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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Existing conditions

More Americans Living Longer With Cardiovascular Disease Will Increase Costs While Lowering Quality Of Life

Ankur Pandya et al.
Health Affairs, October 2013, Pages 1706-1714

Abstract:
In the past several decades, some risk factors for cardiovascular disease have improved, while others have worsened. For example, smoking rates have dropped and treatment rates for cardiovascular disease have increased — factors that have made the disease less fatal. At the same time, Americans’ average body mass index and incidence of diabetes have increased as the population continues to live longer — factors that have made cardiovascular disease more prevalent. To assess the aggregate impact of these opposing trends, we used the nine National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey waves from 1973 to 2010 to forecast total cardiovascular disease risk and prevalence from 2015 to 2030. We found that continued improvements in cardiovascular disease treatment and declining smoking rates will not outweigh the influence of increasing population age and obesity on cardiovascular disease risk. Given an aging population, an obesity epidemic, and declining mortality from the disease, the United States should expect to see a sharp rise in the health care costs, disability, and reductions in quality of life associated with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Policies that target the treatment of high blood pressure and cholesterol and the reduction of obesity will be necessary to curb the imminent spike in cardiovascular disease prevalence.

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Pounds That Kill: The External Costs of Vehicle Weight

Michael Anderson & Maximilian Auffhammer
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Heavier vehicles are safer for their own occupants but more hazardous for other vehicles. Simple theory thus suggests that an unregulated vehicle fleet is inefficiently heavy. Using three separate identification strategies we show that, controlling for own-vehicle weight, being hit by a vehicle that is 1,000 pounds heavier generates a 40-50% increase in fatality risk. These results imply a total accident-related externality that exceeds the estimated social cost of U.S. carbon emissions and is equivalent to a gas tax of $0.97 per gallon ($136 billion annually). We consider two policies for internalizing this external cost, a weight-varying mileage tax and a gas tax, and find that they are similar for most vehicles. The findings suggest that European gas taxes may be much closer to optimal levels than the U.S. gas tax.

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Greasy Roads: The Impact of Bad Financial News on Road Traffic Accidents

Sotiris Vandoros, Georgios Kavetsos & Paul Dolan
Risk Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use evidence from a natural experiment in Greece to study the effect of the announcement of austerity measures on road traffic accidents (RTAs). We use daily RTA data from 2010 and 2011, during which a number of austerity measures were announced, including salary and pension cuts and an increase in direct and indirect taxes. We find that controlling for other factors potentially influencing RTAs, the number of RTAs increased significantly on the first two days following the announcements of austerity measures. We put forward some tentative suggestions for why this happens.

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Does work stress make you shorter? An ambulatory field study of daily work stressors, job control, and spinal shrinkage

Ivana Igic, Samuel Ryser & Achum Elfering
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, October 2013, Pages 469-480

Abstract:
Body height decreases throughout the day due to fluid loss from the intervertebral disk. This study investigated whether spinal shrinkage was greater during workdays compared with nonwork days, whether daily work stressors were positively related to spinal shrinkage, and whether job control was negatively related to spinal shrinkage. In a consecutive 2-week ambulatory field study, including 39 office employees and 512 days of observation, spinal shrinkage was measured by a stadiometer, and calculated as body height in the morning minus body height in the evening. Physical activity was monitored throughout the 14 days by accelerometry. Daily work stressors, daily job control, biomechanical workload, and recreational activities after work were measured with daily surveys. Multilevel regression analyses showed that spinal disks shrank more during workdays than during nonworkdays. After adjustment for sex, age, body weight, smoking status, biomechanical work strain, and time spent on physical and low-effort activities during the day, lower levels of daily job control significantly predicted increased spinal shrinkage. Findings add to knowledge on how work redesign that increases job control may possibly contribute to preserving intervertebral disk function and preventing occupational back pain.

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Emotion suppression and mortality risk over a 12-year follow-up

Benjamin Chapman et al.
Journal of Psychosomatic Research, October 2013, Pages 381–385

Objective: Suppression of emotion has long been suspected to have a role in health, but empirical work has yielded mixed findings. We examined the association between emotion suppression and all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality over 12 years of follow-up in a nationally representative US sample.

Methods: We used the 2008 General Social Survey–National Death Index (GSS–NDI) cohort, which included an emotion suppression scale administered to 729 people in 1996. Prospective mortality follow up between 1996 and 2008 of 111 deaths (37 by cardiovascular disease, 34 by cancer) was evaluated using Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, gender, education, and minority race/ethnicity.

Results: The 75th vs. 25th percentile on the emotional suppression score was associated with hazard ratio (HR) of 1.35 (95% Confidence Interval [95% CI] = 1.00, 1.82; P = .049) for all-cause mortality. For cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality, the HRs were 1.70 (95% CI = 1.01, 2.88, P = .049) and 1.47 (95% CI = .87, 2.47, P = .148) respectively.

Conclusions: Emotion suppression may convey risk for earlier death, including death from cancer. Further work is needed to better understand the biopsychosocial mechanisms for this risk, as well as the nature of associations between suppression and different forms of mortality.

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The State of US Health, 1990-2010: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors

Christopher Murray et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 14 August 2013, Pages 591-608

Objectives: To measure the burden of diseases, injuries, and leading risk factors in the United States from 1990 to 2010 and to compare these measurements with those of the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Design: We used the systematic analysis of descriptive epidemiology of 291 diseases and injuries, 1160 sequelae of these diseases and injuries, and 67 risk factors or clusters of risk factors from 1990 to 2010 for 187 countries developed for the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study to describe the health status of the United States and to compare US health outcomes with those of 34 OECD countries. Years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) were computed by multiplying the number of deaths at each age by a reference life expectancy at that age. Years lived with disability (YLDs) were calculated by multiplying prevalence (based on systematic reviews) by the disability weight (based on population-based surveys) for each sequela; disability in this study refers to any short- or long-term loss of health. Disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) were estimated as the sum of YLDs and YLLs. Deaths and DALYs related to risk factors were based on systematic reviews and meta-analyses of exposure data and relative risks for risk-outcome pairs. Healthy life expectancy (HALE) was used to summarize overall population health, accounting for both length of life and levels of ill health experienced at different ages.

Results: US life expectancy for both sexes combined increased from 75.2 years in 1990 to 78.2 years in 2010; during the same period, HALE increased from 65.8 years to 68.1 years. The diseases and injuries with the largest number of YLLs in 2010 were ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and road injury. Age-standardized YLL rates increased for Alzheimer disease, drug use disorders, chronic kidney disease, kidney cancer, and falls. The diseases with the largest number of YLDs in 2010 were low back pain, major depressive disorder, other musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety disorders. As the US population has aged, YLDs have comprised a larger share of DALYs than have YLLs. The leading risk factors related to DALYs were dietary risks, tobacco smoking, high body mass index, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, physical inactivity, and alcohol use. Among 34 OECD countries between 1990 and 2010, the US rank for the age-standardized death rate changed from 18th to 27th, for the age-standardized YLL rate from 23rd to 28th, for the age-standardized YLD rate from 5th to 6th, for life expectancy at birth from 20th to 27th, and for HALE from 14th to 26th.

Conclusions and Relevance: From 1990 to 2010, the United States made substantial progress in improving health. Life expectancy at birth and HALE increased, all-cause death rates at all ages decreased, and age-specific rates of years lived with disability remained stable. However, morbidity and chronic disability now account for nearly half of the US health burden, and improvements in population health in the United States have not kept pace with advances in population health in other wealthy nations.

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Hygiene and the world distribution of Alzheimer's Disease

Molly Fox et al.
Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, 2013, Pages 173-186

Background and objectives: Alzheimer's Disease (AD) shares certain etiological features with autoimmunity. Prevalence of autoimmunity varies between populations in accordance with variation in environmental microbial diversity. Exposure to microorganisms may improve individuals' immunoregulation in ways that protect against autoimmunity, and we suggest this may also be the case for AD. Here we investigate whether differences in microbial diversity can explain patterns of age-adjusted AD rates between countries.

Methodology: We use regression models to test whether pathogen prevalence, as a proxy for microbial diversity, across 192 countries can explain a significant amount of the variation in age-standardized AD disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) rates. We also review and assess the relationship between pathogen prevalence and AD rates in different world populations.

Results: Based on our analyses, it appears that hygiene is positively associated with AD risk. Countries with greater degree of sanitation and lower degree of pathogen prevalence have higher age-adjusted AD DALY rates. Countries with greater degree of urbanization and wealth exhibit higher age-adjusted AD DALY rates.

Conclusions and implications: Variation in hygiene may partly explain global patterns in AD rates. Microorganism exposure may be inversely related to AD risk. These results may help predict AD burden in developing countries where microbial diversity is rapidly diminishing. Epidemiological forecasting is important for preparing for future healthcare needs and research prioritization.

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Life Expectancy and Human Capital: Evidence from the International Epidemiological Transition

Casper Worm Hansen
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Exploiting preintervention variation in mortality from various infectious diseases, together with the time variation arising from medical breakthroughs in the late 1940s and the 1950s, this study examines how a large positive shock to life expectancy influenced the formation of human capital within countries during the second half of the 20th century. The results establish that the rise in life expectancy was behind a significant part of the increase in human capital over this period. According to the baseline estimate, for one additional year of life expectancy, years of schooling increase by 0.17 years. Moreover, the evidence suggests that declines in pneumonia mortality are the underlying cause of this finding, indicating that improved childhood health increases human capital investments.

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The effect of household hospitalizations on the educational attainment of youth

Eric Johnson & Lockwood Reynolds
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We utilize data from the NLSY97 to investigate the effect of week-long hospitalizations of household members on the educational attainment of youth. These significant household health events could result in a combination of financial and time constraints on the household, limiting the educational opportunities available to survey respondents. We find that household hospitalizations lead to reductions in the likelihood of completing high school, attending college and completing a bachelor's degree. These negative effects are disproportionately experienced by male respondents. Respondents with higher pre-hospitalization ability appear to be insulated from these health events. Birth-order and the gender composition of siblings also appear to play a role. We find that the oldest children in the household bear the burden of a hospitalization, substantially lowering the educational attainment of these respondents, while insulating their younger siblings. Similarly, the presence of a brother appears to insulate respondents from the negative impacts of household hospitalizations.

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Substantial Health And Economic Returns From Delayed Aging May Warrant A New Focus For Medical Research

Dana Goldman et al.
Health Affairs, October 2013, Pages 1698-1705

Abstract:
Recent scientific advances suggest that slowing the aging process (senescence) is now a realistic goal. Yet most medical research remains focused on combating individual diseases. Using the Future Elderly Model — a microsimulation of the future health and spending of older Americans — we compared optimistic “disease specific” scenarios with a hypothetical “delayed aging” scenario in terms of the scenarios’ impact on longevity, disability, and major entitlement program costs. Delayed aging could increase life expectancy by an additional 2.2 years, most of which would be spent in good health. The economic value of delayed aging is estimated to be $7.1 trillion over fifty years. In contrast, addressing heart disease and cancer separately would yield diminishing improvements in health and longevity by 2060 — mainly due to competing risks. Delayed aging would greatly increase entitlement outlays, especially for Social Security. However, these changes could be offset by increasing the Medicare eligibility age and the normal retirement age for Social Security. Overall, greater investment in research to delay aging appears to be a highly efficient way to forestall disease, extend healthy life, and improve public health.

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Dietary Sodium Restriction: Take It with a Grain of Salt

James DiNicolantonio et al.
American Journal of Medicine, November 2013, Pages 951–955

Abstract:
The American Heart Association recently strongly recommended a dietary sodium intake of <1500 mg/d for all Americans to achieve “Ideal Cardiovascular Health” by 2020. However, low sodium diets have not been shown to reduce cardiovascular events in normotensive individuals or in individuals with pre-hypertension or hypertension. Moreover, there is evidence that a low sodium diet may lead to a worse cardiovascular prognosis in patients with cardiometabolic risk and established cardiovascular disease. Low sodium diets may adversely affect insulin resistance, serum lipids, and neurohormonal pathways, leading to increases in the incidence of new cardiometabolic disease, the severity of existing cardiometabolic disease, and greater cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Although a high sodium intake also may be deleterious, there is good reason to believe that sodium intake is regulated within such a tight physiologic range that there is little risk to leaving sodium intake to inherent biology as opposed to likely futile attempts at conscious control.

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Frequency of prolonged social-evaluative threat and cytokine activity: A field experiment

L. Frimanson, I. Anderzén & M. Lekander
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, September 2013, Pages e13

Abstract:
Healthy subordinates in a work organization completed a 1-year treatment of maintained high-frequent (n = 39, M = 8.81, SD = 0.61) or low-frequent (n = 39, M = 4.56, SD = 2.01) evaluation of work performance (HFE or LFE, respectively, p < .001). Subjects did not differ significantly in demographics, health behaviors, and baseline Interleukin-6 production (IL-6), ps > .364. IL-6 was not correlated with health behaviors at baseline or after 12 months in response to the stressor, ps > .068. Results: There was a significant Time X Condition interaction for IL-6, F (2, 75) = 3.82, p > .027, partial eta squared = .092. HFE subjects showed non-significant increases in IL-6 from baseline to 6 months, p > .394, and 12 months, p > .142. LFE subjects showed significant decreases in IL-6 from baseline to 6 months, t (38) = −2.36, p < .023, and 12 months, t (38) = −3.21, p < .004. After 6 months, IL-6 in HFE (M = 1.28, SD = 1.32) and LFE (M = 0.97, SD = 0.51) conditions were significantly different, F (1, 75) = 4.30, p < .042, and after 12 months this significant difference between HFE (M = 1.44, SD = 1.69) and LFE (M = 0.94, SD = 0.40) conditions increased further, F (1, 75) = 7.25, p < .010, partial eta squared = .088 (controlling for baseline IL-6). These findings suggest that prolonged social evaluation is a potent threat capable of influencing cytokine activity, and that this influence is associated with evaluation frequency.

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Voter demand for fluoridated water: A tale of two c(av)ities

Philip Hersch & Jodi Pelkowski
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2013, Pages 51-54

Abstract:
Government fluoridation of public water systems to promote dental health has long been advocated by many health associations, based on the findings of mainstream scientific studies. Despite this, fluoridation remains a controversial issue. Some in the public are antithetical to the science behind fluoridation while others view it as an infringement on individual choice. Voting data from referendums in two of the six largest US cities without fluoridated water (Portland, Oregon, and Wichita, Kansas) are used to examine the factors driving voter demand for and against fluoridation. Although regression analysis reveals differences between the cities, a strong commonality is greater support for fluoride coming from voting precincts with higher concentrations of college graduates. Additionally, even though advocates often laud water fluoridation as a relatively inexpensive way to extend dental health benefits to all children (regardless of income levels), presence of children in households surprisingly does not appear to translate into voter support. Lastly, after controlling for socio-economic factors, results suggest that opposition to fluoridation does not appear to come from the political centre, but from the libertarian right and environmental left.

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Life Expectancy, Schooling, and Lifetime Labor Supply: Theory and Evidence Revisited

Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde
Econometrica, September 2013, Pages 2055–2086

Abstract:
This paper presents a theoretical and empirical analysis of the role of life expectancy for optimal schooling and lifetime labor supply. The results of a simple prototype Ben-Porath model with age-specific survival rates show that an increase in lifetime labor supply is not a necessary, or a sufficient, condition for greater life expectancy to increase optimal schooling. The observed increase in survival rates during working ages that follows from the “rectangularization” of the survival function is crucial for schooling and labor supply. The empirical results suggest that the relative benefits of schooling have been increasing across cohorts of U.S. men born between 1840 and 1930. A simple quantitative analysis shows that a realistic shift in the survival function can lead to an increase in schooling and a reduction in lifetime labor hours.

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A Dam Problem: TVA's Fight Against Malaria, 1926–1951

Carl Kitchens
Journal of Economic History, September 2013, Pages 694-724

Abstract:
The TVA has been applauded for its anti-malaria programs in the Southeast during the 1930s and 1940s. However, the TVA developed their anti-malaria programs because they created lakes suitable for mosquito breeding. To estimate the relationship between the TVA and malaria, I construct a county-level panel data from the Southeast United States. I find that the net effect of the TVA was to increase malaria rates following its construction. Using statistical life value estimates, I find that the hidden malaria cost of the TVA offset 24 percent of the fiscal stimulus multiplier generated by the TVA.

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Early-Life Disease Exposure and Occupational Status: The Impact of Yellow Fever During the 19th Century

Martin Hugo Saavedra
University of Pittsburgh Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Using city-of-birth data from the 100-percent sample of the 1880 Census merged to city-level fatality counts, I estimate the effect of early-life yellow fever exposure on adult occupational status. I find that in utero, neonatal, or postnatal yellow fever exposure decreased adult occupational status for white males with foreign-born mothers, whereas white males with U.S.-born mothers were relatively unaffected. Furthermore, I find no evidence that epidemics 2 to 4 years after birth affect adult occupational status.

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FKBP5 and CRHR1 Polymorphisms Moderate the Stress–Physical Health Association in a National Sample

Jared Lessard & Alison Holman
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: Stressful life events experienced during childhood and as an adult negatively impact mental and physical health over the life span. This study examined polymorphisms from 2 hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis-related genes previously associated with posttraumatic stress disorder — FKBP5 and CRHR1 — as moderators of the impact of child abuse and adult stress on physical health.

Method: A national, community-based subsample of non-Hispanic European American respondents (n = 527) from a prospective longitudinal 3-year study of stress and coping (N = 2,729) provided saliva for genotyping.

Results: FKBP5 (rs1360780) and CRHR1 (rs12944712) polymorphisms significantly interacted with child abuse and adult stress to predict increases in physical health ailments over 3 years. Child abuse and adult stress were strongly related to physician-diagnosed physical ailments among individuals with the risk alleles of both single nucleotide polymorphisms. Individuals carrying the low-risk homozygotic genotypes were protected from the long-term negative health implications of experiencing both child abuse and adult stress.

Conclusion: Consistent with theories linking the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis with stress-related disease, hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis polymorphism genotypes moderated the association between exposure to child abuse/adult stress and long-term physical health outcomes in a national sample.

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Neighbourhood Socioeconomic Status and Individual Lung Cancer Risk: Evaluating Long-Term Exposure Measures and Mediating Mechanisms

Perry Hystad et al.
Social Science & Medicine, November 2013, Pages 95–103

Abstract:
Neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES) has been associated with numerous chronic diseases, yet little information exists on its association with lung cancer incidence. This outcome presents two key empirical challenges: a long latency period that requires study participants’ residential histories and long-term neighbourhood characteristics; and adequate data on many risk factors to test hypothesized mediating pathways between neighbourhood SES and lung cancer incidence. Analyzing data on urban participants of a large Canadian population-based lung cancer case-control study, we investigate three issues pertaining to these challenges. First, we examine whether there is an association between long-term neighbourhood SES, derived from 20 years of residential histories and five national censuses, and lung cancer incidence. Second, we determine how this long-term neighbourhood SES association changes when using neighbourhood SES measures based on different latency periods or at time of study entry. Third, we estimate the extent to which long-term neighbourhood SES is mediated by a range of individual-level smoking behaviours, other health behaviours, and environmental and occupational exposures. Results of hierarchical logistic regression models indicate significantly higher odds of lung cancer cases residing in the most compared to the least deprived quintile of the long-term neighbourhood SES index (OR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.13-1.89) after adjustment for individual SES. This association remained significant (OR: 1.38; 1.01-1.88) after adjusting for smoking behaviour and other known and suspected lung cancer risk factors. Important differences were observed between long-term and study entry neighbourhood SES measures, with the latter attenuating effect estimates by over 50 percent. Smoking behaviour was the strongest partial mediating pathway of the long-term neighbourhood SES effect. This research is the first to examine the effects of long-term neighbourhood SES on lung cancer risk and more research is needed to further identify specific, modifiable pathways by which neighbourhood context may influence lung cancer risk.

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Adult Stature and Risk of Cancer at Different Anatomic Sites in a Cohort of Postmenopausal Women

Geoffrey Kabat et al.
Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, August 2013, Pages 1353-1363

Background: Prospective studies in Western and Asian populations suggest that height is a risk factor for various cancers. However, few studies have explored potential confounding or effect modification of the association by other factors.

Methods: We examined the association between height measured at enrollment in 144,701 women participating in the Women's Health Initiative and risk of all cancers combined and cancer at 19 specific sites. Over a median follow-up of 12.0 years, 20,928 incident cancers were identified. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate HR and 95% confidence intervals (CI) per 10 cm increase in height, with adjustment for established risk factors. We also examined potential effect modification of the association with all cancer and specific cancers.

Results: Height was significantly positively associated with risk of all cancers (HR = 1.13; 95% CI, 1.11–1.16), as well as with cancers of the thyroid, rectum, kidney, endometrium, colorectum, colon, ovary, and breast, and with multiple myeloma and melanoma (range of HRs: 1.13 for breast cancer to 1.29 for multiple myeloma and thyroid cancer). These associations were generally insensitive to adjustment for confounders, and there was little evidence of effect modification.

Conclusions: This study confirms the positive association of height with risk of all cancers and a substantial number of cancer sites.

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Federal Food Package Revisions: Effects on Purchases of Whole-Grain Products

Tatiana Andreyeva & Joerg Luedicke
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 2013, Pages 422–429

Background: In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) implemented revisions to the composition and quantities of WIC-provided foods. New whole-grain products such as whole-wheat bread and allowable substitutes were added to encourage increased intake of whole grains and fiber among WIC participants.

Purpose: This paper assesses how the WIC revisions affected purchases of bread and rice among WIC-participating households in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Methods: Scanner data from a regional supermarket chain were used to examine bread and rice purchases of 2137 WIC households. Purchased volume of bread and rice was compared before and after implementation of the WIC revisions (2009–2010) using generalized estimating equation models. Data were analyzed in 2013.

Results: Before the WIC revisions, when no bread or rice was provided through WIC, white bread dominated bread purchases among WIC households (78% of volume), and almost all rice purchased was white (94%). As a result of the WIC revisions, the share of 100% whole-grain bread in total bread purchases tripled (from 8% to 24%), replacing purchases of white bread; the share of brown rice rose to 30% of rice purchases. WIC households used WIC benefits to change some of their bread purchases, rather than to buy more bread overall, whereas total rice purchases increased.

Conclusions: The 2009 WIC revisions significantly increased purchases of whole-grain bread and rice among WIC-participating families. The likely increase in whole-grain and fiber intake among low-income communities could have important public health implications.

