Blog

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Schooled

Can Small High Schools of Choice Improve Educational Prospects for Disadvantaged Students?

Howard Bloom & Rebecca Unterman
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Spring 2014, Pages 290-319

Abstract:
This paper provides rigorous evidence (for 12,130 participants in a series of naturally occurring randomized lotteries) that a large-scale high school reform initiative (New York City's creation of 100+ small high schools of choice between 2002 and 2008) can markedly and consistently increase high school graduation rates (by 9.5 percentage points overall and for many different student subgroups) for a large population of educationally and economically disadvantaged students of color without increasing annual school operating costs. These findings are directly relevant to current debates by policymakers and practitioners about how to improve the educational prospects of disadvantaged students in the United States.

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

School Choice, School Quality, and Postsecondary Attainment

David Deming et al.
American Economic Review, March 2014, Pages 991-1013

Abstract:
We study the impact of a public school choice lottery in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools on college enrollment and degree completion. We find a significant overall increase in college attainment among lottery winners who attend their first choice school. Using rich administrative data on peers, teachers, course offerings and other inputs, we show that the impacts of choice are strongly predicted by gains on several measures of school quality. Gains in attainment are concentrated among girls. Girls respond to attending a better school with higher grades and increases in college-preparatory course-taking, while boys do not.

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

Does Online Learning Impede Degree Completion? A National Study of Community College Students

Peter Shea & Temi Bidjerano
Computers & Education, June 2014, Pages 103-111

Abstract:
Using a nationally representative sample (The Beginning Postsecondary Student Survey, BPS 04/09), this study examined the associations between enrollment in credit-bearing distance education courses and degree attainment. We sought to determine whether US students enrolled in distance education courses during their first year of study at a community college tend to complete a degree (certificate, associate, or bachelor's) at significantly lower rates than those who were not enrolled in such courses or programs. Consistent with previous large-scale research at the State level in Virginia and Washington (Smith Jaggars & Xu, 2010; Xu & Smith Jaggars, 2011), we hypothesized that community college students who participate in distance education in early semesters graduate at lower rates than students who do not. Contrary to expectations, the study found that controlling for relevant background characteristics; students who take some of their early courses online or at a distance have a significantly better chance of attaining a community college credential than do their classroom only counterparts. These results imply that a new model of student retention in the age of the internet, one that assumes transactional adaptation, may be warranted.

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

Learning Citizenship? How State Education Reforms Affect Parents' Political Attitudes and Behavior

Jesse Rhodes
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the past three decades, the states have adopted a suite of reforms to their education systems in an effort to improve school performance. While scholars have speculated about the political consequences of these policies, to date there has been no empirical research investigating how these reforms affect the practice of American democracy. Combining data from an original survey of public school parents with information on state education standards, testing, and accountability policies, I examine how design features of these policies influence parents' attitudes about government, participation in politics, and involvement in their children's education. My research shows that parents residing in states with more developed assessment systems express more negative attitudes about government and education, and are less likely to become engaged in some forms of involvement in their children's education, than are parents who live in states with less developed assessment systems.

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

The politics of opting out: Explaining educational financing and popular support for public spending

Marius Busemeyer & Torben Iversen
Socio-Economic Review, April 2014, Pages 299-328

Abstract:
In this paper, we address two empirical puzzles: Why are cross-country differences in the division of labour between public and private education funding so large and why are they politically sustainable in the long term? We argue that electoral institutions play a crucial role in shaping politico-economic distributive coalitions that affected the original division of labour in education financing. In proportional representation systems, the lower and middle classes formed a coalition supporting the establishment of a system with a large share of public funding. In majoritarian systems, in contrast, the middle class voters aligned with the upper income class and supported private education spending instead. Once established, institutional arrangements create feedback effects on the micro-level of attitudes, reinforcing political support even among upper middle classes in public systems. These hypotheses are tested empirically both on the micro level of preferences as well as on the macro level with aggregate data and survey data from the ISSP for 20 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

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

The Academic Impact of Enrollment in International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs: A Case Study of Chicago Public Schools

Anna Rosefsky Saavedra
Teachers College Record, April 2014

Purpose: This study examines whether enrollment in the IB Diploma Program increases students' academic achievement as measured by their composite ACT college admissions examination scores, probability of high school graduation, and probability of college enrollment, and whether the estimates differ by gender.

Setting, population, & data: This study uses data on the demographic characteristics, IB enrollment status, ACT scores, high school graduation status and college enrollment status of 20,422 students attending 13 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high schools from 2002-2008. Data sources include the CPS and the National Student Clearinghouse.

Research Design: The analytic strategy is to first assume students are selected into the IB Diploma Program based on their observed characteristics, and then to use a propensity score approach to estimate the impact of IB enrollment on three measures of students' academic success. The second step, following Rosenbaum (2002), is to test the sensitivity of the estimates to different levels of selection bias.

Results: This study shows that IB enrollment increases students' academic achievement, probability of high school graduation and probability of college enrollment. Though selection bias may contribute to overstating the propensity score estimates, the conclusion from the sensitivity analyses is that it is unlikely that this internal-validity challenge negates the principal finding. All estimates are greater for boys than for girls. Calculations demonstrate that the IB Diploma Program is a cost-effective way to increase high school graduation rates.

Conclusions: The results are valuable for three reasons. First, they provide valuable information with which to make decisions about future investments in IB. Second, they contribute to knowledge of the means through which to improve high school education for disadvantaged urban youth. Finally, the results suggest that IB enrollment is especially beneficial for boys, for whom the probability of graduating from high school and enrolling in college - in CPS and at the national level - is substantially less than for girls.

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

The Lifetime Earnings Premia of Different Majors: Correcting for Selection Based on Cognitive, Noncognitive, and Unobserved Factors

Douglas Webber
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper constructs a simulation approach to estimate the lifetime returns to various college majors. I use data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and American Community Survey to estimate the parameters which form the backbone of the simulation. I address selection into both higher education and specific major categories using measures of cognitive and noncognitive ability. Additionally, I present the lifetime premia under various assumptions regarding the magnitude of unobservable sorting. I find substantial heterogeneity in the returns to each educational outcome, ranging from $700,000 for Arts/Humanities majors to $1.5 million for Science Technology Engineering or Math (STEM) graduates (each premium is relative to high school graduates with no college experience). The differentials are larger when search behavior (allowing for differential unemployment probabilities across majors) is taken into account. Finally, I estimate the major premia separately across three birth cohorts to account for the changing nature of selection into both college and majors over time.

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

Lost in Translation? Teacher Training and Outcomes in High School Economics Classes

Robert Valletta, Jody Hoff & Jane Lopus
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data from a 2006 survey of California high school economics classes, we assess the effects of teacher characteristics on student achievement. We estimate value-added models of outcomes on multiple choice and essay exams, with matched classroom pairs for each teacher enabling random-effects and fixed-effects estimation. The results show a substantial impact of specialized teacher experience and college-level coursework in economics. However, the latter is associated with higher scores on the multiple-choice test and lower scores on the essay test, suggesting that a portion of teachers' content knowledge may be "lost in translation" when conveyed to their students.

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

From Action to Abstraction: Using the Hands to Learn Math

Miriam Novack et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that children benefit from gesturing during math instruction. We asked whether gesturing promotes learning because it is itself a physical action, or because it uses physical action to represent abstract ideas. To address this question, we taught third-grade children a strategy for solving mathematical-equivalence problems that was instantiated in one of three ways: (a) in a physical action children performed on objects, (b) in a concrete gesture miming that action, or (c) in an abstract gesture. All three types of hand movements helped children learn how to solve the problems on which they were trained. However, only gesture led to success on problems that required generalizing the knowledge gained. The results provide the first evidence that gesture promotes transfer of knowledge better than direct action on objects and suggest that the beneficial effects gesture has on learning may reside in the features that differentiate it from action.

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

Does Classroom Time Matter? A Randomized Field Experiment of Hybrid and Traditional Lecture Formats in Economics

Theodore Joyce et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
We test whether students in a hybrid format of introductory microeconomics, which met once per week, performed as well as students in a traditional lecture format of the same class, which met twice per week. We randomized 725 students at a large, urban public university into the two formats, and unlike past studies, had a very high participation rate of 96 percent. Two experienced professors taught one section of each format, and students in both formats had access to the same online materials. We find that students in the traditional format scored 2.3 percentage points more on a 100-point scale on the combined midterm and final. There were no differences between formats in non-cognitive effort (attendance, time spent with online materials) nor in withdrawal from the class. Comparing our experimental estimates of the effect of attendance with non-experimental estimates using only students in the traditional format, we find that the non-experimental were 2.5 times larger, suggesting that the large effects of attending lectures found in the previous literature are likely due to selection bias. Overall our results suggest that hybrid classes may offer a cost effective alternative to traditional lectures while having a small impact on student performance.

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

Teaching Practices and Cognitive Skills

Jan Bietenbeck
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
National Teaching Standards by various educational organizations in the United States call for a decrease in the use of traditional teaching practices (such as learning by rote) and an increase in the use of modern teaching practices (such as working in small groups) in schools. Yet a small literature in economics has consistently found that traditional teaching raises test scores, while the effect of modern teaching appears to be small and sometimes even negative. This paper uses data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to show that traditional and modern teaching practices promote different cognitive skills in students. In particular, traditional teaching practices increase students' factual knowledge and their competency in solving routine problems, but have no significant effect on their reasoning skills. The effects of modern teaching practices are exactly the opposite, with modern teaching fostering reasoning skills. I provide evidence that standardized tests do not measure reasoning skills well, which explains the finding of only small or negative effects of modern teaching on test scores in the literature. I discuss the implications of these results for the recommendations made by National Teaching Standards.

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

Academic Content, Student Learning, and the Persistence of Preschool Effects

Amy Claessens, Mimi Engel & Chris Curran
American Educational Research Journal, April 2014, Pages 403-434

Abstract:
Little research has examined the relationship between academic content coverage in kindergarten and student achievement. Using nationally representative data, we examine the association between reading and mathematics content coverage in kindergarten and student learning, both overall and for students who attended preschool, Head Start, or participated in other child care prior to kindergarten entry. We find that all children benefit from exposure to advanced content in reading and mathematics and that students do not benefit from basic content coverage. Interestingly, this is true regardless of whether they attended preschool, began kindergarten with more advanced skills, or are from families with low income. Policy implications are discussed.

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

The Effect of Providing Breakfast in Class on Student Performance

Scott Imberman & Adriana Kugler
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many schools have recently experimented with moving breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom. We examine whether such a program increases achievement, grades, and attendance rates. We exploit quasi-random timing of program implementation that allows for a difference-in-differences identification strategy. We find that providing breakfast in class relative to the cafeteria raises math and reading achievement by 0.09 and 0.06 standard deviations, respectively. These effects are most pronounced for low-performing, free lunch-eligible, Hispanic, and low body mass index students. A lack of differences by exposure time and effects on grades suggest that these impacts are on test-taking performance rather than learning. At the same time, the results highlight the possibility that measured achievement may be biased downwards, and accountability penalties may be inappropriately applied, in schools where many students do not consume breakfast.

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

Access to Technology and the Transfer Function of Community Colleges: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Robert Fairlie & Samantha Grunberg
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Access to information may represent an important barrier to learning about and ultimately transferring to 4-year colleges for low-income community college students. This article explores the role that access to information technology, in particular, plays in enhancing, or possibly detracting from, the transfer function of the community college. Using data from the first-ever field experiment randomly providing free computers to students, we examine the relationships between access to home computers and enrollment in transferable courses and actual transfers to 4-year colleges. The results from the field experiment indicate that the treatment group of students receiving free computers has a 4.5 percentage point higher probability of taking transferable courses than the control group of students not receiving free computers. The evidence is less clear for the effects on actual transfers to 4-year colleges and the probability of using a computer to search for college information (which possibly represents one of the mechanisms for positive effects). In both cases, point estimates are positive, but the confidence intervals are wide. Finally, power calculations indicate that sample sizes would have to be considerably larger to find statistically significant treatment effects and reasonably precise confidence intervals given the actual transfer rate point estimates.

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

Do the Effects of Head Start Vary by Parental Preacademic Stimulation?

Elizabeth Miller et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Data from the Head Start Impact Study (N = 3,185, age = 3-4 years) were used to determine whether 1 year of Head Start differentially benefited children from homes with high, middle, and low levels of parental preacademic stimulation on three academic outcome domains - early math, early literacy, and receptive vocabulary. Results from residualized growth models showed positive impacts of random assignment to Head Start on all three outcomes, and positive associations between parental preacademic stimulation and academic performance. Two moderated effects were also found. Head start boosted early math skills the most for children receiving low parental preacademic stimulation. Effects of Head Start on early literacy skills were largest for children receiving moderate levels of parental preacademic stimulation. Implications for Head Start are discussed.

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

Curricular Tracking and Central Examinations: Counterbalancing the Impact of Social Background on Student Achievement in 36 Countries

Thijs Bol et al.
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Tracked educational systems are associated with greater social inequality in children's educational achievement. Until now, research has assumed that the impact of tracking on the inequality of educational opportunity is independent of other educational institutional features. Using data from the 2009 PISA survey, we study how central examinations affect the association between tracking and inequality. We find that parental socioeconomic status has a larger effect on student achievement in systems without central examinations, whereas in systems with central examinations, this relationship is attenuated. We argue that central examinations help hold schools accountable for their performance, which (1) encourages schools to allocate students to tracks on the basis of more objective indicators and (2) makes it likely for schools to invest more in lower-track students. Thus, central exams attenuate the stronger impact of parental status on children's performance in tracked educational systems.

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

Peer Contexts: Do Old for Grade and Retained Peers Influence Student Behavior in Middle School?

Clara Muschkin, Elizabeth Glennie & Audrey Beck
Teachers College Record, April 2014

Purpose: This study analyzes the association between the presence of old for grade and retained peers and the propensity for seventh graders to engage in deviant behaviors and receive an out-of-school suspension. Then, we examine whether some students are more vulnerable to peer influences associated with having retained and older peers.

Subjects: This study employs administrative data from the 2000-2001 academic year on all seventh-grade students in North Carolina traditional classrooms in traditional middle schools with a grade range of 6 to 8.The sample is 79,314 seventh-grade students in 334 schools in 94 districts.

Research Design: We use a logit framework to analyze dichotomous outcomes: whether students had ever been reported for committing an infraction, and whether students had ever been suspended over the academic year. Then, we use negative binomial models to examine the number of infractions students committed. We employ fixed effects estimation models for both the logit and the negative binomial analyses to account for unmeasured covariates at the district level.

Results: Seventh-grade students who attend school with many old for grade or retained peers are more likely to commit offenses and be suspended. Retained and old for grade students are more vulnerable to these peer influences than other students. Girls and White students are more vulnerable to peer effects of having retained and old for grade students in their grade.

Conclusions: We find an increase in negative behavior across all students who have higher levels of retained and old for grade peers. Increased opportunities to interact with deviant peers can influence the behavior of youth who do not share the same risk factors for deviant behavior. Thus, grade retention and delayed school-entry policies can influence the entire school community. Policies that help students stay on track academically have the potential not only to benefit students who are at risk for academic failure, but also to enhance the positive behavior of other students in the grade.

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

The Influence of Tardy Classmates on Students' Socio-Emotional Outcomes

Michael Gottfried
Teachers College Record, March 2014

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of peer-level tardiness on individual-level socio-emotional outcomes utilizing nationally representative, longitudinal data.

Population/Participants/Subjects: The data are sourced from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K), which is a nationally representative sample of students, teachers, and schools. Information was first collected from kindergartners (as well as parents, teachers, and school administrators) from U.S. kindergarten programs in the 1998-1999 school year. This study utilizes data collected at spring of kindergarten, first grade, and third grade. Across all three waves of data, there were a total of N=21,765 student observations.

Research Design: This study combines secondary data analyses and quasi-experimental methods. There are five dependent socio-emotional variables utilized throughout this study, delineated into problem behaviors and social skills. Problem behaviors include two scales: (a) externalizing problem behaviors and (b) internalizing problem behaviors. Social skills include three scales: (a) level of self-control, (b) approaches to learning, and (c) interpersonal skills. This study begins with a baseline, linear regression model. To address issues pertaining to omitted variable bias, this study employs multilevel fixed effects modeling.

Findings: The coefficients on classroom tardies indicated statistically significant relationships between having a higher daily average number of classmate tardies and socio-emotional development. Students whose classmates are, on average, tardy more frequently have higher frequencies of problem behaviors and lower levels of social skills. The effects remain significant even after accounting for multiple omitted variable biases.

Conclusions/Recommendations: In addition to the previously well-established negative effects of missing school via absences, tardiness also diminishes student outcomes. Hence, the findings in this study - which brought to the surface new ways by which classmates' actions can influence other students' outcomes - would support the continuation of those school practices that successfully reduce multiple channels of missing school. Particularly high rates of peer tardies in addition to high rates of peer absences have both now been established in the research literature as detrimental to individual and classmate outcomes.

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

The distributional impacts of a universal school reform on mathematical achievements: A natural experiment from Canada

Catherine Haeck, Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of an ambitious provincial school reform in Canada on students' mathematical achievements. It is the first paper to exploit a universal school reform of this magnitude to identify the causal effect of a widely supported teaching approach on students' math scores. Our data set allows us to differentiate impacts according to the number of years of treatment and the timing of treatment. Using the changes-in-changes model, we find that the reform had negative effects on students' scores at all points on the skills distribution and that the effects were larger the longer the exposure to the reform.

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

Is Discord Detrimental? Using Institutional Variation to Identify the Impact of Public Governing Board Conflict on Outcomes

Jason Grissom
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, April 2014, Pages 289-315

Abstract:
Few studies have examined the impact of governing board decision processes on board and organizational outcomes. This study draws on research on small work teams in the private sector to develop expectations about the relationship between outcomes and one aspect of board dynamics that affects decision making: intraboard conflict. Using administrative and survey data from school board members and school district superintendents in California, I show a consistent pattern of negative associations between board conflict and outcomes at multiple organizational levels. An instrumental variables strategy utilizing institutional variation in board member election type confirms that board conflict can lead to negative outcomes. The findings suggest that existing conceptualizations of board roles should be broadened to incorporate the interpersonal dynamics that inform board decision making.

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

Measure for Measure: How Proficiency-based Accountability Systems Affect Inequality in Academic Achievement

Jennifer Jennings & Heeju Sohn
Sociology of Education, April 2014, Pages 125-141

Abstract:
How do proficiency-based accountability systems affect inequality in academic achievement? This article reconciles mixed findings in the literature by demonstrating that three factors jointly determine accountability's impact. First, by analyzing student-level data from a large urban school district, we find that when educators face accountability pressure, they focus attention on students closest to proficiency. We refer to this practice as educational triage and show that the difficulty of the proficiency standard affects whether lower or higher performing students gain most on high-stakes tests used to evaluate schools. Less difficult proficiency standards decrease inequality in high-stakes achievement, while more difficult standards increase it. Second, we show that educators emphasize test-specific skills with students near proficiency, a practice we refer to as instructional triage. As a result, the effects of accountability pressure differ across high- and low-stakes tests; we find no effects on inequality in low-stakes reading and math tests of similar skills. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that instructional triage is most pronounced in the lowest performing schools. We conclude by discussing how these findings shape our understanding of accountability's effects on educational inequality.

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

How Does School District Consolidation Affect Property Values? A Case Study of New York

William Duncombe, John Yinger & Pengju Zhang
Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores the impact of school district consolidation on house values based on house sales in upstate New York State from 2000 to 2012. By combining propensity score matching (PSM) and double-sales data to compare house value changes in consolidating and comparable school districts, we find that, except in one relatively large district, consolidation has a negative impact on house values during the years right after it occurs and that this effect then fades away and is eventually reversed. This pattern suggests that it takes time either for the advantages of consolidation to be apparent or for the people who prefer consolidated districts to move in. Finally, as in previous studies, the long-run impacts of consolidation on house values are positive in census tracts that initially have low incomes, but negative in high-income census tracts, where parents may have a relatively large willingness to retain the nonbudgetary advantages of small districts.

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

Does Education Improve Cognitive Performance Four Decades After School Completion?

Nicole Schneeweis, Vegard Skirbekk & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer
Demography, April 2014, Pages 619-643

Abstract:
We study the effect of secondary education on cognitive performance toward the end of working age. We exploit the exogenous variation in years of schooling arising from compulsory schooling reforms implemented in six European countries during the 1950s and 1960s. Using data of individuals, approximately age 60, from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we assess the causal effect of education on memory, fluency, numeracy, and orientation-to-date. Furthermore, we study education effects on cognitive decline. We find a positive impact of schooling on memory scores. One year of education increases the memory score approximately four decades later by about 0.2, which amounts to 10 % of a standard deviation. Furthermore, we find some evidence for a protective effect of schooling on cognitive decline in terms of verbal fluency.

