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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

No means

Does Welfare Reduce Poverty?

George Borjas

Research in Economics, forthcoming

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

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Wealth and Welfare: Divergent Moral Reactions to Ethical Consumer Choices

Jenny Olson et al.

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

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

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

Ronald Simons et al.

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

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

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

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

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

Abhijit Banerjee et al.

Harvard Working Paper, December 2015

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

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

Dylan Jackson

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

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

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

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

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SNAP Recency and Educational Outcomes

Anna Gassman-Pines & Laura Bellows

Duke University Working Paper, November 2015

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

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

Bill Wright et al.

Health Affairs, January 2016, Pages 20-27

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

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

Marianne Bitler & Hilary Hoynes

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

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

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

Mariana Arcaya et al.

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

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

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

Jin Huang & Ellen Barnidge

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

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

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The Effect of Public Transportation Accessibility on Food Insecurity

Deokrye Baek

Eastern Economic Journal, Winter 2016, Pages 104-134

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Spiritual significance

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

Jeremy Ginges et al.

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

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

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Religion and Bank Loan Terms

Wen He & Maggie (Rong) Hu

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

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

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

Juliette Galonnier & Diego de los Rios

Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

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

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Imagining Atheists: Reducing Fundamental Distrust in Atheist Intergroup Attitudes

Jordan LaBouff & Annie Ledoux

Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

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

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

David Buckley

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

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

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Men, Muslims, and Attitudes toward Gender Inequality

Danielle Lussier & Steven Fish

Politics and Religion, forthcoming

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

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The consequences of religious strictness for political participation

Charles Dahan & James Monogan

Social Science Journal, forthcoming

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

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

Joseph Baker & Andrew Whitehead

Social Forces, forthcoming

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

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

Kathryn Johnson et al.

Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 25, 2016

Shipping the jobs

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

Bradford Jensen, Dennis Quinn & Stephen Weymouth

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

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

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Trade, Education, and The Shrinking Middle Class

Emily Blanchard & Gerald Willmann

Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

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

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International Coordination

Jeffrey Frankel

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

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

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Contracting and the Division of the Gains from Trade

Andrew Bernard & Swati Dhingra

NBER Working Paper, October 2015

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

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Exporting Sweatshops? Evidence from Myanmar

Mari Tanaka

Stanford Working Paper, November 2015

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

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Do the poor benefit from globalization regardless of institutional quality?

Andreas Bergh, Irina Mirkina & Therese Nilsson

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

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

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Migrants, Ancestors, and Investments

Konrad Burchardi, Thomas Chaney & Tarek Hassan

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

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

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Globalization and Collective Labor Rights

Robert Blanton & Shannon Lindsey Blanton

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

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

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Did China Tire Safeguard Save U.S. Workers?

Sunghoon Chung, Joonhyung Lee & Thomas Osang

European Economic Review, forthcoming

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

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

Barry Eichengreen, Romain Lafarguette & Arnaud Mehl

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

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

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English Language Premium: Evidence From A Policy Experiment In India

Tanika Chakraborty & Shilpi Kapur Bakshi

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

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Whatever you need

The Charity of the Extremely Wealthy

Tom Coupe & Claire Monteiro

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

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

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

Virginie Charles-Sire, Jordy Stefan & Nicolas Guéguen

Social Influence, forthcoming

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

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

Amanda Morin et al.

Current Psychology, December 2015, Pages 693-701

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

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

Marijn Meijers et al.

Social Influence, Fall 2015, Pages 250-263

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

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Charity, signaling, and welfare

Haley Brokensha, Lina Eriksson & Ian Ravenscroft

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

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

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Volunteering is prospectively associated with health care use among older adults

Eric Kim & Sara Konrath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serhiy Kandul

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

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Seemingly

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

Andreas Olsson et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

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

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

Jean-Julien Aucouturier et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

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

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

Sascha Topolinski & Lea Boecker

Appetite, forthcoming

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

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

Liad Weiss & Gita Venkataramani Johar

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

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

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Not Quite So Blind: Semantic Processing Despite Inattentional Blindness

Robert Schnuerch et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

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

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

Melanie Sauerland et al.

Consciousness and Cognition, February 2016, Pages 93-104

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

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“Priming” Hand Hygiene Compliance in Clinical Environments

Dominic King et al.

Health Psychology, January 2016, Pages 96-101

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

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

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

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

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Social learning across psychological distance

David Kalkstein et al.

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

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 22, 2016

Let it snow

A top-down approach to projecting market impacts of climate change

Derek Lemoine & Sarah Kapnick

Nature Climate Change, January 2016, Pages 51–55

Abstract:
To evaluate policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, economic models require estimates of how future climate change will affect well-being. So far, nearly all estimates of the economic impacts of future warming have been developed by combining estimates of impacts in individual sectors of the economy. Recent work has used variation in warming over time and space to produce top-down estimates of how past climate and weather shocks have affected economic output. Here we propose a statistical framework for converting these top-down estimates of past economic costs of regional warming into projections of the economic cost of future global warming. Combining the latest physical climate models, socioeconomic projections, and economic estimates of past impacts, we find that future warming could raise the expected rate of economic growth in richer countries, reduce the expected rate of economic growth in poorer countries, and increase the variability of growth by increasing the climate’s variability. This study suggests we should rethink the focus on global impacts and the use of deterministic frameworks for modelling impacts and policy.

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How Has Human-Induced Climate Change Affected California Drought Risk?

Linyin Cheng et al.

Journal of Climate, January 2016, Pages 111–120

Abstract:
The current California drought has cast a heavy burden on statewide agriculture and water resources, further exacerbated by concurrent extreme high temperatures. Furthermore, industrial-era global radiative forcing brings into question the role of long-term climate change with regard to California drought. How has human-induced climate change affected California drought risk? Here, observations and model experimentation are applied to characterize this drought employing metrics that synthesize drought duration, cumulative precipitation deficit, and soil moisture depletion. The model simulations show that increases in radiative forcing since the late nineteenth century induce both increased annual precipitation and increased surface temperature over California, consistent with prior model studies and with observed long-term change. As a result, there is no material difference in the frequency of droughts defined using bivariate indicators of precipitation and near-surface (10 cm) soil moisture, because shallow soil moisture responds most sensitively to increased evaporation driven by warming, which compensates the increase in the precipitation. However, when using soil moisture within a deep root zone layer (1 m) as covariate, droughts become less frequent because deep soil moisture responds most sensitively to increased precipitation. The results illustrate the different land surface responses to anthropogenic forcing that are relevant for near-surface moisture exchange and for root zone moisture availability. The latter is especially relevant for agricultural impacts as the deep layer dictates moisture availability for plants, trees, and many crops. The results thus indicate that the net effect of climate change has made agricultural drought less likely and that the current severe impacts of drought on California’s agriculture have not been substantially caused by long-term climate changes.

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Did the Kyoto Protocol fail? An evaluation of the effect of the Kyoto Protocol on CO2 emissions

Nicole Grunewald & Inmaculada Martinez-Zarzoso

Environment and Development Economics, February 2016, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
In this paper, we empirically investigate the impact of the Kyoto Protocol on CO2 emissions using a sample of 170 countries over the period 1992–2009. We propose the use of a difference-in-differences estimator with matching to address the endogeneity of the policy variable, namely Kyoto commitments. Countries are matched according to observable characteristics to create a suitable counterfactual. We correspondingly estimate a panel data model for the whole sample and the matched sample and compare the results to those obtained using an instrumental variable approach. The main results indicate that Kyoto Protocol commitments have a measurable reducing effect on CO2 emissions, indicating that a treaty often deemed a ‘failure’ may in fact be producing some non-negligible effects for those who signed it.

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Carbon emissions in China: How far can new efforts bend the curve?

Xiliang Zhang et al.

Energy Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
While China is on track to meet its global climate commitments through 2020, China’s post-2020 CO2 emissions trajectory is highly uncertain, with projections varying widely across studies. Over the past year, the Chinese government has announced new policy directives to deepen economic reform, protect the environment, and limit fossil energy use in China. To evaluate how new policy directives could affect energy and climate change outcomes, we simulate two levels of policy effort — a Continued Effort scenario that extends current policies beyond 2020 and an Accelerated Effort scenario that reflects newly announced policies — on the evolution of China’s energy and economic system over the next several decades. We perform simulations using the China-in-Global Energy Model, C-GEM, a bespoke recursive-dynamic computable general equilibrium model with global coverage and detailed calibration of China’s economy and future trends. Importantly, we find that both levels of policy effort would bend down the CO2 emissions trajectory before 2050 without undermining economic development. Specifically, in the Accelerated Effort scenario, we find that coal use peaks around 2020, and CO2 emissions level off around 2030 at 10 bmt, without undermining continued economic growth consistent with China reaching the status of a “well-off society” by 2050.

