women's underrepresentation in political, economic, and academic leadership despite stronger academic skills and regarding the long-term economic prospects and social stability of nations with many men who are not competitive in the modern economy.

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Efficacy vs. Equity: What Happens When States Tinker with College Admissions in a Race-Blind Era?

Sandra Black, Kalena Cortes & Jane Arnold Lincove
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
College admissions officers face a rapidly changing policy environment where court decisions have limited the use of affirmative action. At the same time, there is mounting evidence that commonly used signals of college readiness, such as the SAT/ACTs, are subject to race and socioeconomic bias. Our study investigates the efficacy and equity of college admissions criteria by estimating the effect of multiple measures of college readiness on freshman college grade point average and four-year graduation. Importantly, we take advantage of a unique institutional feature of the Texas higher education system to control for selection into admissions and enrollment. We find that SAT/ACT scores, high school exit exams, and advanced coursework are predictors of student success in college. However, when we simulate changes in college enrollment and college outcomes with additional admissions criteria, we find that adding SAT/ACT or high school exit exam criteria to a rank-based admissions policy significantly decreases enrollment among minorities and other groups, with the most negative effects generated by the SAT/ACT, while inducing only minimal gains in college GPA and four-year graduation rates.

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When Winning Is Really Losing: Teaching Awards and Women Political Science Faculty

Charity Butcher & Timothy Kersey
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2015, Pages 138-141

Abstract:
Based on a recent survey of political science professors in the United States, women tend to win teaching awards at higher rates than their male counterparts. This may seem like good news for female faculty, particularly amid continuing reports of gender gaps in publications and citations as well as the "leaky pipeline" phenomenon within promotions. However, a closer look at these findings suggests that in cases in which such awards might be most beneficial to women, they are less likely than their male colleagues to receive such acknowledgments. In fact, women are more likely than men to receive these awards only in institutional contexts in which research output is more important for tenure and promotion than teaching. Thus, the achievement of teaching excellence may have an overall negative impact on the advancement of female faculty by reducing their time and focus available for research.

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Quotas and qualifications: The impact of gender quota laws on the qualifications of legislators in the Italian parliament

Ana Catalano Weeks & Lisa Baldez
European Political Science Review, February 2015, Pages 119-144

Abstract:
This article addresses concerns that candidates nominated because of gender quota laws will be less qualified for office. While questions of candidate quality have long been relevant to legislative behavior, quota laws requiring a certain percentage of candidates for national office to be women have generated renewed interest. Gender quotas are often perceived to reduce the scope of political competition. By putting gender identity center stage, they preclude the possibility that elections will be based on 'ideas' or 'merit' alone. Other electoral rules that restrict candidate selection, such as the centralization of candidate selection common in closed list PR systems, have been found to reduce the quality of candidates. Rules that open selection, such as primaries, result in higher quality candidates. We exploit the institutional design of Italy's mixed electoral system in 1994, where quotas were applied only to the PR portion of the list, to compare the qualifications of men, women, and 'quota women'. We estimate regressions on several measures of deputies' qualifications for office and performance in office. We find that unlike other rules limiting candidate selection, quotas are not associated with lower quality on most measures of qualifications. In fact, quota women have more local government experience than other legislators and lower rates of absenteeism than their male counterparts. Contrary to critics, quota laws may have a positive impact on legislator quality. Once the quota law was rescinded, quota women were less likely to be re-elected than non-quota women or men, which suggests that discrimination - not qualification - limits women's status as candidates.

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Gender differences in latent cognitive abilities in children aged 2 to 7

Mohammed Palejwala & Jodene Goldenring Fine
Intelligence, January-February 2015, Pages 96-108

Abstract:
Gender differences in the latent cognitive abilities underlying the Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scale of Intelligence-Fourth Edition (WPPSI-IV) were investigated in children aged 2 to 7. Multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis was used to verify the measurement invariance of the WPPSI-IV factor model in boys and girls. Then the magnitude of gender differences in the means and variances of the abilities was estimated. Multiple-indicator multiple-cause models were implemented to explore whether the magnitude of these differences varied across age. Girls aged 2 to 7 demonstrated higher general intelligence. Girls aged 4 to 7 demonstrated an advantage in processing speed. A gender difference favoring boys in visual processing was absent in ages 2 to 3 but emerged in ages 4 to 7. Gender differences in fluid reasoning, short-term memory, and comprehension-knowledge were not found. The variability of any of the abilities did not differ among girls and boys. These results indicate that gender differences in cognitive abilities emerge in early childhood, which may contribute to gender differences in later educational outcomes.

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How financially literate are women? An overview and new insights

Tabea Bucher-Koenen et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We document strikingly similar gender differences in financial literacy across countries. When asked to answer questions that measure knowledge of basic financial concepts, women are less likely than men to answer correctly and more likely to indicate that they do not know the answer. In addition, women give themselves lower scores on financial literacy self-assessments than men. Both young and old women show low levels of financial literacy. Moreover, women for whom financial knowledge is likely to be very important - for example widows or single women - know little about concepts relevant for day-to-day financial decisions. Even women in favorable economic conditions are less financially knowledgeable than men. This is important because financial literacy has been linked to economic behavior, including retirement planning and wealth accumulation. Women live longer than men and are likely to spend time in widowhood. As a result, improving women's financial literacy is key to helping them prepare for retirement and promoting their financial security.

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Is It Me or Her? How Gender Composition Evokes Interpersonally Sensitive Behavior on Collaborative Cross-Boundary Projects

Michele Williams & Evan Polman
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates how professional workers' willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity is influenced by the gender and power of their interaction partners. We call into question the idea that mixed-gender interactions involve more interpersonal sensitivity than all-male interactions primarily because women demonstrate more interpersonal sensitivity than do men. Rather, we argue that the social category "women" can evoke more sensitive behavior from others such that men as well as women contribute to an increase in sensitivity in mixed-gender interactions. We further argue that the presence of women may trigger increased sensitivity such that men can also be the recipients of more sensitivity when one or more women are present on a team. In a study of 202 management consultants, we found that the willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity increased in interactions with women. Moreover, this effect was greater in interactions with women who had low reward power - i.e., females who better fit the expectations associated with the social category "women." We also found team-level effects. Professionals working with mixed-gender versus all-male client teams reported a greater willingness to act with interpersonally sensitive behavior toward male client team members. Our findings show that the willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity is context dependent and shed light on the importance of studying interaction partner-level and team-level effects on willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity.

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A Company I Can Trust? Organizational Lay Theories Moderate Stereotype Threat for Women

Katherine Emerson & Mary Murphy
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, February 2015, Pages 295-307

Abstract:
Women remain under-represented in the leadership of corporate America. According to stereotype threat theory, this under-representation may persist because women are concerned about being stereotyped in business settings. Three studies investigated whether an entity (fixed), compared with an incremental (malleable), organizational lay theory is threatening for women evaluating a consulting company. Men and women viewed a company mission statement or website containing an entity or incremental theory. Results revealed that women - more so than men - trusted the entity company less than the incremental company. Furthermore, only women's mistrust of the entity company was driven by their expectations about being stereotyped by its management. Notably, when combined with high or low representations of female employees, only organizational lay theories predicted trust. Finally, people's - particularly women's - mistrust of the entity company led them to disengage more before interacting with a representative. Implications for women's experiences and outcomes in workplace settings are discussed.

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"Once You Go to a White School, You Kind of Adapt": Black Adolescents and the Racial Classification of Schools

Simone Ispa-Landa & Jordan Conwell
Sociology of Education, January 2015, Pages 1-19

Abstract:
Studies of when youth classify academic achievement in racial terms have focused on the racial classification of behaviors and individuals. However, institutions - including schools - may also be racially classified. Drawing on a comparative interview study, we examine the school contexts that prompt urban black students to classify schools in racial terms. Through Diversify, a busing program, one group of black students attended affluent suburban schools with white-dominated achievement hierarchies (n = 38). Diversify students assigned schools to categories of whiteness or blackness that equated whiteness with achievement and blackness with academic deficiency. Students waitlisted for Diversify (n = 16) attended urban schools without white-dominated achievement hierarchies. These students did not classify schools as white or black, based on academic quality. We assert that scholars may productively conceive of schools, not just individual students, as sites of potential racial classification. Furthermore, the racial classification of schools reinforces antagonism between black students attending ''white'' and ''black'' schools and perpetuates harmful racial stereotypes.

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Ethnic Income Disparities in Israel

Pnina Plaut & Steven Plaut
Israel Affairs, Winter 2015, Pages 1-26

Abstract:
This article analyses income inequality in Israel and the role of ethnicity in creating or explaining it. It shows that in spite of relatively large 'raw' disparities in mean incomes across the ethnic groups, when controlling for other non-ethnic factors it is not generally the case that Arabs underperform in the Israeli labour markets compared with Jews, and in some cases Arabs outperform Jews, especially for men. Returns on education also do not appear to be lower for Arabs, other things being equal. In spite of the stereotypes, Ashkenazim generally do not outperform Mizrahim, or at most do so to a very small degree. The main 'advantaged' ethnic group are the native-born sabra Israelis. The main 'disadvantaged' demographic group are recent immigrants. Somewhat surprisingly, Ethiopians do not underperform compared with other immigrants, other things being equal.

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Measuring the Effect of Institutional Change on Gender Inequality in the Labour Market

Martina Dieckhoff, Vanessa Gash & Nadia Steiber
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the differential impact of labour market institutions on women and men. It carries out longitudinal analyses using repeat cross-sectional data from the EU Labour Force Survey 1992-2007 as well as time series data that measure institutional change over the same period. The results contribute to the literature on gendered employment, adding important insights into the impact of labour market institutions over and above family policies that have been the focus of most prior studies on the topic. We find differential effects of institutional change on male and female outcome. Our findings challenge the neo-classical literature on the topic. While our results suggest that men benefit more clearly than women from increases in employment protection, we do not find support for the neo-classical assertion that strong trade unions decrease female employment. Instead, increasing union strength is shown to have beneficial effects for both men's and women's likelihood of being employed on the standard employment contract. Furthermore, in line with other researchers, we find that rising levels of in kind state support to families improve women's employment opportunities.

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Sex as a source of power? Backlash against self-sexualizing women

Martina Infanger, Laurie Rudman & Sabine Sczesny
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although women are thought to possess sexual power, they risk social and economic penalties (i.e., backlash; Rudman, 1998) when they self-sexualize (i.e., assert their power; Cahoon & Edmonds, 1989; Glick, Larsen, Johnson, & Branstiter, 2005). Why? Drawing on the status incongruity hypothesis (SIH), which predicts backlash against powerful women because they challenge the gender hierarchy, we expected prejudice against self-sexualizing women to be explained by a dominance penalty rather than a communality deficit (Rudman, Moss-Racusin, Phelan, & Nauts, 2012). Two experiments supported this hypothesis, and Experiment 3 further showed that the dominance penalty was explained by ascribing power motives to self-sexualized women. These findings extend the SIH's utility to the domain of self-sexualization and illuminate the scope of people's discomfort with female power. Implications for the advancement of gender equality are discussed.

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Gender and venture capital decision-making: The effects of technical background and social capital on entrepreneurial evaluations

Justine Tinkler et al.
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on gender and workplace decision-making tends to address either supply-side disparities between men's and women's human and social capital, or demand-side differences in the status expectations of women and men workers. In addition, this work often relies on causal inferences drawn from empirical data collected on worker characteristics and their workplace outcomes. In this study, we demonstrate how tangible education and work history credentials - typically associated with supply-side characteristics - work in tandem with cultural beliefs about gender to influence the evaluative process that underlies venture capital decisions made in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Using an experimental design, we simulate funding decisions by venture capitalists (VCs) for men and women entrepreneurs that differ in technical background and the presence of important social ties. We demonstrate the presence of two distinct aspects of VCs' evaluation: that of the venture and that of the entrepreneur, and find that the gender of the entrepreneur influences evaluations most when the person, rather than the venture, is the target of evaluation. Technical background qualifications moderate the influence of gendered expectations, and women receive more of a payoff than men from having a close contact to the evaluating VC. We discuss the implications for future research on gender and work.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Abroad

We Always Fight the Last War? Prior Experiences in Counterinsurgency and Conventional Warfare and War Outcomes

Stephen Quackenbush & Amanda Murdie
International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does previous experience with conventional warfare harm a military fighting an insurgency? Or, conversely, does prior experience with a counterinsurgency lower a military’s likelihood for winning a conventional interstate war? Whereas firepower, maneuver, and associated tactics are essential for conventional warfare, counterinsurgency requires restrictions on firepower and effective policing in order to “win hearts and minds.” These competing requirements for military preparedness for conventional warfare and counterinsurgency have been extensively debated. However, the consequences of fighting counterinsurgency on a state’s readiness for fighting conventional wars (and vice versa) have been unexplored. We examine the relationship between past experiences with one type of conflict and war outcomes of the other type of conflict through a quantitative analysis of all wars that ended between 1838 and 2005. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that past experiences with either counterinsurgency or conventional warfare have little association with future success in war, conventional or not.