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

Doubly Robust Estimation of Causal Effects with Multivalued Treatments: An Application to the Returns to Schooling

Derya Uysal
Journal of Applied Econometrics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides doubly robust estimators for treatment effect parameters which are defined in a multivalued treatment effect framework. We apply this method to the unique dataset of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) to estimate returns to various levels of schooling. The analysis is carried out for female and male samples separately to capture possible gender differences. Average returns are estimated for the entire population, as well as conditional on having a specific educational achievement. For males, relative to no qualification, we find an average return to O-levels of 6.3%, to A-levels of 7.9% and to higher education of 25.4%. The estimated average returns to O-level and A-level relative to no qualification are insignificant for females, whereas the return to higher education is 19.9%.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pride march

How ENDAs Extend the Workweek: Legal Protection and the Labor Supply of Behaviorally Gay Men

Michael Martell
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Employment Nondiscrimination Acts (ENDAs) have received much political attention in the recent past. Despite the political attention, very little research has investigated the impact of ENDAs. I analyze the impact of ENDAs on labor supplies, which is under-researched in the policy analysis literature. My work is the first to investigate the labor supply patterns of behaviorally gay men using data that are representative of the entire behaviorally gay population. I show that ENDAs motivate behaviorally gay men to work roughly 15-20 h more per week and increase the probability that behaviorally gay men will supply any labor by approximately 7%. These results suggest that ENDAs increase the labor supply of behaviorally gay workers by increasing workplace tolerance of homosexuality.

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

The Death of Marriage? The Effects of New Forms of Legal Recognition on Marriage Rates in the United States

Marcus Dillender
Demography, April 2014, Pages 563-585

Abstract:
Some conservative groups argue that allowing same-sex couples to marry reduces the value of marriage to opposite-sex couples. This article examines how changes in U.S. legal recognition laws occurring between 1995 and 2010 designed to include same-sex couples have altered marriage rates in the United States. Using a difference-in-differences strategy that compares how marriage rates change after legal recognition in U.S. states that alter legal recognition versus states that do not, I find no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry reduces the opposite-sex marriage rate. Although the opposite-sex marriage rate is unaffected by same-sex couples marrying, it decreases when domestic partnerships are available to opposite-sex couples.

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

Social Esteem and Participation in Contentious Politics: A Field Experiment at an LGBT Pride Rally

Gwyneth McClendon
American Journal of Political Science, April 2014, Pages 279-290

Abstract:
What motivates individuals to participate in contentious, political forms of collective action? In this article, I consider the possibility that the promise of social esteem from an ingroup can act as a powerful selective incentive for individuals to participate in contentious politics. I conducted a field experiment - the first to my knowledge to take place in the context of a political march, rally, or social-identity event - to isolate this esteem mechanism from others. Using measures of intent to attend, actual attendance, and reported attendance at a gay and lesbian pride event in New Jersey, I find evidence that the promise of social esteem boosts all three measures of participation. The article offers new theoretical and practical implications for the study of participation in nonvoting forms of collective action.

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

Does Job Satisfaction Vary with Sexual Orientation?

Karen Leppel
Industrial Relations, April 2014, Pages 169-198

Abstract:
The results of this study, which uses data from the 2007-2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, suggest that job satisfaction may vary with sexual orientation. Probit regression analysis indicated that compared to heterosexuals, gay men and lesbians tended to be less satisfied with their jobs. Bisexuals appear to be more satisfied. Additional research is needed to corroborate the findings and the reasons for the differences.

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

Effects of Cross-Sex Hormone Treatment on Cortical Thickness in Transsexual Individuals

Leire Zubiaurre-Elorza et al.
Journal of Sexual Medicine, forthcoming

Aim: A longitudinal design was conducted to investigate the effects of treatments on brain cortical thickness (CTh) of FtMs and MtFs.

Methods: This study investigated 15 female-to-male (FtMs) and 14 male-to-female (MtFs) transsexuals prior and during at least six months of cross-sex hormone therapy treatment. Brain MRI imaging was performed in a 3-Tesla TIM-TRIO Siemens scanner. T1-weighted images were analyzed with FreeSurfer software to obtain CTh as well as subcortical volumetric values.

Results: After testosterone treatment, FtMs showed increases of CTh bilaterally in the postcentral gyrus and unilaterally in the inferior parietal, lingual, pericalcarine, and supramarginal areas of the left hemisphere and the rostral middle frontal and the cuneus region of the right hemisphere. There was a significant positive correlation between the serum testosterone and free testosterone index changes and CTh changes in parieto-temporo-occipital regions. In contrast, MtFs, after estrogens and antiandrogens treatment, showed a general decrease in CTh and subcortical volumetric measures and an increase in the volume of the ventricles.

Conclusions: Testosterone therapy increases CTh in FtMs. Thickening in cortical regions is associated to changes in testosterone levels. Estrogens and antiandrogens therapy in MtFs is associated to a decrease in the CTh that consequently induces an enlargement of the ventricular system.

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

Birth Cohort and the Specialization Gap Between Same-Sex and Different-Sex Couples

Lisa Giddings et al.
Demography, April 2014, Pages 509-534

Abstract:
We examine differences in household specialization between same-sex and different-sex couples within and across three birth cohorts: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Using three measures of household specialization, we find that same-sex couples are less likely than their different-sex counterparts to exhibit a high degree of specialization. However, the "specialization gap" between same-sex and different-sex couples narrows across birth cohorts. These findings are indicative of a cohort effect. Our results are largely robust to the inclusion of a control for the presence of children and for subsets of couples with and without children. We provide three potential explanations for why the specialization gap narrows across cohorts. First, different-sex couples from more recent birth cohorts may have become more like same-sex couples in terms of household specialization. Second, social and legal changes may have prompted a greater degree of specialization within same-sex couples relative to different-sex couples. Last, the advent of reproductive technologies, which made having children easier for same-sex couples from more recent birth cohorts, could result in more specialization in such couples relative to different-sex couples.

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

Handedness and sex roles: Mixed-handers are less sex-congruent stereotyped

Ulrich Tran, Stefan Stieger & Martin Voracek
Personality and Individual Differences, August 2014, Pages 10-13

Abstract:
Previous research reported that non-right-handers display a less sex-congruent stereotyped sex-role identity (i.e., women portray themselves as more masculine, men as more feminine) than right-handers. However, classification of handedness was based on arbitrary criteria and did not distinguish between left-handedness and mixed-handedness among non-right-handers. We present data from two large and independent middle-European samples, a discovery (n = 7658) and a replication (n = 5062) sample. Using latent class analysis for handedness classification, it is shown that mixed-handedness, rather than left-handedness, is the driving factor underlying associations between handedness and sex-role identity. We discuss our findings with regard to the Geschwind-Galaburda theory of cerebral lateralization and the need to evaluate the contribution of sexual orientation on this association in future research.

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

Increased Gender Variance in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

John Strang et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evidence suggests over-representation of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and behavioral difficulties among people referred for gender issues, but rates of the wish to be the other gender (gender variance) among different neurodevelopmental disorders are unknown. This chart review study explored rates of gender variance as reported by parents on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) in children with different neurodevelopmental disorders: ASD (N = 147, 24 females and 123 males), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; N = 126, 38 females and 88 males), or a medical neurodevelopmental disorder (N = 116, 57 females and 59 males), were compared with two non-referred groups [control sample (N = 165, 61 females and 104 males) and non-referred participants in the CBCL standardization sample (N = 1,605, 754 females and 851 males)]. Significantly greater proportions of participants with ASD (5.4 %) or ADHD (4.8 %) had parent reported gender variance than in the combined medical group (1.7 %) or non-referred comparison groups (0-0.7 %). As compared to non-referred comparisons, participants with ASD were 7.59 times more likely to express gender variance; participants with ADHD were 6.64 times more likely to express gender variance. The medical neurodevelopmental disorder group did not differ from non-referred samples in likelihood to express gender variance. Gender variance was related to elevated emotional symptoms in ADHD, but not in ASD. After accounting for sex ratio differences between the neurodevelopmental disorder and non-referred comparison groups, gender variance occurred equally in females and males.

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

Heterosexual and homosexual infidelity: The importance of attitudes towards homosexuality

Gayle Brewer
Personality and Individual Differences, July 2014, Pages 98-100

Abstract:
A substantial body of research has investigated male and female responses to sexual and emotional infidelity. However, whilst the cross-cultural and historical incidence of homosexuality suggests that homosexual infidelity may also threaten romantic relationships, there is little awareness of those factors which may influence distress in response to a partner's sexual affair with a same-sex mate. Heterosexual men (N = 56) and women (N = 42) aged 17-26 yrs were opportunity sampled from a British University. Participants were presented with hypothetical scenarios describing their partner's heterosexual or homosexual (sexual) affair. Participants also completed the Heterosexual Attitudes Toward Homosexuality (HATH) scale (Larsen, Reed, & Hoffman, 1980). Findings indicate that men and women are more distressed by a partner's homosexual compared to heterosexual infidelity. The study also demonstrated that attitudes to homosexuality significantly predict male but not female responses to homosexual infidelity.

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

Partner preferences across sexual orientations and biological sex

Jarryd Willis
Personal Relationships, March 2014, Pages 150-167

Abstract:
This study examined how partner preferences differ across interpersonal contexts (romantic attachment and relationship expectations) based on sexuality and biological sex. Participants completed measures of attachment and behavioral expectations for their romantic partners, cross-sex friends, and same-sex friends. The attachment anxiety results revealed an effect of sexuality: Single heterosexuals scored higher for their cross-sex friends than same-sex friends, single lesbian/gay individuals scored higher for same-sex friends than cross-sex friends, and bisexuals' attachment anxiety was equal regardless of friends' biological sex. The behavioral expectation results revealed an effect of biological sex indicating that, regardless of sexuality, women are preferred over men for emotional/social needs. Finally, an interaction revealed that lesbians have higher expectations for their girlfriends/wives than straight men have for theirs.

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

Sexual orientation of women does not affect outcome of fertility treatment with donated sperm

S. Nordqvist et al.
Human Reproduction, April 2014, Pages 704-711

Study question: Is there a difference in fertility between heterosexual women and lesbians undergoing sperm donation?

Study design, size, duration: This is a national study of 171 lesbians and 124 heterosexual women undergoing sperm donation both as D-IUI (lesbian n = 438, heterosexual n = 298) and as embryo transfers (ET) after IVF with donated sperm (lesbians n = 225, heterosexuals n = 230) during 2005-2010.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: All clinics in Sweden offering sperm donation recruited patients. Differences in patients' medical history, treatment results and number of treatments to live birth were analyzed using independent samples t-test, Pearson's χ2 test or Fisher's exact probability test.

Main results and the role of chance: 71.8% of heterosexuals and 69.0% of lesbians had a child after treatment. The mean number of treatments was 4.2 for heterosexual women and 3.9 for lesbians. The total live birth rate, regardless of treatment type, was 19.7% for heterosexuals and 19.5% for lesbians. For D-IUI, the live birth rate was 12.8% for heterosexuals and 16.0% for lesbians and the live birth rate for all IVF embryo transfers (fresh and thawed cycles) was 28.7% for heterosexuals and 26.2% for lesbians. There were no differences in live birth rate between the groups for each of the different types of insemination stimulations (natural cycle; clomiphene citrate; FSH; clomiphene citrate and FSH combined). Nor was there a difference in live birth rate between the groups for either fresh or thawed embryo transfer. There was no difference between the proportions of women in either group or the number of treatments needed to achieve a live birth. Heterosexuals had a higher prevalence of smokers (9.2%), uterine polyps (7.2%) or previous children (11.3%) than lesbians (smokers 2.8%, P = 0.03; polyps 1.8%, P = 0.03; child 2.5%, P = 0.003).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sharing a moment

Facebook’s emotional consequences: Why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it

Christina Sagioglou & Tobias Greitemeyer
Computers in Human Behavior, June 2014, Pages 359–363

Abstract:
Facebook is the world’s most popular online social network and used by more than one billion people. In three studies, we explored the hypothesis that Facebook activity negatively affects people’s emotional state. A first study shows that the longer people are active on Facebook, the more negative is their mood afterwards. The second study provides causal evidence for this effect by showing that Facebook activity leads to a deterioration of mood compared to two different control conditions. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that this effect is mediated by a feeling of not having done anything meaningful. With such negative outcomes for its users, the question arises as to why so many people continue to use Facebook on a daily basis. A third study suggests that this may be because people commit an affective forecasting error in that they expect to feel better after using Facebook, whereas, in fact, they feel worse.

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

Detecting Emotional Contagion in Massive Social Networks

Lorenzo Coviello et al.
PLoS ONE, March 2014

Abstract:
Happiness and other emotions spread between people in direct contact, but it is unclear whether massive online social networks also contribute to this spread. Here, we elaborate a novel method for measuring the contagion of emotional expression. With data from millions of Facebook users, we show that rainfall directly influences the emotional content of their status messages, and it also affects the status messages of friends in other cities who are not experiencing rainfall. For every one person affected directly, rainfall alters the emotional expression of about one to two other people, suggesting that online social networks may magnify the intensity of global emotional synchrony.

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

The Girl Next Door: The Effect of Opposite Gender Friends on High School Achievement

Andrew Hill
University of South Carolina Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Parents are concerned about the influence of friends during adolescence. Using the gender composition of schoolmates in an individual's close neighborhood as an instrument for the gender composition of an individual's self-reported friendship network, this paper finds that the share of opposite gender friends has a sizable negative effect on high school GPA. The effect is found across all subjects for students over the age of sixteen, but is limited to mathematics and science for younger students. Self-reported difficulties getting along with the teacher and paying attention in class are important mechanisms through which the effect operates.

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

Rumors, False Flags, and Digital Vigilantes: Misinformation on Twitter after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing

Kate Starbird et al.
University of Washington Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
The Boston Marathon bombing story unfolded on every possible carrier of information available in the spring of 2013, including Twitter. As information spread, it was filled with rumors (unsubstantiated information), and many of these rumors contained misinformation. Earlier studies have suggested that crowdsourced information flows can correct misinformation, and our research investigates this proposition. This exploratory research examines three rumors, later demonstrated to be false, that circulated on Twitter in the aftermath of the bombings. Our findings suggest that corrections to the misinformation emerge but are muted compared with the propagation of the misinformation. The similarities and differences we observe in the patterns of the misinformation and corrections contained within the stream over the days that followed the attacks suggest directions for possible research strategies to automatically detect misinformation.

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

Are narcissists more accepting of others’ narcissistic traits?

William Hart & John Adams
Personality and Individual Differences, July 2014, Pages 163–167

Abstract:
Narcissists, relative to non-narcissists, seem to regard their own narcissistic traits (e.g., rudeness and arrogance) more positively and are more motivated to cultivate such traits. That said, should we expect narcissists to regard others’ narcissistic traits more positively too? In this study, participants (N = 463) completed a survey in which they responded on a measure of trait narcissism, rated the likeability of people who possessed various narcissistic traits (e.g., arrogant, rude, self-centered), and then indicated the extent to which they possessed the same narcissistic traits. Interestingly, narcissists – who are generally disagreeable and harsh individuals – rated others who possessed narcissistic traits more positively than non-narcissists. Furthermore, a mediation analysis revealed that this effect of narcissism on ratings was mediated by narcissists’ self-reports of possessing the narcissistic traits. Thus, this study provides initial evidence that narcissists are more accepting of others’ narcissistic traits, and this study has implications for understanding the interpersonal and intrapersonal consequences of narcissism.

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

Dominant, cold, avoidant, and lonely: Basal testosterone as a biological marker for an interpersonal style

Bulent Turan et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesized that an interpersonal trait approach would improve our understanding of the behavioral manifestations of basal testosterone. 85 male participants provided saliva samples for testosterone assay on two separate visits and completed the Interpersonal Adjective Scales, the Circumplex Scales of Interpersonal Values, and measures of attachment and loneliness. High testosterone was associated with a distinct interpersonal style that included: attachment-related avoidance, dominance, and disconnectedness (cold and distant from others). High testosterone was also associated with loneliness (marginally), and this relationship was mediated by attachment-related avoidance. These findings add to our understanding of the complex inter-relationships between hormones, personality, and social behavior. The clear circumplex structure revealed by testosterone’s associations describes its interpersonal nature and provides evidence for its construct validity as a biological marker of a dominant, cold, avoidant, and lonely interpersonal style. Despite high heritability of testosterone, targeting these traits could help ameliorate their physical and emotional consequences.

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

The Architecture of Collective Intimacy: Masonic Friendships as a Model for Collective Attachments

Danny Kaplan
American Anthropologist, March 2014, Pages 81–93

Abstract:
Despite a growing recognition that interpersonal friendship informs wider forms of solidarity, there is little systematic analysis as to how community members extend the logic of friendship and intimacy to broader organizational and societal context. Masonic organizational practices provide a useful model for this inquiry. Drawing on an ethnographic study of contemporary Israeli Freemasonry, I examine the intersections of interpersonal, public, and collective intimacy in members’ ritual activities and everyday life. The juxtaposition of mundane sociability and Masonic sacred rituals serves to rescale the distance between interpersonal friendship and communal solidarity. As members take on the roles of citizen, bureaucrat, priest, and president concomitantly, they partly collapse the distinctions between personal and collective ties, between the familiar and the revered. These intersections of intimacy are offered as a programmatic research strategy to study how institutionalized patterns of sociability inform civic and national attachments.

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

Is stress affecting our ability to tune into others? Evidence for gender differences in the effects of stress on self-other distinction

L. Tomova et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, May 2014, Pages 95–104

Abstract:
Stress is a ubiquitous challenge in society as we consistently interact with others under the influence of stress. Distinguishing self- from other-related mental representations plays an important role for social interactions, and is a prerequisite for crucial social skills such as action understanding, empathy, and mentalizing. Little is known, however, about the effects of stress on self-other distinction. We assessed how acute stress impacts self-other distinction in the perceptual-motor, the affective, and the cognitive domain, in a male and female sample. In all domains, the results show opposing effects of stress on the two genders: while women showed increases in self-other distinction, men showed decreases. Our findings suggest that women flexibly disambiguate self and other under stress, enabling accurate social responses, while men respond with increased egocentricity and less adaptive regulation. This has crucial implications for explaining gender differences in social skills such as empathy and prosociality.

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

The animal nature of spontaneous human laughter

Gregory Bryant & Athena Aktipis
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Laughter is a universally produced vocal signal that plays an important role in human social interaction. Researchers have distinguished between spontaneous and volitional laughter, but no empirical work has explored possible acoustic and perceptual differences. If spontaneous laughter is an honest signal of cooperative intent (e.g., derived from play breathing patterns), then the ability to mimic these sounds volitionally could have shaped perceptual systems to be attuned to aspects of spontaneous laughs that are harder to fake — features associated with phylogenetically older vocal control systems. We extracted spontaneous laughs from conversations between friends and volitional laughs elicited by instruction without other provocation. In three perception experiments we found that, 1) participants could distinguish between spontaneous and volitional laughter, 2) when laugh speed was increased (duration decreased 33% and pitch held constant), all laughs were judged as more “real,” with judgment accuracy increasing for spontaneous laughter and decreasing for volitional laughter, and 3) when the laughs were slowed down (duration increased 260% and pitch altered proportionally), participants could not distinguish spontaneous laughs from nonhuman vocalizations but could identify volitional laughs as human-made. These findings and acoustic data suggest that spontaneous and volitional laughs are produced by different vocal systems, and that spontaneous laughter might share features with nonhuman animal vocalizations that volitional laughter does not.

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

Don’t stand so close to me: Psychopathy and the regulation of interpersonal distance

Joana Vieira & Abigail Marsh
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, January 2014

Abstract:
Psychopathy is characterized by callous and unemotional personality traits, such as reduced empathy and remorse, and a tendency toward deviant interpersonal behaviors. It has been suggested that subtle behavioral cues in individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits may betray their personality during interpersonal interactions, but little research has addressed what these clues might be. In this study, we investigated whether psychopathic traits predict interpersonal distance preferences, which have been previously linked to amygdala functioning. 46 healthy participants performed a behavioral task in which the distance they preferred to maintain between themselves and an experimenter was measured across a series of trials. Psychopathic traits, including Coldheartedness, Fearless Dominance, and Self-centered Impulsivity were assessed using the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (Lilienfeld and Widows, 2005). Results demonstrated that Coldheartedness predicted preferred interpersonal distance, with more coldhearted participants preferring shorter distances. These findings suggest that interpersonal distance preferences may signal psychopathic traits, particularly callousness, supporting accounts of amygdala dysfunction in psychopathy.