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Predicting the public health benefit of vaccinating cattle against Escherichia coli O157

Louise Matthews et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 October 2013, Pages 16265-16270

Abstract:
Identifying the major sources of risk in disease transmission is key to designing effective controls. However, understanding of transmission dynamics across species boundaries is typically poor, making the design and evaluation of controls particularly challenging for zoonotic pathogens. One such global pathogen is Escherichia coli O157, which causes a serious and sometimes fatal gastrointestinal illness. Cattle are the main reservoir for E. coli O157, and vaccines for cattle now exist. However, adoption of vaccines is being delayed by conflicting responsibilities of veterinary and public health agencies, economic drivers, and because clinical trials cannot easily test interventions across species boundaries, lack of information on the public health benefits. Here, we examine transmission risk across the cattle–human species boundary and show three key results. First, supershedding of the pathogen by cattle is associated with the genetic marker stx2. Second, by quantifying the link between shedding density in cattle and human risk, we show that only the relatively rare supershedding events contribute significantly to human risk. Third, we show that this finding has profound consequences for the public health benefits of the cattle vaccine. A naïve evaluation based on efficacy in cattle would suggest a 50% reduction in risk; however, because the vaccine targets the major source of human risk, we predict a reduction in human cases of nearly 85%. By accounting for nonlinearities in transmission across the human–animal interface, we show that adoption of these vaccines by the livestock industry could prevent substantial numbers of human E. coli O157 cases.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, October 21, 2013

Official business

The Double-Edged Sword of Grandiose Narcissism: Implications for Successful and Unsuccessful Leadership Among U.S. Presidents

Ashley Watts et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research and theorizing suggest that narcissism may predict both positive and negative leadership behaviors. We tested this hypothesis with data on the 42 U.S. presidents up to and including George W. Bush, using (a) expert-derived narcissism estimates, (b) independent historical surveys of presidential performance, and (c) largely or entirely objective indicators of presidential performance. Grandiose, but not vulnerable, narcissism was associated with superior overall greatness in an aggregate poll; it was also positively associated with public persuasiveness, crisis management, agenda setting, and allied behaviors, and with several objective indicators of performance, such as winning the popular vote and initiating legislation. Nevertheless, grandiose narcissism was also associated with several negative outcomes, including congressional impeachment resolutions and unethical behaviors. We found that presidents exhibit elevated levels of grandiose narcissism compared with the general population, and that presidents' grandiose narcissism has been rising over time. Our findings suggest that grandiose narcissism may be a double-edged sword in the leadership domain.

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Does Separation of Powers Promote Stability and Moderation?

Matthew Stephenson
Journal of Legal Studies, June 2013, Pages 331-368

Abstract:
It is often asserted that separation of legislative powers tends to make legislation both more moderate (because concessions to all veto players are needed to secure enactment) and less frequent (because sufficient concessions are sometimes infeasible). The formal analysis in this article shows this claim to be incomplete and sometimes incorrect. Although greater separation of powers makes legislation more difficult to enact, it also makes legislation, once enacted, more difficult to repeal. Attenuating the threat of repeal means that when one faction has sufficient power to push through extreme policies, it is more likely to do so than would be the case if legislative power were more concentrated. These two effects cut in opposite directions, and it is difficult to say, as a general matter, which will predominate. Indeed, increasing the fragmentation of legislative power may sometimes increase both the expected frequency and the expected extremism of legislative enactments.

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Influencing the Bureaucracy: The Irony of Congressional Oversight

Joshua Clinton, David Lewis & Jennifer Selin
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does the president or Congress have more influence over policymaking by the bureaucracy? Despite a wealth of theoretical guidance, progress on this important question has proven elusive due to competing theoretical predictions and severe difficulties in measuring agency influence and oversight. We use a survey of federal executives to assess political influence, congressional oversight, and the policy preferences of agencies, committees, and the president on a comparable scale. Analyzing variation in political influence across and within agencies reveals that Congress is less influential relative to the White House when more committees are involved. While increasing the number of involved committees may maximize the electoral benefits for members, it may also undercut the ability of Congress as an institution to collectively respond to the actions of the presidency or the bureaucracy.

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Personality and Political Culture in the American States

Jeffery Mondak & Damarys Canache
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Differences in political culture have been observed at the cross-national and subnational levels, and political culture corresponds with a wide array of important social and political phenomena. However, possible psychological correlates of political culture are less clear. Building on research in personality psychology and cross-cultural psychology, this study contemplates whether aggregate personality measures compiled in the American states correspond with patterns in political culture. Using measures of personality traits provided by more than 600,000 survey respondents, parallels with state-level measures of citizen ideology, political culture, and civic culture are examined. Possible mechanisms linking personality and political culture are discussed.

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The Effects of Local Economic Conditions on Confidence in Key Institutions and Interpersonal Trust after the Great Recession

Lindsay Owens & Karen Cook
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, November 2013, Pages 274-298

Abstract:
The effects of recessions on social and political attitudes are likely smaller than the effects on employment, income, and wealth, but relatively modest aggregate effects may be masking differences in attitudes between individuals who live in areas most and least affected by recessions. To investigate social and political attitudes in geographical context, we exploit a new data source that matches individuals to their county of residence to analyze whether changing economic conditions at the county level are associated with changing confidence in major social institutions and with changing levels of interpersonal trust. We find that individuals in particularly affected counties are more likely to decrease their support for organized labor and the federal government. County-level hardship does not appear to be associated with changes in interpersonal measures of trust, however, suggesting that two very different processes may be at play.

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Disclosure and Corruption

Michael Gilbert & Benjamin Aiken
University of Virginia Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Disclosure laws require individuals and organizations that spend money on political speech to make public their identities. The Supreme Court and many others laud disclosure for shining light on money in politics and combating quid pro quo corruption. But that support may be misplaced. While disclosure provides information to law enforcement and the general public, it also provides information to corrupt actors. Disclosure records can tell politicians which private actors support compliant candidates, and the records can help private actors determine which politicians reward their benefactors. Disclosure can thus bring conspirators together and reduce the uncertainty that inheres in illegal transactions. That means disclosure has cross-cutting effects. It can deter corruption by increasing the likelihood of exposure, but it can also raise the benefit of corruption by increasing the certainty that parties to corrupt deals will keep their promises. When the second effect trumps, disclosure increases corruption. This analysis has implications for scholarship and law, including the upcoming McCutcheon case. It suggests that policymakers and judges should be less optimistic about disclosure and open to alternative corruption-fighting measures.

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The influence of wages on public officials' corruptibility: A laboratory investigation

R. van Veldhuizen
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have proposed a link between corruption and wages in the public sector. The present paper investigates this link using a laboratory experiment. In the experiment, public officials have the opportunity to accept a bribe and can then decide between a neutral and a corrupt action. The corrupt action benefits the briber but poses a large negative externality on a charity. The results show that increasing public officials' wages greatly reduces their corruptibility. In particular, low-wage public officials accept 91% of bribes on average, whereas high-wage public officials accept 38%. Moreover, high-wage public officials are less likely to choose the corrupt option. Additionally, the results suggest that a positive monitoring rate may be necessary for these effects to arise.

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Gerrymandering from the Bench? The Electoral Consequences of Judicial Redistricting

James Cottrill & Terri Peretti
Election Law Journal, September 2013, Pages 261-276

Abstract:
Widespread public mistrust of legislative redistricting begs the question: Can (presumably) neutral and independent courts produce more competitive districts that preserve the integrity of the democratic process? The regime politics perspective suggests not, portraying courts as partisan collaborators whose rulings help their regime allies in the other branches. Conversely, recent congressional elections research suggests that non-legislative approaches to redistricting (such as independent commissions) encourage experienced candidates to mount serious electoral challenges to incumbents. We extend this literature by focusing on the impact of judicial participation in the redistricting process. Using data for the 2000 apportionment cycle, we test whether judicial redistricting enhances the competitiveness of congressional elections, as some studies suggest, or if it instead serves to promote the interests of the party with which the judge is affiliated, as the regime politics literature would lead us to believe. Our findings suggest that judicial redistricting does enhance competition in congressional elections, but we fail to find evidence that it confers any partisan advantage.

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The Force of Face-to-Face Diplomacy: Mirror Neurons and the Problem of Intentions

Marcus Holmes
International Organization, October 2013, Pages 829-861

Abstract:
Face-to-face diplomacy has long been the lynchpin of international politics, yet it has largely been dismissed as irrelevant in theories of cooperation and conflict - as "cheap talk" because leaders have incentives to dissemble. However, diplomats and leaders have argued for years that there is often no substitute for personally meeting a counterpart to hash out an agreement. This article argues that face-to-face diplomacy provides a signaling mechanism that increases the likelihood of cooperation. Face-to-face meetings allow individuals to transmit information and empathize with each other, thereby reducing uncertainty, even when they have strong incentives to distrust the other. The human brain has discrete architecture and processes devoted to parsing others' intentions via cues in face-to-face interaction. These processes enable actors to directly access the intentions of others with a higher degree of certainty than economic and game-theoretic models of bargaining predict.

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The Political and Civic Implications of Chicago's Unsuccessful Bid to Host the 2016 Olympic Games

Larry Bennett et al.
Journal of Sport and Social Issues, November 2013, Pages 364-383

Abstract:
Between 2006 and 2009, Chicago's political and civic leadership developed a bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ultimately selected Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Games, with Chicago finishing fourth among the finalist cities in the October, 2009, IOC voting. This article is based on 20 key informant interviews with members and staff of the Chicago 2016 Committee, neighborhood activists and organizational staff in projected Olympic "venue" neighborhoods, and three "unaffiliated" civic leaders. The aim of the interviews was to determine - in light of the failed 2016 Olympic bid - if Chicago's leadership had effected a process of what urban regime theorists term "social learning," collective retrospection that can lead to the pursuit of more successful future civic ventures. The evidence provided by these interviews suggests that not only has there been little civic retrospection by Chicago's leadership, but also that processes put in place to promote the Chicago bid to international and local constituencies actually inhibited the ability of local elites to learn from past action.

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The Thermostatic Model of Responsiveness in the American States

Julianna Pacheco
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, September 2013, Pages 306-332

Abstract:
Does the thermostatic model exist in the states? Using a unique data set on state spending preferences on education and welfare, I find evidence of dynamic policy representation and dynamic public responsiveness, but with important qualifications. As state support for spending on education or welfare increases, state expenditures increase, but only for states that are highly professional and, presumably, able to accurately gauge the preferences of residents. In other states, legislators are responding to national policy sentiment instead of specific state opinion. I find no evidence that initiative states are more responsive to state opinion. Empirical evidence for dynamic public responsiveness is more consistent across model specifications. As state expenditures on education or welfare increase, state preferences for additional spending decrease, even after controlling for federal expenditures. Finally, I find that policy representation and public responsiveness in the states are conditional on issue saliency. The results provide a more nuanced understanding about the degree of dynamic representation and responsiveness in the states and the thermostatic model more generally.

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Congressmen in Exile: The Politics and Consequences of Involuntary Committee Removal

Justin Grimmer & Eleanor Neff Powell
Journal of Politics, October 2013, Pages 907-920

Abstract:
We show how preferred committee assignments act as an electoral subsidy for members of Congress - empowering representatives' legislative careers. When holding preferred assignments, legislators are free to focus on legislative activity in Washington, DC. But when the subsidy is removed, legislators are forced to direct attention to the district. To test our theory of legislative subsidy, we exploit committee exile - the involuntary removal of committee members after a party loses a sizable number of seats. Legislators are selected for exile using members' rank on the committee, causing exiled and remaining legislators to appear strikingly similar. Using exile, we show that it has only limited electoral consequences, but this is partly due to compensatory efforts. Exiled legislators shift attention away from Washington and towards the district: they raise and spend more money for reelection, author less legislation, are absent for more days of voting, and vote with their party less often.

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Public meetings as sources of citizen input: Comparing attendees with citizens at large

Anne Williamson
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although public meetings are the most frequently used method for obtaining citizen input into public decision-making, there is little systematic evidence comparing attendees with citizens at large. This paper addresses this gap in the literature by analyzing results from a series of public meetings and a random-sample telephone survey. The public meetings and telephone survey were conducted in Hillsborough County, Florida to obtain citizen input for the purpose of establishing spending priorities for more than $39 million in federal block grant funds. Findings include representation at public meetings on a number of factors, including race, Hispanic ethnicity, and low-income status. Attendees favor redistributive activities more often than citizens at large; however, both attendees and the general public agree on the importance of funding activities serving certain vulnerable populations, including seniors, persons with disabilities, and victims of domestic violence.

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Presidential Influence of the News Media: The Case of the Press Conference

Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha
Political Communication, Fall 2013, Pages 548-564

Abstract:
Can presidents influence news coverage through their press conferences? Scant research has explored this question leaving two possible answers. On the one hand, presidential news management efforts, combined with norms of journalistic professionalism and the cost of producing news, suggest that the nightly news will cover presidential press conferences. On the other hand, the costs of delivering press conferences espoused by some scholars insinuate that press conferences will have little impact on news coverage. To determine whether the press conference influences news coverage, I use plagiarism detection software to assess the propensity of television news to incorporate the president's rhetoric into stories that cover the president's press conferences. I find that news reports on the press conference rely heavily on the president's words, indicating that it is an important event for presidential influence of the news media and perhaps eventually the public.

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The Effects of Direct Elections When Voters are Unwise: Evidence from Tax Assessors

Michael Sances
MIT Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
In this paper, I show that direct elections can harm public policy by increasing responsiveness to unwise voters. To estimate this effect, I study property tax assessors in New York towns. Using a difference-in-differences design that leverages a large number of switches from election to appointment, I show that direct elections result in less accurate and less equitable property valuations. I then test whether increased responsiveness to voters is the causal mechanism. Using both qualitative evidence and an original survey of town officials, I find that voters strongly oppose policies that would equalize tax burdens. Finally, I present survey evidence showing voter preferences have no rational basis, but are instead rooted in a simple analytical miscalculation. These findings show that increasing democracy may give voters what they want, but also remind us that more responsiveness can be problematic when voters are unwise.

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How Do Electoral Systems Affect Fiscal Policy? Evidence from Cantonal Parliaments, 1890-2000

Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann
Journal of the European Economic Association, October 2013, Pages 1178-1203

Abstract:
Using a new data set on Swiss cantons since 1890, we analyze how the adoption of proportional representation affects fiscal policy. In line with economic theory, we show that proportional systems shift spending toward broad goods (like education and welfare benefits) but decrease spending on geographically targetable goods (like roads). We find little evidence that proportional representation increases the overall size of government. An analysis of the underlying theoretical mechanisms reveals that proportional representation increases electoral turnout, left-wing representation, and political fragmentation. These changes in political representation explain a substantial share of the rise in education spending, but a small share of the rise in welfare spending or the decline in road expenditures.

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Negotiating Power: Agenda Ordering and the Willingness to Negotiate in Asymmetric Intergroup Conflicts

Nour Kteily et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this research, we investigated how group power influences the way members of groups in asymmetrical conflict approach intergroup negotiations. Drawing on theories of negotiations and of intergroup power, we predicted that group power would interact with features of the proposed negotiating agenda to influence willingness to come to the table. Based on the negotiation literature, we focused on 2 types of sequential negotiation agendas: 1 beginning with the discussion of consequential issues before less consequential issues (consequential first) and 1 leaving the discussion of consequential issues until after less consequential issues are discussed (consequential later). Because they are motivated to advance changes to their disadvantaged status quo, we expected low-power group members to favor consequential first over consequential later invitations to negotiate. High-power group members, motivated to protect their advantage, were expected to show the reverse preference. Converging evidence from 5 experiments involving real-world and experimental groups supported these predictions. Across studies, participants received an invitation to negotiate from the other group involving either a consequential first or consequential later agenda. Low-power group members preferred consequential first invitations because these implied less stalling of change to the status quo, and high-power group members preferred consequential later invitations because these invitations seemed to pose less threat to their position. Theoretical and practical implications for negotiations research and conflict resolution are discussed.

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Term Limits and Electoral Accountability

Michael Smart & Daniel Sturm
Journal of Public Economics, November 2013, Pages 93-102

Abstract:
Periodic elections are the main instrument through which voters can hold politicians accountable. From this perspective term limits, which restrict voters' ability to reward politicians with re-election, appear counterproductive. We show that despite the disciplining effect of elections, term limits can be ex ante welfare improving from the perspective of voters. By reducing the value of holding office term limits can induce politicians to implement policies that are closer to their private preferences. Such "truthful" behavior by incumbents in turn results in better screening of incumbents. We characterize under what circumstances two-term or even longer term limits are the optimal institution for voters.

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The growth of TV news, the demise of the journalism profession

Carey Higgins-Dobney & Gerald Sussman
Media, Culture & Society, October 2013, Pages 847-863

Abstract:
In response to the dearth of critical literature on the transformation of local news ownership structure and the impacts of technological reorganization of news production on the television profession and local communities, we analyze the consolidation of local news and the paradox of expanded news hours in times of shrinking staffs and less-trusting audiences. Focused on Portland, Oregon, characterized as one of America's most civically active cities and a top-25 market, we interviewed many key workers from among the city's four television newsrooms. Despite having union representation, once discrete news production professionals and functions have been radically integrated, resulting in a multitasked news staff forced to provide fast-turnaround for multiple platforms, while seriously weakening investigative reporting, the quality of news production, and the utility of local news for the community.

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An Analysis of Labor Union Participation in U.S. Congressional Hearings

Kyle Albert
Sociological Forum, September 2013, Pages 574-596

Abstract:
Using both a new data set of labor union appearances in congressional hearings and archival data on union organizational resources, this article analyzes factors that determine whether a labor union will be represented in congressional hearing testimony in a given year. Consistent with the expectations of resource mobilization theory, organizational resources are important predictors of participation in congressional hearings. For example, membership is an important predictor of testimony in hearings, as is the number of lobbyists on staff and the character of a union's primary industry. However, membership in the AFL-CIO federation is negatively related to hearing participation, and some of the benefits of having a large membership base may be diminishing over time. Implications for the study of interest group politics and organizational political strategies are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Primitive

War, space, and the evolution of Old World complex societies

Peter Turchin et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 8 October 2013, Pages 16384-16389

Abstract:
How did human societies evolve from small groups, integrated by face-to-face cooperation, to huge anonymous societies of today, typically organized as states? Why is there so much variation in the ability of different human populations to construct viable states? Existing theories are usually formulated as verbal models and, as a result, do not yield sharply defined, quantitative predictions that could be unambiguously tested with data. Here we develop a cultural evolutionary model that predicts where and when the largest-scale complex societies arose in human history. The central premise of the model, which we test, is that costly institutions that enabled large human groups to function without splitting up evolved as a result of intense competition between societies - primarily warfare. Warfare intensity, in turn, depended on the spread of historically attested military technologies (e.g., chariots and cavalry) and on geographic factors (e.g., rugged landscape). The model was simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afroeurasian landmass and its predictions were tested against a large dataset documenting the spatiotemporal distribution of historical large-scale societies in Afroeurasia between 1,500 BCE and 1,500 CE. The model-predicted pattern of spread of large-scale societies was very similar to the observed one. Overall, the model explained 65% of variance in the data. An alternative model, omitting the effect of diffusing military technologies, explained only 16% of variance. Our results support theories that emphasize the role of institutions in state-building and suggest a possible explanation why a long history of statehood is positively correlated with political stability, institutional quality, and income per capita.

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Math skills and market and non-market outcomes: Evidence from an Amazonian society of forager-farmers

Eduardo Undurraga et al.
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research in industrial nations suggests that formal math skills are associated with improvements in market and non-market outcomes. But do these associations also hold in a highly autarkic setting with a limited formal labor market? We examined this question using observational annual panel data (2008 and 2009) from 1,121 adults in a native Amazonian society of forager-farmers in Bolivia (Tsimane’). Formal math skills were associated with an increase in wealth in durable market goods and in total wealth between data collection rounds, and with improved indicators of own reported perceived stress and child health. These associations did not vary significantly by people's Spanish skills or proximity to town. We conclude that the positive association between math skills and market and non-market outcomes extends beyond industrial nations to even highly autarkic settings.

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Sequencing Y Chromosomes Resolves Discrepancy in Time to Common Ancestor of Males Versus Females

David Poznik et al.
Science, 2 August 2013, Pages 562-565

Abstract:
The Y chromosome and the mitochondrial genome have been used to estimate when the common patrilineal and matrilineal ancestors of humans lived. We sequenced the genomes of 69 males from nine populations, including two in which we find basal branches of the Y-chromosome tree. We identify ancient phylogenetic structure within African haplogroups and resolve a long-standing ambiguity deep within the tree. Applying equivalent methodologies to the Y chromosome and the mitochondrial genome, we estimate the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of the Y chromosome to be 120 to 156 thousand years and the mitochondrial genome TMRCA to be 99 to 148 thousand years. Our findings suggest that, contrary to previous claims, male lineages do not coalesce significantly more recently than female lineages.

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Sexual Dimorphism in European Upper Paleolithic Cave Art

Dean Snow
American Antiquity, October 2013, Pages 746-761

Abstract:
Preliminary research on hand stencils found in the Upper Paleolithic cave sites of France and Spain showed that sexual dimorphism in human hands is expressed strongly enough to allow empirical determination of the sexes of the individuals who made some of them. Further research increased the sample of measurable cases from 6 to 32, a large enough sample to show that persons who made hand stencils in the caves were predominantly females. This finding rebuts the traditional assumption that human hand stencils in European parietal art were made by male artists, either adults or subadults. Findings further suggest that the sexual dimorphism of hands was more pronounced during the Upper Paleolithic than it is in modern Europeans. Attempts to apply the same algorithms to a sample of North American Indian handprints confirms the view that different populations require separate analyses.

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Risk, mobility or population size? Drivers of technological richness among contact-period western North American hunter-gatherers

Mark Collard et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 November 2013

Abstract:
Identifying factors that influence technological evolution in small-scale societies is important for understanding human evolution. There have been a number of attempts to identify factors that influence the evolution of food-getting technology, but little work has examined the factors that affect the evolution of other technologies. Here, we focus on variation in technological richness (total number of material items and techniques) among recent hunter-gatherers from western North America and test three hypotheses: (i) technological richness is affected by environmental risk, (ii) population size is the primary determinant of technological richness, and (iii) technological richness is constrained by residential mobility. We found technological richness to be correlated with a proxy for environmental risk - mean rainfall for the driest month - in the manner predicted by the risk hypothesis. Support for the hypothesis persisted when we controlled for shared history and intergroup contact. We found no evidence that technological richness is affected by population size or residential mobility. These results have important implications for unravelling the complexities of technological evolution.

