Blog

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shapely

How do I look? Focusing attention on the outside body reduces responsiveness to internal signals in food intake

Evelien van de Veer, Erica van Herpen & Hans van Trijp
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2015, Pages 207–213

Abstract:
The current study investigates the relationship between focusing on body appearance and the ability to adjust food consumption according to feelings of satiety. Based on a resource perspective, we propose that focusing on outward appearance negatively affects people’s ability to respond to satiety signals. Specifically, we argue that focusing on appearance takes up attentional resources required for sensing and relying on physiological satiety cues in food consumption. The findings of two experiments support this and show that focusing on appearance through a short mirror exposure (Experiment 1) or by looking at advertisements of models (Experiment 2) interferes with people’s ability to compensate for previous consumption (Experiment 1) and leads them to rely less on satiety signals in their eating behavior (Experiment 2). These findings suggest that an emphasis on outer body appearance reduces people’s reliance on satiety cues.

----------------------

Body Size, Skills, and Income: Evidence From 150,000 Teenage Siblings

Petter Lundborg, Paul Nystedt & Dan-Olof Rooth
Demography, October 2014, Pages 1573-1596

Abstract:
We provide new evidence on the long-run labor market penalty of teenage overweight and obesity using unique and large-scale data on 150,000 male siblings from the Swedish military enlistment. Our empirical analysis provides four important results. First, we provide the first evidence of a large adult male labor market penalty for being overweight or obese as a teenager. Second, we replicate this result using data from the United States and the United Kingdom. Third, we note a strikingly strong within-family relationship between body size and cognitive skills/noncognitive skills. Fourth, a large part of the estimated body-size penalty reflects lower skill acquisition among overweight and obese teenagers. Taken together, these results reinforce the importance of policy combating early-life obesity in order to reduce healthcare expenditures as well as poverty and inequalities later in life.

----------------------

Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial

Lydia Bazzano et al.
Annals of Internal Medicine, 2 September 2014, Pages 309-318

Objective: To examine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors.

Participants: 148 men and women without clinical cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Intervention: A low-carbohydrate (<40 g/d) or low-fat (<30% of daily energy intake from total fat [<7% saturated fat]) diet. Both groups received dietary counseling at regular intervals throughout the trial.

Results: Sixty participants (82%) in the low-fat group and 59 (79%) in the low-carbohydrate group completed the intervention. At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight (mean difference in change, −3.5 kg [95% CI, −5.6 to −1.4 kg]; P = 0.002), fat mass (mean difference in change, −1.5% [CI, −2.6% to −0.4%]; P = 0.011), ratio of total–high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (mean difference in change, −0.44 [CI, −0.71 to −0.16]; P = 0.002), and triglyceride level (mean difference in change, −0.16 mmol/L [−14.1 mg/dL] [CI, −0.31 to −0.01 mmol/L {−27.4 to −0.8 mg/dL}]; P = 0.038) and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level (mean difference in change, 0.18 mmol/L [7.0 mg/dL] [CI, 0.08 to 0.28 mmol/L {3.0 to 11.0 mg/dL}]; P < 0.001) than those on the low-fat diet.

Conclusion: The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

----------------------

Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys

Cindy Leung et al.
American Journal of Public Health, December 2014, Pages 2425-2431

Objectives: We tested whether leukocyte telomere length maintenance, which underlies healthy cellular aging, provides a link between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and the risk of cardiometabolic disease.

Methods: We examined cross-sectional associations between the consumption of SSBs, diet soda, and fruit juice and telomere length in a nationally representative sample of healthy adults. The study population included 5309 US adults, aged 20 to 65 years, with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, from the 1999 to 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Leukocyte telomere length was assayed from DNA specimens. Diet was assessed using 24-hour dietary recalls. Associations were examined using multivariate linear regression for the outcome of log-transformed telomere length.

Results: After adjustment for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, sugar-sweetened soda consumption was associated with shorter telomeres (b = –0.010; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.020, −0.001; P = .04). Consumption of 100% fruit juice was marginally associated with longer telomeres (b = 0.016; 95% CI = −0.000, 0.033; P = .05). No significant associations were observed between consumption of diet sodas or noncarbonated SSBs and telomere length.

Conclusions: Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging.

----------------------

The Impact of Obesity on Consumer Bankruptcy

Mouhcine Guettabi & Abdul Munasib
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the last two decades, both bankruptcy and obesity rates in the U.S. have seen a steady rise. As obesity is one of the leading causes of medical and morbidity related economic costs, its influence on personal bankruptcy is analyzed in this study. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, we employ a duration model to investigate the relative importance of obesity on the timing of bankruptcy. Even after accounting for possible endogeneity of BMI and controlling for a wide variety of individual and aggregate-level confounding factors, being obese puts one at a greater risk of filing for bankruptcy.

----------------------

Snack Purchasing Is Healthier When the Cognitive Demands of Choice Are Reduced: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Julia Allan, Marie Johnston & Neil Campbell
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: Individuals with inefficient executive (higher level cognitive) function have a reduced ability to resist dietary temptation. The present study aimed to design and test a theory-based point-of-purchase intervention for coffee shops that reduced the calorie content of customers’ purchases by reducing the need for executive function (EF) at the moment of choice.

Methods: Key facets of EF were identified by a multidisciplinary group and used to develop a point-of-purchase intervention (signage). This intervention was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in a public coffee shop on consumer purchases of >20,000 snacks and drinks over 12 weeks. A sample of customers (n = 128) was recruited to complete an embedded cross-sectional study measuring EF strength, dietary intentions, typical purchases, and purchases made after exposure to the intervention.

Results: The proportion of snack purchases that were high in calorie reduced significantly (t(10) = 2.34, p = .04) in intervention weeks relative to control. High calorie drink purchases were also lower in intervention than control weeks, however, this difference was not significant (t(10) = 1.56, p = .15). On average, customers purchased items containing 66 calories < usual after exposure to the intervention. The magnitude of the intervention’s positive effect on customer behavior increased as EF strength decreased (β = .24, p = .03).

Conclusions: The calorie content of cafe purchases can be lowered by reducing the cognitive demands of healthy food choice at the moment of purchase, especially in those with poor EF. Environmental changes like these have the potential to help achieve population weight control.

----------------------

'Globesity'? The Effects of Globalization on Obesity and Caloric Intake

Joan Costa-Font & Núria Mas
London School of Economics Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
This study considers the effects of globalization, in its economic and social dimensions, on obesity and caloric intake. In assessing these effects using longitudinal analysis, this study adopts an extensive list of controls to account for compositional changes and effects, as well as different specifications. The results suggest a robust association between globalization and both obesity and caloric intake. A one standard deviation increase in globalization is associated with a 20 percent increase in obese population and a 4 percent rise in calorie intake. The effect remains statistically significant even with an instrument variable strategy, a lagged structure, and corrections for panel standard errors. The primary driver is social globalization, and specifically the effects of changes in information flows and social proximity. A one standard deviation increase in social globalization increased the percentage of obese population by 14.5 percent and the consumption of calories by 2.8 percent, respectively.

----------------------

Community socio economic deprivation and obesity trajectories in children using electronic health records

Claudia Nau et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objectives: Longitudinal studies of the role of community context in childhood obesity are lacking. The objective of this study was to examine associations of community socio economic deprivation (CSD) with trajectories of change in body mass index (BMI) in childhood and adolescence.

Methods: Data came from electronic health records on 163,473 children aged 3-18 residing in 1,288 communities in Pennsylvania whose weight and height were measured longitudinally. CSD at the year of birth was measured using six US Census variables and modeled in quartiles. Trajectories of BMI within CSD quartiles were estimated using random effects growth-curve models accounting for differences by age, sex, and race/ethnicity as well as correcting for non-constant residual variance across age groups.

Results: CSD was associated with higher BMI at average age (10.7 years) and with more rapid growth of BMI over time. Children born in communities with greater CSD had steeper increases of BMI at younger ages. Those born into the poorest communities displayed sustained accelerated BMI growth. CSD remained associated with BMI trajectories after adjustment for a measure of household socio economic deprivation.

Conclusions: Higher CSD may be associated with more obesogenic growth trajectories in early life. Findings suggest that individual-level interventions that ignore the effect of community context on obesity-related behaviors may be less efficient.

----------------------

When zero is greater than one: Consumer misinterpretations of nutrition labels

Dan Graham & Gina Mohr
Health Psychology, December 2014, Pages 1579-1587

Objective: Front-of-package (FOP) nutrition labels are increasingly used by food manufacturers. A call to regulate the content and format of these labels resulted in recommendations by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for standardized FOP labels that clearly communicate packaged foods’ healthfulness. It is currently unclear how consumers would interpret and use these proposed labels. This research addresses psychological factors affecting the efficacy of FOP label use. It was hypothesized that IOM’s proposed 0- to 3-point rating scale would produce the zero-comparison effect, leading to more favorable evaluations than are warranted for the least healthful products (i.e., those earning zero nutritional points).

Methods: In two studies (Study 1, n = 68; Study 2, n = 101), participants evaluated products containing FOP labels on the basis of IOM recommendations. Primary outcomes were perceived product healthfulness and purchase intentions.

Results: Study 1 demonstrated that less-healthful products were rated by study participants to be equally healthful as more-healthful products. The relationship between FOP rating and purchase intentions was mediated by perceived healthfulness. Biases in product healthfulness ratings were exacerbated for consumers with higher (vs. lower) health concern. Study 2 demonstrated that by changing the rating scale from 0–3 to 1–4, consumers avoid the zero-comparison effect and accurately evaluate products’ healthfulness.

Conclusions: This research has implications for theory and policy in the domains of nutrition labeling and consumer health. Specifically, FOP labels can help consumers identify healthful options, but products receiving zero nutritional points may be misidentified as healthful; a simple label modification can prevent this confusion.

----------------------

An Apple a Day Brings More Apples Your Way: Healthy Samples Prime Healthier Choices

Aner Tal & Brian Wansink
Psychology & Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
Samples may guide consumer choice towards consistent products, resulting in a shopping basket that has a greater proportion of products similar to the sample. Specifically, healthy (unhealthy) samples in a grocery setting may lead to healthier (less healthy) shopping baskets. We demonstrate this in lab (study 1) and field (studies 2) settings. The effect of sample occurs for both related healthy products (study 1) and healthy/unhealthy choices that are less closely related (study 2). These findings suggest consumers may display consistent shopping behavior even with product choices that are situationally determined rather than being their own, such that even externally imposed product “choices,” rather than just observation of one’s own choice, can lead to consistent subsequent choices. 

----------------------

Benefits of adding small financial incentives or optional group meetings to a web-based statewide obesity initiative

Tricia Leahey et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: To examine whether adding either small, variable financial incentives or optional group sessions improves weight losses in a community-based, Internet behavioral program.

Methods: Participants (N = 268) from Shape Up Rhode Island 2012, a 3-month Web-based community wellness initiative, were randomized to: Shape Up+Internet behavioral program (SI), Shape Up+Internet program+incentives (SII), or Shape Up+Internet program+group sessions (SIG).

Results: At the end of the 3-month program, SII achieved significantly greater weight losses than SI (SII: 6.4% [5.1-7.7]; SI: 4.2% [3.0-5.6]; P = 0.03); weight losses in SIG were not significantly different from the other two conditions (SIG: 5.8% [4.5-7.1], P's ≥ 0.10). However, at the 12-month no-treatment follow-up visit, both SII and SIG had greater weight losses than SI (SII: 3.1% [1.8-4.4]; SIG: 4.5% [3.2-5.8]; SI: 1.2% [−0.1-2.6]; P's ≤ 0.05). SII was the most cost-effective approach at both 3 (SII: $34/kg; SI: $34/kg; SIG: $87/kg) and 12 months (SII: $64/kg; SI: $140/kg; SIG: $113/kg).

Conclusions: Modest financial incentives enhance weight losses during a community campaign, and both incentives and optional group meetings improved overall weight loss outcomes during the follow-up period. However, the use of the financial incentives is the most cost-effective approach.

----------------------

Persistence in Body Mass Index in a Recent Cohort of US Children

Daniel Millimet & Rusty Tchernis
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
While childhood obesity has become a significant public health concern over the last few decades, and underweight children continue to be a concern, knowledge pertaining to the origins of or persistence in childhood anthropometric measures is incomplete. Here, we utilize several nonparametric metrics to assess the evolution of weight and body mass index (BMI) across the entire distribution during early childhood. We find that movements within the distribution of weight – both upward and downward – are quite high prior to primary school and then decline noticeably. For BMI, we find that movements within the distribution – both upward and downward – are highest at the start of kindergarten and at the start of middle school. However, there are important sources of heterogeneity, including race, gender, and age that should prove insightful to researchers and policymakers. For instance, comparing males versus females who are initially in the bottom quartile of the distribution of BMI, we find that males have a higher probability of moving up at least ten percentile points between kindergarten and eighth grade (53% versus 50%). Comparisons among racial groups indicate that whites who are initially in the top quartile of the distribution of BMI have a higher probability of moving down at least ten percentile points between kindergarten and eighth grade than blacks and Hispanics (46% versus 37% and 40%, respectively).

----------------------

Ecological Momentary Assessment of Urban Adolescents’ Technology Use and Cravings for Unhealthy Snacks and Drinks: Differences by Ethnicity and Sex

Nicholas Borgogna et al.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, forthcoming

Objective: We examined whether momentary associations between four technology types (ie, television, video games, computer messaging, and phone messaging) and cravings for unhealthy snack foods and sweetened drinks were moderated by youths’ sex, ethnicity, body mass index, and age.

Methods: Urban adolescents (N=158) aged 14 to 17 years provided momentary information about their technology use and food cravings during the course of 1 week and completed survey reports of their personal characteristics. We used multilevel modeling to determine momentary associations and interactions.

Results: Non-Hispanic adolescents showed stronger associations between television exposure and cravings for sweet snacks, salty snacks, and sweetened drinks. Being Hispanic was associated with stronger associations between phone messaging and cravings for sweet snacks, salty snacks, and sweetened drinks. Males showed stronger associations between video game use and salty snack cravings.

Conclusions: As the public health field continues to monitor the effects of technology use on adolescents’ eating and overall health, it will be important to determine the extent to which these groups are differentially affected by different forms of technology.

----------------------

Awareness of social influence on food intake. An analysis of two experimental studies

Eric Robinson & Matt Field
Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is consistent evidence that the amount of food we consume can be influenced by the eating behaviour of other people. Some previous experimental studies reported that consumers are unaware of this influence on their behaviour. The present research tested whether people may be more aware of social influence on their eating than previously assumed. In two studies, participants (total n = 160) were exposed to information about the amount of snack food other people had been eating shortly before being served the same snack food and eating as much as they liked. After this, participants responded to questions regarding whether they thought their food intake had been socially influenced, and reported the reasons why they believed they had or had not been influenced. Of the 160 participants, 34% reported that they had been influenced, 10% were unsure and 56% reported they had not been influenced. Crucially, participants' reports of social influence appeared to be accurate; the food intake of participants reporting social influence was significantly affected by the amount of food other people had been eating, whereas the food intake of participants denying social influence was unaffected. Individuals may be more aware of the effect that social influence has on their eating behaviour than previously assumed. Further work is needed to identify the factors which determine whether people are susceptible to social influence on eating behaviour.

----------------------

Quality and Cost of Student Lunches Brought From Home

Michelle Caruso & Karen Cullen
JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objectives: To examine the quality and cost of lunches brought from home by elementary and intermediate school students.

Design, Setting, and Participants: An observational study was conducted in 12 schools (8 elementary and 4 intermediate) in one Houston, Texas, area school district from October 6, 2011, to December 5, 2011. Participants included 242 elementary and 95 intermediate school students who brought lunches from home.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Foods brought and amounts eaten were recorded along with student grade level and sex. Nutrient and food group content were calculated and compared with current National School Lunch Program (NSLP) guidelines. Per-serving prices for each item were collected from 3 grocery stores in the study area and averaged.

Results: Compared with the NSLP guidelines, lunches brought from home contained more sodium (1110 vs ≤640 mg for elementary and 1003 vs ≤710 mg for intermediate students) and fewer servings of fruits (0.33 cup for elementary and 0.29 cup for intermediate students vs 0.50 cup per the NSLP guidelines), vegetables (0.07 cup for elementary and 0.11 cup for intermediate students vs 0.75 cup per the NSLP guidelines), whole grains (0.22-oz equivalent for elementary and 0.31-oz equivalent for intermediate students vs 0.50-oz minimum per the NLSP guidelines), and fluid milk (0.08 cup for elementary and 0.02 cup for intermediate students vs 1 cup per the NSLP guidelines). About 90% of lunches from home contained desserts, snack chips, and sweetened beverages, which are not permitted in reimbursable school meals. The cost of lunches from home averaged $1.93 for elementary and $1.76 for intermediate students. Students from lower-income intermediate schools brought significantly higher-priced ($1.94) lunches than did students from middle-income schools ($1.63).

Conclusions and Relevance: Lunches brought from home compared unfavorably with current NSLP guidelines. Strategies are needed to improve the nutritional quality of lunches brought from home.

----------------------

An Evaluation of Government and Industry Proposed Restrictions on Television Advertising of Breakfast Cereals to Children

Joshua Berning, Rui Huang & Adam Rabinowitz
Journal of Consumer Policy, December 2014, Pages 507-525

Abstract:
In the United States, both industry and the federal government have worked to establish voluntary guidelines for how firms market food to children and to establish a threshold for the nutritional quality of foods marketed to children. The authors evaluate three US guidelines that deal with television advertising of breakfast cereals, which is both heavily advertised and a common meal item for children. They find that the majority of cereals advertised primarily to children from 2006 to 2008 do not meet any of the current and proposed self-regulatory nutrition guidelines, and that this is generally due to excessive sugar content. Further, children and adolescents are exposed to more advertising for products that do not meet the nutritional guidelines. We evaluate the extent to which each of the guidelines impacts advertising of cereals that are most viewed by children and purchased by households with children. The results provide insight for policy makers concerned with limiting the extent to which children see television advertising and ultimately consume unhealthy breakfast cereals.

----------------------

Blue lighting decreases the amount of food consumed in men, but not in women

Sungeun Cho et al.
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 111–117

Abstract:
Previous research has demonstrated that colors of lighting can modulate participants' motivation to consume the food placed under the lighting. This study was designed to determine whether the colors of lighting can affect the amount of food consumed, in addition to sensory perception of the food. The influence of lighting color was also compared between men and women. One-hundred twelve participants (62 men and 50 women) were asked to consume a breakfast meal (omelets and mini-pancakes) under one of three different lighting colors: white, yellow, and blue. During the test, hedonic impression of the food's appearance, willingness to eat, overall flavor intensity and overall impression of the food, and meal size (i.e., the amount of food consumed) were measured. Blue lighting decreased the hedonic impression of the food's appearance, but not the willingness to eat, compared to yellow and white lighting conditions. The blue lighting significantly decreased the amount consumed in men, but not in women, compared to yellow and white lighting conditions. Overall flavor intensity and overall impression of the food were not significantly different among the three lighting colors. In conclusion, this study provides empirical evidence that the color of lighting can modulate the meal size. In particular, blue lighting can decrease the amount of food eaten in men without reducing their acceptability of the food.

----------------------

Experiencing Weight Bias in an Unjust World: Impact on Exercise and Internalization

Rebecca Pearl & John Dovidio
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: This research explores the effects of belief in a just world on exercise and psychological well-being among individuals who have experienced weight bias.

Methods: In Study 1, 804 participants in an online study reported belief in a just world; exercise intentions, motivation, self-efficacy, and behavior; experiences with weight bias; and height/weight and self-perceived weight status. In Study 2, 237 participants with overweight and obesity were randomly assigned to read 1 of 2 passages (online) describing weight bias and discrimination as rare versus pervasive, and rated their perceptions of pervasiveness. Participants then read 1 of 3 randomly assigned vignettes that confirmed, challenged, or did not attempt to influence belief in a just world, and completed measures of exercise intentions and motivation, body dissatisfaction, weight bias internalization, and experiences with weight bias.

Results: Study 1 revealed that weaker belief in a just world was associated with lower ratings on all exercise variables among participants who reported experiencing weight bias. In Study 2, regression analyses revealed an interaction between ratings of perceived pervasiveness of weight discrimination and the Challenge condition for all outcome measures. The Challenge condition led to lower ratings of exercise intentions and motivation, and higher reports of body dissatisfaction and weight bias internalization, when weight bias was perceived to be more pervasive.

Conclusion: Threats to belief in a just world may lead to negative outcomes for health behaviors and psychological well-being among individuals who have experienced weight bias and perceive it to be pervasive.

----------------------

Toward a quantitative theory of food consumption choices and body weight

Sebastien Buttet & Veronika Dolar
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose a calibrated dynamic model of food consumption choices and body weight to study changes in daily caloric intake, weight, and the away-from-home share of calories consumed by adult men and women in the U.S. during the period between 1971 and 2006. Calibration reveals substantial preference heterogeneity between men and women. For example, utility losses stemming from weight gains are ten times greater for women compared to men. Counterfactual experiments show that changes in food prices and household income account for half of the increase in weight of adult men, but only a small fraction of women's weight. We argue that quantitative models of food consumption choices and body weight have a unique role to play in future research in the economics of obesity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, December 8, 2014

Schooling

How Does Peer Pressure Affect Educational Investments?

Leonardo Bursztyn & Robert Jensen
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
When effort is observable to peers, students may act to avoid social penalties by conforming to prevailing norms. To test for such behavior, we conducted an experiment in which 11th grade students were offered complimentary access to an online SAT preparatory course. Signup sheets differed randomly across students (within classrooms) only in the extent to which they emphasized that the decision to enroll would be kept private from classmates. In non-honors classes, the signup rate was 11 percentage points lower when decisions to enroll were public rather than private. Sign up in honors classes was unaffected. To further isolate the role of peer pressure we examine students taking the same number of honors classes. The timing of our visits to each school will find some of these students in one of their honors classes and others in one of their non-honors classes; which they happen to be sitting in when we arrive to conduct our experiment should be (and, empirically, is) uncorrelated with student characteristics. When offered the course in a non-honors class, these students were 25 percentage points less likely to sign up if the decision was public rather than private. But if they were offered the course in one of their honors classes, they were 25 percentage points more likely to sign up when the decision was public. Thus, students are highly responsive to who their peers are and what the prevailing norm is when they make decisions.