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

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Social Engagement Among US Nursing Home Residents

Yue Li, & Xueya Cai
Medical Care, April 2014, Pages 314-321

Background: The numbers and proportions of racial and ethnic minorities have increased dramatically in US nursing homes in recent years. Concerns exist about whether nursing homes can serve appropriately the clinical and psychosocial needs of patients with increasingly diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This study determined racial and ethnic disparities in social engagement among nursing home long-term residents.

Methods: We analyzed the 2008 national Minimum Data Set supplemented with the Online Survey, Certification, and Reporting File and the Area Resource File. We estimated multivariable logistic regressions to determine disparities and how disparities were explained by individual, facility, and geographic factors. Stratified analyses further determined persistent disparities within patient and facility subgroups.

Results: Compared with white residents (n=690,228), black (n=123,116), Hispanic (n=37,099), and other (n=17,568) residents showed lower social engagement, with overall scores (mean±SD) being 2.5±1.7, 2.2±1.6, 2.0±1.6, and 2.1±1.6, respectively. Disparities were partially explained by variations in individual, facility, and geographic covariates, but persisted after multivariable adjustments. Stratified analyses confirmed that disparities were similar in magnitude across patient and facility subgroups.

Conclusions: Although nursing home residents showed overall low social engagement levels, racial/ethnic minority residents were even less socially engaged than white residents. Efforts to address disparities in psychosocial well-being and quality of life of nursing home residents are warranted.

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

The Canny Social Judge: Predicting Others’ Attitudes from Sparse Information

Jayati Sinha & Dhananjay Naykankuppam
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We demonstrate a phenomenon we term ‘The Canny Social Judge.’ Specifically, we demonstrate that individuals have a remarkable ability to predict the attitudes of others in a social group even though those attitudes were never shared. In Experiments 1 and 2, we document this phenomenon. In Experiment 3, we adopt an individual difference approach and find that empathic responding moderates this phenomenon – it is individuals who are good at empathic responding who appear particularly able to display the ‘canny social judge’ effect. In Experiment 4, using an experimental manipulation of empathy, we provide greater internal validity to our claim. Finally, in Experiment 5, we parse empathic processing into the component parts to delineate the process further. These data paint a picture of a highly socially aware organism.

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

Um . . . Who Like Says You Know: Filler Word Use as a Function of Age, Gender, and Personality

Charlyn Laserna, Yi-Tai Seih & James Pennebaker
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Filler words (I mean, you know, like, uh, um) are commonly used in spoken conversation. The authors analyzed these five filler words from transcripts recorded by a device called the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), which sampled participants’ language use in daily conversations over several days. By examining filler words from 263 transcriptions of natural language from five separate studies, the current research sought to clarify the psychometric properties of filler words. An exploratory factor analysis extracted two factors from the five filler words: filled pauses (uh, um) and discourse markers (I mean, you know, like). Overall, filled pauses were used at comparable rates across genders and ages. Discourse markers, however, were more common among women, younger participants, and more conscientious people. These findings suggest that filler word use can be considered a potential social and personality marker.

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

Facial Movements Strategically Camouflage Involuntary Social Signals of Face Morphology

Daniel Gill et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Animals use social camouflage as a tool of deceit to increase the likelihood of survival and reproduction. We tested whether humans can also strategically deploy transient facial movements to camouflage the default social traits conveyed by the phenotypic morphology of their faces. We used the responses of 12 observers to create models of the dynamic facial signals of dominance, trustworthiness, and attractiveness. We applied these dynamic models to facial morphologies differing on perceived dominance, trustworthiness, and attractiveness to create a set of dynamic faces; new observers rated each dynamic face according to the three social traits. We found that specific facial movements camouflage the social appearance of a face by modulating the features of phenotypic morphology. A comparison of these facial expressions with those similarly derived for facial emotions showed that social-trait expressions, rather than being simple one-to-one overgeneralizations of emotional expressions, are a distinct set of signals composed of movements from different emotions. Our generative face models represent novel psychophysical laws for social sciences; these laws predict the perception of social traits on the basis of dynamic face identities.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, April 4, 2014

Stay classy

A theory of top income taxation and social insurance

Francisco Gonzalez & Jean-François Wen
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The development of the welfare state in the Western economies between 1930 and 1990 coincided with a puzzling pattern in the taxation of top incomes. Effective tax rates at the top increased sharply during the 1930s and 1940s, but then gradually decreased, even as social transfers continued rising. We propose a new theory of the development of the welfare state to explain these facts. Our main insight is that social insurance and top income taxation are substitutes for averting social conflict. Our detailed arguments build on the policy histories of the United States, Great Britain, and Sweden.

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

Voting for Income-Immiserizing Redistribution in the Meltzer–Richard Model

Richard Barnett, Joydeep Bhattacharya & Helle Bunzel
Economic Inquiry, April 2014, Pages 682–695

Abstract:
This paper argues that income received via redistributive transfers, unlike labor income, requires no direct sacrifice of leisure; this makes it attractive to many voters even if it leaves them poorer. This point is made within the classic Meltzer and Richard (1981) model wherein heterogeneous voters evaluate an income-redistribution program that finances a lump-sum transfer to all via a distorting income tax. The political-equilibrium policy under majority rule is the tax most preferred, utility-wise, by the median voter. Ironically, this voter, and many poorer voters, may support a redistribution policy that leaves them poorer in income terms but with higher utility.

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

Conditional Status Quo Bias and Top Income Shares: How U.S. Political Institutions Have Benefited the Rich

Peter Enns et al.
Journal of Politics, April 2014, Pages 289-303

Abstract:
This article develops and tests a model of conditional status quo bias and American inequality. We find that institutional features that bias policy outcomes toward the status quo have played a central role in the path of inequality. Using time-series analysis of top income shares during the post-Depression period, we identify the Senate as a key actor in the politics of income inequality. Our findings suggest that the supermajoritarian nature of the Senate and policy stagnation, when coupled with economic and social factors that produce rising inequality, create a situation in which inequality becomes difficult to reverse.

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

Income inequality and redistribution in post-industrial democracies: Demographic, economic and political determinants

Evelyne Huber & John Stephens
Socio-Economic Review, April 2014, Pages 245-267

Abstract:
This article analyses the determinants of market income distribution and governmental redistribution. The dependent variables are Luxembourg Income Study data on market income inequality (measured by the Gini index) for households with a head aged 25–59 years and the per cent reduction in the Gini index by taxes and transfers. We test the generalizability of the Goldin–Katz hypothesis that inequality has increased in the USA because the country failed to invest sufficiently in education. The main determinants of market income inequality are (in order of size of the effect) family structure (single mother households), union density, deindustrialization, unemployment, employment levels and education spending. The main determinants of redistribution are (in order of magnitude) left government, family structure, welfare state generosity, unemployment and employment levels. Redistribution rises mainly because needs rise (that is, unemployment and single mother households increase), not because social policy becomes more redistributive.

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

Nordic exceptionalism? Social democratic egalitarianism in world-historic perspective

Mattia Fochesato & Samuel Bowles
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We ask: In what respect, if any, are the Nordic economies exceptionally egalitarian when viewed from a world historical perspective? We use archaeological, historical and ethnographic as well as contemporary evidence to estimate the degree of wealth inequality over the past three thousand years. Our data set includes measures of inequality of wealth from economies based on foraging, sedentary hunting and gathering, horticulture, herding, and agriculture, and under institutions ranging from communal property, ancient slavery, feudalism, pre-modern centralized authoritarian systems, pre-modern urban economies, as well as contemporary capitalist economies governed by democratic polities. The countries exemplifying the Nordic model are not exceptionally equal in the ownership of material wealth. Moreover, the advent of social democracy in the Nordic nations did not result in a more equal distribution of years of schooling. But intergenerational economic and social mobility appears to be exceptional in the Nordic nations, and by most measures, inequalities in living standards in the Nordic economies are less than in other advanced economies. The closest Nordic analogy in our data set is the egalitarian distribution of well-being found in some horticultural and (especially) forager economies, in which neither human nor material wealth is strongly transmitted across generations, and one’s ownership of material wealth is not very important as a source of an individual’s livelihood, because one’s livelihood depends more on non-material forms of wealth including group membership, independently of material wealth.

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

Wanting What Is Fair: How Party Cues and Information About Income Inequality Affect Public Support for Taxes

Cheryl Boudreau & Scott MacKenzie
University of California Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Income inequality has risen dramatically in the United States, with potentially negative social, economic, and political consequences. Governments can use redistributive tax policies to combat inequality, but doing so requires public support. When will voters support redistributive tax policies? We address this question by conducting survey experiments where citizens express opinions about tax policies in a real-world context. We manipulate whether they receive party cues, information about rising income inequality, both, or neither type of information. We find that when citizens are given information about income inequality, they connect it to their views on redistributive tax policies. We also find that inequality information can induce Republicans to support a tax increase that their party opposes. These results challenge the prominent view of citizens as too ignorant to connect information about inequality to specific taxes. They also suggest that efforts to inform the electorate about inequality can influence tax policy opinions.

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

Explaining Pay Disparities between Top Executives and Nonexecutive Employees: A Relative Bargaining Power Approach

Taekjin Shin
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
The widening pay gap between corporate executives and rank-and-file workers has attracted much attention in the United States, but the sources of the pay gap have not been systematically examined. In this paper, I use a relative bargaining power approach to explore the sources of pay disparity between executives and nonexecutive employees in the United States. I argue that the bargaining power of labor affects executive compensation, nonexecutive compensation, and the executive-worker pay gap and that this effect is moderated by the characteristics of the chief executive officers (CEOs) who implement organizational policies. An analysis of 185 US firms provides evidence that labor's bargaining power reduces the pay gap between executives and nonexecutive employees. This effect is mainly through the unions' impact on executive compensation. The results also suggest that labor's effect of narrowing the gap becomes weaker when the CEO has a finance background or when the CEO was recruited from outside the company rather than being promoted from within. These findings shed new light on our understanding of the linkage between firm-level dynamics and the rise in income inequality.

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

The impact of redistributive policies on inequality in OECD countries

Philipp Doerrenberg & Andreas Peichl
Applied Economics, Spring 2014, Pages 2066-2086

Abstract:
Due to behavioural effects triggered by redistributional interventions, it is still an open question whether government policies are able to effectively reduce income inequality. We contribute to this research question by using different country-level data sources to study inequality trends in OECD countries since 1980. We first investigate the development of inequality over time before analysing the question of whether governments can effectively reduce inequality. Different identification strategies, using fixed effects and instrumental variables models, provide some evidence that governments are capable of reducing income inequality despite countervailing behavioural responses. The effect is stronger for social expenditure policies than for progressive taxation.

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

Do assortative mating patterns for IQ block upward social mobility?

W. Johnson, M. McGue & W.G. Iacono
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2014, Pages S12–S13

Abstract:
In the Minnesota Twin Family Study, assortative mating for IQ was greater than .3 in both the 11- and 17-year-old cohorts. Recognizing this, genetic variance in IQ independent of SES was greater with higher parental SES in the 11-year-old cohort. This was not true, however, in the 17-year-old cohort. In both cohorts, people of higher IQ were more likely to have ‘married down’ for IQ than people of lower IQ were to have ‘married up’. This assortative mating pattern would create greater genetic diversity for IQ in people of higher IQ than in people of lower IQ. As IQ is associated with SES, the pattern could be one reason for the observation of greater genetic variance in IQ independent of SES with greater parental SES in several samples. If so, it could block upward social mobility among those already in lower-SES groups. I discuss possible involved mechanisms and social implications.

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

A Note on Income Inequality in East and Central Europe

Frederic Pryor
Comparative Economic Studies, March 2014, Pages 42–51

Abstract:
This paper examines the proposition that the transition process to a capitalist economic system in Eastern and Central European nations has introduced greater income inequality than in long-time capitalist nations at similar stages of development. In the empirical analysis, I use comparable inequality data from the Luxembourg Income Study, hold constant a number of general causal determinants of inequality, and show that such inequality in Eastern and Central Europe is significantly less than in nations where capitalism has long held sway.

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

Equilibrium Tax Rates and Income Redistribution: A Laboratory Study

Marina Agranov & Thomas Palfrey
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
This paper reports results from a laboratory experiment that investigates the Meltzer-Richard model of equilibrium tax rates, inequality, and income redistribution. We also extend that model to incorporate social preferences in the form of altruism and inequality aversion. The experiment varies the amount of inequality and the collective choice procedure to determine tax rates. We report four main findings. First, higher wage inequality leads to higher tax rates. The effect is significant and large in magnitude. Second, the average implemented tax rates are almost exactly equal to the theoretical ideal tax rate of the median wage worker. Third, we do not observe any significant differences in labor supply or average implemented tax rates between a direct democracy institution and a representative democracy system where tax rates are determined by candidate competition. Fourth, we observe negligible deviations from labor supply behavior or voting behavior in the directions implied by altruism or inequality aversion.

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

Visibility, Values, and Voters: The Informational Role of the Welfare State

Jane Gingrich
Journal of Politics, April 2014, Pages 565-580

Abstract:
How do citizens’ preferences over social policy shape their vote choice? In this article, I argue that the relationship between individuals’ values and voting behavior is powerfully conditioned by the informational structure of the welfare state. More visible welfare states provide citizens with greater information on social policy, allowing them to more easily connect these preferences to the political process. Where visibility is low, voters place less importance on social-policy issues in voting. I test this claim against data from 55 elections from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and the 1996 and 2006 International Social Survey Program. I find compelling evidence that where welfare-state visibility is high, voters attach more weight to spatial distance from parties in voting, are more likely to see welfare related issues as important, are better able to place parties on a left-right spectrum, and have more consistent policy preferences.

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

Generational Inequalities and Welfare Regimes

Louis Chauvel & Martin Schröder
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses a new age period cohort model to show that among cohorts born between 1935 and 1975, cohorts born around 1950 are significantly above the income trend in most countries. However, such inequalities between generations are much stronger in conservative, continental European welfare states, compared to social democratic and liberal welfare states. As we show, this is because conservative welfare states expose some cohorts to high youth unemployment and make lifetime earnings dependent on a favorable entry into the labor market. We thus demonstrate that conservative welfare states have put the burden of adjustment to the post-1975 economic slowdown on birth cohorts that could not get stable jobs before 1975, while similar cohort inequalities are much weaker in liberal and social democratic welfare states. In these latter two welfare regimes, the burden of adjustment to the post-1975 economic slowdown was not put on the shoulders of some cohorts relative to others. Our analysis is the first to show which welfare regimes are more conducive to such inequalities between cohorts and what mechanisms lead to these material cohort inequalities.

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

Political Leaders’ Socioeconomic Background and Fiscal Performance in Germany

Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier
European Journal of Political Economy, June 2014, Pages 184–205

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether the socioeconomic status of the head of government helps explain fiscal performance. Applying sociological research that attributes differences in people’s ways of thinking and acting to their relative standing within society, we test whether the social status of German prime ministers can help explain differences in fiscal performance among the German Laender. Our empirical findings show that the tenures of prime ministers from a poorer socioeconomic background are associated with higher levels of public spending and debt financing. Social mobility has an asymmetric influence: social climbers adapt to their new class, whereas downwardly mobile prime ministers remain primarily influenced by their parents’ upper-class status.

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

Skills and the Evolution of Wage Inequality

Elena Capatina
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies wage inequality in the United States between 1980 and 2010 in a framework that accounts for changes in the employment of physical and cognitive skills and their returns. I find that the secular rise in the employment of cognitive skills is largely accounted for by labour force composition changes in shares of gender-education groups rather than changes that occur within these groups. Average employed skills differ greatly across groups, but over time their average employed cognitive skills have remained approximately constant. Returns to cognitive skills increased very sharply for high skill levels, more gradually around mean levels, and decreased at low levels. Returns to physical skills generally declined. These trends account for approximately 63% of the increase in the college wage premium, with changes in returns to cognitive skills playing a dominant role.

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

Income Risk in 30 Countries

Austin Nichols & Philipp Rehm
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present a measure of income risk that decomposes income dynamics into long-run inequality, volatility (inter-temporal variability around individual-specific growth rates), and mobility risk (variation in individual-specific growth rates). We measure these income risk components in panel data from 30 rich democracies. We use this comprehensive collection of panel data to analyze long-terms trends in income dynamics for four countries (Canada, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States), and cross-national patterns of income dynamics for an additional 26 countries. We find that tax and transfer systems lower income risk, but less so in the United States than in other comparable countries. We find that higher incomes tend to grow faster and to be more volatile than lower incomes. We find that the United States is exceptional in its level of, and increase in, each type of income risk. Various other measures of mobility are positively correlated with mobility risk.

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

Aspirations and Inequality

Garance Genicot & Debraj Ray
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
This paper develops a theory in which society-wide economic outcomes shape individual aspirations, which affect the investment incentives of individuals. Through its impact on investments, aspirations in turn affect ambient social outcomes. We explore this two-way link. A central feature is that aspirations that are moderately above an individual’s current standard of living tend to encourage investment, while still higher aspirations may lead to frustration and lower investment. When integrated with the feedback effect from investment, we are led to a theory in which aspirations and income evolve jointly, and the social determinants of preferences play an important role. We examine conditions under which growth is compatible with long-run equality in the distribution of income. More generally, we describe steady state income distributions, which are typically clustered around local poles. Finally, the theory has predictions for the growth rates along the cross-section of income. We use these predictions to calibrate the model so that it fits growth data by income percentile for 43 countries, and back out the implicit aspirations-formation process that underlies these observations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Live long and prosper

AIDS in Black and White: The Influence of Newspaper Coverage of HIV/AIDS on HIV/AIDS Testing Among African Americans and White Americans, 1993–2007

Robin Stevens & Robert Hornik
Journal of Health Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the effect of newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS on HIV testing behavior in a U.S. population. HIV testing data were taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1993 to 2007 (N = 265,557). The authors content-analyzed news stories from 24 daily newspapers and 1 wire service during the same time period. The authors used distributed lagged regression models to estimate how well HIV/AIDS newspaper coverage predicted later HIV testing behavior. Increases in HIV/AIDS newspaper coverage were associated with declines in population-level HIV testing. Each additional 100 HIV/AIDS-related newspaper stories published each month was associated with a 1.7% decline in HIV testing levels in the subsequent month. This effect differed by race, with African Americans exhibiting greater declines in HIV testing subsequent to increased news coverage than did Whites. These results suggest that mainstream newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS may have a particularly deleterious effect on African Americans, one of the groups most affected by the disease. The mechanisms driving the negative effect deserve further investigation to improve reporting on HIV/AIDS in the media.

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

Early Childhood Investments Substantially Boost Adult Health

Frances Campbell et al.
Science, 28 March 2014, Pages 1478-1485

Abstract:
High-quality early childhood programs have been shown to have substantial benefits in reducing crime, raising earnings, and promoting education. Much less is known about their benefits for adult health. We report on the long-term health effects of one of the oldest and most heavily cited early childhood interventions with long-term follow-up evaluated by the method of randomization: the Carolina Abecedarian Project (ABC). Using recently collected biomedical data, we find that disadvantaged children randomly assigned to treatment have significantly lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in their mid-30s. The evidence is especially strong for males. The mean systolic blood pressure among the control males is 143 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), whereas it is only 126 mm Hg among the treated. One in four males in the control group is affected by metabolic syndrome, whereas none in the treatment group are affected. To reach these conclusions, we address several statistical challenges. We use exact permutation tests to account for small sample sizes and conduct a parallel bootstrap confidence interval analysis to confirm the permutation analysis. We adjust inference to account for the multiple hypotheses tested and for nonrandom attrition. Our evidence shows the potential of early life interventions for preventing disease and promoting health.

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

Genetic Mechanisms in the Intergenerational Transmission of Health

Owen Thompson
Journal of Health Economics, May 2014, Pages 132–146

Abstract:
This paper uses a sample of adoptees to study the genetic mechanisms underlying intergenerational associations in chronic health conditions. I begin by estimating baseline intergenerational models with a sample of approximately 125,000 parent-child pairs, and find that children with a parent who has a specific chronic health condition are at least 100% more likely to have the same condition themselves. To assess the role of genetic mechanisms in generating these strong correlations, I estimate models using a sample of approximately 2,400 adoptees, and find that genetic transmission accounts for only 20%-30% of the baseline associations. As falsification tests, I repeat this exercise using health measures with externally established levels of genetic determination (height and chicken pox), and the results suggest that comparisons of biological and adopted children are a valid method of isolating genetic effects in this sample. Finally, to corroborate these adoptee-based estimates, I examine health correlations among monozygotic twins, which provide an upper bound estimate of genetic influences, and find a similarly modest role for genetic transmission. I conclude that intergenerational health transmission is an important hindrance to overall socioeconomic mobility, but that the majority of transmission occurs through environmental factors or gene-environment interactions, leaving scope for interventions to effectively mitigate health persistence.

