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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Into the 21st century

Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda

Christopher Blattman, Nathan Fiala & Sebastian Martinez
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study a government program in Uganda designed to help the poor and unemployed become self-employed artisans, increase incomes, and thus promote social stability. Young adults in Uganda's conflict-affected north were invited to form groups and submit grant proposals for vocational training and business start-up. Funding was randomly assigned among screened and eligible groups. Treatment groups received unsupervised grants of $382 per member. Grant recipients invest some in skills training but most in tools and materials. After four years half practice a skilled trade. Relative to the control group, the program increases business assets by 57%, work hours by 17%, and earnings by 38%. Many also formalize their enterprises and hire labor. We see no impact, however, on social cohesion, anti-social behavior, or protest. Impacts are similar by gender, but are qualitatively different for women because they begin poorer (meaning the impact is larger relative to their starting point) and because women's work and earnings stagnate without the program but take off with it. The patterns we observe are consistent with credit-constraints.

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Coal and the European Industrial Revolution

Alan Fernihough & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We examine the importance of geographical proximity to coal as a factor underpinning comparative European economic development during the Industrial Revolution. Our analysis exploits geographical variation in city and coalfield locations, alongside temporal variation in the availability of coal-powered technologies, to quantify the effect of coal availability on historic city population sizes. Since we suspect that our coal measure could be endogenous, we use a geologically derived measure as an instrumental variable: proximity to rock strata from the Carboniferous era. Consistent with traditional historical accounts of the Industrial Revolution, we find that coal had a strong influence on city population size from 1800 onward. Counterfactual estimates of city population sizes indicate that our estimated coal effect explains at least 60% of the growth in European city populations from 1750 to 1900. This result is robust to a number of alternative modelling assumptions regarding missing historical population data, spatially lagged effects, and the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the estimation sample.

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Does Diversity Lead to Diverse Opinions? Evidence from Languages and Stock Markets

Yen-Cheng Chang et al.
China Academy of Financial Research Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
An oft-cited premise for why diverse societies, be it ethnic, linguistic or religious, can grow faster than homogeneous ones is that they bring about diverse opinions, which foster problem solving and creativity. We provide evidence for this premise using a linguistic measure of diversity across Chinese provinces and stock market measures of diverse opinions. This cross-province variation in linguistic diversity is correlated with the extent of hilly terrain in a province but is uncorrelated with financial development in that province. Households in provinces with more linguistic diversity have more diverse opinions as measured by greater trading of and disagreement on stock message boards about local stocks. Linguistic diversity is also correlated with small private enterprise diversity. An analogous cross-country regression suggests that our conclusion extrapolates beyond China.

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Crime and Growth Convergence: Evidence from Mexico

Ted Enamorado, Carlos Rodriguez-Castelan & Luis López-Calva
World Bank Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Scholars have often argued that crime deters growth, but the empirical literature assessing such effect is scarce. By exploiting cross-municipality income and crime data for Mexico -- a country that experienced a high increase in crime rates over the past decade -- this study circumvents two of the most common problems faced by researchers in this area. These are: (i) the lack of a homogenous, consistently comparable measure of crime and (ii) the small sample problem in the estimation. Combining income data from poverty maps, administrative records on crime and violence, and public expenditures data at the municipal level for Mexico (2005-2010), the analysis finds evidence indicating that drug-related crimes indeed deter growth. It also finds no evidence of a negative effect on growth from crimes unrelated to drug trafficking.

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American Colonial Incomes, 1650-1774

Peter Lindert & Jeffrey Williamson
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
New data now allow conjectures on the levels of real and nominal incomes in the thirteen American colonies. New England was the poorest region, and the South was the richest. Colonial per capita incomes rose only very slowly, and slowly for five reasons: productivity growth was slow; population in the low-income (but subsistence-plus) frontier grew much faster than that in the high-income coastal settlements; child dependency rates were high and probably even rising; the terms of trade was extremely volatile, presumably suppressing investment in export sectors; and the terms of trade rose very slowly, if at all, in the North, although faster in the South. All of this checked the growth of colony-wide per capita income after a 17th century boom. The American colonies led Great Britain in purchasing power per capita from 1700, and possibly from 1650, until 1774, even counting slaves in the population. That is, average purchasing power in America led Britain early, when Americans were British. The common view that American per capita income did not overtake that of Britain until the start of the 20th century appears to be off the mark by two centuries or longer.

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Slavery, Statehood, and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dirk Bezemer, Jutta Bolt & Robert Lensink
World Development, May 2014, Pages 148–163

Abstract:
Although Africa’s indigenous systems of slavery have been extensively described in the historical literature, comparatively little attention has been paid to analyzing its long term impact on economic and political development. Based on data collected from anthropological records we conduct an econometric analysis. We find that indigenous slavery is robustly and negatively associated with current income levels, but not with income levels immediately after independence. We explore one channel of transmission from indigenous slavery to income growth consistent with this changing effect over time and find evidence that indigenous slavery impeded the development of capable and accountable states in Africa.

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Agriculture, Transportation and the Timing of Urbanization: Global Analysis at the Grid Cell Level

Mesbah Motamed, Raymond Florax & William Masters
U.S. Department of Agriculture Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
This paper addresses the timing of a location's historical transition from rural to urban activity. We test whether urbanization occurs sooner in places with higher agricultural potential and comparatively lower transport costs, using worldwide data that divide the earth's surface at half-degree intervals into 62,290 cells. From an independent estimate of each cell's rural and urban population history over the last 2,000 years, we identify the date at which each cell achieves various thresholds of urbanization. Controlling for unobserved heterogeneity across countries through fixed effects and using a variety of spatial econometric techniques, we find a robust association between earlier urbanization and agro-climatic suitability for cultivation, having seasonal frosts, better access to the ocean or navigable rivers, and lower elevation. These geographic correlations become smaller in magnitude as urbanization proceeds, and there is some variance in effect sizes across continents. Aggregating cells into countries, we show that an earlier urbanization date is associated with higher per capita income today.

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Do Firms Want to Borrow More? Testing Credit Constraints Using a Directed Lending Program

Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article uses variation in access to a targeted lending program to estimate whether firms are credit constrained. While both constrained and unconstrained firms may be willing to absorb all the directed credit that they can get (because it may be cheaper than other sources of credit), constrained firms will use it to expand production, while unconstrained firms will primarily use it as a substitute for other borrowing. We apply these observations to firms in India that became eligible for directed credit as a result of a policy change in 1998, and lost eligibility as a result of the reversal of this reform in 2000, and to smaller firms that were already eligible for the preferential credit before 1998 and remained eligible in 2000. Comparing the trends in the sales and the profits of these two groups of firms, we show that there is no evidence that directed credit is being used as a substitute for other forms of credit. Instead, the credit was used to finance more production–there was a large acceleration in the rate of growth of sales and profits for these firms in 1998, and a corresponding decline in 2000. There was no change in trends around either date for the small firms. We conclude that many of the firms must have been severely credit constrained, and that the marginal rate of return to capital was very high for these firms.

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Business Literacy and Development: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico

Gabriela Calderon, Jesse Cunha & Giacomo De Giorgi
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
A large share of the poor in developing countries run small enterprises, often earning low incomes. This paper explores whether the poor performance of businesses can be explained by a lack of basic business skills. We randomized the offer of a free, 48-hour business skills course to female entrepreneurs in rural Mexico. We find that those assigned to treatment earn higher profits, have larger revenues, serve a greater number of clients, are more likely to use formal accounting techniques, and more likely to be registered with the government. Indirect treatment effects on those entrepreneurs randomized out of the program, yet living in treatment villages, are economically meaningful, yet imprecisely measured. We present a simple model of experience and learning that helps interpret our results, and consistent with the theoretical predictions, we find that "low-quality" entrepreneurs are the most likely to quit their business post-treatment, and that the positive impacts of the treatment are increasing in entrepreneurial quality.

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National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa

Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou
Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2014, Pages 151-213

Abstract:
We investigate the role of national institutions on subnational African development in a novel framework that accounts for both local geography and cultural-genetic traits. We exploit the fact that the political boundaries on the eve of African independence partitioned more than 200 ethnic groups across adjacent countries subjecting similar cultures, residing in homogeneous geographic areas, to different formal institutions. Using both a matching type and a spatial regression discontinuity approach we show that differences in countrywide institutional structures across the national border do not explain within-ethnicity differences in economic performance, as captured by satellite images of light density. The average noneffect of national institutions on ethnic development masks considerable heterogeneity partially driven by the diminishing role of national institutions in areas further from the capital cities.

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Relying on the Private Sector: The Income Distribution and Public Investments in the Poor

Katrina Kosec
Journal of Development Economics, March 2014, Pages 320–342

Abstract:
What drives governments with similar revenues to provide very different amounts of goods with private sector substitutes? Education is a prime example. I use exogenous shocks to Brazilian municipalities’ revenue during 1995–2008 generated by non-linearities in federal transfer laws to demonstrate two things. First, municipalities with higher income inequality or higher median income allocate less of a revenue shock to education and are less likely to expand public school enrollment. They are more likely to invest in public infrastructure that is broadly enjoyed, like parks and roads, or to save the shock. Second, I find no evidence that the quality of public education suffers as a result. If anything, unequal and high-income areas are more likely to improve public school inputs and test scores following a revenue shock, given their heavy use of private education. I further provide evidence that an increase in public sector revenue lowers private school enrollment.

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Does Too Much Finance Harm Economic Growth?

Siong Hook Law & Nirvikar Singh
Journal of Banking & Finance, April 2014, Pages 36–44

Abstract:
This study provides new evidence on the relationship between finance and economic growth using an innovative dynamic panel threshold technique. The sample consists of 87 developed and developing countries. The empirical results indicate that there is a threshold effect in the finance-growth relationship. In particular, we find that the level of financial development is beneficial to growth only up to a certain threshold; beyond the threshold level further development of finance tends to adversely affect growth. These findings reveal that more finance is not necessarily good for economic growth and highlight that an “optimal” level of financial development is more crucial in facilitating growth.

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Do Elections Matter for Economic Performance?

Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler
Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In mature democracies, elections discipline leaders to deliver good economic performance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, most developing countries also hold elections, but these are often marred by illicit tactics. Using a new global data set, this article investigates whether these illicit tactics are merely blemishes or substantially undermine the economic efficacy of elections. We show that illicit tactics are widespread, and that they reduce the incentive for governments to deliver good economic performance. Our analysis also suggests that in societies with regular free and fair elections, leaders do not matter for economic growth.

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Lights, Camera,... Income!: Estimating Poverty Using National Accounts, Survey Means, and Lights

Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
In this paper we try to understand whether national accounts GDP per capita or survey mean income or consumption better proxy for true income per capita. We propose a data-driven method to assess the relative quality of GDP per capita versus survey means by comparing the evolution of each series to the evolution of satellite-recorded nighttime lights. Our main assumption, which is robust to a variety of specification checks, is that the measurement error in nighttime lights is unrelated to the measurement errors in either national accounts or survey means. We obtain estimates of weights on national accounts and survey means in an optimal proxy for true income; these weights are very large for national accounts and very modest for survey means. We conclusively reject the null hypothesis that the optimal weight on surveys is greater than the optimal weight on national accounts, and we generally fail to reject the null hypothesis that the optimal weight on surveys is zero. Using the estimated optimal weights, we compute estimates of true income per capita and $1/day poverty rates for the developing world and its regions. We get poverty estimates that are substantially lower and fall substantially faster than those of Chen and Ravallion (2010) or of the survey-based poverty literature more generally.

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The devil is in the shadow. Do institutions affect income and productivity or only official income and official productivity?

Axel Dreher, Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Friedrich Schneider
Public Choice, January 2014, Pages 121-141

Abstract:
This paper assesses the relationship between institutions, output, and productivity when official output is corrected for the size of the shadow economy. Our results confirm the usual positive impact of institutional quality on official output and total factor productivity, and its negative impact on the size of the underground economy. However, once output is corrected for the shadow economy, the relationship between institutions and output becomes weaker. The impact of institutions on total (“corrected”) factor productivity becomes insignificant. Differences in corrected output must then be attributed to differences in factor endowments. These results survive several tests for robustness.