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Why Does the United States Intervene Abroad? Democracy, Human Rights Violations, and Terrorism

Seung-Whan Choi & Patrick James
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Democracy, human rights, and terrorism are major foreign policy issues. However, among these issues, what do the US leaders care about the most? This study assesses the degree to which Washington responds militarily to threats to democratic institutions, human rights abuses, and terrorist activity in other countries. Based on a cross-national, time-series data analysis of 164 countries for the years 1981 to 2005, this study presents empirical models that evaluate the relative importance of these issues for contemporary American foreign and security policy. It turns out that, all other things being equal, the United States is likely to engage in military campaigns for humanitarian reasons that focus on human rights protection rather than for its own security interests such as democracy promotion or terrorism reduction. This finding is extremely robust and reinforced by case illustrations that support a causal explanation for US intervention with a basic and sustained place for human rights protection.

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Competency Costs in Foreign Affairs: Presidential Performance in International Conflicts and Domestic Legislative Success, 1953–2001

Christopher Gelpi & Joseph Grieco
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous prominent theories have relied on the concept of “audience costs” as a central causal mechanism in their arguments about international conflict, but scholars have had greater difficulty in demonstrating the efficacy and even the existence of such costs outside the bounds of game theory and the political psychology laboratory. We suggest that the audience costs argument focuses too narrowly on the likelihood that leaders will be removed from office by domestic constituencies for failing to make good on threats. Instead, we argue that scholars should ground these arguments on Alastair Smith's (1998) broader concept of “competency costs.” Our analysis of presidential legislative success from 1953 to 2001 demonstrates the existence of foreign policy competency costs by showing that public disapproval of presidential handling of militarized interstate disputes has a significant and substantial negative impact on the president's ability to move legislation on domestic issues through Congress.

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Why Assessing Estimative Accuracy is Feasible and Desirable

Jeffrey Friedman & Richard Zeckhauser
Intelligence and National Security, forthcoming

Abstract:
The US Intelligence Community (IC) has been heavily criticized for making inaccurate estimates. Many scholars and officials believe that these criticisms reflect inappropriate generalizations from a handful of cases, thus producing undue cynicism about the IC's capabilities. Yet there is currently no way to evaluate this claim, because the IC does not systematically assess the accuracy of its estimates. Many scholars and practitioners justify this state of affairs by claiming that assessing estimative accuracy would be impossible, unwise, or both. This article shows how those arguments are generally unfounded. Assessing estimative accuracy is feasible and desirable. This would not require altering existing tradecraft and it would address several political and institutional problems that the IC faces today.

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Does globalization mitigate the adverse effects of terrorism on growth?

Javed Younas
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2015, Pages 133-156

Abstract:
This study identifies the damaging influence wielded by terrorism on the economy. It investigates whether international openness limits the negative consequences of terrorism on economic growth. The analysis is focused on 120 developing countries over the period 1976–2008. The positive interaction effect of terrorism and globalization suggests that the latter ameliorates the adverse impact of the former on growth. I also identify the critical values of the globalization index where the negative effects of both domestic and transnational terrorism are offset by the positive impact of openness; this, however, happens at a significantly high level of openness. The findings are robust to using the disaggregated measure of globalization and some individual indicators of economic openness. The result helps explain why the growth consequences of terrorism vary across nations and hold important policy implications.

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The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security

David Burbach & Christopher Fettweis
Contemporary Security Policy, Fall 2014, Pages 421-445

Abstract:
Anarchy was coming to Africa, Robert Kaplan warned in 1994, and a surge in conflict initially seemed to confirm that prediction. With less fanfare, however, after the year 2000, conflict in Africa declined, probably to the lowest levels ever. Recent fighting in Libya, Mali, South Sudan and elsewhere has prompted a new wave of ‘Africa falling apart’ concerns. This article reviews the history and data of conflict in Africa, from pre-colonial times to the present. Historical comparison and quantitative analysis based on the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) and Major Episodes of Political Violence (MEPV) datasets on the 1961–2013 period show that Africa has experienced a remarkable decline in warfare, whether measured in number of conflicts or fatalities. Warfare is a relatively low risk to the lives of most Africans. The years 2010–2013 saw an increase of 35 per cent in African battle deaths over 2005–2010, but they still are 87 per cent lower than the 1990–1999 average. Changes in external support and intervention, and the spread of global norms regarding armed conflict, have been most decisive in reducing the levels of warfare in the continent. Consequently, there is no Africa exception to the systemic shift towards lower levels of armed conflict.

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The Secret Success of Nonproliferation Sanctions

Nicholas Miller
International Organization, Fall 2014, Pages 913-944

Abstract:
Building on the rationalist literature on sanctions, this article argues that economic and political sanctions are a successful tool of nonproliferation policy, but that selection effects have rendered this success largely hidden. Since the late 1970s — when the United States made the threat of sanctions credible through congressional legislation and began regularly employing sanctions against proliferating states — sanctions have been ineffective in halting ongoing nuclear weapons programs, but they have succeeded in deterring states from starting nuclear weapons programs in the first place and have thus contributed to a decline in the rate of nuclear pursuit. The logic of the argument is simple: rational leaders assess the risk of sanctions before initiating a nuclear weapons program, which produces a selection effect whereby states highly vulnerable to sanctions are deterred from starting nuclear weapons programs in the first place, so long as the threat is credible. Vulnerability is a function of a state's level of economic and security dependence on the United States — states with greater dependence have more to lose from US sanctions and are more likely to be sensitive to US-sponsored norms. The end result of this selection effect is that since the late 1970s, only insulated, inward-looking regimes have pursued nuclear weapons and become the target of imposed sanctions, thus rendering the observed success rate of nonproliferation sanctions low. I find support for the argument based on statistical analysis of a global sample of countries from 1950 to 2000, an original data set of US nonproliferation sanctions episodes, and qualitative analysis of the South Korean and Taiwanese nuclear weapons programs.

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Decadal Reduction of Chinese Agriculture after a Regional Nuclear War

Lili Xia et al.
Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
A regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could decrease global surface temperature by 1 to 2°C for 5 to 10 years, and have major impacts on precipitation and solar radiation reaching Earth's surface. Using a crop simulation model forced by three global climate model simulations, we investigate the impacts on agricultural production in China, the largest grain producer in the world. In the first year after the regional nuclear war, a cooler, drier, and darker environment would reduce annual rice production by 30 Mt (29%), maize production by 36 Mt (20%), and wheat production by 23 Mt (53%). With different agriculture managements – no irrigation, auto irrigation, 200 kg/ha nitrogen fertilizer and 10 days delayed planting date, simulated national crop productions reduce 16-26% for rice, 9-20% for maize and 32-43% for wheat during five years after the nuclear war event. This reduction of food availability would continue, with gradually decreasing amplitude, for more than a decade. Assuming these impacts are indicative of those in other major grain producers, a nuclear war using much less than 1% of the current global arsenal could produce a global food crisis and put a billion people at risk of famine.

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Argo and Zero Dark Thirty: Film, Government, and Audiences

Michelle Pautz
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2015, Pages 120-128

Abstract:
With the prevalence and accessibility of film today, we must wonder how film affects its audience. In particular, how does film influence an audience’s perceptions of the government? Regardless of the content, research demonstrates that film has the power to shape perceptions of its moviegoers on a range of subjects. In this study, two recent films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, were chosen as case studies to explore how Hollywood portrays the intelligence community in film and shapes opinions about the government more broadly. This research found that about 25% of viewers of the two films changed their opinion about the government after watching one of the movies. Additionally, many of those changes are reflected in an improvement in the sentiments about the government and its institutions. This exploratory research provokes interesting discussions about the ability of film to influence the perceptions of an audience.

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Buying Influence? Assessing the Political Effects of China’s International Trade

Scott Kastner
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is widely believed that China’s growing links to the global economy are translating into increased Chinese political influence abroad. This article explores this possibility quantitatively by examining whether increased trade with China correlates with an increased willingness by countries to accommodate Chinese interests. I use newly collected data that capture cross-national variation in the willingness of individual countries to support Chinese government positions relating to Taiwan and Tibet, and China’s status as a market economy. I find that increased trade dependence on China is correlated with an increased likelihood of taking an accommodating stance on the economic issue (market economy status). But the evidence linking trade to an accommodating stance on the political issues is more ambiguous.

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Oppressive governments, dependence on the USA, and anti-American terrorism

Thomas Gries, Daniel Meierrieks & Margarete Redlin
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2015, Pages 83-103

Abstract:
We study the nexus between US economic and military aid, human rights conditions, and the emergence of anti-American transnational terrorism in aid-receiving countries. Using data from 126 countries for the period 1984–2008, we show that a combination of local repression and military or economic dependence on the USA results in more anti-American terrorism. This relationship only breaks down at high levels of dependence. There is no evidence that the USA is made any safer by providing foreign assistance, even if this assistance is substantial or is channeled to highly oppressive regimes which might be less restricted in terms of their instruments of fighting terrorism. Our findings also hold true when we account for the potential endogeneity of US aid and human rights conditions to anti-American terrorism.

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Optimal contracting with private military and security companies

Matthias Fahn & Tahmina Hadjer
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) have been gaining increasing media and scholarly attention particularly due to their indispensable role in the wars in Afghanistan 2001 and Iraq 2003. Nevertheless, theoretical insights into the agency problems inherent when hiring PMSCs and how to optimally incentivize them are scarce. We study the complex relationship between intervening state, host state, and PMSC, taking into account the diverging interests of all involved parties as well as potential agency problems. We develop a theoretical model to characterize a state’s optimal choice whether to perform a task associated with an intervening mission itself, or hire a PMSC and optimally design the contract. We find that it might be optimal to hire PMSCs even if they are expected to do a worse job than the intervening state would do itself. Furthermore, the government’s reputation in rewarding PMSCs for a good performance is crucial and might render it optimal to only deal with a limited number of PMSCs - who are not necessarily always the most efficient providers.

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Peacekeepers Help, Governments Hinder

Eva Vivalt
NYU Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Conflict causes enormous suffering, but the study of peacekeeping is plagued by endogeneity issues. This paper uses an instrumental variables approach to estimate the effectiveness of U.N. peacekeepers at ending episodes of conflict, maintaining the peace once peace has been obtained, and preventing another episode from ever re-occurring. I find that the likelihood of being sent U.N. peacekeepers varies with temporary membership in the U.N. Security Council and exploit this variation in my estimation. This variation also suggests that the leaders of countries in conflict often do not want their country to receive peacekeepers. The results indicate that even though peacekeepers are often unwanted, they help to maintain the peace after an episode of conflict has ended and reduce the likelihood that the conflict resumes.

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International terrorism as a trade impediment?

Peter Egger & Martin Gassebner
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2015, Pages 42-62

Abstract:
This article uses monthly data on bilateral trade in conjunction with monthly data on terrorism events and associated fatalities to shed light on the impact of terrorism on trade. Employing a structural model of trade, we provide evidence that, if at all, international terrorism displays effects on bilateral and multilateral trade only in the medium run (more than one and a half years after an attack/incident). The pure short-run impact of international terror on trade appears very small, if not negligible.

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Military Coalitions and the Outcome of Interstate Wars

Daniel Morey
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Approximately one-third of all interstate conflicts are multilateral, with the majority of these having a coalition of states fighting on at least one side. Despite the frequency of coalition wars, coalitions have not received much attention within the conflict literature. This paper presents the first general study on the effectiveness of coalitions during interstate wars. While there are many drawbacks to fighting as part of a coalition, the benefits of cooperation outweigh the cost, making coalitions more likely to win wars. An empirical examination of war outcomes between 1816 and 2007 confirms this hypothesis; coalitions have greater odds of victory than states fighting outside a coalition. This finding holds after controlling for possible endogeneity and selection bias.