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

HIV Testing & Risky Sexual Behaviour

Erick Gong
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a study that randomly assigns HIV testing in two sites in sub-Saharan Africa, I examine the effects of testing on sexual behaviour. Using sexually transmitted infections as markers of risky sex, I find behavioural responses to HIV tests when tests provide unexpected information. Individuals surprised by an HIV-positive (HIV-negative) test increase (decrease) their risky sexual behaviour. I simulate the effects of testing and find under certain conditions, new HIV infections increase when people are tested. The provision of antiretrovirals (ARVs) for HIV-positive individuals immediately after testing mitigates these effects and leads to decreases in HIV infections in all cases.

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

Why Do Americans Have Shorter Life Expectancy and Worse Health Than Do People in Other High-Income Countries?

Mauricio Avendano & Ichiro Kawachi
Annual Review of Public Health, 2014, Pages 307-325

Abstract:
Americans lead shorter and less healthy lives than do people in other high-income countries. We review the evidence and explanations for these variations in longevity and health. Our overview suggests that the US health disadvantage applies to multiple mortality and morbidity outcomes. The American health disadvantage begins at birth and extends across the life course, and it is particularly marked for American women and for regions in the US South and Midwest. Proposed explanations include differences in health care, individual behaviors, socioeconomic inequalities, and the built physical environment. Although these factors may contribute to poorer health in America, a focus on proximal causes fails to adequately account for the ubiquity of the US health disadvantage across the life course. We discuss the role of specific public policies and conclude that while multiple causes are implicated, crucial differences in social policy might underlie an important part of the US health disadvantage.

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

Born at the Right Time? Childhood Health and the Business Cycle

Viola Angelini & Jochen Mierau
Social Science & Medicine, May 2014, Pages 35–43

Abstract:
We analyze the relationship between the state of the business cycle at birth and childhood health. We use a retrospective survey on self-reported childhood health for ten Western European countries and combine it with historically and internationally comparable data on the Gross Domestic Product. We validate the self-reported data by comparing them to realized illness spells. We find a positive relationship between being born in a recession and childhood health. This relationship is not driven by selection effects due to heightened infant mortality during recessions. Placebo regressions indicate that the observed effect is not spurious.

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

“I Think About Oprah”: Social Class Differences in Sources of Health Information

Ann Bell
Qualitative Health Research, April 2014, Pages 506-516

Abstract:
Health information influences an individual’s health outcomes. Indeed, researchers have found that communication inequalities contribute to health inequalities. We do not have a clear understanding of why and how the communication disparities exist, however, particularly the social forces behind such differences. The qualitative nature of this article reveals the nuances of health information seeking using the case of infertility. Through 58 in-depth interviews, I demonstrate how differences in social and cultural capital between women of low and high socioeconomic status (SES) result in different ways of learning about health. Women of high SES have access to support groups, physicians, and the Internet, whereas women of low SES do not discuss their health problems with their peers, and lack access to and distrust physicians. I explore how these differences in health information shape the illness experience. I conclude with policy implications.

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

Spinning the Wheels and Rolling the Dice: Life-Cycle Risks and Benefits of Bicycle Commuting in the U.S.

Ryan Edwards & Carl Mason
Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Objective: To assess the net impact on U.S. longevity of the decision to commute by bicycle rather than automobile.

Methods: We construct fatality rates per distance traveled using official statistics and denominators from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey. We model the life-table impact of switching from auto to bicycle commuting. Key factors are increased risks from road accidents and reduced risks from enhanced cardiovascular health.

Results: Bicycling fatality rates in the U.S. are an order of magnitude higher than in Western Europe. Risks punish both young and old, while the health benefits guard against causes of mortality that rise rapidly with age. Although the protective effects of bicycling appear significant, it may be optimal to wait until later ages to initiate regular bicycle commuting in the current U.S. risk environment, especially if individuals discount future life years.

Conclusions: The lifetime health benefits of bicycle commuting appear to outweigh the risks in the U.S., but individuals who sufficiently discount or disbelieve the health benefits may delay or avoid bicycling. Bicycling in middle age avoids much fatality risk while capturing health benefits. Significant cross-state variation in bicycling mortality suggest that improvements in the built environment might spur changes in transit mode.

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

50-year trends in US socioeconomic inequalities in health: US-born Black and White Americans, 1959–2008

Nancy Krieger et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Debates exist over whether health inequities are bound to rise as population health improves, due to health improving more quickly among the better off, with most analyses focused on mortality data.

Methods: We analysed 50 years of socioeconomic inequities in measured health status among US-born Black and White Americans, using data from the National Health Examination Surveys (NHES) I-III (1959–70), National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) I-III (1971–94) and NHANES 1999–2008.

Results: Absolute US socioeconomic health inequities for income percentile and education variously decreased (serum cholesterol; childhood height), stagnated [systolic blood pressure (SBP)], widened [body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC)] and in some cases reversed (age at menarche), even as on-average values rose (BMI, WC), idled (childhood height) and fell (SBP, serum cholesterol, age at menarche), with patterns often varying by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic measure; similar results occurred for relative inequities. For example, for WC, the adverse 20th (low) vs 80th (high) income percentile gap increased only among Whites (NHES I: 0.71 cm [95% confidence interval (CI) −0.74, 2.16); NHANES 2005–08: 2.10 (95% CI 0.96, 3.62)]. By contrast, age at menarche for girls in the 20th vs 80th income percentile among Black girls remained consistently lower, by 0.34 years (95% CI 0.12, 0.55) whereas among White girls the initial null difference became inverse [NHANES 2005–08: −0.49 years (95% CI −0.86, −0.12; overall P = 0.0015)]. Adjusting for socioeconomic position only modestly altered Black/White health inequities.

Conclusions: Health inequities need not rise as population health improves.

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

Mortgage debt as a moderator in the association between unemployment and health

C. Lau & L.A. Leung
Public Health, March 2014, Pages 239–245

Objective: While homeownership is generally viewed as good for society, the consequences of the concomitant mortgage debt have not been well examined. This study investigates the role of mortgage debt as a moderator in the relationship between unemployment and health.

Study design: A cross-sectional analysis of a representative sample of US homeowners aged 38–46 surveyed in 1998–2006.

Methods: Subjects were 3667 adults living in owned homes aged 38–46 who reported being either employed or unemployed. Logistic models were performed using maximum likelihood estimation to estimate the relative risk of self-reporting fair or poor health with regard to employment status and how employment status interacted with mortgage status.

Results: Among homeowners, being unemployed for more than 13 weeks with a mortgage is associated with a higher likelihood of reporting fair or poor health (odds ratio 2.38, 95% confidence interval 1.28–4.45). Being unemployed for more than 13 weeks with a mortgage loan that is more than 80% of the value of the home is associated with a greater likelihood of reporting fair or poor health (odds ratio 8.99, 95% confidence interval 2.50–32.29).

Conclusion: Among homeowners, mortgage debt increases the association between unemployment and poor health. In an economy where periods of high unemployment are likely to coincide with periods of falling home prices, homeowners may find themselves unemployed just when their homes lose value, intensifying financial stress.

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

Adverse socioeconomic position during the life course is associated with multiple sclerosis

Farren Briggs et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Adverse socioeconomic position (SEP) in childhood and adulthood is associated with a proinflammatory phenotype, and therefore an important exposure to consider for multiple sclerosis (MS), a complex neuroinflammatory autoimmune disease. The objective was to determine whether SEP over the life course confers increased susceptibility to MS.

Methods: 1643 white, non-Hispanic MS case and control members recruited from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan, Northern California Region, for which comprehensive genetic, clinical and environmental exposure data have been collected were studied. Logistic regression models investigated measures of childhood and adulthood SEP, and accounted for effects due to established MS risk factors, including HLA-DRB1*15:01 allele carrier status, smoking history, history of infectious mononucleosis, family history of MS and body size.

Results: Multiple measures of childhood and adulthood SEP were significantly associated with risk of MS, including parents renting versus owning a home at age 10: OR=1.48, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.02, p=0.013; less than a college education versus at least a college education based on parental household: OR=1.28, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.63, p=0.041; low versus high life course SEP: OR=1.50, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.05, p=0.012; and low versus high social mobility: OR=1.74, 95% CI 1.27 to 2.39, p=5.7×10−4.

Conclusions: Results derived from a population-representative case–control study provide support for the role of adverse SEP in MS susceptibility and add to the growing evidence linking lower SEP to poorer health outcomes. Both genetic and environmental contributions to chronic conditions are important and must be characterised to fully understand MS aetiology.

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

Education Attenuates the Negative Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on Cognitive Status

James Sumowski et al.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, December 2013, Pages 2562-2564

Objective: To investigate whether the cognitive reserve hypothesis helps to explain differential cognitive impairment among survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI), whereby survivors with greater intellectual enrichment (estimated with education) are less vulnerable to cognitive impairment.

Participants: Survivors of moderate or severe TBI (n=44) and healthy controls (n=36).

Main Outcome Measures: Intellectual enrichment was estimated with educational attainment. Group was defined as TBI or healthy control. Current cognitive status (processing speed, working memory, episodic memory) was evaluated with neuropsychological tasks.

Results: TBI survivors exhibited worse cognitive status than healthy persons (P<.001), and education was positively correlated with cognitive status in TBI survivors (r=.54, P<.001). Most importantly, regression analysis revealed an interaction between group and education (R2 change=.036, P=.004), whereas higher education attenuated the negative impact of TBI on cognitive status. TBI survivors with lower education performed much worse than matched healthy persons, but this TBI-related performance discrepancy was attenuated at higher levels of education.

Conclusions: Higher intellectual enrichment (estimated with education) reduces the negative effect of TBI on cognitive outcomes, thereby supporting the cognitive reserve hypothesis in persons with TBI. Future work is necessary to investigate whether intellectual enrichment can build cognitive reserve as a rehabilitative intervention in survivors of TBI.

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

The older they rise the younger they fall: Age and performance trends in men’s professional tennis from 1991 to 2012

Stephanie Ann Kovalchik
Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2012, 3 out of 10 singles players in the top 100 on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour were 30 years old or older – nearly a four-fold increase over 20 years ago, suggesting that the “old at 30” view in men’s tennis may be an old reality. In this paper, I investigate aging patterns among top ATP singles players between 1991 and 2012 and consider how surface effects, career length, and age at peak performance have influenced aging trends. Following a decade and a half of little change, the average age of top singles players has increased at a pace of 0.34 years per season since the mid-2000s, reaching an all-time high of 27.9 years in 2012. Underlying this age shift was a coincident rise in the proportion of 30-and-overs (29% in 2012) and the virtual elimination of teenagers from the top 100 (0% in 2012). Because the typical age players begin competing professionally has varied little from 18 years in the past two decades, career length has increased in step with player age. Demographics among top players on each of today’s major surfaces indicate that parallel aging trends have occurred on clay, grass, and hard court from the late 2000s forward. As a result of the changing age demographic over the past decade, the age of tennis’s highest-ranked singles players is now comparable to the age of elite long-distance runners. This evolution likely reflects changes in tennis play that have made endurance and fitness increasingly essential for winning success.

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

Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population

Morgan Levine et al.
Cell Metabolism, 4 March 2014, Pages 407-417

Abstract:
Mice and humans with growth hormone receptor/IGF-1 deficiencies display major reductions in age-related diseases. Because protein restriction reduces GHR-IGF-1 activity, we examined links between protein intake and mortality. Respondents aged 50–65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived. Conversely, high protein intake was associated with reduced cancer and overall mortality in respondents over 65, but a 5-fold increase in diabetes mortality across all ages. Mouse studies confirmed the effect of high protein intake and GHR-IGF-1 signaling on the incidence and progression of breast and melanoma tumors, but also the detrimental effects of a low protein diet in the very old. These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults may optimize healthspan and longevity.

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

Walking the Dog: The Effect of Pet Ownership on Human Health and Health Behaviors

Rebecca Utz
Social Indicators Research, April 2014, Pages 327-339

Abstract:
This analysis explores whether pet owners have better physical health outcomes, and if so, whether the positive physical health benefits are explained by better health behaviors that result from having to take care of the pet’s physical needs. Data come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a representative sample of the non-institutionalized United States population. Analyses were limited to persons living alone (n = 2,474) in order to isolate primary pet caretakers from those merely living in a pet household. Results showed that pet owners, particularly dog and cat owners, had more positive physical health outcomes when compared to non pet owners or those owning other types of pets. Surprisingly, the effect of pet ownership was not mediated by health behaviors such as recreational walking. However, the health benefits of pet ownership were largely reduced once sociodemographic variables such as age, socioeconomic status, and residential location were controlled. The positive health effects of pet ownership appear to be primarily the result of selection, not increased physical activity associated with the active caretaking of pets.

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

Life Course Socioeconomic Status and Longitudinal Accumulation of Allostatic Load in Adulthood: Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Sharon Stein Merkin et al.
American Journal of Public Health, April 2014, Pages e48-e55

Objectives: We examined the association of childhood and adult socioeconomic status with longitudinal change in allostatic load (AL), a measure of biological dysfunction.

Methods: The study sample included 6135 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, aged 45 to 84 years, recruited in 2000 from 6 US counties; 3 follow-up examinations took place through September 2011. We calculated standardized scores for several metabolic and cardiovascular components relative to accepted clinical cut points for “higher risk” and then summed them to create an overall index of AL. We used mixed effects growth curve models to assess the relationship between socioeconomic status and AL as a linear function of time passed since the baseline examination; we included random effects for the intercept and slope.

Results: Among those with lower baseline AL (< median), high adult education was associated with a significantly slower increase in AL over time, whereas there was no significant association among those with higher baseline AL.

Conclusions: The relationship between socioeconomic status and patterns of change in health parameters may vary over time and with the accumulation of biological risk.

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

Subjective social status predicts wintertime febrile acute respiratory illness among women healthcare personnel

Mark Thompson et al.
Health Psychology, March 2014, Pages 282-291

Objective: We ask whether subjective social status (SSS) predicts rates of wintertime febrile acute respiratory illness (ARI).

Methods: 1,373 women and 346 men were enrolled from September 1 through November 30, 2010 as part of a prospective cohort study of health care personnel (HCP) at two medical centers. A questionnaire was completed at enrollment followed by 20 weeks of surveillance. ARI was an illness with fever and cough self-reported via weekly telephone or Internet-based surveillance.

Results: For both sexes, lower SSS was associated with younger age, less education, lower neighborhood household income, being unmarried, lower occupational status, working in outpatient settings, and poorer self-rated health status. Demographic and occupational covariates explained 23% and 42% of the variance (R²) in SSS among women and men, respectively. Smoking, exercise frequency, and sleep quality were also associated with SSS, but these factors explained little additional variance (3–4%). Among women HCP, lower SSS at enrollment was associated with higher rates of subsequent ARI (unadjusted β = −.21 [±.05], p < .001 for ordinal data). Adjusting for all covariates reduced the effect size of the SSS minimally (adjusted β = −.19 [±.06], p < .001). Among men HCP, there was no univariate SSS–ARI association and after adjusting for all covariates the effect was opposite of our hypothesis (adjusted β = .33 [±.17], p < .05).

Conclusions: Women (but not men) with lower SSS were more likely to report an ARI during surveillance, and the SSS–ARI association was independent of demographics, occupational status, health, and health behaviors.

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

Are Well-Child Visits a Risk Factor for Subsequent Influenza-Like Illness Visits?

Jacob Simmering et al.
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, March 2014, Pages 251-256

Objective: To determine whether well-child visits are a risk factor for subsequent influenza-like illness (ILI) visits within a child’s family.

Methods: Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from the years 1996–2008, we identified 84,595 families. For each family, we determined those weeks in which a well-child visit or an ILI visit occurred. We identified 23,776 well-child-visit weeks and 97,250 ILI-visit weeks. We fitted a logistic regression model, where the binary dependent variable indicated an ILI clinic visit in a particular week. Independent variables included binary indicators to denote a well-child visit in the concurrent week or one of the previous 2 weeks, the occurrence of the ILI visit during the influenza season, and the presence of children in the family in each of the age groups 0–3, 4–7, and 8–17 years. Socioeconomic variables were also included. We also estimated the overall cost of well-child-exam-related ILI using data from 2008.

Results: We found that an ILI office visit by a family member was positively associated with a well-child visit in the same or one of the previous 2 weeks (odds ratio, 1.54). This additional risk translates to potentially 778,974 excess cases of ILI per year in the United States, with a cost of $500 million annually.

Conclusions: Our results should encourage ambulatory clinics to strictly enforce infection control recommendations. In addition, clinics could consider time-shifting of well-child visits so as not to coincide with the peak of the influenza season.

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

Sedentary Time in U.S. Older Adults Associated With Disability in Activities of Daily Living Independent of Physical Activity

Dorothy Dunlop et al.
Journal of Physical Activity & Health, forthcoming

Background: The harmful relationship of sedentary behavior to health may reflect an exchange of sedentary activity for moderate-vigorous activity or sedentary behavior may be a separate risk factor. We examined whether time spent in sedentary behavior is related to disability in activities of daily living (ADL), independent of time spent in moderate-vigorous activity in older adults.

Methods: The nationally representative 2003-2005 National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys (NHANES) included 2286 adults aged 60 years and older with accelerometer-assessed physical activity. The association between ADL task disability and the daily percentage of sedentary time was evaluated by multiple logistic regression.

Results: This sample spent almost 9 hours/day being sedentary during waking hours and 3.6% reported ADL disability. The odds of ADL disability were 46% greater (odds ratio 1.46, 95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.98) for each daily hour spent in sedentary behavior, adjusted for moderate-vigorous activity, socioeconomic, and health factors.

Conclusion: These U.S. national data show a strong relationship between greater time spent in sedentary behavior and the presence of ADL disability, independent of time spent in moderate or vigorous activity. These findings support programs encouraging older adults to decrease sedentary behavior regardless of their engagement in moderate or vigorous activity.

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

An estimate of the U.S. government's undercount of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in agriculture

Paul Leigh, Juan Du & Stephen McCurdy
Annals of Epidemiology, April 2014, Pages 254-259

Background: Debate surrounds the accuracy of U.S. government’s estimates of job-related injuries and illnesses in agriculture. Whereas studies have attempted to estimate the undercount for all industries combined, none have specifically addressed agriculture.

Methods: Data were drawn from the U.S. government’s premier sources for workplace injuries and illnesses and employment: the Bureau of Labor Statistics databanks for the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, and the Current Population Survey. Estimates were constructed using transparent assumptions; for example, that the rate (cases-per-employee) of injuries and illnesses on small farms was the same as on large farms (an assumption we altered in sensitivity analysis).

Results: We estimated 74,932 injuries and illnesses for crop farms and 68,504 for animal farms, totaling 143,436 cases in 2011. We estimated that SOII missed 73.7% of crop farm cases and 81.9% of animal farm cases for an average of 77.6% for all agriculture. Sensitivity analyses suggested that the percent missed ranged from 61.5% to 88.3% for all agriculture.

Conclusions: We estimate considerable undercounting of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in agriculture and believe the undercounting is larger than any other industry. Reasons include: SOII’s explicit exclusion of employees on small farms and of farmers and family members and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages’s undercounts of employment. Undercounting limits our ability to identify and address occupational health problems in agriculture, affecting both workers and society.

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

How have Europeans grown so tall?

Timothy Hatton
Oxford Economic Papers, April 2014, Pages 349-372

Abstract:
Increases in human stature are a key indicator of improvements in the average health of populations. In this article I present and analyse a new data set for the average height of adult male birth cohorts, from the mid-nineteenth century to 1980, in 15 European countries. In little more than a century average height increased by 11 cm — representing a dramatic improvement in health. Interestingly, there was some acceleration in the period spanning the two world wars and the Great Depression. The evidence suggests that the most important proximate source of increasing height was the improving disease environment as reflected by the fall in infant mortality. Rising income and education and falling family size had more modest effects. Improvements in health care are hard to identify, and the effects of welfare state spending seem to have been small.

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

Modelling the impact of compliance with dietary recommendations on cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality in Canada

M. Bélanger et al.
Public Health, March 2014, Pages 222–230

Objectives: Despite strong evidence indicating that unbalanced diets relate to chronic diseases and mortality, most adults do not comply with dietary recommendations. To help determine which recommendations could yield the most benefits, the number of deaths attributable to cardiovascular diseases and cancer that could be delayed or averted in Canada if adults changed their diet to adhere to recommendations were estimated.