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The impact of drought in early fourteenth-century England

David Stone
Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Climatic change is currently viewed as one of the main causes of the so-called crisis of the early fourteenth century. It is well established that England saw increased storminess and heavy rainfall in this period, but this article suggests that the impact of drought — which became a common feature of the English climate during the 1320s and early 1330s — has been overlooked. Based primarily on a detailed analysis of account rolls for over 60 of the best-documented manors in this period, the article establishes that drought brought devastating harvest failure and caused severe outbreaks of a number of diseases, plausibly including enteric infections, malaria, and winter and spring fevers. As a result, mortality surged and population levels fell in communities in affected regions, which were mainly confined to the southern and eastern counties of England. The article concludes that such regional variation significantly affects our understanding of demographic, agricultural, and even fiscal trends in this period. Although we should not disregard the human factors influencing the impact of environmental shocks, England was plainly struck with indubitable force by extreme weather in this pivotal phase of the medieval economy.

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The International Monetary Fund, Structural Adjustment, and Women's Health: A Cross-National Analysis of Maternal Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lauren Pandolfelli, John Shandra & Juhi Tyagi
Sociological Quarterly, Winter 2014, Pages 119–142

Abstract:
We conduct a cross-national analysis to test the dependency theory hypothesis that International Monetary Fund structural adjustment adversely impacts maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. We use generalized least square random effects regression models and modified two-step Heckman models that correct for endogeneity using data on 37 African nations with up to four time points (1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005). We find support for our hypothesis, which indicates that sub-Saharan African nations that receive an International Monetary Fund structural adjustment loan tend to have higher levels of maternal mortality than sub-Saharan African nations that do not receive such a loan. This finding remains stable when controlling for endogeneity related to whether or not a sub-Saharan African nation receives a structural adjustment loan. We conclude by discussing the theoretical implications, methodological implications, policy suggestions, and possible directions for future research.

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A World of Cities: The Causes and Consequences of Urbanization in Poorer Countries

Edward Glaeser
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Historically, urban growth required enough development to grow and transport significant agricultural surpluses or a government effective enough to build an empire. But there has been an explosion of poor mega-cities over the last thirty years. A simple urban model illustrates that in closed economies, agricultural prosperity leads to more urbanization but that in an open economy, urbanization increases with agricultural desperation. The challenge of developing world mega-cities is that poverty and weak governance reduce the ability to address the negative externalities that come with density. This paper models the connection between urban size and institutional failure, and shows that urban anonymity causes institutions to break down. For large cities with weak governments, draconian policies may be the only way to curb negative externalities, suggesting a painful tradeoff between dictatorship and disorder. A simple model suggests that private provision of infrastructure to reduce negative externalities is less costly when city populations are low or institutions are strong, but that public provision can cost less in bigger cities.

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Cross-Country Differences in the Quality of Schooling

Nicolai Kaarsen
Journal of Development Economics, March 2014, Pages 215–224

Abstract:
This paper constructs a cross-country measure of the quality of education using a novel approach based on international test scores data. The first main finding is that there are large differences in education quality - one year of schooling in the U.S. is equivalent to three or more years of schooling in a number of low-income countries. I incorporate the estimated series for schooling quality in an accounting framework calibrated using evidence on Mincerian returns. This leads to the second important finding, which is that the fraction of income differences explained by the model rises substantially when one includes education quality; the increase is around 22 percentage points.

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Reassessing the Links between Regime Type and Economic Performance: Why Some Authoritarian Regimes Show Stable Growth and Others Do Not

Siddharth Chandra & Nita Rudra
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This analysis challenges claims that regime type determines national economic performance, and hypothesizes that the level of public deliberation, rather than broad categories of regime type, is the driver of national economic performance across political systems; specifically, that negotiations, disagreements, and compromises between decentralized decision-making partisans (e.g., citizens, business representatives, professional associations, labor, and public administrators) are the underlying causal mechanism explaining the non-monotonic relationship between different types of political system and economic performance. Countries with high levels of public deliberation more often experience stable growth outcomes, while other countries can make radical changes in economic policy with uncertain outcome. The variation in public deliberation within regime type is significant, especially amongst authoritarian regimes. One startling implication is that, in certain situations, impressive gains in economic growth can be achieved only at the expense of active negotiation and participation in the policy-making process.

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What Democracy Does (and Doesn’t Do) for Basic Services: School Fees, School Inputs, and African Elections

Robin Harding & David Stasavage
Journal of Politics, January 2014, Pages 229-245

Abstract:
Does democracy affect the provision of basic services? We advance on existing empirical work on this subject by exploring the potential mechanisms through which a democratic transition may prompt a government to alter provision of basic services to its citizens. In an environment of weak state capacity, in which it is difficult for voters to attribute outcomes to executive actions, we suggest that electoral competition is most likely to lead to changes in policies where executive action is verifiable. Considering the context of African primary education as an example, we suggest that electoral competition will therefore give governments an incentive to abolish school fees, but it will have less effect on the provision of school inputs, precisely because executive actions on these issues are more difficult to monitor. We evaluate this claim by approaching it in three different ways, using cross-national as well as individual-level data, including an original data set on primary school fee abolitions. First we show that in Africa, democracies have higher rates of school attendance than nondemocracies. Moreover, evidence suggests that this is primarily due to the fact that democracies are more likely to abolish school fees, not to the fact that they provide more inputs. We then estimate the likelihood that a government will abolish school fees subsequent to an election, taking account of endogeneity concerns involving election timing. Finally, we use survey data from Kenya to provide evidence suggesting that citizens condition their voting intentions on an outcome that a politician can control directly, in this case abolishing school fees, but not on outcomes over which politicians have much more indirect influence, such as local school quality.

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Can Free Provision Reduce Demand for Public Services? Evidence from Kenyan Education

Tessa Bold et al.
World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2003 Kenya abolished user fees in all government primary schools. We show that this policy contributed to a shift in demand away from free schools, where net enrollment stagnated after 2003, toward fee-charging private schools, where both enrollment and fee levels grew rapidly after 2003. These shifts had mixed distributional consequences. Enrollment by poorer households increased, but segregation between socio-economic groups also increased. We find evidence that the shift in demand toward private schooling was driven by more affluent households who (i) paid higher ex ante fees and thus experienced a larger reduction in school funding, and (ii) exited public schools in reaction to increased enrollment by poorer children.

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The Impact of Armed Conflict on Economic Performance: Evidence from Rwanda

Pieter Serneels & Marijke Verpoorten
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Important gaps remain in the understanding of the economic consequences of civil war. Focusing on the conflict in Rwanda in the early 1990s, and using micro data, this article finds that households and localities that experienced more intense conflict are lagging behind in terms of consumption six years after the conflict, a finding that is robust to taking into account the endogeneity of violence. Significantly different returns to land and labor are observed between zones that experienced low- and high-intensity conflict which is consistent with the ongoing recovery. Distinguishing between civil war and genocide, the findings also provide evidence that these returns, and by implication the process of recovery, depend on the form of violence.

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World Human Development: 1870–2007

Leandro Prados de la Escosura
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
How has wellbeing evolved over time and across regions? How does the West compare to the Rest? What explains their differences? These questions are addressed using a historical index of human development. A sustained improvement in world wellbeing has taken place since 1870. The absolute gap between OECD and the Rest widened over time, but an incomplete catching up — largely explained by education — occurred between 1913 and 1970. As the health transition was achieved in the Rest, the contribution of life expectancy to human development improvement declined and the Rest fell behind in terms of longevity. Meanwhile, in the OECD, as longevity increased, healthy years expanded. A large variance in human development is noticeable in the Rest since 1970, with East Asia, Latin America, and North Africa catching up to the OECD, and Central and Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa falling behind.

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Public capital in resource rich economies: Is there a curse?

Sambit Bhattacharyya & Paul Collier
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2014, Pages 1-24

Abstract:
As poor countries deplete their natural resources, for increased consumption to be sustainable some of the revenues should be invested in other public assets. Further, since such countries typically have acute shortages of public capital, the finance from resource depletion is an opportunity for needed public investment. Using a new global panel dataset on public capital and resource rents covering the period 1970 to 2005 we find that, contrary to these expectations, resource rents significantly reduce the public capital stock. This is more direct evidence for a policy-based ‘resource curse’ than the conventional, indirect evidence from the relationships between resource endowments, growth and income. The adverse effect on public capital is mitigated by good institutions. We also find that rents from the depletion of non-renewable (mineral) resources reduce the public capital stock whereas rents from sustainable (forestry and agriculture) sources do not.

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The stability of voluntarism: Financing social care in early modern Dutch towns compared with the English Poor Law, c. 1600–1800

Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk & Daniëlle Teeuwen
European Review of Economic History, February 2014, Pages 82-105

Abstract:
This article aims to compare the financing of two apparently entirely different systems of pre-industrial welfare: urban institutional welfare in the federal Dutch Republic and the national Elizabethan Poor Law in Britain. By analysing a new dataset on the income and expenditure of five Dutch towns, we conclude that, despite the absence of uniform legislation, Dutch poor relief was viable at least up until the 1790s, even in times of severe crises and declining real wages. This was obtained by the – in monetary terms – remarkably stable donations by Dutch citizens, mostly through regular collections, as well as careful financial management of the charitable funds.

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State Capacity and the Environmental Investment Gap in Authoritarian States

Hugh Ward, Xun Cao & Bumba Mukherjee
Comparative Political Studies, March 2014, Pages 309-343

Abstract:
We construct an n-period, constrained optimization model where the authoritarian ruler maximizes expected rents subject to budget constraint of available surplus. We show that the larger state capacity is in the previous period, the worse environmental quality will be in the next period: while infrastructural investment and environmental protection increase with state capacity, the former increases at a faster rate which enlarges the gap between the two — the environmental investment gap. Given infrastructural public goods typically damage the environment, the larger this gap is the worse the environmental quality would be. This follows from rulers’ optimizing logic of equating marginal returns once we assume the declining marginal productivity of factors of production of surplus. We model three types of air and water pollutants in autocracies as a function of state capacity and other relevant variables. State capacity is associated with higher levels of all three types of pollutants.

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Forced Saving in China

Richard Eckaus
China Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The explanation offered here for the high rates of saving in China is that much of the saving has been “forced” in two Benthamite senses. Involuntary saving, the first of Bentham's meanings, includes taxes which finance investment. These have made up more than half of the total savings in China in recent years. There is also forced saving in China in the form of Bentham's second sense, conduced saving, resulting from bank loans which have financed investment. While the existence of a savings glut has been suggested for China, a better characterization would be that it has had a high rate of investment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It pains me

Social Capital, Ideology, and Health in the United States

Mitchel Herian et al.
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 30–37

Abstract:
Research from across disciplines has demonstrated that social and political contextual factors at the national and subnational levels can impact the health and health behavior risks of individuals. This paper examines the impact of state-level social capital and ideology on individual-level health outcomes in the U.S. Leveraging the variation that exists across states in the U.S., the results reveal that individuals report better health in states with higher levels of governmental liberalism and in states with higher levels of social capital. Critically, however, the effect of social capital was moderated by liberalism such that social capital was a stronger predictor of health in states with low levels of liberalism. We interpret this finding to mean that social capital within a political unit — as indicated by measures of interpersonal trust — can serve as a substitute for the beneficial impacts that might result from an active governmental structure.

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Anatomy of a Municipal Triumph: New York City's Upsurge in Life Expectancy

Samuel Preston & Irma Elo
Population and Development Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the period 1990–2010, the increase in life expectancy for males in New York City was 6.0 years greater than for males in the United States. The female relative gain was 3.9 years. Male relative gains were larger because of extremely rapid reductions in mortality from HIV/AIDS and homicide, declines that reflect effective municipal policies and programs. Declines in drug- and alcohol-related deaths also played a significant role in New York City's advance, but every major cause of death contributed to its relative improvement. By 2010, New York City had a life expectancy that was 1.9 years greater than that of the US. This difference is attributable to the high representation of immigrants in New York's population. Immigrants to New York City, and to the United States, have life expectancies that are among the highest in the world. The fact that 38 percent of New York's population consists of immigrants, compared to only 14 percent in the United States, accounts for New York's exceptional standing in life expectancy in 2010. In fact, US-born New Yorkers have a life expectancy below that of the United States itself.

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The Health Consequences of Retirement

Michael Insler
Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2014, Pages 195-233

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of retirement on individuals’ health. Declines in health commonly compel workers to retire, so the challenge is to disentangle the simultaneous causal effects. The estimation strategy employs an instrumental variables specification. The instrument is based on workers’ self-reported probabilities of working past ages 62 and 65, taken from the first period in which they are observed. Results indicate that the retirement effect on health is beneficial and significant. Investigation into behavioral data, such as smoking and exercise, suggests that retirement may affect health through such channels. With additional leisure time, many retirees practice healthier habits.