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Climate change, rice crops, and violence: Evidence from Indonesia

Raul Caruso, Ilaria Petrarca & Roberto Ricciuti

Journal of Peace Research, January 2016, Pages 66-83

Abstract:
This article contributes to the literature on the nexus between climate change and violence by focusing on Indonesia over the period 1993–2003. Rice is the staple food in Indonesia and we investigate whether its scarcity can be blamed for fueling violence. Following insights from the natural science literature, which claims that increases in minimum temperature reduce rice yields, we maintain that increases in minimum temperature reduce food availability in many provinces, which in turn raises the emergence of actual violence. We adopt an instrumental variable approach and select the instruments taking into account the rice growing calendar. Results show that an increase of the minimum temperature during the core month of the rice growing season, that is, December, determines an increase in violence stimulated by the reduction in future rice production per capita. Results are robust across a number of different functional specifications and estimation methods. From a methodological point of view, we claim that the inconclusive results obtained in this literature may be caused by an overlook of the correct bundle crop/temperature. Studies concentrating on several countries with different crops and using variations of average temperature as a measure of climate change missed the biological mechanism behind the relationship between climate change and violence.

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Energy use, blue water footprint, and greenhouse gas emissions for current food consumption patterns and dietary recommendations in the US

Michelle Tom, Paul Fischbeck & Chris Hendrickson

Environment Systems and Decisions, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article measures the changes in energy use, blue water footprint, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with shifting from current US food consumption patterns to three dietary scenarios, which are based, in part, on the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines (US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services in Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, 7th edn, US Government Printing Office, Washington, 2010). Amidst the current overweight and obesity epidemic in the USA, the Dietary Guidelines provide food and beverage recommendations that are intended to help individuals achieve and maintain healthy weight. The three dietary scenarios we examine include (1) reducing Caloric intake levels to achieve “normal” weight without shifting food mix, (2) switching current food mix to USDA recommended food patterns, without reducing Caloric intake, and (3) reducing Caloric intake levels and shifting current food mix to USDA recommended food patterns, which support healthy weight. This study finds that shifting from the current US diet to dietary Scenario 1 decreases energy use, blue water footprint, and GHG emissions by around 9 %, while shifting to dietary Scenario 2 increases energy use by 43 %, blue water footprint by 16 %, and GHG emissions by 11 %. Shifting to dietary Scenario 3, which accounts for both reduced Caloric intake and a shift to the USDA recommended food mix, increases energy use by 38 %, blue water footprint by 10 %, and GHG emissions by 6 %. These perhaps counterintuitive results are primarily due to USDA recommendations for greater Caloric intake of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and fish/seafood, which have relatively high resource use and emissions per Calorie.

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US power plant sites at risk of future sea-level rise

R. Bierkandt, M. Auffhammer & A. Levermann

Environmental Research Letters, December 2015

Abstract:
Unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions may increase global mean sea-level by about 1 meter during this century. Such elevation of the mean sea-level enhances the risk of flooding of coastal areas. We compute the power capacity that is currently out-of-reach of a 100-year coastal flooding but will be exposed to such a flood by the end of the century for different US states, if no adaptation measures are taken. The additional exposed capacity varies strongly among states. For Delaware it is 80% of the mean generated power load. For New York this number is 63% and for Florida 43%. The capacity that needs additional protection compared to today increases by more than 250% for Texas, 90% for Florida and 70% for New York. Current development in power plant building points towards a reduced future exposure to sea-level rise: proposed and planned power plants are less exposed than those which are currently operating. However, power plants that have been retired or canceled were less exposed than those operating at present. If sea-level rise is properly accounted for in future planning, an adaptation to sea-level rise may be costly but possible.

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Enhanced warming of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean under climate change

Vincent Saba et al.

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment of projected global and regional ocean temperature change is based on global climate models that have coarse (∼100 km) ocean and atmosphere resolutions. In the Northwest Atlantic, the ensemble of global climate models has a warm bias in sea surface temperature due to a misrepresentation of the Gulf Stream position; thus, existing climate change projections are based on unrealistic regional ocean circulation. Here we compare simulations and an atmospheric CO2 doubling response from four global climate models of varying ocean and atmosphere resolution. We find that the highest resolution climate model (∼10 km ocean, ∼50 km atmosphere) resolves Northwest Atlantic circulation and water mass distribution most accurately. The CO2 doubling response from this model shows that upper-ocean (0–300 m) temperature in the Northwest Atlantic Shelf warms at a rate nearly twice as fast as the coarser models and nearly three times faster than the global average. This enhanced warming is accompanied by an increase in salinity due to a change in water mass distribution that is related to a retreat of the Labrador Current and a northerly shift of the Gulf Stream. Both observations and the climate model demonstrate a robust relationship between a weakening Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and an increase in the proportion of Warm-Temperate Slope Water entering the Northwest Atlantic Shelf. Therefore, prior climate change projections for the Northwest Atlantic may be far too conservative. These results point to the need to improve simulations of basin and regional-scale ocean circulation.

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Grey swan tropical cyclones

Ning Lin & Kerry Emanuel

Nature Climate Change, January 2016, Pages 106–111

Abstract:
We define ‘grey swan’ tropical cyclones as high-impact storms that would not be predicted based on history but may be foreseeable using physical knowledge together with historical data. Here we apply a climatological–hydrodynamic method to estimate grey swan tropical cyclone storm surge threat for three highly vulnerable coastal regions. We identify a potentially large risk in the Persian Gulf, where tropical cyclones have never been recorded, and larger-than-expected threats in Cairns, Australia, and Tampa, Florida. Grey swan tropical cyclones striking Tampa, Cairns and Dubai can generate storm surges of about 6 m, 5.7 m and 4 m, respectively, with estimated annual exceedance probabilities of about 1/10,000. With climate change, these probabilities can increase significantly over the twenty-first century (to 1/3,100–1/1,100 in the middle and 1/2,500–1/700 towards the end of the century for Tampa). Worse grey swan tropical cyclones, inducing surges exceeding 11 m in Tampa and 7 m in Dubai, are also revealed with non-negligible probabilities, especially towards the end of the century.

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Household Location Decisions and the Value of Climate Amenities

Paramita Sinha & Maureen Cropper

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
We value climate amenities by estimating a discrete location choice model for U.S. households. The utility of each Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) depends on location-specific amenities, earnings opportunities, housing costs, and the cost of moving to the MSA from the household head’s birthplace. We use the estimated trade-off between wages, housing costs and climate amenities to value changes in mean winter and summer temperatures. We find that households sort among MSAs due to heterogeneous tastes for winter and summer temperature. Preferences for winter and summer temperature are negatively correlated: households that prefer milder winters, on average, prefer cooler summers and households that prefer colder winters prefer warmer summers. Households in the Midwest region, on average, have lower marginal willingness to pay to increase winter and reduce summer temperatures than households in the Pacific and South Atlantic census divisions. We use our results to value changes in winter and summer temperature for the period 2020 to 2050 under the B1 (climate-friendly) and A2 (more extreme) climate scenarios. On average, households are willing to pay 1% of income to avoid the B1 scenario and 2.4% of income to avoid the A2 scenario.

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Enhanced weathering strategies for stabilizing climate and averting ocean acidification

Lyla Taylor et al.

Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Chemical breakdown of rocks, weathering, is an important but very slow part of the carbon cycle that ultimately leads to CO2 being locked up in carbonates on the ocean floor. Artificial acceleration of this carbon sink via distribution of pulverized silicate rocks across terrestrial landscapes may help offset anthropogenic CO2 emissions. We show that idealized enhanced weathering scenarios over less than a third of tropical land could cause significant drawdown of atmospheric CO2 and ameliorate ocean acidification by 2100. Global carbon cycle modelling driven by ensemble Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) projections of twenty-first-century climate change (RCP8.5, business-as-usual; RCP4.5, medium-level mitigation) indicates that enhanced weathering could lower atmospheric CO2 by 30–300 ppm by 2100, depending mainly on silicate rock application rate (1 kg or 5 kg m−2 yr−1) and composition. At the higher application rate, end-of-century ocean acidification is reversed under RCP4.5 and reduced by about two-thirds under RCP8.5. Additionally, surface ocean aragonite saturation state, a key control on coral calcification rates, is maintained above 3.5 throughout the low latitudes, thereby helping maintain the viability of tropical coral reef ecosystems. However, we highlight major issues of cost, social acceptability, and potential unanticipated consequences that will limit utilization and emphasize the need for urgent efforts to phase down fossil fuel emissions.

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Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe

Catherine O'Reilly et al.