Methods: A macrosimulation model was used to draw age- and sex-specific changes in relative risks based on the results of meta-analyses of relationship between food components and risk of cardiovascular disease and diet-related cancers. Inputs in the model included Canadian recommendations (fruit and vegetable, fibre, salt, and total-, monounsaturated-, polyunsaturated-, saturated-, and trans-fats), average dietary intake (from 35 107 participants with 24-h recall), and mortality from specific causes (from Canadian Vital Statistics). Monte Carlo analyses were used to compute 95% credible intervals (CI).

Results: The estimates of this study suggest that 30 540 deaths (95% CI: 24 953, 34 989) per year could be averted or delayed if Canadians adhered to their dietary recommendations. By itself, the recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake could save as many as 72% (55–87%) of these deaths. It is followed by recommendations for fibres (29%, 13–43%) and salt (10%, 9–12%).

Conclusions: A considerable number of lives could be saved if Canadians adhered to the national dietary intake recommendations. Given the scarce resources available to promote guideline adhesion, priority should be given to recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake.

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

Compensating the dead

Marc Fleurbaey, Marie-Louise Leroux & Gregory Ponthiere
Journal of Mathematical Economics, March 2014, Pages 28–41

Abstract:
An early death is, undoubtedly, a serious disadvantage. However, the compensation of short-lived individuals has remained so far largely unexplored, probably because it appears infeasible. Indeed, short-lived agents can hardly be identified ex ante, and cannot be compensated ex post. We argue that, despite those difficulties, a compensation can be carried out by encouraging early consumption in the life cycle. In a model with heterogeneous preferences and longevities, we show how a specific social criterion can be derived from intuitive principles, and we study the corresponding optimal policy under various informational assumptions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dictatorial

Media Disruption and Revolutionary Unrest: Evidence From Mubarak's Quasi-Experiment

Navid Hassanpour
Political Communication, Winter 2014, Pages 1-24

Abstract:
Conventional wisdom suggests that universal lapses in media connectivity — for example, disruption of Internet and cell phone access — have a negative effect on political mobilization. On the contrary, I argue that sudden and ubiquitous interruption of mass communication can facilitate revolutionary mobilization and proliferate decentralized contention. A dynamic threshold model for participation in network collective action is used to demonstrate that full connectivity in a social network can hinder revolutionary action. I exploit a decision by Mubarak's regime to disrupt Internet and mobile communication during the 2011 Egyptian uprising to provide an empirical test for the hypothesis. An interrupted time series inference strategy is used to gauge the impact of media disruption on the dispersion of the protests. The evidence is corroborated using historical, anecdotal, and statistical accounts. In line with the theory, the results of a survey among Egyptian protesters show a significant decline in the percentage of participation in Tahrir Square as a fraction of total participation across Cairo on the first day of media disruption.

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

Aid and democracy redux

Erasmus Kersting & Christopher Kilby
European Economic Review, April 2014, Pages 125–143

Abstract:
This paper uses Freedom House ratings to assess the impact of foreign aid on democracy. We employ an interval regression to account for Freedom House's method of rating countries. A cross-sectional analysis examining the long run effect of aid on democracy in 122 countries between 1972 and 2011 finds a significant positive relationship that survives various tests for endogeneity. A short run annual panel analysis of 156 countries between 1985 and 2011 explores whether aid operates through leverage and conditionality. We present evidence that i) donors allocate aid in response to democratization and ii) recipient countries respond to this incentive for democratic reform. Our identification strategy relies on the reduced importance of democratization in the allocation of aid to geopolitically important countries.

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

Income, inequality, and the stability of democracy – Another look at the Lipset hypothesis

Florian Jung & Uwe Sunde
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the endogenous emergence of political regimes, in particular democracy, oligarchy and mass dictatorship, in societies in which productive resources are distributed unequally and institutions do not ensure political commitments. The political regime is shown to depend not only on income levels, but, in particular, on resource inequality. The main results imply that under any economic environment a distribution of resources exists such that democracy is the political outcome. This distribution is independent of the particular income level if the income share generated by the poor is sufficiently large. On the other hand, there are distributions of resources for which democracy is infeasible in equilibrium regardless of the level of economic development. The model also delivers results on the stability of democracy. Variations in inequality across several dimensions due to unbalanced technological change, immigration or changes in the demographic structure affect the scope for democracy or may even lead to its breakdown. Among other historical examples, the results are consistent with the different political regimes that emerged in Germany after its unification in 1871.

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

Perverse Complementarity: Political Connections and the Use of Courts among Private Firms in China

Yuen Yuen Ang & Nan Jia
Journal of Politics, April 2014, Pages 318-332

Abstract:
Using survey data of over 3,900 private firms in China, we examine whether — and how — political connections promote or undermine the use of formal legal institutions. We find that politically connected firms are more inclined than nonconnected firms to use courts over informal avenues of dispute resolution. Furthermore, by comparing the effects of political connections on dispute-resolution patterns across regional institutional environments, we find that “know-who” (political influence over adjudication) dominates “know-how” (knowledge of navigating courts) in linking political connections to the use of courts. Contrary to canonical theories that predict the declining significance of connections following the expansion of courts, our study suggests that informal networks and formal laws are more likely to share a relationship of perverse complementarity in transitional and authoritarian contexts. Political connections are positively linked to the use of legal procedures, and the primary mechanism behind the link is “know-who” over “know-how.”

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

Maintaining Stability by Law: Protest-Supported Housing Demolition Litigation and Social Change in China

Xin He
Law & Social Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Housing demolition has been one of the major sources of social conflict in contemporary China. Drawing on evidence collected in fieldwork investigations, this article examines the pressure of protest-supported housing demolition litigation and its impacts. It finds that under the pressure of litigation, the courts have devised coping mechanisms to constrain the housing demolition authorities, and that social change angling toward more transparency and accountability has occurred. The article argues that this change is made possible as the maintenance of social stability has become not only the paramount concern of the regime, but also the performance assessment criterion for local officials and judges. The findings deepen our understanding of the causes and consequences of judicial empowerment in China and shed light on the dynamics of judicial politics in other regimes.

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

Ecology, Trade, and States in Pre-Colonial Africa

James Fenske
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
State capacity matters for growth. I test Bates' explanation of pre-colonial African states. He argues that trade across ecological boundaries promoted states. I find that African societies in ecologically diverse environments had more centralized states. This is robust to reverse causation, omitted heterogeneity, and alternative interpretations of the link between diversity and states. The result survives including non-African societies. I test mechanisms connecting trade to states, and find that trade supported class stratification between rulers and ruled. I underscore the importance of ethnic institutions and inform our knowledge of the effects of trade on institutions.

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

Are democratic sanctions really counterproductive?

Christian von Soest & Michael Wahman
Democratization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that sanctions have a negative impact on the level of democracy in targeted authoritarian countries. This runs counter to substantive comparative literature on democratization which finds that economic stress is connected with regime collapse and democratic liberalization. To solve this puzzle, we focus on the effects of “democratic sanctions” (those that explicitly aim to promote democracy) which have become the most common type of sanction issued against authoritarian states. We introduce a new data set of imposed sanctions in the period 1990–2010 that clearly separates sanctions according to the explicit goal of the sender. Our cross-sectional time-series analysis demonstrates that although sanctions as a whole do not generally increase the level of democracy, there is in fact a significant correlation between democratic sanctions and increased levels of democracy in targeted authoritarian countries. A fundamental mechanism leading to this outcome is the increased instability of authoritarian rule as democratic sanctions are significantly associated with a higher probability of regime and leadership change.

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

How Aid Targets Votes: The Impact of Electoral Incentives on Foreign Aid Distribution

Ryan Jablonski
World Politics, April 2014, Pages 293-330

Abstract:
Despite allegations that foreign aid promotes corruption and patronage, little is known about how recipient governments' electoral incentives influence aid spending. This article proposes a distributional politics model of aid spending in which governments use their informational advantages over donors in order to allocate a disproportionate share of aid to electorally strategic supporters, allowing governments to translate aid into votes. To evaluate this argument, the author codes data on the spatial distribution of multilateral donor projects in Kenya from 1992 to 2010 and shows that Kenyan governments have consistently influenced the aid allocation process in favor of copartisan and coethnic voters, a bias that holds for each of Kenya's last three regimes. He confirms that aid distribution increases incumbent vote share. This evidence suggests that electoral motivations play a significant role in aid allocation and that distributional politics may help explain the gap between donor intentions and outcomes.

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

Improving Models of Democracy: The Example of Lagged Effects of Economic Development, Education, and Gender Equality

Mikhail Balaev
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The author examines how time delayed effects of economic development, education, and gender equality influence political democracy. Literature review shows inadequate understanding of lagged effects, which raises methodological and theoretical issues with the current quantitative studies of democracy. Using country-years as a unit of analysis, the author estimates a series of OLS PCSE models for each predictor with a systematic analysis of the distributions of the lagged effects. The second set of multiple OLS PCSE regressions are estimated including all three independent variables. The results show that economic development, education, and gender have three unique trajectories of the time-delayed effects: Economic development has long-term effects, Education produces continuous effects regardless of the timing, and Gender equality has the most prominent immediate and short-term effects. The results call for the reassessment of model specifications and theoretical setups in the quantitative studies of democracy.

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

The Political Origins of Transparency

Daniel Berliner
Journal of Politics, April 2014, Pages 479-491

Abstract:
Transparency has been hailed as the key to better governance, yet political actors have many reasons to resist transparency. This article studies one prominent transparency policy, Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, which have been passed by over 80 countries. By institutionalizing transparency, FOI laws increase the costs for political actors to use public office — and public information — for private gain. Why have so many states passed FOI laws despite this? I argue that, in competitive political environments, FOI laws can create benefits for political actors as well as costs. Uncertainty over future control creates incentives for incumbents to pass FOI laws in order to ensure their own future access to government information and to credibly commit to future transparency. Event-history-model results show that FOI law passage is more likely when opposition parties pose more credible challenges to incumbents and when recent turnover in executive office has been frequent.

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

Election Fairness and Government Legitimacy in Afghanistan

Eli Berman et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
International development agencies invest heavily in institution building in fragile states, including expensive interventions to support democratic elections. Yet little evidence exists on whether elections enhance the domestic legitimacy of governments. Using the random assignment of an innovative election fraud-reducing intervention in Afghanistan, we find that decreasing electoral misconduct improves multiple survey measures of attitudes toward government, including: (1) whether Afghanistan is a democracy; (2) whether the police should resolve disputes; (3) whether members of parliament provide services; and (4) willingness to report insurgent behavior to security forces.

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

Political Devolution and Resistance to Foreign Rule: A Natural Experiment

Jeremy Ferwerda & Nicholas Miller
MIT Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Do foreign occupiers face less resistance when they increase the level of native governing authority? Although this is a central question within the literature on foreign occupation and insurgency, it is difficult to answer because the relationship between resistance and political devolution is typically endogenous. To address this issue, we identify a natural experiment based on the locally arbitrary assignment of French municipalities into German or Vichy-governed zones during World War Two. Using a regression discontinuity design, we conclude that devolving governing authority significantly lowered levels of resistance. We argue that this effect is driven by a process of political cooptation: domestic groups that were granted governing authority were less likely to engage in resistance activity, while violent resistance was heightened in regions dominated by groups excluded from the governing regime. This finding stands in contrast to work that primarily emphasizes structural factors or nationalist motivations for resistance.

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

Economic Origins of Democratic Breakdown?

Dan Slater, Gautam Nair & Benjamin Smith
Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
From Aristotle to Acemoglu and Robinson, scholars have argued that democracy possesses powerful redistributive impulses, and imperils itself accordingly. This article challenges the validity of the redistributive model of democratic breakdown in the postcolonial world – the only cases where democracies have collapsed since World War II – because its assumptions regarding state power are questionable or even inapplicable in postcolonial settings. Our correlative analysis of cross-sectional time series data from 139 countries between 1972 and 2007 indicates that, contrary to the expectations of the redistributive model, redistributive taxation is negatively associated with the incidence of military coups and the likelihood of democratic breakdown. Furthermore, authoritarian takeovers do not appear systematically to result in reduced redistribution from the rich. More fine-grained historical evidence from Southeast Asia – a region where the redistributive model should be especially likely to hold true – further affirms that authoritarian seizures of power are neither inspired by successful redistributive policies nor followed by their reversal. Taken together, these quantitative and qualitative data offer significant support for our central theoretical claim: contemporary democratic breakdowns have political origins in weak states, not economic origins in class conflict.

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

The Provision of Insurance? Judicial Independence and the Post-tenure Fate of Leaders

Brad Epperly
Journal of Law and Courts, Fall 2013, Pages 247-278

Abstract:
Leading explanations of judicial independence argue political competition incentivizes those in power to create independent courts as insurance against uncertain futures. While much work addresses the role competition plays, little analyzes the fundamental assumption that courts provide political insurance. I offer an original hypothesis as to how independent courts provide insurance against post-tenure punishment and test this using data on the post-tenure fate of leaders from 1960 to 2004. Results show independence is associated with significantly higher probabilities of unpunished post-tenure fate. The article builds on and extends existing political insurance explanations and offers the first test of one of their critical assumptions.

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

Regional Favoritism

Roland Hodler & Paul Raschky
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We complement the literature on distributive politics by taking a systematic look at regional favoritism in a large and diverse sample of countries, and by employing a broad measure that captures the aggregate distributive effect of many different policies. In particular, we use satellite data on nighttime light intensity and information about the birthplaces of the countries' political leaders. In our panel of 38,427 subnational regions from 126 countries with yearly observations from 1992 to 2009, we find that subnational regions have more intense nighttime light when being the birth region of the current political leader. We argue that this finding provides evidence for regional favoritism. We explore the dynamics and the geographical extent of regional favoritism, and show that regional favoritism is most prevalent in countries with weak political institutions and poorly educated citizens. Further, foreign aid inflows and oil rents tend to fuel regional favoritism in weakly institutionalized countries, but not elsewhere.

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

The Primacy of the Local: Identifying Terrorist Hot Spots Using Geographic Information Systems

Stephen Nemeth, Jacob Mauslein & Craig Stapley
Journal of Politics, April 2014, Pages 304-317

Abstract:
Despite the wide range of studies focused on the causes of terrorism, most use the state as the unit of analysis. Doing so, however, overlooks important variation that occurs within the state. Our research seeks to determine the causes of domestic terrorism through a more refined unit of analysis. We do this by using the PRIO-GRID cell structure spatially merged with a geocoded version of the GTD dataset. We then perform a Getis-Ord Gi* hot spot analysis to uncover those local areas most prone to domestic terrorism. Our results indicate the following attributes increase the likelihood of terrorism: mountainous terrain, close proximity to a state capital, large population, high population density, and poor economic conditions. When testing between regime types, we find that factors such as population, economic conditions, and the number of ethnic groups are significant only in democracies, while distance to capital is significant only in autocracies.

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

Defending democracy with international law: Preventing coup attempts with democracy clauses

Jacob Wobig
Democratization, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent decades many regional inter-governmental organizations have adopted agreements committing all member states to maintain democratic governments, and specifying punishments to be levied against member states that revert to authoritarianism. These treaties have a surprisingly high enforcement rate – nearly all states subject to them that have experienced governmental succession by coup have been suspended by the relevant IGO(s). However, relatively little is known about whether these treaties are deterring coups. This article offers an original theory of how these international agreements could deter coups d’état, focusing on the way that a predictably adverse international reaction complicates the incentives of potential coup participants. An analysis of the likelihood of coups for the period of 1991–2008 shows that states subject to democracy were on average less likely to experience coups, but that this finding was not statistically significant in most models. However, when restricting the analysis to democracies, middle-income states with democracy clauses were significantly less likely to experience coup attempts. Moreover, the African democracy regime appears to be particularly effective, significantly reducing the likelihood of coup attempts for middle-income states regardless of regime type.

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

Revisiting Economic Shocks and Coups

Nam Kyu Kim
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article revisits the oft-cited relationship between economic shocks and coups. According to conventional wisdom, economic recessions trigger coups. However, existing empirical studies have not consistently produced supporting evidence for that relationship. This article claims that this is partly because existing studies have not differentiated transitory from permanent shocks to the economy. Two different economic shocks could have different effects on coups. Moreover, existing studies have not sufficiently addressed measurement error in gross domestic product (GDP) data. To overcome these problems, I use exogenous rainfall and temperature variation to instrument for economic growth. Instrumental estimates demonstrate, consistently across four different GDP per capita growth measures, that a decrease in GDP per capita growth rates, induced by short-run weather shocks, significantly increases the probability of a coup attempt. Conversely, noninstrumental variable estimates vary according to different GDP measures, and are close to zero, consistent with previous findings.

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

The inequality–conflict nexus re-examined: Income, education and popular rebellions

Henrikas Bartusevičius
Journal of Peace Research, January 2014, Pages 35-50

Abstract:
The impact of inequality on the outbreak of intrastate armed conflicts or civil wars has recently attracted considerable interest in conflict research. In contrast to previous studies that have focused on inequality in the total population (vertical inequality), recent studies have analysed inequality between certain groups of people (horizontal inequality), and found that inequality significantly increases the likelihood of conflict onset. However, most of the recent studies on the inequality–conflict nexus have focused on conflicts fought between ethnic groups. The relation between inequality and other (non-ethnic) categories of conflicts has attracted less attention. The present study aims to address this gap: it implements a theoretical and empirical analysis of the relation between inequality and popular rebellions, a subset of conflicts where mobilization transcends ethnic boundaries and hostilities involve popular participation. Based on a sample of 77 popular rebellions and new global data on vertical inequality in income and education, this study shows that inequality significantly increases the likelihood of popular rebellion onset. In addition, the study reveals that inequality proxies (income and education Gini indices) outperform proxies of the absolute level of income (GDP per capita) in the model of popular rebellion onset, suggesting that it is relative, not absolute, well-being that ultimately motivates people to rise up in arms.

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

Buying War Not Peace: The Influence of Corruption on the Risk of Ethnic War

Natascha Neudorfer & Ulrike Theuerkauf
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article presents robust findings for the positive effect of corruption on the risk of ethnic civil war, using binary time-series-cross-section data that cover 87 to 121 countries (per year) between 1984 and 2007. Following a grievance-based explanation of violent intrastate conflict, we argue that corruption increases the risk of large-scale ethnic violence, as it creates distortions in the political decision-making process which lead to a deepening of political and economic inequalities between different ethnic groups. The positive effect of corruption on the risk of ethnic civil war is robust to various model specifications, including the interaction between corruption and natural resource wealth.

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

Geography, Outcome, and Casualties: A Unified Model of Insurgency

Sebastian Schutte
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study introduces a theoretical model of how insurgency develops as a function of reactive mobilization. The theory extends a classic distance-decay model by incorporating Kalyvas’ typology of violence. It implies that geographic conditions crucially determine the accuracy of applied violence and thereby its public perception, which in turn determines the actors’ ability to mobilize. As a first test of these effects, I propose a new geographic indicator that expresses the spatial accessibility of a country’s population for both central governments and peripheral insurgent movements. Two empirical implications of the theory are tested with a large-N data set on outcomes and casualties in insurgencies. The new indicator is significantly associated with both military outcomes and the number of casualties in insurgencies since 1970 and strengthens statistical predictions.

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

Which Democracies Will Last? Coups, Incumbent Takeovers, and the Dynamic of Democratic Consolidation

Milan Svolik
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article develops a change-point model of democratic consolidation that conceives of consolidation as a latent quality to be inferred rather than measured directly. Consolidation is hypothesized to occur when a large, durable, and statistically significant decline in the risk of democratic breakdowns occurs at a well-defined point during a democracy's lifetime. This approach is applied to new data on democratic survival that distinguish between breakdowns due to military coups and incumbent takeovers. We find that the risk of an authoritarian reversal by either process differs both in its temporal dynamic and determinants. Crucially, new democracies consolidate against the risk of coups but not incumbent takeovers, suggesting that distinct mechanisms account for the vulnerability of new democracies to these alternative modes of breakdown.

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

Popular Protest and Elite Coordination in a Coup d’état

Brett Allen Casper & Scott Tyson
Journal of Politics, April 2014, Pages 548-564

Abstract:
Elites face a daunting coordination problem when contemplating a coup. Citizens, who desire political reform, face a similar coordination problem when contemplating protest. Since elites and citizens interact with the same leadership, these coordination problems are invariably linked. We develop a model which exploits this link to isolate an informational mechanism connecting popular protests and coups. Protests aggregate citizen information and provide elites with a public signal which helps them coordinate in a coup. We show that elites “overreact” to protest as a consequence of its publicity, and we provide a microfounded explanation as to why elites use protests to facilitate coordination. Our model also suggests that protests in countries with media freedom better facilitate elite coordination. To test this, we examine how media freedom affects the relationship between protests and coups. The empirical analysis shows the effect of protests on coups is exacerbated in countries where media is free.