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Declines in Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Children, 1997−2011

Byron Kennedy et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, March 2014, Pages 259–264

Objective: To assess temporal trends in childhood elevated blood lead level (EBLL) rates.

Methods: Laboratory surveillance data were collected from 1997 to 2011 and analyzed in 2013 using linear regression to assess trends in confirmed EBLL rates among children aged <6 years in the U.S., New York State ([NYS], excluding New York City), and Monroe County NY. Monroe County was also examined as a case study of local public health efforts to reduce childhood lead exposures. Blood lead screening and home lead hazard inspection data were collected from 1990 to 2012 and analyzed in 2013.

Results: The prevalence of EBLL≥10 μg/dL per 100 tested children decreased from 13.4 to 1.1 in Monroe County, 6.3 to 1.0 in NYS, and 7.6 to 0.6 in the U.S. between 1997 and 2011. The absolute yearly rate of decline in Monroe County (slope=−0.0083, p<0.001) occurred 2.4-fold faster than that in NYS (slope=−0.0034, p<0.001) and 1.8-fold faster than that in the U.S. (slope=−0.0046, p<0.001). The childhood blood lead testing rate was consistently higher in Monroe County than in NYS and the U.S.; however, testing increased for all three areas (all slopes>0, p<0.05), with greater improvements observed for U.S. children overall (slope=0.0075, p<0.001).

Conclusions: In addition to national and statewide policies, local efforts may be important drivers of population-based declines in childhood EBLL rates.

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Neighborhoods and Infectious Disease Risk: Acquisition of Chlamydia during the Transition to Young Adulthood

Jodi Ford & Christopher Browning
Journal of Urban Health, February 2014, Pages 136-150

Abstract:
Adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the USA despite national priority goals targeting their reduction. Research on the role of neighborhoods in shaping STI risk among youth has increased in recent years, but few studies have explored the longitudinal effects of neighborhoods on STI acquisition during the adolescent to young adult transition. The aims of this study were to examine: (1) the longitudinal relationships between the neighborhood context (poverty, residential instability, and racial/ethnic concentration) of exposure during adolescence and young adults’ acquisition of chlamydia, and (2) the extent to which sexual risk behaviors and depression over the transition from adolescence to young adulthood mediate the relationship between the neighborhood context of exposure during adolescence and young adults’ acquisition of chlamydia. A longitudinal observational design was employed using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), waves 1–3 (1994–2002). The sample was composed of 11,460 young adults aged 18 to 27 years. Neighborhood measures during adolescence were derived from the 1990 US Census appended to adolescents’ interview data. Chlamydia infection was measured via urine assay at wave 3 and 4.6 % of the young adults in the sample tested positive for chlamydia. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were conducted adjusting for numerous neighborhood and individual risk factors. Multivariate findings indicated exposure to neighborhood poverty during adolescence increased the likelihood of a positive urine test for chlamydia during young adulthood (AOR = 1.23, 95 % CI = 1.06, 1.42), and the association was not mediated by sexual risk behaviors or depression. Further research is needed to better understand the pathways through which exposure to neighborhood poverty contributes to chlamydia over the life course as are comprehensive STI prevention strategies addressing neighborhood poverty.

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Positive Externalities from Active Car Safety Systems: A New Justification for Car Safety Regulations

Michael Berlemann & Andreas Matthes
Journal of Policy Modeling, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policymakers around the globe have opted for high levels of regulation of the market for vehicle safety and declared many vehicle safety systems as mandatory for new cars. In this paper we argue that the delivered justifications for these policies are at least questionable. We add a completely new argument to the discussion and show in a simple theoretical model that vehicle safety systems might cause positive externalities. Based on a large dataset of traffic accidents in Germany we show that the these externalities in fact occur. Based on our estimation results we show that for anti-lock-brakes (ABS) and electronic stability programmes (ESP) the average expected externality exceeds the price of these systems. Thus, the obligation to equip any new car with both ABS and ESP is adequate from an allocative point of view although the official justification for the introduction of these regulations are flawed.

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Intake of Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids From Diet and Supplements in Relation to Mortality

Griffith Bell et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evidence from experimental studies suggests that the long-chain ω-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid have beneficial effects that may lead to reduced mortality from chronic diseases, but epidemiologic evidence is mixed. Our objective was to evaluate whether intake of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids from diet and supplements is associated with cause-specific and total mortality. Study participants (n = 70,495) were members of a cohort study (the Vitamins and Lifestyle Study) who were residents of Washington State aged 50–76 years at the start of the study (2000–2002). Participants were followed for mortality through 2006 (n = 3,051 deaths). Higher combined intake of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid from diet and supplements was associated with a decreased risk of total mortality (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.82, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.73, 0.93) and mortality from cancer (HR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.64, 0.92) but only a small reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease (HR = 0.87, 95% CI: 0.68, 1.10). These results suggest that intake of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids may reduce risk of total and cancer-specific mortality.

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Macroeconomic fluctuations and motorcycle fatalities in the U.S.

Michael French & Gulcin Gumus
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 187–193

Abstract:
The effects of business cycles on health outcomes in general, and on traffic fatalities in particular, have received much attention recently. In this paper, we focus on motorcycle safety and examine the impact of changing levels of economic activity on fatal crashes by motorcyclists in the United States. We analyze state-level longitudinal data with 1,104 state/year observations from the 1988-2010 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Using the extensive motorcycle crash characteristics available in FARS, we examine not only total fatality rates but also rates decomposed by crash type, day, time, and the level of the motorcycle operator’s blood alcohol content. Our results are consistent with much of the existing literature showing that traffic fatality rates are pro-cyclical. The estimates suggest that a 10% increase in real income per capita is associated with a 10.4% rise in the total motorcycle fatality rate. Along with potential mechanisms, policymakers and public health officials should consider the effects of business cycles on motorcycle safety.

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Population Health Concerns During the United States’ Great Recession

Benjamin Althouse et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February 2014, Pages 166–170

Background: Associations between economic conditions and health are usually derived from cost-intensive surveys that are intermittently collected with nonspecific measures (i.e., self-rated health).
Purpose: This study identified how precise health concerns changed during the U.S. Great Recession analyzing Google search queries to identify the concern by the query content and their prevalence by the query volume.

Methods: Excess health concerns were estimated during the Great Recession (December 2008 through 2011) by comparing the cumulative difference between observed and expected (based on linear projections from pre-existing trends) query volume for hundreds of individual terms. As performed in 2013, the 100 queries with the greatest excess were ranked and then clustered into themes based on query content.

Results: The specific queries with the greatest relative excess were stomach ulcer symptoms and headache symptoms, respectively, 228% (95% CI¼35, 363) and 193% (95% CI¼60, 275) greater than expected. Queries typically involved symptomology (i.e., gas symptoms) and diagnostics (i.e., heart monitor) naturally coalescing into themes. Among top themes, headache queries were 41% (95% CI¼3, 148); hernia 37% (95% CI¼16, 142); chest pain 35% (95% CI¼6, 313); and arrhythmia 32% (95% CI¼3, 149) greater than expected. Pain was common with back, gastric, joint, and tooth foci, with the latter 19% (95% CI¼4, 46) higher. Among just the top 100, there were roughly 205 million excess health concern queries during the Great Recession.

Conclusions: Google queries indicate that the Great Recession coincided with substantial increases in health concerns, hinting at how population health specifically changed during that time.

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Association Between Birthplace and Current Asthma: The Role of Environment and Acculturation

Shahed Iqbal et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S175-S182

Objectives: We evaluated associations between current asthma and birthplace among major racial/ethnic groups in the United States.

Methods: We used multivariate logistic regression methods to analyze data on 102 524 children and adolescents and 255 156 adults in the National Health Interview Survey (2001–2009).

Results: We found significantly higher prevalence (P < .05) of current asthma among children and adolescents (9.3% vs 5.1%) and adults (7.6% vs 4.7%) born in the 50 states and Washington, DC (US-born), than among those born elsewhere. These differences were among all age groups of non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks, and Hispanics (excluding Puerto Ricans) and among Chinese adults. Non–US-born adults with 10 or more years of residency in the United States had higher odds of current asthma (odds ratio = 1.55; 95% confidence interval = 1.25, 1.93) than did those who arrived more recently. Findings suggested a similar trend among non–US-born children.

Conclusions: Current asthma status was positively associated with being born in the United States and with duration of residency in the United States. Among other contributing factors, changes in environment and acculturation may explain some of the differences in asthma prevalence.

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Disparities in Age-Appropriate Child Passenger Restraint Use Among Children Aged 1 to 12 Years

Michelle Macy et al.
Pediatrics, February 2014, Pages 262 -271

Objective: Observed racial disparities in child safety seat use have not accounted for socioeconomic factors. We hypothesized that racial differences in age-appropriate restraint use would be modified by socioeconomic status and child passenger safety information sources.

Methods: A 2-site, cross-sectional tablet-based survey of parents seeking emergency care for their 1- to 12-year-old child was conducted between October 2011 and May 2012. Parents provided self-report of child passenger safety practices, demographic characteristics, and information sources. Direct observation of restraint use was conducted in a subset of children at emergency department discharge. Age-appropriate restraint use was defined by Michigan law.

Results: Of the 744 eligible parents, 669 agreed to participate and 601 provided complete responses to key variables. White parents reported higher use of car seats for 1- to 3-year-olds and booster seats for 4- to 7-year-olds compared with nonwhite parents. Regardless of race, <30% of 8- to 12-year-old children who were ≤4 feet, 9 inches tall used a booster seat. White parents had higher adjusted odds (3.86, 95% confidence interval 2.27–6.57) of reporting age-appropriate restraint use compared with nonwhite parents, controlling for education, income, information sources, and site. There was substantial agreement (82.6%, κ = 0.74) between parent report of their child’s usual restraint and the observed restraint at emergency department discharge.

Conclusions: Efforts should be directed at eliminating racial disparities in age-appropriate child passenger restraint use for children <8 years. Booster seat use, seat belt use, and rear seating represent opportunities to improve child passenger safety practices among older children.

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Prevalence and Correlates of Firearm Ownership in the Homes of Fifth Graders: Birmingham, AL, Houston, TX, and Los Angeles, CA

David Schwebel et al.
Health Education & Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Firearms in the home are associated with increased injury risk, especially when loaded and unlocked. In this study, 5,010 fifth-graders and their caregivers in three U.S. metropolitan areas participated in the 2004-2006 Healthy Passages study on adolescent health. Firearm ownership and storage patterns were examined by four self-reported sociodemographic characteristics (child’s race/ethnicity, child’s gender, family socioeconomic status, and study site) and reasons for ownership. Eighteen percent (n = 880) of the families reported firearms in the home. Families with African American and Hispanic children had lower odds of owning firearms than families with non-Hispanic White children. The most common reasons for ownership were protection from crime and hunting. Six percent (n = 56) of the families with firearms stored at least one firearm unlocked, assembled, without a trigger lock, and with unlocked ammunition. Compared with families with non-Hispanic White children, families with African American children engaged in safer storage practices. Results can inform childhood firearm injury prevention activities.

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“But We’re Not Hypochondriacs”: The Changing Shape of Gluten-Free Dieting and the Contested Illness Experience

Lauren Renée Moore
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 76–83

Abstract:
“Gluten free” exploded onto the American foodscape in recent years: as of January 2013, 30 percent of U.S. adults reported reducing or eliminating gluten in their diets. How do individuals participate in the expansion of gluten-free dieting, and what are the implications of that expansion? This article is based on 31 in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted between May and October 2012 with gluten-free and -restricted persons. I identify three interrelated factors contributing to the expansion of gluten-free dieting among non-celiacs. Participants broaden the lay understanding of gluten-related disorders, undermine biomedical authority, and diagnose others. Such participant-driven change, termed self-ascriptive looping, is one factor in the diet’s rapid popularization. I show how participants question the doctor-patient relationship and increase social contestability for other dieters. My findings challenge previous work on contested illness and suggest food intolerances may require a reconceptualization of contested illness experience.

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Life expectancy and economic growth

Lars Kunze
Journal of Macroeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the relationship between life expectancy and economic growth in an overlapping generations model with family altruism where private and public investments in human capital of children are the engine of endogenous growth. Consistent with recent empirical evidence, our model provides a theoretical case of a non-linear pattern between life expectancy and economic growth. However, it is also shown that the emergence of such a pattern critically depends on the existence of intergenerational transfers in form of bequests. Specifically, we find that rising life expectancy unambiguously decreases growth if bequests are operative, whereas there exists an inverted-U shape relationship in economies where bequests are inoperative.