Geophysical Research Letters, 28 December 2015, Pages 10,773–10,781

Abstract:
In this first worldwide synthesis of in situ and satellite-derived lake data, we find that lake summer surface water temperatures rose rapidly (global mean = 0.34°C decade−1) between 1985 and 2009. Our analyses show that surface water warming rates are dependent on combinations of climate and local characteristics, rather than just lake location, leading to the counterintuitive result that regional consistency in lake warming is the exception, rather than the rule. The most rapidly warming lakes are widely geographically distributed, and their warming is associated with interactions among different climatic factors — from seasonally ice-covered lakes in areas where temperature and solar radiation are increasing while cloud cover is diminishing (0.72°C decade−1) to ice-free lakes experiencing increases in air temperature and solar radiation (0.53°C decade−1). The pervasive and rapid warming observed here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impacts into vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes.

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Round-the-clock power supply and a sustainable economy via synergistic integration of solar thermal power and hydrogen processes

Emre Gençer et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 29 December 2015, Pages 15821–15826

Abstract:
We introduce a paradigm — “hydricity” — that involves the coproduction of hydrogen and electricity from solar thermal energy and their judicious use to enable a sustainable economy. We identify and implement synergistic integrations while improving each of the two individual processes. When the proposed integrated process is operated in a standalone, solely power production mode, the resulting solar water power cycle can generate electricity with unprecedented efficiencies of 40–46%. Similarly, in standalone hydrogen mode, pressurized hydrogen is produced at efficiencies approaching ∼50%. In the coproduction mode, the coproduced hydrogen is stored for uninterrupted solar power production. When sunlight is unavailable, we envision that the stored hydrogen is used in a “turbine”-based hydrogen water power (H2WP) cycle with the calculated hydrogen-to-electricity efficiency of 65–70%, which is comparable to the fuel cell efficiencies. The H2WP cycle uses much of the same equipment as the solar water power cycle, reducing capital outlays. The overall sun-to-electricity efficiency of the hydricity process, averaged over a 24-h cycle, is shown to approach ∼35%, which is nearly the efficiency attained by using the best multijunction photovoltaic cells along with batteries. In comparison, our proposed process has the following advantages: (i) It stores energy thermochemically with a two- to threefold higher density, (ii) coproduced hydrogen has alternate uses in transportation/chemical/petrochemical industries, and (iii) unlike batteries, the stored energy does not discharge over time and the storage medium does not degrade with repeated uses.

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Recent Southern New York Climate Change: Observations, Mechanisms, and Spatial Context

Gidon Eshel

Journal of Climate, January 2016, Pages 209–226

Abstract:
This paper examines recent southern New York State climate changes as reflected in a detailed hourly climate record collected about 110 km due north of New York City since 1988, including comprehensive surface radiation data. Comparing 1988–2000 and 2001–14 means, the area has warmed, dominated by a 0.5–0.7-K summer warming. Daytime warming exceeds nighttime’s warming. Warming is not due to enhanced downward longwave flux but arises from increased incident solar fluxes accompanying declining aerosol loads. Local warming is shown to stem from a large-scale response to increased solar forcing, the key element of which is an accelerated summer hydrological cycle: increased precipitation, with smaller evaporation increases leading to large, significant soil moisture and runoff increases. Much of the accelerated summer hydrological cycle is shown to arise as a result of an anomalous low-level cyclonic motion centered on the mid-Atlantic U.S. coast, rendering the results regional rather than local. Analyzing the stability and CAPE budgets of mean and individual summer profiles over the studied site provides a diagnostic explanation of the observed warming and accelerated hydrometeorology due to enhanced solar fluxes. The study reveals a complex suite of (thermo)dynamic feedbacks to radiative forcing of which surface warming is but one element, reiterating and re-emphasizing that surface temperature trends may be embedded in far richer physics than greenhouse gas–induced radiative forcing alone.

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Twenty-First-Century Snowfall and Snowpack Changes over the Southern California Mountains

Fengpeng Sun et al.

Journal of Climate, January 2016, Pages 91–110

Abstract:
Future snowfall and snowpack changes over the mountains of Southern California are projected using a new hybrid dynamical–statistical framework. Output from all general circulation models (GCMs) in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project archive is downscaled to 2-km resolution over the region. Variables pertaining to snow are analyzed for the middle (2041–60) and end (2081–2100) of the twenty-first century under two representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios: RCP8.5 (business as usual) and RCP2.6 (mitigation). These four sets of projections are compared with a baseline reconstruction of climate from 1981 to 2000. For both future time slices and scenarios, ensemble-mean total winter snowfall loss is widespread. By the mid-twenty-first century under RCP8.5, ensemble-mean winter snowfall is about 70% of baseline, whereas the corresponding value for RCP2.6 is somewhat higher (about 80% of baseline). By the end of the century, however, the two scenarios diverge significantly. Under RCP8.5, snowfall sees a dramatic further decline; 2081–2100 totals are only about half of baseline totals. Under RCP2.6, only a negligible further reduction from midcentury snowfall totals is seen. Because of the spread in the GCM climate projections, these figures are all associated with large intermodel uncertainty. Snowpack on the ground, as represented by 1 April snow water equivalent is also assessed. Because of enhanced snowmelt, the loss seen in snowpack is generally 50% greater than that seen in winter snowfall. By midcentury under RCP8.5, warming-accelerated spring snowmelt leads to snow-free dates that are about 1–3 weeks earlier than in the baseline period.

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Characterizing the GHG emission impacts of carsharing: A case of Vancouver

Michiko Namazu & Hadi Dowlatabadi

Environmental Research Letters, December 2015

Abstract:
Carsharing exemplifies a growing trend towards service provision displacing ownership of capital goods. We developed a model to quantify the impact of carsharing on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The study took into account different types of households and their trip characteristics. The analysis considers five factors by which carsharing can impact GHG emissions: transportation mode change, fleet vintage, vehicle optimization, more efficient drive trains within each vehicle type, and trip aggregation. Access to carsharing has already been shown to lead some users to relinquish ownership of their personal vehicle. We find that even without a reduction in vehicle-kilometers traveled the change in characteristics of the vehicles used in carsharing fleets can reduce GHGs by more than 30%. Shifting some trips to public transit provides a further 10%–20% reduction in GHGs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 21, 2016

No laughing matter

Differentiating What Is Humorous From What Is Not

Caleb Warren & Peter McGraw

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
After 2.5 millennia of philosophical deliberation and psychological experimentation, most scholars have concluded that humor arises from incongruity. We highlight 2 limitations of incongruity theories of humor. First, incongruity is not consistently defined. The literature describes incongruity in at least 4 ways: surprise, juxtaposition, atypicality, and a violation. Second, regardless of definition, incongruity alone does not adequately differentiate humorous from nonhumorous experiences. We suggest revising incongruity theory by proposing that humor arises from a benign violation: something that threatens a person's well-being, identity, or normative belief structure but that simultaneously seems okay. Six studies, which use entertainment, consumer products, and social interaction as stimuli, reveal that the benign violation hypothesis better differentiates humorous from nonhumorous experiences than common conceptualizations of incongruity. A benign violation conceptualization of humor improves accuracy by reducing the likelihood that joyous, amazing, and tragic situations are inaccurately predicted to be humorous.

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Moral Symbols: A Necklace of Garlic against Unethical Requests

Sreedhari Desai & Maryam Kouchaki

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether by exposing superiors to moral symbols subordinates can discourage their superiors from asking them to perform unethical acts. Findings from five laboratory studies and one organizational survey study demonstrated that exposure to moral symbols displayed by the subordinates dissuades superiors from both engaging in unethical behaviors themselves and asking their subordinates to engage in unethical behavior. This paper shows that the display of moral symbols leads to two main consequences of (1) the activation of the concept of morality and increases in individuals' moral awareness to decrease unethical behavior, and (2) eliciting inferences about the moral character of the displayer to lower the likelihood of that person being subjected to unethical directives. Additionally, our findings demonstrate that moral symbols influence ethical decisions despite the powerful positions of superiors and do not bring hidden backlash effects against those who display them. In sum, our findings show that followers can serve as a form of social influence to guide their leader's behavior and reduce the occurrence of unethical acts in the workplace.

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But it's my right! Framing effects on support for empowering policies

Nurit Shnabel, John Dovidio & Ziv Levin

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2016, Pages 36-49

Abstract:
Rights framing - presenting intergroup inequality as violating a minority group's basic rights - challenges the status quo of intergroup relations because it implies that the solution lies in a fundamental structural change. We suggest that majority-group members may show a backlash response to this challenge. Three studies revealed that Israeli Jews' support for policies that empower Israeli Arabs was lower when exposed to rights framing, compared to distress framing, i.e., presenting inequality as causing distress to the minority group (Studies 1-2), or a no-framing, control condition (Studies 2-3). This effect was mediated by increased zero-sum perceptions (Study 2). When rights framing was combined with a manipulation highlighting intergroup positive interdependence (thus countering zero-sum perceptions), its negative effect disappeared (Study 3). Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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

An Experimental Test of Deviant Modeling

Owen Gallupe et al.