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

How does political trust affect social trust? An analysis of survey data from rural China using an instrumental variables approach

Ran Tao et al.
International Political Science Review, March 2014, Pages 237-253

Abstract:
Using an instrumental variable approach, we analyze survey data to untangle the relationship between social and political trust in contemporary China. We find strong evidence that political trust enhances social trust in China and the results are robust to a range of measures, including the generalized social trust question, as well as three contextualized trust questions. We also shed light on the impact of economic modernization on social trust. Our findings contribute to the general literature on trust and provide a better understanding of the complicated relationship between political trust and social trust. They also offer insight into the dynamics of trust production and reproduction in China and thus into China’s socio-political development.

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

Do return migrants transfer political norms to their origin country? Evidence from Mali

Lisa Chauvet & Marion Mercier
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the link between return migration and political outcomes in the origin country, using the case study of Mali. We use electoral and census data at the locality level to investigate the role of return migration on participation rates and electoral competitiveness. First, we run OLS and IV estimations for the 2009 municipal election, controlling for current emigration and using historical and distance variables as instruments for return migration and current emigration. Second, we build a panel dataset combining the 1998 and 2009 censuses and the electoral results for the municipal ballots of those two years to control for the potential time-invariant unobservable characteristics of the localities. We find a positive impact of the stock of return migrants on participation rates and on electoral competitiveness, which mainly stems from returnees from non-African countries. Finally, we show that the impact of returnees on turnout goes beyond their own participation, and that they affect more electoral outcomes in areas where non-migrants are poorly educated, which we interpret as evidence of a diffusion of political norms from returnees to non-migrants.

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

Why Are Women Less Democratic Than Men? Evidence from Sub-Saharan African Countries

Cecilia García-Peñalosa & Maty Konte
World Development, July 2014, Pages 104–119

Abstract:
A substantial literature has examined the determinants of support for democracy and although existing work has found a gender gap in democratic attitudes, there have been no attempts to explain it. In this paper we try to understand why females are less supportive of democracy than males in a number of countries. Using data for 20 Sub-Saharan African countries, we test whether the gap is due to individual differences previously ignored or to country-wide characteristics. We find that controlling for individual characteristics does not offset the gender gap, but our results indicate that the gap is eroded by high levels of human development and political rights.

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

Not by the Sword Alone: Soft Power, Mass Media, and the Production of State Sovereignty

Camber Warren
International Organization, January 2014, Pages 111-141

Abstract:
Scholars of civil conflict have long recognized the importance of state strength in the suppression of nascent insurgencies. However, previous empirical investigations have generally focused on the material and coercive dimensions of state power, obscuring the critical role played by the generation of widespread voluntary compliance through processes of political communication, that is, the production of “soft power.” In contrast, in this article I focus on a factor — mass communication technology — that can enhance state capacity only by strengthening the state's ability to broadly and publicly disseminate political messages. I argue that the enhanced capacities for large-scale normative influence generated by mass communication technologies can be expected to produce substantial barriers to the mobilization of militarized challenges to state rule, by strengthening economies of scale in the marketplace of ideas. Utilizing newly compiled cross-national data on mass media accessibility in the post–World War II period, I show that densely constituted mass media systems dramatically reduce the probability of large-scale civil violence, thereby providing new evidence for the fundamental importance of nonmaterial state capacities in the suppression of internal armed conflicts.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Misconception

Advanced paternal age is associated with lower facial attractiveness

Susanne Huber & Martin Fieder
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In view of disease risk, Kong et al. (2012) demonstrated that most of the new mutations are explained by the age of the father at conception. Accordingly, paternal age effects have been found for a variety of offspring traits, from physical and mental health to intelligence. Here, we investigated whether facial attractiveness is significantly associated with paternal age. We used the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (n = 4018 male and 4416 female high school graduates) to analyze the association between an individual’s father’s age at birth and that individual’s facial attractiveness (estimated by rating the high school yearbook photographs from 1957), controlling for sex, age as well as mother’s age. We find that subject’s facial attractiveness decreased with advancing paternal but not maternal age, suggesting that facial attractiveness might be a cue of an individual’s new mutation load.

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

Divorce laws and fertility

Héctor Bellido & Miriam Marcén
Labour Economics, April 2014, Pages 56–70

Abstract:
This paper examines the effect of divorce law reforms on fertility using the history of legislation on divorce across Europe. Because the introduction of more liberal divorce laws permanently reduces the value of marriage relative to divorce, these permanent shocks should also affect the fertility decisions of individuals, to the extent that children are considered marriage-specific capital. Our results suggest that divorce liberalization has a negative and permanent effect on fertility. Divorce reforms have decreased the Total Fertility Rate by about 0.2. The magnitude of the effect is sizable, taking into account that the average Total Fertility Rate declined from 2.84 in 1960 to 1.66 in 2006. These findings are robust to alternative specifications and controls for observed (the liberalization of abortion and the availability of the birth-control pill, among others) and unobserved country-specific factors, as well as time-varying factors at the country level. Supplemental analysis, developed to understand the mechanisms through which divorce law reforms affect fertility, shows that both marital and out-of-wedlock fertility decline, but that the impact on marital fertility varies, depending on whether couples are married prior to or after the divorce law reforms, pointing to a selection effect on the composition of marriages.

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

AIDing contraception: HIV and recent trends in abortion

Andrew Hussey, Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy & Jay Walker
Applied Economics, Spring 2014, Pages 1788-1803

Abstract:
Using a difference-in-differences estimation framework and state-level data, we investigate the potential role of HIV/AIDS in contributing to declining abortion utilization in the United States. Our results suggest that the perceived risk of HIV contraction negatively affected unwanted pregnancies. Specifically, a 10% increase in HIV incidence is associated with 0.34–1.1% fewer abortions per live births, an effect that can account for at least one-tenth of the sharp decline in abortions observed from the early 1980s to mid-1990s.

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

Change in Sexual Behavior With Provision of No-Cost Contraception

Gina Secura et al.
Obstetrics & Gynecology, April 2014, Pages 771–776

Objective: To estimate whether providing no-cost contraception is associated with the number of sexual partners and frequency of intercourse over time.

Methods: This was an analysis of the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a prospective cohort study of 9,256 adolescents and women at risk for unintended pregnancy. Participants were provided reversible contraception of their choice at no cost and were followed-up with telephone interviews at 6 and 12 months. We examined the number of male sexual partners and coital frequency reported during the previous 30 days at baseline compared with 6-month and 12-month time points.

Results: From our total cohort, 7,751 (84%) women and adolescents completed both 6-month and 12-month surveys and were included in this analysis. We observed a statistically significant decrease in the fraction of women and adolescents who reported more than one sexual partner during the past 30 days from baseline to 12 months (5.2% to 3.3%; P<.01). Most participants (70-71%) reported no change in their number of sexual partners at 6 and 12 months, whereas 13% reported a decrease and 16% reported an increase (P<.01). More than 80% of participants who reported an increase in the number of partners experienced an increase from zero to one partner. Frequency of intercourse increased during the past 30 days from baseline (median, 4) to 6 and 12 months (median, 6; P<.01). However, greater coital frequency did not result in greater sexually transmitted infection incidence at 12 months.

Conclusions: We found little evidence to support concerns of increased sexual risk-taking behavior subsequent to greater access to no-cost contraception.

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

Assessing the Impact of the Maternity Capital Policy in Russia

Fabián Slonimczyk & Anna Yurko
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
With declining population and fertility rates below replacement levels, Russia is currently facing a demographic crisis. Starting in 2007, the federal government has pursued an ambitious pro-natalist policy. Women who give birth to at least two children are entitled to “maternity capital” assistance ($11,000). In this paper we estimate a structural dynamic programming model of fertility and labor force participation in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the policy. We find that the program increased long-run fertility by about 0.15 children per woman.

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

Does grief transfer across generations? In-utero deaths and child outcomes

Sandra Black, Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
While much is now known about the effects of physical health shocks to pregnant women on the outcomes of the in-utero child, we know little about the effects of psychological stresses. One clear form of stress to the mother comes from the death of a parent. We examine the effects of the death of the mother’s parent during pregnancy on both the short-run and the long-run outcomes of the infant. Our primary specification involves using mother fixed effects — comparing the outcomes of two children with the same mother but where a parent of the mother died during one of the pregnancies — augmented with a control for whether there is a death around the time of the pregnancy in order to isolate true causal effects of a bereavement during pregnancy. We find small negative effects on birth outcomes, and these effects are bigger for boys than for girls. The effects on birth outcomes seems to be driven by deaths due to cardiovascular causes suggesting that sudden deaths are more difficult to deal with. However, we find no evidence of adverse effects on adult outcomes. The results are robust to alternative specifications.

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

Very Low Birthweight: Dysregulated gestation versus evolutionary adaptation

Ralph Catalano et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Much medical literature attributes persistently high rates of very low birthweight (VLBW) to "dysregulated" gestation. We offer the alternative view that natural selection conserved well-regulated, though nonconscious, decisional biology that protects the reproductive fitness of women by spontaneously aborting gestations that would otherwise yield frail infants, particularly small males. Modern obstetric practice, however, converts some fraction of these erstwhile spontaneous abortions into live births of very small infants. We further propose that the nonconscious decisional biology of gestation exhibits preferences also seen in consciously made decisions. We hypothesize that the incidence of VLBW among male infants should vary with the population’s self-reported intentions to assume financial risk. We apply time-series modeling to monthly birth counts by sex and weight from the Swedish Medical Birth Registry between January 1993 and December 2010. We gauge risk aversion with monthly data from the Micro Index of the Swedish Consumer Tendency Survey (MISCT). Consistent with our argument that nonconscious decisional biology shares risk aversion with conscious decisions, we find that the incidence of VLBW among male infants in Sweden varies with the population’s self-reported intentions to assume financial risk. We find increases above expected odds of a very low weight infant among males born 1 month after increases above expected levels of self-reported risk aversion in the Swedish population. We offer this finding as support for the argument that persistently high rates of VLBW arise, at least in part, from a combination of medical interventions and mechanisms conserved by natural selection to protect reproductive fitness.

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

Family Planning: Fertility and Parenting Ideals in Urban Adolescents

Abigail Chipman & Edward Morrison
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research on contemporary childbearing has identified a strong relationship between environmental conditions, such as economic deprivation, and early fertility. Less is known, however, about the social-psychological mechanisms that mediate these environmental predictors of early fertility at the individual level and the extent to which they are consistent with life history theory. The aim of this research was to determine how kin networks, mating and reproductive risk taking, discount preference, and perceptions of environmental risk predict individual differences in fertility preferences in a socioeconomically diverse sample of adolescents. Questionnaires were administered to 333 adolescents (245 female) between the ages of 13 and 19 years, attending schools in urban neighborhoods in Hampshire, United Kingdom. Individuals’ subjective life expectancy and perception of their environment better predicted fertility intentions than did structural measures of environmental quality. This suggests that by the time individuals reach adolescence they are monitoring the morbidity and mortality risk of their environment and are adjusting their reproductive ideals accordingly. Levels of grandparental investment also predicted parenting preferences, suggesting cooperative breeding may play a role in reproductive decision making. There was also evidence that patterns of risk taking behaviors could be adaptive to environmental conditions and some evidence that pro-natal attitudes, as opposed to knowledge of safe sexual practice, predict adolescents’ reproductive strategies. These findings suggest that studying individuals’ psychology from a life history perspective adds to my understanding of the persistently high rates of early reproduction within developed countries, such as the United Kingdom.

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

Attitudes Toward Over-the-Counter Access To Oral Contraceptives Among a Sample Of Abortion Clients in the United States

ByKate Grindlay, Diana Greene Foster & Daniel Grossman
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: Women having abortions are at high risk for future unintended pregnancy, and removing the prescription requirement for oral contraceptives may increase continuation and adoption of this effective method.

Methods: A survey fielded from May to July 2011 collected information from 651 women aged 15–46 seeking abortion services at six urban clinics from across the United States. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate women's interest in over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives.

Results: Eighty-one percent of respondents supported over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives; while 42% of women planned to use the pill after their abortion, 61% said they would likely use this method if it were available over the counter. Thirty-three percent of women who planned to use no contraceptive following their abortion said they would use an over-the-counter pill, as did 38% who planned to use condoms afterward. In multivariable analysis, several subgroups had increased odds of likely over-the-counter use: women who were older than 19 (odds ratios, 1.8 for those aged 20–29 and 1.6 for those aged 30–46), were uninsured (1.5), had ever used the pill (1.4), had had difficulty obtaining a prescription refill for hormonal contraceptives (2.7) or planned to use the pill postabortion (13.0). By contrast, compared with white respondents, women of other races or ethnicities were less likely to say they would use over-the-counter pills (0.4–0.7).

Conclusions: Interest in a hypothetical over-the-counter oral contraceptive was high in this sample, and this delivery model has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancy among abortion patients.

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

Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers

Andrea Ichino, Elly-Ann Lindström & Eliana Viviano
Economics Letters, June 2014, Pages 274–278

Abstract:
Women whose first child is a boy work less than women with first-born girls. After a first-born boy the probability that women have more children increases. Higher fertility is a possible explanation for the lower labor supply of mothers.

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

Empowering Women: The Effect of Schooling on Young Women's Knowledge and Use of Contraception

Mabel Andalón, Jenny Williams & Michael Grossman
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
Large differences in fertility between women with high and low levels of education suggest that schooling may have a direct impact on knowledge and use of contraception. We investigate this issue using information on women in Mexico. In order to identify the causal effect of schooling, we exploit temporal and geographic variation in the number of lower secondary schools built following the extension of compulsory education in Mexico from 6th to 9th grade in 1993. We show that raising females' schooling beyond 6th grade increases their knowledge of contraception during their reproductive years and increases their propensity to use contraception at sexual debut. This indicates that the impact of schooling on women's wellbeing extends beyond improved labor market outcomes and includes greater autonomy over their fertility.

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

Early Motherhood and Long-Term Economic Outcomes: Findings From a 30-Year Longitudinal Study

Sheree Gibb et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined linkages between early motherhood (before age 20) and long-term economic disadvantage, using data from a birth cohort of 509 New Zealand-born women followed to age 30. Associations between early motherhood and economic outcomes were examined using linear and logistic regression models and were adjusted for a range of prepregnancy factors. The findings suggested that early motherhood was associated with several indicators of economic disadvantage at age 30, including working fewer hours, welfare dependence, lower personal incomes, and exposure to economic hardship. These associations remained statistically significant even after extensive adjustment for confounding factors. These findings suggest that having a child before age 20 leads to long-term economic disadvantage that persists for at least a decade.

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

Prime Time: Long-Term Sexual Health Outcomes Of a Clinic-Linked Intervention

Renee Sieving et al.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: Evidence about long-term effects of preventive health services for youth with complex needs is lacking. Prime Time, a youth development intervention, aims to reduce pregnancy risk among vulnerable adolescent females seeking clinic services.

Methods: In a randomized trial, 253 sexually active females aged 13–17 who were at high risk for pregnancy were assigned to the Prime Time intervention or usual clinic services. The 18-month intervention, initiated in 2007–2008, comprised regular meetings with case managers and participation in youth leadership groups. Trial participants completed surveys at baseline and 30 months. Regression analyses were used to evaluate differences between groups in sexual and psychosocial outcomes at follow-up.

Results: At 30 months, the intervention group reported more months of consistent condom use (adjusted means, 1.8 vs. 1.1) and dual contraceptive use (0.9 vs. 0.3) in the past seven months than did controls. The intervention was most effective in promoting consistent use among participants with relatively high levels of connectedness to family or school. Fifteen percent of intervention participants, but only 6% of controls, reported having abstained from sex in the past six months (adjusted odds ratio, 2.9). Moreover, among high school graduates, those in the intervention group were more likely than those in the control group to have enrolled in college or technical school (72% vs. 37%; odds ratio, 4.5).

Conclusion: Health services grounded in a youth development framework can lead to reductions in sexual risk among vulnerable youth that are evident one year following conclusion of services.

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

Trans fatty acid intake is inversely related to total sperm count in young healthy men

Jorge Chavarro et al.
Human Reproduction, March 2014, Pages 429-440

Study question: Is intake of fatty acids related to semen quality among young men?

Study design, size, duration: Cross-sectional study of 209 men recruited between October 2010 and November 2011.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: A group of 209 healthy young university students 18–23 years of age provided a semen sample and completed a previously validated food frequency questionnaire. The association between intake of fatty acids with semen quality parameters (sperm concentration, motility, morphology and total count) was assessed using multivariate linear regression.

Main results and the role of the chance: Trans fatty acid intake was inversely related to total sperm count after adjusting for potential confounders (P, trend = 0.03). The multivariate adjusted mean (95% confidence interval) total sperm count in increasing quartiles of trans fat intake was 144 (110–190), 113 (87–148), 100 (18–130) and 89 (69–117). There also was an inverse association between cholesterol intake and ejaculate volume (P, trend = 0.04). No other statistically significant relations were observed.

Wider implications of the findings: The results of this study, together with previous experimental work in rodents and biomarker studies among infertility patients, suggest that intake of trans fatty acids may be related to lower semen quality. Although the data provide further evidence that diet is a modifiable factor that could impact male fertility, it is not known whether the observed differences in sperm count translate into differences in fertility.

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

IVF culture medium affects post-natal weight in humans during the first 2 years of life

Sander Kleijkers et al.
Human Reproduction, April 2014, Pages 661-669

Study question: Is post-natal growth during the first 2 years of life in IVF singletons affected by type of medium used for culturing human embryos during an IVF treatment?

Study design, size, duration: From July 2003 to December 2006, a total of 1432 IVF treatment cycles with fresh embryo transfer were randomly allocated to have all embryos cultured in medium from Vitrolife AB (n = 715) or from Cook (n = 717). Two years after delivery, questionnaires were sent to the parents of all children requesting data about weight, height and head circumference around 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7.5, 9, 11, 14, 18 and 24 months of age. These measurements were collected as part of the children's health programme at municipal infant welfare centres in the Netherlands by health professionals unaware of this study.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: Patients requiring donor oocytes or applying for PGD were excluded from the study. From the 294 live born singletons that fulfilled our inclusion criteria, 29 were lost to follow-up. The remaining 265 singletons (Cook group: 117, Vitrolife group: 148) were included in the analysis. Data analysis included linear regression, to compare cross-sectionally weight standard deviation score (SDS), height SDS and head circumference, and the first order Berkey-Reed model for a longitudinal analysis of the growth data.

Main results and the role of chance: Singletons in the Vitrolife group were heavier during the first 2 years of life compared with singletons in the Cook group. Cross-sectional analyses showed that adjusted weight SDS differed between groups at 1 (0.35 ± 0.14, P = 0.010), 2 (0.39 ± 0.14, P = 0.006), 3 (0.35 ± 0.14, P = 0.011), 4 (0.30 ± 0.13, P = 0.020), 11 (0.28 ± 0.13, P = 0.036), 14 (0.32 ± 0.13, P = 0.014) and 24 (0.39 ± 0.15, P = 0.011) months of age, while adjusted height SDS was only significantly different at 1 (0.21 ± 0.11, P = 0.048) month of age. Head circumference was similar between the two groups at all ages. Longitudinal analyses showed that both post-natal weight (P = 0.005) and height (P = 0.031) differed between the groups throughout the first 2 years of life, while the growth velocity was not significantly different between the two groups.

Wider implications of the findings: The effect of culture medium during the first few days after fertilization on prenatal growth and birthweight persists during the first 2 years of life. This suggests that the human embryo is sensitive to its very early environment, and that the culture medium used in IVF may have lasting consequences. Further monitoring of the long-term growth, development and health of IVF children is therefore warranted.

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

Large baby syndrome in singletons born after frozen embryo transfer (FET): Is it due to maternal factors or the cryotechnique?

A. Pinborg et al.
Human Reproduction, March 2014, Pages 618-627

Study question: Are singletons born after frozen embryo transfer (FET) at increased risk of being born large for gestational age (LGA) and if so, is this caused by intrinsic maternal factors or related to the freezing/thawing procedures?