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Healthcare Worker Contact Networks and the Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Donald Curtis et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2013

Abstract:
We present a comprehensive approach to using electronic medical records (EMR) for constructing contact networks of healthcare workers in a hospital. This approach is applied at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) – a 3.2 million square foot facility with 700 beds and about 8,000 healthcare workers – by obtaining 19.8 million EMR data points, spread over more than 21 months. We use these data to construct 9,000 different healthcare worker contact networks, which serve as proxies for patterns of actual healthcare worker contacts. Unlike earlier approaches, our methods are based on large-scale data and do not make any a priori assumptions about edges (contacts) between healthcare workers, degree distributions of healthcare workers, their assignment to wards, etc. Preliminary validation using data gathered from a 10-day long deployment of a wireless sensor network in the Medical Intensive Care Unit suggests that EMR logins can serve as realistic proxies for hospital-wide healthcare worker movement and contact patterns. Despite spatial and job-related constraints on healthcare worker movement and interactions, analysis reveals a strong structural similarity between the healthcare worker contact networks we generate and social networks that arise in other (e.g., online) settings. Furthermore, our analysis shows that disease can spread much more rapidly within the constructed contact networks as compared to random networks of similar size and density. Using the generated contact networks, we evaluate several alternate vaccination policies and conclude that a simple policy that vaccinates the most mobile healthcare workers first, is robust and quite effective relative to a random vaccination policy.

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Compulsory Schooling Reforms, Education and Mortality in Twentieth Century Europe

Christina Gathmann, Hendrik Jürges & Steffen Reinhold
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Education yields substantial non-monetary benefits, but the size of these gains is still debated. Previous studies report causal effects of education and compulsory schooling on mortality ranging anywhere from zero to large and negative. Using data from 18 compulsory schooling reforms implemented in Europe during the twentieth century, we quantify the average mortality gain and explore its dispersion across gender, time and countries. We find that more education yields small mortality reductions in the short- and long-run for men. In contrast, women seem to experience no mortality reductions from compulsory schooling reforms.

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Combat Exposure and Migraine Headache: Evidence from Exogenous Deployment Assignment

Resul Cesur, Joseph Sabia & Erdal Tekin
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Migraine headache is a growing problem for U.S. servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and has been linked to substantial negative socioeconomic consequences. However, there has been no comprehensive examination of the relationship between combat exposure and migraine headache or its stress-related triggers. Analyzing data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we use exogenous variation in deployment assignment to estimate the effect of combat exposure on migraine headache. We find that those deployed to a combat zone with enemy firefight are at substantially increased risk for migraine headache relative to those deployed to non-combat zones outside the United States or to combat zones without enemy firefight. We find that combat-induced sleep disorders, stress-related psychological problems, and physical injuries in combat explain approximately 40 to 45 percent of the relationship between combat exposure and migraine headache.

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The Impact of Recent Chemotherapy Innovation on the Longevity of Myeloma Patients: U.S. and International Evidence

Frank Lichtenberg & Gisela Hostenkamp
Columbia University Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
There were no innovations in chemotherapy for myeloma patients during the period 1977-1997, but there have been several important innovations since 1997. We investigate the impact of recent chemotherapy innovation on the longevity of myeloma patients using both time-series U.S. data and longitudinal data on 26 countries. In the US, the average annual rate of increase of life expectancy of myeloma patients at time of diagnosis was over five times as large during 1997-2005 as it had been during 1975-1997. We estimate that almost two-thirds (0.99 years) of the 1997-2005 increase in life expectancy was due to the increase in the number of chemotherapy regimens now preferred by specialists, and that the cost per U.S. life-year gained from post-1997 chemotherapy innovation did not exceed $45,551. We also investigate the impact of chemotherapy innovation on the myeloma mortality rate using longitudinal country-level data on 26 countries during the period 2005-2009. Countries that had larger increases in the number of chemotherapy regimens had larger subsequent declines in myeloma mortality rates, controlling for other factors. The estimates imply that chemotherapy innovation reduced the age-adjusted myeloma cancer mortality rate by about 3.1% during the period 2005-2009.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 10, 2014

Underworld

Does Growing Up in a High Crime Neighborhood Affect Youth Criminal Behavior?

Anna Piil Damm & Christian Dustmann
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effect of early exposure to neighborhood crime on subsequent criminal behavior of youth exploiting a unique natural experiment between 1986 and 1998 when refugee immigrants to Denmark were assigned to neighborhoods quasi-randomly. We find strong evidence that the share of young people convicted for crimes, in particular violent crimes, in the neighborhood increases convictions of male assignees later in life. No such effects are found for other measures of neighborhood crime including the rate of committed crimes. Our findings suggest social interaction as a key channel through which neighborhood crime is linked to individual criminal behavior.

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Rolling Back Prices and Raising Crime Rates? The Walmart Effect on Crime in the United States

Scott Wolfe & David Pyrooz
British Journal of Criminology, March 2014, Pages 199-221

Abstract:
Wal-Mart is not an ordinary retail store — communities are impacted in significant ways by its entrance. Using various data sources and propensity-weighted multilevel modelling, this paper explores the ‘Wal-Mart effect’ on crime. Concentrating on the 1990s, results reveal that Wal-Mart is located in United States counties with higher crime rates, net of robust macro-level correlates of crime. Wal-Mart selected into counties primed for the 1990s crime decline, but, after accounting for endogeneity, growth of the company stunted crime declines when compared to matched counties. A Wal-Mart–crime relationship exists. If Wal-Mart did not build in a county, property crime rates fell by an additional 17 units per capita from the 1990s to the 2000s. A marginally statistically significant, yet stable, effect for violent crime was also observed, falling by two units per capita. These findings provide important theoretical implications regarding the influence of specific economic forces on aggregate crime trends and offer important implications for local governments faced with the prospect of Wal-Mart entering their communities.

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Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown

James Alan Fox & Monica DeLateur
Homicide Studies, February 2014, Pages 125-145

Abstract:
Mass shootings at a Connecticut elementary school, a Colorado movie theater, and other venues have prompted a fair number of proposals for change. Advocates for tighter gun restrictions, for expanding mental health services, for upgrading security in public places, and, even, for controlling violent entertainment have made certain assumptions about the nature of mass murder that are not necessarily valid. This article examines a variety of myths and misconceptions about multiple homicide and mass shooters, pointing out some of the difficult realities in trying to avert these murderous rampages. While many of the policy proposals are worthwhile in general, their prospects for reducing the risk of mass murder are limited.

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Link between Unemployment and Crime in the U.S.: A Markov-Switching Approach

Firouz Fallahi & Gabriel Rodríguez
Social Science Research, May 2014, Pages 33–45

Abstract:
This study has two goals. The first is to use Markov Switching models to identify and analyze the cycles in the unemployment rate and four different types of property-related criminal activities in the U.S. The second is to apply the nonparametric concordance index of Harding and Pagan (2006) to determine the correlation between the cycles of unemployment rate and property crimes. Findings show that there is a positive but insignificant relationship between the unemployment rate, burglary, larceny, and robbery. However, the unemployment rate has a significant and negative (i.e., a counter-cyclical) relationship with motor-vehicle theft. Therefore, more motor-vehicle thefts occur during economic expansions relative to contractions. Next, we divide the sample into three different subsamples to examine the consistency of the findings. The results show that the co-movements between the unemployment rate and property crimes during recession periods are much weaker, when compared with that of the normal periods of the U.S. economy.

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Insurance fraud and corruption in the United States

Rajeev Goel
Applied Financial Economics, Winter 2014, Pages 241-246

Abstract:
Using cross-sectional data for US states, this article examines the determinants of insurance fraud, focusing especially on the nexus between convictions for corruption and for insurance fraud. Results show that corruption convictions tend to crowd out insurance fraud convictions – i.e., increases in convictions for corruption result in lower fraud convictions. In other findings, more crime fighting and prosecutorial resources increase fraud convictions, while the effects of specific insurance regulations are statistically insignificant. These findings are generally robust to simultaneity between corruption and insurance fraud. Policy implications are discussed.

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Crime and Mental Well-Being

Francesca Cornaglia, Naomi Feldman & Andrew Leigh
Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2014, Pages 110-140

Abstract:
We provide empirical evidence of crime’s impact on the mental well-being of both victims and nonvictims. We differentiate between the direct impact to victims and the indirect impact to society due to the fear of crime. The results show a decrease in mental well-being after violent crime victimization and that the violent crime rate has a negative impact on mental well-being of nonvictims. Property crime victimization and property crime rates show no such comparable impact. Finally, we estimate that society-wide impact of increasing the crime rate by one victim is about 80 times more than the direct impact on the victim.

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The Moral Economy of Violence in the US Inner City

George Karandinos et al.
Current Anthropology, February 2014, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
In an 8-week period, there were 16 shootings with three fatalities, three stabbings, and 14 additional “aggravated assaults” in the four square blocks surrounding our field site in the Puerto Rican corner of North Philadelphia. In the aftermath of the shoot-outs, the drug sellers operating on our block were forced to close down their operations by several mothers who repeatedly called the police. Drawing on the concept of moral economy (Thompson, Scott, Taussig), Mauss’s interpretation of gift exchange, and a political economy critique of hyper-carceralization in the United States, we understand the high levels of US inner-city violence as operating within a moral logic framed by economic scarcity and hostile state relations. Residents seek security, self-respect, and profit in social networks that compel them to participate in solidary exchanges of assistive violence dynamized by kinship and gender obligations. A hierarchical, extractive drug economy fills the void left by deindustrialization, resulting in a dynamic of embodied primitive accumulation at the expense of addicted customers and chronically incarcerated just-in-time street sellers at high risk of assault. Nevertheless, the mobilization of violence organizing the illegal drug economy also follows ethical norms and obligations that are recognized as legitimate by many local residents.

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Do school disciplinary policies have positive social impacts? Examining the attenuating effects of school policies on the relationship between personal and peer delinquency

Gregory Zimmerman & Carter Rees
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2014, Pages 54–65

Purpose: Empirical research has yet to demonstrate that strict school disciplinary policies deter student misconduct. However, underlying the null and negative effects observed in prior research may be competing social impacts. What is missing from prior research is an acknowledgement that the deviance amplification effects of criminogenic risk factors may be partially offset by the general deterrence effects of strict school sanctions.

Methods: Using data from the school administrator questionnaire, the in-school interview, and the in-home interview from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study employs logistic hierarchical models to investigate whether strict school sanctions condition the relationship between personal and peer smoking, drinking, and fighting.

Results: Results indicate that the effects of peer smoking, drinking, and fighting on corresponding respondent delinquency are attenuated in schools with strict sanction policies for these behaviors.

Conclusions: Results suggest that school policies can aid in preventing crime in unanticipated ways, for example, by reducing the crime-inducing effects of having delinquent peers. Prior research may therefore be unintentionally discounting the general deterrence effects of school disciplinary policies by neglecting the moderating mechanisms through which these policies operate.

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Victims Behind Bars: A Preliminary Study on Abuse During Juvenile Incarceration and Post-Release Social and Emotional Functioning

Carly Dierkhising, Andrea Lane & Misaki Natsuaki
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Knowledge of preincarceration experiences of abuse among youth in the juvenile justice system continues to grow, however we know very little about their experience of abuse during incarceration. Empirical evidence on abuse during incarceration is needed for policymakers to advocate on behalf of the safety of incarcerated youth. This preliminary study evaluated the prevalence of abuse during incarceration in secure juvenile facilities and examined how abuse during incarceration is associated with postrelease adjustment among a sample of formerly incarcerated young adults (n = 62; male = 75.8%). Nearly all youth experienced some type of abuse (e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, denial of food, and excessive stays in solitary confinement) during incarceration (96.8%). The more frequent a youth was exposed to abuse during incarceration, the more likely they were to report posttraumatic stress reactions, depressive symptoms, and continued criminal involvement postrelease. This association was significant even after controlling for preincarceration child maltreatment. We discuss policy implications to improve the safety of youth during incarceration.