----------------------

The Demand for Effective Charter Schools

Christopher Walters
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
This paper uses a structural model of school choice and academic achievement to study the demand for charter schools in Boston, Massachusetts, with an emphasis on comparative advantage in school choice. I combine an optimal portfolio choice model of charter school application and attendance decisions with a selection correction approach that links students' school choices to the achievement gains generated by charter attendance. To estimate the model, I use instrumental variables derived from randomized entrance lotteries, together with a second set of instruments based on distance to charter schools. The estimates show that charter schools reduce achievement gaps between high- and low-achieving groups, so disadvantaged students and low-achievers have a comparative advantage in the charter sector. Higher-income students and students with high prior achievement have the strongest demand for charter schools, however, which implies that preferences for charters are inversely related to potential achievement gains. The structural estimates show a similar pattern of selection on unobservables. These findings imply that students do not sort into charter schools on the basis of comparative advantage in academic achievement; instead, disadvantaged students are less likely to apply to charter schools despite larger potential achievement gains. I use simulations of an equilibrium school choice model to quantify the consequences of this demand-side pattern for the effects of charter school expansion. The results suggest that in the absence of significant behavioral or institutional changes, the effects of charter expansion may be limited as much by demand as by supply.

----------------------

Unequal returns to academic credentials as a hidden dimension of race and class inequality in American college enrollments

Tina Wildhagen
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, December 2014, Pages 18–31

Abstract:
This study asks whether growing access to academic credentials for students from disadvantaged groups will lead to a decrease in the value of those credentials for these groups in college enrollments. Drawing on credentialing theory and the concept of adaptive social closure, I argue that as certain academic credentials become democratized (i.e., more accessible to disadvantaged students), their value decreases for students from disadvantaged race and class groups at the same time as it increases for students from privileged race and class groups. To test this idea, I use data from two cohorts of American high school graduates to estimate changes in the educational payoff of participation in the Advanced Placement (AP) program for students across racial and social class groups. The results show that at the same time as students from disadvantaged groups gained wider access to the AP program, its effect on their rates of college enrollment declined. During the same time period, the AP effect on the rates of college enrollment for students from privileged groups increased. I conclude that unequal returns to academic credentials for privileged and disadvantaged students represent a hidden dimension of race and class inequality in American college enrollments. Moreover, the results demonstrate the possibility that as access to an academic credential democratizes, as is the case with the AP program, privileged groups are better able to insulate themselves from the negative effects of credential inflation.

----------------------

Suspending Progress: Collateral Consequences of Exclusionary Punishment in Public Schools

Brea Perry & Edward Morris
American Sociological Review, December 2014, Pages 1067-1087

Abstract:
An influential literature in criminology has identified indirect “collateral consequences” of mass imprisonment. We extend this criminological perspective to the context of the U.S. education system, conceptualizing exclusionary discipline practices (i.e., out-of-school suspension) as a manifestation of intensified social control in schools. Similar to patterns of family and community decline associated with mass incarceration, we theorize that exclusionary discipline policies have indirect adverse effects on non-suspended students in punitive schools. Using a large hierarchical and longitudinal dataset consisting of student and school records, we examine the effect of suspension on reading and math achievement. Our findings suggest that higher levels of exclusionary discipline within schools over time generate collateral damage, negatively affecting the academic achievement of non-suspended students in punitive contexts. This effect is strongest in schools with high levels of exclusionary discipline and schools with low levels of violence, although the adverse effect of exclusionary discipline is evident in even the most disorganized and hostile school environments. Our results level a strong argument against excessively punitive school policies and suggest the need for alternative means of establishing a disciplined environment through social integration.

----------------------

Missing the (Student Achievement) Forest for All the (Political) Trees: Empiricism and the Mexican American Studies Controversy in Tucson

Nolan Cabrera et al.
American Educational Research Journal, December 2014, Pages 1084-1118

Abstract:
The Arizona legislature passed HB 2281, which eliminated Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD’s) Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, arguing the curriculum was too political. This program has been at the center of contentious debates, but a central question has not been thoroughly examined: Do the classes raise student achievement? The current analyses use administrative data from TUSD (2008–2011), running logistic regression models to assess the relationship between taking MAS classes and passing AIMS (Arizona state standardized tests) and high school graduation. Results indicate that MAS participation was significantly related to an increased likelihood of both outcomes occurring. The authors discuss these results in terms of educational policy and critical pedagogy as well as the role academics can play in policy formation.

----------------------

Strategic Disclosure: The Case of Business School Rankings

Michael Luca & Jonathan Smith
Harvard Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We empirically analyze disclosure decisions made by 240 MBA programs about which rankings to display on their websites. We present three main findings. First, consistent with theories of countersignaling, top schools are least likely to disclose their rankings, whereas mid-ranked schools are most likely to disclose. Second, schools that do poorly in the U.S. News rankings are more likely to disclose their Princeton Review certification, suggesting that schools treat different certifications as substitutes. Third, conditional on displaying a ranking, the majority of schools coarsen information to make it seem more favorable. The stark patterns in the data help to provide empirical evidence on the strategic elements of voluntary disclosure and marketing decisions.

----------------------

The Medium-Term Labor Market Returns to Community College Awards: Evidence From North Carolina

Vivian Liu, Clive Belfield & Madeline Trimble
Economics of Education Review, February 2015, Pages 42–55

Abstract:
This paper examines the relative labor market gains for first-time college students who entered the North Carolina Community College System in 2002–03. We compare the returns to diplomas, certificates, and degrees to the returns to some college credits. The authors also investigate the returns to subject field, transfer, and the early trajectories of wages. The analysis is based on student-level administrative records from college transcripts, Unemployment Insurance wage data, and the National Student Clearinghouse data across 830,000 students between 2001 and 2010. Findings from this study confirm those from earlier work: The returns to certificates and diplomas were weak, but associate and bachelor's degrees yielded very strong returns; even small accumulations of credits had labor market value; and the health sector credentials had extremely high returns. Returns were higher for female than for male students. Despite the Great Recession, the returns to college remain strong over the late 2000s.

----------------------

Medical Adaptation to Academic Pressure: Schooling, Stimulant Use, and Socioeconomic Status

Marissa King, Jennifer Jennings & Jason Fletcher
American Sociological Review, December 2014, Pages 1039-1066

Abstract:
Despite the rise of medical interventions to address behavioral issues in childhood, the social determinants of their use remain poorly understood. By analyzing a dataset that includes the majority of prescriptions written for stimulants in the United States, we find a substantial effect of schooling on stimulant use. In middle and high school, adolescents are roughly 30 percent more likely to have a stimulant prescription filled during the school year than during the summer. Socioeconomically advantaged children are more likely than their less advantaged peers to selectively use stimulants only during the academic year. These differences persist when we compare higher and lower socioeconomic status children seeing the same doctors. We link these responses to academic pressure by exploiting variation between states in educational accountability system stringency. We find the largest differences in school year versus summer stimulant use in states with more accountability pressure. School-based selective stimulant use is most common among economically advantaged children living in states with strict accountability policies. Our study uncovers a new pathway through which medical interventions may act as a resource for higher socioeconomic status families to transmit educational advantages to their children, either intentionally or unwittingly.

----------------------

Property Left Behind: An Unintended Consequence of a No Child Left Behind “Failing” School Designation

Alexander Bogin & Phuong Nguyen-Hoang
Journal of Regional Science, November 2014, Pages 788–805

Abstract:
Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), schools receiving Title I funding that fail to meet adequate academic performance targets for two consecutive years are deemed “failing.” This broadly defined, but often misunderstood designation has exerted a negative and unintended effect on low-income neighborhoods — the same neighborhoods NCLB was originally intended to help. Specifically, we find that “failing” designations significantly decrease home prices. This property value response is observed even after controlling for a myriad of traditional test score measures and school-level student demographics. Additional analyses suggest that this home price effect is largely due to strong perceptions of poor school quality or social stigma surrounding a “failing” designation.

----------------------

Sick of our loans: Student borrowing and the mental health of young adults in the United States

Katrina Walsemann, Gilbert Gee & Danielle Gentile
Social Science & Medicine, January 2015, Pages 85–93

Abstract:
Student loans are increasingly important and commonplace, especially among recent cohorts of young adults in the United States. These loans facilitate the acquisition of human capital in the form of education, but may also lead to stress and worries related to repayment. This study investigated two questions: 1) what is the association between the cumulative amount of student loans borrowed over the course of schooling and psychological functioning when individuals are 25–31 years old; and 2) what is the association between annual student loan borrowing and psychological functioning among currently enrolled college students? We also examined whether these relationships varied by parental wealth, college enrollment history (e.g. 2-year versus 4-year college), and educational attainment (for cumulative student loans only). We analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), a nationally representative sample of young adults in the United States. Analyses employed multivariate linear regression and within-person fixed-effects models. Student loans were associated with poorer psychological functioning, adjusting for covariates, in both the multivariate linear regression and the within-person fixed effects models. This association varied by level of parental wealth in the multivariate linear regression models only, and did not vary by college enrollment history or educational attainment. The present findings raise novel questions for further research regarding student loan debt and the possible spillover effects on other life circumstances, such as occupational trajectories and health inequities. The study of student loans is even more timely and significant given the ongoing rise in the costs of higher education.

----------------------

How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills

Adrian Hille & Jürgen Schupp
Economics of Education Review, February 2015, Pages 56–82

Abstract:
Despite numerous studies on skill development, we know little about the effects of extracurricular music activities on cognitive and non-cognitive skills. This study examines how music training during childhood and youth affects the development of cognitive skills, school grades, personality, time use and ambition using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Our findings suggest that adolescents with music training have better school grades, are more conscientious, open and ambitious. These effects are stronger among adolescents from lower socio-economic status. In order to address the non-random selection into playing music, we take into account detailed information on the child and its parents, which may determine both the decision to pursue music lessons and educational outcomes. While lacking truly exogenous variations in music activities, our results are robust to a large range of sensitivity tests. We thereby approach causality better than previous observational studies.

----------------------

Longitudinal Effects of Group Music Instruction on Literacy Skills in Low-Income Children

Jessica Slater et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2014

Abstract:
Children from low-socioeconomic backgrounds tend to fall progressively further behind their higher-income peers over the course of their academic careers. Music training has been associated with enhanced language and learning skills, suggesting that music programs could play a role in helping low-income children to stay on track academically. Using a controlled, longitudinal design, the impact of group music instruction on English reading ability was assessed in 42 low-income Spanish-English bilingual children aged 6–9 years in Los Angeles. After one year, children who received music training retained their age-normed level of reading performance while a matched control group's performance deteriorated, consistent with expected declines in this population. While the extent of change is modest, outcomes nonetheless provide evidence that music programs may have value in helping to counteract the negative effects of low-socioeconomic status on child literacy development.

----------------------

The Long Run Human Capital and Economic Consequences of High-Stakes Examinations

Victor Lavy, Avraham Ebenstein & Sefi Roth
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Cognitive performance during high-stakes exams can be affected by random disturbances that, even if transitory, may have permanent consequences for long-term schooling attainment and labor market outcomes. We evaluate this hypothesis among Israeli high school students who took a series of high stakes matriculation exams between 2000 and 2002. As a source of random (transitory) shocks to high- stakes matriculation test scores, we use exposure to ambient air pollution during the day of the exam. First, we document a significant and negative relationship between average PM2.5 exposure during exams and student composite scores, post-secondary educational attainment, and earnings during adulthood. Second, using PM2.5 as an instrument, we estimate a large economic return to each point on the exam and each additional year of post-secondary education. Third, we examine the return to exam scores and schooling across sub-populations, and find the largest effects among boys, better students, and children from higher socio-economic backgrounds. The results suggest that random disturbances during high-stakes examinations can have long-term consequences for schooling and labor market outcomes, while also highlighting the drawbacks of using high-stakes examinations in university admissions.

----------------------

The impact of college football on academic achievement

Rey Hernández-Julián & Kurt Rotthoff
Economics of Education Review, December 2014, Pages 141–147

Abstract:
We revisit a recent study by Lindo et al. (2012), who found a negative relationship between the success of the University of Oregon football team and the academic performance of students as measured by grades. Using data from Clemson University, we also find that the football team's winning percentage is negatively related to academic performance. Although Lindo et al. (2012) found that the academic performance of male students was more sensitive to changes in the winning percentage than the academic performance of female students, we find evidence of the opposite phenomenon in the Clemson data. Moreover, the negative relationship between wins and academic performance at Clemson appears to persist into the spring semester.

----------------------

The Evolution of Charter School Quality

Patrick Baude et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Studies of the charter school sector typically focus on head-to-head comparisons of charter and traditional schools at a point in time, but the expansion of parental choice and relaxation of constraints on school operations is unlikely to raise school quality overnight. Rather, the success of the reform depends in large part on whether parental choices induce improvements in the charter sector. We study quality changes among Texas charter schools between 2001 and 2011. Our results suggest that the charter sector was initially characterized by schools whose quality was highly variable and, on average, less effective than traditional public schools. However, exits from the sector, improvement of existing charter schools, and positive selection of charter management organizations that open additional schools raised average charter school effectiveness over time relative to traditional public schools. Moreover, the evidence is consistent with the belief that a reduction in student turnover as the sector matures, expansion of the share of charters that adhere to a No Excuses philosophy, and increasingly positive student selection at the times of both entry and reenrollment all contribute to the improvement of the charter sector.

----------------------

The Labor Market Returns to a For-Profit College Education

Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Latika Chaudhary
Economics of Education Review, December 2014, Pages 125–140

Abstract:
A lengthy literature estimating the returns to education has largely ignored the for-profit sector. In this paper, we estimate the earnings gains to for-profit college attendance using restricted-access data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97). Using an individual fixed effects estimation strategy that allows us to control for time-invariant unobservable characteristics of students, we find that students who enroll in associate's degree programs in for-profit colleges experience earnings gains of about 10 percent relative to high school graduates with no college degree, conditional on employment. Since associate's degree students attend for an average of 2.6 years, this translates to a 4 percent return per year of education in a for-profit college, slightly lower than estimates of returns for other sectors found in the literature.

----------------------

Teacher Pay Reform and Productivity: Panel Data Evidence from Adoptions of Q-Comp in Minnesota

Aaron Sojourner, Elton Mykerezi & Kristine West
Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2014, Pages 945-981

Abstract:
This paper studies the impacts of teacher pay-for-performance (P4P) reforms adopted with complementary human resource management (HRM) practices on student achievement and workforce flows. Since 2005, dozens of Minnesota school districts in cooperation with teachers’ unions implemented P4P as part of the state’s Quality Compensation program. Exploiting district variation in participation status and timing, we find evidence that P4P-centered HRM reform raises students’ achievement by 0.03 standard deviations. Falsification tests suggest that gains are causal. They appear to be driven especially by productivity increases among less-experienced teachers.

----------------------

Screening Mechanisms and Student Responses in the College Market

Jonathan Smith, Michael Hurwitz & Jessica Howell
Economics of Education Review, February 2015, Pages 17–28

Abstract:
In light of the sizeable financial and time investments associated with obtaining a postsecondary degree, the choice of where to apply and enroll should be a deliberate and thoughtful process. In this paper we exploit changes in application fees and admissions essay requirements, to demonstrate that students strongly respond to small costs in the college application process. Using a new method to identify major competitors of each college, we find that these small screening mechanisms negatively impact application volume and divert student applications to colleges to which they otherwise would not have applied. There is limited evidence that measures of enrollment and retention are affected.

----------------------

Estimating Impacts of a Breakfast in the Classroom Program on School Outcomes

Stephanie Anzman-Frasca et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: To estimate the impact of a Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program on School Breakfast Program participation, school attendance, and academic achievement.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This quasi-experimental study included a sample of 446 public elementary schools from a large, urban US school district that served predominantly low-income, racial/ethnic minority students.

Interventions: A total of 257 schools (57.6%) implemented a BIC program during the 2012-2013 academic year, whereas 189 (42.4%) did not.

Main Outcomes and Measures: School- and grade-level data from 2012-2013 and grade-level achievement data from the prior year were collected from school district records across the elementary schools. Hypotheses that a BIC program would improve school breakfast participation at the school level, school attendance at the grade level (kindergarten through sixth grade), and academic achievement at the grade level (second through sixth grades) were tested using propensity score weights to adjust for demographic differences between the BIC and non-BIC schools.

Results: The BIC program was linked with increased breakfast participation during the academic year (F10,414 = 136.90, P < .001), with mean participation rates of 73.7% in the BIC group vs 42.9% in the non-BIC group. The BIC program was also linked with greater overall school attendance rates (95.5% vs 95.3% in the non-BIC group; F1,2772 = 8.40, P = .004). When performing attendance analyses in the subset of grade levels for which achievement data were available, results were mostly consistent, although there was a group × time interaction (F10,1891 = 1.94, P = .04) such that differences between least squares means in the BIC vs non-BIC groups did not reach statistical significance at every month. There were no group differences in standardized test performance in math (57.9% in the BIC group vs 57.4% in the non-BIC group; F1,1890 = 0.41, P = .52) or reading (44.9% in the BIC group vs 44.7% in the non-BIC group; F1,1890 = 0.15, P = .70).

Conclusions and Relevance: Findings add to the evidence that BIC can increase school breakfast participation substantially and suggest that it has the potential to improve overall school attendance rates. Additional research is needed to explore the generalizability of these findings and the potential impacts on achievement for longer periods and on additional outcomes, such as weight status.

----------------------

Does Management Matter in Schools

Nicholas Bloom et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We collect data on operations, targets and human resources management practices in over 1,800 schools educating 15-year-olds in eight countries. Overall, we show that higher management quality is strongly associated with better educational outcomes. The UK, Sweden, Canada and the US obtain the highest management scores closely followed by Germany, with a gap to Italy, Brazil and then finally India. We also show that autonomous government schools (i.e. government funded but with substantial independence like UK academies and US charters) have significantly higher management scores than regular government schools and private schools. Almost half of the difference between the management scores of autonomous government schools and regular government schools is accounted for by differences in leadership of the principal and better governance.

----------------------

Accountability Incentives and Academic Achievement: Distributional Impacts of Accountability When Standards Are Set Low

J.T. Richardson
Economics of Education Review, February 2015, Pages 1–16

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of a compositional shift in a school's testing population brought about by the elimination of special education testing exemptions. The policy change forced schools to add varying levels of generally low-achieving students to their testing pools, altering accountability incentives. I provide evidence that the elimination of exemptions caused significant test score increases for initially low-achieving students and narrowed the black-white test gap. I show that the measured effects were not caused by changes in classroom composition. Rather, benefits flowed to low-achieving students because Texas’ accountability standard was low relative to the skills of its students.

----------------------

It Makes a Village: Residential Relocation after Charter School Admission

Bartley Danielsen, David Harrison & Jing Zhao
Real Estate Economics, Winter 2014, Pages 1008–1041

Abstract:
Although numerous studies investigate how student achievement is impacted by educational vouchers and charter schools, there appears to be no research on how these programs impact the surrounding environment. This study examines residential relocation of families whose children attend a charter school. We develop a conceptual model that predicts where relocating families are likely to move, given ex ante distance and direction to the school. The model is parameterized using data from student mailing address changes. We find that families are almost twice as likely to relocate toward the school as would be expected if the school did not exert any attraction. Moreover, although families are not required to live near the school, the child's school exerts a significantly stronger attraction than parent workplaces. This result may have important implications for mitigating urban sprawl, fostering urban renewal and promoting sustainable real estate development.

----------------------

“Teaching to the Test” in the NCLB Era: How Test Predictability Affects Our Understanding of Student Performance

Jennifer Jennings & Jonathan Marc Bearak
Educational Researcher, November 2014, Pages 381-389

Abstract:
What is “teaching to the test,” and can one detect evidence of this practice in state test scores? This paper unpacks this concept and empirically investigates one variant of it by analyzing test item–level data from three states’ mathematics and reading tests. We show that NCLB-era state tests predictably emphasized some state standards while consistently excluding others; a small number of standards typically accounted for a substantial fraction of test points. We find that students performed better on items testing frequently assessed standards — those that composed a larger fraction of the state test in prior years — which suggests that teachers targeted their instruction towards these predictably tested skills. We conclude by describing general principles that should guide high-stakes test construction if a policy goal is to ensure that test score gains accurately represent gains in student learning.

----------------------

Does Reading During the Summer Build Reading Skills? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in 463 Classrooms

Jonathan Guryan, James Kim & David Quinn
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
There are large gaps in reading skills by family income among school-aged children in the United States. Correlational evidence suggests that reading skills are strongly related to the amount of reading students do outside of school. Experimental evidence testing whether this relationship is causal is lacking. We report the results from a randomized evaluation of a summer reading program called Project READS, which induces students to read more during the summer by mailing ten books to them, one per week. Simple intent-to-treat estimates show that the program increased reading during the summer, and show significant effects on reading comprehension test scores in the fall for third grade girls but not for third grade boys or second graders of either gender. Analyses that take advantage of within-classroom random assignment and cross-classroom variation in treatment effects show evidence that reading more books generates increases in reading comprehension skills, particularly when students read carefully enough to be able to answer basic questions about the books they read, and particularly for girls.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Maker's mark

Hominids adapted to metabolize ethanol long before human-directed fermentation

Matthew Carrigan et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Paleogenetics is an emerging field that resurrects ancestral proteins from now-extinct organisms to test, in the laboratory, models of protein function based on natural history and Darwinian evolution. Here, we resurrect digestive alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH4) from our primate ancestors to explore the history of primate–ethanol interactions. The evolving catalytic properties of these resurrected enzymes show that our ape ancestors gained a digestive dehydrogenase enzyme capable of metabolizing ethanol near the time that they began using the forest floor, about 10 million y ago. The ADH4 enzyme in our more ancient and arboreal ancestors did not efficiently oxidize ethanol. This change suggests that exposure to dietary sources of ethanol increased in hominids during the early stages of our adaptation to a terrestrial lifestyle. Because fruit collected from the forest floor is expected to contain higher concentrations of fermenting yeast and ethanol than similar fruits hanging on trees, this transition may also be the first time our ancestors were exposed to (and adapted to) substantial amounts of dietary ethanol.

----------------------

Evolutionary and Developmental Changes in the Lateral Frontoparietal Network: A Little Goes a Long Way for Higher-Level Cognition

Michael Vendetti & Silvia Bunge
Neuron, 3 December 2014, Pages 906–917

Abstract:
Relational thinking, or the ability to represent the relations between items, is widespread in the animal kingdom. However, humans are unparalleled in their ability to engage in the higher-order relational thinking required for reasoning and other forms of abstract thought. Here we propose that the versatile reasoning skills observed in humans can be traced back to developmental and evolutionary changes in the lateral frontoparietal network (LFPN). We first identify the regions within the LFPN that are most strongly linked to relational thinking, and show that stronger communication between these regions over the course of development supports improvements in relational reasoning. We then explore differences in the LFPN between humans and other primate species that could explain species differences in the capacity for relational reasoning. We conclude that fairly small neuroanatomical changes in specific regions of the LFPN and their connections have led to big ontogenetic and phylogenetic changes in cognition.