Study design, size, duration: The national register–based controlled cohort study involves two populations of FET singletons. The first population (A: total FET cohort) consisted of all FET singletons (n = 896) compared with singletons born after Fresh embryo transfer (Fresh) (n = 9480) and also with that born after natural conception (NC; n = 4510) in Denmark from 1997 to 2006. The second population (B: Sibling FET cohort) included all sibling pairs, where one singleton was born after FET and the consecutive sibling born after Fresh embryo transfer or vice versa from 1994 to 2008 (n = 666). The sibling cohort included n = 550 children with the sibling combination first child Fresh/second child FET and n = 116 children with the combination first child FET/second child Fresh.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: Main outcome measures were LGA defined as birthweight of >2 SD from the population mean (z-score >2) according to Marsáls curves. Macrosomia was defined as birthweight of >4500 g. Crude and adjusted odds ratios (AORs) of LGA and macrosomia were calculated for FET versus Fresh and versus NC singletons in the total FET cohort. Similarly, AOR was calculated for FET versus Fresh in the sibling cohort. Adjustments were made for maternal age, parity, child sex, year of birth and birth order in the sibling analyses. Meta-analyses were performed by pooling our data with the previously published cohort studies on LGA and macrosomia.

Main results and the role of chance: The AORs of LGA (z-score >2) and macrosomia in FET singletons versus singletons conceived after Fresh embryo transfer were 1.34 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.98–1.80] and 1.91 (95% CI 1.40–2.62), respectively. The corresponding risks for FET versus NC singletons were 1.41 (95% CI 1.01–1.98) for LGA and 1.67 (95% CI 1.18–2.37) for macrosomia. The increased risk of LGA and macrosomia in FET singletons was confirmed in the sibling cohort also after adjustment for birth order. Hence, the increased risk of LGA in FET singletons cannot solely be explained by being the second born or by intrinsic maternal factors, but may also partly be related to freezing/thawing procedures per se. In the meta-analysis, the summary effects of LGA and macrosomia in FET versus singletons conceived after Fresh embryo transfer were AOR 1.54 (95% CI 1.31–1.81) and AOR 1.64 (95% CI 1.26–2.12), respectively. The corresponding figures for FET versus NC singletons were for LGA AOR 1.32 (95% CI 1.07–1.61) and macrosomia AOR 1.41 (95% CI 1.11–1.80), respectively.

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

Hospital utilization, costs and mortality rates during the first 5 years of life: A population study of ART and non-ART singletons

G.M. Chambers et al.
Human Reproduction, March 2014, Pages 601-610

Study question: Do singletons conceived following assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs) have significantly different hospital utilization, and therefore costs, compared with non-ART children during the first 5 years of life?

Study design, size, duration: A population cohort study using linked birth, hospital and death records. Perinatal outcomes, hospital utilization and costs, and mortality rates were compared for non-ART and ART singletons to 5 years. Adjustments were made for maternal age, parity, sex, birth year, socioeconomic status and funding source. Australian Diagnosis Related Groups cost-weights were used to derive costs. All costs are reported in 2009/2010 Australian dollars.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: All babies born in Western Australia between 1994 and 2003 were included; 224 425 non-ART singletons and 2199 ART conceived singletons. Hospital admission and death records in Western Australia linked to 2008 were used.

Main results and the role of chance: Overall, ART singletons had a significantly longer length of stay during the birth-admission (mean difference 1.8 days, P < 0.001) and a 20% increased risk of being admitted during the first 5 years of life. The average adjusted difference in hospital admission costs up to 5 years of age was $2490, with most of the additional cost occurring during the birth-admission ($1473). The independent residual cost associated with ART conception was $342 during the birth-admission and an additional $548 up to 5 years of age, indicating that being conceived as an ART child predicts not only higher birth-admission costs but excess costs to at least 5 years of age.

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

Randomized Trial of Harp Therapy During In Vitro Fertilization–Embryo Transfer

Erin Murphy et al.
Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, April 2014, Pages 93-98

Objective: This study evaluated whether harp therapy reduces levels of stress and improves clinical outcomes in patients undergoing embryo transfer.

Design: This prospective randomized trial enrolled 181 women undergoing embryo transfer, who were randomized to harp therapy during embryo transfer or standard treatment. Patients underwent standardized psychological testing and physiologic assessment of stress.

Results: No statistically significant differences were found in the heart and respiratory rates, nor was there a significant difference in event-based anxiety at baseline. Harp therapy had a significantly larger decrease in state anxiety from pre– to post–embryo transfer. Clinical pregnancy was 53% versus 48% for the harp therapy and standard treatment groups, respectively.

Conclusion: Harp therapy decreases state, or event-based, anxiety, significantly lowering state scores posttransfer and having a positive effect on acute levels of stress. There was an increased pregnancy rate, but larger sample sizes are needed to evaluate whether harp therapy has an effect on clinical outcomes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hacks

The Forgotten Law of Lobbying

Zephyr Teachout
Election Law Journal, March 2014, Pages 4-26

Abstract:
For most of American history, until the 1950s, courts treated paid lobbying as a civic wrong, not a protected First Amendment right. Lobbying was presumptively against public policy, and lobbying contracts were not enforced. Paid lobbying threatened the integrity of individuals, legislators, lobbyists, and the integrity of society as a whole. Inasmuch as there was a personal right to either petition the government, or share views with officers of the government, this right was not something one could sell - it was not, in the term used by one court, a "vendible." Line-drawing between illegitimate paid lobbying and legitimate legal services was not easy, but in general courts enforced contracts where the thing being sold was expertise to be shared in a public forum, while refusing to enforce contracts where the thing being sold was personal influence to be shared in private meetings. This article tells the history of this earlier approach toward lobbying. It explores the lobbying cases of the nineteenth and early twentieth century courts, looking at the logic underpinning them and how courts distinguished between illegitimate lobbying and legitimate hiring of professional lawyers.

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

Scandal Potential: How Political Context and News Congestion Affect the President's Vulnerability to Media Scandal

Brendan Nyhan
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite its importance in contemporary American politics, presidential scandal is poorly understood within political science. Scholars typically interpret scandals as resulting from the disclosure of official misbehavior, but the likelihood and intensity of media scandals is also influenced by the political and news context. This article provides a theoretical argument for two independent factors that should increase the president's vulnerability to scandal: low approval among opposition party identifiers and a lack of congestion in the news agenda. Using new data and statistical approaches, I find strong support for both claims. These results suggest that contextual factors shape the occurrence of political events and how such events are interpreted.

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

Surviving Scandal: The Institutional and Political Dynamics of National and State Executive Scandals

Brandon Rottinghaus
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2014, Pages 131-140

Abstract:
Which factors shorten or lengthen the survival of a scandal involving a chief executive? Using new data tracking scandals involving presidents and governors from 1972 to 2011, I chart the duration of each political, personal, and financial scandal faced by an elected official, their staff, or nominees. I specifically examine institutional, political, and economic factors to investigate what factors quicken a "negative" end to a scandal. National chief executives and their staff are more likely to survive a scandal when they have more partisans in the legislature but are less likely when there is greater political opposition, however there is no comparative effect at the state level. Positive economic growth and public approval have no effect on survival of a scandal at either the national or state levels. These findings clarify how the political environment shapes the duration of executive scandal.

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

Public relations tactics and methods in early 1800s America: An examination of an American anti-slavery movement

Tyler Page & Ed Adams
Public Relations Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Traditional public relations histories begin in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This study expands public relations history to the early 1800s by analyzing the use of public relations methods and tactics in an American anti-slavery movement, The American Colonization Society. In focusing on the American Colonization Society and backlash against it from abolitionist groups, this paper finds the use of newspapers to promote a cause, promotion of high profile endorsements, attempts to persuade a key public, creation of publications, efforts to lobby legislatures, and hired agents to found auxiliaries, all beginning in the early 1800s.

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

Optimal Agency Bias and Regulatory Review

Ryan Bubb & Patrick Warren
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2014, Pages 95-135

Abstract:
Why do bureaucratic principals appoint agents who hold different policy views from themselves? We posit an explanation based on the interplay between two types of agency costs: shirking on information production and policy bias. Principals employ biased agents because they shirk less. This creates an incentive for the principal to use review mechanisms that mitigate the resulting bias in the agents' decisions. The availability of such review mechanisms encourages principals to employ more extreme agents. We apply the theory to explain various features of the administrative state. In contrast to existing accounts, in our model the use by the president of ideological bureaucrats at regulatory agencies and centralized regulatory review are complements. The use of bias to mitigate shirking results in an amplification of the swings of regulatory policy and heightens the role of regulatory policy in partisan politics.

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

PACking a punch: Political Action Committees and corruption

Rajeev Goel
Applied Economics, Spring 2014, Pages 1161-1169

Abstract:
Political Action Committees (PACs) are unique and prominent players in American politics. Yet, formal research on some aspects of PACs is lacking. Using US data over the period 1970 to 2009, this research demonstrates that the growth in PACs is positively associated with greater corruption. A 10% increase in the number of PACs per capita would increase corruption by about 8%. Upon disaggregation, corporate PACs, rather than labour PACs, are positively associated with corruption. The effects of economic prosperity, government size and population on US corruption are generally in line with the literature.

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

Investigating the President: Committee Probes and Presidential Approval, 1953-2006

Douglas Kriner & Eric Schickler
Journal of Politics, April 2014, Pages 521-534

Abstract:
Members of Congress have long sought to combat assertions of presidential power and alleged executive misconduct through committee investigations. But are such investigations mere political theater, or do they have systematic effects on the course of politics? We argue that congressional investigations of the executive branch damage the president's support among the public, making investigations a useful tool in interbranch battles. Marshaling an original data set of more than 3,500 investigative hearings and over 50 years of public opinion data, we show that increased investigative activity in the hearing room significantly decreases the president's job approval rating. A survey experiment both confirms our assertion that investigations decrease public support for the White House and shows that committee-led charges of misconduct have a greater influence on public opinion than identical charges not attributed to a congressional actor.

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

Labor Union Political Strategy in an Era of Decline and Revitalization

Kyle Albert
Sociological Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. labor unions faced sharp membership losses over the last few decades, and some responded by ushering in a new, revitalized model of organizing. Yet we know little about how these forces may be shaping the political activities of the labor movement. Has crisis prompted unions to take aim at public policies inhibiting union vitality, or have unions turned outward to embrace broader social causes? This paper uses an original dataset of union appearances in congressional hearings to analyze unions' legislative advocacy activities. Findings suggest substantial differences between those unions that are likely to appear in hearings on core labor-related topics and those that appear in hearings on broad social issues: AFL-CIO unions are more likely to participate in hearings on core labor issues, while unions commonly cited as "revitalized" and public sector unions are more likely to appear in hearings on broad social issues.

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

Presidents and Patronage

Gary Hollibaugh, Gabriel Horton & David Lewis
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
To what extent do presidents select appointees based upon campaign experience and connections? The answer to this question has important implications for our understanding of presidential management and political leadership. This paper presents a theory explaining where presidents place different types of appointees and why, focusing on differences in ideology, competence, and non-policy patronage benefits among potential appointees. We develop a formal model and test its implications with new data on 1,307 persons appointed in the first six months of the Obama Administration. The empirical results broadly support the theory, suggesting that President Obama was more likely to place appointees selected for nonpolicy patronage reasons in agencies off his agenda, in agencies that shared his policy views, and where appointees are least able to affect agency performance. We conclude that patronage continues to play an important role in American politics with important consequences for campaigns, presidential politics, and governance.

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

Voting suffrage and the political budget cycle: Evidence from the London Metropolitan Boroughs 1902-1937

Toke Aidt & Graham Mooney
Journal of Public Economics, April 2014, Pages 53-71

Abstract:
We study the opportunistic political budget cycle in the London Metropolitan Boroughs between 1902 and 1937 under two different suffrage regimes: taxpayer suffrage (1902-1914) and universal suffrage (1921-1937). We argue and find supporting evidence that the political budget cycle operates differently under the two types of suffrage. Taxpayer suffrage, where the right to vote and the obligation to pay local taxes are linked, encourages demands for retrenchment and the political budget cycle manifests itself in election year tax cuts and savings on administration costs. Universal suffrage, where all adult residents can vote irrespective of their taxpayer status, creates demands for productive public services and the political budget cycle manifests itself in election year hikes in capital spending and a reduction in current spending.

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

Local Logrolling? Assessing the Impact of Legislative Districting in Los Angeles

Craig Burnett & Vladimir Kogan
Urban Affairs Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the past three decades, a number of U.S. cities have shifted from at-large to district-based elections. Some observers argue that this institutional change encourages elected officials to focus on district priorities while ignoring - and perhaps even sacrificing - broader municipal needs. Must district elections bring parochialism and logrolling to city councils? Using seven years' worth of roll call data from the Los Angeles City Council, we examine the hypothesis that district elections result in vote-trading among its members. Overall, voting behavior on the council appears inconsistent with conventional logrolling accounts and instead points to a strategy of conditional deference on the part of elected officials. The results suggest that district-based elections do not always push elected officials to ignore the general interests of their city.

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

Governance, bureaucratic rents, and well-being differentials across US states

Simon Luechinger, Mark Schelker & Alois Stutzer
Oxford Economic Papers, April 2014, Pages 443-464

Abstract:
We analyse the influence of institutional restrictions on bureaucratic rents. As a measure for these rents, we propose subjective well-being differentials between workers in the public administration and workers in other industries. Based on data for the US states, we estimate the extent to which institutional efforts to strengthen bureaucratic accountability affect differences in well-being. We find that well-being differences are smaller in states with high transparency, elected auditors, and legal deficit carryover restrictions. These findings are consistent with limited rent extraction under these institutional conditions. No or weak effects are found for performance audits and regulatory review.

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

Congressional Staff and the Revolving Door: The Impact of Regulatory Change

Bruce Cain & Lee Drutman
Election Law Journal, March 2014, Pages 27-44

Abstract:
In 2007, Congress passed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) in an attempt to slow the revolving door between Congress and the Washington lobbying industry with one year bans on contacts between the ex-staffers and their former colleagues in the Congress. The variation in the Senate and House rules and a complete set of congressional staff panel data between 2001 and 2011 allow us to assess the effectiveness of the revolving door provisions of HLOGA and the relative importance of different factors that contribute to congressional staffers' employability as lobbyists. Using a difference-in-differences quasi-experimental design on data from Legistorm, we find evidence that the HLOGA realized some of its intended effect. As compared to "high-level" staff earning between 60% and 75% of a member's salary, the share of "covered" staff (i.e., those making 75% and above of a member's salary) becoming lobbyists within a year declined at a greater rate. This decline, however, was much more notable in the Senate, which had enacted much tougher contacting rules. The effects of HLOGA were stronger on committee staff than personal office staff, and strongest of all on Senate committee staff. They were also stronger on majority party than minority party staff. Additionally, we found some substitution effects in the lobbying market. Demand for high-level but uncovered Senate committee staffers actually rose in the wake of the reforms, as did the demand for covered House committee staffers.

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

The Elusive Search for Presidential Power

Fang-Yi Chiou & Lawrence Rothenberg
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Unilateral presidential actions, such as executive orders, are widely cited as a key strategic tool for presidential power. However, is unilateral action evidence of unilateralism or might it represent executive acquiescence? We answer this by (1) specifying three competing models, each with a different presidential discretion assumption and generating alternative hypotheses; (2) extending the canonical item-response model to best measure executive-order significance; and (3) comparing competing theoretical models to data for 1947-2002. Theoretically, we show that legislative preferences may impact unilateral actions differently than previously thought and indicate how parties may be influential. Empirically, a model where the president is responsive to the chamber's majority-party median fits the data better than models assuming responsiveness to the chamber median or no presidential acquiescence. Unilateral action appears not tantamount to presidential power, as evidence implies that legislative parties, or the judicial actors enforcing their will, are key conditioning factors.

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

Boundaries, Redistricting Criteria, and Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives

Daniel Bowen
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many U.S. states require redistricting authorities to follow traditional districting principles (TDPs) like the creation of compact districts and respecting the integrity of county and town boundaries. Reformers, academics, and other redistricting experts have long suggested that following such districting principles may enhance representation. Yet, very few academic studies have empirically examined these expectations. Using two measures of geographical compactness and a new measure of respect for political subdivisions (referred to as coterminosity) created with a geographic information system (GIS), the connection between district boundaries and representation is tested. The results show strong evidence that the use of geographic districting principles can enhance dyadic representation, as more compact and more coterminous districts are associated with more positive evaluations of legislative responsiveness and greater citizen-representative communication. Violating TDPs to advance other goals in redistricting like strict population equality between districts thus comes with a clear representational cost.

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

The Political Coase Theorem: Experimental Evidence

Sebastian Galiani, Gustavo Torrens & Maria Lucia Yanguas
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
The Political Coase Theorem (PCT) states that, in the absence of transaction costs, agents should agree to implement efficient policies regardless of the distribution of bargaining power among them. This paper uses a laboratory experiment to explore how commitment problems undermine the validity of the PCT. Overall, the results support theoretical predictions. In particular, commitment issues matter, and the existence of more commitment possibilities leads to better social outcomes. Moreover, we find that the link is valid when commitment possibilities are asymmetrically distributed between players and even when a redistribution of political power is required to take advantage of those possibilities. However, we also find that at low levels of commitment there is more cooperation than strictly predicted by our parameterized model while the opposite is true at high levels of commitment, and only large improvements in commitment opportunities have a significant effect on the social surplus, while small changes do not.

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

Dimensions of Public Meeting Participation: Evidence from Florida's Truth-in-Millage Act

Anne Williamson & Michael Scicchitano
Urban Affairs Review, January 2014, Pages 134-146

Abstract:
The literature contains a wealth of theorizing and prescription regarding citizen participation, but little in the way of systematic evidence. We seek to increase empirical knowledge of participation through examination of public meeting participation associated with Florida's Truth-in-Millage Act requirements for local government tax and budget decisions. Unlike existing evidence on public meetings, this research is based on statistical analysis of a random-sample survey (N = 601) and qualitative analysis of focus group results. In a departure from the standard socioeconomic explanation for citizen participation - which tends to ignore public meetings as a method of participation - we find no statistical difference in public meeting attendance based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, education, or income. Furthermore, we find that although state information requirements likely fulfill a needed purpose in providing transparency and accountability in local government tax and budget matters, they do not motivate public meeting attendance. Finally, our findings reinforce earlier contributions to the literature that emphasize the importance of citizen beliefs regarding political efficacy as a critical component of participation.

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

Organizational History and Budgetary Punctuation

Scott Robinson, Carla Flink & Chad King
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, April 2014, Pages 459-471

Abstract:
The basic dynamics of punctuated policy change have been found to be present in a wide variety of political institutions from a range of countries. The presence - even commonality - of punctuated change has been clearly and persuasively demonstrated. A key challenge in the literature is now to identify the conditions and institutional arrangements that make punctuated change more likely. This article investigates the role of organizational history in punctuated budgetary change. An error-accumulation model of punctuation suggested by the institutional friction framework contends that budgetary punctuation results from a built-up need for budgetary change that had been prevented by slow-moving institutions. The need builds up until the institutions give way in the form of a budgetary punctuation. This explanation suggests that the probability of a punctuation in a given year is negatively related to having experienced such a punctuation in previous years. An alternative model - which we will call the institutional model - contends that the propensity for budgetary punctuation is endemic to specific organizations. These organizations possess inherent characteristics that predispose them to punctuated change. The institutional model suggests that the probability of a punctuation occurring in a given year is positively related to the organization having experienced such a punctuation in previous years. The article uses data from Texas public school districts during an 18-year period to test these competing models of policy punctuation. The results indicate that recent punctuated changes raise the probability of additional punctuated changes, supporting the institutional hypothesis.

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

An experimental study of the efficiency of unanimity rule and majority rule

Keith Dougherty et al.
Public Choice, March 2014, Pages 359-382

Abstract:
Scholars traditionally claim that unanimity rule is more capable of producing Pareto optimal outcomes than majority rule. Dougherty and Edward (Public Choice 151(3):655-678, 2012) make the opposite claim assuming proposals are either random, sincere, or strategic. We test these competing hypotheses in a two-dimensional framework using laboratory experiments. Our primary results suggest: (1) majority rule enters the Pareto set more quickly than unanimity rule, (2) majority rule leaves the Pareto set at the same rate as unanimity rule, and (3) majority rule is more likely to select a Pareto optimal outcome than unanimity rule at the end of the game.