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Environmental Roots of the Late Bronze Age Crisis

David Kaniewski et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2013

Abstract:
The Late Bronze Age world of the Eastern Mediterranean, a rich linkage of Aegean, Egyptian, Syro-Palestinian, and Hittite civilizations, collapsed famously 3200 years ago and has remained one of the mysteries of the ancient world since the event’s retrieval began in the late 19th century AD/CE. Iconic Egyptian bas-reliefs and graphic hieroglyphic and cuneiform texts portray the proximate cause of the collapse as the invasions of the “Peoples-of-the-Sea” at the Nile Delta, the Turkish coast, and down into the heartlands of Syria and Palestine where armies clashed, famine-ravaged cities abandoned, and countrysides depopulated. Here we report palaeoclimate data from Cyprus for the Late Bronze Age crisis, alongside a radiocarbon-based chronology integrating both archaeological and palaeoclimate proxies, which reveal the effects of abrupt climate change-driven famine and causal linkage with the Sea People invasions in Cyprus and Syria. The statistical analysis of proximate and ultimate features of the sequential collapse reveals the relationships of climate-driven famine, sea-borne-invasion, region-wide warfare, and politico-economic collapse, in whose wake new societies and new ideologies were created.

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5,000 years old Egyptian iron beads made from hammered meteoritic iron

Thilo Rehren et al.
Journal of Archaeological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The earliest known iron artefacts are nine small beads securely dated to circa 3200 BC, from two burials in Gerzeh, northern Egypt. We show that these beads were made from meteoritic iron, and shaped by careful hammering the metal into thin sheets before rolling them into tubes. The study demonstrates the ability of neutron and X-ray methods to determine the nature of the material even after complete corrosion of the iron metal. The iron beads were strung into a necklace together with other exotic minerals such as lapis lazuli, gold and carnelian, revealing the status of meteoritic iron as a special material on a par with precious metal and gem stones. The results confirm that already in the fourth millennium BC metalworkers had mastered the smithing of meteoritic iron, an iron-nickel alloy much harder and more brittle than the more commonly worked copper. This is of wider significance as it demonstrates that metalworkers had already nearly two millennia of experience to hot-work meteoritic iron when iron smelting was introduced. This knowledge was essential for the development of iron smelting, which produced metal in a solid state process and hence depended on this ability in order to replace copper and bronze as the main utilitarian metals.

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Neandertals made the first specialized bone tools in Europe

Marie Soressi et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 August 2013, Pages 14186-14190

Abstract:
Modern humans replaced Neandertals ∼40,000 y ago. Close to the time of replacement, Neandertals show behaviors similar to those of the modern humans arriving into Europe, including the use of specialized bone tools, body ornaments, and small blades. It is highly debated whether these modern behaviors developed before or as a result of contact with modern humans. Here we report the identification of a type of specialized bone tool, lissoir, previously only associated with modern humans. The microwear preserved on one of these lissoir is consistent with the use of lissoir in modern times to obtain supple, lustrous, and more impermeable hides. These tools are from a Neandertal context preceding the replacement period and are the oldest specialized bone tools in Europe. As such, they are either a demonstration of independent invention by Neandertals or an indication that modern humans started influencing European Neandertals much earlier than previously believed. Because these finds clearly predate the oldest known age for the use of similar objects in Europe by anatomically modern humans, they could also be evidence for cultural diffusion from Neandertals to modern humans.

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Were Rivers Flowing across the Sahara During the Last Interglacial? Implications for Human Migration through Africa

Tom Coulthard et al.
PLoS ONE, September 2013

Abstract:
Human migration north through Africa is contentious. This paper uses a novel palaeohydrological and hydraulic modelling approach to test the hypothesis that under wetter climates c.100,000 years ago major river systems ran north across the Sahara to the Mediterranean, creating viable migration routes. We confirm that three of these now buried palaeo river systems could have been active at the key time of human migration across the Sahara. Unexpectedly, it is the most western of these three rivers, the Irharhar river, that represents the most likely route for human migration. The Irharhar river flows directly south to north, uniquely linking the mountain areas experiencing monsoon climates at these times to temperate Mediterranean environments where food and resources would have been abundant. The findings have major implications for our understanding of how humans migrated north through Africa, for the first time providing a quantitative perspective on the probabilities that these routes were viable for human habitation at these times.

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Hand before foot? Cortical somatotopy suggests manual dexterity is primitive and evolved independently of bipedalism

Teruo Hashimoto et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 November 2013

Abstract:
People have long speculated whether the evolution of bipedalism in early hominins triggered tool use (by freeing their hands) or whether the necessity of making and using tools encouraged the shift to upright gait. Either way, it is commonly thought that one led to the other. In this study, we sought to shed new light on the origins of manual dexterity and bipedalism by mapping the neural representations in the brain of the fingers and toes of living people and monkeys. Contrary to the ‘hand-in-glove’ notion outlined above, our results suggest that adaptations underlying tool use evolved independently of those required for human bipedality. In both humans and monkeys, we found that each finger was represented separately in the primary sensorimotor cortex just as they are physically separated in the hand. This reflects the ability to use each digit independently, as required for the complex manipulation involved in tool use. The neural mapping of the subjects’ toes differed, however. In the monkeys, the somatotopic representation of the toes was fused, showing that the digits function predominantly as a unit in general grasping. Humans, by contrast, had an independent neurological representation of the big toe (hallux), suggesting association with bipedal locomotion. These observations suggest that the brain circuits for the hand had advanced beyond simple grasping, whereas our primate ancestors were still general arboreal quadrupeds. This early adaptation laid the foundation for the evolution of manual dexterity, which was preserved and enhanced in hominins. In hominins, a separate adaptation, involving the neural separation of the big toe, apparently occurred with bipedality. This accords with the known fossil evidence, including the recently reported hominin fossils which have been dated to 4.4 million years ago.

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Environmental productivity predicts migration, demographic, and linguistic patterns in prehistoric California

Brian Codding & Terry Jones
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 September 2013, Pages 14569-14573

Abstract:
Global patterns of ethnolinguistic diversity vary tremendously. Some regions show very little variation even across vast expanses, whereas others exhibit dense mosaics of different languages spoken alongside one another. Compared with the rest of Native North America, prehistoric California exemplified the latter. Decades of linguistic, genetic, and archaeological research have produced detailed accounts of the migrations that aggregated to build California’s diverse ethnolinguistic mosaic, but there have been few have attempts to explain the process underpinning these migrations and why such a mosaic did not develop elsewhere. Here we show that environmental productivity predicts both the order of migration events and the population density recorded at contact. The earliest colonizers occupied the most suitable habitats along the coast, whereas subsequent Mid-Late Holocene migrants settled in more marginal habitats. Other Late Holocene patterns diverge from this trend, reflecting altered dynamics linked to food storage and increased sedentism. Through repeated migration events, incoming populations replaced resident populations occurring at lower densities in lower-productivity habitats, thereby resulting in the fragmentation of earlier groups and the development of one of the most diverse ethnolinguistic patterns in the Americas. Such a process may account for the distribution of ethnolinguistic diversity worldwide.

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Skull and limb morphology differentially track population history and environmental factors in the transition to agriculture in Europe

Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, Jay Stock & Ron Pinhasi
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 September 2013

Abstract:
The Neolithic transition in Europe was a complex mosaic spatio-temporal process, involving both demic diffusion from the Near East and the cultural adoption of farming practices by indigenous hunter-gatherers. Previous analyses of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and Early Neolithic farmers suggest that cranial shape variation preserves the population history signature of the Neolithic transition. However, the extent to which these same demographic processes are discernible in the postcranium is poorly understood. Here, for the first time, crania and postcranial elements from the same 11 prehistoric populations are analysed together in an internally consistent theoretical and methodological framework. Results show that while cranial shape reflects the population history differences between Mesolithic and Neolithic lineages, relative limb dimensions exhibit significant congruence with environmental variables such as latitude and temperature, even after controlling for geography and time. Also, overall limb size is found to be consistently larger in hunter-gatherers than farmers, suggesting a reduction in size related to factors other than thermoregulatory adaptation. Therefore, our results suggest that relative limb dimensions are not tracking the same demographic population history as the cranium, and point to the strong influence of climatic, dietary and behavioural factors in determining limb morphology, irrespective of underlying neutral demographic processes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The future is bright

Childhood Socioeconomic Status Amplifies Genetic Effects on Adult Intelligence

Timothy Bates, Gary Lewis & Alexander Weiss
Psychological Science, October 2013, Pages 2111-2116

Abstract:
Studies of intelligence in children reveal significantly higher heritability among groups with high socioeconomic status (SES) than among groups with low SES. These interaction effects, however, have not been examined in adults, when between-families environmental effects are reduced. Using 1,702 adult twins (aged 24–84) for whom intelligence assessment data were available, we tested for interactions between childhood SES and genetic effects, between-families environmental effects, and unique environmental effects. Higher SES was associated with higher mean intelligence scores. Moreover, the magnitude of genetic influences on intelligence was proportional to SES. By contrast, environmental influences were constant. These results suggest that rather than setting lower and upper bounds on intelligence, genes multiply environmental inputs that support intellectual growth. This mechanism implies that increasing SES may raise average intelligence but also magnifies individual differences in intelligence.

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A Comparison of Blue Light and Caffeine Effects on Cognitive Function and Alertness in Humans

Martyn Beaven & Johan Ekström
PLoS ONE, October 2013

Abstract:
The alerting effects of both caffeine and short wavelength (blue) light have been consistently reported. The ability of blue light to enhance alertness and cognitive function via non-image forming neuropathways have been suggested as a non-pharmacological countermeasure for drowsiness across a range of occupational settings. Here we compare and contrast the alerting and psychomotor effects of 240 mg of caffeine and a 1-h dose of ~40 lx blue light in a non-athletic population. Twenty-one healthy subjects performed a computer-based psychomotor vigilance test before and after each of four randomly assigned trial conditions performed on different days: white light/placebo; white light/240 mg caffeine; blue light/placebo; blue light/240 mg caffeine. The Karolinska Sleepiness Scale was used to assess subjective measures of alertness. Both the caffeine only and blue light only conditions enhanced accuracy in a visual reaction test requiring a decision and an additive effect was observed with respect to the fastest reaction times. However, in a test of executive function, where a distraction was included, caffeine exerted a negative effect on accuracy. Furthermore, the blue light only condition consistently outperformed caffeine when both congruent and incongruent distractions were presented. The visual reactions in the absence of a decision or distraction were also enhanced in the blue light only condition and this effect was most prominent in the blue-eyed participants. Overall, blue light and caffeine demonstrated distinct effects on aspects of psychomotor function and have the potential to positively influence a range of settings where cognitive function and alertness are important. Specifically, despite the widespread use of caffeine in competitive sporting environments, the possible impact of blue light has received no research attention.

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Entity Versus Incremental Theories Predict Older Adults’ Memory Performance

Jason Plaks & Alison Chasteen
Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors examined whether older adults’ implicit theories regarding the modifiability of memory in particular (Studies 1 and 3) and abilities in general (Study 2) would predict memory performance. In Study 1, individual differences in older adults’ endorsement of the “entity theory” (a belief that one’s ability is fixed) or “incremental theory” (a belief that one’s ability is malleable) of memory were measured using a version of the Implicit Theories Measure (Dweck, 1999). Memory performance was assessed with a free-recall task. Results indicated that the higher the endorsement of the incremental theory, the better the free recall. In Study 2, older and younger adults’ theories were measured using a more general version of the Implicit Theories Measure that focused on the modifiability of abilities in general. Again, for older adults, the higher the incremental endorsement, the better the free recall. Moreover, as predicted, implicit theories did not predict younger adults’ memory performance. In Study 3, participants read mock news articles reporting evidence in favor of either the entity or incremental theory. Those in the incremental condition outperformed those in the entity condition on reading span and free-recall tasks. These effects were mediated by pretask worry such that, for those in the entity condition, higher worry was associated with lower performance. Taken together, these studies suggest that variation in entity versus incremental endorsement represents a key predictor of older adults’ memory performance.

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What is the effect of IQ on offending?

Daniel Mears & Joshua Cochran
Criminal Justice and Behavior, November 2013, Pages 1280-1300

Abstract:
The aim of this study is to advance scholarship on the IQ–offending relationship by examining the functional form of this relationship and whether confounding introduced by socioeconomic status (SES) and other factors can be adequately addressed. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth are analyzed using generalized propensity score and propensity score matching analyses. The results suggest that the relationship is curvilinear, such that lower and higher levels of IQ are associated with lower levels of offending. They also indicate that the distribution of confounders, especially SES, may limit the ability of statistical approaches to arrive at unbiased estimates of IQ effects.

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Economic Conditions at the Time of Birth and Cognitive Abilities Late in Life: Evidence from Ten European Countries

Gabriele Doblhammer, Gerard van den Berg & Thomas Fritze
PLoS ONE, September 2013

Abstract:
With ageing populations, it becomes increasingly important to understand the determinants of cognitive ability among the elderly. We apply survey data of 17,070 respondents from ten countries to examine several domains of cognitive functioning at ages 60+, and we link them to the macro-economic deviations in the year of birth. We find that economic conditions at birth significantly influence cognitive functioning late in life in various domains. Recessions negatively influence numeracy, verbal fluency, recall abilities, as well as the score on the omnibus cognitive indicator. The results are robust; controlling for current characteristics does not change effect sizes and significance. We discuss possible causal social and biological pathways.

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Effects of Education on Cognition at Older Ages: Evidence from China’s Great Famine

Wei Huang & Yi Zhou
Social Science & Medicine, December 2013, Pages 54–62

Abstract:
This paper explores whether educational attainment has a cognitive reserve capacity in elder life. Using pilot data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), we examined the impact of education on cognitive abilities at old ages. OLS results showed that respondents who completed primary school obtained 18.2 percent higher scores on cognitive tests than those who did not. We then constructed an instrumental variable (IV) by leveraging China’s Great Famine of 1959-1961 as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of education on cognition. Two-stage least squares (2SLS) results provided sound evidence that completing primary school significantly increases cognition scores, especially in episode memory, by almost 20 percent on average. Moreover, Regression Discontinuity (RD) analysis provides further evidence for the causal interpretation, and shows that the effects are different for the different measures of cognition we explored. Our results also show that the Great Famine can result in long-term health consequences through the pathway of losing educational opportunities other than through the pathway of nutrition deprivation.

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On the Nature and Nurture of Intelligence and Specific Cognitive Abilities: The More Heritable, the More Culture Dependent

Kees-Jan Kan, Jelte Wicherts & Conor Dolan
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
To further knowledge concerning the nature and nurture of intelligence, we scrutinized how heritability coefficients vary across specific cognitive abilities both theoretically and empirically. Data from 23 twin studies (combined N = 7,852) showed that (a) in adult samples, culture-loaded subtests tend to demonstrate greater heritability coefficients than do culture-reduced subtests; and (b) in samples of both adults and children, a subtest’s proportion of variance shared with general intelligence is a function of its cultural load. These findings require an explanation because they do not follow from mainstream theories of intelligence. The findings are consistent with our hypothesis that heritability coefficients differ across cognitive abilities as a result of differences in the contribution of genotype-environment covariance. The counterintuitive finding that the most heritable abilities are the most culture-dependent abilities sheds a new light on the long-standing nature-nurture debate of intelligence.

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Working Memory Differences Between Children Living in Rural and Urban Poverty

Michele Tine
Journal of Cognition and Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study was designed to investigate if the working memory profiles of children living in rural poverty are distinct from the working memory profiles of children living in urban poverty. Verbal and visuospatial working memory tasks were administered to sixth grade students living in low-income rural, low-income urban, high-income rural, and high-income urban developmental contexts. Both low-income rural and low-income urban children showed working memory deficits compared to their high-income counterparts, but their deficits were distinct. Low-income urban children exhibited symmetrical verbal and visuospatial working memory deficits compared to their high-income urban counterparts. Meanwhile, low-income rural children exhibited asymmetrical deficits when compared to their high-income rural counterparts, with more extreme visuospatial working memory deficits than verbal working memory deficits. These results suggest that different types of poverty are associated with different working memory abilities.

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The association between creativity and 7R polymorphism in the dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4)

Naama Mayseless et al.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, August 2013

Abstract:
Creativity can be defined as the ability to produce responses that are both novel and appropriate. One way to assess creativity is to measure divergent thinking (DT) abilities that involve generating multiple novel and meaningful responses to open-ended questions. DT abilities have been shown to be associated with dopaminergic (DA) activity, and impaired DT has been reported in populations with DA dysfunctions. Given the strong association between DT and the DA system, the current study examined a group of healthy individuals (N = 185) to determine the role of repeat polymorphism in exon3 of the DRD4 gene in creativity. The results show that individuals carrying the DRD4-7R allele scored significantly lower on tests of DT, particularly on the flexibility dimension of DT, compared to non-carriers. The current findings link creative cognition to the DA system and suggest that DA dysfunctions in neurological and psychiatric disorders may account for impaired creativity and cognitive flexibility in these individuals.

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Interactive Effects of in Utero Nutrition and Genetic Inheritance on Cognition: New Evidence Using Sibling Comparisons

Justin Cook & Jason Fletcher
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large literature links early environments and later outcomes, such as cognition; however, little is known about the mechanisms. One potential mechanism is sensitivity to early environments that is moderated or amplified by the genotype. With this mechanism in mind, a complementary literature outside economics examines the interaction between genes and environments, but often problems of endogeneity and bias in estimation are uncorrected. A key issue in the literature is exploring environmental variation that is not exogenous, which is potentially problematic if there are gene-environment correlation or gene-gene interactions. Using sibling pairs with genetic data in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study we extend a previous, and widely cited, gene-environment study that explores an interaction between the FADS2 gene, which is associated with the processing of essential fatty acids related to cognitive development, and early life nutrition in explaining later-life IQ. Our base OLS findings suggest that individuals with specific FADS2 variants gain roughly 0.15 standard deviations in IQ for each standard deviation increase in birth weight, our measure of the early nutrition environment; while, individuals with other variants of FADS2 do not have a statistically significant association with early nutrition, implying the genotype is influencing the effects of environmental exposure. When including family-level fixed effects, however, the magnitude of the gene-environment interaction is reduced by half and statistical significance dissipates, implying the interaction between FADS2 and early nutrition in explaining later life IQ may in part be due to unobserved, family-level factors. The example has wider implications for the practice of investigating gene-environment interactions when the environmental exposure is not exogenous and robustness to unobserved variation in the genome is not controlled for in the analysis.

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Intelligence in early adulthood and mortality from natural and unnatural causes in middle-aged Danish men

Rikke Hodal Meincke et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: High intelligence early in life has consistently been associated with decreased mortality, but the mechanisms are still not fully understood. In this cohort study, we examined the association between intelligence in early adulthood and later mortality from natural and unnatural causes taking birth weight, parental socioeconomic position, participants’ own education and body mass index into account.

Methods: 13 536 Danish men born in 1953 and 1959–1961 with data from birth certificates and intelligence test scores from conscription were followed until 2009. Information on vital status was obtained from the Civil Registration System. Mortality risks were analysed by the multiple Cox proportional hazards model.

Results: The risk of mortality from natural as well as unnatural causes was more than twice as high among men in the lowest scoring intelligence tertile (HRnatural deaths=2.24; 1.90–2.65 and HRunnatural deaths=2.67; 2.03–3.53). Adjusting for all covariates attenuated the estimates, but the association remained (HRnatural deaths=1.82; 1.48–2.25 and HRunnatural deaths=2.30; 1.63–3.25).

Conclusions: In men, intelligence in early adulthood was inversely associated with midlife mortality from natural and unnatural causes. The associations remained after adjustments for a range of covariates.

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Literacy and Numeracy Are More Heritable Than Intelligence in Primary School

Yulia Kovas et al.
Psychological Science, October 2013, Pages 2048-2056

Abstract:
Because literacy and numeracy are the focus of teaching in schools, whereas general cognitive ability (g, intelligence) is not, it would be reasonable to expect that literacy and numeracy are less heritable than g. Here, we directly compare heritabilities of multiple measures of literacy, numeracy, and g in a United Kingdom sample of 7,500 pairs of twins assessed longitudinally at ages 7, 9, and 12. We show that differences between children are significantly and substantially more heritable for literacy and numeracy than for g at ages 7 and 9, but not 12. We suggest that the reason for this counterintuitive result is that universal education in the early school years reduces environmental disparities so that individual differences that remain are to a greater extent due to genetic differences. In contrast, the heritability of g increases during development as individuals select and create their own environments correlated with their genetic propensities.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, October 18, 2013

Line manager

Belief in the unstructured interview: The persistence of an illusion

Jason Dana, Robyn Dawes & Nathanial Peterson
Judgment and Decision Making, September 2013, Pages 512–520

Abstract:
Unstructured interviews are a ubiquitous tool for making screening decisions despite a vast literature suggesting that they have little validity. We sought to establish reasons why people might persist in the illusion that unstructured interviews are valid and what features about them actually lead to poor predictive accuracy. In three studies, we investigated the propensity for “sensemaking” — the ability for interviewers to make sense of virtually anything the interviewee says — and “dilution” — the tendency for available but non-diagnostic information to weaken the predictive value of quality information. In Study 1, participants predicted two fellow students’ semester GPAs from valid background information like prior GPA and, for one of them, an unstructured interview. In one condition, the interview was essentially nonsense in that the interviewee was actually answering questions using a random response system. Consistent with sensemaking, participants formed interview impressions just as confidently after getting random responses as they did after real responses. Consistent with dilution, interviews actually led participants to make worse predictions. Study 2 showed that watching a random interview, rather than personally conducting it, did little to mitigate sensemaking. Study 3 showed that participants believe unstructured interviews will help accuracy, so much so that they would rather have random interviews than no interview. People form confident impressions even interviews are defined to be invalid, like our random interview, and these impressions can interfere with the use of valid information. Our simple recommendation for those making screening decisions is not to use them.

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Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology Monitoring on Employee Theft and Productivity

Lamar Pierce, Daniel Snow & Andrew McAfee
Washington University Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
In this paper, we study how firm investments in technology-based employee monitoring impact both misconduct and productivity. We use unique and detailed theft and sales data from 392 restaurant locations from five different chains that adopt a theft monitoring information technology (IT) product. Since the specific timing of individual locations’ technology adoption is plausibly exogenous, we can use difference-in-differences models to estimate the treatment effect of IT monitoring on theft and productivity within each location for all employees. We find significant treatment effects in reduced theft and improved productivity that appear to be driven by changing the behavior of individual workers rather than selection effects. These findings suggest multitasking by employees under a pay-for-performance system, as they increase effort toward sales following monitoring implementation in order to compensate for lost theft income. In addition to substantial financial benefits to the firms in our sample, the average worker enjoys increased tip-based earnings of $0.58 per hour. Our results suggest that employee misconduct is primarily a result of managerial policies rather than individual differences in ethics or morality, and that policies that reduce misconduct can benefit both firms and employees.