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When Terrorists Go Bad: Analyzing Terrorist Organizations’ Involvement in Drug Smuggling

Victor Asal, Brinton Milward & Eric Schoon
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The intersection of terrorism and organized crime is a central global security concern. However, the conditions that contribute to this intersection or hinder its development are widely debated. Drawing on prominent cases of ideologically driven violent nonstate actors engaged in illicit economies, some scholars argue that this intersection is a logical evolution. Other scholars, focusing on the fact that relatively few groups engage in both organized crime and terrorism, argue that ideological differences hinder this intersection. We use data on 395 terrorist organizations to analyze how organizational and environmental factors affect the likelihood of terrorist involvement in illicit drug trafficking. Our analysis shows that the degree of connectivity within networks of terrorist groups is the most significant predictor of a group engaging in drug trafficking. Further, contrary to the theorized effects of ideology, an explicit religious ideology has no significant effect while an ethnopolitical ideology actually increases the likelihood of drug trafficking.

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Does Taglit-Birthright Israel Foster Long-Distance Nationalism?

Theodore Sasson et al.
Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Fall 2014, Pages 438-454

Abstract:
Taglit-Birthright Israel has brought hundreds of thousands of diaspora Jewish young adults on tours of Israel. Drawing on data from a large-scale program evaluation, we ask how the program affects participants’ feelings of homeland attachment and political views on contentious homeland issues. North Americans who traveled to Israel with Taglit between 2010 and 2012 were surveyed together with a comparison group of applicants to the program who did not participate. In multivariate analysis, Taglit sharply increases feelings of connection to Israel but has no effect on attitudes concerning the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The program modestly increases scores on a “favorability” scale and modestly increases opposition to a possible division of Jerusalem in a future peace deal. In contrast to Benedict Anderson's theory of long-distance nationalism, the findings suggest that feelings of homeland connection can be fostered without triggering ethnonationalist attitudes associated with the political right.

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Terrorism, Counterterrorism Aid, and Foreign Direct Investment

Chia-yi Lee
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Foreign investors generally refrain from entering countries with high political risks. As an often seen type of political risk, terrorism may deter foreign investors by creating an unsafe investment environment. This paper explores whether terrorism reduces foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows and argues that foreign investors adjust their information by observing whether the host country has the capability to deal with terrorism. Foreign aid from the United States used specifically for counterterrorism is an effective signal of a recipient's counterterrorism potential. Using two commonly used terrorism data sets and drawing upon a time-series cross-sectional data analysis, this paper finds that while terrorism can be an obstacle to FDI inflows, countries that receive more counterterrorism aid are less vulnerable to this adverse effect. It also shows that conflict-tied aid mitigates the negative effect of terrorism on FDI because it sends a similar signal to foreign investors.

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China’s role as a global health donor in Africa: What can we learn from studying under reported resource flows?

Karen Grépin et al.
Globalization and Health, December 2014

Background: There is a growing recognition of China's role as a global health donor, in particular in Africa, but there have been few systematic studies of the level, destination, trends, or composition of these development finance flows or a comparison of China's engagement as a donor with that of more traditional global health donors.

Methods: Using newly released data from AidData on China's development finance activities in Africa, developed to track under reported resource flows, we identified 255 health, population, water, and sanitation (HPWS) projects from 2000-2012, which we descriptively analyze by activity sector, recipient country, project type, and planned activity. We compare China's activities to projects from traditional donors using data from the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Creditor Reporting System.

Results: Since 2000, China increased the number of HPWS projects it supported in Africa and health has increased as a development priority for China. China's contributions are large, ranking it among the top 10 bilateral global health donors to Africa. Over 50% of the HPWS projects target infrastructure, 40% target human resource development, and the provision of equipment and drugs is also common. Malaria is an important disease priority but HIV is not. We find little evidence that China targets health aid preferentially to natural resource rich countries.

Conclusions: China is an important global health donor to Africa but contrasts with traditional DAC donors through China's focus on health system inputs and on malaria. Although better data are needed, particularly through more transparent aid data reporting across ministries and agencies, China's approach to South-South cooperation represents an important and distinct source of financial assistance for health in Africa.

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Explaining Extremity in the Foreign Policies of Parliamentary Democracies

Ryan Beasley & Juliet Kaarbo
International Studies Quarterly, December 2014, Pages 729–740

Abstract:
Why do multiparty cabinets in parliamentary democracies produce more extreme foreign policies than single-party cabinets? Our paper argues that particular institutional and psychological dynamics explain this difference. We test this argument using a global events data set incorporating foreign policy behaviors of numerous multiparty and single-party governments. We find that more parties and weak parliaments promote extremity in coalitions, but parliamentary strength has the opposite effect for single-party governments. This study challenges existing expectations about the impact of democratic institutions on foreign policy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Influence peddling

Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) Spending and Tobacco Control Efforts

Jayani Jayawardhana et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
We investigate whether the distributions to the states from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998 is associated with stronger tobacco control efforts. We use state level data from 50 states and the District of Columbia from four time periods post MSA (1999, 2002, 2004, and 2006) for the analysis. Using fixed effect regression models, we estimate the relationship between MSA disbursements and a new aggregate measure of strength of state tobacco control known as the Strength of Tobacco Control (SoTC) Index. Results show an increase of $1 in the annual per capita MSA disbursement to a state is associated with a decrease of −0.316 in the SoTC mean value, indicating higher MSA payments were associated with weaker tobacco control measures within states. In order to achieve the initial objectives of the MSA payments, policy makers should focus on utilizing MSA payments strictly on tobacco control activities across states.

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Racial resentment and smoking

Frank Samson
Social Science & Medicine, February 2015, Pages 164–168

Abstract:
Racial resentment (also known as symbolic racism) is among the most widely tested measures of contemporary prejudice in political science and social psychological research over the past thirty years. Proponents argue that racial resentment reflects anti-black emotion obtained through pre-adult socialization. In light of affect-based models of substance use, this paper examined the association between racial resentment and smoking in a national sample of non-Hispanic white, black, and Hispanic respondents. Data come from the 2012 American National Election Study, which contained two measures of smoking. The results of ordinal logistic regression models indicate a positive association between racial resentment and smoking among non-Hispanic whites (N = 2133) that is not present among blacks (N = 693) or Hispanics (N = 660). Models controlled for age, education, income, gender, political ideology, region, and mode of interview. Furthermore, analyses indicated that a measure of race-related affect, admiration and sympathy towards blacks, partially mediated the association between racial resentment and smoking. For non-Hispanic whites, racial resentment appears to constitute a risk factor for smoking. Future studies should further specify the conditions linking substance use to the race-related affective component of racial resentment.

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The effects of responsible drinking messages on attentional allocation and drinking behavior

Antony Moss et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Aims: Four experiments were conducted to assess the acute impact of context and exposure to responsible drinking messages (RDM) on attentional allocation and drinking behaviour of younger drinkers and to explore the utility of lab-based methods for the evaluation of such materials.

Methods: A simulated bar environment was used to examine the impact of context, RDM posters, and brief online responsible drinking advice on actual drinking behaviour. Experiments one (n = 50) and two (n = 35) comprised female non-problem drinkers, while Experiments three (n = 80) and 4 (n = 60) included a mixed-gender sample of non-problem drinkers, recruited from an undergraduate student cohort. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) was used to assess drinking patterns. Alcohol intake was assessed through the use of a taste preference task.

Results: Drinking in a simulated bar was significantly greater than in a laboratory setting in the first two studies, but not the third. There was a significant increase in alcohol consumption as a result of being exposed to RDM posters. Provision of brief online RDM reduced the negative impact of these posters somewhat; however the lowest drinking rates were associated with being exposed to neither posters nor brief advice. Data from the final experiment demonstrated a low level of visual engagement with RDMs, and that exposure to posters was associated with increased drinking.

Conclusions: Poster materials promoting responsible drinking were associated with increased consumption amongst undergraduate students, suggesting that poster campaigns to reduce alcohol harms may be having the opposite effect to that intended. Findings suggest that further research is required to refine appropriate methodologies for assessing drinking behaviour in simulated drinking environments, to ensure that future public health campaigns of this kind are having their intended effect.

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Applying Farr’s Law to project the drug overdose mortality epidemic in the United States

Salima Darakjy et al.
Injury Epidemiology, December 2014

Background: Unintentional drug overdose has increased markedly in the past two decades and surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury mortality in many states. The purpose of this study was to understand the trajectory of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States by applying Farr’s Law. Farr’s “law of epidemics” and the Bregman-Langmuir back calculation method were applied to United States drug overdose mortality data for the years 1980 through 2011 to project the annual death rates from drug overdose from 2012 through 2035.

Findings: From 1980–2011, annual drug overdose mortality increased from 2.7 to 13.2 deaths per 100,000 population. The projected drug overdose mortality would peak in 2016–2017 at 16.1 deaths per 100,000 population and then decline progressively until reaching 1.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2035.

Conclusion: The projected data based on Farr’s Law suggests that drug overdose mortality in the United States will decline in the coming years and return to the 1980 baseline level approximately by the year 2034.

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Changes in Alcohol Consumption: United States, 2001-2 to 2012-13

Deborah Dawson et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Documenting changes in alcohol consumption is critical for assessing future health service and alcohol treatment needs, evaluating efforts to modify drinking behavior and understanding the impact of shifting demographics and social norms. For the period since the year 2000, published data on drinking trends have been scarce and inconsistent.

Methods: Using data from two large, nationally representative surveys of U.S. adults (2001-2002 and 2012-2013) that contained virtually identical questions on consumption, we assessed differences by period in the prevalence of drinking, volume of intake, frequency of drinking and prevalence of ≥monthly heavy episodic drinking (HED) and determined whether changes in consumption were consistent across beverage types and in population subgroups.

Results: Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, the prevalence of drinking increased, as did volume and frequency of drinking and prevalence of ≥monthly HED among drinkers. Increases were greater for women than men for all measures and smaller among the formerly married for consumption among drinkers. The increase in overall drinking prevalence was magnified among all race-ethnic minorities, whereas the increase in ≥monthly HED was magnified only among Blacks (all relative to Whites).

Conclusions: Our findings are suggestive of a “wetter” drinking climate in 2012-2013 than in 2001-2002, indicating the need for continued and expanded efforts to prevent chronic and episodic heavy alcohol consumption. Given the across-the-board increases in alcohol consumption in recent years, policy efforts that address drinking at the population level are supported, even if specific drinking behaviors and subgroups of drinkers are additionally targeted for individualized approaches.

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The Combined Effects of Alcohol and Cannabis on Driving: Impact on Crash Risk

Sacha Dubois et al.
Forensic Science International, forthcoming

Background/objectives: Driving under the influence of alcohol or cannabis alone is associated with increased crash risk. This study explores the combined influence of low levels of alcohol (BAC ≤ .08) and cannabis on crash risk.

Materials and Methods: Drivers aged 20 years or older who had been tested for both drugs and alcohol after involvement in a fatal crash in the United States (1991-2008) were examined using a case-control design. Cases were drivers with at least one potentially unsafe driving action (UDA) recorded in relation to the crash (e.g., weaving); controls had none recorded. We examined the prevalence of driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, and both agents, for drivers involved in a fatal crash. Adjusted odds ratios of committing an UDA for alcohol alone, THC alone, and their combined effect were computed via logistic regression and adjusted for a number of potential confounders.

Results: Over the past two decades, the prevalence of THC and alcohol in car drivers involved in a fatal crash has increased approximately five-fold from below 2% in 1991 to above 10% in 2008. Each .01 BAC unit increased the odds of an UDA by approximately 9-11%. Drivers who were positive for THC alone had 16% increased odds of an UDA. When alcohol and THC were combined the odds of an UDA increased by approximately 8-10% for each .01 BAC unit increase over alcohol or THC alone.

Conclusion: Drivers positive for both agents had greater odds of making an error than drivers positive for either alcohol or cannabis only. Further research is needed to better examine the interaction between cannabis concentration levels, alcohol, and driving. This research would support enforcement agencies and public health educators by highlighting the combined effect of cannabis at low BAC levels.