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: Test the effect of deviant peer modeling on theft as conditioned by verbal support for theft and number of deviant models.

Methods: Two related randomized experiments in which participants were given a chance to steal a gift card (ostensibly worth CAN$15) from the table in front of them. Each experiment had a control group, a verbal prompting group in which confederate(s) endorsed stealing, a behavioral modeling group in which confederate(s) committed theft, and a verbal prompting plus behavioral modeling group in which confederate(s) did both. The first experiment used one confederate; the second experiment used two. The pooled sample consisted of 335 undergraduate students.

Results: Participants in the verbal prompting plus behavioral modeling group were most likely to steal followed by the behavioral modeling group. Interestingly, behavioral modeling was only influential when two confederates were present. There were no thefts in either the control or verbal prompting groups regardless of the number of confederates.

Conclusions: Behavioral modeling appears to be the key mechanism, though verbal support can strengthen the effect of behavioral modeling.

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

Blind loyalty? When group loyalty makes us see evil or engage in it

John Angus Hildreth, Francesca Gino & Max Bazerman

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2016, Pages 16-36

Abstract:
Loyalty often drives corruption. Corporate scandals, political machinations, and sports cheating highlight how loyalty's pernicious nature manifests in collusion, conspiracy, cronyism, nepotism, and other forms of cheating. Yet loyalty is also touted as an ethical principle that guides behavior. Drawing on moral psychology and behavioral ethics research, we developed hypotheses about when group loyalty fosters ethical behavior and when it fosters corruption. Across nine studies, we found that individuals primed with loyalty cheated less than those not primed (Study 1A and 1B). Members more loyal to their fraternities (Study 2A) and students more loyal to their study groups (Study 2B) also cheated less than their less loyal counterparts due to greater ethical salience when they pledged their loyalty (Studies 3A and 3B). Importantly, competition moderated these effects: when competition was high, members more loyal to their fraternities (Study 4) or individuals primed with loyalty (Studies 5A and 5B) cheated more.

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When and how forgiving benefits victims: Post-transgression offender effort and the mediating role of deservingness judgements

Peter Strelan, Ian McKee & N.T. Feather

European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
For all the well-established benefits of forgiveness for victims, when and how is forgiving more likely to be beneficial? Three experimental studies found that forgiving is more likely to be beneficial when victims perceived reparative effort by offenders such that offenders deserve forgiveness. Deservingness judgements were elicited by manipulating post-transgression offender effort (apology/amends). When offenders apologized (Study 1; recall paradigm) or made amends (Study 2; hypothetical paradigm) and were forgiven - relative to transgressors who did not apologize/make amends but were still forgiven - forgiving was beneficial. These findings - that deserved forgiveness is more beneficial for victims than undeserved forgiveness - were replicated when forgiving itself was also manipulated (Study 3). Moreover, Study 3 provided evidence to indicate that if a victim forgives when it is not deserved, victim well-being is equivalent to not forgiving at all. Of theoretical and practical importance is the mediating effect of deservingness on relations between post-transgression offender effort and a victim's personal consequences of forgiving.

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

How learning shapes the empathic brain

Grit Hein et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 January 2016, Pages 80-85

Abstract:
Deficits in empathy enhance conflicts and human suffering. Thus, it is crucial to understand how empathy can be learned and how learning experiences shape empathy-related processes in the human brain. As a model of empathy deficits, we used the well-established suppression of empathy-related brain responses for the suffering of out-groups and tested whether and how out-group empathy is boosted by a learning intervention. During this intervention, participants received costly help equally often from an out-group member (experimental group) or an in-group member (control group). We show that receiving help from an out-group member elicits a classical learning signal (prediction error) in the anterior insular cortex. This signal in turn predicts a subsequent increase of empathy for a different out-group member (generalization). The enhancement of empathy-related insula responses by the neural prediction error signal was mediated by an establishment of positive emotions toward the out-group member. Finally, we show that surprisingly few positive learning experiences are sufficient to increase empathy. Our results specify the neural and psychological mechanisms through which learning interacts with empathy, and thus provide a neurobiological account for the plasticity of empathic reactions.

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Just World Beliefs are Associated with Lower Levels of Metabolic Risk and Inflammation and Better Sleep After an Unfair Event

Cynthia Levine, Devika Basu & Edith Chen

Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: This study's goal was to conduct a preliminary test of the theory that just world beliefs can buffer against negative physiological outcomes after people experience certain types of negative life events by testing associations between just world beliefs and physiological outcomes among people with different life event histories.

Method: In a sample of 247 adults (Mage = 46.01, 24.31% men, 60.78% white), this research investigated the relationship between just world beliefs and metabolic symptoms, inflammation, and sleep among people who had recently experienced an unfair event, another type of negative event, or no negative event.

Results: Stronger just world beliefs correlated with lower metabolic risk, lower inflammation, and better sleep among people who had recently experienced an unfair event, but not among those in the other two event groups

Conclusions: These findings suggest that people's beliefs about the world may interact with their life experiences in ways that have implications for health-relevant outcomes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The great outdoors

Voter Preferences and Political Change: Evidence from Shale Booms

Viktar Fedaseyeu, Erik Gilje & Philip Strahan

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Local interests change sharply after the energy booms that began in 2003, when hydraulic fracturing spurred extraction of formerly uneconomic oil and gas reserves. Support for conservative interests rises and Republican political candidates gain votes after booms, leading to a near doubling in the probability of a change in incumbency. All of this change occurs at the expense of Democrats. Voting records of U.S. House members from boom districts become sharply more conservative across a wide range of issues, including issues unrelated to energy policy. At the level of the individual, marginal candidates skew their voting behavior somewhat toward more conservative causes, but generally not enough to maintain power. Thus, even when the stakes are high and politicians risk losing power, ideology trumps ambition.

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

Air Pollution and Criminal Activity: Evidence from Chicago Microdata

Evan Herrnstadt & Erich Muehlegger

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
A large and growing literature documents the adverse impacts of pollution on health, productivity, educational attainment and socioeconomic outcomes. This paper provides the first quasi-experimental evidence that air pollution causally affects criminal activity. We exploit detailed location data on over two million serious crimes reported to the Chicago police department over a twelve-year period. We identify the causal effect of pollution on criminal activity by comparing crime on opposite sides of major interstates on days when the wind blows orthogonally the direction of the interstate and find that violent crime is 2.2 percent higher on the downwind side. Consistent with evidence from psychology on the relationship between pollution and aggression, the effect is unique to violent crimes – we find no effect of pollution on the commission of property crime.

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

Impact of the Volkswagen emissions control defeat device on US public health

Steven Barrett et al.

Environmental Research Letters, November 2015

Abstract:
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has alleged that Volkswagen Group of America (VW) violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by developing and installing emissions control system 'defeat devices' (software) in model year 2009–2015 vehicles with 2.0 litre diesel engines. VW has admitted the inclusion of defeat devices. On-road emissions testing suggests that in-use NOx emissions for these vehicles are a factor of 10 to 40 above the EPA standard. In this paper we quantify the human health impacts and associated costs of the excess emissions. We propagate uncertainties throughout the analysis. A distribution function for excess emissions is estimated based on available in-use NOx emissions measurements. We then use vehicle sales data and the STEP vehicle fleet model to estimate vehicle distance traveled per year for the fleet. The excess NOx emissions are allocated on a 50 km grid using an EPA estimate of the light duty diesel vehicle NOx emissions distribution. We apply a GEOS-Chem adjoint-based rapid air pollution exposure model to produce estimates of particulate matter and ozone exposure due to the spatially resolved excess NOx emissions. A set of concentration-response functions is applied to estimate mortality and morbidity outcomes. Integrated over the sales period (2008–2015) we estimate that the excess emissions will cause 59 (95% CI: 10 to 150) early deaths in the US. When monetizing premature mortality using EPA-recommended data, we find a social cost of ~$450m over the sales period. For the current fleet, we estimate that a return to compliance for all affected vehicles by the end of 2016 will avert ~130 early deaths and avoid ~$840m in social costs compared to a counterfactual case without recall.

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

Gone with the Wind: Federalism and the Strategic Placement of Air Polluters

James Monogan, David Konisky & Neal Woods

University of Georgia Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
In federal systems both state governments and firms have incentives to strategically locate polluting facilities where the environmental and health consequences will be borne as much as possible by residents of other jurisdictions. We analyze air polluter location in the United States using a spatial point pattern model, which models where events occur in latitude and longitude. Our analyses indicate that major air polluters are significantly more likely to be located near a state’s downwind border than a control group of other industrial facilities, results that are robust to a wide variety of model specifications and measurement strategies. This effect is particularly pronounced for facilities with toxic air emissions. The observed pattern of polluter location varies systematically across states and time in ways that suggest it is responsive to public policy at both the national and state levels.