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Mean reversion or a breath of fresh air? The effect of NFL coaching changes on team performance in the salary cap era

M.A. Roach
Applied Economics Letters, Fall 2013, Pages 1553-1556

Abstract:
Just as firms must consider the impact of changes in management, sports teams must consider whether a coaching change will improve the team's on-field performance. I examine the effects of coaching changes for National Football League (NFL) teams between the 1995 and 2012 seasons. A variety of factors contribute to an NFL team's performance reverting towards league-average levels between seasons. Thus, a nominal improvement in team performance could be due to improved management or it could simply be mean reversion. I find that, after accounting for the highly significant mean reversion effect during this time period, firing a coach reduces a team's expected performance during the next season and the team's average performance over the next two seasons. This effect is present when wins are used to measure performance, but also when performance is measured by point differential and playoff appearances, two variables that avoid some shortcomings of using team wins as a measure of performance. I conclude that teams are firing coaches an inefficiently high percentage of the time.

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Does Lean Capability Building Improve Labor Standards? Evidence from the Nike Supply Chain

Greg Distelhorst, Jens Hainmueller & Richard Locke
MIT Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
This paper offers the first empirical analysis of the introduction of lean manufacturing as a “capability building” strategy for improving labor standards in global supply chains. Buyer interventions to improve supplier management systems have been proposed to augment existing, and widely deemed insufficient, private regulation of labor standards, but these claims have yet to be systematically investigated. We examine Nike Inc.’s multiyear effort to promote lean manufacturing and its associated high-performance work systems in its apparel supply base across eleven developing countries. Adoption of lean manufacturing techniques produces a 15 percentage point reduction in serious labor violations, an effect that is robust to alternative specifications and an examination of pre-trends in the treatment group. Our finding contradicts previous suggestions that pressing suppliers to adopt process improvements has deleterious effects on labor conditions and highlights the importance of relational contracting and commitment-oriented approaches to improving labor standards in the developing world.

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Cheating in the workplace: An experimental study of the impact of bonuses and productivity

David Gill, Victoria Prowse & Michael Vlassopoulos
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use an online real-effort experiment to investigate how bonus-based pay and worker productivity interact with workplace cheating. Firms often use bonus-based compensation plans, such as group bonuses and firm-wide profit sharing, that induce considerable uncertainty in how much workers are paid. Exposing workers to a compensation scheme based on random bonuses makes them cheat more but has no effect on their productivity. We also find that more productive workers behave more dishonestly. These results are consistent with workers’ cheating behavior responding to the perceived fairness of their employer's compensation scheme.

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It's Not the Size of the Gift; It's How You Present It: New Evidence on Gift Exchange from a Field Experiment

Duncan Gilchrist, Michael Luca & Deepak Malhotra
Harvard Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Behavioral economists argue that above-market wages elicit reciprocity, causing employees to work harder – even in the absence of repeated interactions or strategic career concerns. In a field experiment with 266 employees, we show that paying above-market wages, per se, does not have an effect on effort. However, structuring a portion of the wage as a clear and unexpected gift (by hiring at a given wage, and then offering a raise with no further conditions after the employee has accepted the contract) does lead to persistently higher effort. Consistent with the idea that the recipient’s interpretation of the wage as a gift is an important factor, we find that effects are strongest for employees with the most experience and those who have worked most recently – precisely the individuals who would recognize that this is a gift.

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Private Equity, Jobs, and Productivity

Steven Davis et al.
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Private equity critics claim that leveraged buyouts bring huge job losses and few gains in operating performance. To evaluate these claims, we construct and analyze a new dataset that covers U.S. buyouts from 1980 to 2005. We track 3,200 target firms and their 150,000 establishments before and after acquisition, comparing them to controls defined by industry, size, age, and prior growth. Relative to controls, employment at target establishments falls 3 percent over two years post buyout and 6 percent over five years. However, target firms also create more new jobs at new establishments, and they acquire and divest establishments more rapidly. Considering all adjustment margins, relative net job loss at target firms is a modest one percent of employment over two years post buyout. In contrast, the sum of gross job creation and destruction at target firms exceeds that of controls by 14 percent of employment over two years. Buyouts also bring TFP gains at target firms and reductions in earnings per worker. Productivity gains arise mainly from an accelerated exit of less productive establishments and greater entry of more productive ones – that is, from a directed reallocation of jobs within target firms.

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The Wage and Employment Consequences of Ownership Change

Kevin Amess, Sourafel Girma & Mike Wright
Managerial and Decision Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides a comparative examination of the consequences of leveraged buyouts (LBOs) and corporate takeovers on employment growth and wage growth. Employing both difference-in-differences combined with propensity score matching and the control function approach, we find evidence that (i) wages remain unchanged after either a private equity (PE)-backed or non-PE-backed LBO, (ii) wages remain unchanged after an unrelated takeover and (iii) related takeovers have negative employment consequences, possibly because of rationalisation. Our evidence does not find strong support for intervention in the market for corporate control on the grounds of protecting employees' welfare.

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Safety risks associated with helping others

Christopher Burt, Matthew Banks & Skye Williams
Safety Science, February 2014, Pages 136–144

Abstract:
Two studies investigated the safety risks associated with engaging in helping type organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs). A model is outlined which postulates that the job context in which OCBs are performed has important safety implications. Study 1 sampled 222 employees, and Study 2 sampled 79 employees, engaged in jobs that had a degree of safety risk. Both studies found evidence that helping co-workers can result in safety risks for both the helper and helped employee. Evidence was found to support four mechanisms through which helping can lead to safety issues, labelled the forgetting, unknown, unexpected and the time pressure mechanisms. Study 1 also found evidence that poor communication about helping could be particularly responsible for safety issues. Study 2 investigated the factors which might explain employees’ failure to communicate helping efforts and the safety risks resulting from helping efforts. Results suggest that work related time pressure restricts communication about helping, while a desire not to seem ungrateful restricts communication about helping attempts which have lead to safety risks. Implications of the findings for promoting employee citizenship behavior and safety are outlined.

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Do you really expect me to apologize? The impact of status and gender on the effectiveness of an apology in the workplace

Tamar Walfisch, Dina Van Dijk & Ronit Kark
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, July 2013, Pages 1446–1458

Abstract:
We examine the effectiveness of apology following a workplace offense, as influenced by the achieved or ascribed status (i.e., professional status or gender) of the parties involved. A total of 780 undergraduates participated in a scenario experiment. The results demonstrate that apologizing is more effective than not apologizing. Yet apology is most effective when the apologizer is a male, a manager or is a male apologizing to a female. Moreover, apology expectancy mediates the relationships between the apologizer's status and the apology's effectiveness: Apologies are less expected from managers and males than from subordinates and females, and the less expected they are, the greater their effectiveness. Apology expectancy has a unique effect unrelated to the apologizer's sincerity and perceived motive.

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Managing to Stay in the Dark: Managerial Self-Efficacy, Ego Defensiveness, and the Aversion to Employee Voice

Nathanael Fast, Ethan Burris & Caroline Bartel
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Soliciting and incorporating employee voice is essential to organizational performance, yet some managers display a strong aversion to improvement-oriented input from subordinates. To help explain this maladaptive tendency, we tested the hypothesis that managers with low managerial self-efficacy (i.e., low perceived ability to meet the elevated competence expectations associated with managerial roles) seek to minimize voice as a way of compensating for a threatened ego. The results of two studies support this idea. In a field study, managers with low managerial self-efficacy were less likely than others to solicit voice, leading to lower levels of employee voice (Study 1). A follow-up experimental study showed that (a) manipulating low managerial self-efficacy led to voice aversion (i.e., decreased voice solicitation, negative evaluations of an employee who spoke up, and reduced implementation of voice), and (b) the observed voice aversion associated with low managerial self-efficacy was driven by ego defensiveness (Study 2). We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings as well as highlight directions for future research on voice, management, and leadership.

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Revisiting the fit–performance thesis half a century later: A historical financial analysis of Chandler's own matched and mismatched firms

Kenneth Aupperle, William Acar & Debmalya Mukherjee
Business History, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study revisits Chandler's seminal work Strategy and Structure (1962) empirically. This work helped fashion the notion of strategic fit as well as the need for new organisational forms. Chandler's fit–performance thesis proposes that firms which match structure to their strategy will become economically more efficient than mismatched firms. The very same firms Chandler studied are analysed financially as their structure evolves through successive phases of being matched to their strategy, mismatched, and then finally matched again. Over 70 longitudinal tests are performed, yielding mostly statistically significant results. These tests surprisingly suggest that mismatched firms generally outperform firms that match structure to strategy. Such results matter in light of new conceptual approaches being introduced on the subject of ‘fit’; novel plausible explanations are provided for this apparent theoretical paradox.

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Compensation Matters: Incentives for Multitasking in a Law Firm

Ann Bartel, Brianna Cardiff-Hicks & Kathryn Shaw
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Due to the limited availability of firm-level compensation data, there is little empirical evidence on the impact of compensation plans on personal productivity. We study an international law firm that moves from high-powered individual incentives towards incentives for “leadership" activities that contribute to the firm's long run profitability. The effect of this change on the task allocation of the firm's team leaders is large and robust; team leaders increase their non-billable hours and shift billable hours to team members. Although the motivation for the change in the compensation plan was the multitasking problem, this change also impacted the way tasks were allocated within each team, resulting in greater teamwork.

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Team Incentives: Evidence from a Firm Level Experiment

Oriana Bandiera, Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul
Journal of the European Economic Association, October 2013, Pages 1079–1114

Abstract:
Many organizations rely on teamwork, and yet field evidence on the impacts of team-based incentives remains scarce. Compared to individual incentives, team incentives can affect productivity by changing both workers’ effort and team composition. We present evidence from a field experiment designed to evaluate the impact of rank incentives and tournaments on the productivity and composition of teams. Strengthening incentives, either through rankings or tournaments, makes workers more likely to form teams with others of similar ability instead of with their friends. Introducing rank incentives however reduces average productivity by 14%, whereas introducing a tournament increases it by 24%. Both effects are heterogeneous: rank incentives only reduce the productivity of teams at the bottom of the productivity distribution, and monetary prize tournaments only increase the productivity of teams at the top. We interpret these results through a theoretical framework that makes precise when the provision of team-based incentives crowds out the productivity-enhancing effect of social connections under team production.

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How Does Project Termination Impact Project Team Members? Rapid Termination, “Creeping Death,” and Learning From Failure

Dean Shepherd et al.
Journal of Management Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although extant studies have increased our understanding of the decision of when to terminate a project and its organizational implications, they do not explore the contextual mechanisms underlying the link between the speed at which a project is terminated and the learning of those directly working on the project. This is surprising because perceptions of project failure likely differ between those who own the option (i.e., the decision maker) and those who are the option (i.e., project team members). In this multiple case study, we explored research and development (R&D) subsidiaries within a large multinational parent organization and generated several new insights: (1) rather than alleviate negative emotions, delayed termination was perceived as creeping death thwarting new career opportunities and generating negative emotions; (2) rather than obstructing learning from project experience, negative emotions motivated sensemaking efforts; and (3) rather than emphasizing learning after project termination, in the context of rapid redeployment of team members after project termination, delayed termination provided employees the time to reflect on, articulate, and codify lessons learned. We discuss the implications of these findings.

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The effect of an agent’s expertise on National Football League contract structure

Michael Conlin, Joe Orsini & Meng-Chi Tang
Economics Letters, November 2013, Pages 275–281

Abstract:
There is extensive theoretical research focusing on the ways in which principal–agent interactions vary depending on the agent’s expertise or knowledge. While the empirical research testing the implications of these models involves a broad array of experts ranging from lawyers to physicians to real estate agents, we are not aware of any empirical research that focuses on how the level of an agent’s expertise affects outcomes. This paper contributes to the empirical research on delegation to experts by considering agents representing football players in contract negotiations with National Football League (NFL) teams. Using whether and for how long an agent is certified with the NFL Players’ Association as a proxy for expertise, we find that the monetary terms of the contract do not vary with an agent’s expertise, conditional on the contract structure. However, we do find that an agent’s expertise does affect the contract structure – specifically, contract duration and incentive clauses. These results suggest that while minimal expertise is required to understand the appropriate monetary compensation associated with a given contract structure, expertise is required to fully grasp the tradeoffs when negotiating the contract structure.

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When Do Spinouts Enhance Parent Firm Performance? Evidence from the U.S. Automobile Industry, 1890–1986

Ioannis Ioannou
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Spinouts — entrepreneurial ventures founded by ex-employees of incumbent firms within the same industry — have emerged in numerous industries. Some existing literature argues that they typically have a negative association with their parents' performance because of the loss of human capital, the disruption of organizational routines, and subsequent adverse competitive effects. More recent work, however, suggests that such negative effects may have been overstated and argues that there are conditions under which spinouts may be linked to enhanced performance of the parent. I contribute to this literature by theorizing about and empirically testing for such conditions. In particular, using data from the U.S. automobile industry spanning 1890 to 1986, I find evidence that spinouts are associated with enhanced parent performance when they increase the parent's corporate coherence either through (a) the core competencies and capabilities domain by refocusing the parent's resources on the core or (b) the cognitive path by resolving a conflict at the top level of the parent's hierarchy. I discuss implications for both research and practice.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, October 17, 2013

First impression

A Below-Average Effect with Respect to American Political Stereotypes on Warmth and Competence

Kimmo Eriksson & Alexander Funcke
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The “above-average effect” is the phenomenon that people tend to judge themselves above average on desirable traits. Based on social identity theory, we propose that a “below-average effect” may arise when individuals rate themselves and the average ingroup member on traits stereotypically associated with the ingroup. In two studies, Republican and Democrat participants rated themselves and the average political ingroup member on possession of desirable traits related to warmth and competence. Current political stereotypes in America associate the former dimension with Democrats and the latter with Republicans. Consistent with our hypothesis, the above-average effect was moderated by political group and dimension in interaction. In particular, Democrats rated themselves below the average Democrat on warmth and Republicans rated themselves below the average Republican on competence.

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Not all groups are equal: Differential vulnerability of social groups to the prejudice-releasing effects of disparagement humor

Thomas Ford et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three experiments tested hypotheses about why humor that disparages some groups fosters discrimination whereas humor that disparages others does not. Experiment 1 showed that disparagement humor fosters discrimination against groups for whom society’s attitudes are ambivalent. Participants higher in anti-Muslim prejudice tolerated discrimination against a Muslim person more after reading anti-Muslim jokes than after reading anti-Muslim statements or neutral jokes. Experiments 2 and 3 tested the hypothesis that disparagement humor promotes discrimination against groups for whom society’s attitudes are ambivalent but not groups for whom prejudice is justified. In Experiment 2 participants higher in anti-Muslim prejudice discriminated against Muslims more after reading anti-Muslim jokes than neutral jokes, while antiterrorist jokes did not promote discrimination against terrorists. In Experiment 3 participants higher in antigay prejudice discriminated against a gay student organization more after reading antigay jokes than after reading neutral or antiracist jokes; antiracist jokes did not promote discrimination against a racist student organization.

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Stupid Doctors and Smart Construction Workers: Perspective-Taking Reduces Stereotyping of Both Negative and Positive Targets

Cynthia Wang et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous studies have found that perspective-taking reduces stereotyping and prejudice, but they have only involved negative stereotypes. Because target negativity has been empirically confounded with reduced stereotyping, the general effects of perspective-taking on stereotyping and prejudice are unclear. By including both positively and negatively stereotyped targets, this research offers the first empirical test of two competing hypotheses: The positivity hypothesis predicts that perspective-taking produces a positivity bias, with less stereotyping of negative targets but more stereotyping of positive targets. In contrast, the stereotype-reduction hypothesis predicts that perspective-taking reduces stereotyping, regardless of target valence. Three studies support the stereotype-reduction hypothesis. Perspective-taking also produced less positive attitudes toward positive targets, with reduced stereotyping mediating this effect. A final study demonstrated that perspective-taking reduced all stereotyping because it increased self–other overlap. These findings help answer fundamental questions about perspective-taking’s effects and processes, and provide evidence that perspective-taking does not improve attitudes invariantly.

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The Visible Hand: Race and Online Market Outcomes

Jennifer Doleac & Luke Stein
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the effect of race on market outcomes by selling iPods through local online classified advertisements throughout the United States. Each ad features a photograph including a dark- or light-skinned hand, or one with a wrist tattoo. Black sellers receive fewer and lower offers than white sellers, and the correspondence with black sellers indicates lower levels of trust. Black sellers’ outcomes are particularly poor in thin markets (suggesting that discrimination may not ‘survive’ competition among buyers) and those with the most racial isolation and property crime (consistent with channels through which statistical discrimination might operate).

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Perceived control qualifies the effects of threat on prejudice

Katharine Greenaway et al.
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People sometimes show a tendency to lash out in a prejudiced manner when they feel threatened. This research shows that the relationship between threat and prejudice is moderated by people's levels of perceived control: Threat leads to prejudice only when people feel concurrently low in control. In two studies, terrorist threat was associated with heightened prejudice among people who were low in perceived control over the threat (Study 1; N = 87) or over their lives in general (Study 2; N = 2,394), but was not associated with prejudice among people who were high in perceived control. Study 3 (N = 139) replicated this finding experimentally in the context of the Global Financial Crisis. The research identifies control as an important ingredient in threatening contexts that, if bolstered, can reduce general tendencies to lash out under threat.

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Gender-, race-, and income-based stereotype threat: The effects of multiple stigmatized aspects of identity on math performance and working memory function

Michele Tine & Rebecca Gotlieb
Social Psychology of Education, September 2013, Pages 353-376

Abstract:
This study compared the relative impact of gender-, race-, and income-based stereotype threat and examined if individuals with multiple stigmatized aspects of identity experience a larger stereotype threat effect on math performance and working memory function than people with one stigmatized aspect of identity. Seventy-one college students of the stigmatized and privileged gender, race, and income-level completed math and working memory pre-tests. Then, participants heard a moderately explicit stereotype threat-inducing prime. Next, participants took math and working memory post-tests. Stereotype threat effects were found on math performance on the basis of race and income-level, but not on the basis of gender. Stereotype threat effects were found on working memory function on the basis of gender, race, and income-level. For both measures, the income-based effects were the strongest. Results also suggest the possibility of multiple minority stereotype threat effects on math performance and working memory. More specifically, individuals with three stigmatized aspects of identity experienced significantly larger stereotype threat effects than those with zero-, one-, or two-stigmatized aspects of identity.

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Nonverbal Expressions of Status and System Legitimacy: An Interactive Influence on Race Bias

Max Weisbuch et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
A voluminous literature has examined how primates respond to nonverbal expressions of status, such as taking the high ground, expanding one’s posture, and tilting one’s head. We extend this research to human intergroup processes in general and interracial processes in particular. Perceivers may be sensitive to whether racial group status is reflected in group members’ nonverbal expressions of status. We hypothesized that people who support the current status hierarchy would prefer racial groups whose members exhibit status-appropriate nonverbal behavior over racial groups whose members do not exhibit such behavior. People who reject the status quo should exhibit the opposite pattern. These hypotheses were supported in three studies using self-report (Study 1) and reaction time (Studies 2 and 3) measures of racial bias and two different status cues (vertical position and head tilt). For perceivers who supported the status quo, high-status cues (in comparison with low-status cues) increased preferences for White people over Black people. For perceivers who rejected the status quo, the opposite pattern was observed.

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Easy on the eyes, or hard to categorize: Classification decreases the appeal of facial blends

Jamin Halberstadt & Piotr Winkielman
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social information processing often involves categorization. When such categorization is difficult, the disfluency may elicit negative affect that could generalize to a variety of stimulus judgments. In the current studies we experimentally apply this theoretical analysis to two classic and highly socially relevant facial attractiveness phenomena: the beauty-in-averageness effect and the appeal of bi-racial faces. Studies 1 and 2 show that same-race (Caucasian-Caucasian) morphs are rated as more attractive than the individual faces composing them – a classic “beauty-in-averageness effect.” Critically, however, this effect is reduced or eliminated when participants first classify the faces in terms of their “parents,” and only if that classification is difficult. Studies 3 and 4 extend these results to show that classifying bi-racial individuals in terms of their racial identity reduces perceivers' ratings of attractiveness and reverses perceivers' tendency to smile at them, as measured by facial electromyography (EMG). Together, these four studies support the proposal that facial attractiveness is partially a function of the experience of social categorization, and that such experience depends critically on the nature of the categories into which an individual can be classified.

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The embodiment of sexualized virtual selves: The Proteus effect and experiences of self-objectification via avatars

Jesse Fox, Jeremy Bailenson & Liz Tricase
Computers in Human Behavior, May 2013, Pages 930–938

Abstract:
Research has indicated that many video games and virtual worlds are populated by unrealistic, hypersexualized representations of women, but the effects of embodying these representations remains understudied. The Proteus effect proposed by Yee and Bailenson (2007) suggests that embodiment may lead to shifts in self-perception both online and offline based on the avatar’s features or behaviors. A 2 × 2 experiment, the first of its kind, examined how self-perception and attitudes changed after women (N = 86) entered a fully immersive virtual environment and embodied sexualized or nonsexualized avatars which featured either the participant’s face or the face of an unknown other. Findings supported the Proteus effect. Participants who wore sexualized avatars internalized the avatar’s appearance and self-objectified, reporting more body-related thoughts than those wearing nonsexualized avatars. Participants who saw their own faces, particularly on sexualized avatars, expressed more rape myth acceptance than those in other conditions. Implications for both online and offline consequences of using sexualized avatars are discussed.