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Understanding the Gradient in Children's Health: Cigarette Taxes, Asthma, and Inequality

Moiz Bhai
University of Illinois Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
The origins of inequality have roots in childhood. Childhood asthma, the most common disease affecting children, disproportionately affects minority and lower SES children. Decades of research shows a strong association between tobacco exposure and respiratory illnesses. By exploiting exogenous variation in cigarette taxes across states and time, I estimate the causal impact of early life tobacco exposure on measures of children’s well-being such as asthma, asthma severity, self-reported health, and school absences. I find economically and statistically significant impacts of cigarette taxes in improving children’s health: a one dollar increase in cigarette taxes reduces the prevalence of asthma by 3.4 percentage points, and raises school attendance by nearly half a day. The largest reductions in asthma are seen in children from the poorest households. Subsequently, decomposing the asthma gap reveals that differences in responses to cigarette taxes by SES can explain three quarters of the gap in asthma prevalence.

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Crystal Clear? The Relationship Between Methamphetamine Use and Sexually Transmitted Infections

Hugo Mialon, Erik Nesson & Michael Samuel
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Public health officials have cited methamphetamine control as a tool with which to decrease HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, based on previous research that finds a strong positive correlation between methamphetamine use and risky sexual behavior. However, the observed correlation may not be causal, as both methamphetamine use and risky sexual behavior could be driven by a third factor, such as a preference for risky behavior. We estimate the effect of methamphetamine use on risky sexual behavior using monthly data on syphilis diagnoses in California and quarterly data on syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia diagnoses across all states. To circumvent possible endogeneity, we use a large exogenous supply shock in the US methamphetamine market that occurred in May 1995 and a later shock stemming from the Methamphetamine Control Act, which went into effect in October 1997. While the supply shocks had large negative effects on methamphetamine use, we find no evidence that they decreased syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia rates. Our results have broad implications for public policies designed to decrease sexually transmitted infection rates.

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An Extended Swedish National Adoption Study of Alcohol Use Disorder

Kenneth Kendler et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To determine to what extent genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk for AUD.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Follow-up in 8 public data registers of adoptees, their biological and adoptive relatives, and offspring and parents from stepfamilies and not-lived-with families in Sweden. In this cohort study, subtypes of AUD were assessed by latent class analysis. A total of 18 115 adoptees (born 1950-1993) and 171 989 and 107 696 offspring of not-lived-with parents and stepparents, respectively (born 1960-1993).

Results: Alcohol use disorder in adoptees was significantly predicted by AUD in biological parents (odds ratio, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.29-1.66) and siblings (odds ratio, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.55-2.44) as well as adoptive parents (odds ratio, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.09-1.80). Genetic and environmental risk indices created from biological and adoptive relatives acted additively on adoptee AUD liability. Results from biological and adoptive relatives were replicated and extended from examinations of, respectively, not-lived-with parents and stepparents. Multivariate models in these families showed that AUD in offspring was significantly predicted by AUD, drug abuse, psychiatric illness, and crime in not-lived-with parents and by AUD, drug abuse, crime, and premature death in stepparents. Latent class analyses of adoptees and offspring of not-lived-with parents with AUDs revealed 3 AUD classes characterized by (1) female preponderance and high rates of psychiatric illness, (2) mild nonrecurrent symptoms, and (3) early-onset recurrence, drug abuse, and crime. These classes had distinct genetic signatures in the patterns of risk for various disorders in their not-lived-with parents and striking differences in the rates of recorded mood disorders.

Conclusions and Relevance: Parent-offspring transmission of AUD results from both genetic and environmental factors. Genetic risk for AUD reflects both a specific liability to AUD and to other externalizing disorders. Environmental risk reflects features of both parental psychopathology and other aspects of the rearing environment. Alcohol use disorder is a heterogeneous syndrome and meaningful subtypes emerged from latent class analysis, which were validated by patterns of disorders in biological parents and specific psychiatric comorbidities. The general population contains informative family constellations that can complement more traditional adoption designs in clarifying the sources of parent-offspring resemblance.

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Smoking is associated with mosaic loss of chromosome Y

Jan Dumanski et al.
Science, 2 January 2015, Pages 81-83

Abstract:
Tobacco smoking is a risk factor for numerous disorders, including cancers affecting organs outside the respiratory tract. Epidemiological data suggest that smoking is a greater risk factor for these cancers in males compared to females. This observation, together with the fact that males have a higher incidence of and mortality from most non–sex-specific cancers, remains unexplained. Loss of chromosome Y (LOY) in blood cells is associated with increased risk of nonhematological tumors. We demonstrate here that smoking is associated with LOY in blood cells in three independent cohorts [TwinGene: odds ratio (OR) = 4.3, 95% CI = 2.8–6.7; ULSAM: OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.6–3.6; and PIVUS: OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.4–8.4] encompassing a total of 6014 men. The data also suggest that smoking has a transient and dose-dependent mutagenic effect on LOY status. The finding that smoking induces LOY thus links a preventable risk factor with the most common acquired human mutation.

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Do alcohol taxes in Europe and the US rightly correct for externalities?

Evan Herrnstadt, Ian Parry & Juha Siikamäki
International Tax and Public Finance, February 2015, Pages 73-101

Abstract:
We develop an analytical framework for assessing corrective taxes and other policies to reduce alcohol-related externalities and apply it to the US, UK, Sweden, and Finland. The corrective tax estimates for the European countries fall short of current taxes and vice versa for the US (where drunk-driving externalities are larger and current taxes smaller). Alcohol sales restrictions are more difficult to justify on efficiency grounds as (unlike taxes) they involve large, first-order deadweight losses. For all countries, the efficiency case for stiffer drunk driver fines seems strong (though the same does not necessarily apply to non-pecuniary penalties).

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Standardised (plain) cigarette packaging increases attention to both text-based and graphical health warnings: Experimental evidence

M. Shankleman et al.
Public Health, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate whether standardised cigarette packaging increases the time spent looking at health warnings, regardless of the format of those warnings.

Study design: A factorial (two pack styles x three warning types) within-subject experiment, with participants randomised to different orders of conditions, completed at a university in London, UK.

Methods: Mock-ups of cigarette packets were presented to participants with their branded portion in either standardised (plain) or manufacturer-designed (branded) format. Health warnings were present on all packets, representing all three types currently in use in the UK: black & white text, colour text, or colour images with accompanying text. Gaze position was recorded using a specialised eye tracker, providing the main outcome measure, which was the mean proportion of a five-second viewing period spent gazing at the warning-label region of the packet.

Results: An opportunity sample of 30 (six male, mean age = 23) young adults met the following inclusion criteria: 1) not currently a smoker; 2) <100 lifetime cigarettes smoked; 3) gaze position successfully tracked for > 50% viewing time. These participants spent a greater proportion of the available time gazing at the warning-label region when the branded section of the pack was standardised (following current Australian guidelines) rather than containing the manufacturer's preferred design (mean difference in proportions = 0.078, 95% confidence interval 0.049 to 0.106, p < 0.001). There was no evidence that this effect varied based on the type of warning label (black & white text vs. colour text vs. colour image & text; interaction p = 0.295).

Conclusions: During incidental viewing of cigarette packets, young adult never-smokers are likely to spend more time looking at health warnings if manufacturers are compelled to use standardised packaging, regardless of the warning design.

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Young adult cannabis users report greater propensity for risk-taking only in non-monetary domains

Jodi Gilman et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Though substance use is often associated with elevated risk-taking in real-world scenarios, many risk-taking tasks in experimental psychology using financial gambles fail to find significant differences between individuals with substance use disorders and healthy controls. We assessed whether participants using marijuana would show a greater propensity for risk-taking in distinct domains including, but not limited to, financial risk-taking.

Methods: In the current study, we assessed risk-taking in young adult (age 18–25) regular marijuana users and in non-using control participants using a domain-specific risk-taking self-report scale (DOSPERT) encompassing five domains of risk-taking (social, financial, recreational, health/safety, and ethical). We also measured behavioral risk-taking using a laboratory monetary risk-taking task.

Results: Marijuana users and controls reported significant differences on the social, health/safety, and ethical risk-taking scales, but no differences in the propensity to take recreational or financial risks. Complementing the self-report finding, there were no differences between marijuana users and controls in their performance on the laboratory risk-taking task.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that financial risk-taking may be less sensitive than other domains of risk-taking in assessing differences in risky behavior between those who use marijuana and those who do not. In order to more consistently determine whether increased risk-taking is a factor in substance use, it may be necessary to use both monetary risk-taking tasks and complementary assessments of non-monetary-based risk-taking measures.

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Cigarette price variation around high schools: Evidence from Washington DC

Jennifer Cantrell et al.
Health & Place, January 2015, Pages 193–198

Abstract:
This study examines lowest cigarette prices in all tobacco retail outlets in Washington D.C. (n=750) in relation to the type and number of high schools nearby, controlling for confounders. The lowest overall and Newport menthol prices were significantly lower at outlets near public non-charter and charter schools compared with outlets near private schools. Given higher smoking prevalence and more price-sensitive youth subgroups in U.S. public schools, exposure to low prices may contribute to tobacco-related health disparities in minority and low-income populations. Tobacco taxes combined with policies to minimize the increasing use of price as a marketing tool are critical.

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Substance-Abuse Treatment and Mortality

Isaac Swensen
Journal of Public Economics, February 2015, Pages 13–30

Abstract:
Drug-overdose deaths, which have more than doubled over the past decade, represent a growing public-health concern. Though substance-abuse treatment may be effective in reducing drug abuse, evidence for a causal effect of treatment on drug-related mortality is lacking. I analyze the effect of substance-abuse treatment on mortality by exploiting county-level variation in treatment facilities driven by facility openings and closings. The estimates indicate that a 10-percent increase in facilities lowers a county’s drug-induced mortality rate by 2 percent. The estimated effects persist across individual and county characteristics and further indicate that spillovers of treatment reduce other related causes of death.

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Young woman smokers gain significantly more weight over 2-year follow-up than non-smokers. How Virginia doesn't slim

Eric Stice et al.
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 155–159

Objective: Although young women often report smoking for weight control purposes, no prospective study has tested whether smokers subsequently gain less weight over time than non-smokers. As this is an important lacuna because smoking results in greater mortality than obesity, the present study addresses this question.

Method: Female college students (N = 398; M age = 18.4, SD = 0.6; M BMI = 23.7, SD = 4.3) recruited for a body acceptance intervention trial provided data on smoking behavior and had their body mass measured at baseline and at 1-mo, 6-mo, 1-yr, and 2-yr follow-ups.

Results: Counter to the belief that smoking is an effective weight control strategy, baseline smokers (n = 29) gained significantly more weight (r = .29) than baseline non-smokers (n = 304), controlling for baseline BMI, parental obesity status, socio-economic status, and intervention condition; over 2-yr follow-up smokers gained 2.9 kg versus 0.9 kg for non-smokers. Descriptive data indicated that weight gain was greater for young women who quit smoking during follow-up (n = 13; M = 4.8 kg) than for persistent smokers (n = 16; M = 1.4 kg), though both groups gained more weight than non-smokers.

Conclusions: Results challenge the widely held belief that smoking is an effective weight control strategy, ironically suggesting that smokers gain more weight than non-smokers during young adulthood, though non-experimental prospective studies do not establish causal relations and future research with larger representative samples is needed.

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Uses and Abuses of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

Hannah Laqueur
Law & Social Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the acquisition, possession, and use of small quantities of all psychoactive drugs. The significance of this legislation has been misunderstood. Decriminalization did not trigger dramatic changes in drug-related behavior because, as an analysis of Portugal's predecriminalization laws and practices reveals, the reforms were more modest than suggested by the media attention they received. Portugal illustrates the shortcomings of before-and-after analysis because, as is often the case, the de jure legal change largely codified de facto practices. In the years before the law's passage, less than 1 percent of those incarcerated for a drug offense had been convicted of use. Surprisingly, the change in law regarding use appears associated with a marked reduction in drug trafficker sanctioning. While the number of arrests for trafficking changed little, the number of individuals convicted and imprisoned for trafficking since 2001 has fallen nearly 50 percent.

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Reducing binge drinking? The effect of a ban on late-night off-premise alcohol sales on alcohol-related hospital stays in Germany

Jan Marcus & Thomas Siedler
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Excessive alcohol consumption among young people is a major public health concern. On March 1, 2010, the German state of Baden-Württemberg banned the sale of alcoholic beverages between 10pm and 5am at off-premise outlets (e.g., gas stations, kiosks, supermarkets). We use rich monthly administrative data from a 70 percent random sample of all hospitalizations during the years 2007-2011 in Germany in order to evaluate the short-term impact of this policy on alcohol-related hospitalizations. Applying difference-in-differences methods, we find that the policy change reduces alcohol-related hospitalizations among adolescents and young adults by about seven percent. There is also evidence of a decrease in the number of hospitalizations due to violent assault as a result of the ban.