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Neighborhood Alcohol Outlets and the Association with Violent Crime in One Mid-Atlantic City: The Implications for Zoning Policy

Jacky Jennings et al.
Journal of Urban Health, February 2014, Pages 62-71

Abstract:
Violent crime such as homicide causes significant excess morbidity and mortality in US urban areas. A health impact assessment (HIA) identified zoning policy related to alcohol outlets as one way to decrease violent crime. The objectives were to determine the relationship between alcohol outlets including off-premise alcohol outlets and violent crime in one urban area to provide local public health evidence to inform a zoning code rewrite. An ecologic analysis of census tracts in Baltimore City was conducted from 2011 to 2012. The data included violent crimes (n = 51,942) from 2006 to 2010, licensed alcohol outlets establishments (n = 1,327) from 2005 to 2006, and data on neighborhood disadvantage, percent minority, percent occupancy, and drug arrests from 2005 to 2009. Negative binomial regression models were used to determine the relationship between the counts of alcohol outlets and violent crimes controlling for other factors. Spatial correlation was assessed and regression inference adjusted accordingly. Each one-unit increase in the number of alcohol outlets was associated with a 2.2 % increase in the count of violent crimes adjusting for neighborhood disadvantage, percent minority, percent occupancy, drug arrests, and spatial dependence (IRR = 1.022, 95 % CI = 1.015, 1.028). Off-premise alcohol outlets were significantly associated with violent crime in the adjusted model (IRR = 1.048, 95 % CI = 1.035, 1.061). Generating Baltimore-specific estimates of the relationship between alcohol outlets and violent crime has been central to supporting the incorporation of alcohol outlet policies in the zoning code rewrite being conducted in Baltimore City.

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The Role of Neighborhood Context in Youth Co-Offending

David Schaefer, Nancy Rodriguez & Scott Decker
Criminology, February 2014, Pages 117–139

Abstract:
Despite co-offending being a core criminological fact, locating suitable peers has many challenges. Chief among these, given the risky nature of co-offending, is finding trustworthy accomplices. We propose that neighborhoods serve as youths’ most ready source of accomplices, and as such, their composition affects the likelihood of identifying suitable co-offenders. In particular, youth are more likely to co-offend in contexts with more peers of their race/ethnicity, less disadvantage, and greater residential stability — all of which promote trust among neighbors. We test our hypotheses using multilevel models applied to census data and official court records for 7,484 delinquent youth in a large metropolitan area. The results offer support for our hypotheses and provide greater insight into how individual and contextual factors combine to affect co-offending behavior. An implication of these findings is that many of the same neighborhood characteristics that reduce crime lead to a greater proportion of co-offending.

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Delinquent Behavior, the Transition to Adulthood, and the Likelihood of Military Enlistment

Jay Teachman & Lucky Tedrow
Social Science Research, May 2014, Pages 46–55

Abstract:
Using data taken from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth we examine the relationship between delinquency and enlistment in the military. We argue that delinquent behavior is positively related to enlistment because military service is an attractive alternative for delinquents to mark their transition to adulthood and their desistance from delinquent behavior. We also argue, however, that this relationship is not linear, with higher levels of delinquent behavior actually acting to reduce the likelihood of enlistment. We further suggest that the relationship between delinquency and enlistment is similar for men and women. We test and find support for our hypotheses using data taken from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

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The Nature and Incidence of Software Piracy: Evidence from Windows

Susan Athey & Scott Stern
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper evaluates the nature, relative incidence and drivers of software piracy. In contrast to prior studies, we analyze data that allows us to measure piracy for a specific product – Windows 7 – which was associated with a significant level of private sector investment. Using anonymized telemetry data, we are able to characterize the ways in which piracy occurs, the relative incidence of piracy across different economic and institutional environments, and the impact of enforcement efforts on choices to install pirated versus paid software. We find that: (a) the vast majority of “retail piracy” can be attributed to a small number of widely distributed “hacks” that are available through the Internet, (b) the incidence of piracy varies significantly with the microeconomic and institutional environment, and (c) software piracy primarily focuses on the most “advanced” version of Windows (Windows Ultimate). After controlling for a small number of measures of institutional quality and broadband infrastructure, one important candidate driver of piracy – GDP per capita – has no significant impact on the observed piracy rate, while the innovation orientation of an economy is associated with a lower rate of piracy. Finally, we are able to evaluate how piracy changes in response to country-specific anti-piracy enforcement efforts against specific peer-to-peer websites; overall, we find no systematic evidence that such enforcement efforts have had an impact on the incidence of software piracy.

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Restrictive Deterrent Effects of a Warning Banner in an Attacked Computer System

David Maimon et al.
Criminology, February 2014, Pages 33–59

Abstract:
System trespassing by computer intruders is a growing concern among millions of Internet users. However, little research has employed criminological insights to explore the effectiveness of security means to deter unauthorized access to computer systems. Drawing on the deterrence perspective, we employ a large set of target computers built for the sole purpose of being attacked and conduct two independent experiments to investigate the influence of a warning banner on the progression, frequency, and duration of system trespassing incidents. In both experiments, the target computers (86 computers in the first experiment and 502 computers in the second) were set either to display or not to display a warning banner once intruders had successfully infiltrated the systems; 1,058 trespassing incidents were observed in the first experiment and 3,768 incidents in the second. The findings reveal that although a warning banner does not lead to an immediate termination or a reduction in the frequency of trespassing incidents, it significantly reduces their duration. Moreover, we find that the effect of a warning message on the duration of repeated trespassing incidents is attenuated in computers with a large bandwidth capacity. These findings emphasize the relevance of restrictive deterrence constructs in the study of system trespassing.

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A New Look into Broken Windows: What Shapes Individuals’ Perceptions of Social Disorder?

Joshua Hinkle & Sue-Ming Yang
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2014, Pages 26–35

Purpose: This study compares perceptual and observational measures of social disorder to examine the influence of observable levels of disorder in shaping residents’ perceptions of social problems on their street.

Methods: This study uses regression models utilizing data from a survey of residents, systematic social observations and police calls for service to explore the formation of perceptions of social disorder.

Results: We find little correspondence between residents’ perceptual and researchers’ observational measures of social disorder, suggesting that residents form perceptions of social disorder differently than do outsiders to their community. However, researchers’ observations of physical disorder were found to strongly influence residents’ perceptions of social disorder. Findings also suggest that people with different demographic backgrounds and life experiences may perceive the same social environment in very different ways.

Conclusions: The results add to a growing literature suggesting that social disorder is a social construct, rather than a concrete phenomenon. Moreover, we suggest that the linkage between physical disorder and residents’ perceptions of social disorder might provide an avenue for police to address residents’ fear of crime while avoiding some of the criticisms that have been leveled against programs targeting social disorder.

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Jurisdiction, Crime, and Development: The Impact of Public Law 280 in Indian Country

Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl, Peter Grajzl & Joseph Guse
Law & Society Review, March 2014, Pages 127–160

Abstract:
Public Law 280 transferred jurisdiction over criminal and civil matters from the federal to state governments and increased the extent of nontribal law enforcement in selected parts of Indian country. Where enacted, the law fundamentally altered the preexisting legal order. Public Law 280 thus provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of legal institutions and their change on socioeconomic outcomes. The law's controversial content has attracted interest from legal scholars. However, empirical studies of its impact are scarce and do not address the law's endogenous nature. We examine the law's impact on crime and on economic development in U.S. counties with significant American-Indian reservation population. To address the issue of selection of areas subject to Public Law 280, our empirical strategy draws on the law's politico-historical context. We find that the application of Public Law 280 increased crime and lowered incomes. The law's adverse impact is robust and noteworthy in magnitude.

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Linking Specialization and Seriousness in Criminal Careers

John MacDonald et al.
Advances in Life Course Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some research suggests that recidivistic criminal offending patterns typically progress in a stepping-stone manner from less to more serious forms of offending from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Whether the progression into more serious types of offending reflects patterns of crime specialization is a matter of debate. Using data from 449 adolescent offenders who were interviewed at six time points between adolescence and adulthood, we present a new method for measuring crime specialization and apply it to an assessment of the link between specialization and offense seriousness. We measure specialization by constructing an empirical measure of how similar crimes are from each other based on the rate at which crimes co-occur within individual crime pathways over a given offender population. We then use these empirically-based population-specific offense similarities to assign a specialization score to each subject at each time period based on the set of crimes they self-report at that time. Finally, we examine how changes over time in specialization, within individuals, is correlated with changes in the seriousness of the offenses they report committing. Results suggest that the progression of crime into increasingly serious forms of offending does not reflect a general pattern of offense specialization. Implications for life course research are noted.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Team building

Gossip and Ostracism Promote Cooperation in Groups

Matthew Feinberg, Robb Willer & Michael Schultz
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The widespread existence of cooperation is difficult to explain because individuals face strong incentives to exploit the cooperative tendencies of others. In the research reported here, we examined how the spread of reputational information through gossip promotes cooperation in mixed-motive settings. Results showed that individuals readily communicated reputational information about others, and recipients used this information to selectively interact with cooperative individuals and ostracize those who had behaved selfishly, which enabled group members to contribute to the public good with reduced threat of exploitation. Additionally, ostracized individuals responded to exclusion by subsequently cooperating at levels comparable to those who were not ostracized. These results suggest that the spread of reputational information through gossip can mitigate egoistic behavior by facilitating partner selection, thereby helping to solve the problem of cooperation even in noniterated interactions.

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Grief Functions as an Honest Indicator of Commitment

Bo Winegard et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Grief is a puzzling phenomenon. It is often costly and prolonged, potentially increasing mortality rates, drug abuse, withdrawal from social life, and susceptibility to illness. These costs cannot be repaid by the deceased and therefore might appear wasted. In the following article, we propose a possible solution. Using the principles of social selection theory, we argue that an important selective pressure behind the human grief response was the social decisions of other humans. We combine this with insights from signaling theory, noting that grief shares many properties with other hard-to-fake social signals. We therefore contend that grief was shaped by selective forces to function as a hard-to-fake signal of (a) a person's propensity to form strong, non-utilitarian bonds and (b) a person's current level of commitment to a group or cause. This theory explains many of the costly symptoms of grief and provides a progressive framework for future research.

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Theory of Mind: Did Evolution Fool Us?

Marie Devaine, Guillaume Hollard & Jean Daunizeau
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Abstract:
Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to attribute mental states (e.g., beliefs and desires) to other people in order to understand and predict their behaviour. If others are rewarded to compete or cooperate with you, then what they will do depends upon what they believe about you. This is the reason why social interaction induces recursive ToM, of the sort "I think that you think that I think, etc.". Critically, recursion is the common notion behind the definition of sophistication of human language, strategic thinking in games, and, arguably, ToM. Although sophisticated ToM is believed to have high adaptive fitness, broad experimental evidence from behavioural economics, experimental psychology and linguistics point towards limited recursivity in representing other's beliefs. In this work, we test whether such apparent limitation may not in fact be proven to be adaptive, i.e. optimal in an evolutionary sense. First, we propose a meta-Bayesian approach that can predict the behaviour of ToM sophistication phenotypes who engage in social interactions. Second, we measure their adaptive fitness using evolutionary game theory. Our main contribution is to show that one does not have to appeal to biological costs to explain our limited ToM sophistication. In fact, the evolutionary cost/benefit ratio of ToM sophistication is non trivial. This is partly because an informational cost prevents highly sophisticated ToM phenotypes to fully exploit less sophisticated ones (in a competitive context). In addition, cooperation surprisingly favours lower levels of ToM sophistication. Taken together, these quantitative corollaries of the "social Bayesian brain" hypothesis provide an evolutionary account for both the limitation of ToM sophistication in humans as well as the persistence of low ToM sophistication levels.

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Barriers to Transforming Hostile Relations: Why Friendly Gestures Can Backfire

Tanya Menon, Oliver Sheldon & Adam Galinsky
Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, February 2014, Pages 17-37

Abstract:
Friendly gestures (e.g., smiles, flattery, favors) typically build trust and earn good will. However, we propose that people feel unsettled when enemies initiate friendly gestures. To resolve these sensemaking difficulties, people find order through superstitious reasoning about friendly enemies. Supporting this theorizing, friendly enemies created sensemaking difficulty, which in turn mediated people's tendencies to blame them for coincidental negative outcomes (Experiment 1). Further implicating these processes, individuals high in need for structure were especially prone to make these attributions (Experiment 2). Finally, we explored consequences of such blame, showing that blame mediates people's beliefs that mere contact with friendly enemies is unlucky and should be avoided (Experiment 3). Taken together, these results suggest that, rather than transforming hostile relationships, an enemy's friendliness can be so unnerving that it sometimes leads people down blind alleys of superstitious reasoning.