----------------------

Probabilistic cognition in two indigenous Mayan groups

Laura Fontanari et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2 December 2014, Pages 17075–17080

Abstract:
Is there a sense of chance shared by all individuals, regardless of their schooling or culture? To test whether the ability to make correct probabilistic evaluations depends on educational and cultural guidance, we investigated probabilistic cognition in preliterate and prenumerate Kaqchikel and K’iche’, two indigenous Mayan groups, living in remote areas of Guatemala. Although the tested individuals had no formal education, they performed correctly in tasks in which they had to consider prior and posterior information, proportions and combinations of possibilities. Their performance was indistinguishable from that of Mayan school children and Western controls. Our results provide evidence for the universal nature of probabilistic cognition.

----------------------

Genomic structure in Europeans dating back at least 36,200 years

Andaine Seguin-Orlando et al.
Science, 28 November 2014, Pages 1113-1118

Abstract:
The origin of contemporary Europeans remains contentious. We obtain a genome sequence from Kostenki 14 in European Russia dating to 38,700 to 36,200 years ago, one of the oldest fossils of Anatomically Modern Humans from Europe. We find that K14 shares a close ancestry with the 24,000-year-old Mal’ta boy from central Siberia, European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, some contemporary western Siberians, and many Europeans, but not eastern Asians. Additionally, the Kostenki 14 genome shows evidence of shared ancestry with a population basal to all Eurasians that also relates to later European Neolithic farmers. We find that Kostenki 14 contains more Neandertal DNA that is contained in longer tracts than present Europeans. Our findings reveal the timing of divergence of western Eurasians and East Asians to be more than 36,200 years ago and that European genomic structure today dates back to the Upper Paleolithic and derives from a meta-population that at times stretched from Europe to central Asia.

----------------------

Genome sequence of a 45,000-year-old modern human from western Siberia

Qiaomei Fu et al.
Nature, 23 October 2014, Pages 445–449

Abstract:
We present the high-quality genome sequence of a ~45,000-year-old modern human male from Siberia. This individual derives from a population that lived before — or simultaneously with — the separation of the populations in western and eastern Eurasia and carries a similar amount of Neanderthal ancestry as present-day Eurasians. However, the genomic segments of Neanderthal ancestry are substantially longer than those observed in present-day individuals, indicating that Neanderthal gene flow into the ancestors of this individual occurred 7,000–13,000 years before he lived. We estimate an autosomal mutation rate of 0.4 × 10−9 to 0.6 × 10−9 per site per year, a Y chromosomal mutation rate of 0.7 × 10−9 to 0.9 × 10−9 per site per year based on the additional substitutions that have occurred in present-day non-Africans compared to this genome, and a mitochondrial mutation rate of 1.8 × 10−8 to 3.2 × 10−8 per site per year based on the age of the bone.

----------------------

Homo erectus at Trinil on Java used shells for tool production and engraving

Josephine Joordens et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
The manufacture of geometric engravings is generally interpreted as indicative of modern cognition and behaviour. Key questions in the debate on the origin of such behaviour are whether this innovation is restricted to Homo sapiens, and whether it has a uniquely African origin. Here we report on a fossil freshwater shell assemblage from the Hauptknochenschicht (‘main bone layer’) of Trinil (Java, Indonesia), the type locality of Homo erectus discovered by Eugène Dubois in 1891. In the Dubois collection (in the Naturalis museum, Leiden, The Netherlands) we found evidence for freshwater shellfish consumption by hominins, one unambiguous shell tool, and a shell with a geometric engraving. We dated sediment contained in the shells with 40Ar/39Ar and luminescence dating methods, obtaining a maximum age of 0.54 ± 0.10 million years and a minimum age of 0.43 ± 0.05 million years. This implies that the Trinil Hauptknochenschicht is younger than previously estimated. Together, our data indicate that the engraving was made by Homo erectus, and that it is considerably older than the oldest geometric engravings described so far. Although it is at present not possible to assess the function or meaning of the engraved shell, this discovery suggests that engraving abstract patterns was in the realm of Asian Homo erectus cognition and neuromotor control.

----------------------

Khoisan hunter-gatherers have been the largest population throughout most of modern-human demographic history

Hie Lim Kim et al.
Nature Communications, December 2014

Abstract:
The Khoisan people from Southern Africa maintained ancient lifestyles as hunter-gatherers or pastoralists up to modern times, though little else is known about their early history. Here we infer early demographic histories of modern humans using whole-genome sequences of five Khoisan individuals and one Bantu speaker. Comparison with a 420 K SNP data set from worldwide individuals demonstrates that two of the Khoisan genomes from the Ju/’hoansi population contain exclusive Khoisan ancestry. Coalescent analysis shows that the Khoisan and their ancestors have been the largest populations since their split with the non-Khoisan population ~100–150 kyr ago. In contrast, the ancestors of the non-Khoisan groups, including Bantu-speakers and non-Africans, experienced population declines after the split and lost more than half of their genetic diversity. Paleoclimate records indicate that the precipitation in southern Africa increased ~80–100 kyr ago while west-central Africa became drier. We hypothesize that these climate differences might be related to the divergent-ancient histories among human populations.

----------------------

Right for the Wrong Reasons: Reflections on Modern Human Origins in the Post-Neanderthal Genome Era

Trenton Holliday, Joanna Gautney & Lukáš Friedl
Current Anthropology, December 2014, Pages 696-724

Abstract:
The sequencing of the Neanderthal genome answered once and for all the question of whether these hominins played a role in the origins of modern humans — they did, and a majority of humans alive today retain a small portion of Neanderthal genes. This finding rejects the strictest versions of the Recent African Origin model and has been celebrated by supporters of Multiregional Evolution (MRE). However, we argue that MRE can also be rejected and that other, intermediate, models of modern human origins better represent the means by which modern humans became the only extant human species. We argue this because we reject one of the major tenets of MRE: global gene flow that prevents cladogenesis from occurring. First, using reconstructions of Pleistocene hominin census size, we maintain that populations were neither large nor dense enough to result in such high levels of gene flow across the Old World. Second, we use mammalian divergence and hybridization data to show that the emergence of Homo is recent enough that member species of this genus were unlikely to have been reproductively isolated from each other, even in the absence of the high levels of global gene flow postulated by MRE supporters.

----------------------

Rapid climate change did not cause population collapse at the end of the European Bronze Age

Ian Armit et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2 December 2014, Pages 17045–17049

Abstract:
The impact of rapid climate change on contemporary human populations is of global concern. To contextualize our understanding of human responses to rapid climate change it is necessary to examine the archeological record during past climate transitions. One episode of abrupt climate change has been correlated with societal collapse at the end of the northwestern European Bronze Age. We apply new methods to interrogate archeological and paleoclimate data for this transition in Ireland at a higher level of precision than has previously been possible. We analyze archeological 14C dates to demonstrate dramatic population collapse and present high-precision proxy climate data, analyzed through Bayesian methods, to provide evidence for a rapid climatic transition at ca. 750 calibrated years B.C. Our results demonstrate that this climatic downturn did not initiate population collapse and highlight the nondeterministic nature of human responses to past climate change.

----------------------

Agriculture facilitated permanent human occupation of the Tibetan Plateau after 3600 BP

F.H. Chen et al.
Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our understanding of when and how humans adapted to living at altitudes above 2000 to 3000 meters of the Tibetan Plateau has been constrained by a paucity of archaeological data. Here we report data sets from the northeastern Tibetan Plateau indicating that the first villages were established only by 5200 years ago. Since 3600 calendar years before the present, a novel agropastoral economy facilitated year-round living at higher altitudes. This successful subsistence strategy facilitated the adaptation of farmers-herders to the challenges of global temperature decline during the late Holocene.

----------------------

A Selective Sweep on a Deleterious Mutation in CPT1A in Arctic Populations

Florian Clemente et al.
American Journal of Human Genetics, 6 November 2014, Pages 584–589

Abstract:
Arctic populations live in an environment characterized by extreme cold and the absence of plant foods for much of the year and are likely to have undergone genetic adaptations to these environmental conditions in the time they have been living there. Genome-wide selection scans based on genotype data from native Siberians have previously highlighted a 3 Mb chromosome 11 region containing 79 protein-coding genes as the strongest candidates for positive selection in Northeast Siberians. However, it was not possible to determine which of the genes might be driving the selection signal. Here, using whole-genome high-coverage sequence data, we identified the most likely causative variant as a nonsynonymous G>A transition (rs80356779; c.1436C>T [p.Pro479Leu] on the reverse strand) in CPT1A, a key regulator of mitochondrial long-chain fatty-acid oxidation. Remarkably, the derived allele is associated with hypoketotic hypoglycemia and high infant mortality yet occurs at high frequency in Canadian and Greenland Inuits and was also found at 68% frequency in our Northeast Siberian sample. We provide evidence of one of the strongest selective sweeps reported in humans; this sweep has driven this variant to high frequency in circum-Arctic populations within the last 6–23 ka despite associated deleterious consequences, possibly as a result of the selective advantage it originally provided to either a high-fat diet or a cold environment.

----------------------

Genome flux and stasis in a five millennium transect of European prehistory

Cristina Gamba et al.
Nature Communications, October 2014

Abstract:
The Great Hungarian Plain was a crossroads of cultural transformations that have shaped European prehistory. Here we analyse a 5,000-year transect of human genomes, sampled from petrous bones giving consistently excellent endogenous DNA yields, from 13 Hungarian Neolithic, Copper, Bronze and Iron Age burials including two to high (~22 × ) and seven to ~1 × coverage, to investigate the impact of these on Europe’s genetic landscape. These data suggest genomic shifts with the advent of the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, with interleaved periods of genome stability. The earliest Neolithic context genome shows a European hunter-gatherer genetic signature and a restricted ancestral population size, suggesting direct contact between cultures after the arrival of the first farmers into Europe. The latest, Iron Age, sample reveals an eastern genomic influence concordant with introduced Steppe burial rites. We observe transition towards lighter pigmentation and surprisingly, no Neolithic presence of lactase persistence.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hands up

Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When

Christopher Ferguson
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article presents 2 studies of the association of media violence rates with societal violence rates. In the first study, movie violence and homicide rates are examined across the 20th century and into the 21st (1920–2005). Throughout the mid-20th century small-to-moderate correlational relationships can be observed between movie violence and homicide rates in the United States. This trend reversed in the early and latter 20th century, with movie violence rates inversely related to homicide rates. In the second study, videogame violence consumption is examined against youth violence rates in the previous 2 decades. Videogame consumption is associated with a decline in youth violence rates. Results suggest that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased societal violence rates.

----------------------

Everyday sadism predicts violent video game preferences

Tobias Greitemeyer
Personality and Individual Differences, March 2015, Pages 19–23

Abstract:
Playing violent video games has become an integral part of the lives of many people, although some people more than others may be predisposed to enjoy violent video games. Two cross-sectional studies examined the extent to which everyday sadism predicts the amount of violent video game play. Past research has shown that everyday sadists obtain pleasure from cruel behaviors. Hence, I reasoned that everyday sadists are drawn to violent video games because killing game characters might be an opportunity to satisfy their need for cruelty. In fact, results revealed a positive link between everyday sadism and the amount of violent video game exposure. Moreover, this relation statistically held when controlling for the impact of trait aggression, the Big 5, narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.

----------------------

Popularity Through Online Harm: The Longitudinal Associations Between Cyberbullying and Sociometric Status in Early Adolescence

Denis Wegge et al.
Journal of Early Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study examines the reciprocal associations between cyberbullying behavior and young adolescents’ social status. For this purpose, a two-wave panel study with an 8-month time interval was conducted among an entire grade of 154 secondary school pupils (age 12-14). The survey featured items on traditional bullying and cyberbullying as well as peer-nomination questions on sociometric and perceived popularity. Cyberbullying was related to subsequent increases in perceived popularity of the perpetrators. In contrast, traditional bullying perpetration was not longitudinally associated with social status during the studied period. Although perceived popularity was also expected to precede cyberbullying behavior, this was not observed. Taken together, the results suggest that electronic forms of bullying, rather than traditional forms, can provide a means to acquire additional perceived popularity in early adolescence. The findings warrant future research on the factors that moderate the association between cyberbullying and social status.

----------------------

Play fighting to curb self-reported aggression in young adolescents

Attilio Carraro, Erica Gobbi & Angelica Moè
Journal of Adolescence, December 2014, Pages 1303–1307

Abstract:
This study investigated the effects of play fighting on aggressive behaviors. It was hypothesized that the teaching of play fighting during physical education lessons could reduce self-reported aggression in a group of adolescents to a greater extent than playing volleyball (a low physical contact activity). Participants were 210 young adolescents (mean age = 13.27, SD = 0.48 years) from 10 classrooms that were randomly assigned to an 8-lesson play fighting session or to traditional volleyball lessons. They filled in the 12-item short version of the Aggression Questionnaire (AQ-12) pre- and post-interventions. The play fighting group showed a significant reduction in all the four subscales of the AQ-12 (Cohen d ranging from 0.61 to 0.67), while participants in the volleyball group did not. Results suggest that play fighting might provide useful contents in a physical education curriculum, with possible reduction in aggressive behavior.

----------------------

From Bullied to Deviant: The Victim–Offender Overlap Among Bullying Victims

Whitney DeCamp & Brian Newby
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, January 2015, Pages 3-17

Abstract:
Although much research has explored bullies and bullying victims, little has been done to explore the long-term effects on those who have been bullied. Separately, a growing body of evidence suggests that there is a victim–offender overlap, in which many victims are or become offenders themselves. Taken together, this suggests that bullying victims may themselves be at elevated risk of involvement in deviance or crime. The present study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 to explore this issue, utilizing propensity score matching to control for the shared predictors of offending and victimization. Given that bullying experiences can vary dramatically by gender, gender-specific analyses are performed. Results indicate that controlling for the propensity to be bullied reduces, but does not eliminate, the effect on later criminality.

----------------------

Fight the power: Lanchester’s laws of combat in human evolution

Dominic Johnson & Niall MacKay
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Lanchester’s “Laws of Combat” are mathematical principles that have long been used to model military conflict. More recently, they have been applied to conflict among animals, including ants, birds, lions, and chimpanzees. Lanchester’s Linear Law states that, where combat between two groups is a series of one-on-one duels, fighting strength is proportional to group size, as one would expect. However, Lanchester’s Square Law states that, where combat is all-against-all, fighting strength is proportional to the square of group size. If conflict has been important in our evolutionary history, we might expect humans to have evolved assessment mechanisms that take Lanchester’s Laws of Combat into account. Those that did would have reaped great dividends; those that did not would have made a quick exit from the gene pool. We hypothesize that: (1) the dominant and most lethal form of combat in human evolutionary history (as well as among chimpanzees and some social carnivores) has been asymmetric raids in which multiple individuals gang up on a few opponents, approximating Square Law combat; and (2) this would have favored the natural selection of an evolved “Square Law heuristic” that correlated fighting strength not with raw group size but with group size squared. We discuss the implications for primate evolution, human evolution, coalitionary psychology, and contemporary war.

----------------------

Sexually Coercive Male Chimpanzees Sire More Offspring

Joseph Feldblum et al.
Current Biology, 1 December 2014, Pages 2855–2860

Abstract:
In sexually reproducing animals, male and female reproductive strategies often conflict. In some species, males use aggression to overcome female choice, but debate persists over the extent to which this strategy is successful. Previous studies of male aggression toward females among wild chimpanzees have yielded contradictory results about the relationship between aggression and mating behavior. Critically, however, copulation frequency in primates is not always predictive of reproductive success. We analyzed a 17-year sample of behavioral and genetic data from the Kasekela chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) community in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, to test the hypothesis that male aggression toward females increases male reproductive success. We examined the effect of male aggression toward females during ovarian cycling, including periods when the females were sexually receptive (swollen) and periods when they were not. We found that, after controlling for confounding factors, male aggression during a female’s swollen periods was positively correlated with copulation frequency. However, aggression toward swollen females was not predictive of paternity. Instead, aggression by high-ranking males toward females during their nonswollen periods was positively associated with likelihood of paternity. This indicates that long-term patterns of intimidation allow high-ranking males to increase their reproductive success, supporting the sexual coercion hypothesis. To our knowledge, this is the first study to present genetic evidence of sexual coercion as an adaptive strategy in a social mammal.

----------------------

The effect of neighborhood disadvantage, social ties, and genetic variation on the antisocial behavior of African American women: A multilevel analysis

Man-Kit Lei et al.
Development and Psychopathology, November 2014, Pages 1113-1128

Abstract:
Social disorganization theory posits that individuals who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior than are those who live in advantaged neighborhoods and that neighborhood disadvantage asserts this effect through its disruptive impact on social ties. Past research on this framework has been limited in two respects. First, most studies have concentrated on adolescent males. In contrast, the present study focused on a sample of adult African American females. Second, past research has largely ignored individual-level factors that might explain why people who grow up in disadvantaged neighborhoods often do not engage in antisocial behavior. We investigated the extent to which genetic variation contributes to heterogeneity of response to neighborhood conditions. We found that the impact of neighborhood disadvantage on antisocial behavior was mediated by neighborhood social ties. Further, the analysis indicated that the effects of neighborhood disadvantage and social ties on antisocial behavior were moderated by genetic polymorphisms. Examination of these moderating effects provided support for the differential susceptibility model of Gene × Environment. The effect of Gene × Neighborhood Disadvantage on antisocial behavior was mediated by the effect of Gene × Neighborhood Social Ties, providing support for an expanded view of social disorganization theory.

----------------------

Stranger Danger: The Role of Perpetrator and Context in Moderating Reactions to Sexual Harassment

Megan McCarty, Nicole Iannone & Janice Kelly
Sexuality & Culture, December 2014, Pages 739-758

Abstract:
The majority of research on sexual harassment focuses on achievement contexts where the perpetrator of the harassment is known to the victim. More recent work has begun to explore sexual harassment perpetrated by strangers in public places. The current work sought to bridge the gap between research on sexual harassment in achievement contexts and stranger harassment. In doing so, the current work manipulated factors related to three important distinctions between these topics: the relationship between the perpetrator and victim, the location, and the type of sexually harassing behavior. The current study provides evidence that stranger harassment elicits more negative reactions than harassment from a coworker. Additionally, harasser type interacted with harassment type, with situations involving strangers making physical contact eliciting the most negative reactions. Thus, the current work suggests a need for more research on stranger harassment, as well as on additional factors that may operate differently depending on harasser type.

----------------------

Sexual Harassment Victimization and Perpetration Among High School Students

Emily Clear et al.
Violence Against Women, October 2014, Pages 1203-1219

Abstract:
This large, population-based study is one of the few to examine prevalence rates of sexual harassment occurring during the past 12 months by victimization and perpetration among adolescents. In this large, cross-sectional survey of students attending 26 high schools, sexual harassment was defined using three questions from the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire. Among 18,090 students completing the survey, 30% disclosed sexual harassment victimization (37% of females, 21% of males) and 8.5% reported perpetration (5% of females, 12% of males). Sexual harassment perpetration was highly correlated with male sex, minority race/ethnicity, same-sex attraction, bullying, alcohol binge drinking, and intraparental partner violence.

----------------------

Nonviolent physical risk-taking enhances the envisioned bodily formidability of women

Daniel Fessler et al.
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, December 2014, Pages 67-80

Abstract:
Men are more prone than women to both commit physical violence and engage in nonviolent activities entailing the risk of injury or death. The Crazy Bastard Hypothesis (Fessler et al. 2014a) addresses this conjunction, arguing that nonviolent physical risk-taking communicates information about the actor’s agonistic formidability, as individuals who are indifferent to the possibility of harm are more likely to enter conflicts, and more difficult to repel, than those who are more sensitive to harm. Reflecting the use of bodily size in representations that summarize formidability, previous work demonstrates that risk-prone men are envisioned to be larger than are risk-averse men. Though less violent than men, particularly in highly competitive environments, women too sometimes benefit from engaging in violence. Correspondingly, observers should draw similar inferences regarding formidability when assessing physically risk-prone women. Results from both a large online experiment in the U.S. and a follow-up study using a modified dependent measure designed to reduce demand characteristics reveal that a woman described as risk-prone is envisioned to be larger — and thus more formidable — than is a woman described as risk-averse. Nonviolent physical risk-taking is thus available to women as an avenue for communicating formidability when it is advantageous to do so.

----------------------

Narcissism, Low Self-Control, and Violence Among a Nationally Representative Sample

Matthew Larson et al.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of evidence has highlighted the relationship between narcissism and violence. Importantly, however, the predominance of this evidence comes from experimental tests or small-scale samples that most often overlook the contribution of low self-control to explicating the relationship. The present study refers to the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) to assess narcissism, low self-control, and violence among a nationally representative sample. Using Latent Class Analyses (LCA), four classes of individuals are identified, and multinomial regression models indicate that narcissism and low self-control are associated with a range of violent acts among these groups. Most importantly, results show that the class of individuals that is high in narcissism and deficient in self-control is far and away the most prone to violence. Together, these findings lend important nationally representative support to recent experimental and meta-analytical conclusions suggesting that the co-occurrence of narcissism and low self-control has significant implications for our understanding of violence. Limitations of this study and avenues for future research are discussed.

----------------------

Ethnicity and Cultural Values as Predictors of the Occurrence and Impact of Experienced Workplace Incivility

Jennifer Welbourne, Ashwini Gangadharan & Ana Sariol
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Workplace incivility is a subtle type of deviant work behavior that is low in intensity and violates workplace norms of respect. Past research demonstrates the harmful impact of incivility on work attitudes and employee wellbeing; however, little is known about how incivility is experienced by individuals of different ethnicities and cultural orientations. In the current study, we compared the amount and impact of workplace incivility that was experienced by Hispanic and white, non-Hispanic employees. Further, we examined whether cultural dimensions of vertical and horizontal individualism and collectivism moderated the relationships between workplace incivility and work and health outcomes. A sample of 262 university employees (50% Hispanic; 63% female) provided self-reports of experienced incivility, burnout, job satisfaction, and cultural values. Although male Hispanic employees experienced more incivility, female Hispanic employees experienced less incivility than non-Hispanic employees of the same gender. Hispanic employees displayed greater resilience against the impact of incivility on job satisfaction and burnout, compared with non-Hispanic employees. Additionally, employees with strong horizontal collectivism values (emphasizing sociability) were more resilient against the impact of incivility on burnout, whereas employees with strong horizontal individualism values (emphasizing self-reliance) were more susceptible to burnout and dissatisfaction when faced with incivility. These findings suggest that employees’ ethnicity and cultural values may increase or decrease their vulnerability to the impact of incivility at work.