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

Can indifference make the world greener?

Johan Egebark & Mathias Ekströ

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, March 2016, Pages 1–13

Abstract:
We conducted a natural field experiment to evaluate two resource conservation programs. One intervention consisted of a moral appeal message asking university employees to cut back on printing in general, and to use double-sided printing whenever possible. The other intervention tested whether people's tendency to stick with pre-set alternatives is applicable to resource use: at random points in time we changed the default setting on the university printers, from single-sided to double-sided printing. Whereas the moral appeal had no impact, the default change cut paper use by 15 percent. Further analysis adds two important insights. First, we show that defaults influence behavior also in the longer run. Second, we present results indicating that resource efficient defaults have the advantage of avoiding unintended behavioral responses. Overall, our findings send a clear message to anyone concerned about resource conservation: there are potentially large gains to be made from small interventions.

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

Data contradict common perceptions about a controversial provision of the US Endangered Species Act

Jacob Malcom & Ya-Wei Li

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 29 December 2015, Pages 15844–15849

Abstract:
Separating myth and reality is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of laws. Section 7 of the US Endangered Species Act (Act) directs federal agencies to help conserve threatened and endangered species, including by consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service on actions the agencies authorize, fund, or carry out. Consultations ensure that actions do not violate the Act’s prohibitions on “jeopardizing” listed species or “destroying or adversely modifying” these species’ critical habitat. Because these prohibitions are broad, many people consider section 7 the primary tool for protecting species under the Act, whereas others believe section 7 severely impedes economic development. This decades-old controversy is driven primarily by the lack of data on implementation: past analyses are either over 25 y old or taxonomically restricted. We analyze data on all 88,290 consultations recorded by FWS from January 2008 through April 2015. In contrast to conventional wisdom about section 7 implementation, no project was stopped or extensively altered as a result of FWS finding jeopardy or adverse modification during this period. We also show that median consultation duration is far lower than the maximum allowed by the Act, and several factors drive variation in consultation duration. The results discredit many of the claims about the onerous nature of section 7 but also raise questions as to how federal agencies could apply this tool more effectively to conserve species. We build on the results to identify ways to improve the effectiveness of consultations for imperiled species conservation and increase the efficiency of consultations.

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

Valuation of Expectations: A Hedonic Study of Shale Gas Development and New York’s Moratorium

Andrew Boslett, Todd Guilfoos & Corey Lang

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, May 2016, Pages 14–30

Abstract:
This paper examines the local impacts of shale gas development (SGD). We use a hedonic framework and exploit a discrete change in expectations about SGD caused by the New York State moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Our research design combines difference-in-differences and border discontinuity, as well as underlying shale geology, on properties in Pennsylvania and New York. Results suggest that New York properties that were most likely to experience both the financial benefits and environmental consequences of SGD dropped in value 23% as a result of the moratorium, which under certain assumptions indicates a large and positive net valuation of SGD.

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

The long-run consequences of Chernobyl: Evidence on subjective well-being, mental health and welfare

Alexander Danzer & Natalia Danzer

Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper assesses the long-run toll taken by a large-scale technological disaster on welfare, well-being and mental health. We estimate the causal effect of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe after 20 years by linking geographic variation in radioactive fallout to respondents of a nationally representative survey in Ukraine according to their place of residence in 1986. We exclude individuals who were exposed to high levels of radiation — about 4% of the population. Instead, we focus on the remaining majority of Ukrainians who received subclinical radiation doses; we find large and persistent psychological effects of this nuclear disaster. Affected individuals exhibit poorer subjective well-being, higher depression rates and lower subjective survival probabilities; they rely more on governmental transfers as source of subsistence. We estimate the aggregate annual welfare loss at 2–6% of Ukraine's GDP highlighting previously ignored externalities of large-scale catastrophes.

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Productivity, Export, and Environmental Performance: Air Pollutants in the United States

Jingbo Cui, Harvey Lapan & GianCarlo Moschini

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the firm-level relationship among productivity, decision to export, and environmental performance. The emerging theoretical and empirical literature suggests that trade has an important role in determining firms' heterogeneity: increased openness to trade induces a reallocation effect that increases within-industry efficiency, thereby linking firms' decisions to export and adopt newer (and cleaner) technology. We argue that this framework provides the following empirically-relevant predictions: there is an inverse relationship between firm productivity and pollution emissions per unit output; exporting firms have lower emissions per unit output; and larger firms have a lower emission intensity. To examine these implications empirically, we have assembled a uniquely detailed dataset of the U.S. manufacturing industry for the years 2002, 2005, and 2008 by matching facility-level air emission data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the facility's economic characteristics contained in the National Establishment Time Series database. The strategy is to first estimate a facility-level total factor productivity parameter as a plant-specific fixed effect. We then investigate how this estimated productivity parameter correlates with emission intensity on a pollutant-by-pollutant basis. Our empirical findings support the hypotheses suggested by the conceptual model. For each criteria air pollutant considered, we find a significant negative correlation between estimated facility productivity and emission intensity. Conditional on a facility's estimated productivity and other controls, exporting facilities have significantly lower emissions per value of sales than non-exporting facilities in the same industry. We also find that plant size is negatively and significantly related to emission intensity for all pollutants.

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

What Blows in with the Wind?

Dakshina De Silva, Robert McComb & Anita Schiller

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The shift toward renewable forms of energy for electricity generation in the electricity generation industry has clear implications for the spatial distribution of generating plant. Traditional forms of generation are typically located close to the load or population centers, while wind- and solar-powered generation must be located where the energy source is found. In the case of wind, this has meant significant new investment in wind plant in primarily rural areas that have been in secular economic decline. This article investigates the localized economic impacts of the rapid increase in wind power capacity at the county level in Texas. Unlike input-output impact analysis that relies primarily on levels of inputs to estimate gross impacts, we use traditional econometric methods to estimate net localized impacts in terms of employment, personal income, property tax base, and key public school expenditure levels. While we find evidence that both direct and indirect employment impacts are modest, significant increases in per capita income accompany wind power development. County and school property tax rolls also realize important benefits from the local siting of utility scale wind power, although peculiarities in Texas school funding shift localized property tax benefits to the state.

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Does the housing market value energy efficient homes? Evidence from the energy star program

Chris Bruegge, Carmen Carrión-Flores & Jaren Pope

Regional Science and Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The “Energy Star” certification of residential homes is a recent attempt in the United States to improve energy efficiency in the residential sector by incentivizing home builders to “build green.” We examine the effectiveness of this program by estimating homeowners' marginal willingness to pay for Energy Star residences in Gainesville, Florida. We use single-family residential property sales in Gainesville, Florida between 1997 and 2009. Using the hedonic method, we find that homeowners are willing to pay a premium for new Energy Star homes, but that this premium fades rapidly in the resale market.

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Air pollution emissions and damages from energy production in the U.S.: 2002–2011

Paulina Jaramillo & Nicholas Muller

Energy Policy, March 2016, Pages 202–211

Abstract:
This paper uses air pollution emissions data for the years 2002, 2005, 2008, and 2011 to estimate monetary damages due to air pollution exposure for PM2.5, SO2, NOx, NH3, and VOC from electric power generation, oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and oil refineries. In 2011, damages associated with emissions from these sectors totaled 131 billion dollars (in 2000$), with SO2 emissions from power generation being the largest contributors to social damages. Further, damages have decreased significantly since 2002, even as energy production increased, suggesting that, among other factors, policies that have driven reductions in emissions have reduced damages. The results of this analysis highlight the spatial heterogeneity of the impacts associated with the emissions of a given pollutant. In the past, environmental regulations have assumed that the benefits of air emissions reductions are homogenous across source location. This analysis suggests that policy designs that account for spatial differences in the impacts of air emissions could result in more effective environmental regulation. Accounting for such spatial heterogeneity in the benefits of policies would be akin to accounting for differences in compliances costs across states, which the EPA did when establishing the state emissions standards for the Clean Power Plan rule.

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Testing substitution between private and public storage in the U.S. oil market: A study on the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Daniel Paul Scheitrum, Colin Carter & Amy Myers Jaffe

Energy Economics, forthcoming

Abstract
The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was established in 1975 to mitigate major oil supply disruptions and to deter the use of energy as a geopolitical “weapon.” However, policies towards the utilization of strategic oil stocks have varied under different presidencies and the SPR has often not been used in sufficient quantity or soon enough to avoid the negative economic consequences that can follow oil supply outages. Economic theory suggests that the existence of public stockpiles of commodities will alter inventory management practices of private market participants. This paper models private crude oil storage in the United States and estimates the private storage response to presidential announcements regarding the SPR. We investigate the incidence of different kinds of announcement events including releases and test sales from the SPR, announced changes in fill rates, and changes of presidency and how these events impact private land-based storage in the United States by region (PADD) as well as floating storage. We find significant substitution between private and public stocks for crude oil and find that announcement events are associated with observable changes in private inventory levels, with implications for public policy choices and geopolitical strategies.