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The Signaling Value of Online Social Networks: Lessons from Peer-to-Peer Lending

Seth Freedman & Ginger Zhe Jin
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We examine whether social networks facilitate online markets using data from a leading peer-to-peer lending website. Borrowers with social ties are consistently more likely to have their loans funded and receive lower interest rates. However, most social loans do not perform better ex post, except for loans with endorsements from friends contributing to the loan or loans with group characteristics most likely to provide screening and monitoring. We also find evidence of gaming on borrower participation in social networks. Overall, our findings suggest that return-maximizing lenders should be careful in interpreting social ties within the risky pool of social borrowers.

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Breaking the Letter vs. Spirit of the Law: How the Interpretation of Contract Violations Affects Trust and the Management of Relationships

Derek Harmon, Peter Kim & Kyle Mayer
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Contract violations are ubiquitous. There has been little attention, however, dedicated to understanding the mechanisms involved in making sense of and addressing such occurrences. Two experimental studies investigated how people interpret contract violations and how these interpretations affect trust and the management of relationships. By drawing on the distinction between violations of the letter versus spirit of the law, we show that letter violations are more difficult to overcome than spirit violations, due to higher perceived intentionality. These effects generalized across different populations, levels of contracting experience, types of contracting contexts, levels of ambiguity within the contract, and degrees of contract complexity. The results yield important implications for understanding contract violations, trust, and organizational responses as a relationship management capability.

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Democratic decisions establish stable authorities that overcome the paradox of second-order punishment

Christian Hilbe et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 January 2014, Pages 752-756

Abstract:
Individuals usually punish free riders but refuse to sanction those who cooperate but do not punish. This missing second-order peer punishment is a fundamental problem for the stabilization of cooperation. To solve this problem, most societies today have implemented central authorities that punish free riders and tax evaders alike, such that second-order punishment is fully established. The emergence of such stable authorities from individual decisions, however, creates a new paradox: it seems absurd to expect individuals who do not engage in second-order punishment to strive for an authority that does. Herein, we provide a mathematical model and experimental results from a public goods game where subjects can choose between a community with and without second-order punishment in two different ways. When subjects can migrate continuously to either community, we identify a bias toward institutions that do not punish tax evaders. When subjects have to vote once for all rounds of the game and have to accept the decision of the majority, they prefer a society with second-order punishment. These findings uncover the existence of a democracy premium. The majority-voting rule allows subjects to commit themselves and to implement institutions that eventually lead to a higher welfare for all.

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Collaboration, Stars, and the Changing Organization of Science: Evidence from Evolutionary Biology

Ajay Agrawal, John McHale & Alexander Oettl
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
We report a puzzling pair of facts concerning the organization of science. The concentration of research output is declining at the department level but increasing at the individual level. For example, in evolutionary biology, over the period 1980 to 2000, the fraction of citation-weighted publications produced by the top 20% of departments falls from approximately 75% to 60% but over the same period rises for the top 20% of individual scientists from 70% to 80%. We speculate that this may be due to changing patterns of collaboration, perhaps caused by the rising burden of knowledge and the falling cost of communication, both of which increase the returns to collaboration. Indeed, we report evidence that the propensity to collaborate is rising over time. Furthermore, the nature of collaboration is also changing. For example, the geographic distance as well as the difference in institution rank between collaborators is increasing over time. Moreover, the relative size of the pool of potential distant collaborators for star versus non-star scientists is rising over time. We develop a simple model based on star advantage in terms of the opportunities for collaboration that provides a unified explanation for these facts. Finally, considering the effect of individual location decisions of stars on the overall distribution of human capital, we speculate on the efficiency of the emerging distribution of scientific activity, given the localized externalities generated by stars on the one hand and the increasing returns to distant collaboration on the other.

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Behavioral and Emotional Dynamics of Two People Struggling to Reach Consensus about a Topic on Which They Disagree

Levent Kurt et al.
PLoS ONE, January 2014

Abstract:
We studied the behavioral and emotional dynamics displayed by two people trying to resolve a conflict. 59 groups of two people were asked to talk for 20 minutes to try to reach a consensus about a topic on which they disagreed. The topics were abortion, affirmative action, death penalty, and euthanasia. Behavior data were determined from audio recordings where each second of the conversation was assessed as proself, neutral, or prosocial. We determined the probability density function of the durations of time spent in each behavioral state. These durations were well fit by a stretched exponential distribution, with an exponent, , of approximately 0.3. This indicates that the switching between behavioral states is not a random Markov process, but one where the probability to switch behavioral states decreases with the time already spent in that behavioral state. The degree of this "memory" was stronger in those groups who did not reach a consensus and where the conflict grew more destructive than in those that did. Emotion data were measured by having each person listen to the audio recording and moving a computer mouse to recall their negative or positive emotional valence at each moment in the conversation. We used the Hurst rescaled range analysis and power spectrum to determine the correlations in the fluctuations of the emotional valence. The emotional valence was well described by a random walk whose increments were uncorrelated. Thus, the behavior data demonstrated a "memory" of the duration already spent in a behavioral state while the emotion data fluctuated as a random walk whose steps did not have a "memory" of previous steps. This work demonstrates that statistical analysis, more commonly used to analyze physical phenomena, can also shed interesting light on the dynamics of processes in social psychology and conflict management.

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Is Avatar-to-avatar Communication as Effective as Face-to-face Communication? - An Ultimatum Game Experiment in First and Second Life

Ben Greiner, Mary Caravella & Alvin Roth
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We report results from an Ultimatum Game experiment with and without pre-play communication, conducted both in a real-world experimental laboratory and in the virtual world Second Life. In the laboratory, we replicate previous results that communication increases offers and agreement rates significantly, and more so for face-to-face communication than for text-chat. In Second Life we detect a level shift to more cooperation when there is no communication, either driven by selection on unobservables or environmental effects. The higher cooperativeness in the virtual world lowers the need for additional communication between avatars in order to achieve efficient outcomes. Consistent with this we are not able to detect an effect of allowing avatar-to-avatar communication.

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The conflict of social norms may cause the collapse of cooperation: Indirect reciprocity with opposing attitudes towards in-group favoritism

Tadasu Matsuo, Marko Jusup & Yoh Iwasa
Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7 April 2014, Pages 34-46

Abstract:
Indirect reciprocity is a cooperation maintaining mechanism based on the social evaluation of players. Here, we consider the case of a group in which two social norms with opposing attitudes towards in-group favoritism are mixed. One norm, called Bushido (the way of warriors), regards cooperation with outsiders as betrayal, whereas the second norm, called Shonindo (the way of merchants), regards cooperation with outsiders as desirable. Each member of the group, irrespective of being a Bushido or a Shonindo player, is evaluated in two different ways and assigned two different labels: "ally" or "enemy" according to the Bushido evaluation; "good" or "bad" according to the Shonindo evaluation. These labels change in response to the action taken (cooperation or defection) when acting as a donor, as well as the label attached to the recipient. In addition to Bushido players, who cooperate with an ally and defect from an enemy, and Shonindo players, who cooperate with a good recipient and defect from a bad recipient, the group contains a third kind of players - unconditional defectors. The fractions of the three types of players follow the replicator dynamics. If the probability of interacting with outsiders is small, and if the cost-to-benefit ratio of cooperation is low, we observe several important patterns. Each social norm is able to maintain a high level of cooperation when dominant. Bushido and Shonindo players evaluate each other unfavorably and engage in a severe conflict. In the end, only one norm permeates the whole group driving the other to the extinction. When both social norms are equally effective, a rare occurrence of unconditional defectors may lead to a successful invasion.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Offsides

How “It Gets Better”: Effectively Communicating Support to Targets of Prejudice

Aneeta Rattan & Nalini Ambady
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
What is said when communicating intergroup support to targets of prejudice, and how do targets react? We hypothesized that people not targeted by prejudice reference social connection (e.g., social support) more than social change (e.g., calling for a reduction in prejudice) in their supportive messages. However, we hypothesized that targets of prejudice would be more comforted by social change messages. We content coded naturalistic messages of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning teenagers from youtube.com (Study 1) and college undergraduates’ statements (Study 2a) and found social connection messages more frequent than social change messages. Next, we explored targets’ responses (Studies 2b-4b). Lesbian and gay participants rated social connection messages less comforting than social change messages (Study 3). Study 4 showed that only targets of prejudice distinguish social connection from social change messages in this way, versus non-targets. These results highlight the importance of studying the communication, content, and consequences of positive intergroup attitudes.

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Anti-Gay Prejudice and All-Cause Mortality Among Heterosexuals in the United States

Mark Hatzenbuehler, Anna Bellatorre & Peter Muennig
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages 332-337

Objectives: We determined whether individuals who harbor antigay prejudice experience elevated mortality risk.

Methods: Data on heterosexual sexual orientation (n = 20 226, aged 18–89 years), antigay attitudes, and mortality risk factors came from the General Social Survey, which was linked to mortality data from the National Death Index (1988–2008). We used Cox proportional hazard models to examine whether antigay prejudice was associated with mortality risk among heterosexuals.

Results: Heterosexuals who reported higher levels of antigay prejudice had higher mortality risk than those who reported lower levels (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.25; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09, 1.42), with control for multiple risk factors for mortality, including demographics, socioeconomic status, and fair or poor self-rated health. This result translates into a life expectancy difference of approximately 2.5 years (95% CI = 1.0, 4.0 years) between individuals with high versus low levels of antigay prejudice. Furthermore, in sensitivity analyses, antigay prejudice was specifically associated with increased risk of cardiovascular-related causes of death in fully adjusted models (HR = 1.29; 95% CI = 1.04, 1.60).

Conclusions: The findings contribute to a growing body of research suggesting that reducing prejudice may improve the health of both minority and majority populations.

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Does the Mask Govern the Mind?: Effects of Arbitrary Gender Representation on Quantitative Task Performance in Avatar-Represented Virtual Groups

Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee, Clifford Nass & Jeremy Bailenson
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, forthcoming

Abstract:
Virtual environments employing avatars for self-representation — including the opportunity to represent or misrepresent social categories — raise interesting and intriguing questions as to how one's avatar-based social category shapes social identity dynamics, particularly when stereotypes prevalent in the offline world apply to the social categories visually represented by avatars. The present experiment investigated how social category representation via avatars (i.e., graphical representations of people in computer-mediated environments) affects stereotype-relevant task performance. In particular, building on and extending the Proteus effect model, we explored whether and how stereotype lift (i.e., a performance boost caused by the awareness of a domain-specific negative stereotype associated with outgroup members) occurred in virtual group settings in which avatar-based gender representation was arbitrary. Female and male participants (N=120) were randomly assigned either a female avatar or a male avatar through a process masked as a random drawing. They were then placed in a numerical minority status with respect to virtual gender — as the only virtual female (male) in a computer-mediated triad with two opposite-gendered avatars — and performed a mental arithmetic task either competitively or cooperatively. The data revealed that participants who were arbitrarily represented by a male avatar and competed against two ostensible female avatars showed strongest performance compared to others on the arithmetic task. This pattern occurred regardless of participants' actual gender, pointing to a virtual stereotype lift effect. Additional mediation tests showed that task motivation partially mediated the effect. Theoretical and practical implications for social identity dynamics in avatar-based virtual environments are discussed.

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Mating Motives and Concerns About Being Misidentified as Gay or Lesbian: Implications for the Avoidance and Derogation of Sexual Minorities

Ashby Plant, Kate Zielaskowski & David Buck
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has demonstrated that concerns about being misidentified as gay or lesbian lead to the avoidance of gay men and lesbians. Because being misidentified as gay/lesbian can result in the loss of heterosexual people’s mating opportunities, we predicted that the activation of mating motives would heighten concerns among some heterosexuals about being misidentified as gay/lesbian. To combat such misidentification, we argued that heterosexuals would express antipathy toward and avoid contact with gay/lesbian people. Consistent with predictions, the activation of mating motives led heterosexuals who were generally concerned about misclassification as gay/lesbian to denigrate (Study 1) and avoid (Study 2) gay/lesbian people. Activating mating motives increased heterosexual participants’ concerns about being misclassified, which in turn heightened interest in avoiding gay/lesbian people (Study 3). These findings indicate that, although the motivation to find a romantic partner can have positive implications, it can contribute to negative responses to gay/lesbian people.

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Attributions for sexual orientation vs. stereotypes: How beliefs about value violations account for attribution effects on anti-gay discrimination

Christine Reyna et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Attributions for sexual orientation strongly predict opposition to gay rights policies; however, we propose that beliefs that gays and lesbians violate important values drive gay rights opposition and account for the relationship between attributions and anti-gay discrimination. In two studies, we found that beliefs that gays and lesbians violate values accounted for much of the relationship between attributions and anti-gay discrimination. In addition, these stereotypes were the most powerful predictors of opposition to gay rights when both value violations and attributions were included in the model. Results also demonstrated that violations of specific values predicted opposition to policies relevant to those values. This suggests that attributions of choice over sexual orientation are less relevant for predicting opposition to gay rights than beliefs about choice to uphold or violate values.