----------------------

Gender, Friendship Networks, and Delinquency: A Dynamic Network Approach

Dana Haynie, Nathan Doogan & Brian Soller
Criminology, November 2014, Pages 688–722

Abstract:
Researchers have examined selection and influence processes in shaping delinquency similarity among friends, but little is known about the role of gender in moderating these relationships. Our objective is to examine differences between adolescent boys and girls regarding delinquency-based selection and influence processes. Using longitudinal network data from adolescents attending two large schools in AddHealth (N = 1,857) and stochastic actor-oriented models, we evaluate whether girls are influenced to a greater degree by friends’ violence or delinquency than boys (influence hypothesis) and whether girls are more likely to select friends based on violent or delinquent behavior than boys (selection hypothesis). The results indicate that girls are more likely than boys to be influenced by their friends’ involvement in violence. Although a similar pattern emerges for nonviolent delinquency, the gender differences are not significant. Some evidence shows that boys are influenced toward increasing their violence or delinquency when exposed to more delinquent or violent friends but are immune to reducing their violence or delinquency when associating with less violent or delinquent friends. In terms of selection dynamics, although both boys and girls have a tendency to select friends based on friends’ behavior, girls have a stronger tendency to do so, suggesting that among girls, friends’ involvement in violence or delinquency is an especially decisive factor for determining friendship ties.

----------------------

The Implicit Rules of Combat

Gorge Romero, Michael Pham & Aaron Goetz
Human Nature, December 2014, Pages 496-516

Abstract:
Conspecific violence has been pervasive throughout evolutionary history. The current research tested the hypotheses that individuals implicitly categorize combative contexts (i.e., play fighting, status contests, warfare, and anti-exploitative violence) and use the associated contextual information to guide expectations of combative tactics. Using U.S. and non-U.S. samples, Study 1 demonstrated consistent classification of combative contexts from scenarios for which little information was given and predictable shifts in the acceptability of combative tactics across contexts. Whereas severe tactics (e.g., eye-gouging) were acceptable in warfare and anti-exploitative violence, they were unacceptable in status contests and play fights. These results suggest the existence of implicit rules governing the contexts of combat. In Study 2, we explored the reputational consequences of violating these implicit rules. Results suggest that rule violators (e.g., those who use severe tactics in a status contest) are given less respect. These are the first studies to implicate specialized mechanisms for aggression that use contextual cues of violence to guide expectations and behavior.

----------------------

The role of feared possible selves in the relationship between peer influence and delinquency

Jennifer Pierce, Carissa Schmidt & Sarah Stoddard
Journal of Adolescence, January 2015, Pages 17–26

Abstract:
This study explores the impact of a feared delinquent possible self on the relationship between exposure to negative peer behaviors and violent and non-violent self-reported delinquency. Previous research strongly supports that deviant peers influence adolescents' delinquent behavior. Yet, few studies have explored intrapersonal factors that may moderate this influence. Possible selves include what one hopes, expects and fears becoming and are believed to motivate behavior. Thus, it was hypothesized that adolescents who were exposed to deviant peers and also feared engaging in delinquency would be more likely to self-report delinquency. Seventh grade students (n = 176) identified feared possible selves in the future, their exposure to negative peer behavior and self-reported violent and non-violent delinquent behavior. Findings suggest that exposure to negative peer behavior is associated with self-reported delinquent behavior. For violent behavior, possessing a feared delinquent possible self moderates this relationship. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, December 5, 2014

Inside track

The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes toward Immigrants

Jens Hainmueller & Daniel Hopkins
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many studies have examined Americans' immigration attitudes. Yet prior research frequently confounds multiple questions, including which immigrants to admit and how many to admit. To isolate attitudes on the former question, we use a conjoint experiment that simultaneously tests the influence of nine immigrant attributes in generating support for admission. Drawing on a two-wave, population-based survey, we demonstrate that Americans view educated immigrants in high-status jobs favorably, whereas they view those who lack plans to work, entered without authorization, are Iraqi, or do not speak English unfavorably. Strikingly, Americans' preferences vary little with their own education, partisanship, labor market position, ethnocentrism, or other attributes. Beneath partisan divisions over immigration lies a broad consensus about who should be admitted to the country. The results are consistent with norms-based and sociotropic explanations of immigration attitudes. This consensus points to limits in both theories emphasizing economic and cultural threats, and sheds new light on an ongoing policy debate.

----------------------

The Long-Run Effect of 9/11: Terrorism, Backlash, and the Assimilation of Muslim Immigrants in the West

Eric Gould & Esteban Klor
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether the 9/11 attacks affected the assimilation rate of Muslims in the United States. Terror attacks by Islamic groups are likely to induce a backlash against Muslims, thereby raising their costs of assimilation. We find that Muslim immigrants living in states with the sharpest increase in hate crimes also exhibit: (i) greater chances of marrying within their own ethnic group; (ii) higher fertility; (iii) lower female labour force participation; and (iv) lower English proficiency. These findings shed light on the increasing use of terror and concurrent rise in social tensions surrounding Muslim immigrants in the West.

----------------------

The Effect of High-Skilled Immigration on Patenting and Employment: Evidence from H-1B Visa Lotteries

Kirk Doran, Alexander Gelber & Adam Isen
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We study the effect of winning an additional H-1B visa on a firm's patenting and employment outcomes. We compare firms randomly allocated H-1Bs in the Fiscal Year 2006 and 2007 H-1B visa lotteries to other firms randomly not allocated H-1Bs in these lotteries. We use Department of Homeland Security administrative data on the winners and losers in these lotteries matched to administrative data on the universe of approved U.S. patents, and matched to IRS administrative data on the universe of U.S. employment. Winning an H-1B visa has an insignificant average effect on patenting, with confidence intervals that rule out moderate-sized effects and that are even more precise in many cases. Employment data generally show that on average H-1B workers at least partially replace other workers in the same firm, with estimates typically indicating substantial crowdout of other workers.

----------------------

Evidence of political moderation over time: Utah’s immigration debate online

Brian Harris, Charlie Morgan & Benjamin Gibbs
New Media & Society, December 2014, Pages 1309-1331

Abstract:
Is public debate on the Internet polarizing? Some scholars warn that the Internet is an ‘anti-commons’ where political positions are extreme, while others view the Internet as a moderating influence on political polarization. We examine polarization trends in a regional, Utah-based news website, with a random sample of 1768 comments over a two-year period. Focusing on the most contentious issue during this time — immigration — we find that extreme anti-immigrant sentiment decreases over time despite key political and religious events. We argue that emerging public spheres, like newspaper discussion forums, might reveal a general public inclination towards moderation during heated national and regional debate.

----------------------

How Much is a Green Card Worth? Evidence from Mexican Men Who Marry Women Born in the U.S.

Miao Chi & Scott Drewianka
Labour Economics, December 2014, Pages 103–116

Abstract:
Many countries impose restrictions on some immigrants’ job mobility, likely reducing their wages. We quantify such effects for Mexican-born men in the U.S. by recognizing that immigrants who marry U.S. natives receive expedited “green cards” (Permanent Residency). Robust IV estimates indicate intermarried Mexicans earn a 40 percent wage premium, and larger for the most mobile subgroups. Analogous premiums are statistically insignificant for men from Puerto Rico, who acquire no new rights because they are already U.S. citizens. Attributing the approximately 30 percent difference to green cards, we estimate eliminating wait times would increase Mexicans’ mean earnings $120,000-$150,000 in present value.

----------------------

Lunatics, Idiots, Paupers, and Negro Seamen — Immigration Federalism and the Early American State

Anna Law
Studies in American Political Development, October 2014, Pages 107-128

Abstract:
Why did it take the U.S. national government until 1882 to gain control over migration policies from the states, and what does this situation say about the strength of the early American State? This phenomenon is especially curious, since the control of entry into and across a nation is so fundamental to the very definition of a State. I argue that the delay of the national government takeover was not due to a lack of administrative capacity. Instead, there were regionally specific reasons that the states preferred to retain control of migration policy. The national government did not take over migration policy because of the strong nineteenth-century political-cultural understanding that many migration policies were properly within the province of local control. This article explains the timing and sequencing of state and federal controls over nineteenth-century migration policy and what this timing meant for the freedom of movement of many politically vulnerable classes of people.

----------------------

Fertility Responses of High-Skilled Native Women to Immigrant Inflows

Delia Furtado
University of Connecticut Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
While there is debate regarding the magnitude of the impact, immigrant inflows are generally understood to depress wages and increase employment in immigrant-intensive sectors. In light of the over-representation of the foreign-born in the childcare industry, this paper examines whether college-educated native women respond to immigrant-induced lower cost and potentially more convenient childcare options with increased fertility. An analysis of U.S. Census data between 1980 and 2000 suggests that immigrant inflows are indeed associated with increased likelihoods of having a baby, and responses are strongest among women who are most likely to consider childcare costs when making fertility decisions – namely, married women with a graduate degree. Given that woman also respond to immigrant inflows by working long hours, the paper ends with an analysis of the types of women who have stronger fertility relative to labor supply responses to immigrant-induced changes in childcare options.

----------------------

Substance Use Differences Among U.S.- Versus Foreign-Born Adolescents: Testing Pathways Through Family and Peer Influences

Gabriela Barajas-Gonzalez & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn Hispanic
Journal of Behavioral Sciences, November 2014, Pages 506-521

Abstract:
The influence of perceived family conflict, family support, and peer substance use on adolescent substance use was examined in a community sample of 669 (331 female, 338 male) Latino youth, who were assessed twice over the span of 2½ years. We found greater substance use among U.S.-born Latino youth in comparison to foreign-born Latino youth at both time points. Levels of family conflict were higher, and levels of family support were lower, in families with U.S.-born versus foreign-born adolescents. Results suggest that higher family conflict, but not lower family support, may partially explain higher substance use rates among U.S.-born versus foreign-born Latino adolescents.

----------------------

Mexican American Mobility: Early Life Processes and Adult Wealth Ownership

Lisa Keister, Jody Agius Vallejo & Paige Borelli
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mexican Americans are a large group whose mobility patterns can provide important insight into immigrant assimilation processes. It is well known that Mexicans have not attained economic parity with whites, but there is considerable debate about the degree to which Mexican immigrants and their American-born children experience mobility over their lives. We contribute to this literature by studying Mexican American wealth ownership, focusing on three interrelated processes. First, we examine childhood poverty and inheritances to establish financial starting points and to identify the degree to which resources from prior generations affect wealth ownership. Second, we study impediments to mobility in young adulthood to understand how childhood conditions create early adult obstacles to well-being. Third, we study midlife net worth and homeownership to better understand whether childhood and young adult impediments necessarily reduce adult wealth ownership. We find high levels of early life disadvantage among Mexican Americans, but these disadvantages are least pronounced in the second and third generations compared to the first generation. Consistent with prior research, we also find high levels of young adult impediments to mobility for Mexican Americans. However, we find that these early roadblocks do not necessarily translate into lower adult wealth: we show that Mexican Americans have less total wealth than whites but more than African Americans, even when early life impediments are controlled. Our results suggest that Mexican Americans are establishing a solid financial foundation that is likely to lead to long-term class stability.

----------------------

House of Green Cards: Statistical or Preference-Based Inequality in the Employment of Foreign Nationals

Ben Rissing & Emilio Castilla
American Sociological Review, December 2014, Pages 1226-1255

Abstract:
This study contributes to the labor market inequality and organizations literature by investigating the role that government agents play in shaping the employment of immigrants. Using unique data on applications for immigrant permanent labor certification evaluated by U.S. Department of Labor agents, we assess to what extent immigrants of select citizenship groups experience disparities in the labor certification process — one critical stage of the work authorization system leading to the granting of most employment-based green cards. Despite current U.S. laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of nationality, we find that labor certification approvals differ significantly depending on immigrants’ foreign citizenship, even after controlling for key factors. Additionally, because of the U.S. government’s unique process of auditing applications, we are in a rare position to empirically distinguish between statistical and preference-based accounts of labor market discrimination in the labor certification process. In support of the statistical account, we find that certification approvals are equally likely for immigrant workers from the vast majority of citizenship groups when agents review audited applications with detailed employment information. This article concludes by discussing the implications of our results for addressing disparities in the employment of foreign nationals.

----------------------

Legal Status and the Criminal Activity of Immigrants

Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We exploit exogenous variation in legal status following the January 2007 European Union enlargement to estimate its effect on immigrant crime. We difference out unobserved time-varying factors by i) comparing recidivism rates of immigrants from the "new" and "candidate" member countries; and ii) using arrest data on foreign detainees released upon a mass clemency that occurred in Italy in August 2006. The timing of the two events allows us to setup a difference-in-differences strategy. Legal status leads to a 50 percent reduction in recidivism, and explains one-half to two-thirds of the observed differences in crime rates between legal and illegal immigrants.

----------------------

The Openness-Equality Trade-Off in Global Redistribution

Glen Weyl
University of Chicago Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Vickrey (1945)’s veil-of-ignorance argument for redistributive taxation makes no mention of national borders, yet his model of optimal taxation has been almost exclusively applied within sovereign states. Because the majority of welfare-relevant inequality is across rather than within such states, a global perspective on optimal redistribution yields radically different conclusions. Taxes should be significantly higher than typical estimates and most transfers should flow across national borders. If such transfers are infeasible, migration becomes a natural substitute. Yet much migration, by the global middle class to well-off countries, actually exacerbates inequality. Countries very open to inequality-reducing migration are staggeringly unequal internally; a leading case is the Gulf Cooperation Council monarchies. Such examples suggest a philosophically disturbing trade-off between openness to global inequality-reducing migration and internal equality. For example, social prejudices based on national origin or authoritarian regimes that support a caste system could be Pareto-improving.

----------------------

State-Based Visas: A Federalist Approach to Reforming U.S. Immigration Policy

Brandon Fuller & Sean Rust
Cato Institute Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently proposed a regional visa program that would allow immigrants to live and work exclusively in Detroit or other cities in the United States. A regional immigration option through a state-based visa program would create a temporary work permit that would allow participating states to manage the flow and regulate the quantity of temporary migrants who want to live and work within their borders. Ideally, law-abiding visa holders would be eligible for renewal and free to apply for permanent residency during their stay in the United States. Although overseen by the federal government, a state-based visa program would allow state governments to craft a better-functioning work-visa program that is more adaptable to their local economic conditions than the present system run by the federal government — perhaps even supplying lessons for future federal work-visa programs. A state-based visa program would direct immigration to the states that want it without forcing much additional immigration on those that do not. Unlike existing employment-based visas that tie foreign workers to one firm, state-based visa holders would be free to move between employers in the state — leading to thicker, more equitable, and more efficient local labor markets. A state-based visa would increase prosperity by allowing additional migration to portions of the country and economy that demand them. Successful international experiences with regional visas in Australia and Canada provide some valuable policy lessons and hint at the major economic benefits of such a policy in the United States.

----------------------

Primary Resources, Secondary Labor: Resource Booms and Immigration Policy in the Era of Trade Liberalization

Adrian Shin
University of Michigan Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Are trade and immigration policies substitutes or complements? Using the two-sector model in the Dutch disease literature, the paper argues that the degree of a resource boom changes labor-intensive firms’ preferences over immigration policy and how they respond to trade liberalization. As trade liberalizes, firms in the tradable sector move into the resource industry or into the non-tradable sector during a resource boom, leading to a decline in support for pro-immigration policy. Without such exit options in resource-poor economies, firms seek to remain viable by supporting pro-immigration policy under trade liberalization. Trade and immigration policies are substitutes during a resource boom but are complements otherwise. Rigorous empirical analyses with new data on immigration policy show that changing firm preferences translate directly into policy outcomes. The variation in immigration policy across multiple labor-scarce economies cannot be fully understood without accounting for trade liberalization and resource booms. The paper poses a serious challenge against the conventional wisdom that trade and immigration policies have always been substitutes. An important implication of the paper is that open economies under growing resource booms will restrict immigration even further.

----------------------

Hispanic Brokers and Borrowers: The Effect of Language Affinity on the Price of Home Mortgages

Chau Do & Arturo Gonzalez
Regional Science and Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our study focuses on whether mortgage prices for Hispanic borrowers in areas of limited English fluency depend on the broker’s ethnicity. While we find that Hispanic borrowers in areas where the majority of Hispanics are not fluent in English pay higher prices overall, mortgage prices are lower if the loans are originated by Hispanic brokers relative to non-Hispanic white brokers. This effect is found only in fixed-rate mortgage loans and for low/no-documentation loans. Nevertheless, our results cannot be easily explained by different levels of market competition or borrower characteristics. Our results are consistent with other empirical studies that find language barriers carry additional costs. We caveat, however, our conclusions with our proxy measurements of English and Spanish fluency, which may affect our interpretations and results.

----------------------

The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK

Christian Dustmann & Tommaso Frattini
Economic Journal, November 2014, Pages F593–F643

Abstract:
We investigate the fiscal impact of immigration on the UK economy, with a focus on the period since 1995. Our findings indicate that, when considering the resident immigrant population in each year from 1995 to 2011, immigrants from the European Economic Area (EEA) have made a positive fiscal contribution, even during periods when the UK was running budget deficits, while Non-EEA immigrants, not dissimilar to natives, have made a negative contribution. For immigrants that arrived since 2000, contributions have been positive throughout, and particularly so for immigrants from EEA countries. Notable is the strong positive contribution made by immigrants from countries that joined the EU in 2004.

----------------------

Latino Confidence in the Police: The Role of Immigration Enforcement, Assimilation, and Immigration Status

Kelle Barrick
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, Fall 2014, Pages 289-307

Abstract:
Police departments rely on residents to report crime in order to help keep communities safe. Research suggests that attitudes toward the police are influenced by race and ethnicity; however, research on Latinos is underdeveloped. Confidence in the police among Latinos is complicated by local law enforcement's role in immigration enforcement, which potentially discourages cooperation with the police. The current study examines whether Latino confidence in the police varies by experiences with immigration enforcement, level of assimilation, or immigration status. Study findings suggest that Hispanics who have been questioned about their immigration status have less confidence in the police than those who have not. The results provide some evidence that experiences with immigration enforcement may degrade confidence in the police among Latinos.

----------------------

Changes in health selection of obesity among Mexican immigrants: A binational examination

Annie Ro & Nancy Fleischer
Social Science & Medicine, December 2014, Pages 114–124

Abstract:
Health selection is often measured by comparing the health of more recent immigrants to the native born of their new host country. However, this comparison fails to take into account two important factors: (1) that changes in the health profile of sending countries may impact the health of immigrants over time, and (2) that the best comparison group for health selection would be people who remain in the country of origin. Obesity represents an important health outcome that may be best understood by taking into account these two factors. Using nationally-representative datasets from Mexico and the US, we examined differences in obesity-related health selection, by gender, in 2000 and 2012. We calculated prevalence ratios from log-binomial models to compare the risk of obesity among recent immigrants to the US to Mexican nationals with varying likelihood of migration, in order to determine changes in health selection over time. Among men in 2000, we found little difference in obesity status between recent immigrants to the US and Mexican non-migrants. However, in 2012, Mexican men who were the least likely to migrate had higher obesity prevalence than recent immigrants, which may reflect emerging health selection. The trends for women, however, indicated differences in obesity status between recent Mexican immigrants and non-migrants at both time points. In both 2000 and 2012, Mexican national women had significantly higher obesity prevalence than recent immigrant women, with the biggest difference between recent immigrants and Mexican women who were least likely to migrate. There was also indication that selection increased with time for women, as the differences between Mexican nationals and recent immigrants to the US grew from 2000 and 2012. Our study is among the first to use a binational dataset to examine the impact of health selectivity, over time, on obesity.

----------------------

Immigrants, Labour Market Performance and Social Insurance

Bernt Bratsberg, Oddbjørn Raaum & Knut Røed
Economic Journal, November 2014, Pages F644–F683

Abstract:
Using longitudinal data from the date of arrival, we study long-term labour market and social insurance outcomes for all major immigrant cohorts to Norway since 1970. Immigrants from high-income countries performed as natives, while labour migrants from low-income source countries had declining employment rates and increasing disability programme participation over the lifecycle. Refugees and family migrants assimilated during the initial period upon arrival but labour market convergence halted after a decade and was accompanied by rising social insurance rates. For the children of labour migrants of the 1970s, we uncover evidence of intergenerational assimilation in education, earnings and fertility.

----------------------

Black Immigrants and School Engagement: Perceptions of Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, and American Identity

Maria Teresa Coutinho & Daphne Koinis-Mitchell
Journal of Black Psychology, December 2014, Pages 520-538

Abstract:
School engagement is an important contributor to students’ academic success; however, the available literature on the school engagement of Black immigrants is limited. This study examined the associations between school engagement, perceived ethnic discrimination, ethnic identity, and American identity in a sample of first- and second-generation immigrants of African descent. A total of 125 Cape Verdean high school students (aged 13-19 years) participated in the study. Results indicate that American identity moderated the association between perceived ethnic discrimination and school engagement. American identity buffered the effect of perceived ethnic discrimination on engagement in school. The findings highlight the need to consider Black immigrant students’ identification with American culture in developing interventions aimed at enhancing school engagement.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dose

Observed Transition from Opioid Analgesic Deaths towards Heroin

Nabarun Dasgupta et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, December 2014, Pages 238–241

Background: In the United States, overdose mortality from controlled substances has increased over the last two decades, largely involving prescription opioid analgesics. There has been speculation on a transition away from prescription opioid use towards heroin, however the impact on overdose deaths has not been evaluated.

Methods: Time series study of North Carolina residents, 2007 through 2013. Monthly ratio of prescription opioid-to-heroin overdose deaths. Non-parametric local regression models used to ascertain temporal shifts from overdoses involving prescription opioids to heroin.

Results: There were 4,332 overdose deaths involving prescription opioids, and 455 involving heroin, including 44 where both were involved (total n = 4,743). A gradual 6-year shift toward increasing heroin deaths was observed. In January, 2007, for one heroin death there were 16 opioid analgesic deaths; in December, 2013 there were 3 prescription opioid deaths for each heroin death. The transition to heroin appears to have started prior to the introduction of tamper-resistant opioid analgesics. The age of death among heroin decedents shifted towards younger adults. Most heroin and opioid analgesic deaths occurred in metropolitan areas, with little change between 2007 and 2013.

Conclusions: The observed increases in heroin overdose deaths can no longer be considered speculation. Deaths among younger adults were noted to have increased in particular, suggesting new directions for targeting interventions. More research beyond vital statistics is needed to understand the root causes of the shift from prescription opioids to heroin.

----------------------

Trends in licit and illicit drug-related deaths in Florida from 2001 to 2012

Dayong Lee et al.
Forensic Science International, December 2014, Pages 178–186

Background: Florida, the epicenter of the recent prescription drug epidemic in the United States, maintains a statewide drug mortality surveillance system. We evaluated yearly profiles, demographic characteristics, and correlation between drug trends to understand the factors influencing drug-induced mortality.