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Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality and Long-Term Exposure to Source-Related Components of U.S. Fine Particle Air Pollution

George Thurston et al.

Environmental Health Perspectives, forthcoming

Background: Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution exposure has been identified as a global health threat. However, the types and sources of particles most responsible are not yet known. In this work, we sought to identify the causal characteristics and sources of air pollution underlying past published associations in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-II cohort between long-term PM2.5 exposure and Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) mortality.

Methods: Individual risk factor data were evaluated for 445,860 adults in 100 U.S. metropolitan areas followed from 1982 to 2004 for vital status and cause of death. Using Cox proportional hazard models, IHD mortality hazard ratios (HRs) were derived for PM2.5, trace constituents, and pollution source-associated PM2.5, as derived from air monitoring at central stations throughout the nation during 2000-2005.

Results: Associations with IHD mortality varied by PM2.5 mass constituent and source. A coal combustion PM2.5 IHD HR = 1.05 (95% CI=1.02, 1.08) per µg/m3, versus an IHD HR = 1.01 (95% CI=1.00, 1.02) per µg/m3 PM2.5 mass, indicated a risk roughly five times higher for coal combustion PM2.5 than for PM2.5 mass in general, on a per µg/m3 PM2.5 basis. Diesel traffic-related elemental carbon (EC) soot was also associated with IHD mortality (HR = 1.03; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.06 per 0.26 μg/m3 EC increase). However, PM2.5 from both wind-blown soil and biomass combustion were not associated with IHD mortality.

Conclusions: Long-term PM2.5 exposures from fossil fuel combustion, especially coal burning, but also from diesel traffic, were associated with increases in IHD mortality in this nationwide population. Results suggest that PM2.5–mortality associations can vary greatly by source, and that the largest IHD health benefits per µg/m3 from PM2.5 air pollution control may be achieved via reductions of fossil fuel combustion exposures, especially from coal-burning sources.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The great outdoors

Voter Preferences and Political Change: Evidence from Shale Booms

Viktar Fedaseyeu, Erik Gilje & Philip Strahan

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Local interests change sharply after the energy booms that began in 2003, when hydraulic fracturing spurred extraction of formerly uneconomic oil and gas reserves. Support for conservative interests rises and Republican political candidates gain votes after booms, leading to a near doubling in the probability of a change in incumbency. All of this change occurs at the expense of Democrats. Voting records of U.S. House members from boom districts become sharply more conservative across a wide range of issues, including issues unrelated to energy policy. At the level of the individual, marginal candidates skew their voting behavior somewhat toward more conservative causes, but generally not enough to maintain power. Thus, even when the stakes are high and politicians risk losing power, ideology trumps ambition.

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

Air Pollution and Criminal Activity: Evidence from Chicago Microdata

Evan Herrnstadt & Erich Muehlegger

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
A large and growing literature documents the adverse impacts of pollution on health, productivity, educational attainment and socioeconomic outcomes. This paper provides the first quasi-experimental evidence that air pollution causally affects criminal activity. We exploit detailed location data on over two million serious crimes reported to the Chicago police department over a twelve-year period. We identify the causal effect of pollution on criminal activity by comparing crime on opposite sides of major interstates on days when the wind blows orthogonally the direction of the interstate and find that violent crime is 2.2 percent higher on the downwind side. Consistent with evidence from psychology on the relationship between pollution and aggression, the effect is unique to violent crimes – we find no effect of pollution on the commission of property crime.

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

Impact of the Volkswagen emissions control defeat device on US public health

Steven Barrett et al.

Environmental Research Letters, November 2015

Abstract:
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has alleged that Volkswagen Group of America (VW) violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by developing and installing emissions control system 'defeat devices' (software) in model year 2009–2015 vehicles with 2.0 litre diesel engines. VW has admitted the inclusion of defeat devices. On-road emissions testing suggests that in-use NOx emissions for these vehicles are a factor of 10 to 40 above the EPA standard. In this paper we quantify the human health impacts and associated costs of the excess emissions. We propagate uncertainties throughout the analysis. A distribution function for excess emissions is estimated based on available in-use NOx emissions measurements. We then use vehicle sales data and the STEP vehicle fleet model to estimate vehicle distance traveled per year for the fleet. The excess NOx emissions are allocated on a 50 km grid using an EPA estimate of the light duty diesel vehicle NOx emissions distribution. We apply a GEOS-Chem adjoint-based rapid air pollution exposure model to produce estimates of particulate matter and ozone exposure due to the spatially resolved excess NOx emissions. A set of concentration-response functions is applied to estimate mortality and morbidity outcomes. Integrated over the sales period (2008–2015) we estimate that the excess emissions will cause 59 (95% CI: 10 to 150) early deaths in the US. When monetizing premature mortality using EPA-recommended data, we find a social cost of ~$450m over the sales period. For the current fleet, we estimate that a return to compliance for all affected vehicles by the end of 2016 will avert ~130 early deaths and avoid ~$840m in social costs compared to a counterfactual case without recall.

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

Gone with the Wind: Federalism and the Strategic Placement of Air Polluters

James Monogan, David Konisky & Neal Woods

University of Georgia Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
In federal systems both state governments and firms have incentives to strategically locate polluting facilities where the environmental and health consequences will be borne as much as possible by residents of other jurisdictions. We analyze air polluter location in the United States using a spatial point pattern model, which models where events occur in latitude and longitude. Our analyses indicate that major air polluters are significantly more likely to be located near a state’s downwind border than a control group of other industrial facilities, results that are robust to a wide variety of model specifications and measurement strategies. This effect is particularly pronounced for facilities with toxic air emissions. The observed pattern of polluter location varies systematically across states and time in ways that suggest it is responsive to public policy at both the national and state levels.

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

Can indifference make the world greener?

Johan Egebark & Mathias Ekströ

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, March 2016, Pages 1–13

Abstract:
We conducted a natural field experiment to evaluate two resource conservation programs. One intervention consisted of a moral appeal message asking university employees to cut back on printing in general, and to use double-sided printing whenever possible. The other intervention tested whether people's tendency to stick with pre-set alternatives is applicable to resource use: at random points in time we changed the default setting on the university printers, from single-sided to double-sided printing. Whereas the moral appeal had no impact, the default change cut paper use by 15 percent. Further analysis adds two important insights. First, we show that defaults influence behavior also in the longer run. Second, we present results indicating that resource efficient defaults have the advantage of avoiding unintended behavioral responses. Overall, our findings send a clear message to anyone concerned about resource conservation: there are potentially large gains to be made from small interventions.

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

Data contradict common perceptions about a controversial provision of the US Endangered Species Act

Jacob Malcom & Ya-Wei Li

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 29 December 2015, Pages 15844–15849

Abstract:
Separating myth and reality is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of laws. Section 7 of the US Endangered Species Act (Act) directs federal agencies to help conserve threatened and endangered species, including by consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service on actions the agencies authorize, fund, or carry out. Consultations ensure that actions do not violate the Act’s prohibitions on “jeopardizing” listed species or “destroying or adversely modifying” these species’ critical habitat. Because these prohibitions are broad, many people consider section 7 the primary tool for protecting species under the Act, whereas others believe section 7 severely impedes economic development. This decades-old controversy is driven primarily by the lack of data on implementation: past analyses are either over 25 y old or taxonomically restricted. We analyze data on all 88,290 consultations recorded by FWS from January 2008 through April 2015. In contrast to conventional wisdom about section 7 implementation, no project was stopped or extensively altered as a result of FWS finding jeopardy or adverse modification during this period. We also show that median consultation duration is far lower than the maximum allowed by the Act, and several factors drive variation in consultation duration. The results discredit many of the claims about the onerous nature of section 7 but also raise questions as to how federal agencies could apply this tool more effectively to conserve species. We build on the results to identify ways to improve the effectiveness of consultations for imperiled species conservation and increase the efficiency of consultations.

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

Valuation of Expectations: A Hedonic Study of Shale Gas Development and New York’s Moratorium

Andrew Boslett, Todd Guilfoos & Corey Lang,

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, May 2016, Pages 14–30

Abstract:
This paper examines the local impacts of shale gas development (SGD). We use a hedonic framework and exploit a discrete change in expectations about SGD caused by the New York State moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Our research design combines difference-in-differences and border discontinuity, as well as underlying shale geology, on properties in Pennsylvania and New York. Results suggest that New York properties that were most likely to experience both the financial benefits and environmental consequences of SGD dropped in value 23% as a result of the moratorium, which under certain assumptions indicates a large and positive net valuation of SGD.