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Gender of Siblings and Choice of College Major

Massimo Anelli & Giovanni Peri
University of California Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
In this study we analyze whether the gender composition of siblings within a family affects the choice of College Major. The question is whether a family environment that is more gender-homogeneous encourages academic choices that are less gender stereotyped. We use the last name and the exact family address contained in a unique dataset covering 30,000 Italian students graduated from high school between 1985 and 2005 to identify siblings. We follow the academic career of these individuals from high school to college graduation. We find that mixed gender siblings within a family tend to choose college majors following a stereotypical gender specialization. Namely, males have higher probability of choosing “male dominated” majors such as Engineering and women higher probability of choosing “female dominated” majors such as Humanities. Same-gender siblings, on the other hand, have higher probability of making non-gender stereotyped choices. This college major choice is not driven by the choice of high school academic curriculum, which appears to be mainly function of geographical proximity to schools.

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Disparities in Safety Belt Use by Sexual Orientation Identity Among US High School Students

Sari Reisner et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages 311-318

Objectives: We examined associations between adolescents’ safety belt use and sexual orientation identity.

Methods: We pooled data from the 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (n = 26 468 weighted; mean age = 15.9 years; 35.4% White, 24.7% Black, 23.5% Latino, 16.4% other). We compared lesbian and gay (1.2%), bisexual (3.5%), and unsure (2.6%) youths with heterosexuals (92.7%) on a binary indicator of passenger safety belt use. We stratified weighted multivariable logistic regression models by sex and adjusted for survey wave and sampling design.

Results: Overall, 12.6% of high school students reported “rarely” or “never” wearing safety belts. Sexual minority youths had increased odds of reporting nonuse relative to heterosexuals (48% higher for male bisexuals, 85% for lesbians, 46% for female bisexuals, and 51% for female unsure youths; P < .05), after adjustment for demographic (age, race/ethnicity), individual (body mass index, depression, bullying, binge drinking, riding with a drunk driver, academic achievement), and contextual (living in jurisdictions with secondary or primary safety belt laws, percentage below poverty, percentage same-sex households) risk factors.

Conclusions: Public health interventions should address sexual orientation identity disparities in safety belt use.

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Sexual Minority Stressors and Psychological Aggression in Lesbian Women’s Intimate Relationships: The Mediating Roles of Rumination and Relationship Satisfaction

Robin Lewis et al.
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our study examined how two sexual minority stressors (internalized homophobia and social constraints in talking with others about one’s minority sexual identity) are related to psychological aggression (PA) in lesbian women’s relationships. PA includes a range of methods to hurt, coerce, control, and intimidate intimate partners. Rumination (i.e., brooding about one’s self and life situation) and relationship satisfaction were examined as potential mediating variables. Self-identified lesbian women in a same-sex relationship (N = 220) were recruited from a market research firm’s online panel. Participants completed measures of internalized homophobia, social constraints, rumination, relationship satisfaction, and frequency of past year PA victimization and perpetration. Internalized homophobia and social constraints in talking to friends about sexual identity yielded a positive indirect link with PA via a sequential path through rumination and relationship satisfaction. There was an additional indirect positive association of minority stressors with PA via a unique path through rumination. These results demonstrate the importance of continued efforts toward reducing minority stress, where possible, as well as enhancing coping. Given the importance of rumination and relationship satisfaction in the link between minority stressors and PA, it is imperative to improve adaptive coping responses to sexual minority stressors. Development and validation of individual- and couples-based interventions that address coping with sexual minority stressors using methods that decrease rumination and brooding and increase relationship satisfaction are certainly warranted.

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“Hit Me Baby”: From Britney Spears to the Socialization of Sexual Objectification of Girls in a Middle School Drama Program

Laurie Schick
Sexuality & Culture, March 2014, Pages 39-55

Abstract:
This language socialization study integrates ethnographic and intertextual methods of data collection and analysis to examine how one middle school drama class’s performance of Britney Spears’s first hit song, originally titled “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” exemplifies not only how sexually charged media can contribute to the normalization of sexist, abusive, and thus also violent behavior toward women, but also how local caretaking adults can contribute to these socialization practices even within the context of official educational activities. Prior studies related to the socialization of gender equality and sexual abuse prevention in educational institutions have focused on whether and how adult intervention may prevent or stop gender and thus also sexually related abuse. This study indicates that further research into adult complicity and the need for intervention into adult behavior may also be called for. The ethnographic fieldwork for this paper was conducted during a larger language socialization study at a middle school in the western United States. This included the videotaping of rehearsals and performances by middle school students of popular songs. The intertextual data chosen for analysis is based on these ethnographic observations. The conclusion that some adults are actively socializing female sexual objectification and male dominance during school-based activities is based on observations of these locally occurring interactions.

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She Stoops to Conquer? How Posture Interacts With Self-Objectification and Status to Impact Women’s Affect and Performance

Megan Kozak, Tomi-Ann Roberts & Kelsey Patterson
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that posture exerts powerful affective and cognitive influences, although recent studies have indicated that these embodiment effects are moderated by gender. We examined two sociocultural factors that may contribute to the effects of postural feedback in women: self-objectification and power. Across a 2 × 2 × 2 between-subjects design, 80 female undergraduates completed various cognitive tasks and self-report measures after having been in an upright or slouched posture, seated in either a (powerful) throne or child’s chair, and wearing either a formfitting (objectifying) tank top or loose sweatshirt. The results showed that posture had the predicted influence on mood, with those seated upright reporting more positive mood than those seated in a slouched position. For the cognitive tasks, our findings were more complex and, due to low power, are best considered preliminary. Participants who were seated upright in a child’s chair while wearing a sweatshirt attempted the highest number of math items compared to those in the other conditions, supporting our prediction that postural benefits would be greatest in a context where power cues were gender-appropriate and self-objectification effects were attenuated. On a measure of satisfaction with performance, our findings suggest that self-objectification outweighed the power manipulation, leading to poorer outcomes when a seated position emphasized sexualized features of the body. Taken together, our results suggest that embodiment effects appear to be impacted by contextual cues, perhaps particularly for women.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 7, 2014

Nice job

The rising skill premium and deunionization

Ömer Tuğrul Açıkgöz & Barış Kaymak
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
During the past 50 years, the US economy has seen a rapid decline in labor union membership and a substantial rise in wage inequality. Since labor unions compress wages between skilled and unskilled workers, a rising skill premium encourages skilled workers to withdraw from the union. If this withdrawal is accompanied by a fall in the productivity of unskilled workers, firms become reluctant to hire the relatively expensive union workers, reinforcing the decline in the unionization rate. Evaluating this hypothesis, we find that the rise in the skill premium explains about 40% of the decline in the unionization rate.

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Unmasking the Conflicting Trends in Job Tenure by Gender in the United States, 1983-2008

Matissa Hollister & Kristin Smith
American Sociological Review, February 2014, Pages 159-181

Abstract:
Americans are convinced that employment stability has declined in recent decades, but previous research on this question has led to mixed conclusions. A key challenge is that trends for men and women are in opposite directions and appear to cancel each other out. We clarify this situation by examining trends in employer tenure by sex, marital status, and parental status. We find that married mothers are behind the increase in women's job tenure, but men and never-married women have seen declines in tenure. Furthermore, we show that the timing of tenure trends for women parallels periods of increased labor force attachment. Finally, we find that shifts in industry and occupation composition can account for the decline in tenure among men and never-married women before 1996 but not afterward. We situate these diverging trends in two broad shifts in expectations, norms, and behaviors in the labor market: the end-of-work discourse and the revolution in women's identification with paid work. Our findings support the view that job tenure is declining for all groups, but women's greater labor force attachment, especially their more continuous employment around childbirth, countered and masked this trend.

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Small business activity does not measure entrepreneurship

Magnus Henrekson & Tino Sanandaji
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 February 2014, Pages 1760-1765

Abstract:
Entrepreneurship policy mainly aims to promote innovative Schumpeterian entrepreneurship. However, the rate of entrepreneurship is commonly proxied using quantity-based metrics, such as small business activity, the self-employment rate, or the number of startups. We argue that those metrics give rise to misleading inferences regarding high-impact Schumpeterian entrepreneurship. To unambiguously identify high-impact entrepreneurs we focus on self-made billionaires (in US dollars) who appear on Forbes Magazine's list and who became wealthy by founding new firms. We identify 996 such billionaire entrepreneurs in 50 countries in 1996-2010, a systematic cross-country study of billionaire entrepreneurs. The rate of billionaire entrepreneurs correlates negatively with self-employment, small business ownership, and firm startup rates. Countries with higher income, higher trust, lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and lower regulatory burdens have higher billionaire entrepreneurship rates but less self-employment. Despite its limitations, the number of billionaire entrepreneurs appears to be a plausible cross-country measure of Schumpeterian entrepreneurship.

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Employment Effects of the 2009 Minimum Wage Increase: New Evidence from State-Based Comparisons of Workers by Skill Level

Saul Hoffman
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In July, 2009, when the US Federal minimum wage was increased from $6.55 to $7.25, individuals in nearly one-third of all states were unaffected, since the state minimum wage already exceeded $7.25. We use this variation to make comparisons of the employment of low-skill workers with their peers across states and with workers within states who were arguably unaffected by the increase, using DID and DIDID methods. Our data come from the 2009 Current Population Survey, 4 and 5 months before and after the increase. We find little evidence of negative employment effects for teens or less-educated adults. Further control for demographic characteristics and state fixed effects have relatively small effects on the size and significance of estimated effects.

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Return of the Solow Paradox? IT, Productivity, and Employment in U.S. Manufacturing

Daron Acemoglu et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
An increasingly influential "technological-discontinuity" paradigm suggests that IT-induced technological changes are rapidly raising productivity while making workers redundant. This paper explores the evidence for this view among the IT-using U.S. manufacturing industries. There is some limited support for more rapid productivity growth in IT-intensive industries depending on the exact measures, though not since the late 1990s. Most challenging to this paradigm, and our expectations, is that output contracts in IT-intensive industries relative to the rest of manufacturing. Productivity increases, when detectable, result from the even faster declines in employment.

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Declining Migration within the U.S.: The Role of the Labor Market

Raven Molloy, Christopher Smith & Abigail Wozniak
Federal Reserve Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Interstate migration has decreased steadily since the 1980s. We show that this trend is not related to demographic and socioeconomic factors, but that it appears to be connected to a concurrent secular decline in labor market transitions - i.e. the fraction of workers changing employer, industry or occupation. We explore a number of reasons for the dual trends in geographic and labor market transitions, including changes in the distribution of job opportunities across space, polarization in the labor market, concerns of dual-career households, and changes in the net benefit to changing employers. We find little empirical support for all but the last of these hypotheses. Specifically, using data from three cohorts of the National Longitudinal Surveys spanning the 1970s to the 2000s, we find that wage gains associated with employer transitions have fallen, while the returns to staying with the same employer have not changed. We favor the interpretation that, at least from the 1990s to the 2000s, the distribution of outside offers has shifted in a way that has made labor market transitions, and thus geographic transitions, less desirable to workers.

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Generational differences in workplace behavior

John Bret Becton, Harvell Jack Walker & Allison Jones-Farmer
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Popular stereotypes suggest that generational differences among workers present challenges for workplace managers. However, existing empirical research provides mixed evidence for generational differences in important values and attitudes. The current study extends generational effects research by examining differences in actual workplace behaviors. Drawing from commonly held generational stereotypes, the authors hypothesized that Baby Boomers would exhibit (Hypothesis 1) fewer job mobility behaviors and (Hypothesis 2) more instances of compliance-related behaviors in comparison with both GenXers and Millennials, while (Hypothesis 3) GenXers would be less likely to work overtime in comparison with Baby Boomers and Millennials. A sample of 8,040 applicants at two organizations was used to test these predictions. Results provided support for Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 3 and partial support for Hypothesis 2, but the effect sizes for these relationships were small. It appears the effects of generational membership on workplace behavior are not as strong as suggested by commonly held stereotypes. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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Is soccer good for you? The motivational impact of big sporting events on the unemployed

Philipp Doerrenberg & Sebastian Siegloch
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the effect of salient international soccer tournaments on the motivation of unemployed individuals to search for employment using the German Socio Economic Panel 1984-2010. Exploiting the random scheduling of survey interviews, we find significant effects on motivational variables such as the intention to work or the reservation wage. Furthermore, the sporting events increase perceived health as well as worries about the general economic situation.