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Same faces, different labels: Generating the cross-race effect in face memory with social category information

Kathleen Hourihan, Scott Fraundorf & Aaron Benjamin
Memory & Cognition, October 2013, Pages 1021-1031

Abstract:
Recognition of own-race faces is superior to recognition of other-race faces. In the present experiments, we explored the role of top-down social information in the encoding and recognition of racially ambiguous faces. Hispanic and African American participants studied and were tested on computer-generated ambiguous-race faces (composed of 50 % Hispanic and 50 % African American features; MacLin & Malpass, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 7:98–118, 2001). In Experiment 1, the faces were randomly assigned to two study blocks. In each block, a group label was provided that indicated that those faces belonged to African American or to Hispanic individuals. Both participant groups exhibited superior memory for faces studied in the block with their own-race label. In Experiment 2, the faces were studied in a single block with no labels, but tested in two blocks in which labels were provided. Recognition performance was not influenced by the labeled race at test. Taken together, these results confirm the claim that purely top-down information can yield the well-documented cross-race effect in recognition, and additionally they suggest that the bias takes place at encoding rather than testing.

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Monitoring and Control of Learning Own-Race and Other-Race Faces

Matthew Rhodes, Danielle Sitzman & Christopher Rowland
Applied Cognitive Psychology, September/October 2013, pages 553–563

Abstract:
The own-race bias refers to the finding that individuals are better able to recognize faces of the same race or ethnicity compared with faces of another race or ethnicity. The current study examined whether the own-race bias was also evident in participants' predictions of memory performance and their self-regulation of learning. In three experiments, participants studied own-race and other-race faces and predicted the likelihood of recognizing each face on a future test. Experiment 1 showed that participants provided similar predictions for own-race and other-race faces, despite superior recognition of own-race faces. Experiments 2 and 3 permitted participants to control their study of faces and revealed better self-regulation of learning for own-race relative to other-race faces. Collectively, these experiments suggest that the own-race bias may partially reflect a metacognitive deficiency, as participants are less able to effectively self-regulate learning for other-race faces. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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The Effects of TV and Film Exposure on Knowledge about and Attitudes toward Mental Disorders

Joachim Kimmerle & Ulrike Cress
Journal of Community Psychology, November 2013, Pages 931–943

Abstract:
Two empirical studies examined whether the portrayal of mental disorders on television and in films has an effect on people's knowledge about and attitudes toward the mentally ill. Study 1 found that the more often people watched television, the poorer their knowledge was about schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This finding did not apply to major depression. Study 2 demonstrated that people who watched a documentary film acquired more knowledge about schizophrenia than people who watched a fictional film, despite identical information in both films. Moreover, people who watched a fictional film had more negative emotional reactions (rejecting and unpleasant feelings) toward schizophrenia patients.

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Does "spicy girl" have a peppery temper? The metaphorical link between spicy tastes and anger

Ting-Ting Ji et al.
Social Behavior and Personality, September 2013, Pages 1379-1385

Abstract:
Drawing upon the theories of conceptual metaphors and embodiment, in the present study we systematically examined the metaphorical link between spicy tastes and anger. In terms of personality, the results showed that participants presumed strangers who liked spicy foods (e.g., chili peppers) were more easily angered (Experiment 1). In addition, we found that people who are higher in trait anger are more likely to have a spicy food preference (Experiment 2). The findings support a metaphorical mapping between taste and personality processes.

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Real men don’t eat (vegetable) quiche: Masculinity and the justification of meat consumption

Hank Rothgerber
Psychology of Men & Masculinity, October 2013, Pages 363-375

Abstract:
As arguments become more pronounced that meat consumption harms the environment, public health, and animals, meat eaters should experience increased pressure to justify their behavior. Results of a first study showed that male undergraduates used direct strategies to justify eating meat, including endorsing pro-meat attitudes, denying animal suffering, believing that animals are lower in a hierarchy than humans and that it is human fate to eat animals, and providing religious and health justifications for eating animals. Female undergraduates used the more indirect strategies of dissociating animals from food and avoiding thinking about the treatment of animals. A second study found that the use of these male strategies was related to masculinity. In the two studies, male justification strategies were correlated with greater meat consumption, whereas endorsement of female justification strategies was correlated with less meat and more vegetarian consumption. These findings are among the first to empirically verify Adams’s (1990) theory on the sexual politics of meat linking feminism and vegetarianism. They suggest that to simply make an informational appeal about the benefits of a vegetarian diet may ignore a primary reason why men eat meat: It makes them feel like real men.

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Aging 5 Years in 5 Minutes: The Effect of Taking a Memory Test on Older Adults’ Subjective Age

Matthew Hughes, Lisa Geraci & Ross De Forrest
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
How old one feels — one’s subjective age — has been shown to predict important psychological and health outcomes. The current studies examined the effect of taking a standard memory test on older adults’ subjective age. Study 1 showed that older adults felt older after taking a standard neuropsychological screening test and participating in a free-recall experiment than they felt at baseline. Study 2 showed that the effect was selective to older adults: Younger adults’ subjective age was not affected by participating in the memory experiment. Study 3 showed that the subjective-aging effect was specific to memory, as taking a vocabulary test for a similar amount of time did not affect older adults’ subjective age. Finally, Study 4 showed that simply expecting to take a memory test subjectively aged older adults. The results indicate that being in a memory-testing context affects older adults’ self-perception by making them feel older.

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Matching choices to avoid offending stigmatized group members

Peggy Liu et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
People (selectors) sometimes make choices both for themselves and for others (recipients). We propose that selectors worry about offending recipients with their choices when recipients are stigmatized group members and options in a choice set differ along a stigma-relevant dimension. Accordingly, selectors are more likely to make the same choices for themselves and stigmatized group member recipients than non-stigmatized group member recipients. We conducted eight studies to study this hypothesis in different choice contexts (food, music, games, books) and with recipients from different stigmatized groups (the obese, Black-Americans, the elderly, students at lower-status schools). We use three different approaches to show that this effect is driven by people’s desire to avoid offending stigmatized group members with their choices. Thus, although prior research shows that people often want to avoid being associated with dissociative groups, such as stigmatized groups, we demonstrate that people make the same choices for self and stigmatized other to minimize offense.

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Why the Bride Wears White: Grounding Gender with Brightness

Gün Semin & Tomás Palma
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two studies examine the grounding of gender by the alignment of the female–male with the bipolar dimension of light–dark (most likely due to sexual dimorphism in skin pigmentation). We hypothesized and showed that in a speeded classification task males names are processed faster when they are presented in a black typeface (Exp. 1) or a dark color (Exp. 2) than when they are presented in white or a light color, with the opposite pattern for female names. The applied relevance of these findings is investigated in study 3 where lightness and darkness of consumables are revealed to drive gender specific preferences for foods and drinks, with the lighter consumables being female and darker ones male preferences. Study 4 shows that gender preferences for consumer goods is uniformly driven by whether the good is in black or white, the former being male and the latter female preference. The implications of these findings are discussed for theory formation in relation to the grounding of abstract concepts and in terms of how to design targeted marketing of products.

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A Snooki Effect? An Exploration of the Surveillance Subgenre of Reality TV and Viewers’ Beliefs About the “Real” Real World

Karyn Riddle & J.J. De Simone
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, October 2013, Pages 237-250

Abstract:
Taking a cultivation approach, this study uses content analyses, entertainment journalists, and critical theorists to make the case that patterns of content appear in “surveillance” reality TV programs. Survey data collected from 145 young adults reveal that beliefs about the real world often match these content patterns. Heavy viewers of surveillance programs were more likely to think females in the real world engage in inappropriate behaviors (e.g., arguing, gossip) more than males. Exposure to surveillance programs also positively predicted beliefs about the prevalence of relationship discord in the real world. Implications for cultivation research, reality TV, and accessibility are discussed.

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Line-up Misidentifications: When Being ‘Prototypically Black’ is Perceived as Criminal

Leslie Knuycky, Heather Kleider & Sarah Cavrak
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Eyewitness misidentifications are the leading factor contributing to wrongful convictions. Black men, more than any other racial group, are disproportionately affected by this, thus elevating the importance of identifying factors that contribute to the false recollection of unseen faces. In the current studies, we tested whether misplaced familiarity and subsequent misidentification of Black faces was underpinned by the degree to which target faces were considered ‘prototypical’ (i.e., representative) of the Black race category. First, results revealed that Black faces with stereotypical facial features were accurately categorized as ‘Black’ quicker than faces with nonstereotypical features (Experiment 1). Moreover, identification errors were higher for both face recognition (Experiment 2) and line-up identification (Experiment3) for stereotypical-featured than nonstereotypical-featured faces. Overall, results suggest that stereotypical Black faces are representative of the category ‘Black’ and facilitated feelings of familiarity and the endorsement of memory errors that may underpin eyewitness misidentifications.

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Getting inked: Tattoo and risky behavioral involvement among university students

Keith King & Rebecca Vidourek
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of the study is to assess university students’ involvement in tattooing and examine associations between tattooing and risky behaviors. University students enrolled in physical education and health classes at one Midwestern University are study participants, and a survey is used to examine 998 university students’ involvement in tattooing. The results indicate that 29.6% of respondents have a tattoo. The most common locations for tattoos are the chest (37.6%), foot (26.8%), arm (15.8%), and back (14.4%). Females are more likely than males to have a tattoo. Tattooed students are significantly more likely than non-tattooed students to engage in alcohol and marijuana use and risky sexual behaviors. Suicidal behaviors and suicidal ideation are not related to tattoo status among university students. Therefore, college health professionals should be aware of associations between tattooing and risky behavioral involvement. Educational programs are needed to increase student awareness of body modification and associated risk behaviors.

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Metalheads: The Influence of Personality and Individual Differences on Preference for Heavy Metal

Viren Swami et al.
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have reported reliable associations between personality and music preferences, but have tended to rely on cross-genre preferences at the expense of preferences within a single subgenre. We sought to overcome this limitation by examining associations between individual differences and preferences for a specific subgenre of music, namely, contemporary heavy metal. A total of 414 individuals from Britain were presented with clips of 10 tracks of contemporary heavy metal and asked to rate each for liking. Participants also completed measures of the Big Five personality traits, attitudes toward authority, self-esteem, need for uniqueness, and religiosity. A multiple regression showed that stronger composite preference for the heavy metal tracks was associated with higher Openness to Experience, more negative attitudes toward authority, lower self-esteem, greater need for uniqueness, and lower religiosity. In addition, men showed a significantly stronger preference for the tracks than women (d = 0.54). These results are discussed in terms of the psychological needs that contemporary heavy metal fills for some individuals.

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Comparing Self-stereotyping with In-group-stereotyping and Out-group-stereotyping in Unequal-status Groups: The Case of Gender

Mara Cadinu, Marcella Latrofa & Andrea Carnaghi
Self and Identity, November/December 2013, Pages 582-596

Abstract:
We compared self-stereotyping, in-group-stereotyping, and out-group-stereotyping, among members of high- and low-status groups. Because gender inequality is still present in society, we operationalized status in terms of gender. We considered the male (female) gender category to possess relatively high (low) status. As predicted on the basis of an extension of Mullen's model (1991), Italian men showed significant levels of out-group-stereotyping, but no significant levels of self-stereotyping or in-group-stereotyping. In contrast, Italian women showed significant levels of self-stereotyping, in-group-stereotyping, and out-group-stereotyping. Looked at differently, men showed significantly stronger out-group-stereotyping than women, and women showed significantly stronger self-stereotyping than men. Women also showed marginally stronger in-group-stereotyping than men. The stronger self-stereotyping among women was mediated by greater female in-group identification.

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Genetic Bio-Ancestry and Social Construction of Racial Classification in Social Surveys in the Contemporary United States

Guang Guo et al.
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Self-reported race is generally considered the basis for racial classification in social surveys, including the U.S. census. Drawing on recent advances in human molecular genetics and social science perspectives of socially constructed race, our study takes into account both genetic bio-ancestry and social context in understanding racial classification. This article accomplishes two objectives. First, our research establishes geographic genetic bio-ancestry as a component of racial classification. Second, it shows how social forces trump biology in racial classification and/or how social context interacts with bio-ancestry in shaping racial classification. The findings were replicated in two racially and ethnically diverse data sets: the College Roommate Study (N = 2,065) and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 2,281).

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At the interface of social cognition and psychometrics: Manipulating the sex of the reference class modulates sex differences in personality traits

Aaron Lukaszewski et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Psychometric surveys suggest that sex differences in personality are minimal. Herein, we argue that (a) the mind is likely biased toward assessing oneself relative to same-sex others, and (b) this bias may affect the measurement of sex differences in personality. In support of this, an experiment demonstrates modulation of sex differences on the HEXACO facets by manipulating the sex of the “reference class” — the group of people subjects compare themselves to when making self-assessments on survey items. Although patterns varied across traits, sex differences were relatively small in the “unspecified” and “same-sex” reference class conditions — but substantially larger in the “opposite-sex” condition. These findings point to a same-sex comparison bias that may impact the measurement of sex differences in personality.

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Dose-Dependent Media Priming Effects of Stereotypic Newspaper Articles on Implicit and Explicit Stereotypes

Florian Arendt
Journal of Communication, October 2013, Pages 830–851

Abstract:
Current research draws a distinction between stereotype activation and application. Building on this differentiation, we present an implicit social cognition model of media priming: Implicit stereotypes (i.e., automatically activated stereotypes) are the outcome of associative processes, whereas explicit stereotypes (i.e., overtly expressed judgments) represent the outcome of propositional processes. We tested some of the model's basic predictions in an experiment. We found that a Gaussian distribution function explained the explicit media priming effect (i.e., decay in effect size at very high dose levels). However, a monotonic function explained the implicit media priming effect. This indicates that stereotypic content may impact implicit stereotypes even if the mass-mediated content is perceived as invalid. We discuss this finding regarding possible media-based reduction strategies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

From the ground up

Development, Structure, and Transformation: Some Evidence on Comparative Economic Growth

Gordon McCord & Jeffrey Sachs
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
We suggest that the geographical patterns of income differences across the world have deep underpinnings. We emphasize that economic development is a complex process driven by economic, political, social, and biophysical forces. Some economists have argued that the patterns reflect mainly the historical footprint of colonial rule and political evolution, and that geography's effects on development occurred exclusively through its effects on this historical institutional development. We believe that economic development has also been shaped very importantly by the biophysical and geophysical characteristics of economies. Per capita incomes differ around the world in no small part because of sharp differences across regions in the natural resource base and physical geography (e.g. distance to coast), and by the amplification of those differences through the dynamics of saving and investment. We posit that the drivers of economic development include institutions, technology, and geography, and that none of these alone is sufficient to account for the diverse patterns of global growth. We survey the relevant literature, and empirically show that a multi-causal framework helps to explain when countries achieve middle income; the distribution of economic activity around the world today; the patterns of growth between 1960 and 2010; the patterns of income per person within large economies; and the structural characteristics of the remaining countries still stuck in poverty today.

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Societal Trust and Geography

Stephen Le
Cross-Cultural Research, November 2013, Pages 388-414

Abstract:
Societal trust is widely believed to be a fundamental component of prosperous societies, but geographical determinants of societal trust have not been examined in depth. This study examines hypothesized pathways between geography and societal trust. Strongest support is found for the hypothesis that higher geographical latitude leads to lower disease prevalence, lower income inequality, and less ethnic and less linguistic heterogeneity. Lower disease prevalence, lower income inequality, and less ethnic and less linguistic heterogeneity in turn appear to determine the viability of a "virtuous circle" of mutually reinforcing societal characteristics, including greater wealth, greater life expectancy, greater political rights, greater civil liberties, greater societal trust, less religiosity, and less corruption.

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Inequality, Wealth and Health: Is Decreasing Income Inequality the Key to Create Healthier Societies?

Ioana Andreea Pop, Erik van Ingen & Wim van Oorschot
Social Indicators Research, September 2013, Pages 1025-1043

Abstract:
The idea that the level of stratification of societies contributes to the well-being of their members is gaining popularity. We contribute to this debate by investigating whether reducing inequalities in the income distribution of societies is a strategy for improving population health, especially appropriate for those countries that have reached the limits of economic growth. We test this idea on a dataset covering 140 countries and 2360 country-year observation between 1987 and 2008 and formulate hypotheses separately for countries with different level of economic development. We indeed found that countries with higher levels of income inequality also have lower levels of life expectancy (our measure of population health), and this result was consistent both in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. However, the relationship was found only among low- and middle-developed countries. In the group of high-developed countries, the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy was non-significant, which contradicts the literature. Expectations on the relationship between a country's wealth and health were confirmed: economic growth does contribute to improving population health, but this effect is weaker in more economically developed countries. These results imply that a decrease in a country's income inequality parallel with an increase in its wealth can help to improve health in economically lesser-developed countries, but not in high-developed countries.

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Long-Term Barriers to Economic Development

Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
What obstacles prevent the most productive technologies from spreading to less developed economies from the world's technological frontier? In this paper, we seek to shed light on this question by quantifying the geographic and human barriers to the transmission of technologies. We argue that the intergenerational transmission of human traits, particularly culturally transmitted traits, has led to divergence between populations over the course of history. In turn, this divergence has introduced barriers to the diffusion of technologies across societies. We provide measures of historical and genealogical distances between populations, and document how such distances, relative to the world's technological frontier, act as barriers to the diffusion of development and of specific innovations. We provide an interpretation of these results in the context of an emerging literature seeking to understand variation in economic development as the result of factors rooted deep in history.

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The diffusion of health technologies: Cultural and biological divergence

Casper Worm Hansen
European Economic Review, November 2013, Pages 21-34

Abstract:
This paper proposes the hypothesis that genetic distance to the health frontier influences population health outcomes. Evidence from a world sample suggests that genetic distance, interpreted as long-term cultural and biological divergence, is an important factor in understanding health inequalities across countries. Specifically, the paper documents a remarkably robust negative link between genetic distance to the United States and population health - as measured by life expectancy at birth and the adult survival rate - even after accounting for an extensive set of possible confounders, such as GDP per capita and various climatic factors. Consistent with the interpretation that genetic distance is related to population health indirectly through human barriers to the diffusion of modern health technologies, the evidence indicates that the gene gradient emerges at the onset of the international epidemiological transition.

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The Female Labor Force and Long-run Development: The American Experience in Comparative Perspective

Claudia Olivetti
NBER Working Paper, June 2013

Abstract:
This paper provides additional evidence on the U-shaped relationship between the process of economic development and women's labor force participation. The experience of the United States is studied in a comparative perspective relative to a sample of rich economies observed over the period 1890-2005. The analysis confirms the existence of a U-shaped female labor supply function, coming from both cross-country and within country variation. Further analysis of a large cross section of economies observed over the post-WWII period suggests that the timing of a country's transition to a modern path of economic development affects the shape of women's labor supply.

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Measuring the Level and Inequality of Wealth: An Application to China

Patrick Ward
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
We construct and compare three distinct measures of household asset wealth that complement traditional income- or expenditure-based measures of socioeconomic status. We apply these measures to longitudinal household survey data from China and demonstrate that household asset wealth has been increasing over time, a theme consistent with many previous studies on the process of development in China. Unlike other studies that have shown rising income inequality over time, however, we show that asset wealth inequality has actually been declining in recent years, indicating widespread participation in the benefits of economic reforms. Furthermore, the evolution in the cumulative distribution of household welfare is such that social welfare has been increasing with the passage of time, despite rising inequality in the early years of the survey.

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Inherited vs Self-Made Wealth: Theory & Evidence from a Rentier Society (Paris 1872-1927)

Thomas Piketty, Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
We divide decedents into two groups: Rentiers (whose wealth is smaller than the capitalized value of their inherited wealth) and "savers" (who consumed less than their labor income). Applying this split to a unique micro data set on inheritance and matrimonial property regimes, we find that Paris from 1872 to 1927 was a "rentier society". Rentiers made up about 10% of the population of Parisians but owned 70% of aggregate wealth. Rentier societies thrive when the rate of return on private wealth r is larger than the growth rate g (say, r = 4% vs g = 2%). This was the case in the 19th and early 20th centuries and is likely to happen again in the 21st century. At the time, top successors' capital income sustains living standards far beyond what labor income alone would permit.

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Does Economic Growth Reduce Corruption? Theory and Evidence from Vietnam

Jie Bai et al.
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Government corruption is more prevalent in poor countries than in rich countries. This paper uses cross-industry heterogeneity in growth rates within Vietnam to test empirically whether growth leads to lower corruption. We find that it does. We begin by developing a model of government officials' choice of how much bribe money to extract from firms that is based on the notion of inter-regional tax competition, and consider how officials' choices change as the economy grows. We show that economic growth is predicted to decrease the rate of bribe extraction under plausible assumptions, with the benefit to officials of demanding a given share of revenue as bribes outweighed by the increased risk that firms will move elsewhere. This effect is dampened if firms are less mobile. Our empirical analysis uses survey data collected from over 13,000 Vietnamese firms between 2006 and 2010 and an instrumental variables strategy based on industry growth in other provinces. We find, first, that firm growth indeed causes a decrease in bribe extraction. Second, this pattern is particularly true for firms with strong land rights and those with operations in multiple provinces, consistent with these firms being more mobile. Our results suggest that as poor countries grow, corruption could subside "on its own,'' and they demonstrate one type of positive feedback between economic growth and good institutions.

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Plague in seventeenth-century Europe and the decline of Italy: An epidemiological hypothesis

Guido Alfani
European Review of Economic History, November 2013, Pages 408-430

Abstract:
This article compares the impact of plague across Europe during the seventeenth century. It shows that the disease affected southern Europe much more severely than the north. Italy was by far the area worst struck. Using a new database, the article introduces an epidemiological variable that has not been considered in the literature: territorial pervasiveness of the contagion. This variable is much more relevant than local mortality rates in accounting for the different regional impact of plague. Epidemics, and not economic hardship, generated a severe demographic crisis in Italy during the seventeenth century. Plague caused a shock to the economy of the Italian peninsula that might have been key in starting its relative decline compared with the emerging northern European countries.

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Resistance to technology adoption: The rise and decline of guilds

Klaus Desmet & Stephen Parente
Review of Economic Dynamics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the decision of a group of specialized workers to form a guild and block the adoption of a new technology that does not require their specialized input. The theory predicts an inverted-U relation between guilds and market size: for small markets, firm profits are insufficient to cover the fixed cost of adopting the new technology, and hence, specialized workers have no reason to form guilds; for intermediate sized markets, firm profits are large enough to cover the higher fixed costs, but not large enough to defeat workers? resistance, and so workers form guilds and block adoption; and for large markets, these profits are sufficiently large to overcome worker resistance and so guilds disband and the more productive technology diffuses throughout the economy. We show that this inverted-U relation between guilds and market size predicted by our theory exists in a dataset of Italian guilds from the 14th to the 19th century.

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Spatial Inequality and Development - Is There an Inverted-U Relationship?