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

The long-run consequences of Chernobyl: Evidence on subjective well-being, mental health and welfare

Alexander Danzer & Natalia Danzer

Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper assesses the long-run toll taken by a large-scale technological disaster on welfare, well-being and mental health. We estimate the causal effect of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe after 20 years by linking geographic variation in radioactive fallout to respondents of a nationally representative survey in Ukraine according to their place of residence in 1986. We exclude individuals who were exposed to high levels of radiation — about 4% of the population. Instead, we focus on the remaining majority of Ukrainians who received subclinical radiation doses; we find large and persistent psychological effects of this nuclear disaster. Affected individuals exhibit poorer subjective well-being, higher depression rates and lower subjective survival probabilities; they rely more on governmental transfers as source of subsistence. We estimate the aggregate annual welfare loss at 2–6% of Ukraine's GDP highlighting previously ignored externalities of large-scale catastrophes.

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Productivity, Export, and Environmental Performance: Air Pollutants in the United States

Jingbo Cui, Harvey Lapan & GianCarlo Moschini

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the firm-level relationship among productivity, decision to export, and environmental performance. The emerging theoretical and empirical literature suggests that trade has an important role in determining firms' heterogeneity: increased openness to trade induces a reallocation effect that increases within-industry efficiency, thereby linking firms' decisions to export and adopt newer (and cleaner) technology. We argue that this framework provides the following empirically-relevant predictions: there is an inverse relationship between firm productivity and pollution emissions per unit output; exporting firms have lower emissions per unit output; and larger firms have a lower emission intensity. To examine these implications empirically, we have assembled a uniquely detailed dataset of the U.S. manufacturing industry for the years 2002, 2005, and 2008 by matching facility-level air emission data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the facility's economic characteristics contained in the National Establishment Time Series database. The strategy is to first estimate a facility-level total factor productivity parameter as a plant-specific fixed effect. We then investigate how this estimated productivity parameter correlates with emission intensity on a pollutant-by-pollutant basis. Our empirical findings support the hypotheses suggested by the conceptual model. For each criteria air pollutant considered, we find a significant negative correlation between estimated facility productivity and emission intensity. Conditional on a facility's estimated productivity and other controls, exporting facilities have significantly lower emissions per value of sales than non-exporting facilities in the same industry. We also find that plant size is negatively and significantly related to emission intensity for all pollutants.

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What Blows in with the Wind?

Dakshina De Silva, Robert McComb & Anita Schiller

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The shift toward renewable forms of energy for electricity generation in the electricity generation industry has clear implications for the spatial distribution of generating plant. Traditional forms of generation are typically located close to the load or population centers, while wind- and solar-powered generation must be located where the energy source is found. In the case of wind, this has meant significant new investment in wind plant in primarily rural areas that have been in secular economic decline. This article investigates the localized economic impacts of the rapid increase in wind power capacity at the county level in Texas. Unlike input-output impact analysis that relies primarily on levels of inputs to estimate gross impacts, we use traditional econometric methods to estimate net localized impacts in terms of employment, personal income, property tax base, and key public school expenditure levels. While we find evidence that both direct and indirect employment impacts are modest, significant increases in per capita income accompany wind power development. County and school property tax rolls also realize important benefits from the local siting of utility scale wind power, although peculiarities in Texas school funding shift localized property tax benefits to the state.

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Does the housing market value energy efficient homes? Evidence from the energy star program

Chris Bruegge, Carmen Carrión-Flores & Jaren Pope

Regional Science and Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The “Energy Star” certification of residential homes is a recent attempt in the United States to improve energy efficiency in the residential sector by incentivizing home builders to “build green.” We examine the effectiveness of this program by estimating homeowners' marginal willingness to pay for Energy Star residences in Gainesville, Florida. We use single-family residential property sales in Gainesville, Florida between 1997 and 2009. Using the hedonic method, we find that homeowners are willing to pay a premium for new Energy Star homes, but that this premium fades rapidly in the resale market.

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Air pollution emissions and damages from energy production in the U.S.: 2002–2011

Paulina Jaramillo & Nicholas Muller

Energy Policy, March 2016, Pages 202–211

Abstract:
This paper uses air pollution emissions data for the years 2002, 2005, 2008, and 2011 to estimate monetary damages due to air pollution exposure for PM2.5, SO2, NOx, NH3, and VOC from electric power generation, oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and oil refineries. In 2011, damages associated with emissions from these sectors totaled 131 billion dollars (in 2000$), with SO2 emissions from power generation being the largest contributors to social damages. Further, damages have decreased significantly since 2002, even as energy production increased, suggesting that, among other factors, policies that have driven reductions in emissions have reduced damages. The results of this analysis highlight the spatial heterogeneity of the impacts associated with the emissions of a given pollutant. In the past, environmental regulations have assumed that the benefits of air emissions reductions are homogenous across source location. This analysis suggests that policy designs that account for spatial differences in the impacts of air emissions could result in more effective environmental regulation. Accounting for such spatial heterogeneity in the benefits of policies would be akin to accounting for differences in compliances costs across states, which the EPA did when establishing the state emissions standards for the Clean Power Plan rule.

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Testing substitution between private and public storage in the U.S. oil market: A study on the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Daniel Paul Scheitrum, Colin Carter & Amy Myers Jaffe

Energy Economics, forthcoming

Abstract
The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was established in 1975 to mitigate major oil supply disruptions and to deter the use of energy as a geopolitical “weapon.” However, policies towards the utilization of strategic oil stocks have varied under different presidencies and the SPR has often not been used in sufficient quantity or soon enough to avoid the negative economic consequences that can follow oil supply outages. Economic theory suggests that the existence of public stockpiles of commodities will alter inventory management practices of private market participants. This paper models private crude oil storage in the United States and estimates the private storage response to presidential announcements regarding the SPR. We investigate the incidence of different kinds of announcement events including releases and test sales from the SPR, announced changes in fill rates, and changes of presidency and how these events impact private land-based storage in the United States by region (PADD) as well as floating storage. We find significant substitution between private and public stocks for crude oil and find that announcement events are associated with observable changes in private inventory levels, with implications for public policy choices and geopolitical strategies.

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Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality and Long-Term Exposure to Source-Related Components of U.S. Fine Particle Air Pollution

George Thurston et al.

Environmental Health Perspectives, forthcoming

Background: Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution exposure has been identified as a global health threat. However, the types and sources of particles most responsible are not yet known. In this work, we sought to identify the causal characteristics and sources of air pollution underlying past published associations in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-II cohort between long-term PM2.5 exposure and Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) mortality.

Methods: Individual risk factor data were evaluated for 445,860 adults in 100 U.S. metropolitan areas followed from 1982 to 2004 for vital status and cause of death. Using Cox proportional hazard models, IHD mortality hazard ratios (HRs) were derived for PM2.5, trace constituents, and pollution source-associated PM2.5, as derived from air monitoring at central stations throughout the nation during 2000-2005.

Results: Associations with IHD mortality varied by PM2.5 mass constituent and source. A coal combustion PM2.5 IHD HR = 1.05 (95% CI=1.02, 1.08) per µg/m3, versus an IHD HR = 1.01 (95% CI=1.00, 1.02) per µg/m3 PM2.5 mass, indicated a risk roughly five times higher for coal combustion PM2.5 than for PM2.5 mass in general, on a per µg/m3 PM2.5 basis. Diesel traffic-related elemental carbon (EC) soot was also associated with IHD mortality (HR = 1.03; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.06 per 0.26 μg/m3 EC increase). However, PM2.5 from both wind-blown soil and biomass combustion were not associated with IHD mortality.

Conclusions: Long-term PM2.5 exposures from fossil fuel combustion, especially coal burning, but also from diesel traffic, were associated with increases in IHD mortality in this nationwide population. Results suggest that PM2.5–mortality associations can vary greatly by source, and that the largest IHD health benefits per µg/m3 from PM2.5 air pollution control may be achieved via reductions of fossil fuel combustion exposures, especially from coal-burning sources.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Will of the people

Emigration and democracy

Frédéric Docquier et al.

Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
International migration is an important determinant of institutions, not considered so far in the development literature. Using cross-sectional and panel estimation for a large sample of developing countries, we find that openness to emigration (as measured by the natives’ average emigration rate) has a positive effect on home-country institutional development (as measured by standard democracy indices). The results are robust to a wide range of specifications and identification methods. Remarkably, the cross-sectional estimates are fully in line with the implied long-run relationship from dynamic panel regressions.