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Persistence and desistance in heavy cannabis use: The role of identity, agency, and life events

Nienke Liebregts et al.
Journal of Youth Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many cannabis users ‘mature out’ of their drug use, and factors of cannabis use cessation have been identified. However, very little in-depth knowledge is available about the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. Criminological studies have gained interesting insights in desistance from crime, yet these perspectives are rarely used in drug research. This qualitative, three-year longitudinal study explored the processes involved in desistance from frequent cannabis use for young adults. Using a narrative approach, desisters (frequent users who successfully quit their cannabis use) and persisters (frequent users with a persistent desire and unsuccessful attempts to quit) were compared. In the course of the study, desisters mainly exhibited increasing agency and goal setting, established strategies to achieve these goals, and could envision another self. Desistance was generally induced by life events that became turning points. Persisters experienced largely similar events, but lacked goals and strategies and held external factors responsible for their life course and failed quit attempts. Identity change is at the core of desistance from frequent cannabis use, and the meaning-giving to life events and experiences is essential. Agency is a necessary ingredient for desistance, develops over time and through action, and leads to a new drug-free identity with desistance in turn increasing agency.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 12, 2015

Aboveboard

Corporate Jets and Private Meetings with Investors

Brian Bushee, Joseph Gerakos & Lian Fen Lee
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We examine whether corporate jet flight patterns can be used to identify private meetings between managers and investors that are ex ante unobservable to non-participants. We predict that such meetings enable select investors to supplement and trade on their private information, leading to price and volume reactions during the flight periods, as well as changes in local institutional investor ownership. Using a sample of almost 400,000 flights undertaken by 396 firms between 2007 and 2010, we proxy for private meetings with "road shows," which are three-day windows that include jet flights to multiple cities in which the firm has high institutional ownership. First, we find that the number of road show flights is significantly associated with a number of proxies for incentives to meet privately with investors. Second, we find that three-day windows including road show flights exhibit significantly greater abnormal market reactions than other flight windows. Finally, we show that flights to metro areas are positively associated with changes in local institutional ownership that anticipate future returns. Overall, our evidence suggests that these private meetings are an important information event for the participating investors, who potentially gain an advantage over non-participating investors who have no public notice of the meetings.

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Dispersed Information and CEO Incentives

Jan Schneemeier
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
I measure the social cost of stock-based compensation schemes in a model in which the CEO learns from market prices. In my model all agents commit a small correlated error when forming their expectations about future productivity. The equilibrium stock price thus aggregates private information with noise. I show that a stock-based compensation scheme leads the CEO to overuse the price information by a factor of three, which in turn makes the excess return and investment growth excessively volatile. I calibrate a DSGE model that embeds this mechanism and estimate an implied welfare loss of 0.55% of permanent consumption. Surprisingly, if households were given the choice within this model of preserving the status quo or forcing the CEO to ignore all price information, they would choose the latter.

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The Costs of a (Nearly) Fully Independent Board

Olubunmi Faleye
Journal of Empirical Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
A significant and growing percentage of U.S. firms now have boards where the CEO is the only employee director (hereinafter fully independent boards). This paper studies whether and how this practice impacts board effectiveness. I find that fully independent boards are associated with a significant reduction in firm performance. Further tests suggest two channels for this effect. First, full independence deprives the board of spontaneous and regular access to the firm-specific information of other senior executives. Second, full independence eliminates the first-hand exposure of future CEOs to board-level discussions of strategy, which steepens the learning curve for eventually promoted candidates.

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Agency Problems of Corporate Philanthropy

Ronald Masulis & Syed Walid Reza
Review of Financial Studies, February 2015, Pages 592-636

Abstract:
Evaluating agency theory and optimal contracting theory views of corporate philanthropy, we find that as corporate giving increases, shareholders reduce their valuation of firm cash holdings. Dividend increases following the 2003 Tax Reform Act are associated with reduced corporate giving. Using a natural experiment, we find that corporate giving is positively (negatively) associated with CEO charity preferences (CEO shareholdings and corporate governance quality). Evidence from CEO-affiliated charity donations, market reactions to insider-affiliated donations, its relation to CEO compensation, and firm contributions to director-affiliated charities indicates that corporate donations advance CEO interests and suggests misuses of corporate resources that reduce firm value.

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Executive Compensation, Organizational Performance, and Governance Quality in the Absence of Owners

Ashley Newton
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
I study the relationship between chief executive compensation, organizational performance, and governance quality in large U.S. nonprofits. Due in large part to the absence of shareholders, the nonprofit sector is characterized by weaker monitoring mechanisms and potentially more severe agency problems relative to their for-profit counterparts. As a result, there have been numerous instances of executive abuse, such as exorbitant pay for very little work. Despite the size of the nonprofit sector (5.5% of GDP and 9% of employment) and the obvious monitoring and legal responsibility concerns, governance issues at nonprofits have received much less attention than that at for-profits. Using recent IRS data on governance practices at nonprofits, I find that, after controlling for known determinants, both the CEO-to-employee relative pay ratio and the consumption of perquisites are significantly negatively related to an index of nonprofit governance quality. Furthermore, consistent with governance problems at nonprofits and inconsistent with the Pay-for-Performance Hypothesis, I find a significant negative relationship between CEO-to-employee relative pay and multiple measures of nonprofit performance. These results highlight the importance of strong governance mechanisms in mitigating high levels of relative pay to and poor performance by executives in organizations marred by severe agency conflicts and ineffective monitoring mechanisms.

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Pay Me Now (and Later): Bonus Boosts Before Pension Freezes and Executive Departures

Irina Stefanescu, Kangzhen Xie & Jun Yang
Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We show that large public companies in the United States change the assumptions of the pension benefit formulas for their top executives in anticipation of defined benefit plan freezes and before executive retirements. In particular, top executives receive larger annual bonuses (an input of the pension benefit formula) before these events. Our findings are not driven by performance or other known determinants of annual bonuses and are not mirrored by increases in equity awards (which do not affect pension benefits). We document yet another mechanism through which top executives capture wealth at the expense of shareholders and regular employees.

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Litigation Risk and Agency Costs: Evidence from Nevada Corporate Law

Dain Donelson & Christopher Yust
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2014, Pages 747-780

Abstract:
In 2001, Nevada significantly limited the personal legal liability of corporate officers and directors. We use this exogenous shock to implement a differences-in-differences design that examines the impact of officer and director litigation risk on agency costs. We find decreased firm value, especially for firms with lower levels of investor protection and the highest expected agency costs. We also find that managerial incentives are reduced as measured by lower chief executive officers' pay-for-performance sensitivity. Finally, we find an adverse impact on operating performance and increased error-based restatements for Nevada firms subsequent to the change. Our findings emphasize that officer and director litigation risk is an important governance mechanism.

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The Effect of Repatriation Tax Costs on U.S. Multinational Investment

Michelle Hanlon, Rebecca Lester & Rodrigo Verdi
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether the U.S. repatriation tax for U.S. multinational corporations affects foreign investment. Our results show that the locked-out cash due to repatriation tax costs is associated with a higher likelihood of foreign (but not domestic) acquisitions. We also find a negative association between tax-induced foreign cash holdings and the market reaction to foreign deals. This result suggests that the investment activity of firms with high repatriation tax costs is viewed by the market as less value-enhancing than that of firms with low tax costs, consistent with foreign investment of firms with high repatriation tax costs possibly reflecting agency-driven behavior.

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Pay-performance sensitivity before and after SOX

Hui Chen, Debra Jeter & Ya-Wen Yang
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact on pay-performance sensitivity of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), an effect that has been examined in prior research but with often conflicting findings. Using a more comprehensive sample of executives and of compensation components than in prior research, we compare managers' pay-performance sensitivity before and after 2001-2002, a period during which regulatory changes were initiated to increase scrutiny over managerial manipulation and improve financial reporting quality. Based on ExecuComp data from 1992 to 2005 (and excluding the years 2001 and 2002), our results show that pay-performance sensitivity using either market-based or accounting-based measures of performance increased significantly following these events. When we further decompose executive pay into its cash-based and equity-based components, we find evidence of an increase in the link between performance and executive compensation for five of six measures for each performance metric. Thus, in contrast to most prior studies on the impact of SOX on executive incentives and compensation, our evidence is consistent with an improvement rather than weakening in the alignment of managerial and shareholder interests.

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Do Corporate Managers Skimp on Shareholders' Dividends to Protect their Own Retirement Funds?

Assaf Eisdorfer, Carmelo Giaccotto & Reilly White
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
What is the impact of long-term executive compensation, particularly large pension payouts, on the firm's current dividend policy? We argue that managers with high pension holdings are less likely to adopt a high dividend policy that can risk their future pension payouts. Using a hand-collected actuarial pension dataset we show that (i) dividend payments are significantly lower when manager compensation relies more heavily on pension payouts; (ii) higher compensation leverage and inside debt have a significant negative effect on dividend payments net of stock repurchases; and (iii) the negative effect of pension on dividend is significantly weaker when pensions are protected in a pre-funding rabbi trust. We show further that this agency behavior reduces firm performance.

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CEO Tenure and Earnings Management

Ashiq Ali & Weining Zhang
Journal of Accounting and Economics, February 2015, Pages 60-79

Abstract:
This study examines changes in CEOs' incentive to manage their firms' reported earnings during their tenure. Earnings overstatement is greater in the early years than in the later years of CEOs' service, and this relation is less pronounced for firms with greater external and internal monitoring. These results suggest that new CEOs try to favorably influence the market's perception of their ability in their early years of service, when the market is more uncertain. Also, consistent with the horizon problem, earnings overstatement is greater in the CEOs' final year, but this result obtains only after controlling for earnings overstatement in their early years of service.

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Managerial Attitudes and Takeover Outcomes: Evidence From Corporate Filings

Shan Yan
Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the textual content of merger and acquisition related SEC filings in an effort to understand the role of managerial attitudes and beliefs in merger negotiations and outcomes. Using a textual algorithm to identify the degree to which filings of bidders and targets exhibit negative/cautious tones vs. positive/optimistic tones, we find that bidders employing the most optimistic language in their filings actually experience the worst long-run performance following the transactions. In contrast, bidding managers who appear to acknowledge and understand the risks of the transactions experience relatively better post-merger performance. Thus our analysis of the textual content of merger filings appears to give us a new method for investigating the role of bidder and target attitudes and beliefs on merger outcomes.

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Is Tone at the Top Associated with Financial Reporting Aggressiveness?

Lorenzo Patelli & Matteo Pedrini
Journal of Business Ethics, January 2015, Pages 3-19

Abstract:
The discussion about the relationship between tone at the top and financial reporting practices has been primarily focused on the oversight role played by the board of directors and other structural elements of corporate governance. Another relevant determinant of tone at the top is the corporate narrative language, since it is a fundamental way in which the chief executive officer (CEO) enacts leadership. In this study, we empirically explore the association between financial reporting aggressiveness and five thematic indicators capturing different traits of ethical leadership from 535 annual letters to shareholders. We find that aggressive financial reporting is positively associated with CEO letters using a language which is resolute, complex, and not engaging. Our empirical findings highlight the importance of examining discretionary corporate narratives for the auditing process and the role of tone at the top in influencing accounting practices.

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Evidence on the Outcome of Say-On-Pay Votes: How Managers, Directors, and Shareholders Respond

Kelly Brunarski, Colin Campbell & Yvette Harman
Journal of Corporate Finance, February 2015, Pages 132-149

Abstract:
The economic value of the Say-on-Pay (SOP) provision of the Dodd-Frank Act has been a subject of debate. Proponents of this provision suggest these votes benefit shareholders by increasing investor influence over managerial compensation. Opponents of the SOP provision believe compensation contracting is better done by well-informed and unobstructed boards of directors. Our study provides direct evidence on the impact of the shareholder SOP votes by examining responses to the vote. We find that overcompensated managers with low SOP support tend to react by increasing dividends, decreasing leverage and increasing corporate investment. However, we find no evidence that management's response to the vote affects subsequent vote outcomes, nor do we find a subsequent change in firm value. Finally, we find excess compensation increases for managers that were substantially overpaid prior to the SOP vote, regardless of the outcome of the vote. Thus, it does not appear that the SOP legislation has had the intended effect of improving executive contracting.