Christian Lessmann
Journal of Development Economics, January 2014, Pages 35-51

Abstract:
This paper studies the hypothesis of an inverted-U-shaped relationship between spatial inequality and economic development. The theory of Kuznets (1955) and Williamson (1965) suggests that (spatial) inequality first increases in the process of development, and then decreases. To test this hypothesis I have used a unique panel data set of spatial inequalities in 56 countries at different stages of economic development, covering the period 1980-2009. Parametric and semiparametric regressions are carried out using cross-section and (unbalanced) panel data. The results provide strong support for the existence of an inverted-U. I also find some evidence that spatial inequalities increase again at very high levels of economic development.

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Antitrust Law and the Promotion of Democracy and Economic Growth

Niels Petersen
Journal of Competition Law & Economics, September 2013, Pages 593-636

Abstract:
There is a considerable debate in the legal literature about the purpose of antitrust institutions. Some argue that antitrust law merely serves the purpose of economic growth, while others have a broader perspective on the function of antitrust, maintaining that the prevention of economic concentration is an important means to promote democratization and democratic stability. This article seeks to test the empirical assumptions of this debate. Using panel data of 154 states from 1960 to 2005, it analyzes whether antitrust law actually has a positive effect on democracy and economic growth. The article finds that antitrust law has a positive effect on the level of GDP per capita and economic growth after ten years. However, there is no significant positive effect on the level of democracy. It is suggested that these results might be due to the current structure of existing antitrust laws, which are designed to promote economic efficiency rather than to prevent economic concentration.

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Who benefits from financial development? New methods, new evidence

Daniel Henderson, Chris Papageorgiou & Christopher Parmeter
European Economic Review, October 2013, Pages 47-67

Abstract:
This paper takes a fresh look at the impact of financial development on economic growth by using recently developed kernel methods that allow for heterogeneity in partial effects, nonlinearities and endogenous regressors. Our results suggest that while the positive impact of financial development on growth has increased over time, it is also highly nonlinear with more developed nations benefiting while low-income countries do not benefit at all. We also conduct a novel policy analysis that confirms these statistical findings. In sum, this set of results contributes to the ongoing policy debate as to whether low-income nations should scale up financial reforms.

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Financial Constraints and Innovation: Why Poor Countries Don't Catch Up

Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Monika Schnitzer
Journal of the European Economic Association, October 2013, Pages 1115-1152

Abstract:
This paper examines micro-level channels through which financial development can affect such macroeconomic outcomes as level of income. Specifically, we investigate theoretically and empirically how financial constraints affect a firm's innovation activities. Theoretical predictions are tested using unique firm survey data, which provide direct measures for innovations and firm-specific financial constraints, as well as information on shocks to firms' internal funds that serve as firm-level instruments for financial constraints. We find unambiguous evidence that financial constraints restrain the ability of domestically owned firms to innovate and hence to catch up to the technological frontier.

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Intellectual Returnees as Drivers of Indigenous Innovation: Evidence from the Chinese Photovoltaic Industry

Siping Luo, Mary Lovely & David Popp
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
We offer new evidence on indigenous innovation and intellectual returnees by estimating the relationship between patenting by Chinese photovoltaic firms and the presence of corporate leaders with international experience. Our research approach combines data from three sources: the industrial census, international and domestic patent records, and leadership biographical information. Using nonlinear methods, we find robust evidence that returnees positively influence patenting activity and also promote neighboring firm innovation. We find no tendency for export intensive firms to patent more. Controlling for R&D expenditures, we find that firms with returnees in leadership roles have more patents.

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Growing their own: Unobservable quality and the value of self-provisioning

Vivian Hoffmann & Ken Gatobu
Journal of Development Economics, January 2014, Pages 168-178

Abstract:
Many important food quality and safety attributes are unobservable at the point of sale, particularly in informal markets with weak reputation effects. Through a framed field experiment conducted in western Kenya, we show that farmers place a large premium on maize they have grown themselves, relative to that available for purchase. Providing information on the origin of maize, and on its taste and safety, reduces this gap. We conclude that information which is unavailable during typical market transactions is important to how consumers value maize, and that imperfect information may contribute to the prevalence of agricultural production for subsistence needs in developing countries.

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Economic Growth in the Mid Atlantic Region: Conjectural Estimates for 1720 to 1800

Joshua Rosenbloom & Thomas Weiss
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
We construct decadal estimates of GDP per capita for the colonies and states of the Mid Atlantic region between 1720 and 1800. They show that the region likely achieved modest improvements in per capita GDP over this period despite a number of demographic factors that tended to slow the pace of growth. Nonetheless the rate of growth we find is below that commonly assumed to have prevailed in eighteenth century North America and calls those estimates into question. The striking feature of the region's economy in the eighteenth century was not rising living-standards, but its ability to achieve rapid extensive growth without a decline in living standards. To contemporaries this extensive growth and short-term volatility in incomes must have been much more visible than any trend improvement in overall well-being.

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The social capital legacy of communism - results from the Berlin Wall experiment

Peter Boenisch & Lutz Schneider
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we establish a direct link between the communist history, the resulting structure of social capital, and attitudes toward spatial mobility. We argue that the communist regime induced a specific social capital mix that discouraged geographic mobility even after its demise. Theoretically, we integrate two branches of the social capital literature into one more comprehensive framework distinguishing an open and a closed type of social capital. Using the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) we take advantage of the natural experiment that separated Germany into two parts after the WWII to identify the causal effect of social capital on mobility. We estimate a three equation ordered probit model and provide strong empirical evidence for our theoretical propositions.

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Was Stalin Necessary for Russia's Economic Development?

Anton Cheremukhin et al.
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
This paper studies structural transformation of Soviet Russia in 1928-1940 from an agrarian to an industrial economy through the lens of a two-sector neoclassical growth model. We construct a large dataset that covers Soviet Russia during 1928-1940 and Tsarist Russia during 1885-1913. We use a two-sector growth model to compute sectoral TFPs as well as distortions and wedges in the capital, labor and product markets. We find that most wedges substantially increased in 1928-1935 and then fell in 1936-1940 relative to their 1885-1913 levels, while TFP remained generally below pre-WWI trends. Under the neoclassical growth model, projections of these estimated wedges imply that Stalin's economic policies led to welfare loss of -24 percent of consumption in 1928-1940, but a +16 percent welfare gain after 1941. A representative consumer born at the start of Stalin's policies in 1928 experiences a reduction in welfare of -1 percent of consumption, a number that does not take into account additional costs of political repression during this time period. We provide three additional counterfactuals: comparison with Japan, comparison with the New Economic Policy (NEP), and assuming alternative post-1940 growth scenarios.

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Inescapable hunger? Energy cost accounting and the costs of digestion, pregnancy, and lactation

Eric Schneider
European Review of Economic History, August 2013, Pages 340-363

Abstract:
This paper adjusts reconstructions of per capita food consumption in England from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries by factoring in the energy costs of digestion, pregnancy, and lactation. Digestion costs arise because the body has difficulty digesting certain components of food. Incorporating digestion costs reduced the calories available per capita by 12.7 per cent in 1700 but only by 4.9 per cent in 1909 because of changes in diet. The energy costs of pregnancy and lactation were lower only reducing calorie consumption by 2.5 per cent. These adjustments suggest a more pessimistic level of calorie availability before the twentieth century.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Homesick

Childhood Socialization and Political Attitudes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Andrew Healy & Neil Malhotra
Journal of Politics, October 2013, Pages 1023-1037

Abstract:
Scholars have argued that childhood experiences strongly impact political attitudes, but we actually have little causal evidence since external factors that could influence preferences are correlated with the household environment. We utilize a younger sibling’s gender to isolate random variation in the childhood environment and thereby provide unique evidence of political socialization. Having sisters causes young men to be more likely to express conservative viewpoints with regards to gender roles and to identify as Republicans. We demonstrate these results in two panel surveys conducted decades apart: the Political Socialization Panel (PSP) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). We also use data collected during childhood to uncover evidence for a potential underlying mechanism: families with more female children are more likely to reinforce traditional gender roles. The results demonstrate that previously understudied childhood experiences can have important causal effects on political attitude formation.

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Class Origin and College Graduates' Parenting Beliefs

Jessi Streib
Sociological Quarterly, Fall 2013, Pages 670–693

Abstract:
Previous studies have documented relationships between parenting beliefs and social class. Few studies, however, have examined how parenting beliefs vary among those who share a class position. Drawing upon interviews with 54 college graduates — 27 parents with working-class origins and their 27 spouses with middle-class origins — I show that heterogeneity in college-educated parents' beliefs cohered around class origin. Specifically, ideas of children's education and time use related to class origin, though ideas of how to talk with children did not. I discuss the implications of these findings in terms of cultural reproduction, cultural mobility, and intergenerational inequality.

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Exploring the Impact of Skin Tone on Family Dynamics and Race-Related Outcomes

Antoinette Landor et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, October 2013, Pages 817-826

Abstract:
Racism has historically been a primary source of discrimination against African Americans, but there has been little research on the role that skin tone plays in explaining experiences with racism. Similarly, colorism within African American families and the ways in which skin tone influences family processes is an understudied area of research. Using data from a longitudinal sample of African American families (n = 767), we assessed whether skin tone impacted experiences with discrimination or was related to differences in quality of parenting and racial socialization within families. Findings indicated no link between skin tone and racial discrimination, which suggests that lightness or darkness of skin does not either protect African Americans from or exacerbate the experiences of discrimination. On the other hand, families displayed preferential treatment toward offspring based on skin tone, and these differences varied by gender of child. Specifically, darker skin sons received higher quality parenting and more racial socialization promoting mistrust compared to their counterparts with lighter skin. Lighter skin daughters received higher quality parenting compared with those with darker skin. In addition, gender of child moderated the association between primary caregiver skin tone and racial socialization promoting mistrust. These results suggest that colorism remains a salient issue within African American families. Implications for future research, prevention, and intervention are discussed.

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Parents’ Beliefs and Children’s Marijuana Use: Evidence for a Self-fulfilling Prophecy Effect

Christopher Lamb & William Crano
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Parents’ beliefs about their children’s involvement in aberrant behaviors are variable and sometimes inaccurate, but they may be influential. This study is concerned with inconsistencies between parents’ estimates and their children’s reports of marijuana use, and children’s subsequent usage one year later. The self-fulfilling prophecy hypothesis suggests discrepancies between parents’ beliefs and children’s behaviors could have detrimental or beneficial outcomes, depending on the inconsistency. This possibility was investigated with data from a panel survey of a nationally representative sample of parents and their adolescent children (N = 3131). Marijuana-abstinent adolescents in the first year (T1) of the survey were significantly more likely to initiate use over the next year if they were characterized by parents as users at T1; conversely, adolescent marijuana users at T1 were significantly less likely to continue usage in the second year if they were labeled by parents as abstinent at T1 (both p < .001). Odds that abstinent children whose parents believed they used marijuana would initiate use a year later (T2) were 4.4 times greater than those of abstinent respondents whose parents judged them abstinent. Odds of self-reported users quitting by T2 were 2.7 greater if parents believed they had not used at T1.

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Do Family Dinners Reduce the Risk for Early Adolescent Substance Use? A Propensity Score Analysis

John Hoffmann & Elizabeth Warnick
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2013, Pages 335-352

Abstract:
The risks of early adolescent substance use on health and well-being are well documented. In recent years, several experts have claimed that a simple preventive measure for these behaviors is for families to share evening meals. In this study, we use data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Study of Youth (n = 5,419) to estimate propensity score models designed to match on a set of covariates and predict early adolescent substance use frequency and initiation. The results indicate that family dinners are not generally associated with alcohol or cigarette use or with drug use initiation. However, a continuous measure of family dinners is modestly associated with marijuana frequency, thus suggesting a potential causal impact. These results show that family dinners may help prevent one form of substance use in the short term but do not generally affect substance use initiation or alcohol and cigarette use.

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Parental Separation and Early Substance Involvement: Results from Children of Alcoholic and Cannabis Dependent Twins

Mary Waldron et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Risks associated with parental separation have received limited attention in research on children of parents with substance use disorders. We examined early substance involvement as a function of parental separation during childhood and parental alcohol and cannabis dependence.

Method: Data were drawn from 1,318 adolescent offspring of monozygotic (MZ) or dizygotic (DZ) Australian twin parents. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were conducted predicting age at first use of alcohol, first alcohol intoxication, first use and first regular use of cigarettes, and first use of cannabis, from parental separation and both parent and cotwin substance dependence. Parent and cotwin alcohol and cannabis dependence were initially modeled separately, with post-hoc tests for equality of effects.

Results: With few exceptions, risks associated with parental alcohol versus cannabis dependence could be equated, with results largely suggestive of genetic transmission of risk from parental substance (alcohol or cannabis) dependence broadly defined. Controlling for parental substance dependence, parental separation was a strong predictor for all substance use variables, especially through age 13.

Conclusion: Together, findings underscore the importance of parental separation as a risk-factor for early substance involvement over and above both genetic and environmental influences specific to parental alcohol and cannabis dependence.

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Does Child-Care Quality Mediate Associations Between Type of Care and Development?

Kristin Abner et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2013, Pages 1203–1217

Abstract:
Studies document that, on average, children cared for in centers, as compared to homes, have higher cognitive test scores but worse socioemotional and health outcomes. The authors assessed whether the quality of care received explains these associations. They considered multiple domains of child development — cognitive, socioemotional, and health — and examined whether mediation is greater when quality measures are better aligned with outcome domains. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort, they found that children in centers have better cognitive skills and behavioral regulation than children in homes, but worse social competence and generally equivalent health (N = 1,550). They found little evidence that quality of child care, as measured by standard instruments (e.g., the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale—Revised), accounts for associations between type of care and child developmental outcomes.

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Parental Leave and Children's Schooling Outcomes: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from a Large Parental Leave Reform

Natalia Danzer & Victor Lavy
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
This paper investigates the question whether long-term human capital outcomes are affected by the duration of maternity leave, i.e. by the time mothers spend at home with their newborn before returning to work. Employing RD and difference-in-difference approaches, this paper exploits an unanticipated reform in Austria which extended the maximum duration of paid and job protected parental leave from 12 to 24 months for children born on July 1, 1990 or later. We use test scores from the Austrian PISA test of birth cohorts 1990 and 1987 as measure of human capital. The evidence suggest no significant overall impact of the extended parental leave mandate on standardized test scores at age 15, but that the subgroup of boys of highly educated mothers have benefited from this reform while boys of low educated mothers were harmed by it.

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Parental Unemployment and Children’s Happiness: A Longitudinal Study of Young People’s Well-Being in Unemployed Households

Nattavudh Powdthavee & James Vernoit
Labour Economics, October 2013, Pages 253–263

Abstract:
Using a unique longitudinal data of British youths we estimate how adolescents’ overall happiness is related to parents’ exposure to unemployment. Our within-child estimates suggest that parental job loss when the child was relatively young has a positive influence on children’s overall happiness. However, this positive association became either strongly negative or statistically insignificant as the child grew older. The estimated effects of parental job loss on children’s happiness also appear to be unrelated to its effect on family income, parent-child interaction, and children’s school experience. Together these findings offer new psychological evidence of unemployment effects on children’s livelihood.

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Family Caregiving and All-Cause Mortality: Findings from a Population-based Propensity-matched Analysis

David Roth et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have provided conflicting evidence on whether being a family caregiver is associated with increased or decreased risk for all-cause mortality. This study examined whether 3,503 family caregivers enrolled in the national Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study showed differences in all-cause mortality from 2003 to 2012 compared with a propensity-matched sample of noncaregivers. Caregivers were individually matched with 3,503 noncaregivers by using a propensity score matching procedure based on 15 demographic, health history, and health behavior covariates. During an average 6-year follow-up period, 264 (7.5%) of the caregivers died, which was significantly fewer than the 315 (9.0%) matched noncaregivers who died during the same period. A proportional hazards model indicated that caregivers had an 18% reduced rate of death compared with noncaregivers (hazard ratio = 0.823, 95% confidence interval: 0.699, 0.969). Subgroup analyses by race, sex, caregiving relationship, and caregiving strain failed to identify any subgroups with increased rates of death compared with matched noncaregivers. Public policy and discourse should recognize that providing care to a family member with a chronic illness or disability is not associated with increased risk of death in most cases, but may instead be associated with modest survival benefits for the caregivers.

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Childhood Health and Sibling Outcomes: The Shared Burden and Benefit of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

John Parman
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
There is a growing body of evidence showing that negative childhood health shocks have long term consequences in terms of health, human capital formation and labor market outcomes. However, by altering the relative prices of child quality across siblings, these health shocks can also affect investments in and the outcomes of healthy siblings. This paper uses the 1918 influenza pandemic to test how household resources are reallocated when there is a health shock to one child. Using a new dataset linking census data on childhood households to health and education data from military enlistment records, I show that families with a child in utero during the pandemic shifted resources to older siblings of that child, leading to significantly higher educational attainments and high school graduation rates for these older siblings. There are no significant effects for younger siblings born after the pandemic. These results suggest that the reallocation of household resources in response to a negative childhood health shock tended to reinforce rather than compensate for differences in endowments across children.

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Feeling Safe: Intergenerational Connections and Neighborhood Disorganization among Urban and Rural African American Youth

Joshua Brevard et al.
Journal of Community Psychology, November 2013, Pages 992–1004

Abstract:
Neighborhood disorganization and the perception of neighborhood disorganization are linked to several adverse outcomes for youth. Disorganized communities often lack the social structures to promote well-being, maintain social control, and provide an environment in which youth feel safe. Intergenerational connections, similar to cultural attributes of collectiveness and extended family found among people of African ancestry, was expected to be linked to less perceived neighborhood disorganization. Neighborhood type, rural versus urban, was also investigated as a moderator of the relationship between intergenerational connections and perceived neighborhood disorganization. Participants were 564 elementary, middle, and high school students who were recruited from urban and rural schools in a mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Students completed measures of Intergenerational Connections and Neighborhood Disorganization along with demographic items. The findings indicated that higher levels of intergenerational connections were associated with perceptions of less disorganized neighborhoods. A significant interaction was found between neighborhood type and intergenerational connections. Intergenerational connections lowered perceptions of disorganization in urban neighborhoods such that youth in neighborhoods with high intergenerational connections reported lower disorganization than those in areas of low intergenerational connections. This effect was not found for youth in rural neighborhoods. Benefits and methods for increasing intergenerational connections among African American youth are discussed.

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Trends in Child Protection and Out-of-Home Care

Anne-Marie Conn et al.
Pediatrics, October 2013, Pages 712-719

Background: Over the past decades, increased knowledge about childhood abuse and trauma have prompted changes in child welfare policy, and practice that may have affected the out-of-home (OOH) care population. However, little is known about recent national trends in child maltreatment, OOH placement, or characteristics of children in OOH care. The objective of this study was to examine trends in child maltreatment and characteristics of children in OOH care.

Methods: We analyzed 2 federal administrative databases to identify and characterize US children who were maltreated (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System) or in OOH care (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System). We assessed trends between 2000 and 2010.

Results: The number of suspected maltreatment cases increased 17% from 2000 to 2010, yet the number of substantiated cases decreased 7% and the number of children in OOH care decreased 25%. Despite the decrease in OOH placements, we found a 19% increase in the number of children who entered OOH care because of maltreatment (vs other causes), a 36% increase in the number of children with multiple (vs single) types of maltreatment, and a 60% increase in the number of children in OOH care identified as emotionally disturbed.

Conclusions: From 2000 to 2010, fewer suspected cases of maltreatment were substantiated, despite increased investigations, and fewer maltreated children were placed in OOH care. These changes may have led to a smaller but more complex OOH care population with substantial previous trauma and emotional problems.

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Childhood abuse, parental warmth, and adult multisystem biological risk in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study

Judith Carroll et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood abuse increases adult risk for morbidity and mortality. Less clear is how this “toxic” stress becomes embedded to influence health decades later, and whether protective factors guard against these effects. Early biological embedding is hypothesized to occur through programming of the neural circuitry that influences physiological response patterns to subsequent stress, causing wear and tear across multiple regulatory systems. To examine this hypothesis, we related reports of childhood abuse to a comprehensive 18-biomarker measure of multisystem risk and also examined whether presence of a loving parental figure buffers against the impact of childhood abuse on adult risk. A total of 756 subjects (45.8% white, 42.7% male) participated in this ancillary substudy of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. Childhood stress was determined by using the Risky Families Questionnaire, a well-validated retrospective self-report scale. Linear regression models adjusting for age, sex, race, parental education, and oral contraceptive use found a significant positive relationship between reports of childhood abuse and multisystem health risks [B (SE) = 0.68 (0.16); P < 0.001]. Inversely, higher amounts of reported parental warmth and affection during childhood was associated with lower multisystem health risks [B (SE) = −0.40 (0.14); P < 0.005]. A significant interaction of abuse and warmth (P < 0.05) was found, such that individuals reporting low levels of love and affection and high levels of abuse in childhood had the highest multisystem risk in adulthood.

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A Population-Based Examination of Maltreatment History Among Adolescent Mothers in California

Emily Putnam-Hornstein et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: To document the abuse and neglect histories of adolescent mothers using official child protection records.

Methods: Vital birth records were used to identify adolescents 12–19 years of age who were born in California and gave birth in 2009. These records were linked to statewide child protective service data to determine maternal history of alleged and substantiated maltreatment victimization, as well as placement in foster care.

Results: A total of 35,098 adolescents gave birth in 2009. Before conception, 44.9% had been reported for maltreatment, 20.8% had been substantiated as victims, and 9.7% had spent time in foster care.

Conclusions: These population-based data indicate that many adolescent mothers have had contact with child protective services as alleged or substantiated victims of abuse or neglect. Understanding the impact of childhood and adolescent maternal maltreatment on both early childbearing risk and subsequent parenting capacity is critical to the development of responsive service interventions.

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Who’s got the Upper Hand? Hand Holding Behaviors Among Romantic Couples and Families

Terry Pettijohn et al.
Current Psychology, September 2013, Pages 217-220

Abstract:
The hand holding behavior of romantic couples and family dyads (n = 886) in public locations around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was observed. Over 90 % of males in heterosexual romantic couples, parents in parent child pairs, and older siblings in child sibling pairs tended to place their hand on top when holding hands, displaying what we consider social dominance. Women holding hands with men in romantic relationships placed their hand under their partner’s hand, and women switched to have their hand on top when holding hands with a child. Results are discussed in relation to social dominance theory and social role theory, along with implications for equality among the sexes.