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State Fragility and Structural Gender Inequality in Family Law: An Empirical Investigation

Donna Lee Bowen, Valerie Hudson & Perpetua Lynne

Nielsen Laws, December 2015, Pages 654-672

Abstract:
In this paper we examine the linkage of male-dominant family law systems and levels of nation-state security and stability. We expect such societies to be predisposed to parasitical rent-seeking and inefficiency, combined with coercive conflict resolution, resulting in higher levels of violence within the society. We demonstrate empirically that states with inequitable family law also exhibit higher levels of state fragility. Using standard indicators of state stability and security, our empirical results show that the ability to predict levels of state stability and security is significantly enhanced by examining a measure of Inequity in Family Law in addition to more conventional explanatory variables such as literacy rate, level of democracy, and civilizational influence.

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Who was Colonized and When? A Cross-Country Analysis of Determinants

Arhan Ertan, Martin Fiszbein & Louis Putterman

European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The process of colonization has shaped the economic and demographic contours of the modern world. In this paper, we study the determinants of the occurrence and timing of colonization of non-European countries by Western European powers. Of particular interest is the role of early development measures that are known to be strong correlates of present-day levels of income. We show that non-European societies with longer histories of agriculture and statehood and higher levels of technology adoption in 1500 were less likely to be colonized, and tended to be colonized later if at all. We also find that proximity to the colonizing powers, disease environment, and latitude are significant predictors of the occurrence and timing of colonization, although their impacts are less robust to choice of country sample. Our models have high explanatory power, and their support for the significance of early development is robust to the use of alternative indicators of early development and disease, to the use of instruments to focus on the exogenous component of early development, and to the joint estimation of the colonization and timing equations to correct for potential selection bias.

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Tyrants and Migrants: Authoritarian Immigration Policy

Adrian Shin

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the determinants of immigration policy toward low-skilled workers across 13 relatively wealthy autocracies after World War II. I argue that authoritarian immigration policy is a consequence of an autocrat’s redistributive policy. As the distribution of resource rents in rentier autocracies reduces the incentive of domestic labor to enter the labor force, rentier states rely on migrant workers to meet the demand for low-skilled labor. Autocrats without resource rents, however, lack capacity for redistribution, so they use policies that provide people with wages in exchange for their labor while restricting immigration. Using a policy index that measures the extent to which low-skilled migrant workers can get into a country in a given year, I find strong evidence for this argument across 13 autocracies in the post-World War II era.

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Secession Risk and Fiscal Federalism

Jason Sorens

Publius, Winter 2016, Pages 25-50

Abstract:
Why is fiscal federalism so often dysfunctional from an economic point of view? Particularly in the developing world, fiscally decentralized systems often lack hard budget constraints and an open, common market. This article argues that preventing secession can require fiscally deleterious institutions. Beyond the well-known device of “fiscal appeasement,” central governments facing potential secessionist challenges try to hamstring regional tax collection and permit regional protectionism against goods and labor. While ethnic diversity has helped to preserve relatively robust forms of fiscal federalism in Canada and Switzerland, it has had the contrary effect in developing countries. Even among Western democracies, those governments unwilling to countenance secession are less likely to respond to secessionist challenges by decentralizing taxation powers. The political logic of decentralization may stymie efforts to reform decentralized institutions along the lines recommended by economists and the multilateral lending institutions.

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Coups d’État and Foreign Aid

Takaaki Masaki

World Development, March 2016, Pages 51–68

Absract:
Do international donors penalize coups d’état by reducing aid? How significant is the impact of coups on aid flows? These questions have become increasingly important over the past three decades as the concept of political conditionality has gradually permeated the donor community, pushing for stringent actions to be taken against democratic transgressions like coups. I argue that the end of the Cold War was a historical juncture that reshaped the international donor community’s aid-based sanctioning policy toward coups. However, I also posit that the U.S. does not comply with the growing international norm of political conditionality due to its geopolitical interests trumping its rhetorical commitment to penalizing coups. This paper exploits exogenous variation in the success and failure of coups to estimate the causal effect of coup-led regime change on aid flows. My empirical evidence supports the proposition that since the end of the Cold War, the donor community on average has reduced the amounts of aid disbursements in response to coups d’état although the U.S. has been inconsistent in applying aid sanctions against coups both during the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. While demonstrating a genuine shift in the international community’s collective responses toward coups since the end of the Cold War, my findings also attest to potential heterogeneity across major bilateral donors, which may undermine the overall effectiveness of aid and political conditionality.

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Defending the Authoritarian Regime Online: China's “Voluntary Fifty-cent Army”

Rongbin Han

China Quarterly, December 2015, Pages 1006-1025

Abstract:
Recent studies on internet politics in China have gone beyond the once dominant control–liberalization perspective and directed intellectual attention to the varieties of online activism. Based on extensive in-depth online ethnographic work, this project explores the pluralization of online expression in Chinese cyberspace. Following a constituency of internet users who identify themselves as the “voluntary fifty-cent army,” the paper explores how these users acquire and consolidate their identity and combat criticism that targets the authoritarian regime. Analysis of the confrontational exchanges between the “voluntary fifty-cent army” and their opponents suggests that a perspective that goes beyond state censorship and regime-challenging activism is required in order to gain a better understanding of online expression in China. Close examination of why and how internet users may voluntarily defend the authoritarian regime also reveals how the dynamics in online discourse competition may work to the authoritarian regime's advantage.

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The Differentiation of Security Forces and the Onset of Genocidal Violence

Ulrich Pilster, Tobias Böhmelt & Atsushi Tago

Armed Forces & Society, January 2016, Pages 26-50

Abstract:
Which factors drive the onset of genocidal violence? While the previous literature identified several important influences, states’ military capabilities for conducting mass-killings and the structure of their security forces have received surprisingly little attention so far. The authors take this shortcoming as a motivation for their research. A theoretical framework is developed, which argues that more differentiated security forces, that is, forces that are composed of a higher number of independent paramilitary and military organizations, are likely to act as a restraint factor in the process leading to state-sponsored mass-killings. Quantitative analyses support the argument for a sample of state-failure years for 1971–2003, and it is also shown that considering a state’s security force structure improves our ability to forecast genocides.

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Export Diversity and Human Rights

Timothy Peterson

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, I synthesize a number of recent studies exploring how exports affect human rights, highlighting a common implication that this relationship is conditional on how exports are associated with leaders’ relative costs of repression and accommodation. Beginning with this synthesis, I develop a theory demonstrating how the composition of exports affects human rights via its impact on leader expectations. More diverse exports promote continued growth and prosperity, provide leaders with greater resources, and suggest conditions less conducive to severe dissent, all of which reduce the relative costs of accommodation. Repression is likely to threaten the benefits otherwise associated with greater export diversity; thus its relative cost increases amid greater export diversity. I test this theory using commodity-level data from the United Nations Comtrade database to create a country-year-level measure of export diversity. Statistical analyses spanning 1981 to 2009 support my expectation. My results are robust to sample restrictions and the use of instrumental variables.

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Coalition Formation and Selectorate Theory: An Experiment

Andrew Bausch

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses a laboratory experiment to examine how different rules for re-selecting the leader of a group affects how that leader builds a winning coalition. Leaders play an inter-group game and then distribute winnings from that game within their group before standing for re-selection. The results of the experiment show that leaders of groups with large winning coalition systems rely heavily on distributing winnings through public goods, while leaders of groups with small winning coalition systems are more likely to target specific citizens with private goods. Furthermore, the experiment shows that supporters of small coalition leaders benefit from that support in future rounds by receiving more private goods than citizens that did not support the leader. Meanwhile, citizens that support a large coalition leader do not benefit from this support in future rounds. Therefore, small coalition leaders target individual citizens to maintain a coalition over time in a way not possible in a group with a large winning coalition. Finally, in the experiment, small coalition leaders increased their payoffs over time, suggesting that once power has been consolidated, small coalition leaders narrow their coalition.

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Bread and Bullets

George Akerlof & Dennis Snower

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the role of narrative in economic (and social) decision making. Narrative serves major functions regarding: understanding the environment; focusing attention; predicting events; motivating action; social assignment and identity formation; power relationships; and social norms. These roles of narrative will be explored, in the context of a specific example: a history (which is itself a narrative) regarding the Bolshevik takeover of the Soviet Union. Special attention is paid to the role of narrative both in that takeover and its implications for the subsequent regime.

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Protecting People from Natural Disasters: Political Institutions and Ocean-Originated Hazards

Alejandro Quiroz Flores

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do some leaders protect their citizens from natural disasters while others do not? This paper argues that leaders in large coalition systems provide more protection against natural disasters than leaders in small coalition systems. Yet, autocrats also provide large-scale disaster protection if members of their winning coalition are exposed to natural hazards. The paper tests these propositions by examining cross-country variation in the number of sea-level stations as a lower bound for protection against ocean-originated disasters. Empirical evidence indicates that leaders in large coalition systems deploy more sea-level stations than their counterparts in small coalition systems. The evidence also shows that if the national capital is close to the coast, thus exposing members of the ruling coalition to ocean-originated hazards, leaders across political systems install more sea-level stations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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