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Group judgment and advice-taking: The social context underlying CEO compensation decisions

Bryan Bonner & Brian Cadman
Group Dynamics, December 2014, Pages 302-317

Abstract:
Groups are often tasked with making important organizational decisions. For example, CEO compensation judgments are made by groups of decision makers with no specialized compensation training who receive advice from a third party with a potential bias. This study seeks to understand the effects of this challenging context on decision making. We explore whether and how decision makers adjust their judgments, considering the potential for advisor bias. This is an essential issue in CEO compensation that is difficult to assess through traditional archival research based on publicly available data. Our study explores how decision makers, in the context of compensation committees, process and use advice provided by external parties. Our findings illustrate that individuals adjust for known conflicts of interest in the information provided to them. However, we do not find that individuals discount lavish advice to a greater extent than more modest advice, and the group decision-making process fails to correct for this tendency.

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Does corporate governance quality affect analyst coverage? Evidence from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)

Pandej Chintrakarn et al.
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2015, Pages 312-317

Abstract:
We examine the impact of corporate governance quality on the extent of analyst coverage. The evidence based on nearly 3000 firms indicates that more analysts are likely to cover firms with weaker corporate governance. In particular, as corporate governance quality falls by one SD, analyst following increases by 11.40%. Our evidence is consistent with the notion that poor governance results in a wider divergence between the stock's market price and the fundamental value. Analysts prefer to cover companies with poor governance because it allows them to generate trading commissions by offering shareholders a particularly compelling story about why a stock's fundamental value and the current price differ.

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The Impact of Personal Attributes on Corporate Insider Trading

David Hillier, Adriana Korczak & Piotr Korczak
Journal of Corporate Finance, February 2015, Pages 150-167

Abstract:
We analyze the importance of personal attributes in explaining the performance of reported share transactions by corporate insiders. While prior literature has focused on observable firm and trade characteristics, little effort has been made to understand how individual attributes, such as skills, abilities, or personality, impact upon post-trade abnormal returns. We document that personal attributes explain up to a third of the variability in insider trading performance and dominate unobservable and observable firm and trade characteristics by a sizeable margin. Personal attributes are correlated with the insider's year of birth, education and gender, and matter more in companies with greater information asymmetry and when outsiders are inattentive to public information. We shed also new light on the significance of executive hierarchy and regulations in explaining insider trading performance and highlight the importance of controlling for individual fixed effects in insider trading research to avoid omitted variable bias in estimated regression coefficients.

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Corporate General Counsel and Financial Reporting Quality

Justin Hopkins, Edward Maydew & Mohan Venkatachalam
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the role of general counsel (GC) in firms' financial reporting quality. GCs have a broad oversight role within the firm, including keeping the firm in compliance with laws and regulations and dealing with potential violations with respect to financial reporting. Several high-profile U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations have resulted in lawsuits or indictments against GCs for perpetrating financial fraud and caused many to ask: where were the gatekeepers? As such, we examine the conditions under which GCs may stray from their primary role as gatekeepers. Mainly, we empirically investigate claims that compensation can impair the independence or compromise the professional judgment of a GC. We measure the level of compensation using the GC's presence or absence in the top five officers of the firm by compensation. Results are consistent with GCs straying from their role as gatekeepers, to some extent, when highly compensated in a manner similar to the CEO and CFO. In particular, firms with highly compensated GCs have lower financial reporting quality and more aggressive accounting practices, including management of the litigation reserve. However, the results also show that highly compensated GCs play an important gatekeeping role in keeping the firm in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles. Thus, highly compensated GCs appear to tolerate moderately aggressive behavior but constrain it such that it would not result in violation of securities laws and jeopardize their standing within the firm.

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Strategic silence, insider selling and litigation risk

Mary Brooke Billings & Matthew Cedergren
Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior work finds that managers beneficially time their purchases, but not sales, prior to forecasts. Focusing on if (as opposed to when) a forecast is given, we link insider selling to silence in advance of earnings disappointments. This raises the question of whether the absence of incriminating trading drives reductions in litigation risk potentially attributed to warnings. We find that the absence of a warning combined with the presence of selling exacerbates the consequences associated with the individual behaviors. Yet, selling prior to a warning typically does not offset all of the warning's benefit. In so doing, we supply the first robust evidence of a litigation benefit associated with warning.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 11, 2015

No deal

The role of self-interest in elite bargaining

Brad LeVeck et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 30 December 2014, Pages 18536-18541

Abstract:
One of the best-known and most replicated laboratory results in behavioral economics is that bargainers frequently reject low offers, even when it harms their material self-interest. This finding could have important implications for international negotiations on many problems facing humanity today, because models of international bargaining assume exactly the opposite: that policy makers are rational and self-interested. However, it is unknown whether elites who engage in diplomatic bargaining will similarly reject low offers because past research has been based almost exclusively on convenience samples of undergraduates, members of the general public, or small-scale societies rather than highly experienced elites who design and bargain over policy. Using a unique sample of 102 policy and business elites who have an average of 21 y of practical experience conducting international diplomacy or policy strategy, we show that, compared with undergraduates and the general public, elites are actually more likely to reject low offers when playing a standard "ultimatum game" that assesses how players bargain over a fixed resource. Elites with more experience tend to make even higher demands, suggesting that this tendency only increases as policy makers advance to leadership positions. This result contradicts assumptions of rational self-interested behavior that are standard in models of international bargaining, and it suggests that the adoption of global agreements on international trade, climate change, and other important problems will not depend solely on the interests of individual countries, but also on whether these accords are seen as equitable to all member states.

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What Is Typical Is Good: The Influence of Face Typicality on Perceived Trustworthiness

Carmel Sofer et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The role of face typicality in face recognition is well established, but it is unclear whether face typicality is important for face evaluation. Prior studies have focused mainly on typicality's influence on attractiveness, although recent studies have cast doubt on its importance for attractiveness judgments. Here, we argue that face typicality is an important factor for social perception because it affects trustworthiness judgments, which approximate the basic evaluation of faces. This effect has been overlooked because trustworthiness and attractiveness judgments have a high level of shared variance for most face samples. We show that for a continuum of faces that vary on a typicality-attractiveness dimension, trustworthiness judgments peak around the typical face. In contrast, perceived attractiveness increases monotonically past the typical face, as faces become more like the most attractive face. These findings suggest that face typicality is an important determinant of face evaluation.

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Changes in Eye Contact and Attraction Scores Relative to Ostracism and Dissent

Johny Garner & Debra Iba
Small Group Research, February 2015, Pages 3-26

Abstract:
Ostracism casts a number of harms on group members who are targets, yet little is known about the behaviors which can lead group members to become ostracism targets. Here, we investigated whether dissent - an important and beneficial behavior for group decision making - led the group to ostracize the members who voiced dissent. This study examined ostracism and two types of dissent - disagreement with the group's decision-making process and disagreement with specific ideas. Confederates who dissented with ideas were ostracized, as evidenced by lower attraction scores when compared to confederates in control groups. By contrast, process dissenters were not ostracized. Rather, eye contact with process dissenters was significantly higher than eye contact with confederates in control groups. These results suggest that questioning a group's decision-making process may be one way to draw the attention of the group without being ostracized whereas challenging the prevailing decision itself may subject the dissenter to social exclusion.

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Social Status Modulates Prosocial Behavior and Egalitarianism in Preschool Children and Adults

Ana Guinote et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans are a cooperative species, capable of altruism and the creation of shared norms that ensure fairness in society. However, individuals with different educational, cultural, economic, or ethnic backgrounds differ in their levels of social investment and endorsement of egalitarian values. We present four experiments showing that subtle cues to social status (i.e., prestige and reputation in the eyes of others) modulate prosocial orientation. The experiments found that individuals who experienced low status showed more communal and prosocial behavior, and endorsed more egalitarian life goals and values compared with those who experienced high status. Behavioral differences across high- and low-status positions appeared early in human ontogeny (4-5 y of age).

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The dual function of social gaze

Matthias Gobel, Heejung Kim & Daniel Richardson
Cognition, March 2015, Pages 359-364

Abstract:
Ears cannot speak, lips cannot hear, but eyes can both signal and perceive. For human beings, this dual function makes the eyes a remarkable tool for social interaction. For psychologists trying to understand eye movements, however, their dual function causes a fundamental ambiguity. In order to contrast signaling and perceiving functions of social gaze, we manipulated participants' beliefs about social context as they looked at the same stimuli. Participants watched videos of faces of higher and lower ranked people, while they themselves were filmed. They believed either that the recordings of them would later be seen by the people in the videos or that no-one would see them. This manipulation significantly changed how participants responded to the social rank of the target faces. Specifically, when they believed that the targets would later be looking at them, and so could use gaze to signal information, participants looked proportionally less at the eyes of the higher ranked targets. We conclude that previous claims about eye movements and face perception that are based on a single social context can only be generalized with caution. A complete understanding of face perception needs to address both functions of social gaze.

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Sensitivity to Changing Contingencies Predicts Social Success

Richard Ronay & William von Hippel
Social Psychological and Personality Science, January 2015, Pages 23-30

Abstract:
To adapt one's behavior to suit changing social contingencies, it is necessary to be skillful at detecting such changing contingencies in the first place. As a consequence, the ability to detect changing contingencies (reversal learning) should predict social competence across both competitive and cooperative social settings. Consistent with this possibility, Study 1 revealed that better reversal learning predicted more effective conflict management and partner happiness within romantic relationships. Studies 2a and 2b found that better reversal learning predicted less satisfied negotiation partners, an effect mediated by the positive relationship between reversal-learning performance and value gained from the negotiation. In Study 3, better reversal learning predicted greater partner cooperation and more favorable outcomes in a multi-round prisoners' dilemma game. These results suggest that the capacity to detect changing contingencies, and thereby modify one's behavior in response to a socially dynamic world, facilitates interpersonal competence across a variety of social domains.

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Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others

Todd Rogers et al.
Harvard Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
We document a common type of deception in interpersonal contexts: paltering, the active use of truthful statements to convey a mistaken impression. Paltering is distinct from lies of commission in that it involves only truthful statements. It is distinct from lies of omission in that it involves actively misleading targets rather than passively omitting to share relevant information. A pilot study reveals that paltering is a common negotiation tactic. Six experiments demonstrate that paltering in negotiation can help palterers claim value, but can also increase the likelihood of impasse and harm palterers' reputations. Indeed, targets perceive paltering as the ethical equivalent of making false statements. At the same time, palterers - and outside observers - perceive paltering as more ethical than targets do. We add to the growing literature examining the antecedents and consequences of deception, demonstrating the prevalence and consequences of paltering in negotiation.

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Flipping the Switch: Power, Social Dominance, and Expectancies of Mental Energy Change

Patrick Egan & Edward Hirt
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that high levels of interpersonal power can promote enhanced executive functioning capabilities. The present work explored whether this effect is contingent upon expectancies concerning power's downstream cognitive consequences. Study 1 showed that social dominance orientation (SDO) predicted idiosyncratic expectancies of mental energy change toward interpersonal power. Study 2 showed that SDO moderated the executive functioning changes associated with interpersonal power and that this moderation effect was contingent upon changes in perceived mental depletion. Study 3 showed that directly manipulating expectancies of mental energy change concerning interpersonal power moderated the executive functioning consequences of power and that this moderation effect was contingent upon SDO and changes in perceived mental depletion. Together, the present findings underscore the importance of expectancies and individual differences in understanding the effects of interpersonal power.