Methods: All drug-related deaths reported to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission during 2001-2012 were included (n = 92,596). A death was considered “drug-related” if at least one drug was identified in the decedent. Depending on its contribution to death, a drug could be listed as a causative agent or merely present, but not both.

Results: Rate of drug-caused deaths was 8.0 per 100,000 population in 2001, increasing to 17.0 in 2010 and then decreasing to 13.9 in 2012. Benzodiazepines had the highest mortality rate in 2010, although <10% were solely due these drugs. Opioid-caused mortality rate also peaked in 2010 and started to decline (-28%) in 2010-2012. The heroin-caused mortality rates were negatively correlated with opioids and benzodiazepines (ρ’s ≥ -0.670; P ≤ 0.034). Ethanol- and cocaine-mortality rates stabilized to 3.0-3.1 and 2.8-3.0 per 100,000 over 2009-2012, respectively. Amphetamines, zolpidem, and inhalants-caused deaths were on the rise with rates of ≤0.6 per 100,000.

Conclusions: Overall declines in benzodiazepine- and opioid-caused deaths in 2011-2012 may have been related to Florida's attempts to regulate prescription drug abuse. This period, however, was also marked by a rise in heroin-caused mortality, which may reflect growing use of heroin as an alternative. Increases in amphetamines, zolpidem, and inhalants-induced mortality are an additional public health concern.

----------------------

Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicides by Gender and Age

Mark Anderson, Daniel Rees & Joseph Sabia
American Journal of Public Health, December 2014, Pages 2369-2376

Objectives: We estimated the association between legalizing medical marijuana and suicides.

Methods: We obtained state-level suicide data from the National Vital Statistics System’s Mortality Detail Files for 1990–2007. We used regression analysis to examine the association between medical marijuana legalization and suicides per 100 000 population.

Results: After adjustment for economic conditions, state policies, and state-specific linear time trends, the association between legalizing medical marijuana and suicides was not statistically significant at the .05 level. However, legalization was associated with a 10.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = −17.1%, −3.7%) and 9.4% (95% CI = −16.1%, −2.4%) reduction in the suicide rate of men aged 20 through 29 years and 30 through 39 years, respectively. Estimates for females were less precise and sensitive to model specification.

Conclusions: Suicides among men aged 20 through 39 years fell after medical marijuana legalization compared with those in states that did not legalize. The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events. However, this relationship may be explained by alcohol consumption. The mechanism through which legalizing medical marijuana reduces suicides among young men remains a topic for future study.

----------------------

Subjective Beliefs, Deterrence, and the Propensity to Drive While Intoxicated

Yiqun Chen & Frank Sloan
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This study investigates causal effects of changes in subjective probabilities of being pulled over and involved in accidents if driving while intoxicated on individuals’ drinking and driving choices. We also examine how hypothetical changes in perceptions of sanction severity affect drunk driving by experiments randomizing the harshness of punishments. We find that higher perceived risks of being pulled over and involved in accidents deter drinking and driving. However, deterrence is limited to persons who are alcohol addicted, lack self-control over drinking, and are more impulsive. No deterrent effect of harsher legal punishments is found on individuals’ drunk driving choices.

----------------------

Is Smoking Inferior? Evidence from Variation in the Earned Income Tax Credit

Donald Kenkel, Maximilian Schmeiser & Carly Urban
Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2014, Pages 1094-1120

Abstract:
In this paper we estimate the causal income elasticity of smoking participation, cessation, and cigarette demand conditional upon participation. Using an instrumental variables (IV) estimation strategy, we find that smoking appears to be a normal good among low-income adults: Higher-instrumented income is associated with an increase in the number of cigarettes consumed and a decrease in smoking cessation. The magnitude and direction of the changes in the income coefficients from our OLS to IV estimates are consistent with the hypothesis that correlational estimates between income and smoking-related outcomes are biased by unobservable characteristics that differentiate higher-income smokers from lower-income smokers.

----------------------

Are risk factors for drug use and offending similar during the teenage years?

Elizabeth Aston
International Journal of Drug Policy, forthcoming

Background: This paper explores whether at different stages of the developmental cycle of adolescence, drug use and offending are associated with a similar set of risk factors relating to: socio-structural position, informal social control, deviant peer group contexts, and deviant lifestyle behaviours.

Methods: Multivariate regression was used to analyse data from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (ESYTC) self-report questionnaire.

Results: Early in the teenage years drug use was associated with a similar set of factors to offending. These include weak bonds to parents and teachers, and deviant lifestyle behaviours. However, later in the teenage years there were differences, e.g. drug use was associated with higher socio-economic status and importance of school, and a number of factors which were associated with offending were not associated with drug use, e.g. parent-child conflict, gang membership and hanging around.

Conclusion: Results show that the factors included here are more appropriate to understanding offending than drug use. Different risk factors are associated with drug use and offending in the older, but not younger teens. It is argued that later in the teenage years drug use should be understood and addressed differently to offending. This is particularly important given the tendency for the ‘drugs problem’ to increasingly be dealt with as a ‘crime problem’ (Duke, 2006).

----------------------

Gambling Prevalence Rates among Immigrants: A Multigenerational Examination

Alyssa Wilson et al.
Addictive Behaviors, March 2015, Pages 79–85

Introduction: The present study employed data from Waves I and II of the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) to compare gambling prevalence rates across gender and world regions (e.g., Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America).

Methods: Responses from first generation (n = 5,363), second generation (n = 4,826), third generation (n = 4,746), and native-born Americans (n = 19,715) were subjected to a series of multinomial regression analyses, after controlling for sociodemographic variables such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, household income, education level, region of the United States, and urbanicity.

Results: The prevalence of gambling and problem gambling was markedly lower among first-generation immigrants than that of native-born Americans and second and third-generation immigrants. Results also point to inter- and intra-generational dynamics related to gender, age of arrival and duration in United States, and world region from which participants emigrated. Additionally, we found that second-generation immigrants and nonimmigrants were significantly more likely to meet criteria for disordered gambling compared to first-generation immigrants in general.

Conclusions: Compared to first-generation immigrants, male and female immigrants of subsequent generations and nonimmigrants were significantly more likely to report involvement in all problem gambling behaviors examined. Findings suggest that gambling prevalence rates increase across subsequent generations, and are more likely to occur in women than among men.

----------------------

DRD4 and susceptibility to peer influence on alcohol use from adolescence to adulthood

Sylvie Mrug & Michael Windle
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, December 2014, Pages 168–173

Background: The long allele of DRD4 is associated with greater susceptibility to peer influences on alcohol use in young adulthood, but it is unclear whether this increased susceptibility extends to other developmental periods. This study examined the interactive effects of DRD4 polymorphism and friends’ alcohol use from adolescence to adulthood.

Methods: Participants (N = 340; 59% female; 98% White) reported on their own and their friends’ alcohol use at four time points between mean ages 17 and 33. Autoregressive cross-lagged models evaluated reciprocal relationships between friends’ alcohol use and participants’ own alcohol use and frequency of heavy drinking over time. Multigroup modeling tested differences in model paths and covariances across high vs. low risk DRD4 polymorphisms.

Results: Alcohol use at age 33 was predicted by previous friends’ alcohol use and correlated with current friends’ alcohol use only for carriers of the DRD4 long allele. Regardless of DRD4 genotype, friends’ alcohol use at age 17 predicted greater alcohol use and more frequent heavy drinking at age 23. Alcohol use and/or heavy drinking predicted greater friends’ alcohol use at later time points for both genotype groups across adolescence and adulthood.

Conclusions: The long allele of DRD4 is associated with increased susceptibility to peer influences on alcohol use in young adulthood, but not earlier in development. Adults with the long allele of DRD4 may benefit from interventions educating them about this risk and equipping them with strategies to reduce affiliations with and influence of drinking friends.

----------------------

Olfactory Aversive Conditioning during Sleep Reduces Cigarette-Smoking Behavior

Anat Arzi et al.
Journal of Neuroscience, 12 November 2014, Pages 15382-15393

Abstract:
Recent findings suggest that novel associations can be learned during sleep. However, whether associative learning during sleep can alter later waking behavior and whether such behavioral changes last for minutes, hours, or days remain unknown. We tested the hypothesis that olfactory aversive conditioning during sleep will alter cigarette-smoking behavior during ensuing wakefulness. A total of 66 human subjects wishing to quit smoking participated in the study (23 females; mean age, 28.7 ± 5.2 years). Subjects completed a daily smoking diary detailing the number of cigarettes smoked during 7 d before and following a 1 d or night protocol of conditioning between cigarette odor and profoundly unpleasant odors. We observed significant reductions in the number of cigarettes smoked following olfactory aversive conditioning during stage 2 and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep but not following aversive conditioning during wakefulness (p < 0.05). Moreover, the reduction in smoking following aversive conditioning during stage 2 (34.4 ± 30.1%) was greater and longer lasting compared with the reduction following aversive conditioning during REM (11.9 ± 19.2%, p < 0.05). Finally, the reduction in smoking following aversive conditioning during sleep was significantly greater than in two separate control sleep experiments that tested aversive odors alone and the effects of cigarette odors and aversive odors without pairing. To conclude, a single night of olfactory aversive conditioning during sleep significantly reduced cigarette-smoking behavior in a sleep stage-dependent manner, and this effect persisted for several days.

----------------------

Parent–Offspring Similarity for Drinking: A Longitudinal Adoption Study

Matt McGue et al.
Behavior Genetics, November 2014, Pages 620-628

Abstract:
Parent–offspring resemblance for drinking was investigated in a sample of 409 adopted and 208 non-adopted families participating in the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study. Drinking data was available for 1,229 offspring, assessed longitudinally up to three times in the age range from 10 to 28 years. A single drinking index was computed from four items measuring quantity, frequency and density of drinking. As expected, the mean drinking index increased with age, was greater in males as compared to females (although not at the younger ages), but did not vary significantly by adoption status. Parent–offspring correlation in drinking did not vary significantly by either offspring or parent gender but did differ significantly by adoption status. In adopted families, the parent–offspring correlation was statistically significant at all ages but decreased for the oldest age group (age 22–28). In non-adopted families, the parent–offspring correlation was statistically significant at all ages and increased in the oldest age group. Findings imply that genetic influences on drinking behavior increase with age while shared family environment influences decline, especially during the transition from late-adolescence to early adulthood.

----------------------

The Relationship Between Childhood Physical and Emotional Abuse and Smoking Cessation Among U.S. Women and Men

Philip Smith et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood maltreatment is associated with increased likelihood of smoking. The purpose of the current investigation was to compare quitting motives, quit attempts, and quit success between U.S. adult smokers with or without childhood maltreatment (physical or emotional abuse), and those with or without serious psychological distress (SPD). We also examined whether SPD mediated associations between childhood maltreatment and all outcomes. We analyzed data from a 2-wave cohort telephone survey of a national U.S. sample of current cigarette smokers (n = 751). We used generalized path modeling to examine associations between maltreatment/SPD and concerns about smoking, motivation to quit, quit attempts, and smoking cessation (among the overall sample and selecting for those who made at least 1 quit attempt between waves; n = 368). Among women, maltreatment and SPD were associated with lower likelihood of quitting as well as making a successful quit attempt. SPD mediated the association between maltreatment and likelihood of successfully quitting. Women with maltreatment also had stronger concerns about smoking and motivation to quit than those without maltreatment, although there were no differences in actual quit attempts made. Neither childhood maltreatment nor SPD was associated with smoking outcomes among men. Findings suggest that female smokers with a history of childhood maltreatment are motivated to quit smoking; however, they may have more difficulty quitting smoking as a result of SPD.

----------------------

Neighbourhood crime and adolescent cannabis use in Canadian adolescents

Margaretha de Looze et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Although neighbourhood factors have been proposed as determinants of adolescent behaviour, few studies document their relative etiological importance. We investigated the relationship between neighbourhood crime and cannabis use in a nationally representative sample of Canadian adolescents.

Methods: Data from the 2009/10 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey (n = 9134 14- and 15-year-olds) were combined with area-level data on crime and socioeconomic status of the neighbourhood surrounding the schools (n = 218).

Results: Multilevel logistic regression analyses showed that after individual and contextual differences were held constant, neighbourhood crime related to cannabis use (OR 1.29, CI 1.12–1.47 per 1.0 SD increase in crime). This association was not moderated by parental support nor having cannabis-using friends. The amount of explained variance at the neighbourhood level was 19%.

Conclusions: Neighbourhood crime is an important factor to consider when designing interventions aimed at reducing adolescent cannabis use. Interventional research should examine the effectiveness of community-based interventions that target adolescents through parents and peers.

----------------------

The Impact of Sound in Modern Multiline Video Slot Machine Play

Mike Dixon et al.
Journal of Gambling Studies, December 2014, Pages 913-929

Abstract:
Slot machine wins and losses have distinctive, measurable, physiological effects on players. The contributing factors to these effects remain under-explored. We believe that sound is one of these key contributing factors. Sound plays an important role in reinforcement, and thus on arousal level and stress response of players. It is the use of sound for positive reinforcement in particular that we believe influences the player. In the current study, we investigate the role that sound plays in psychophysical responses to slot machine play. A total of 96 gamblers played a slot machine simulator with and without sound being paired with reinforcement. Skin conductance responses and heart rate, as well as subjective judgments about the gambling experience were examined. The results showed that the sound influenced the arousal of participants both psychophysically and psychologically. The sound also influenced players’ preferences, with the majority of players preferring to play slot machines that were accompanied by winning sounds. The sounds also caused players to significantly overestimate the number of times they won while playing the slot machine.

----------------------

Alcohol Effects on Simulated Driving Performance and Self-Perceptions of Impairment in DUI Offenders

Nicholas Van Dyke & Mark Fillmore
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, December 2014, Pages 484-493

Abstract:
Drivers with a history of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol self-report heightened impulsivity and display reckless driving behaviors as indicated by increased rates of vehicle crashes, moving violations, and traffic tickets. Such poor behavioral self-regulation could also increase sensitivity to the disruptive effects of alcohol on driving performance. The present study examined the degree to which DUI drivers display an increased sensitivity to the acute impairing effects of alcohol on simulated driving performance and overestimate their driving fitness following alcohol consumption. Adult drivers with a history of DUI and a demographically matched group of drivers with no history of DUI (controls) were tested following a 0.65 g/kg alcohol and a placebo. Results indicated that alcohol impaired several measures of driving performance, and there was no difference between DUI offenders and controls in these impairments. However, following alcohol, DUI drivers self-reported a greater ability and willingness to drive compared with controls. These findings indicate that drivers with a history of DUI might perceive themselves as more fit to drive after drinking, which could play an important role in their decisions to drink and drive.

----------------------

Financial Incentives for Abstinence Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Individuals in Smoking Cessation Treatment

Darla Kendzor et al.
American Journal of Public Health, forthcoming

Objectives: We evaluated the effectiveness of offering adjunctive financial incentives for abstinence (contingency management [CM]) within a safety net hospital smoking cessation program.

Methods: We randomized participants (n = 146) from a Dallas County, Texas, Tobacco Cessation Clinic from 2011 to 2013 to usual care (UC; cessation program; n = 71) or CM (UC + 4 weeks of financial incentives; n = 75), and followed from 1 week before the quit date through 4 weeks after the quit date. A subset (n = 128) was asked to attend a visit 12 weeks after the scheduled quit date.

Results: Participants were primarily Black (62.3%) or White (28.1%) and female (57.5%). Most participants were uninsured (52.1%) and had an annual household income of less than $12 000 (55.5%). Abstinence rates were significantly higher for those assigned to CM than UC at all visits following the quit date (all Ps < .05). Point prevalence abstinence rates in the CM and UC groups were 49.3% versus 25.4% at 4 weeks after the quit date and 32.8% versus 14.1% at 12 weeks after the quit date. CM participants earned an average of $63.40 ($150 possible) for abstinence during the first 4 weeks after the scheduled quit date.

Conclusions: Offering small financial incentives for abstinence might be an effective means to improve abstinence rates among socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals participating in smoking cessation treatment.

----------------------

What proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary United States is attributable to cigarette smoking?

Eric Jacobs et al.
Annals of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Purpose: The proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary U.S. caused by cigarette smoking (the population attributable fraction (PAF)) is not well-documented.

Methods: The PAF of all cancer deaths due to active cigarette smoking among adults 35 and older in the U.S. in 2010 was calculated using age and sex-specific smoking prevalence from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and age and sex-specific relative risks from the Cancer Prevention Study-II (for ages 35-54) and from the Pooled Contemporary Cohort data set (for ages 55 and older).

Results: The PAF for active cigarette smoking was 28.7% when estimated conservatively, including only deaths from the 12 cancers currently formally established as caused by smoking by the U.S. Surgeon General. The PAF was 31.7% when estimated more comprehensively, including excess deaths from all cancers. These estimates do not include additional potential cancer deaths from environmental tobacco smoke or other type of tobacco use such as cigars, pipes or smokeless tobacco.

Conclusions: Cigarette smoking causes a large proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary U.S. Reducing smoking prevalence as rapidly as possible should be a top priority for U.S. public health efforts to prevent cancer deaths.

----------------------

A Prospective Study of Adolescents’ Nonmedical Use of Anxiolytic and Sleep Medication

Carol Boyd et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this longitudinal study (N = 2,745) was to determine whether adolescents’ recent medical use of anxiolytic or sleep medication was associated with increased incidence of using someone else’s prescription for these classes of medication (nonmedical use). Data were collected from adolescents attending 5 Detroit area secondary schools between December and April in 3 consecutive academic years between 2009 and 2012. Respondents were assigned to the following 3 mutually exclusive groups for the analyses: (1) never prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication (in their lifetime); (2) prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication in their lifetime, but not during the study period; or (3) prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication during the study period. Almost 9% of the sample had received a prescription for anxiolytic or sleep medication during their lifetime, and 3.4% had received at least 1 prescription during the 3-year study period. Compared with adolescents never prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication, adolescents prescribed these medicines during the study period were 10 times more likely to engage in nonmedical use for reasons such as “to get high” or “to experiment” (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj.] = 10.15; 95% CI [3.97–25.91]), and 3 times more likely to engage in nonmedical use to self-treat anxiety or to sleep (ORadj. = 3.24; 95% CI [1.67–6.29]). Adolescents prescribed anxiolytics during their lifetime but not during the 3-year study were 12 times more likely to use another’s anxiolytic medication, compared with adolescents never prescribed anxiolytics (ORadj. = 12.17; 95% CI [3.98–37.18]). These risk factors have significant implications for later substance use problems.

----------------------

Smoking History, and Not Depression, is Related to Deficits in Detection of Happy and Sad Faces

K.K. Meyers et al.
Addictive Behaviors, February 2015, Pages 210–217

Abstract:
Previous research has demonstrated that chronic cigarette smoking and major depressive disorder (MDD) are each associated with cognitive decrements. Further, these conditions co-occur commonly, though mechanisms in the comorbid condition are poorly understood. There may be distinct, additive, or overlapping factors underlying comorbid cigarette smoking and MDD. The present study investigated the impact of smoking and MDD on executive function and emotion processing. Participants (N = 198) were grouped by diagnostic category (MDD and healthy controls, HC) and smoking status (ever-smokers, ES and never-smokers, NS). Participants completed the Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT), a measure of emotional processing, and the parametric Go/No-go task (PGNG), a measure of executive function. FEPT performance was analyzed using ANCOVA with accuracy and reaction time as separate dependent variables. Repeated measures MANCOVA was conducted for PGNG with performance measure and task level as dependent variables. Analyses for each task included diagnostic and smoking group as independent variables, and gender was controlled for. Results for FEPT reveal lower overall accuracy was found for ES relative to NS, though MDD did not differ from HC. Post-hoc analyses revealed ES were poorer at identifying happy and sad, but not fearful or angry, faces. For PGNG, poorer performance was observed in MDD relative to HC in response time to Go targets, but there were no differences for ES and NS. Interaction of diagnosis and smoking group was not observed for performance on either task. The results of this study provide preliminary evidence for distinctive cognitive decrements in smokers and individuals with depression.

----------------------

Light-to-Moderate Alcohol Drinking Reduces the Impact of Obesity on the Risk of Diabetes Mellitus

Ichiro Wakabayashi
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, November 2014, Pages 1032–1038

Objective: Light-to-moderate alcohol drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, for which obesity is a primary risk factor. The aim of this study was to determine whether drinking alcohol influences the relationship between obesity and hyperglycemia.

Method: The relationships of adiposity indices with hyperglycemia were compared among middle-aged Japanese men (N = 12,627) who were non-, light-to-moderate (<22 g ethanol/day), heavy (≥22 and <44 g ethanol/day), and very heavy (≥44 g ethanol/day) drinkers.

Results: There were significant positive correlations of hemoglobin A1c with body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), which were significantly weaker in light-to-moderate and heavy drinkers than in nondrinkers but were not significantly different in very heavy drinkers compared with nondrinkers. Odds ratios (ORs) for hyperglycemia in subjects with versus those without high BMI or WHtR were significantly higher than reference level of 1.00 in all the drinker groups and significantly lower in light-to-moderate and heavy drinkers compared with nondrinkers; however they were not significantly different in very heavy drinkers compared with nondrinkers. ORs of the interaction term consisting of alcohol drinking and high adiposity index were significantly lower than the reference level in the light-to-moderate and heavy drinkers (OR with 95% confidence interval: high BMI, 0.61 [0.41, 0.91] in light-to-moderate drinkers and 0.64 [0.48, 0.85] in heavy drinkers; high WHtR, 0.57 [0.38, 0.85] in light-to-moderate drinkers and 0.66 [0.50, 0.88] in heavy drinkers) but were not significantly different from the reference level in very heavy drinkers (high BMI, 0.90 [0.65, 1.25]; high WHtR, 1.04 [0.74, 1.46]).

Conclusions: The associations between obesity and hyperglycemia were weaker in light-to-moderate drinkers than in nondrinkers. Thus, light-to-moderate drinking may reduce the impact of obesity on the risk for diabetes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cleanup crew

Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems

Corey Bradshaw & Barry Brook
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 November 2014, Pages 16610–16615

Abstract:
The inexorable demographic momentum of the global human population is rapidly eroding Earth’s life-support system. There are consequently more frequent calls to address environmental problems by advocating further reductions in human fertility. To examine how quickly this could lead to a smaller human population, we used scenario-based matrix modeling to project the global population to the year 2100. Assuming a continuation of current trends in mortality reduction, even a rapid transition to a worldwide one-child policy leads to a population similar to today’s by 2100. Even a catastrophic mass mortality event of 2 billion deaths over a hypothetical 5-y window in the mid-21st century would still yield around 8.5 billion people by 2100. In the absence of catastrophe or large fertility reductions (to fewer than two children per female worldwide), the greatest threats to ecosystems — as measured by regional projections within the 35 global Biodiversity Hotspots — indicate that Africa and South Asia will experience the greatest human pressures on future ecosystems. Humanity’s large demographic momentum means that there are no easy policy levers to change the size of the human population substantially over coming decades, short of extreme and rapid reductions in female fertility; it will take centuries, and the long-term target remains unclear. However, some reduction could be achieved by midcentury and lead to hundreds of millions fewer people to feed. More immediate results for sustainability would emerge from policies and technologies that reverse rising consumption of natural resources.