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Positive Daily Family Interactions Eliminate Gender Differences in Internalizing Symptoms Among Adolescents

Eva Telzer & Andrew Fuligni
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, October 2013, Pages 1498-1511

Abstract:
By the age of 18, girls are more than twice as likely as boys to experience internalizing symptoms. Focusing upon the family, a significant factor for adolescent mental health, we examined how positive and negative daily family interactions relate to gender differences in internalizing symptoms. 681 12th grade students (54 % female) completed diary checklists each night for 2 weeks in which they indicated whether they got along with their family (positive family interactions) and argued with their family (negative family interactions). Results indicate that negative daily family interactions explain, in part, why females experience heightened internalizing symptoms. Yet, even in the face of negative family interactions, positive daily family interactions have salutatory effects, reducing females’ emotional distress and eliminating gender differences in internalizing symptoms at high levels of positive interactions. These findings underscore the importance of positive family interactions for adolescent girls’ mental health.

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Maternal Underestimation of Child's Sexual Experience: Suggested Implications for HPV Vaccine Uptake at Recommended Ages

Nicole Liddon et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: Despite official recommendation for routine HPV vaccination of boys and girls at age 11–12 years, parents and providers are more likely to vaccinate their children/patients at older ages. Preferences for vaccinating older adolescents may be related to beliefs about an adolescent's sexual experience or perceived parental resistance to vaccinating children who are assumed to be sexually inexperienced.

Methods: Using data from the 1995 wave of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health), a subset of a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7 through 12 and their parents (n = 13,461), we investigated maternal underestimation of adolescent sexual experience.

Results: About one third (34.8%) of adolescents reported being sexually experienced and of these, 46.8% of their mothers inaccurately reported that their child was not sexually experienced. Underestimation varied by adolescent age with 78.1% of mothers of sexually active 11–13-year-olds reporting their child was not sexually active, compared with 56.4% of mothers of sexually active 14–16-year-olds and only 34.4% of mothers of 17–18-year-olds.

Conclusions: Although most adolescents are not sexually active at age 11 or 12 years, waiting until a parent thinks a child is sexually active could result in missed opportunities for prevention.

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Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Maternal Parenting Stress: The Role of Structural Disadvantages and Parenting Values

Kei Nomaguchi & Amanda House
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2013, Pages 386-404

Abstract:
Although researchers contend that racial-ethnic minorities experience more stress than whites, knowledge of racial-ethnic disparities in parenting stress is limited. Using a pooled time-series analysis of data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–99 (n = 11,324), we examine racial-ethnic differences in maternal parenting stress, with a focus on structural and cultural explanations and variations by nativity and child age. In kindergarten, black mothers, albeit U.S.-born only, report more parenting stress than white mothers due to structural disadvantages and authoritarian parenting values. The black-white gap increases from kindergarten to third grade, and in third grade, U.S.-born black mothers’ higher stress than white mothers’ persists after controlling for structural and parenting factors. Hispanic and Asian mothers, albeit foreign-born only, report more stress than white mothers at both ages due to structural disadvantages and authoritarian values. Despite structural disadvantages, American Indian mothers report less stress.

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Adolescent Reports of Aggression as Predictors of Perceived Parenting Behaviors and Expectations

Kantahyanee Murray et al.
Family Relations, October 2013, Pages 637–648

Abstract:
This study examined the associations between adolescent self-report of aggression and adolescents' perceptions of parenting practices in a sample of African American early adolescents living in low-income, urban communities. Sixth graders (N = 209) completed questionnaires about their aggressive behaviors and perceptions of caregivers' parenting practices at two time points during the school year. Path model findings reveal that adolescent-reported aggression at Time 1 predicted higher levels of perceived parent psychological control and perceived parent expectations for aggressive solutions to conflicts at Time 2. Findings suggest that early adolescent aggression elicits negative parenting behaviors at a subsequent time point.

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Cardiac vagal tone and quality of parenting show concurrent and time-ordered associations that diverge in abusive, neglectful, and non-maltreating mothers

Elizabeth Skowron et al.
Couple and Family Psychology, June 2013, Pages 95-115

Abstract:
Concurrent and lagged maternal respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was monitored in the context of parenting. One hundred and forty-one preschooler-mother dyads — involved with child welfare as documented perpetrators of child abuse or neglect, or non-maltreating (non-CM) — were observed completing a resting baseline and joint challenge task. Parenting behaviors were coded using SASB (Benjamin, 1996) and maternal RSA was simultaneously monitored, longitudinally-nested within-person (WP), and subjected to MLM. Abusive and neglectful mothers displayed less positive parenting and more strict/hostile control, relative to non-CM mothers. Non-CM mothers displayed greater WP heterogeneity in variance over time in their RSA scores, and greater consistency over time in their parenting behaviors, relative to abusive or neglectful mothers. CM group also moderated concurrent and lagged WP associations in RSA and positive parenting. When abusive mothers displayed lower RSA in a given epoch, relative to their task average, they showed concurrent increases in positive parenting, and higher subsequent levels of hostile control in the following epoch, suggesting that it is physiologically taxing for abusive mothers to parent in positive ways. In contrast, lagged effects for non-CM mothers were observed in which RSA decreases led to subsequent WP increases in positive parenting and decreases in control. Reversed models were significant only for neglectful mothers: Increases in positive parenting led to subsequent increases in RSA levels, and increases in strict, hostile control led to subsequent RSA decreases. These results provide new evidence that concurrent and time-ordered coupling in maternal physiology and behavior during parenting vary in theoretically meaningful ways across CM and non-CM mothers. Implications for intervention and study limitations are discussed.

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Social–Cognitive Predictors of Low-Income Parents’ Restriction of Screen Time Among Preschool-Aged Children

Amy Lampard, Janine Jurkowski & Kirsten Davison
Health Education & Behavior, October 2013, Pages 526-530

Abstract:
Parents’ rules regarding child television, DVD, video game, and computer use (screen time) have been associated with lower screen use in children. This study aimed to identify modifiable correlates of this behavior by examining social–cognitive predictors of parents’ restriction of child screen time. Low-income parents (N = 147) of preschool-aged children (2-6 years) completed self-administered questionnaires examining parent and child screen time, parent restriction of screen time, self-efficacy to restrict screen time, and beliefs about screen time. Structural equation modeling results indicated that greater self-efficacy to restrict screen time (β = .29, p = .016) and greater perceived importance of restricting child screen use (β = .55, p < .001) were associated with greater restriction of child screen use, after controlling for parent screen time. Family-based interventions that consider broader attitudinal factors around child screen time may be necessary to engage parents in restricting screen use.

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The Implications of Family Policy Regimes for Mothers’ Autonomy

Alexander Janus
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article is concerned with the implications of different state strategies in the area of family policy for mothers’ autonomy, which I conceptualize as their freedom to choose between employment and homemaking as alternative means of self-fulfillment and economic independence. Using data on 15 OECD countries from the International Social Survey Program, I examine cross-national variation in “the gap” between mothers’ work-family orientations and employment trajectories. Cross-national variation in support for mothers’ choice to work, mothers’ choice to stay at home, or mothers’ life-course flexibility differs from the broad picture suggest by previous research. Specifically, in contrast to suggestions that the well-developed childcare-related provisions in the Scandinavian countries and Belgium and France offer uniquely strong support for mothers’ choice to work, I find that the large majority of countries (13 out of 15) offer at least moderately strong support for “work-centered” mothers’ choice or autonomy. In addition, I find that actual levels of labor force involvement exceeded ideals among the majority of “home-centered” mothers in 7 out of 15 countries. Single mothers living in policy contexts with underdeveloped maternity leave provisions were especially likely to face incentives to work.

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Sibling Configuration Predicts Individual and Descendant Socioeconomic Success in a Modern Post-Industrial Society

David Lawson, Arijeta Makoli & Anna Goodman
PLoS ONE, September 2013

Abstract:
Growing up with many siblings, at least in the context of modern post-industrial low fertility, low mortality societies, is predictive of relatively poor performance on school tests in childhood, lower levels of educational attainment, and lower income throughout adulthood. Recent studies further indicate these relationships hold across generations, so that the descendants of those who grow up with many siblings are also at an apparent socioeconomic disadvantage. In this paper we add to this literature by considering whether such relationships interact with the sex and relative age of siblings. To do this we utilise a unique Swedish multigenerational birth cohort study that provides sibling configuration data on over 10,000 individuals born in 1915–1929, plus all their direct genetic descendants to the present day. Adjusting for parental and birth characteristics, we find that the ‘socioeconomic cost’ of growing up in a large family is independent of both the sex of siblings and the sex of the individual. However, growing up with several older as opposed to several younger siblings is predictive of relatively poor performance on school tests and a lower likelihood of progression to tertiary education. This later-born disadvantage also holds across generations, with the children of those with many older siblings achieving lower levels of educational attainment. Despite these differences, we find that while individual and descendant income is negatively related to the number of siblings, it is not influenced by the relative age of siblings. Thus, our findings imply that the educational disadvantage of later-born children, demonstrated here and in numerous other studies, does not necessarily translate into reduced earnings in adulthood. We discuss potential explanations for this pattern of results, and consider some important directions for future research into sibling configuration and wellbeing in modern societies.

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Racial disparity in risk factors for substantiation of child maltreatment

Tyrone Cheng & Celia Lo
Children and Youth Services Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined racial disparity in impacts that welfare use, substance abuse, depression, and intimate partner violence (IPV) make on substantiation of reported child maltreatment. A sample of 1,493 African Americans, 848 Hispanics, and 2,144 Whites was employed, extracted from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Logistic regression results indicated that each ethnic subsample had a distinct set of significant risk factors for substantiation. For the African American subsample, relatively long periods spent receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reduced likelihood of substantiation, as did caregivers’ alcohol dependence. For the Hispanic subsample, TANF receipt lowered substantiation’s likelihood, while caregivers’ drug use raised its likelihood. For the White subsample, caregivers’ TANF receipt and substance abuse showed no significant impact. No subsample’s substantiation likelihood appeared significantly affected by depression or IPV. Implications for services are suggested.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cargo hold

Trade, Foreign Direct Investment and Immigration Policy Making in the US

Margaret Peters
International Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper argues that immigration policy formation in the US after 1950 can only be understood in the context of the increasing integration of world markets. Increasing trade openness has exposed firms that rely on immigrant labor to foreign competition and increased the likelihood that these firms fail. Increasing openness by other states to foreign direct investment allowed these same firms to move production overseas. Firms' choice to close their doors or to move overseas decreases their need for labor at home, leading them to spend their political capital on issues other than immigration. Their lack of support for open immigration, in turn, allows policymakers to restrict immigration. An examination of voting behavior on immigration in the US Senate shows that the integration of world capital and goods markets has had an important effect on the politics of immigration in the US and shows little support for existing theories of immigration policy formation. In addition to increasing our understanding of immigration policy, this paper, thus, sheds light on how trade openness and firms' choice of production location can affect their preference for other foreign economic policies as well as domestic policies such as labor, welfare and environmental policies.

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Racial Diversity and American Support for Trade Protection

Alexandra Guisinger
University of Notre Dame Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Why does trade protection remain so popular among so many Americans? While support has decreased for most forms of government-supported income transfers and for government regulations in general, trade protection retains wide-spread support across the political spectrum. I argue that for many, trade protection serves as an alternative to transfer programs like Welfare which have become racialized in public discourse. Individuals tend to support some level of redistribution, but this preference appears to be highly conditional on community characteristics, with support falling as community diversity increases. Trade protection, as a non-income based redistribution mechanism, turns the relationship on its head. Trade protection is supported because it aids “the deserving workers” rather than the “undeserving” poor, who are commonly perceived as primarily drawn from minority groups. As a result, support for redistribution via trade protection increases with community diversity, in contrast to support for race and income based redistribution policies. Using individual survey responses from three decades of the American National Election Study (ANES), I analyze support for three types of transfer programs “Welfare”, “Social Security”, and “limits on imports” and find evidence that validates the contention that racial diversity contributes to the continued support of trade protection. Support for trade protection is highest in communities with higher levels of racial diversity; while support for Welfare is lowest in these communities. This finding on trade protection offers an important caveat to the more general literature linking increased diversity with lower support for public goods, adds an additional component to models of individual trade policy preference formation, and help explains the cross-partisan nature of support for trade protection.

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Task Routineness and Trade Policy Preferences

Bruce Blonigen & Jacob McGrew
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Understanding the formation of individual trade policy preferences is a fundamental input into the modeling of trade policy outcomes. Surprisingly, past studies have found mixed evidence that various labor market and industry attributes of workers affect their trade policy preferences, even though recent studies have found that trade policy can have substantial impacts on workers’ incomes. This paper provides the first analysis of the extent to which task routineness affects trade policy preferences using survey data from the American National Election Studies (ANES). We find substantial evidence that greater task routineness leads workers to be much more supportive of import restrictions, consistent with recent evidence on how trade openness puts downward pressure on employment and wages for workers whose occupations involve routine tasks. In fact, other than education levels, task routineness is the only labor market attribute that displays a robust correlation with individuals’ stated trade policy preferences. We also provide evidence that there are some significant interactions between the economic and non-economic factors in our study. For example, women’s trade policy views are much more invariant to their labor market attributes than men.

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Import Competition and Skill Content in U.S. Manufacturing Industries

Yi Lu & Travis Ng
Review of Economics and Statistics, October 2013, Pages 1404-1417

Abstract:
Skill content varies enormously across industries and over time. This paper shows that import competition can explain a significant portion of the variation in various skill measures across manufacturing industries. Industries that face more intense import competition employ more nonroutine skill sets, including cognitive, interpersonal, and manual skills, and fewer cognitive routine skills. In addition, we find that the impact of import competition on skills is not driven by imports from low-wage countries or from China. A number of robustness checks also suggest that our results are unlikely to be driven by econometric problems.

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Easier Done Than Said: Transnational Bribery, Norm Resonance, and the Origins of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Ellen Gutterman
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) is having an unprecedented moment. In 2010, corporations paid $1.8 billion in FCPA fines, penalties, and disgorgements — the most ever recorded in this controversial Act's history and half of all criminal-division penalties at the Justice Department. While this recent pattern of enforcement is itself interesting, a deeper puzzle lies in the origins and early trajectory of the FCPA. Throughout the late 1970s and most of the 1980s, major US business groups opposed its unilateral ban on transnational bribery and lobbied the government to repeal this costly constraint on American businesses operating overseas. Yet, despite a decade of pressure from otherwise powerful groups, the government failed to respond to business demands amidst strategic trade concerns about the FCPA. Why? The paper applies a Constructivist lens, together with concepts from the theory of legal reasoning, to analyze the early history of the FCPA and explain its continued significance in US foreign economic policy. Anti-corruption norm resonance and the pressure publicly to justify norm-transgressing practices made foreign corrupt practices by American businesses “easier done than said.”

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Using Field Experiments in International Relations: A Randomized Study of Anonymous Incorporation

Michael Findley, Daniel Nielson & J.C. Sharman
International Organization, October 2013, Pages 657-693

"After receiving clearance from our university’s institutional review board, we adopted email aliases, posed as international consultants, and requested confidential incorporation from 1,264 corporate service providers in 182 countries...First, there is a substantial level of non-compliance with the international standards mandating that providers obtain certified ID from beneficial owners when forming shell companies...Second, service providers are no more likely to comply with international rules when they are prompted about the existence and content of the rules...Third, service providers are most sensitive to the combination of information about international standards and mention of legal penalties for not following these standards...Although it depressed response rates (as might be expected), it also made providers less, not more, likely to either refuse service or demand certified documents (depending on the specification of the statistical analysis) compared to the placebo condition. This finding is at odds with the idea that sanctions enhance compliance."

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US versus Them: Mass Attitudes toward Offshore Outsourcing

Edward Mansfield & Diana Mutz
World Politics, October 2013, Pages 571-608

Abstract:
Economists have argued that outsourcing is another form of international trade. However, based on a representative national survey of Americans conducted in 2007 and 2009, the distribution of preferences on these two issues appears to be quite different. This article examines the origins of attitudes toward outsourcing, focusing on the extent to which it reflects (1) the economic vulnerabilities of individuals; (2) the information they receive about outsourcing, including their subjective understanding of what constitutes outsourcing; and (3) noneconomic attitudes toward foreign people and foreign countries. The findings emphasize the importance of variations in understandings of the term, as well as the highly symbolic nature of attitudes toward this issue. Individuals who believe the US should distance itself from international affairs more generally, who are nationalistic, or who feel that members of other ethnic and racial groups within the US are less praiseworthy than their own group tend to have particularly hostile reactions to outsourcing. The informational cues people receive are also important influences on their understanding of and attitudes toward outsourcing. Experimental results further emphasize the symbolic nature of attitudes toward outsourcing. Taken together, the results strongly suggest that attitudes are shaped less by the economic consequences of outsourcing than by a sense of “us” versus “them.”

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A race to the bottom? Employment protection and foreign direct investment

William Olney
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A common critique of globalization is that it leads to a race to the bottom. Specifically, it is assumed that multinationals invest in countries with lower regulatory standards and that countries competitively undercut each other’s standards in order to attract foreign capital. This paper tests this hypothesis and finds robust empirical support for both predictions. First, a reduction in employment protection rules leads to an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI). Furthermore, changes in employment protection legislation have a larger impact on the relatively mobile types of FDI. Second, there is evidence that countries are competitively undercutting each other’s labor market standards.

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International trade and wage inequality: A non-monotonic relationship

Dan Liu
Economics Letters, November 2013, Pages 244–246

Abstract:
In this paper, I empirically examine the non-monotonic relationship between openness and within-group wage inequality predicted by Helpman, Itskhoki and Redding (2010a) using a panel data for the US, 1983–2005. Within-group wage inequality is measured for each industry and matched with exports. It can be shown that after controlling for year fixed effects, industry fixed effects and labor compositions, within-group wage inequality first increases with the degree of openness and then decreases. The average turning point, measured by the ratio of exports to domestic sales, is around 0.3–0.35. The results are robust to various measures of within-group wage inequality.

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Policy Uncertainty, Trade and Welfare: Theory and Evidence for China and the U.S.

Kyle Handley & Nuno Limão
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We assess the impact of U.S. trade policy uncertainty (TPU) toward China in a tractable general equilibrium framework with heterogeneous firms. We show that increased TPU reduces investment in export entry and technology upgrading, which in turn reduces trade flows and real income for consumers. We apply the model to analyze China's export boom around its WTO accession and argue that in the case of the U.S. the most important policy effect was a reduction in TPU: granting permanent normal trade relationship status and thus ending the annual threat to revert to Smoot-Hawley tariff levels. We construct a theory-consistent measure of TPU and estimate that it can explain between 22-30% of Chinese exports to the US after WTO accession. We also estimate a welfare gain of removing this TPU for U.S. consumers and find it is of similar magnitude to the U.S. gain from new imported varieties in 1990-2001.

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Stressful Integration

Oded Stark
European Economic Review, October 2013, Pages 1–9

Abstract:
This paper considers the integration of economies as a merger of populations. The premise is that the merger of groups of people alters their social landscape and their comparators. The paper identifies the effect of the merger on aggregate distress. A merger is shown to increase aggregate distress, measured as aggregate relative deprivation: the social distress of a merged population is greater than the sum of the social distress of the constituent populations when apart. Physiological evidence from neighboring disciplines points to an increase in societal stress upon merger.

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The effect of WTO on the extensive and the intensive margins of trade

Pushan Dutt, Ilian Mihov & Timothy Van Zandt
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use 6-digit bilateral trade data to document the effect of WTO/GATT membership on the extensive and intensive product margins of trade. We construct gravity equations for the two product margins where the specifications of these gravity equations aremotivated by a Melitz-Chaney model. The empirical results show that standard gravity variables provide good explanatory power for bilateral trade on both margins. Importantly, we show that the impact of the WTO is concentrated almost exclusively on the extensive product margin of trade, i.e. trade in goods that were not previously traded. In our preferred specification, WTO membership increases the extensive margin of exports by 25%. At the same time, WTO membership has a negative impact on the intensive margin. Our results suggest that WTO membership works as reducing the fixed rather than the variable costs of trade.

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Who governs? Delegations and delegates in global trade lawmaking

Terence Halliday, Josh Pacewicz & Susan Block-Lieb
Regulation & Governance, September 2013, Pages 279–298

Abstract:
Who governs in the international organizations (IOs) that promulgate global norms on trade and commercial law? Using a new analytic approach, this paper focuses on previously invisible attributes of a global legislature – the state and non-state delegations and delegates that create universal norms for international trade and commercial law through the most prominent trade law legislature, the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Based on ten years of fieldwork, extensive interviews, and unique data on delegation and delegate attendance and participation in UNCITRAL's Working Group on Insolvency, we find that the inner core of global trade lawmakers at UNCITRAL represent a tiny and unrepresentative subset of state and non-state actors. This disjunction between UNCITRAL's public face, which accords with a global norm of democratic governance, and its private face, where dominant states and private interests prevail, raises fundamental questions about legitimacy and efficacy of representation in global lawmaking.

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Opening to the East: Shipping Between Europe and Asia, 1770–1830

Peter Solar
Journal of Economic History, September 2013, Pages 625-661

Abstract:
Shipping costs between Europe and Asia were reduced by two-thirds between the 1770s and the 1820s. Copper sheathing and other technical improvements which allowed ships to make more frequent voyages over longer lifetimes accounted for part of the cost reduction. British hegemony in the Indian Ocean, which ended an eighteenth-century arms race, accounted for the rest by allowing the substitution of smaller ships which cost less to build and required fewer men per ton. These changes were at least as important as the elimination of monopoly profits in narrowing intercontinental price differentials during the early nineteenth century.

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The Political Economy of Project Preparation: An Empirical Analysis of World Bank Projects

Christopher Kilby
Journal of Development Economics, November 2013, Pages 211–225

Abstract:
Using a novel application of stochastic frontier analysis to overcome data limitations, this paper finds substantially shorter project preparation periods for World Bank loans to countries that are geopolitically important (especially to the U.S.). Accelerated preparation is one explanation for how the World Bank might increase the number of loans to a recipient member country within a fixed time frame, for example in response to that country siding with powerful donor countries on important UN votes or while that country occupies an elected seat on the UN Security Council or the World Bank Executive Board. This channel of donor influence has important implications for institutional reform and provides a new angle to examine the cost of favoritism and the impact of project preparation.

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The Effects of Transactions Costs and Social Distance: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Jonathan Meer & Oren Rigbi
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, July 2013, Pages 271–296

Abstract:
We use data from a field experiment at Kiva, the online microfinance platform, to examine the role of transactions costs and social distance in decision-making. Requests for loans are either written in English or another language, and our treatment consists of posting requests in the latter category with or without translation. We find evidence that relatively small transactions costs have a large effect on the share of funding coming from speakers of languages other than that in which the request was written. Social distance plays a smaller role in funding decisions.