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The Downside of Looking Like a Leader: Power, Nonverbal Confidence, and Participative Decision-Making

Connson Locke & Cameron Anderson
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
An abundance of evidence suggests that exhibiting a confident nonverbal demeanor helps individuals ascend social hierarchies. The current research examines some of the implications of having individuals in positions of power who exhibit such nonverbal confidence. Three studies examined dyads that worked together on decision-making tasks. It was found that people participated less in a discussion when they interacted with a powerful individual who exhibited confidence than when a powerful individual did not exhibit confidence. Moreover, people who interacted with a confident powerful individual participated less because they viewed that individual to be more competent. People even deferred to the confident powerful individual's opinions when that individual was wrong, leading to suboptimal joint decisions. Moderation analyses suggest the powerful individual was able to mitigate the effects of a confident demeanor somewhat by also showing an open nonverbal demeanor.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mixed up

Preferences vs. Opportunities: Racial/Ethnic Intermarriage in the United States

Seul-ki Shin
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper develops and implements a new approach for separately identifying preference and opportunity parameters of a two-sided search and matching model in the absence of data on choice sets. This approach exploits information on the dynamics of matches: how long it takes for singles to form matches, what types of matches they form, and how long the matches last. Willingness to accept a certain type of partner can be revealed through the dissolution of matches. Given recovered acceptance rules, the rates at which singles meet different types are inferred from the observed transitions from singlehood to matches. Imposing equilibrium conditions links acceptance rules and arrival rates to underlying preference and opportunity parameters. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I apply this method to examine the marriage patterns of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics in the United States. Results indicate that the observed infrequency of intermarriage is primarily attributable to a low incidence of interracial/interethnic meetings rather than same-race/ethnicity preferences. Simulations based on the estimated model show the effects of demographic changes on marital patterns.

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Experimental Effects of Exposure to Pornography: The Moderating Effect of Personality and Mediating Effect of Sexual Arousal

Gert Martin Hald & Neil Malamuth
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 99-109

Abstract:
Using a randomly selected community sample of 200 Danish young adult men and women in a randomized experimental design, the study investigated the effects of a personality trait (agreeableness), past pornography consumption, and experimental exposure to non-violent pornography on attitudes supporting violence against women (ASV). We found that lower levels of agreeableness and higher levels of past pornography consumption significantly predicted ASV. In addition, experimental exposure to pornography increased ASV but only among men low in agreeableness. This relationship was found to be significantly mediated by sexual arousal with sexual arousal referring to the subjective assessment of feeling sexually excited, ready for sexual activities, and/or bodily sensations associated with being sexually aroused. In underscoring the importance of individual differences, the results supported the hierarchical confluence model of sexual aggression and the media literature on affective engagement and priming effects.

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Men’s hunger, food consumption, and preferences for female body types: A replication and extension of Nelson and Morrison’s (2005) study

Nicolas Guéguen
Social Psychology, November/December 2014, Pages 495-497

Abstract:
Nelson and Morrison (2005, study 3) reported that men who feel hungry preferred heavier women. The present study replicates these results by using real photographs of women and examines the mediation effect of hunger scores. Men were solicited while entering or leaving a restaurant and asked to report their hunger on a 10-point scale. Afterwards, they were presented with three photographs of a woman in a bikini: One with a slim body type, one with a slender body type, and one with a slightly chubby body. The participants were asked to indicate their preference. Results showed that the participants entering the restaurant preferred the chubby body type more while satiated men preferred the thinner or slender body types. It was also found that the relation between experimental conditions and the choices of the body type was mediated by men’s hunger scores.

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Hooking up during the college years: Is there a pattern?

Patricia Roberson, Spencer Olmstead & Frank Fincham
Culture, Health & Sexuality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hook ups are sexual encounters that can include a variety of behaviours (e.g., kissing to intercourse) with no expectation of future contact or a committed relationship. Although hooking up is reported to be common on college campuses across the USA, little is known about whether the frequency of hooking up changes over the course of the college experience. Using cross-sectional data and the covariates alcohol use, gender and relationship status, we examined a synthetic cohort of undergraduate students (n = 1003) on rates of hooking up using (1) logistic regression and (2) an applied form of survival analysis. Whereas both analytic techniques produced similar results, survival analysis provided a more complete picture by showing an increase in the rate of hooking up that peaked between spring semester of the first year of college and autumn semester of the second year of college, followed by a gradual decline in hook up rates over subsequent semesters. Findings indicate that gender is significantly related to hooking up in the logistic regression analysis, with women reporting fewer hook ups; however, gender was not significantly related to hooking up in the survival analysis, indicating that there are no differences in the pattern across cohorts. Implications for promoting the sexual health of college students and future research are discussed.

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Morningness–eveningness and intrasexual competition in men

Davide Ponzi et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 228–231

Abstract:
A growing body of research points to a relationship between chronotype and socio-sexuality, especially in men, such that evening-types appear both to be more short-term mating oriented than morning-types and to possess more personality traits and other behavioral characteristics that facilitate sexual promiscuity. This study contributes to and expands this body of research by investigating the relationship between chronotype and intra-sexual competition. We tested the prediction that, in a subject population of young heterosexual men, evening-types would score higher on intra-sexual competition in the context of mating. The results were consistent with our prediction and showed that the association between chronotype and intra-sexual competitiveness is not the by-product of correlations with personality measures. Higher intra-sexual competitiveness in men who are evening-types may contribute to their higher short-term mating success reported by previous studies. Evolutionary hypotheses testing predictions derived from sexual selection or life history theory can make a significant contribution to our understanding of the functional significance of inter-individual variation in chronotype and its associated psychological and behavioral traits.

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Mate choice, mate preference, and biological markets: The relationship between partner choice and health preference is modulated by women’s own attractiveness

Joanna Wincenciak et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although much of the research on human mate preference assumes that mate preference and partner choice will be related to some extent, evidence for correlations between mate preference and mate choice is mixed. Inspired by biological market theories of mate choice, which propose that individuals with greater market value will be better placed to translate their preference into choice, we investigated whether participants’ own attractiveness modulated the relationship between their preference and choice. Multilevel modeling showed that experimentally assessed preferences for healthy-looking other-sex faces predicted third-party ratings of partner’s facial health better among women whose faces were rated as more attractive by third parties. This pattern of results was not seen for men. These results suggest that the relationship between mate preference and mate choice may be more complex than was assumed in previous research, at least among women. Our results also highlight the utility of biological market theories for understanding the links between mate preference and partner choice.

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Mating strategy, disgust, and food neophobia

Laith Al-Shawaf et al.
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 30–35

Abstract:
Food neophobia and disgust are commonly thought to be linked, but this hypothesis is typically implicitly assumed rather than directly tested. Evidence for the connection has been based on conceptually and empirically unsound measures of disgust, unpublished research, and indirect findings. This study (N = 283) provides the first direct evidence of a relationship between trait-level food neophobia and trait-level pathogen disgust. Unexpectedly, we also found that food neophobia varies as a function of sexual disgust and is linked to mating strategy. Using an evolutionary framework, we propose a novel hypothesis that may account for these previously undiscovered findings: the food neophilia as mating display hypothesis. Our discussion centers on future research directions for discriminatively testing this novel hypothesis.

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More Lessons from the Hadza about Men’s Work

Kristen Hawkes, James O’Connell & Nicholas Blurton Jones
Human Nature, December 2014, Pages 596-619

Abstract:
Unlike other primate males, men invest substantial effort in producing food that is consumed by others. The Hunting Hypothesis proposes this pattern evolved in early Homo when ancestral mothers began relying on their mates’ hunting to provision dependent offspring. Evidence for this idea comes from hunter-gatherer ethnography, but data we collected in the 1980s among East African Hadza do not support it. There, men targeted big game to the near exclusion of other prey even though they were rarely successful and most of the meat went to others, at significant opportunity cost to their own families. Based on Hadza data collected more recently, Wood and Marlowe contest our position, affirming the standard view of men’s foraging as family provisioning. Here we compare the two studies, identify similarities, and show that emphasis on big game results in collective benefits that would not be supplied if men foraged mainly to provision their own households. Male status competition remains a likely explanation for Hadza focus on big game, with implications for hypotheses about the deeper past.

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Women’s pathogen disgust predicting preference for facial masculinity may be specific to age and study design

Anthony Lee & Brendan Zietsch
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Facial masculinity in men is thought to be an indicator of good health. Consistent with this idea, previous research has found a positive association between pathogen avoidance (disgust sensitivity) and preference for facial masculinity. However, previous studies are solely based on young adult participants and targets, using forced-choice preference measures; this begs the question whether the findings generalise to other adult age groups or other preference measures. We address this by conducting three studies assessing facial masculinity preferences of women of a wider age range rating target face of a wider age range. In Studies 1 and 2, 447 and 433 women respectively made forced choices between two identical faces that were manipulated on masculinity/femininity. In Study 1, face stimuli were manipulated on sexual dimorphism using age-matched templates, while in Study 2 young face stimuli were manipulated with older templates and older face stimuli were manipulated using young templates. In the full sample for Study 1, no association was found between women’s pathogen disgust and masculinity preference, but when limiting the sample to younger women rating younger faces we replicated previous findings of significant association between pathogen disgust and preference for facial masculinity. Results for Study 2 found no effect of pathogen disgust sensitivity on facial masculinity preferences regardless of participant and stimuli age. In Study 3, the facial masculinity preferences of 386 women were revealed through their attractiveness ratings of natural (unmanipulated) faces. Here, we did not find a significant association of pathogen disgust on facial masculinity preferences, regardless of participant and stimuli age. These results call into question the robustness of the link between women’s pathogen avoidance and facial masculinity preference, and raise questions as to why the effect is specific to younger adults and the forced-choice preference measure.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 9, 2015

Police academy

The Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Citizens’ Complaints Against the Police: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Barak Ariel, William Farrar & Alex Sutherland
Journal of Quantitative Criminology, forthcoming

Objective: Police use-of-force continues to be a major source of international concern, inviting interest from academics and practitioners alike. Whether justified or unnecessary/excessive, the exercise of power by the police can potentially tarnish their relationship with the community. Police misconduct can translate into complaints against the police, which carry large economic and social costs. The question we try to answer is: do body-worn-cameras reduce the prevalence of use-of-force and/or citizens’ complaints against the police?

Methods: We empirically tested the use of body-worn-cameras by measuring the effect of videotaping police–public encounters on incidents of police use-of-force and complaints, in randomized-controlled settings. Over 12 months, we randomly-assigned officers to “experimental-shifts” during which they were equipped with body-worn HD cameras that recorded all contacts with the public and to “control-shifts” without the cameras (n = 988). We nominally defined use-of-force, both unnecessary/excessive and reasonable, as a non-desirable response in police–public encounters. We estimate the causal effect of the use of body-worn-videos on the two outcome variables using both between-group differences using a Poisson regression model as well as before-after estimates using interrupted time-series analyses.

Results: We found that the likelihood of force being used in control conditions were roughly twice those in experimental conditions. Similarly, a pre/post analysis of use-of-force and complaints data also support this result: the number of complaints filed against officers dropped from 0.7 complaints per 1,000 contacts to 0.07 per 1,000 contacts. We discuss the findings in terms of theory, research methods, policy and future avenues of research on body-worn-videos.

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The Impact of Gun Ownership Rates on Crime Rates: A Methodological Review of the Evidence

Gary Kleck
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2015, Pages 40–48

Purpose: This paper reviews 41 English-language studies that tested the hypothesis that higher gun prevalence levels cause higher crime rates, especially higher homicide rates.

Methods: Each study was assessed as to whether it solved or reduced each of three critical methodological problems: (1) whether a validated measure of gun prevalence was used, (2) whether the authors controlled for more than a handful of possible confounding variables, and (3) whether the researchers used suitable causal order procedures to deal with the possibility of crime rates affecting gun rates, instead of the reverse.

Results: It was found that most studies did not solve any of these problems, and that research that did a better job of addressing these problems was less likely to support the more-guns-cause-more-crime hypothesis. Indeed, none of the studies that solved all three problems supported the hypothesis.

Conclusions: Technically weak research mostly supports the hypothesis, while strong research does not. It must be tentatively concluded that higher gun ownership rates do not cause higher crime rates, including homicide rates.

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Summer jobs reduce violence among disadvantaged youth

Sara Heller
Science, 5 December 2014, Pages 1219-1223

Abstract:
Every day, acts of violence injure more than 6000 people in the United States. Despite decades of social science arguing that joblessness among disadvantaged youth is a key cause of violent offending, programs to remedy youth unemployment do not consistently reduce delinquency. This study tests whether summer jobs, which shift focus from remediation to prevention, can reduce crime. In a randomized controlled trial among 1634 disadvantaged high school youth in Chicago, assignment to a summer jobs program decreases violence by 43% over 16 months (3.95 fewer violent-crime arrests per 100 youth). The decline occurs largely after the 8-week intervention ends. The results suggest the promise of using low-cost, well-targeted programs to generate meaningful behavioral change, even with a problem as complex as youth violence.