----------------------

Income and Employment Effects of Shale Gas Extraction Windfalls: Evidence from the Marcellus Region

Dusan Paredes, Timothy Komarek & Scott Loveridge
Energy Economics, January 2015, Pages 112–120

Abstract:
New technologies combining hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in oil and gas extraction are creating a sudden expansion of production. Residents of places where deep underground oil and gas deposits are found want to know about the broader economic, social, and environmental impacts of these activities that generate windfall income for some residents. We first review the literature on windfall spending patterns. Then, using the Marcellus region, the earliest area to be tapped using the new techniques, we estimate county-level employment and income effects. For robustness, we employ two methods. Using a propensity score matching approach we find no effect of fracking on income or employment. A panel-fixed effects regression approach suggests statistically significant employment effects in six out of seven alternative specifications, but significant income effects in only one out of seven specifications. In short, the income spillover effects in the Marcellus region appear to be minimal, meaning there’s little incentive at the county level to incur current or potential future costs that may be associated with this activity. We conclude with some ideas on how localities might employ policies that would allow natural gas extraction to move forward, benefitting landowners, while establishing some financial safeguards for the broader community.

----------------------

The Impact of Short Term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance and Human Capital Formation

Victor Lavy, Avraham Ebenstein & Sefi Roth
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Cognitive performance is critical to productivity in many occupations and potentially linked to pollution exposure. We evaluate this potentially important relationship by estimating the effect of pollution exposure on standardized test scores among Israeli high school high-stakes tests (2000-2002). Since students take multiple exams on multiple days in the same location after each grade, we can adopt a fixed effects strategy estimating models with city, school, and student fixed effects. We focus on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO), which are considered to be two of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. We find that while PM2.5 and CO levels are only weakly correlated with each other, both exhibit a robust negative relationship with test scores. We also find that PM2.5, which is thought to be particularly damaging for asthmatics, has a larger negative impact on groups with higher rates of asthma. For CO, which affects neurological functioning, the effect is more homogenous across demographic groups. Furthermore, we find that exposure to either pollutant is associated with a significant decline in the probability of not receiving a Bagrut certificate, which is required for college entrance in Israel. The results suggest that the gain from improving air quality may be underestimated by a narrow focus on health impacts. Insofar as air pollution may lead to reduced cognitive performance, the consequences of pollution may be relevant for a variety of everyday activities that require mental acuity. Moreover, by temporarily lowering the productivity of human capital, high pollution levels lead to allocative inefficiency as students with lower human capital are assigned a higher rank than their more qualified peers. This may lead to inefficient allocation of workers across occupations, and possibly a less productive workforce.

----------------------

The Effect of Pollution on Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Mexico City

Rema Hanna & Paulina Oliva
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Moderate effects of pollution on health may exert important influences on work. We exploit exogenous variation in pollution due to the closure of a large refinery in Mexico City to understand how pollution impacts labor supply. The closure led to a 19.7 percent decline in pollution, as measured by SO2, in the surrounding neighborhoods. The closure led to a 1.3 hour (or 3.5 percent) increase in work hours per week. The effects do not appear to be driven by differential labor demand shocks nor selective migration.

----------------------

The Perverse Impact of Calling for Energy Conservation

Scott Holladay, Michael Price & Marianne Wanamaker
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
In periods of high energy demand, utilities frequently issue “emergency” appeals for conservation over peak hours to reduce brownout risk. We estimate the impact of such appeals using high-frequency data on actual and forecasted electricity generation, pollutant emission measures, and real-time prices. Our results suggest a perverse impact; while there is no significant reduction in grid stress over superpeak hours, such calls lead to increased off-peak generation, CO2 emissions, and price volatility. We postulate that consumer attempts at load shifting lead to this result.

----------------------

Environmental exposure to di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate is associated with low interest in sexual activity in premenopausal women

Emily Barrett et al.
Hormones and Behavior, November 2014, Pages 787–792

Abstract:
Phthalates, a ubiquitous class of environmental chemicals, may interfere with typical reproductive hormone production both in utero and in adulthood. Although they are best known as anti-androgens, increasingly, evidence suggests that phthalates, particularly di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), may also suppress estrogen production. Given that both androgens and estrogens are essential for sexual function, particularly sexual interest, it is plausible that adult exposure to phthalates alters sexual function. To this end, we used data from 360 women participating in a pregnancy cohort study (the Study for Future Families) to examine whether urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations were associated with two dimensions of self-reported sexual dysfunction in the months prior to conception: lack of sexual interest and vaginal dryness. Women in the highest quartile of urinary concentrations of mono-2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl phthalate, a DEHP metabolite, had 2.58 (95%CI 1.33, 5.00) times the adjusted odds of reporting that they almost always or often lacked interest in sexual activity, and results were similar for mono-2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl phthalate (aOR: 2.56, 95% CI 1.32, 4.95), another DEHP metabolite. Self-reported vaginal dryness was not associated with any phthalate metabolite concentration. This study is novel in its focus on sexual function in relation to environmentally relevant (rather than occupational) exposure to phthalates in adult women and these preliminary findings merit replication in a large, prospective study. Better understanding how adult exposure to phthalates may affect reproductive health, including sexual function, is of public health interest given that virtually all Westerners are exposed to phthalates.

----------------------

The Environmental Consequences of Rural and Urban Population Change: An Exploratory Spatial Panel Study of Forest Cover in the Southern United States, 2001–2006

Matthew Thomas Clement, Christina Ergas & Patrick Trent Greiner
Rural Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This exploratory study examines the effects of rural and urban population change on forest cover at the local level across the southern United States. Using county-level data from the National Land Cover Database and other U.S. government sources, we regressed the total area of forest cover on rural and urban population size in spatial panel models with two-way fixed effects. When we controlled for several other factors, including the number of forestry operations at the county level, regression results indicate that urban change had no effect, but rural population size was positively related to total forest area, and this effect was most pronounced in and around Georgia. Thus, in areas of the southern United States, rural growth was associated with afforestation, not deforestation. We speculate on how this unusual finding contributes to the debate between ecological modernization and urban political economy implicated in previous cross-national research.

----------------------

Environmental Health Risks and Housing Values: Evidence from 1,600 Toxic Plant Openings and Closings

Janet Currie et al.
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Regulatory oversight of toxic emissions from industrial plants and understanding about these emissions' impacts are in their infancy. Applying a research design based on the openings and closings of 1,600 industrial plants to rich data on housing markets and infant health, we find that: toxic air emissions affect air quality only within 1 mile of the plant; plant openings lead to 11% declines in housing values within 0.5 mile or a loss of about $4.25 million for these households; and a plant’s operation is associated with a roughly 3% increase in the probability of low birth weight within 1 mile.

----------------------

Gray Matters: Fetal Pollution Exposure and Human Capital Formation

Prashant Bharadwaj et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of fetal exposure to air pollution on 4th grade test scores in Santiago, Chile. We rely on comparisons across siblings which address concerns about locational sorting and all other time-invariant family characteristics that can lead to endogenous exposure to poor environmental quality. We also exploit data on air quality alerts to help address concerns related to short-run time-varying avoidance behavior, which has been shown to be important in a number of other contexts. We find a strong negative effect from fetal exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) on math and language skills measured in 4th grade. These effects are economically significant and our back of the envelope calculations suggest that the 50% reduction in CO in Santiago between 1990 and 2005 increased lifetime earnings by approximately 100 million USD per birth cohort.

----------------------

Energy Inflation and House Price Corrections

Andreas Breitenfellner, Jesús Crespo Cuaresma & Philipp Mayer
Energy Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze empirically the role played by energy inflation as a determinant of downward corrections in house prices. Using a dataset for 18 OECD economies spanning the last four decades, we identify periods of downward house price adjustment and estimate conditional logit models to measure the effect of energy inflation on the probability of these house price corrections after controlling for other relevant macroeconomic variables. Our results give strong evidence that increases in energy price inflation raise the probability of such corrective periods taking place. This phenomenon could be explained by various channels: through the adverse effects of energy prices on economic activity and income reducing the demand for housing; through the particular impact on construction and operation costs and their effects on the supply and demand of housing; through the reaction of monetary policy on inflation withdrawing liquidity and further reducing demand; through improving attractiveness of commodity versus housing investment on asset markets; or through a lagging impact of common factors on both variables, such as economic growth. Our results contribute to the understanding of the pass-through of oil price shocks to financial markets and imply that energy price inflation should serve as a leading indicator for the analysis of macro-financial risks.

----------------------

The Association of National Air Toxics Assessment Exposures and the Risk of Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Control Study

Evelyn Talbott et al.
University of Pittsburgh Working Paper, October 2014

Background: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) constitute a major public health problem, affecting one in every 68 children. There is little understanding of the cause of ASD despite its serious social impact. Air pollution contains many toxicants known to have adverse effects on the developing fetus.

Methods: We conducted a population-based case control study in six southwestern PA counties estimating the association between ASD and USEPA census tract modeled NATA levels for 30 neurotoxicants. Cases were recruited from local ASD treatment centers. There were two different control groups: 1) Interviewed controls with complete residential histories from pre-pregnancy through age two recruited through mailings using the Pennsylvania Department of Health birth registry (2005-2009). 2) 5,007 non-interviewed controls from a random sample of the birth records using residence at birth. Logistic regression analysis was conducted using quartiles of exposure, adjusting for age of mother, smoking, race, and education.

Results: There were a total of 217 cases. For the first group of 224 controls, median levels of chromium, styrene, cyanide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were higher in cases compared to controls (p<.05). Women in the highest quartile of exposure to styrene had an odds ratio of 1.78 (95% CI: 1.035-3.068) of having a child with ASD compared to the lowest quartile, after adjustment for covariates. In the second control group, each increase of interquartile range exposure to cyanide resulted in a 16% higher odds (95%CI; 1.04-3.46) of ASD in the adjusted logistic model. Additionally, women with the highest quartile of exposure to chromium had 1.65 (95%CI; 1.10-2.47) times the odds of having a child with ASD compared to the women in the lowest quartile of chromium exposure.

Conclusions: Chromium, cyanide and styrene exhibited elevated odds ratios using two different control groups. These findings need to be verified with exposure assessment at the individual level.

----------------------

Fallout plume of submerged oil from Deepwater Horizon

David Valentine et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 November 2014, Pages 15906–15911

Abstract:
The sinking of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico led to uncontrolled emission of oil to the ocean, with an official government estimate of ∼5.0 million barrels released. Among the pressing uncertainties surrounding this event is the fate of ∼2 million barrels of submerged oil thought to have been trapped in deep-ocean intrusion layers at depths of ∼1,000–1,300 m. Here we use chemical distributions of hydrocarbons in >3,000 sediment samples from 534 locations to describe a footprint of oil deposited on the deep-ocean floor. Using a recalcitrant biomarker of crude oil, 17α(H),21β(H)-hopane (hopane), we have identified a 3,200-km2 region around the Macondo Well contaminated by ∼1.8 ± 1.0 × 106 g of excess hopane. Based on spatial, chemical, oceanographic, and mass balance considerations, we calculate that this contamination represents 4–31% of the oil sequestered in the deep ocean. The pattern of contamination points to deep-ocean intrusion layers as the source and is most consistent with dual modes of deposition: a “bathtub ring” formed from an oil-rich layer of water impinging laterally upon the continental slope (at a depth of ∼900–1,300 m) and a higher-flux “fallout plume” where suspended oil particles sank to underlying sediment (at a depth of ∼1,300–1,700 m). We also suggest that a significant quantity of oil was deposited on the ocean floor outside this area but so far has evaded detection because of its heterogeneous spatial distribution.

----------------------

Regional variation in environmental inequality: Industrial air toxics exposure in U.S. cities

Klara Zwickl, Michael Ash & James Boyce
Ecological Economics, November 2014, Pages 494–509

Abstract:
This paper analyzes how racial and ethnic disparities in exposure to industrial air toxics in U.S. cities vary with neighborhood income, and how these disparities vary regionally across the country. Exposure is estimated at the census block-group level using geographic microdata from the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We find that racial and ethnic disparities in pollution exposure are strongest among neighborhoods with median incomes below $25,000, while income-based disparities are stronger among neighborhoods with median incomes above that level. We also find considerable differences in the patterns of disparity across the ten EPA regions. In the two regions with the highest median exposure (the Midwest and South Central regions), for example, African-Americans and Hispanics face significantly higher exposures than whites, whereas in the region with the next highest exposure (the Mid-Atlantic), the reverse is true. We show that the latter result is attributable to intercity variations – minorities tend to live in the less polluted cities in the region – rather than to within-city variations.

----------------------

Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels

Lucas Davis & Gilbert Metcalf
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Information provision is a key element of government energy-efficiency policy, but the information that is provided is often too coarse to allow consumers to make efficient decisions. An important example is the ubiquitous yellow “EnergyGuide” label, which is required by law to be displayed on all major appliances sold in the United States. These labels report energy cost information based on average national usage and energy prices. We conduct an online randomized controlled trial to measure the potential benefits from providing more accurate information. We find that state-specific labels lead to significantly better choices. Consumers invest about the same amount overall in energy-efficiency, but the allocation is much better with more investment in high-usage high-price states and less investment in low-usage low-price states. The implied aggregate cost savings are larger than any reasonable estimate of the cost of implementing state-specific labels.

----------------------

The Environmental Effects of Crop Price Increases: Nitrogen Losses in the U.S. Corn Belt

Nathan Hendricks et al.
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, November 2014, Pages 507–526

Abstract:
High corn prices cause farmers to plant more corn on fields that were planted to corn in the previous year, rather than alternating between corn and soybeans. Cultivating corn after corn requires greater nitrogen fertilizer and some of this nitrogen flows into waterways and causes environmental damage. We estimate the effect of crop prices on nitrogen losses for most fields in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana using crop data from satellite imagery. Spatial variation in these high-resolution estimates highlights the fact that the environmental effects of agriculture depend not only on what is grown, but also on where and in what sequence it is grown. Our results suggest that the change in corn and soybean prices due to a billion gallons of ethanol production expands the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico by roughly 30 square miles on average, although there is considerable uncertainty in this estimate.

----------------------

Behavioural and physiological responses of birds to environmentally relevant concentrations of an antidepressant

Tom Bean et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 November 2014

Abstract:
Many wildlife species forage on sewage-contaminated food, for example, at wastewater treatment plants and on fields fertilized with sewage sludge. The resultant exposure to human pharmaceuticals remains poorly studied for terrestrial species. On the basis of predicted exposure levels in the wild, we administered the common antidepressant fluoxetine (FLUOX) or control treatment via prey to wild-caught starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) for 22 weeks over winter. To investigate responses to fluoxetine, birds were moved from their group aviaries into individual cages for 2 days. Boldness, exploration and activity levels showed no treatment effects but controls and FLUOX birds habituated differently to isolation in terms of the concentration of corticosterone (CORT) metabolites in faeces. The controls that excreted higher concentrations of CORT metabolites on day 1 lost more body mass by day 2 of isolation than those which excreted lower levels of CORT metabolites. CORT metabolites and mass loss were unrelated in FLUOX birds. When we investigated the movements of birds in their group aviaries, we found the controls made a higher frequency of visits to food trays than FLUOX birds around the important foraging periods of sunrise and sunset, as is optimal for wintering birds. Although individual variability makes interpreting the sub-lethal endpoints measured challenging, our data suggest that fluoxetine at environmentally relevant concentrations can significantly alter behaviour and physiology.

----------------------

An Experimental Test of the Effect of Negative Social Norms on Energy-Efficient Investments

Mike Yeomans & David Herberich
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Energy efficiency is an important economic and environmental concern, and likewise the correction of current wasteful energy practices. We document widespread “tire pressure neglect” - three-quarters of drivers waste gas driving on underinflated tires. Negative descriptive social norms are one potential cause, but have not been tested in high-neglect environments, where those norms are widespread. This confounds the mechanism: are these norms signals of private value to consumers, or do they imply standards for social judgment from others? We conducted a field experiment at gas stations in Chicago - our intervention included treatments with information about tire pressure neglect, promotions in the form of price reductions from $0.50 to free, a descriptive norm of behavior, and “help” in the form of air pump assistance. The treatments are designed to provide the ability to consider four potential underlying drivers: information, monetary cost, social norms and social pressure. Treatments that only included information were ineffective, despite average fuel savings of $10.51, but small promotions had substantial impacts. When the air pump price was free, the social norm discouraged inflation. However, when the research assistant offered help, inflation rates were buoyed by the social norm. These results highlight the importance of incentives over mere information treatments, and offer a new perspective on how information and monetary levers can influence decision-making in the presence of negative social norms.

----------------------

Biogeographic patterns in below-ground diversity in New York City's Central Park are similar to those observed globally

Kelly Ramirez et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 November 2014

Abstract:
Soil biota play key roles in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, however, compared to our knowledge of above-ground plant and animal diversity, the biodiversity found in soils remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we present an assessment of soil biodiversity and biogeographic patterns across Central Park in New York City that spanned all three domains of life, demonstrating that even an urban, managed system harbours large amounts of undescribed soil biodiversity. Despite high variability across the Park, below-ground diversity patterns were predictable based on soil characteristics, with prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities exhibiting overlapping biogeographic patterns. Further, Central Park soils harboured nearly as many distinct soil microbial phylotypes and types of soil communities as we found in biomes across the globe (including arctic, tropical and desert soils). This integrated cross-domain investigation highlights that the amount and patterning of novel and uncharacterized diversity at a single urban location matches that observed across natural ecosystems spanning multiple biomes and continents.

----------------------

North-south trade in reusable goods: Green design meets illegal shipments of waste

Sophie Bernard
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, January 2015, Pages 22–35

Abstract:
In a stylized model of international trade, firms in the North indirectly export second-hand products to a representative firm in the South to be reused as intermediate goods, with potential trade gains. The level of reusability of waste products – or green design – is a crucial choice variable in the North. This is because, in the presence of imperfect international monitoring, non-reusable waste can be illegally mixed with reusable waste. I explore the driving forces for illegal waste movement, with a particular focus on local waste regulations such as the EU's Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. Under mild conditions, it is shown that increasingly stringent regulations in the North can induce Northern firms to reduce product reusability. Consequently, the flow of non-reusable waste to the South increases, magnifying the pollution haven effect.

----------------------

Integrated life-cycle assessment of electricity-supply scenarios confirms global environmental benefit of low-carbon technologies

Edgar Hertwich et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decarbonization of electricity generation can support climate-change mitigation and presents an opportunity to address pollution resulting from fossil-fuel combustion. Generally, renewable technologies require higher initial investments in infrastructure than fossil-based power systems. To assess the tradeoffs of increased up-front emissions and reduced operational emissions, we present, to our knowledge, the first global, integrated life-cycle assessment (LCA) of long-term, wide-scale implementation of electricity generation from renewable sources (i.e., photovoltaic and solar thermal, wind, and hydropower) and of carbon dioxide capture and storage for fossil power generation. We compare emissions causing particulate matter exposure, freshwater ecotoxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and climate change for the climate-change-mitigation (BLUE Map) and business-as-usual (Baseline) scenarios of the International Energy Agency up to 2050. We use a vintage stock model to conduct an LCA of newly installed capacity year-by-year for each region, thus accounting for changes in the energy mix used to manufacture future power plants. Under the Baseline scenario, emissions of air and water pollutants more than double whereas the low-carbon technologies introduced in the BLUE Map scenario allow a doubling of electricity supply while stabilizing or even reducing pollution. Material requirements per unit generation for low-carbon technologies can be higher than for conventional fossil generation: 11–40 times more copper for photovoltaic systems and 6–14 times more iron for wind power plants. However, only two years of current global copper and one year of iron production will suffice to build a low-carbon energy system capable of supplying the world's electricity needs in 2050.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Belief system

Perceptions of Discrimination Among Atheists: Consequences for Atheist Identification, Psychological and Physical Well-Being

Michael Doane & Marta Elliott
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Atheists are a marginalized group of people in the United States. Although studies have found that atheists perceive prejudice and experience discrimination, little is known about the consequences of such social rejection. To address this gap in research, we examined the associations among discrimination, identity, and well-being using original survey data from self-identified atheists (n = 960). We investigated their associations in the context of the Rejection-Identification Model, which posits that group identification reduces the negative effect of discrimination on well-being. Consistent with extant research on other marginalized groups, discrimination was negatively associated with well-being while positively associated with atheist identification. Further, atheist identification was positively associated with well-being. In support of the rejection-identification process, we found evidence that atheists may strengthen their group identification in the face of discrimination. Strengthened identification as an atheist may be a strategy that protects atheists from the harmful effects of social rejection.

----------------------

Diffusing Knowledge while Spreading God's Message: Protestantism and Economic Prosperity in China, 1840-1920

Ying Bai & James Kai-sing Kung
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide an account of how Protestantism promoted economic prosperity in China - a country in which Protestant missionaries penetrated far and wide during 1840-1920, but only a tiny fraction of the population had converted to Christianity. By exploiting the spatial variation in the missionaries' retreat due to the Boxer Uprising to identify the diffusion of Protestantism, we find that the conversion of an additional communicant per 10,000 people increases the overall urbanization rate by 18.8% when evaluated at the mean. Moreover, 90% of this effect comes from knowledge diffusion activities associated with schools and hospitals erected by the missionaries.

----------------------

The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands

Davide Cantoni
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
Following Max Weber, many theories have hypothesized that Protestantism should have favored economic development. With its religious heterogeneity, the Holy Roman Empire presents an ideal testing ground for this hypothesis. Using population figures of 272 cities in the years 1300-1900, I find no effects of Protestantism on economic growth. The finding is precisely estimated, robust to the inclusion of various controls, and does not depend on data selection or small sample size. Denominational differences in fertility behavior and literacy are unlikely to be major confounding factors. Protestantism has no effect when interacted with other likely determinants of economic development. Instrumental variables estimates, considering the potential endogeneity of religious choice, are similar to the OLS results.