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Genetic distance, transportation costs, and trade

Paola Giuliano, Antonio Spilimbergo & Giovanni Tonon
Journal of Economic Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Genetic distance, geographic proximity, and economic variables are strongly correlated. Disentangling the effects of these factors is crucial for interpreting these correlations. We show that geographic factors that shaped genetic patterns in the past are also relevant for current transportation costs and could explain the correlation between trading flows and genetic distance. After controlling for geography, the impact of genetic distance on trade disappears. We make our point by constructing a database on geographical barriers, by introducing a novel dataset on transportation costs, and by proposing a new classification of goods according to the ease with which they can be transported.

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International aid and financial crises in donor countries

Hai-Anh Dang, Stephen Knack & Halsey Rogers
European Journal of Political Economy, December 2013, Pages 232–250

Abstract:
The recent global financial crisis placed new economic and fiscal pressures on donor countries that may have long-term effects on their ability and willingness to provide aid. Not only did donor-country incomes fall, but the cause of the drop – the banking and financial-sector crisis – may exacerbate the long-term effect on aid flows. This paper estimates how donor-country banking crises have affected aid flows in the past, using panel data from 24 donor countries between 1977 and 2010. We find that banking crises in donor countries are associated with a substantial additional fall in aid flows, beyond any income-related effects, at least in part because of the high fiscal costs of crisis and the debt hangover in the post-crisis periods. Aid flows from crisis-affected countries are estimated to fall by 28 percent or more (relative to the counterfactual) and to bottom out only about a decade after the banking crisis hits. In addition, our results confirm that donor-country incomes are robustly related to per-capita aid flows, with an elasticity of about 3. Findings are robust to estimation using either static or dynamic panel data methods to account for possible biases. Because many donor countries, which together provide two-thirds of aid, were hit hard by the global recession, this historical evidence indicates that aggregate aid could fall by a significant amount (again, relative to counterfactual) in the coming years. We also explore how crises affect different types of aid, such as social-sector and humanitarian aid, as well as whether strategic interaction among donors is likely to deepen or mitigate the fall in aid.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Down under

Income inequality among American states and the incidence of major depression

Roman Pabayo, Ichiro Kawachi & Stephen Gilman
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Although cross-sectional and ecological studies have shown that higher area-level income inequality is related to increased risk for depression, few longitudinal studies have been conducted. This investigation examines the relationship between state-level income inequality and major depression among adults participating in a population-based, representative longitudinal study.

Methods: We used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (n=34 653). Respondents completed structured diagnostic interviews at baseline (2001–2002) and follow-up (2004–2005). Weighted multilevel modelling was used to determine if US state-level income inequality (measured by the Gini coefficient) was a significant predictor of depression at baseline and at follow-up, while controlling for individual-level and state-level covariates. We also repeated the longitudinal analyses, excluding those who had a history of depression or at baseline, in order to test whether income inequality was related to incident depression.

Results: State-level inequality was associated with increased incidence of depression among women but not men. In comparison to women residing in states belonging to the lowest quintile of income inequality, women were at increased risk for depression in the second (OR=1.18, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.62), third (OR=1.22, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.62), fourth (OR=1.37, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.82) and fifth (OR=1.50, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.96) quintiles at follow-up (p<0.05 for the linear trend).

Conclusions: Living in a state with higher income inequality increases the risk for the development of depression among women.

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Recession Depression: Mental Health Effects of the 2008 Stock Market Crash

Melissa McInerney, Jennifer Mellor & Lauren Hersch Nicholas
Journal of Health Economics, December 2013, Pages 1090–1104

Abstract:
Do sudden, large wealth losses affect mental health? We use exogenous variation in the interview dates of the 2008 Health and Retirement Study to assess the impact of large wealth losses on mental health among older U.S. adults. We compare cross-wave changes in wealth and mental health for respondents interviewed before and after the October 2008 stock market crash. We find that the crash reduced wealth and increased feelings of depression and use of antidepressant drugs, and that these effects were largest among respondents with high levels of stock holdings prior to the crash. These results suggest that sudden wealth losses cause immediate declines in subjective measures of mental health. However, we find no evidence that wealth losses lead to increases in clinically-validated measures of depressive symptoms or indicators of depression.

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Financial distress and use of mental health care: Evidence from antidepressant prescription claims

Haizhen Lin et al.
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using nationwide county-level longitudinal data, we show that recent declines in housing prices are associated with an increased utilization of antidepressant prescriptions among the near elderly. Our results persist in difference-in-difference models using either all non-antidepressant drugs or statins as controls.

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The Effect of Depression on Labor Market Outcomes

Lizhong Peng, Chad Meyerhoefer & Samuel Zuvekas
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
We estimated the effect of depression on labor market outcomes using data from the 2004-2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. After accounting for the endogeneity of depression through a correlated random effects panel data specification, we found that depression reduces the likelihood of employment. We did not, however, find evidence of a causal relationship between depression and hourly wages or weekly hours worked. Our estimates are substantially smaller than those from previous studies, and imply that depression reduces the probability of employment by 2.6 percentage points. In addition, we examined the effect of depression on work impairment and found that depression increases annual work loss days by about 1.4 days (33 percent), which implies that the annual aggregate productivity loses due to depression-induced absenteeism range from $700 million to 1.4 billion in 2009 USD.

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Association of Hormonal Contraceptive Use With Reduced Levels of Depressive Symptoms: A National Study of Sexually Active Women in the United States

Katherine Keyes et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
An estimated 80% of sexually active young women in the United States use hormonal contraceptives during their reproductive years. Associations between hormonal contraceptive use and mood disturbances remain understudied, despite the hypothesis that estrogen and progesterone play a role in mood problems. In this study, we used data from 6,654 sexually active nonpregnant women across 4 waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (1994–2008), focusing on women aged 25–34 years. Women were asked about hormonal contraceptive use in the context of a current sexual partnership; thus, contraceptive users were compared with other sexually active women who were using either nonhormonal contraception or no contraception. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. At ages 25–34 years, hormonal contraceptive users had lower mean levels of concurrent depressive symptoms (β = −1.04, 95% confidence interval: −1.73, −0.35) and were less likely to report a past-year suicide attempt (odds ratio = 0.37, 95% confidence interval: 0.14, 0.95) than women using low-efficacy contraception or no contraception, in models adjusted for propensity scores for hormonal contraceptive use. Longitudinal analyses indicated that associations between hormonal contraception and depressive symptoms were stable. Hormonal contraception may reduce levels of depressive symptoms among young women. Systematic investigation of exogenous hormones as a potential preventive factor in psychiatric epidemiology is warranted.

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Suicidal and Online: How Do Online Behaviors Inform Us of This High-Risk Population?

Keith Harris, John McLean & Jeanie Sheffield
Death Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
To assist suicide prevention we need a better understanding of how suicidal individuals act in their environment, and the online world offers an ideal opportunity to examine daily behaviors. This anonymous survey (N = 1,016) provides first-of-its-kind empirical evidence demonstrating suicide-risk people (n = 290) are unique in their online behaviors. Suicidal users reported more time online, greater likelihood of developing online personal relationships, and greater use of online forums. In addition, suicide-risk women reported more time browsing/surfing and social networking. We conclude that suicide prevention efforts should respond to suicide-risk users’ greater demands for online interpersonal communications.

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Ethnicity Moderates the Association Between 5-HTTLPR and National Suicide Rates

Anne Schild et al.
Archives of Suicide Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The association between ethnicity, national suicide rates, and the functional serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR), under consideration of the role of economic indicators, national alcohol intake, and national happiness scores was analyzed with an ecologic analysis. Data on allelic frequencies of the short (s) allele from 38 countries from over 100,000 healthy screened or general population individuals were analyzed with multiple regression models. Allele frequency varied widely both within and across ethnicities and an ethnicity-based interaction between national suicide rates and 5-HTTLPR allele frequency was revealed with the s allele acting as protective factor in Caucasian and as a risk factor in non-Caucasian populations. This interaction effect underlines the importance of ethnicity as a moderating factor in the genetics of suicide.

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Integrating Social Science and Behavioral Genetics: Testing the Origin of Socioeconomic Disparities in Depression Using a Genetically Informed Design

Briana Mezuk, John Myers & Kenneth Kendler
American Journal of Public Health, October 2013, Pages S145-S151

Objectives: We tested 3 hypotheses — social causation, social drift, and common cause — regarding the origin of socioeconomic disparities in major depression and determined whether the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and major depression varied by genetic liability for major depression.

Methods: Data were from a sample of female twins in the baseline Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders interviewed between 1987 and 1989 (n = 2153). We used logistic regression and structural equation twin models to evaluate these 3 hypotheses.

Results: Consistent with the social causation hypothesis, education (odds ratio [OR] = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.66, 0.93; P < .01) and income (OR = 0.93; 95% CI = 0.89, 0.98; P < .01) were significantly related to past-year major depression. Upward social mobility was associated with lower risk of depression. There was no evidence that childhood SES was related to development of major depression (OR = 0.98; 95% CI = 0.89, 1.09; P > .1). Consistent with a common genetic cause, there was a negative correlation between the genetic components of major depression and education (r2 =  –0.22). Co-twin control analyses indicated a protective effect of education and income on major depression even after accounting for genetic liability.

Conclusions: This study utilized a genetically informed design to address how social position relates to major depression. Results generally supported the social causation model.

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Association between subjective and cortisol stress response depends on the menstrual cycle phase

Annie Duchesne & Jens Pruessner
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relation between the physiologic and subjective stress responses is inconsistently reported across studies. Menstrual cycle phases variations have been found to influence the psychophysiological stress response; however little is known about possible cycle phase differences in the relationship between physiological and subjective stress responses. This study examined the effect of menstrual cycle phase in the association between subjective stress and physiological response. Forty-five women in either the follicular (n = 21) or the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle were exposed to a psychosocial stress task. Salivary cortisol, cardiovascular, and subjective stress were assessed throughout the experiment. Results revealed a significant group difference in the association between peak levels of cortisol and post task subjective stress. In women in the follicular phase a negative association was observed (r2 = .199 p= 0.04), while this relation was positive in the group of women in the luteal phase (r2= .227 p = 0.02). These findings suggest a possible role of sex hormones in modulating the cortisol stress response function in emotion regulation.

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Social group memberships protect against future depression, alleviate depression symptoms and prevent depression relapse

Tegan Cruwys et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of research suggests that a lack of social connectedness is strongly related to current depression and increases vulnerability to future depression. However, few studies speak to the potential benefits of fostering social connectedness among persons already depressed or to the protective properties of this for future depression trajectories. We suggest that this may be in part because connectedness tends to be understood in terms of (difficult to establish) ties to specific individuals rather than ties to social groups. The current study addresses these issues by using population data to demonstrate that the number of groups that a person belongs to is a strong predictor of subsequent depression (such that fewer groups predicts more depression), and that the unfolding benefits of social group memberships are stronger among individuals who are depressed than among those who are non-depressed. These analyses control for initial group memberships, initial depression, age, gender, socioeconomic status, subjective health status, relationship status and ethnicity, and were examined both proximally (across 2 years, N=5055) and distally (across 4 years, N=4087). Depressed respondents with no group memberships who joined one group reduced their risk of depression relapse by 24%; if they joined three groups their risk of relapse reduced by 63%. Together this evidence suggests that membership of social groups is both protective against developing depression and curative of existing depression. The implications of these results for public health and primary health interventions are discussed.

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Prevalence of mental health disorders among low-income African American adolescents

Gayle Byck et al.
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, October 2013, Pages 1555-1567

Purpose: Data on the prevalence of mental health disorders for low-income, urban African American adolescents are scarce. This study presents data about the burden of mental disorders for this understudied population.

Methods: Mental disorders were assessed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (C-DISC), Youth Self-Report (YSR), and Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) among a sample of adolescents and their caregivers from very impoverished neighborhoods in a Southern city.

Results: Based on the C-DISC, 3.8, 5.1 and 7.7 % of adolescents met diagnostic criteria for major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and conduct disorder, respectively. There were significant differences among some of the mental health disorders based on adolescent and caregiver characteristics such as sex, school status, caregiver work status, and income level. We found a low prevalence of alcohol, marijuana, and substance abuse and dependence disorders.

Conclusions: Information about the prevalence of mental health disorders in specific communities and populations can assist in addressing unmet needs, planning for services and treatment, and reducing health disparities.

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Exploring The Intergenerational Persistence Of Mental Health: Evidence From Three Generations

David Johnston, Stefanie Schurer & Michael Shields
Journal of Health Economics, December 2013, Pages 1077–1089

Abstract:
This paper uses data from the 1970 British Cohort Study to quantify the intergenerational persistence of mental health, and the long-run economic costs associated with poor parental mental health. We find a strong and significant intergenerational correlation that is robust to different covariate sets, sample restrictions, model specifications and potential endogeneity. Importantly, the intergenerational persistence is economically relevant, with maternal mental health associated with lasting effects on the child's educational attainment, future household income and the probability of having criminal convictions. These results do not disappear after controlling for children's own childhood and adulthood mental health.

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Sex Differences in the Persistence of the Amygdala Response to Negative Material

Joseph Andreano, Bradford Dickerson & Lisa Feldman Barrett
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have indicated that men and women have different amygdala responses to novel (vs familiar) and valenced (positive vs negative) material. It is not known, however, whether these affective sex differences are related. In this study, we tested whether women have more persistent amygdala responses to familiar, negative material than men do. During fMRI, male and female participants viewed evocative images that varied in novelty and valence. Women and men showed equivalent responses to novel negative material, but women showed a sustained amygdala response to familiar negative material relative to men, indicating that women's amygdala responses were more persistent over multiple repetitions of negative material. Individuals with more persistent amygdala responses also reported greater levels of negative affect. These findings have implications for sex differences in the incidence of affective disorders.

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Impact of civil war on emotion recognition: The denial of sadness in Sierra Leone

Maria Allessandra Umiltà et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, September 2013

Abstract:
Studies of children with atypical emotional experience demonstrate that childhood exposure to high levels of hostility and threat biases emotion perception. This study investigates emotion processing, in former child soldiers and non-combatant civilians. All participants have experienced prolonged violence exposure during childhood. The study, carried out in Sierra Leone, aimed to examine the effects of exposure to and forced participation in acts of extreme violence on the emotion processing of young adults war survivors. A total of 76 young, male adults (38 former child soldier survivors and 38 civilian survivors) were tested in order to assess participants' ability to identify four different facial emotion expressions from photographs and movies. Both groups were able to recognize facial expressions of emotion. However, despite their general ability to correctly identify facial emotions, participants showed a significant response bias in their recognition of sadness. Both former soldiers and civilians made more errors in identifying expressions of sadness than in the other three emotions and when mislabeling sadness participants most often described it as anger. Conversely, when making erroneous identifications of other emotions, participants were most likely to label the expressed emotion as sadness. In addition, while for three of the four emotions participants were better able to make a correct identification the greater the intensity of the expression, this pattern was not observed for sadness. During movies presentation the recognition of sadness was significantly worse for soldiers. While both former child soldiers and civilians were found to be able to identify facial emotions, a significant response bias in their attribution of negative emotions was observed. Such bias was particularly pronounced in former child soldiers. These findings point to a pervasive long-lasting effect of childhood exposure to violence on emotion processing in later life.

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Perceived control: A general psychological vulnerability factor for hoarding

Amanda Raines et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, January 2014, Pages 175–179

Abstract:
Perceived control, the degree to which the environment is believed to be within an individual’s control, has been identified as a key vulnerability factor among numerous anxiety conditions. Specifically, it has been suggested that a sense of uncontrollability over potentially threatening events and emotions leads to increased fear and avoidance behaviors. Patterns of behavioral avoidance are central to theoretical models and observations of hoarding. However, no studies to date have examined the associations between perceived control and hoarding. The primary aim of the current study was to examine relationships between perceived control and hoarding behaviors. Participants consisted of undergraduate students (N = 180). As predicted, perceived control was significantly associated with increased hoarding severity even after controlling for overall negative affect. In addition, perceived control was significantly associated with several more specific hoarding behaviors including acquiring and difficulty discarding. When examining specific perceived control subfactors, only the threat control subfactor was associated with increased hoarding severity. The current study supports previous research suggesting that diminished perceived control over aversive events is central to the development and maintenance of numerous anxiety-related conditions. Moreover, the current study adds to a growing body of literature identifying potential risk factors for hoarding.

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Sustained Striatal Activity Predicts Eudaimonic Well-Being and Cortisol Output

Aaron Heller et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Eudaimonic well-being — a sense of purpose, meaning, and engagement with life — is protective against psychopathology and predicts physical health, including lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Although it has been suggested that the ability to engage the neural circuitry of reward may promote well-being and mediate the relationship between well-being and health, this hypothesis has remained untested. To test this hypothesis, we had participants view positive, neutral, and negative images while fMRI data were collected. Individuals with sustained activity in the striatum and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to positive stimuli over the course of the scan session reported greater well-being and had lower cortisol output. This suggests that sustained engagement of reward circuitry in response to positive events underlies well-being and adaptive regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

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Oxytocin Receptor Genotype Modulates Ventral Striatal Activity to Social Cues and Response to Stressful Life Events

Eva Loth et al.
Biological Psychiatry, forthcoming

Background: Common variants in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) have been shown to influence social and affective behavior and to moderate the effect of adverse experiences on risk for social-affective problems. However, the intermediate neurobiological mechanisms are not fully understood. Although human functional neuroimaging studies have reported that oxytocin effects on social behavior and emotional states are mediated by amygdala function, animal models indicate that oxytocin receptors in the ventral striatum (VS) modulate sensitivity to social reinforcers. This study aimed to comprehensively investigate OXTR-dependent brain mechanisms associated with social-affective problems.

Methods: In a sample of 1445 adolescents we tested the effect of 23-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms across the OXTR region and stressful life events (SLEs) on functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen level–dependent activity in the VS and amygdala to animated angry faces. Single nucleotide polymorphisms for which gene-wide significant effects on brain function were found were then carried forward to examine associations with social-affective problems.

Results: A gene-wide significant effect of rs237915 showed that adolescents with minor CC-genotype had significantly lower VS activity than CT/TT-carriers. Significant or nominally significant gene × environment effects on emotional problems (in girls) and peer problems (in boys) revealed a strong increase in clinical symptoms as a function of SLEs in CT/TT-carriers but not CC-homozygotes. However, in low-SLE environments, CC-homozygotes had more emotional problems (girls) and peer problems (boys). Moreover, among CC-homozygotes, reduced VS activity was related to more peer problems.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that a common OXTR-variant affects brain responsiveness to negative social cues and that in “risk-carriers” reduced sensitivity is simultaneously associated with more social-affective problems in “favorable environments” and greater resilience against stressful experiences.

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Inflammatory dietary pattern and risk of depression among women

Michel Lucas et al.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Backround: Inflammation is considered as a mechanism leading to depression, but the association between inflammatory dietary pattern and depression risk is unknown.

Methods: Using reduced-rank regression, we identified a dietary pattern that was related to plasma levels of inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor receptor 2), and we conducted a prospective analysis of the relationship of this pattern and depression risk among participants in the Nurses’ Health Study. A total of 43,685 women (aged 50−77) without depression at baseline (1996) were included and followed up until 2008. Diet information was obtained from food frequency questionnaires completed between 1984 through 2002 and computed as cumulative average of dietary intakes with a 2-year latency applied. We used a strict definition of depression that required both self-reported physician-diagnosed depression and use of antidepressants, and a broader definition that included women who reported either clinical diagnosis or antidepressant use.

Results: During the 12-year follow-up, we documented 2,594 incident cases of depression using the stricter definition and 6,446 using the broader definition. After adjustment for body mass index and other potential confounders, relative risks comparing extreme quintiles of the inflammatory dietary pattern were 1.41 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.22, 1.63; P-trend <.001) for the strict definition and 1.29 (95% CI, 1.18, 1.41; P-trend <.001) for the broader definition of depression.

Conclusions: The inflammatory dietary pattern is associated with a higher depression risk. This finding suggests that chronic inflammation may underlie the association between diet and depression.

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Cortisol and PTSD Symptoms Among Male and Female High-Exposure 9/11 Survivors

Sharon Dekel et al.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, forthcoming

Abstract:
Only a few studies have examined cortisol response to trauma-related stressors in relation to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We followed a sample of high-exposure survivors of the attacks on September 11, 2001 (9/11; 32 men and 29 women) and examined their cortisol response after recalling the escape from the attack, 7 and 18 months post-9/11. PTSD symptoms and saliva cortisol levels were assessed before and after trauma recollection. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that PTSD symptoms and male sex predicted increased cortisol response following recollections. For men, elevated cortisol was associated with greater severity of reexperiencing symptoms (p < .001) and lower severity of avoidance symptoms (p < .001). For women, recall-induced cortisol was minimal and unrelated to PTSD symptoms (p = .164 and p = .331, respectively). These findings suggest that augmented cortisol response to trauma-related stressors may be evident in men reporting symptoms of PTSD. Thus, as cortisol abnormalities related to PTSD symptoms appear sex-specific, future research on mechanisms of sex differences in response to trauma is warranted.

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Longitudinal patterns of autonomic nervous system responding to emotion evocation among children with conduct problems and/or depression

Karen Pang & Theodore Beauchaine
Developmental Psychobiology, November 2013, Pages 698–706

Abstract:
Conduct disorder (CD) and depression co-occur at far greater levels than chance, despite largely separate diagnostic criteria. One potential shared mechanism of this comorbidity is emotion dysregulation, which characterizes both internalizing and externalizing disorders. Previous research demonstrates that respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) — a peripheral biomarker of emotion regulation — is attenuated among children with CD, and among children with depression. However, few studies have examined biomarkers of emotion regulation as a function of heterotypic comorbidity. We evaluated longitudinal patterns of RSA and RSA reactivity to emotion evocation across three annual assessments among 207 children diagnosed at ages 8–12 years with CD (n = 30), depression (n = 28), comorbid CD and depression (n = 80), or no psychiatric condition (n = 69). Using continuous symptom counts as predictors, Depression × CD interactions were observed for both Time 1 resting RSA and Time 1 RSA reactivity. CD, depression, and their interaction were all associated with low resting RSA at Time 1. In addition, concurrently elevated CD and depression scores predicted the greatest RSA reactivity to emotion evocation. Psychopathology scores were unrelated to developmental changes in RSA and RSA reactivity over time.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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