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Does What Police Do at Hot Spots Matter? The Philadelphia Policing Tactics Experiment

Elizabeth Groff et al.
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policing tactics that are proactive, focused on small places or groups of people in small places, and tailor specific solutions to problems using careful analysis of local conditions seem to be effective at reducing violent crime. But which tactics are most effective when applied at hot spots remains unknown. This article documents the design and implementation of a randomized controlled field experiment to test three policing tactics applied to small, high-crime places: 1) foot patrol, 2) problem-oriented policing, and 3) offender-focused policing. A total of 81 experimental places were identified from the highest violent crime areas in Philadelphia (27 areas were judged amenable to each policing tactic). Within each group of 27 areas, 20 places were randomly assigned to receive treatment and 7 places acted as controls. Offender-focused sites experienced a 42 percent reduction in all violent crime and a 50 percent reduction in violent felonies compared with their control places. Problem-oriented policing and foot patrol did not significantly reduce violent crime or violent felonies. Potential explanations of these findings are discussed in the contexts of dosage, implementation, and hot spot stability over time.

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“It takes skills to take a car”: Perceptual and procedural expertise in carjacking

Volkan Topalli, Scott Jacques & Richard Wright
Aggression and Violent Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores the crucial role played by criminal expertise in carjacking, a violent street offense that exhibits characteristics of both car theft and robbery. Specifically, it describes the manner in which an offender’s perceptual skills (aimed at discerning the suitability of a carjacking target) and procedural skills (aimed at enacting the carjacking offense itself) relate to one another in a process emanating from the interacting characteristics of the vehicle, driver, environment, and offender. The core assumption of this perspective is that carjacking requires considerable skill to identify an appropriate offense opportunity and carry out the same. This contradicts a prevailing notion within the criminological literature that offending is a largely unskilled enterprise. Drawing on ethnographic data both original and in previous research we demonstrate this not to be the case.

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Can Incarcerated Felons Be (Re)integrated into the Political System? Results from a Field Experiment

Alan Gerber et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does America's high rate of incarceration shape political participation? Few studies have examined the direct effects of incarceration on patterns of political engagement. Answering this question is particularly relevant for the 93% of formerly incarcerated individuals who are eligible to vote. Drawing on new administrative data from Connecticut, we present evidence from a field experiment showing that a simple informational outreach campaign to released felons can recover a large proportion of the reduction in participation observed following incarceration. The treatment effect estimates imply that efforts to reintegrate released felons into the political process can substantially reduce the participatory consequences of incarceration.

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Does Economic Freedom Really Kill? On the Association between ‘Neoliberal’ Policies and Homicide Rates

Christian Bjørnskov
European Journal of Political Economy, March 2015, Pages 207–219

Abstract:
This paper investigates recent claims that ‘neoliberal’ policies and reforms are associated with higher homicide rates and other types of crime. Using a panel of the 50 US states observed between 1981 and 2011 and the Economic Freedom Index of the Fraser Institute, results show that there is no direct association between changes in economic policies as measured by this index and homicide rates. The results nevertheless show that other non-violent types of crime decrease with spending or tax policy.

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Sexually Coercive Behavior Following Childhood Maltreatment

Mats Forsman et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 149-156

Abstract:
Child maltreatment is associated with adult sexually coercive behavior. The association may be causal or confounders that increase the risk of both childhood victimization and sexually coercive behavior might explain the observed links. We examined if childhood maltreatment was related to sexual coercion independently of familial (genetic or common family environment) risk factors, thereby addressing potential causality. Participants were 6,255 18 to 33-year-old twins from the Finnish population-based study “Genetics of Sex and Aggression” who responded to self-report questionnaires of child maltreatment and sexually coercive behavior. We used generalized estimating equations to elucidate risk of sexual coercion in maltreated compared to unrelated, non-maltreated individuals. To adjust for unmeasured familial factors, we used the co-twin control method and compared sexual coercion risk within maltreatment-discordant twin pairs. Further, we examined possible differential effects of maltreatment subtypes and compared mean differences in maltreatment summary scores between sexually coercive individuals and controls. Sexual coercion was moderately more common among individuals maltreated as children versus unrelated controls (38.3 vs. 22.8 %; age- and gender-adjusted odds ratio, aOR = 2.31, 95 % CI 1.75–3.05) and the risk increase remained similar within maltreatment-discordant twins (OR = 2.82, 95 % CI 1.42–5.61). Moreover, different maltreatment subtypes predicted sexual coercion equally well and effect sizes remained similar within discordant twin pairs. We conclude that associations between child maltreatment and sexual coercion are largely independent of shared familial confounds, consistent with a causal inference. Importantly, detection and targeted interventions for maltreated children should remain a priority to reduce societal sexually coercive behavior.

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Perceptions of Police Practice, Cynicism of Police Performance, and Persistent Neighborhood Violence: An Intersecting Relationship

Nicholas Corsaro, James Frank & Murat Ozer
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2015, Pages 1–11

Purpose: A growing literature indicates that legal cynicism at the neighborhood level corresponds with retaliatory homicides and persistent homicide rates, net of controls. However, no study to date has examined: a) how cynicism of police performance might be influenced by specific experiences with and perceptions of the police, and b) whether neighborhood cynicism of police performance is associated with violent crime beyond homicides.

Method: This study analyzed citizen and neighborhood data from Cincinnati, Ohio in the late 1990s - a social setting that had antagonistic police-community relationships.

Results: The results revealed that perceived unjust policing was the strongest individual level correlate of cynicism of police services, and that aggregate levels of cynicism predicted both homicides and overall violence above and beyond social disorganization as well as previous levels of violence.

Conclusion: We speak to the importance of these findings in terms of identifying which police-community factors seemingly have the greatest likelihood to facilitate the association between cynicism and persistent neighborhood violence.

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Group Differences in Delinquency: What Is There to Explain?

Richard Felson & Derek Kreager
Race and Justice, January 2015, Pages 58-87

Abstract:
Race and ethnic difference in delinquency are examined using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. We argue that crime theories that attempt to explain race and ethnic differences imply consistent effects for different offenses and common mediating processes. Analyses suggest some degree of group consistency in delinquent behaviors for Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans, and some Asian groups, but not for African Americans. Black youth have higher rates of violent offenses than White youth, lower rates of substance use, and similar rates of property offending. Some variables are consistent mediators while others are not. Crime theories can account for the low rates of delinquency among Asian Americans while theories of violence and substance use are needed to understand differences between Black and White youth. The findings are inconsistent with the idea that group differences among youth are due to the socioeconomic status of their families or neighborhoods. The race patterns are also inconsistent with the stereotype of high crime rates in Black communities.

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Impact of California firearms sales laws and dealer regulations on the illegal diversion of guns

Glenn Pierce, Anthony Braga & Garen Wintemute
Injury Prevention, forthcoming

Objective: The available evidence suggests that more restrictive state firearm sales laws can reduce criminal access to guns. California has firearm-related laws that are more stringent than many other states and regulates its retail firearms dealers to a unique degree. This research seeks to examine the effect of more restrictive state gun laws and regulations on the illegal diversion of guns to criminals.

Design: Survival analyses are used to determine whether state firearm sales laws, particularly California's legal context and regulatory regime, impact the distribution of time-to-crime of recovered firearms in that state relative to other US states.

Subjects: 225 392 traced firearms, where the first retail purchasers and the gun possessors were different individuals, recovered by law enforcement agencies between 2003 and 2006.

Results: The increased stringency of state-level firearms laws and regulations leads to consistently older firearms being recovered. California was associated with the oldest recovered crime guns compared with guns associated with other states. These patterns persisted regardless of whether firearms were first purchased within the recovery state or in another state.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that more restrictive gun sales laws and gun dealer regulations do make it more difficult for criminals to acquire new guns first purchased at retail outlets.

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A Simple Model of Optimal Deterrence and Incapacitation

Steven Shavell
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2015, Pages 13–19

Abstract:
The deterrence of crime and its reduction through incapacitation are studied in a simple multiperiod model of crime and law enforcement. Optimal imprisonment sanctions and the optimal probability of sanctions are determined. A point of emphasis is that the incapacitation of individuals is often socially desirable even when they are potentially deterrable. The reason is that successful deterrence may require a relatively high probability of sanctions and thus a relatively high enforcement expense. In contrast, incapacitation may yield benefits no matter how low the probability of sanctions is — implying that incapacitation may be superior to deterrence.

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Relationships Between Denial, Risk, and Recidivism in Sexual Offenders

Leigh Harkins et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 157-166

Abstract:
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between denial, static risk, and sexual recidivism for offenders with different types of current sexual offense. Denial was defined as failure to accept responsibility for the current offense and was assessed using the Offender Assessment System. Static risk level (measured using a revised version of the Risk Matrix 2000) was examined as a moderator in the relationship between denial and sexual and violent recidivism. In the full sample (N = 6,891), lower levels of sexual recidivism were found for those who denied responsibility for their offense, independent of static risk in a Cox regression analysis. Higher levels of violent recidivism among those denying responsibility were not significant after controlling for static risk using Cox regression. For specific offender types, denial of responsibility was not significantly associated with sexual or violent recidivism. In conclusion, the presumption that denial represents increased risk, which is common in much of the decision making surrounding sex offenders, should be reconsidered. Instead, important decisions regarding sentencing, treatment, and release decisions should be based on empirically supported factors.

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Trends in Conflict: Uniform Crime Reports, the National Crime Victimization Surveys, and the Lethality of Violent Crime

Douglas Eckberg
Homicide Studies, February 2015, Pages 58-87

Abstract:
Previous research has found reduced mortality from aggravated assaults, attributed to medical care improvements. However, aggravated assault has limitations as a longitudinal measure of injuries from violence. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) can address this by providing estimates of serious injuries from criminal victimization. Their lethality trend is not compatible with the previous finding across 1973 through 1999, remaining stable rather than falling. After 1999, both Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)-and NCVS-based measures indicate increases in lethality. The trend differences raise serious problems of data choice for the researcher.

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Reducing Sexual Victimization among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice

Lorelei Simpson Rowe, Ernest Jouriles & Renee McDonald
Behavior Therapy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite extensive efforts to develop and implement programs to prevent sexual violence, few programs have empirically-demonstrated efficacy. The primary exceptions are programs that emphasize risk-reduction skills; yet even these programs are not consistently effective. This study seeks to add to the literature by evaluating the effects of My Voice, My Choice (MVMC), a 90-minute, assertive resistance training program that emphasizes skill practice in an immersive virtual environment (IVE). We hypothesized that MVMC would reduce male-to-female sexual violence victimization among adolescent girls over a 3-month follow-up period. We also examined whether these results would generalize to other forms of male-to-female relationship violence and to girls’ psychological distress. Eighty-three female students from an urban public high school were randomized to MVMC (n = 47) or to a wait-list control condition (n = 36); 78 provided data over the 3-month follow-up period. Participants assigned to MVMC were less likely than control participants to report sexual victimization during the follow-up period. Our results also suggest that MVMC reduced risk for psychological victimization and for psychological distress among participants with greater prior victimization at baseline. The promising results of this pilot trial suggest that MVMC may help girls evade male-to-female relationship violence.

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A Longitudinal Study of Risk Factors for Repeated Sexual Coercion and Assault in U.S. College Men

Heidi Zinzow & Martie Thompson
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 213-222

Abstract:
The purpose of the current study was to understand the prevalence, severity, and predictors of repeated sexual coercion and assault (SCA) in a non-criminal sample. Participants were 795 college men who were surveyed at the end of each of their 4 years in college. Participants completed self-report inventories once per year for 4 years. Measures assessed demographics, adverse childhood experiences, offense characteristics, antisocial personality characteristics, attitudes towards women and forced sex, perceived social norms, sexual behavior, and substance use. Results indicated that, among the 238 participants who reported at least once incident of SCA, 68 % engaged in repeated SCA, with repeat offenders engaging in aggressive acts of higher severity that began at an earlier age. A multinomial logistic regression model compared single and repeat offenders to non-perpetrators. Both single and repeat offenders endorsed more risky behaviors and sexually aggressive beliefs than non-perpetrators. Single offenders were higher on childhood adversity than non-perpetrators and repeat offenders were higher on antisocial personality traits than non-perpetrators. A second multivariate model compared single offenders to repeat offenders. Repeat offenders scored higher than single offenders on risky behaviors, sexually aggressive beliefs, and antisocial traits. Findings highlight the high prevalence of repeated SCA in young adults, the need for interventions that decrease rape supportive attitudes and risky substance use, and the importance of expanding models of sexual recidivism to include multiple risk factors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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