----------------------

The ecology of religious beliefs

Carlos Botero et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 November 2014, Pages 16784-16789

Abstract:
Although ecological forces are known to shape the expression of sociality across a broad range of biological taxa, their role in shaping human behavior is currently disputed. Both comparative and experimental evidence indicate that beliefs in moralizing high gods promote cooperation among humans, a behavioral attribute known to correlate with environmental harshness in nonhuman animals. Here we combine fine-grained bioclimatic data with the latest statistical tools from ecology and the social sciences to evaluate the potential effects of environmental forces, language history, and culture on the global distribution of belief in moralizing high gods (n = 583 societies). After simultaneously accounting for potential nonindependence among societies because of shared ancestry and cultural diffusion, we find that these beliefs are more prevalent among societies that inhabit poorer environments and are more prone to ecological duress. In addition, we find that these beliefs are more likely in politically complex societies that recognize rights to movable property. Overall, our multimodel inference approach predicts the global distribution of beliefs in moralizing high gods with an accuracy of 91%, and estimates the relative importance of different potential mechanisms by which this spatial pattern may have arisen. The emerging picture is neither one of pure cultural transmission nor of simple ecological determinism, but rather a complex mixture of social, cultural, and environmental influences. Our methods and findings provide a blueprint for how the increasing wealth of ecological, linguistic, and historical data can be leveraged to understand the forces that have shaped the behavior of our own species.

----------------------

Sinners or Saints? Preachers' Kids and Risky Health Behaviors

Jason Delaney & John Winters
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, December 2014, Pages 464-476

Abstract:
How do parents influence adolescent risky behavior? In this paper, we focus on a unique population: children of the clergy, more commonly known as preachers' kids (PKs). We used data on risky behavior among American adolescents from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort and used latent variable and zero-inflated count models to analyze the effect of being a PK on both uptake and intensity of use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs. We found that being a PK significantly reduced alcohol use. This effect came exclusively from a reduction in the probability of any alcohol use and this increased abstinence among children of the clergy persisted into adulthood. We found no significant effects of being a PK on cigarette uptake or intensity of use but some evidence of a negative PK effect on the uptake of marijuana and other drugs.

----------------------

Self-Reported Spirituality Correlates With Endogenous Oxytocin

Colin Holbrook, Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook & Julianne Holt-Lunstad
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Spirituality involves a feeling of profound personal connection to a sacred reality (e.g., God), and is often characterized by experiences of comfort and peace. The neuropeptide oxytocin appears to be a plausible biological mediator of such spiritual experiences, as oxytocin is closely linked with social affiliation, intimacy, and stress-attenuation. Here, we investigated the relationship between endogenously generated oxytocin and self-reported trait spirituality among a group of devout North American Christians. In line with emerging perspectives linking oxytocin with social affiliation, but not with positive asocial feelings in general, trait spirituality predicted higher levels of salivary oxytocin, and this association was not explained by covarying positive mood, optimism, romantic relationship status, or sex. The results are discussed as they motivate future directions in research on oxytocin and spirituality.

----------------------

Mantram Repetition Fosters Self-Efficacy in Veterans for Managing PTSD: A Randomized Trial

Doug Oman & Jill Bormann
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition that affects physical health. However, many military veterans with PTSD refuse or drop out of commonly used trauma-focused, evidence-based treatments. Growing research supports the value of spiritual components in diverse types of health care interventions. This study investigated the effects of the Mantram Repetition Program (MRP) on self-efficacy for managing PTSD symptoms. Outpatient veterans with PTSD (n = 132) were recruited through referrals, and were primarily male (98%), non-Hispanic white (59%) or black (23%), with mean age 58 years (SD = 9). Participants were randomized to case management plus MRP, or to case management alone. MRP participants chose a short, sacred phrase from a spiritual tradition (e.g., "Jesus," "Barukh attah Adonai," "Om mani padme hum"), repeating the phrase silently throughout the day to interrupt unwanted thoughts and behaviors, and to improve concentration and attention. Self-efficacy was assessed weekly, and participants were assessed at baseline (Week 1) and postintervention (Week 6) for PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, mental health, and spiritual well-being. Results revealed that MRP group self-efficacy means as well as treatment effects showed approximately linear weekly increases from baseline to postintervention. Treatment effects on self-efficacy were significant (p < .01), and mediated treatment effects on depression, mental health, spiritual well-being, satisfaction with physical health, and both self-reported and clinician-assessed PTSD symptoms (all ps < .05). We concluded that MRP fosters self-efficacy for managing PTSD symptoms, favorably affecting diverse facets of well-being, and that physical health effects merit investigation.

----------------------

Why was there no religious war in premodern East Asia?

David Kang
European Journal of International Relations, December 2014, Pages 965-986

Abstract:
In premodern East Asia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China rarely experienced anything like the type of religious violence that existed for centuries in historical Europe, despite having vibrant religious traditions such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, and numerous folk religions. How do we explain a region in which religion was generally not a part of the explanation for war and rebellion? A unique data set of over 950 entries of Chinese and Korean violence over a 473-year span allows granular measurement of religious violence. I argue that the inclusivist religions of historical East Asia did not easily lend themselves to appropriation by political leaders as a means of differentiating groups or justifying violence. Addressing the paucity of religious war in historical East Asia is theoretically important because it challenges a large body of scholarly literature that finds a universal causal relationship between religion and war that is empirically derived mainly from the experience of only Christianity and Islam. In contrast, it may be that certain types of religious traditions are less amenable to mass mobilization for violence. Moving beyond Christianity and Islam to include East Asian religious traditions promises both to address a potentially serious issue of selection bias and also to be a rich field for theorizing about the relationship between religion and war.

----------------------

Abortion Politics and the Decline of the Separation of Church and State: The Southern Baptist Case

Andrew Lewis
Politics and Religion, September 2014, Pages 521-549

Abstract:
Between the late 1970s and early 1990s, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) altered its First Amendment advocacy, shifting from being an ardent supporter of the strict separation of church and state to being a champion of the government accommodation of religion. At the same time, the denomination also became unswervingly pro-life. In this article, I use the SBC case to identify a previously under-analyzed link between abortion politics and church-state politics. I suggest that pro-life politics played an important role in the SBC's shift away from the separation of church and state. I focus on three areas where abortion politics aided this shift: (1) opposing separationists' assertions that anti-abortion policies violated the Establishment Clause; (2) becoming allies rather than foes with Catholics; and (3) promoting a greater emphasis on the free exercise of religion. I conclude by discussing the implications for the relationship between religion, law, and politics.

----------------------

The Role of Social Networks in the Recruitment of Youth in an Islamist Organization in Pakistan

Akhlaq Ahmad
Sociological Spectrum, November/December 2014, Pages 469-488

Abstract:
Drawing on data from 40 qualitative interviews, this article examines how young people are connected with one influential Islamist student organization in Pakistan. It provides deeper insight into the micro-level mechanisms and processes by which new members are approached and drawn closer to the particular organization. Findings reveal that young people who joined this organization did not necessarily do so because of their ideological affinity, political or social grievances or because of macro-level events occurring in the national or global arena, such as the U.S.-led war on terror. Rather, they predominantly ended up in the organization because of their friends and acquaintances who were activists in the organization.

----------------------

Parental Religiosity and Youth Religiosity: Variations by Family Structure

Richard Petts
Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many studies have explored the links between family structure, parental religiosity, and youth religiosity, but results across studies have been inconsistent and have largely ignored new diverse family forms. Using data on 2,320 youth and their parents from the National Study of Youth and Religion, this study focused on whether and why religious transmission from parents to youth varies among diverse family structures. Results suggest that family structure is not directly related to youth religious outcomes, but that the influence of parental religiosity on religious participation and religious salience (but not closeness to God or private religious practices) was weaker for youth raised in stepfamilies, never-married single-parent families, and cohabiting families than for those raised by married biological/adoptive parents. Results also suggest that less effective religious transmission within nontraditional families compared with traditional families is due (at least in part) to less effective religious socialization within these families.

----------------------

Does Religious Beliefs Affect Economic Growth? Evidence from Provincial-level Panel Data in China

Qunyong Wang & Xinyu Lin
China Economic Review, December 2014, Pages 277-287

Abstract:
More and more literature on economic growth and development has increasingly focused on long-run effects of geographic, historical, and cultural factors on productivity and income per capita. This paper investigates the effect of religious beliefs on economic growth using provincial panel data from 2001 to 2011 in China. It's very meaningful to study the role of religion playing in economic development since religion has influence on political preference, human capital and work ethic, especially in current China which is faced with income disparity, environmental pollution, and official corruption. Our results reveal that, among the different religions, Christianity has the most significant effect on economic growth. This conclusion is consistent among different estimators and robust with stability over time. However, no consistent or robust conclusions can be drawn for other religions. Different estimation methods give different signs or significance. Given the very few studies and limited data resources about China in this field, the paper as a tentative study provides a brand new viewpoint.

----------------------

The Choosing People: Interpreting the Puzzling Politics of American Jewry

Kenneth Wald
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The political liberalism of American Jews is puzzling because it contradicts the assumption that economic self-interest drives political behavior. Attempts to solve this puzzle with "Judaic" explanations compound the problem by offering theories that are static and universal while American Jewish political behavior is dynamic and situational. Using both historical and behavioral data, I argue that the solution to these puzzles is found in the overriding concern of American Jews with maintaining their equal citizenship in a society with a classic liberal regime of religion and state. This situational model also helps integrate work on Jewish political studies with theories and concepts commonly used by political scientists to explain mass political behavior.

----------------------

Do Religious Proscriptions Matter? Evidence from a Theory-Based Test

Daniel Hungerman
Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2014, Pages 1053-1093

Abstract:
A large literature shows that religious participation is associated with various behaviors and outcomes, but researchers lack an accepted instrument for religion and have struggled to establish whether these associations are causal. Using the canonical economic model of religiosity, I develop an empirical test to investigate the importance of religious participation, in particular religious proscriptions and rules, on determining behavior. The test relies on exogenous variation in the cost of secular activities rather than an instrument for religious participation. Several empirical applications of this test are conducted; the results indicate a strong role for religious proscriptions in determining behavior.

----------------------

Does Religion Mitigate Tunneling? Evidence from Chinese Buddhism

Xingqiang Du
Journal of Business Ethics, December 2014, Pages 299-327

Abstract:
In the Chinese stock market, controlling shareholders often use inter-corporate loans to expropriate a great amount of cash from listed firms, through a process called "tunneling." Using a sample of 10,170 firm-year observations from the Chinese stock market for the period of 2001-2010, I examine whether and how Buddhism, China's most influential religion, can mitigate tunneling. In particular, using firm-level Buddhism data, measured as the number of Buddhist monasteries within a certain radius around Chinese listed firms' registered addresses, this study provides strong evidence that Buddhism intensity is significantly negatively associated with tunneling. This finding is consistent with the view that Buddhism has important influence on corporate behavior and can serve as a set of social norms and/or an alternative mechanism to mitigate controlling shareholders' unethical tunneling behavior. In addition, my findings also reveal that the negative association between Buddhism intensity and tunneling is attenuated for firms that have high analyst coverage. The results are robust to various measures of Buddhism intensity and a variety of sensitivity tests.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, December 1, 2014

The next election

The Effect of Fact-Checking on Elites: A Field Experiment on U.S. State Legislators

Brendan Nyhan & Jason Reifler
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does external monitoring improve democratic performance? Fact-checking has come to play an increasingly important role in political coverage in the United States, but some research suggests it may be ineffective at reducing public misperceptions about controversial issues. However, fact-checking might instead help improve political discourse by increasing the reputational costs or risks of spreading misinformation for political elites. To evaluate this deterrent hypothesis, we conducted a field experiment on a diverse group of state legislators from nine U.S. states in the months before the November 2012 election. In the experiment, a randomly assigned subset of state legislators was sent a series of letters about the risks to their reputation and electoral security if they were caught making questionable statements. The legislators who were sent these letters were substantially less likely to receive a negative fact-checking rating or to have their accuracy questioned publicly, suggesting that fact-checking can reduce inaccuracy when it poses a salient threat.

----------------------

A Principle or a Strategy? Voter Identification Laws and Partisan Competition in the American States

William Hicks et al.
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We undertake a comprehensive examination of restrictive voter ID legislation in the American states from 2001 through 2012. With a dataset containing approximately one thousand introduced and nearly one hundred adopted voter ID laws, we evaluate the likelihood that a state legislature introduces a restrictive voter ID bill, as well as the likelihood that a state government adopts such a law. Voter ID laws have evolved from a valence issue into a partisan battle, where Republicans defend them as a safeguard against fraud while Democrats indict them as a mechanism of voter suppression. However, voter ID legislation is not uniform across the states; not all Republican-controlled legislatures have pushed for more restrictive voter ID laws. Instead, our findings show it is a combination of partisan control and the electoral context that drives enactment of such measures. While the prevalence of Republican lawmakers strongly and positively influences the adoption of voter ID laws in electorally competitive states, its effect is significantly weaker in electorally uncompetitive states. Republicans preside over an electoral coalition that is declining in size; where elections are competitive, the furtherance of restrictive voter ID laws is a means of maintaining Republican support while curtailing Democratic electoral gains.

----------------------

Differing Paths to the Top: Gender, Ambition, and Running for Governor

Jason Windett
Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Fall 2014, Pages 287-314

Abstract:
This research aims to bridge together the work between ambition formation and progressive ambition through an analysis of current and former US governors and gubernatorial candidates' political careers through in-depth interviews. Much like earlier scholarship on women's political ambition, I conclude that women tend to be self-starters, begin their careers much later in life, and receive little party recruitment. Women, however, are more likely to take electoral risks when moving up the political career ladder, challenging incumbents at higher rates than their male counterparts, and entering races with greater levels of electoral uncertainty.

----------------------

Racial Imagery and Support for Voter ID Laws

David Wilson, Paul Brewer & Phoebe Theodora Rosenbluth
Race and Social Problems, December 2014, Pages 365-371

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that calls for voter ID laws include racialized appeals and that racial attitudes influence support for such laws. This study uses an experiment to test whether exposure to racial imagery also affects support for voter ID laws. The data come from a survey experiment embedded in the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (N = 1,436) randomizing the race of a voter and poll worker shown to respondents (African American voter and poll worker, white voter and poll worker, or no image). The results show that white respondents who saw an image of an African American voter and poll worker expressed greater support for voter ID laws than those in the no image condition, even after controlling for the significant effects of racial resentment and political ideology. Exposure to an image of a white voter and poll worker did not produce a similar effect. The findings provide new evidence that public opinion about voter ID laws is racialized.

----------------------

From Black and White to Left and Right: Race, Perceptions of Candidates' Ideologies, and Voting Behavior in U.S. House Elections

Matthew Jacobsmeier
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
While there is a strong scholarly consensus that race continues to play a central role in American politics, research on the effects of the race of candidates on electoral behavior has produced decidedly mixed results. Using American National Election Studies data, Cooperative Congressional Election Studies data, and a non-linear systems of equations approach to estimation, I show that race-based misperceptions of candidates' ideologies have a significant indirect impact on voting decisions in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives. The indirect effects of race on voting behavior outweigh any direct effects of racial prejudice by a substantial margin. More specifically, the results suggest that white citizens will tend to perceive black candidates to be more liberal than white candidates who adopt similar policy positions, and that these race-based misperceptions disadvantage black candidates at the ballot box.

----------------------

Presidential Coattails versus the Median Voter: Senator Selection in US Elections

Yosh Halberstam & Pablo Montagnes
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that senators elected in presidential elections are more ideologically extreme than in midterm elections. This finding is in contrast to the literature suggesting that voters in presidential elections are more ideologically moderate than voters in midterm elections. To explain this incongruence, we propose a theory of spillover effects in which party labels enable voters to update their beliefs about candidates across contemporaneous races for office: unexpected support for a candidate in one race carries marginal candidates from the same party in other races. Our theory implies that presidential coattails may skew representative government away from the median-voter ideal.

----------------------

Risk Attitudes and the Incumbency Advantage

David Eckles et al.
Political Behavior, December 2014, Pages 731-749

Abstract:
Explanations for the incumbency advantage in American elections have typically pointed to the institutional advantages that incumbents enjoy over challengers but overlook the role of individual traits that reinforce this bias. The institutional advantages enjoyed by incumbents give voters more certainty about who incumbents are and what they might do when (and if) they assume office. We argue that these institutional advantages make incumbents particularly attractive to risk-averse individuals, who shy away from uncertainty and embrace choices that provide more certainty. Using data from 2008 and 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we show that citizens who are more risk averse are more likely to support incumbent candidates, while citizens who are more risk accepting are more likely to vote for challengers. The foundations of the incumbency advantage, we find, lie not only in the institutional perks of office but also in the individual minds of voters.

----------------------

Losing to Win: How Partisan Candidates Help Parties Win in the Future

Kai Steverson
Princeton Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We study an infinite horizon model of political competition where parties face a trade-off between winning today and winning tomorrow. Parties choose between nominating moderates, who are more viable, or partisans, who can energize the base and draw in new voters which helps win future elections. Only moderates can win in equilibrium and so the winning party fails to invest in its base and has a weaker future. Hence the longer a party is in power the more likely they are to lose, a pattern that finds strong support in the data. This dynamic also creates an electoral cycle where parties regularly take turns in power.

----------------------

Candidate Age and Youth Voter Turnout

Michael Pomante & Scot Schraufnagel
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The research addresses youth voter turnout in the United States and, specifically, tests the relationship between candidate age and a commitment to vote by young people in a controlled experiment. We learn that potential young voters are more willing to commit to vote when they view pictures of younger candidates running. This is the case after controlling for the age and partisanship of respondents. In a real-world test of our experimental results, we examine state-level variation in youth voter turnout in midterm governor and Senate races (1994-2010). In the state-level analysis, we find a larger candidate age gap in governor and Senate races associates with higher levels of youth mobilization. In all, the research affirms the value of candidate characteristics as a predictor of voting behavior.

----------------------

Political Scandal and Bias in Survey Responses

Nicholas Goedert
PS: Political Science & Politics, October 2014, Pages 813-818

Abstract:
This article provides evidence for bias in the polling of American political candidates who are accused of personal or financial scandal, wherein the support of the accused candidate is understated. Evidence for this phenomenon is found in the analysis of a dataset of district-level polls of US House elections during the 2002-2012 election cycles. This bias helps to explain several unanticipated outcomes in recent American legislative elections, in which scandal-tarred incumbents unexpectedly were reelected or defeated by surprisingly narrow margins. The article also finds evidence of a smaller bias, previously observed by practitioners, wherein support is overstated for incumbents who are not accused of scandal.

----------------------

Do Charitable Subsidies Crowd Out Political Giving? The Missing Link between Charitable and Political Contributions

Bariş Yörük
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the United States, charitable contributions can be deducted from taxable income making the price of giving inversely related to the marginal tax rate. However, several other types of contributions such as donations to political organizations are not tax deductible. This paper investigates the spillover effects of charitable subsidies on political giving using five cross-sectional surveys of charitable and political giving in the United States conducted from 1990 to 2001. The results show that charitable and political giving are complements. Compared with non-donors, charitable donors are more likely to donate and give more to political organizations. Increasing the price of charitable giving decreases not only charitable giving but also the probability of giving and the amount of donations to political organizations. This effect is robust under different specifications and highlights the externalities created by charitable subsidies.

----------------------

Representation without Parties: Reconsidering the One-Party South, 1930-62

Devin Caughey
MIT Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Political scientists have long viewed the one-party South as exemplifying the impossibility of democracy in the absence of partisan competition. I argue that this view conflates the effects of disfranchisement and one-partyism. Despite the lack of partisan competition, Democratic primaries induced a qualified but real electoral connection between Southern members of Congress and the (white) eligible electorate. I show that Southern representatives exhibited strong responsiveness to the economic policy preferences of their median voter. I also demonstrate that Southern MCs' collective shift from New Deal liberals to pivotal centrists in the 1930s and 1940s mirrored shifts in white public opinion in the South. These findings suggest important qualifications to the view of the one-party South as an "authoritarian" regime and to the conventional wisdom that that representation requires partisan competition.

----------------------

Baby Boomers

Michael Delli Carpini
The Forum, October 2014, Pages 417-445

Abstract:
Born between 1946 and 1964, "baby boomers" represent the largest 20-year age cohort in US history and still account for over 30% of the adult population. Drawing on over half a century of survey data from the American National Election Studies I explore the political legacy of this generational cohort as measured by 16 indicators of political engagement. The results suggest that while evidence of lasting generational differences in political attitudes and behaviors between boomers and those who preceded or followed them exist, they are generally small to modest, with variation over time driven more by the times in which people live than the times in which they were socialized.

----------------------

Raising Hope: Hope Inducement and Voter Turnout

Costas Panagopoulos
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, November/December 2014, Pages 494-501

Abstract:
Politicians routinely invoke hope on the campaign trail, presumably because they believe that inducements of hope attract supporters and impel citizens to the polls. Social psychologists and political scientists similarly posit that activating positive emotions like hope and other powerful psychological mechanisms has the capacity to stimulate prosocial behavior, like voting in elections. In this study, I subject these claims to empirical scrutiny by designing and implementing a series of randomized field experiments to examine whether inducing hope raises electoral participation. Overall, I find little evidence that hope affects voting behavior, but I acknowledge the null effects may reflect the [im]potency of the treatment.

----------------------

What Happens When Extremists Win Primaries?

Andrew Hall
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article studies the interplay of U.S. primary and general elections. I examine how the nomination of an extremist changes general-election outcomes and legislative behavior in the U.S. House, 1980-2010, using a regression discontinuity design in primary elections. When an extremist -- as measured by primary-election campaign receipt patterns -- wins a "coin-flip" election over a more moderate candidate, the party's general-election vote share decreases by approximately 9-13 percentage points, and the probability that the party wins the seat decreases by 35-54 percentage points. This electoral penalty is so large that nominating the more extreme primary candidate causes the district's subsequent roll-call representation to reverse, becoming more liberal when an extreme Republican is nominated and more conservative when an extreme Democrat is nominated. Overall, the findings show how general-election voters act as a moderating filter in response to primary nominations.

----------------------

The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances

Roland Hodler, Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increasing the attractiveness of voting is often seen as a remedy for unequal participation and the influence of special-interest groups on public policy. However, lower voting costs may also bring less informed citizens to the poll, thereby inviting efforts to sway these voters. We substantiate this argument in a probabilistic voting model with campaign contributions. In an empirical analysis for the 26 Swiss cantons, we find that lower voting costs due to postal voting are related to higher turnout, lower average education and political knowledge of participants as well as lower government welfare expenditures and lower business taxation.

----------------------

There Can Be Only One (Woman on the Ticket): Gender in Candidate Nominations

Valerie Hennings & Robert Urbatsch
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Party elites and voters are reluctant to cede multiple ballot positions to women simultaneously, so that men are able to have running mates of either gender but women tend to have male running mates. Evidence from American gubernatorial elections, state legislative caucuses, and presidential tickets from around the world confirms this: nominating a woman for the top position reduces a party's likelihood of nominating a woman for the second position by half or more.