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

All In: An Empirical Analysis of Legislative Voting on Internet Gambling Restrictions in the United States

Dennis Halcoussis & Anton Lowenberg
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which prohibited financial institutions from processing transactions arising from online gaming activities, thereby severely hindering U.S. residents from participating in online casino games, primarily poker. Enactment of this legislation followed lobbying and political pressure from a variety of interest groups. By examining House roll call votes, we identify empirically the sources of political influence that resulted in passage of the internet gambling legislation. We find that party affiliation was of primary importance, with Republicans more likely to vote in favor of the bill. The percentage of constituents who are Evangelical Christians and also the number of gambling establishments in the district were positively associated with votes for the bill. However, contributions from the gaming industry decreased the probability a congressman would vote for the bill.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Handout

Accepting Inequality Deters Responsibility: How Power Distance Decreases Charitable Behavior

Karen Page Winterich & Yinlong Zhang
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Could power distance, which is the extent that inequality is expected and accepted, explain why some countries and consumers are more likely to engage in prosocial behavior, including donations of both money and time? This research proposes that higher power distance results in weaker perceptions of responsibility to aid others, which decreases charitable behavior. Both correlational and causal evidence is provided in a series of five studies that examine country-level power distance as well as individual and temporarily salient power distance belief. Consistent with the mediating role of perceived responsibility, results reveal that uncontrollable needs and communal relationship norms are boundary conditions that overcome the negative effect of power distance on charitable behavior. These results explain differences in charitable giving across cultures and provide implications for nonprofit organizations soliciting donations.

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

Washing the guilt away: Effects of personal versus vicarious cleansing on guilty feelings and prosocial behavior

Hanyi Xu, Laurent Bègue & Brad Bushman
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, February 2014

Abstract:
For centuries people have washed away their guilt by washing their hands. Do people need to wash their own hands, or is it enough to watch other people wash their hands? To induce guilt, we had participants write about a past wrong they had committed. Next, they washed their hands, watched a washing-hands video, or watched a typing-hands video. After the study was over, participants could help a Ph.D. student complete her dissertation by taking some questionnaires home and returning them within 3 weeks. Results showed that guilt and helping behavior were lowest among participants who washed their hands, followed by participants who watched a washing-hands video, followed by participants who watched a typing-hands video. Guilt mediated the effects of cleansing on helping. These findings suggest that washing one’s own hands, or even watching someone else wash their hands, can wash away one’s guilt and lead to less helpful behavior.

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

Human-itarian aid? Two forms of dehumanization and willingness to help after natural disasters

Luca Andrighetto et al.
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research explores the distinct effects of animalistic and mechanistic dehumanization on willingness to help natural disaster victims. We examined Japanese and Haitians, two national groups recently struck by earthquakes. We showed that Italian participants differently dehumanized the two outgroups: Japanese were attributed low human nature (dehumanized as automata), whereas Haitians were attributed low human uniqueness (dehumanized as animal-like). Ninety participants were then randomly assigned to the Japanese or Haitian target group condition. Mediation analyses showed that animalistic dehumanization decreased willingness to help Haitians, whereas mechanistic dehumanization decreased willingness to help Japanese, even when controlling for attitudes. Importantly, reduced empathy explained the effects of both forms of dehumanization on intergroup helping.

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

Are liars ethical? On the tension between benevolence and honesty

Emma Levine & Maurice Schweitzer
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We demonstrate that some lies are perceived to be more ethical than honest statements. Across three studies, we find that individuals who tell prosocial lies, lies told with the intention of benefitting others, are perceived to be more moral than individuals who tell the truth. In Study 1, we compare altruistic lies to selfish truths. In Study 2, we introduce a stochastic deception game to disentangle the influence of deception, outcomes, and intentions on perceptions of moral character. In Study 3, we demonstrate that moral judgments of lies are sensitive to the consequences of lying for the deceived party, but insensitive to the consequences of lying for the liar. Both honesty and benevolence are essential components of moral character. We find that when these values conflict, benevolence may be more important than honesty. More broadly, our findings suggest that the moral foundation of care may be more important than the moral foundation of justice.

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

Ethical ends: Effect of abstract mindsets in ethical decisions for the greater social good

Jessica Rixom & Himanshu Mishra
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, July 2014, Pages 110–121

Abstract:
We explore the impact of construal level on decisions involving conflicts between multiple ethical principles. Whereas abstract mindsets are associated with a focus on ethical issues and superordinate concerns, concrete mindsets are associated with financial self-interest. With abstract mindsets, we find that people abide by rather than violate ethical principles when only the self would benefit (single principle) but they violate ethical principles when doing so is a conduit for a greater social good (multiple principles). With concrete mindsets, people violate ethical principles for personal gain with less concern for the impact on the greater social good. Specifically, with abstract mindsets, people were dishonest to secure larger donations (Study 1) and dishonest to make larger (smaller) donations to charities that supported (threatened) the greater social good (Study 2a, Study 2b) whereas with concrete mindsets, people focused more on dishonesty for personal gain (Study 1, Study 2a, Study 2b).

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

Beware of Popular Kids Bearing Gifts: A Framed Field Experiment

Jingnan Chen et al.
George Mason University Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
The literature on pro-social behavior shows that older children are more generous than younger children; however, the level of individual generosity is heterogeneous even between children of the same age. This paper investigates whether a child’s popularity affects a child’s generosity. Our participants – 231 children, six to twelve years old – decide how many of their four colored wristbands they want to share with another anonymous child. We manipulate the visibility of this decision: in treatment Public, the decisions are revealed to the entire class at the end of the game, whereas in treatment Private children’s decisions remain secret. In addition, we elicited each child’s network of friends using an innovative “seating map” mechanism. Our results reveal that more popular children are more generous in Public than Private decision environments, while less popular children behave similarly in both cases. Moreover, older children in Public display greater generosity than (i) older children in Private and (ii) younger children in either Public or Private. Finally, in Public, older and more popular children share more than less popular older children, and more than younger children regardless of popularity; whereas, in Private there is no effect of popularity on children of any age.

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

Can third-party observers detect the emotional rewards of generous spending?

Lara Aknin, Alice Fleerackers & Kiley Hamlin
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can others detect the emotional consequences of our personal choices? Here, we investigate whether third-party observers can detect the emotional benefits of two factors shown to influence self-reported happiness: the speed with which people make decisions and the generosity of spending choices. Participants were randomly assigned to purchase a goody bag either for themselves or for a sick child, and to choose the contents of this goody bag either as quickly as possible, or by taking as much time as needed. Then, participants reported their current emotional state and were rated for happiness by a research assistant blind to their spending condition. Analyses revealed that purchasing a gift for someone else not only improved participants’ self-reported mood, but that observers could detect these affective differences as well. Observers also rated participants who made their spending decision more quickly as happier, although participants did not report these emotional differences.

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

Episodic simulation and episodic memory can increase intentions to help others

Brendan Gaesser & Daniel Schacter
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 March 2014, Pages 4415–4420

Abstract:
Empathy plays an important role in human social interaction. A multifaceted construct, empathy includes a prosocial motivation or intention to help others in need. Although humans are often willing to help others in need, at times (e.g., during intergroup conflict), empathic responses are diminished or absent. Research examining the cognitive mechanisms underlying prosocial tendencies has focused on the facilitating roles of perspective taking and emotion sharing but has not previously elucidated the contributions of episodic simulation and memory to facilitating prosocial intentions. Here, we investigated whether humans’ ability to construct episodes by vividly imagining (episodic simulation) or remembering (episodic memory) specific events also supports a willingness to help others. Three experiments provide evidence that, when participants were presented with a situation depicting another person’s plight, the act of imagining an event of helping the person or remembering a related past event of helping others increased prosocial intentions to help the present person in need, compared with various control conditions. We also report evidence suggesting that the vividness of constructed episodes — rather than simply heightened emotional reactions or degree of perspective taking — supports this effect. Our results shed light on a role that episodic simulation and memory can play in fostering empathy and begin to offer insight into the underlying mechanisms.

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

Brief cognitive intervention can modulate neuroendocrine stress responses to the Trier Social Stress Test: Buffering effects of a compassionate goal orientation

James Abelson et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, June 2014, Pages 60–70

Background: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a critical mediator linking stress to health. Understanding how to modulate its reactivity could potentially help reduce the detrimental health effects of HPA axis activation. Social evaluative threat is a potent activator of this system. Access to control and coping responses can reduce its reactivity to pharmacological activation. Compassionate or affiliative behaviors may also moderate stress reactivity. Impact of these moderators on social evaluative threat is unknown. Here, we tested the hypotheses that interventions to increase control, coping, or compassionate (versus competitive) goals could reduce HPA-axis response to social evaluative threat.

Methods: Healthy participants (n = 54) were exposed to social evaluative threat using the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). They were randomly assigned to receive one of four different instructions prior to the stressor: Standard TSST instructions (SI), standard instructions with access to “control” (SI Control), or one of two cognitive interventions (CI) that (1) increased familiarity and helped participants prepare coping strategies (CI Coping), or (2) shifted goal orientation from self-promotion to helping others (CI Compassionate Goals). ACTH and cortisol were obtained before and after stress exposure via intravenous catheter.

Results: Control alone had no effect. CI Compassionate Goals significantly reduced ACTH and cortisol responses to the TSST; CI Coping raised baseline levels. Compassionate Goals reduced hormonal responses without reducing subjective anxiety, stress or fear, while increasing expression of pro-social intentions and focus on helping others.

Conclusions: Brief intervention to shift focus from competitive self-promotion to a goal orientation of helping-others can reduce HPA-axis activation to a potent psychosocial stressor. This supports the potential for developing brief interventions as inoculation tools to reduce the impact of predictable stressors and lends support to growing evidence that compassion and altruistic goals can moderate the effects of stress.

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

Service job lawyers are happier than money job lawyers, despite their lower income

Kennon Sheldon & Lawrence Krieger
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Giving too much emphasis to extrinsic values and too little emphasis to intrinsic values is known to depress well-being. But is simply working in an extrinsic job also risky, even if that job delivers the money? We compared 1414 ‘Money’ (extrinsic) lawyers, 1145 ‘Service’ (intrinsic) lawyers, and 3415 ‘Other’ lawyers as to their income, values, well-being, and drinking behavior. Although service lawyers had much lower incomes, they also experienced more well-being and less negative affect compared to money lawyers, and drank less and less often. ANCOVAs showed that the intrinsic vs. extrinsic job-type effects were independent of rated intrinsic vs. extrinsic values, current income, years of work experience, and class rank at graduation, suggesting that the job-contexts themselves were operative. We discuss the difficult choice that pre-professional students face, between two versions of the American dream: one emphasizing wealth and status, and the other, service and personal development.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I like your chances

Risk Propensity Among Liberals and Conservatives: The Effect of Risk Perception, Expected Benefits, and Risk Domain

Becky Choma et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political conservatives, compared to liberals, are commonly thought to be more threat-sensitive and risk-averse. Using an American sample of community adults (n = 397), we investigated when conservatives and liberals might be risk-taking or risk-averse. Participants completed measures of political orientation, and perceptions of risk, expected benefits (EB) of risk, and risk-propensity, across five domains (financial, recreational, ethical, social, and health). The relation between perceptions of risk and EB and risk-propensity differed as a function of political conservatism and varied across risk domains. For example, with regard to new business ventures, conservatives were generally willing to take risks unless perceived risk was high and expected benefit was low, whereas liberals were generally unwilling to take risks unless perceived risk was low and expected benefit was high. Implications for understanding risk-taking are considered.

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

Gambling Increases Self-Control Strength in Problem Gamblers

Anne Bergen, Ian Newby-Clark & Andrea Brown
Journal of Gambling Studies, March 2014, Pages 153-162

Abstract:
In two studies it is demonstrated that, in the short-term, slot machine gambling increases self-control strength in problem gamblers. In Study 1 (N = 180), participants were randomly assigned to either play slot machines or engage in a control task (word anagrams) for 15 min. Subsequent self-control strength was measured via persistence on an impossible tracing task. Replicating Bergen et al. (J Gambl Stud, doi:10.1007/s10899-011-9274-9, 2011), control condition participants categorized as problem gamblers persisted for less time than did lower gambling risk participants. However, in the slot machine condition, there were no significant differences in persistence amongst participants as a function of their gambling classification. Moreover, problem gambling participants in the slot machine condition persisted at the impossible tracing task longer than did problem gambling participants in the control condition. Study 2 (N = 209) systematically replicated Study 1. All participants initially completed two tasks known to deplete self-control strength and a different control condition (math problems) was used. Study 2 results were highly similar to those of Study 1. The results of the studies have implications for the helping professions. Specifically, helping professionals should be aware that problem gamblers might seek out gambling as a means of increasing self-control strength.

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

Illusionary pattern detection in habitual gamblers

Andreas Wilke et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does problem gambling arise from an illusion that patterns exist where there are none? Our prior research suggested that “hot hand,” a tendency to perceive illusory streaks in sequences, may be a human universal, tied to an evolutionary history of foraging for clumpy resources. Like other evolved propensities, this tendency might be expressed more strongly in some people than others, leading them to see luck where others see only chance. If the desire to gamble is enhanced by illusory pattern detection, such individual differences could be predictive of gambling risk. While previous research has suggested a potential link between cognitive strategies and propensity to gamble, no prior study has directly measured gamblers’ cognitive strategies using behavioral choice tasks, and linked them to risk-taking or gambling propensities. Using a computerized sequential decision-making paradigm that directly measured subjects’ predictions of sequences, we found evidence that subjects who have a greater tendency to gamble also have a higher tendency to perceive illusionary patterns, as measured by their preferences for a random slot machine over a negatively autocorrelated one. Casino gamblers played the random slot machine significantly more often even though a training phase and a history of outcomes was provided. Additionally, we found a marginally significant group difference between gamblers and matched community members in their slot-machine choice proportions. Performance on our behavioral choice task correlated with subjects’ risk attitudes towards gambling and their frequency of play, as well as the selection of choice strategies in gambling activities.

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

Problem gamblers are hyposensitive to wins: An analysis of skin conductance responses during actual gambling on electronic gaming machines

Lisa Lole et al.
Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Physiological arousal is purportedly a key determinant in the development and maintenance of gambling behaviors, with problem gambling conceptualized in terms of abnormal autonomic responses. Theoretical conceptualizations of problem gambling are discordant regarding the nature of deficit in this disorder; some accounts posit that problem gamblers are hypersensitive to reward, and others that they are hyposensitive to reward and/or punishment. Previous research examining phasic electrodermal responses in gamblers has been limited to laboratory settings, and reactions to real gaming situations need to be examined. Skin conductance responses (SCRs) to losses, wins, and losses disguised as wins (LDWs) were recorded from 15 problem gamblers (PGs) and 15 nonproblem gamblers (NPGs) while they wagered their own money during electronic gaming machine play. PGs demonstrated significantly reduced SCRs to reward. SCRs to losses and LDWs did not differ for either PGs or NPGs. This hyposensitivity to wins may reflect abnormalities in incentive processing, and may represent a potential biological marker for problem gambling.

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

Using aesthetics and self-affirmation to encourage openness to risky (and safe) choices

Suzanne Shu & Claudia Townsend
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, March 2014, Pages 22-39

Abstract:
Research has shown self-affirmation to be a powerful tool for increasing openness to arguments. However, prior examinations of its effects involved manipulations with limited applicability outside the laboratory. Building on recent work suggesting that choice of highly aesthetic products can be a form of affirmation, we proposed and tested whether merely affiliating people with high aesthetics can affirm their sense of self and thus encourage openness to arguments advocating selection of one option over another. In 3 experiments we examined this effect in financial and consumer decisions in which choices varied in their inherent risk. Across the experiments, after affiliating people with high (vs. low) aesthetics, they were more likely to select the advocated option — whether that option was the riskier or less risky option. This occurred using actual annual reports and a sample of experienced investors (Experiment 1), when the aesthetic affiliation and the choice tasks were in entirely unrelated areas (Experiment 2) and was driven by greater openness to arguments (Experiment 3). Together these studies offer a self-affirmation manipulation that is relevant and easily used by practitioners in a variety of fields. They also provide novel insights on the link between aesthetics, self-affirmation, openness, and risk taking.

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

Gene Effects and G × E Interactions in the Differential Prediction of Three Aspects of Impulsiveness

Charles Carver et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several polymorphisms relevant to dopamine and serotonin have been identified as potential contributors to individual differences in impulsivity versus self-control. Because impulsivity is a multifaceted construct, a need remains to examine more closely how various genes relate to different aspects of impulsivity. We examined four dopamine-related polymorphisms and the serotonin transporter as predictors of three aspects of impulsivity, two bearing on impulsive reactions to emotions and one on difficulty in completing intended actions. Early adversity was also examined as a potentiator of genetic effects. Undergraduates completed measures of impulsivity and early adversity and were genotyped. COMT, BDNF, DRD4, and 5HTTLPR (the latter two in interaction with early adversity) made independent contributions to prediction of Pervasive Influence of Feelings. BDNF made a contribution to Lack of Follow-Through. ANKK1 and 5HTTLPR (both in interaction with early adversity) made independent contributions to Feelings Trigger Action. Thus, five polymorphisms contributed to predicting impulsivity, but different polymorphisms related to different aspects.

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

Preference on Cash-Choice Task Predicts Externalizing Outcomes in 17-Year-Olds

Jordan Sparks, Joshua Isen & William Iacono
Behavior Genetics, March 2014, Pages 102-112

Abstract:
Delay-discounting, the tendency to prefer a smaller-sooner reward to a larger-later reward, has been associated with a range of externalizing behaviors. Laboratory delay-discounting tasks have emerged as a useful measure to index impulsivity and a proclivity towards externalizing pyschopathology. While many studies demonstrate the existence of a latent externalizing factor that is heritable, there have been few genetic studies of delay-discounting. Further, the increased vulnerability for risky behavior in adolescence makes adolescent samples an attractive target for future research, and expeditious, ecologically-valid delay-discounting measures are helpful in this regard. The primary goal of this study was to help validate the utility of a “cash-choice” measure for use in a sample of older adolescents. We used a sample of 17-year-old twins (n = 791) from the Minnesota Twin Family Enrichment study. Individuals who chose the smaller-sooner reward were more likely to have used a range of addictive substances, engaged in sexual intercourse, and earned lower GPAs. Best fitting biometric models from univariate analyses supported the heritability of cash-choice and externalizing, but bivariate modeling results indicated that the correlation between cash-choice and externalizing was determined largely by shared environmental influences, thus failing to support cash-choice as a possible endophenotype for externalizing in this age group. Our findings lend further support to the utility of cash-choice as a measure of individual differences in decision making and suggest that, by late adolescence, this task indexes shared environmental risk for externalizing behavior.

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

Personality Correlates of Risky Health Outcomes: Findings from a Large Internet Study

Olivia Atherton et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous studies have documented the effects of personality on health outcomes. However, which traits are most relevant to health, and the precise magnitude of their effects, is inconsistent across studies. The present study used a large sample (N=460,172) to replicate and extend the relations between the Big Five and three health-related outcomes: self-reported health, body mass index, and substance use. Low Conscientiousness predicted all outcomes, indicating that individuals who are less responsible and less self-controlled tend to report poorer health, be more overweight, and engage in more substance use. In addition, individuals who were more emotionally unstable (high Neuroticism) reported poorer health, and individuals prone to seek out social experiences and rewards (high Extraversion) engaged in more frequent substance use.

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

Knowing Where to Draw the Line: Perceptual Differences between Risk-takers and Non-Risk-Takers

Adam Biggs et al.
PLoS ONE, March 2014

Abstract:
There are a variety of reasons someone might engage in risky behaviors, such as perceived invulnerability to harm or a belief that negative outcomes are more likely for others than for oneself. However, these risk-taking biases are often measured at a decision-making level or from the developmental perspective. Here we assessed whether or not risk-taking influenced perceptual judgments associated with risk. Participants were provided an objective task to measure individual differences in the perception of physical dimensions (i.e., actual size of a balloon) versus the perception of risk (i.e., size at which the balloon would explode). Our results show that specific differences in risk-taking personalities produce specific differences in perceptual judgments about risk, but do not affect perception of the actual dimensions. Thus, risk-takers differ from non-risk-takers in the perceptual estimations they make about risks, and therefore may be more likely to engage in dangerous or uncertain behaviors because they perceive risks differently.

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

When Do I Wear Me Out? Mental Simulation and the Diminution of Self-Control

Neil Macrae et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Exerting self-control can diminish people’s capacity to engage in subsequent acts of behavioral regulation, a phenomenon termed ego depletion. But what of imaginary regulatory experiences—does simulated restraint elicit comparable lapses in self-control? Here we demonstrate such effects under theoretically tractable imagery conditions. Across 3 experiments, temporal, structural, and spatial components of mental simulation were observed to drive the efficacy of imaginary self-control. In Experiment 1, lapses in restraint (i.e., financial impulsivity) were more pronounced when imaginary regulation (i.e., dietary restraint) focused on an event in the near versus distant future. In Experiment 2, comparable effects (i.e., increased stereotyping) emerged when simulated self-control (i.e., emotional suppression) was imagined from a first-person (cf. third-person) visual perspective. In Experiment 3, restraint was diminished (i.e., increased risk taking) when self-regulation (i.e., action control) centered on an event at a near versus distant location. These findings further delineate the conditions under which mental simulation impacts core aspects of social–cognitive functioning.

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