----------------------

Deliberative Democracy and the American Civil Jury

Valerie Hans, John Gastil & Traci Feller
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2014, Pages 697-717

Abstract:
Civil jury service should be a potent form of deliberative democracy, creating greater civic engagement. However, a 2010 seven-state study of jury service and voting records found no overall boost in civic engagement following service on civil juries, whereas jurors who served on criminal cases did show increased civic engagement following their jury service. This article reports a project that augments the civil jury data set with information about jury decision rule, jury size, defendant identity, and case type and examines whether specific types of civil jury service influence postservice voting. Taking into account preservice voting records, jurors who serve on a civil jury that is required to reach unanimity or a civil jury of 12 are significantly more likely to vote after their service. Jurors who decide cases with organizational, as opposed to individual, defendants likewise show a boost in voting behavior, as do jurors deciding contract or nonautomotive torts cases compared to automotive torts. Limitations and implications of these findings for deliberative democracy theory and jury practice are discussed.

----------------------

Strategic Mobilization: Why Proportional Representation Decreases Voter Mobilization

Carlisle Rainey
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many scholars suggest that proportional representation increases party mobilization by creating nationally competitive districts that give parties an incentive to mobilize everywhere. This paper provides theoretical and empirical arguments that bring this claim into question. I propose, unlike earlier scholars, that the positive effect of district competitiveness on party mobilization efforts increases as electoral districts become more disproportional, arguing that disproportionality itself encourages mobilization by exaggerating the impact of competitiveness on mobilization. Individual-level survey data from national legislative elections show that competitiveness has a much larger positive effect on parties' mobilization efforts in single-member districts than in proportional districts. Contrary to prior literature, these results suggest proportional electoral rules give parties no strong incentive to mobilize anywhere.

----------------------

Campaigns and the Mitigation of Framing Effects on Voting Behavior: A Natural and Field Experiment

Michael Binder, Matthew Childers & Natalie Johnson
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is a widely held belief that the way a ballot proposition title is framed (the way the issue is presented) has an effect on its eventual success or failure on Election Day. Prior to California's 2010 General Election, the ballot language for two propositions was disputed and challenged in court. For both Proposition 22, intended to change the allocation of state and local tax revenues, and Proposition 23, intended to overturn California's landmark global-warming law, Fresno County failed to make the court ordered changes. The election proceeded with the unchanged ballot language in Fresno County and the newly adjusted ballot language throughout the rest of the state. This paper takes advantage of this natural experiment to evaluate the potency of framing effects in direct democracy elections, as well as, the role that campaigns (high salience versus low salience) can play in limiting those effects. As a further test, survey data using identical language collected in an area where neither issue was of high salience is used as a comparison. This additional test serves as a mechanism to isolate any potential framing effect of campaigns. We conclude that the way a ballot measure is framed has an impact on its Election Day success so long as it is a relatively low-salience measure. For initiatives with vigorous campaign activity, such as Proposition 23, framing effects are less effective and not statistically significant in this instance.

----------------------

Ballot (and voter) "exhaustion" under Instant Runoff Voting: An examination of four ranked-choice elections

Craig Burnett & Vladimir Kogan
Electoral Studies, March 2015, Pages 41-49

Abstract:
Some proponents of municipal election reform advocate for the adoption of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), a method that allows voters to rank multiple candidates according to their preferences. Although supporters claim that IRV is superior to the traditional primary-runoff election system, research on IRV is limited. We analyze data taken from images of more than 600,000 ballots cast by voters in four recent local elections. We document a problem known as ballot "exhaustion," which results in a substantial number of votes being discarded in each election. As a result of ballot exhaustion, the winner in all four of our cases receives less than a majority of the total votes cast, a finding that raises serious concerns about IRV and challenges a key argument made by the system's proponents.

----------------------

Political Participation and Civic Courage: The Negative Effect of Transparency on Making Small Campaign Contributions

Raymond La Raja
Political Behavior, December 2014, Pages 753-776

Abstract:
This study assesses whether public disclosure of campaign contributions affects citizens' willingness to give money to candidates. In the American states, campaign finance laws require disclosure of private information for contributors at relatively low thresholds ranging from $1 to $300. The Internet has made it relatively easy to publicize such information in a way that changes the social context for political participation. Drawing on social influence theory, the analysis suggests that citizens are sensitive to divulging private information, especially those who are surrounded by people with different political views. Using experimental data from the 2011 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies, it demonstrates how individuals refrain from making small campaign contributions or reduce their donations to avoid disclosing their identities. The conclusion discusses the implications of transparency laws for political participation, especially for small donors.

----------------------

Mecro-Economic Voting: Local Information and Micro-Perceptions of the Macro-Economy

Stephen Ansolabehere, Marc Meredith & Erik Snowberg
Economics & Politics, November 2014, Pages 380-410

Abstract:
We develop an incomplete information theory of economic voting, where voters' information about macro-economic performance is determined by the economic conditions of people similar to themselves. We test our theory using both cross-sectional and time-series survey data. A novel survey instrument that asks respondents their numerical assessment of the unemployment rate confirms that individuals' economic information responds to the economic conditions of people similar to themselves. Furthermore, these assessments are correlated with individuals' vote choices. We also show in time-series data that state unemployment robustly correlates with evaluations of national economic conditions, and presidential support.

----------------------

Comparative determinants of horse-race coverage

Susan Banducci & Chris Hanretty
European Political Science Review, November 2014, Pages 621-640

Abstract:
We investigate the levels of horse-race coverage in 160 different European print and broadcast outlets in 27 different countries at three different points in time. We match information on outlets' content to survey-based information on the average levels of interest in politics and education of outlets' audiences. We formulate hypotheses concerning journalists' and citizens' preferences over the ideal level of horse-race coverage, as well as hypotheses concerning the information content of horse-race coverage in different party systems. After controlling for the composition of each outlet's audience, we find that horse-race coverage is most frequent in polarized party systems with close electoral contests, and in large markets with professional journalists. These findings challenge the traditional view of horse-race journalism as a 'low-quality' form of news.

----------------------

Remembering to Forget: A Note on the Duration of Campaign Advertising Effects

Larry Bartels
Political Communication, Fall 2014, Pages 532-544

Abstract:
Exposure to an Obama campaign ad as part of an Internet survey conducted during the final weeks of the 2012 presidential race produced a substantial 2.8-point increase in intentions to vote for Obama. A post-election follow-up survey found an increase in reported votes for Obama that was only half as large, consistent with the notion that ad effects decay over time. However, a closer look at the pattern of decay indicates that the effect of ad exposure remained virtually constant among people who were undecided or predisposed to support Obama. The reduced aggregate effect was almost entirely attributable to Romney supporters who moved toward Obama in the immediate wake of ad exposure but returned to Romney by Election Day. This divergence is inconsistent with an interpretation of decay as reflecting simple forgetting. Rather, it suggests an active process of motivated reasoning in which short-term persuasive effects are gradually eroded or even reversed by counterarguing among people predisposed to resist them.

----------------------

Overvoting and the Equality of Voice under Instant-Runoff Voting in San Francisco

Francis Neely & Jason McDaniel
California Journal of Politics and Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2004 San Francisco began using instant-runoff voting for local elections. Early analyses revealed that after its inaugural use the rate at which voters ranked candidates dropped dramatically, and disqualifying errors on the ballots were more common in neighborhoods where more African-American and foreign-born citizens reside [Neely, Francis and Corey Cook (2008) "Whose Votes Count? Undervotes, Overvotes, and Ranking in San Francisco's Instant-Runoff Elections," American Politics Research, 36(4):530-554]. We extend the inquiry over time, examine other types of elections, and refine the methodology. Are some voters more than others able to exercise the franchise in these elections and, if so, what does that imply for the equality of political voice? We find no evidence that ranking candidates is in decline. Overvotes are more common in IRV than plurality contests, but such errors appear to be a function of complexity in general and not IRV per se. While they occur disproportionately in precincts with more African-American residents, and are often more likely where Latino, elderly, foreign-born, and less wealthy citizens reside, the pattern of overvoting is similar in both IRV and non-IRV contests. We discuss what these results imply for San Francisco and other jurisdictions using or considering similar election systems.

----------------------

Keeping Up with the Congressmen: Evaluating Constituents' Awareness of Redistricting

Christopher Lawrence & Scott Huffmon
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: We seek to understand how voters respond to being drawn into a new congressional district: specifically, the new Seventh District of South Carolina created in 2012.

Methods: We employ data from a survey of voters in the new district, and employ descriptive statistics and logistic regression models to identify whether voters are aware of the new district, whether they expect better representation as a result, and to explain their likely vote choice.

Results: We find limited awareness of the new district among voters, despite a competitive election campaign, but nonetheless a broad public understanding that redistricting may lead to more local influence in Congress.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that redistricting efforts that ensure the maintenance of communities of interest to preserve voter-representative links, even if that means deviation from a strict "one person, one vote" standard, may be superior from a representational standpoint.

----------------------

The Demand for Bad Policy when Voters Underappreciate Equilibrium Effects

Ernesto Dal Bó, Pedro Dal Bó & Erik Eyster
University of California Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
We study errors in equilibrium thinking that may lead people to choose inefficient policies and institutions. More precisely, we show in an experiment that a majority of subjects vote against policies that would help them overcome social dilemmas. We explain this behavior through subjects' failure to fully anticipate the equilibrium effects of new policy. By eliciting their beliefs about how others will behave under different policies, we show that subjects systematically underappreciate the extent to which policy changes alter other people's behavior, and that those who underappreciate equilibrium effects more are also more likely to demand bad policy. In addition we estimate that one-third of subjects do not appreciate how their own behavior will adapt to the new policy. To the extent that voter opinion affects policy, the underappreciation of equilibrium effects by voters can be a cause of political failure.

----------------------

Personality, Negativity, and Political Participation

Aaron Weinschenk & Costas Panagopoulos
Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 2014, Pages 164-182

Abstract:
Scholars have recently started to integrate personality traits into models of political participation. In this paper, we present the results of a survey experiment (N = 724) designed to test whether negative political messages differentially impact people with different personality traits. We found evidence that individuals with high scores on agreeableness were less likely, and individuals with high scores on extraversion were more likely, to report intending to participate in politics than their counterparts after being exposed to negative political messages. Agreeableness and extraversion also interacted with negative messages to influence specific intentions to make a political donation, attend a meeting, rally, or event, and volunteer for a political campaign. We also found suggestive evidence that agreeableness interacted with negativity to influence turnout intentions. The results of this study have important implications for the study of political engagement, the ways in which people interact with political information, and the practice of democratic politics.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Good works

Harm to others outweighs harm to self in moral decision making

Molly Crockett et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Concern for the suffering of others is central to moral decision making. How humans evaluate others’ suffering, relative to their own suffering, is unknown. We investigated this question by inviting subjects to trade off profits for themselves against pain experienced either by themselves or an anonymous other person. Subjects made choices between different amounts of money and different numbers of painful electric shocks. We independently varied the recipient of the shocks (self vs. other) and whether the choice involved paying to decrease pain or profiting by increasing pain. We built computational models to quantify the relative values subjects ascribed to pain for themselves and others in this setting. In two studies we show that most people valued others’ pain more than their own pain. This was evident in a willingness to pay more to reduce others’ pain than their own and a requirement for more compensation to increase others’ pain relative to their own. This ‟hyperaltruistic” valuation of others’ pain was linked to slower responding when making decisions that affected others, consistent with an engagement of deliberative processes in moral decision making. Subclinical psychopathic traits correlated negatively with aversion to pain for both self and others, in line with reports of aversive processing deficits in psychopathy. Our results provide evidence for a circumstance in which people care more for others than themselves. Determining the precise boundaries of this surprisingly prosocial disposition has implications for understanding human moral decision making and its disturbance in antisocial behavior.

----------------------

Pain reduces discrimination in helping

Esther van Leeuwen, Claire Ashton-James & Ruben Hamaker
European Journal of Social Psychology, October 2014, Pages 602–611

Abstract:
Because of their shared neurobiological underpinnings, factors increasing physical pain can also increase feelings of social disconnection (“social pain”). Feelings of connection with a social group are reflected in the term social identification, and social identity is commonly associated with intergroup discrimination. In two experiments, we examined the notion that physical pain would reduce social identification and subsequently inhibit intergroup discrimination in helping. By using a pain memory manipulation and a support measure of helping in Study 1 (N = 173), and an actual pain manipulation combined with a behavioural measure of helping in Study 2 (N = 72), results from both studies confirmed the predictions. As expected, physical pain eliminated ingroup favouritism in helping, and identification mediated this effect in the ingroup condition but not in the outgroup condition. We discuss these findings in light of the apparently paradoxical relationship between social support and pain.

----------------------

The topography of generosity: Asymmetric evaluations of prosocial actions

Nadav Klein & Nicholas Epley
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, December 2014, Pages 2366-2379

Abstract:
Prosociality is considered a virtue. Those who care for others are admired, whereas those who care only for themselves are despised. For one’s reputation, it pays to be nice. Does it pay to be even nicer? Four experiments assess reputational inferences across the entire range of prosocial outcomes in zero-sum interactions, from completely selfish to completely selfless actions. We observed consistent nonlinear evaluations: Participants evaluated selfish actions more negatively than equitable actions, but they did not evaluate selfless actions markedly more favorably than equitable actions. This asymptotic pattern reflected monotonic evaluations for increasingly selfish actions and insensitivity to increasingly selfless actions. It pays to be nice but not to be really nice. Additional experiments suggest that this pattern stems partly from failing to make spontaneous comparisons between varying degrees of selflessness. We suggest that these reputational incentives could guide social norms, encouraging equitable actions but discouraging extremely selfless actions.

----------------------

Avoiding overhead aversion in charity

Uri Gneezy, Elizabeth Keenan & Ayelet Gneezy
Science, 31 October 2014, Pages 632-635

Abstract:
Donors tend to avoid charities that dedicate a high percentage of expenses to administrative and fundraising costs, limiting the ability of nonprofits to be effective. We propose a solution to this problem: Use donations from major philanthropists to cover overhead expenses and offer potential donors an overhead-free donation opportunity. A laboratory experiment testing this solution confirms that donations decrease when overhead increases, but only when donors pay for overhead themselves. In a field experiment with 40,000 potential donors, we compared the overhead-free solution with other common uses of initial donations. Consistent with prior research, informing donors that seed money has already been raised increases donations, as does a $1:$1 matching campaign. Our main result, however, clearly shows that informing potential donors that overhead costs are covered by an initial donation significantly increases the donation rate by 80% (or 94%) and total donations by 75% (or 89%) compared with the seed (or matching) approach.

----------------------

Charitable donations by the self-employed

Matthias Tietz & Simon Parker
Small Business Economics, December 2014, Pages 899-916

Abstract:
This article analyzes an important aspect of the social behavior of the self-employed in America. We ask whether the self-employed express their social responsibility to society by giving more to charity than the general population, and if so which charitable causes they give to. We use social identity theory to generate hypotheses about the determinants and objectives of charitable giving among members of this socially and economically important group. Testing these hypotheses with nationally representative, longitudinal US data, we find that the American self-employed are indeed more likely to exhibit social responsibility toward their community by giving to charities than the general population. While the self-employed support broadly similar charities to the general population, they give substantially more to organizations which: address issues in the local community; provide health care; and serve the needy. We trace out implications of our findings for scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers.

----------------------

Commitment, crime, and the responsive bystander: Effect of the commitment form and conformism

Nicolas Guéguen et al.
Psychology, Crime & Law, Winter 2015, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
Research has shown that eliciting commitment is a valuable way of inciting people to act, even in emergencies and dangerous situations. The purpose of the two studies presented here was to explore the relation between the form of commitment used to prevent a crime and the moderating effect exerted by the number of passive observers of this crime. At a bus stop, a first confederate put a bag down on the ground upon arriving and immediately left to withdraw money from an automated teller machine near the bus stop. Two male participants were present at the bus stop. In Study 1, the confederate said nothing (control), directly asked one participant to watch his bag (direct commitment), or asked all present to watch his bag (indirect commitment). About 30 seconds later, a male confederate walked up to the victim's bag, picked it up, and quickly walked away in the opposite direction of the victim. A total of 150 participants (50 per condition) were observed. It was found that 34% intervened in the control condition, 88% in the direct commitment condition, and 56% in the indirect commitment condition. In Study 2, 150 participants (50 per condition) were observed while two male confederates were present at the bus stop with the instruction not to react to the theft. It was found that more intervention was found in the direct commitment condition (88%) than in the control condition (18%). However, the indirect commitment condition did not elicit higher intervention (22%). Variation in the level of personal responsibility to help the victim is used to explain these differences.

----------------------

The Emotional Consequences of Donation Opportunities

Lara Aknin, Guy Mayraz & John Helliwell
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Charities often circulate widespread donation appeals to garner support for campaigns, but what impact do these campaigns have on the well-being of individuals who choose to donate, those who choose not to donate, and the entire group exposed to the campaign? Here we investigate these questions by exploring the changes in affect reported by individuals who donate in response to a charitable request and those who do not. We also look at the change in affect reported by the entire sample to measure the net impact of the donation request. Results reveal that large donors experience hedonic boosts from their charitable actions, and the substantial fraction of large donors translates to a net positive influence on the well-being of the entire sample. Thus, under certain conditions, donation opportunities can enable people to help others while also increasing the overall well-being of the population of potential donors.

----------------------

Doing good by doing nothing? The role of social norms in explaining default effects in altruistic contexts

Jim Everett et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore whether the known preference for default options in choice contexts — default effects — occur in altruistic contexts and the extent to which this can be explained through appeal to social norms. In four experiments, we found that (i) participants were more likely to donate money to charity when this was the default option in an altruistic choice context; (ii) participants perceived the default option to be the socially normative option; (iii) perceptions of social norms mediated the relationship between default status and charitable donations; and (iv) a transfer effect, whereby participants translated social norms they inferred from the default option in one domain into behavior in a second, related domain. Theoretically, our analysis situates default effects within a comprehensive body of social psychological research concerning social norms and the attitude-behavior relationship, providing novel empirical predictions. Practically, these findings highlight that the way donation policies are framed can have an important impact on donation behavior: in our third study, we found that 81% donated half of their earnings for taking part in the experiment to charity when this was the default option, compared with only 19% when keeping the money was the default. Our work suggests that making use of default effects could be an effective tool to increase altruistic behavior without compromising freedom.

----------------------

Rethinking natural altruism: Simple reciprocal interactions trigger children’s benevolence

Rodolfo Cortes Barragan & Carol Dweck
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
A very simple reciprocal activity elicited high degrees of altruism in 1- and 2-y-old children, whereas friendly but nonreciprocal activity yielded little subsequent altruism. In a second study, reciprocity with one adult led 1- and 2-y-olds to provide help to a new person. These results question the current dominant claim that social experiences cannot account for early occurring altruistic behavior. A third study, with preschool-age children, showed that subtle reciprocal cues remain potent elicitors of altruism, whereas a fourth study with preschoolers showed that even a brief reciprocal experience fostered children’s expectation of altruism from others. Collectively, the studies suggest that simple reciprocal interactions are a potent trigger of altruism for young children, and that these interactions lead children to believe that their relationships are characterized by mutual care and commitment.

----------------------

Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Indirectly Predict Prosocial Behavior through Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern

Christa Christ, Gustavo Carlo & Scott Stoltenberg
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: Engaging in prosocial behavior can provide positive outcomes for self and others. Prosocial tendencies contribute to the propensity to engage in prosocial behavior. The oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) has also been associated with prosocial tendencies and behaviors. There has been little research however, investigating whether the relationship between OXTR and prosocial behaviors is mediated by prosocial tendencies. This relationship may also vary among different types of prosocial behavior. The current study, examines the relationship between OXTR, gender, prosocial tendencies and both altruistic and public prosocial behavior endorsement.

Methods: Students at a Midwestern university (N=398; 89.2% Caucasian; age M=20.76; 26.6% male) provided self-report measures of prosocial tendencies and behaviors and buccal cells for genotyping OXTR polymorphisms.

Results: Results indicated that OXTR SNP rs2268498 genotype significantly predicted empathic concern while gender moderated the association between several other OXTR SNPs and prosocial tendencies. Increased prosocial tendencies predicted increased altruistic prosocial behavior endorsement and decreased public prosocial behavior endorsement.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest an association between genetic variation in OXTR and endorsement of prosocial behavior indirectly through prosocial tendencies, and that the pathway is dependent on the type of prosocial behavior and gender.

----------------------

Chill-inducing music enhances altruism in humans

Hajime Fukui & Kumiko Toyoshima
Frontiers in Psychology, October 2014

Abstract:
Music is a universal feature of human cultures, and it has both fascinated and troubled many researchers. In this paper we show through the dictator game (DG) that an individual’s listening to preferred “chill-inducing” music may promote altruistic behavior that extends beyond the bounds of kin selection or reciprocal altruism. Participants were 22 undergraduate and postgraduate students who were divided into two groups, the in-group and the out-group, and they acted as dictators. The dictators listened to their own preferred “chill-inducing” music, to music they disliked, or to silence, and then played the DG. In this hypothetical experiment, the dictators were given real money (which they did not keep) and were asked to distribute it to the recipients, who were presented as stylized images of men and women displayed on a computer screen. The dictators played the DG both before and after listening to the music. Both male and female dictators gave more money after listening to their preferred music and less after listening to the music they disliked, whereas silence had no effect on the allocated amounts. The group to which the recipient belonged did not influence these trends. The results suggest that listening to preferred “chill-inducing” music promotes altruistic behavior.

----------------------

Feeling like a group after a natural disaster: Common ingroup identity and relations with outgroup victims among majority and minority young children

Loris Vezzali et al.
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted a field study to test whether the common ingroup identity model (Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000, reducing intergroup bias: The common ingroup identity model. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press) could be a useful tool to improve intergroup relations in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Participants were majority (Italian) and minority (immigrant) elementary school children (N = 517) living in the area struck by powerful earthquakes in May 2012. Results revealed that, among majority children, the perceived external threat represented by the earthquake was associated with greater perceptions of belonging to a common ingroup including both ingroup and outgroup. In turn, heightened one-group perceptions were associated with greater willingness to meet and help outgroup victims, both directly and indirectly via more positive outgroup attitudes. Among immigrant children, perceived disaster threat was not associated with any of the dependent variables; one-group perceptions were positively associated with outgroup attitudes, helping and contact intentions towards outgroup victims. Thus, one-group perceptions after a natural disaster may promote more positive and supporting relations between the majority and the minority group. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


Previous   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12   Next


RSS Subscribe to this feed