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Job Hopping, Information Technology Spillovers, and Productivity Growth

Prasanna Tambe & Lorin Hitt
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The movement of information technology (IT) workers among firms is believed to be an important mechanism by which IT-related innovations diffuse throughout the economy. We use a newly developed source of employee microdata - an online resume database - to model IT workers' mobility patterns. We find that firms derive significant productivity benefits from the IT investments of other firms from which they hire IT labor. Our estimates indicate that over the last two decades, productivity spillovers from the IT investments of other firms transmitted through this channel have contributed 20%-30% as much to productivity growth as firms' own IT investments. Moreover, we find that the productivity benefits of locating near other IT-intensive firms can primarily be explained by the mobility of technical workers within the region. Our results are unique to the flow of IT workers among firms, not other occupations, which rules out some alternative explanations related to the similarity of firms that participate in the same labor flow network.

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Client-Based Entrepreneurship

James Rauch & Joel Watson
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Client relationships create value, which employees may try to wrest from their employers by establishing their own firms. If an employer and worker cannot contract on the output and profits of the worker's prospective new firm, at the beginning of their relationship the employer induces the worker to sign a contract that prohibits him from competing or soliciting the current client in the event of termination of employment. The socially optimal level of entrepreneurship will nevertheless be achieved if clients, employers, and workers can renegotiate these restrictive employment contracts and make compensating transfers. If workers cannot finance transfers to employers, however, employers and workers will sign contracts that are too restrictive and produce too little entrepreneurship, and governments can increase welfare by limiting enforcement of these contracts. With or without liquidity constraints, locations where noncompete contracts are less enforced will attract more clients and have higher employment and output.

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Dilettante or Renaissance Person? How the Order of Job Experiences Affects Hiring in an External Labor Market

Ming Leung
American Sociological Review, February 2014, Pages 136-158

Abstract:
Social actors who move across categories are typically disadvantaged relative to their more focused peers. Yet candidates who compile experiences across disparate areas can either be appreciated as renaissance individuals or penalized as dilettantes. Extant literature has focused on the comparison between single versus multiple category members and on skill assessment, hindering its applicability. To discriminate between more versus less successful category spanners, I suggest that the order of accumulated experiences matters, because it serves as an indicator of commitment. I propose the concept of erraticism and predict that employers will prefer candidates who demonstrate some erraticism, by moving incrementally between similar jobs, over candidates who do not move and also over those with highly erratic job histories. Furthermore, I suggest this relationship holds for more complex jobs, less experienced freelancers, and is attenuated through working together. These issues are particularly salient given the rise of external labor markets where careers are increasingly marked by moves across traditional boundaries. I test and find support for these hypotheses with data from an online crowd-sourced labor market for freelancing services, Elance.com. I discuss how virtual mediated labor markets may alter hiring processes.

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Labor Regulations and European Venture Capital

Ant Bozkaya & William Kerr
Harvard Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
European nations substitute between employment protection regulations and labor market expenditures (e.g., unemployment insurance benefits) for providing worker insurance. Employment regulations more directly tax firms making frequent labor adjustments than other labor market insurance mechanisms. Venture capital investors are especially sensitive to these labor adjustment costs. Nations favoring labor market expenditures as the mechanism for providing worker insurance developed stronger venture capital markets over 1990-2008, especially in high volatility sectors. In this context, policy mechanisms are more important than the overall level of worker insurance.

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The Cost of Benefits, Financial Conditions, and Employment Dynamics in Recent U.S. Recoveries

Weishi Grace Gu
University of California Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper explores how much firm-paid employee benefits and firms' financial conditions have contributed to delayed employment recoveries relative to output since 1990, using a DSGE model. Empirically, I document the underexplored pro-cyclicality of per worker benefit costs. Post-1990 period differs from before in that: (1) there have been larger increases of such quasi-fixed employment costs at recoveries; (2) tight financial conditions have also persisted longer into recent recoveries. The model generates 3-to-7-quarter delays in employment recoveries for the post-1990 period but no delay for before, consistent with data; and it produces more than 76 percent of employment volatility.

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Temporary Help Work: Earnings, Wages, and Multiple Job Holding

Sarah Hamersma, Carolyn Heinrich & Peter Mueser
Industrial Relations, January 2014, Pages 72-100

Abstract:
Temporary help services (THS) employment has been growing in size, particularly among disadvantaged workers. An extended policy debate focuses on the low earnings, limited benefits, and insecurity that such jobs appear to provide. We investigate the earnings and wage differentials observed between THS and other jobs in a sample of disadvantaged workers. We find lower quarterly earnings at THS jobs but a $1 per hour wage premium. We reconcile these findings in terms of the shorter duration and lower hours worked at THS jobs. We interpret the premium as a compensating wage differential.

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A longitudinal analysis of the union wage premium for US workers

P. E. Gabriel & S. Schmitz
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2014, Pages 487-489

Abstract:
Estimates of the union wage premium for US workers are presented based on longitudinal data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Our results indicate that the long-term private-sector union wage premium for men has remained fairly steady at nearly 22% over the period 1990 to 2010. For women, the wage premium exhibits greater volatility, although no clear downward trend, and is approximately one-half of the male premium.

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Unemployment Insurance Experience Rating and Labor Market Dynamics

David Ratner
Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Unemployment insurance experience rating imposes higher payroll tax rates on firms that have laid off more workers in the past. To analyze the effects of UI tax policy on labor market dynamics, this paper develops a search model of unemployment with heterogeneous firms and realistic UI financing. The model predicts that higher experience rating reduces both job creation and job destruction. Using firm-level data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, the model is tested by comparing job creation and job destruction across states and industries with different UI tax schedules. The empirical analysis shows a strong negative relationship between job flows and experience rating. Consistent with the empirical results, comparative steady state tax experiments show that a 5% increase in experience rating reduces job flows by an average of 1.4%. While the unemployment rate falls on average by .21 percentage points, the effect on tax revenues is ambiguous. The model has implications for UI financing reform currently being considered at the state and national level. Two alternative reforms that close half of the UI financing gap are considered: the reform that increases experience rating is shown to improve labor market outcomes. In a version of the model with aggregate shocks, higher experience rating dampens the response of layoffs and unemployment over the business cycle. Experience rating also induces nonlinear responses of unemployment to proportionally larger shocks as well as asymmetry in response to booms and busts.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wasted

Cannabis Use and Antisocial Behavior among Youth

Ioana Popovici et al.
Sociological Inquiry, February 2014, Pages 131–162

Abstract:
Despite the numerous efforts to curb substance use and abuse through legislation and interventions, marijuana consumption continues to be a major social problem, particularly among young adults in the United States. We provide new information on the relationship between cannabis use and antisocial behavior by analyzing a sample of young adults (aged 18–20) from the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). We examine a broad set of cannabis use patterns and multiple dimensions of antisocial behaviors and test the empirical importance of two prominent criminological theories — general strain and social bond — in explaining associations between cannabis use and antisocial behavior. We include important socioeconomic, demographic, health and health behaviors, and contextual information in all regressions to control for confounding factors. Our results imply that cannabis use is positively and significantly related to antisocial behavior among young adults, and general strain and social bond theories cannot fully explain our findings. As expected, the estimated association with antisocial behavior is stronger for more frequent cannabis users.

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The Effects of Alcohol on the Consumption of Hard Drugs: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, 1997

Monica Deza
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates the effect of alcohol use on consumption of hard drugs using the exogenous decrease in the cost of accessing alcohol that occurs when individuals reach the minimum legal drinking age. By using a regression discontinuity design and the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, I find that all measures of alcohol consumption, even alcohol initiation increase discontinuously at age 21 years. I also find evidence that consumption of hard drugs decreased by 1.5 to 2 percentage points and the probability of initiating the use of hard drugs decreased by 1 percentage point at the age of 21 years, while the intensity of use among users remained unchanged. These estimates are robust to a variety of specifications and also remain robust across different subsamples.

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Trends in Alcohol and Other Drugs Detected in Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States, 1999–2010

Joanne Brady & Guohua Li
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drugged driving is a safety issue of increasing public concern. Using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 1999–2010, we assessed trends in alcohol and other drugs detected in drivers who were killed within 1 hour of a motor vehicle crash in 6 US states (California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia) that routinely performed toxicological testing on drivers involved in such crashes. Of the 23,591 drivers studied, 39.7% tested positive for alcohol and 24.8% for other drugs. During the study period, the prevalence of positive results for nonalcohol drugs rose from 16.6% in 1999 to 28.3% in 2010 (Z = −10.19, P < 0.0001), whereas the prevalence of positive results for alcohol remained stable. The most commonly detected nonalcohol drug was cannabinol, the prevalence of which increased from 4.2% in 1999 to 12.2% in 2010 (Z = −13.63, P < 0.0001). The increase in the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs was observed in all age groups and both sexes. These results indicate that nonalcohol drugs, particularly marijuana, are increasingly detected in fatally injured drivers.

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Drugs and Alcohol: Their Relative Crash Risk

Eduardo Romano et al.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, January 2014, Pages 56-64

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine (a) whether among sober (blood alcohol concentration [BAC] = .00%) drivers, being drug positive increases the drivers' risk of being killed in a fatal crash; (b) whether among drinking (BAC > .00%) drivers, being drug positive increases the drivers' risk of being killed in a fatal crash; and (c) whether alcohol and other drugs interact in increasing crash risk.

Method: We compared BACs for the 2006, 2007, and 2008 crash cases drawn from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) with control drug and blood alcohol data from participants in the 2007 U.S. National Roadside Survey. Only FARS drivers from states with drug information on 80% or more of the drivers who also participated in the 2007 National Roadside Survey were selected.

Results: For both sober and drinking drivers, being positive for a drug was found to increase the risk of being fatally injured. When the drug-positive variable was separated into marijuana and other drugs, only the latter was found to contribute significantly to crash risk. In all cases, the contribution of drugs other than alcohol to crash risk was significantly lower than that produced by alcohol.

Conclusions: Although overall, drugs contribute to crash risk regardless of the presence of alcohol, such a contribution is much lower than that by alcohol. The lower contribution of drugs other than alcohol to crash risk relative to that of alcohol suggests caution in focusing too much on drugged driving, potentially diverting scarce resources from curbing drunk driving.

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Unemployment, Measured and Perceived Decline of Economic Resources: Contrasting Three Measures of Recessionary Hardships and their Implications for Adopting Negative Health Behaviors

Lucie Kalousova & Sarah Burgard
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Economic downturns could have long-term impacts on population health if they promote changes in health behaviors, but the evidence for whether people are more or less likely to adopt negative health behaviors in economically challenging times has been mixed. This paper argues that researchers need to draw more careful distinctions amongst different types of recessionary hardships and the mechanisms that may underlie their associations with health behaviors. We focus on unemployment experience, measured decline in economic resources, and perceived decline in economic resources, all of which are likely to occur more often during recessions, and explore whether their associations with health behaviors are consistent or different. We use population-based longitudinal data collected by the Michigan Recession and Recovery Study in the wake of the Great Recession in the United States. We evaluate whether those who had experienced each of these three hardships were more likely to adopt new negative health behaviors, specifically cigarette smoking, harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption, or marijuana consumption. We find that, net of controls and the other two recessionary hardships, unemployment experience was associated with increased hazard of starting marijuana use. Measured decline in economic resources was associated with increased hazard of cigarette smoking and lower hazard of starting marijuana use. Perceived decline in economic resources was linked to taking up harmful and hazardous drinking. Our results suggest heterogeneity in the pathways that connect hardship experiences and different health behaviors. They also indicate that relying on only one measure of hardship, as many past studies have done, could lead to an incomplete understanding of the relationship between economic distress and health behaviors.

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A Sibling-Comparison Study of Smoking During Pregnancy and Childhood Psychological Traits

Jarrod Ellingson et al.
Behavior Genetics, January 2014, Pages 25-35

Abstract:
Prenatal exposure to substances of abuse is associated with numerous psychological problems in offspring, but quasi-experimental studies controlling for co-occurring risk factors suggest that familial factors (e.g., genetic and environmental effects shared among siblings) confound many associations with maternal smoking during pregnancy (SDP). Few of the quasi-experimental studies in this area have explored normative psychological traits in early childhood or developmental changes across the lifespan, however. The current study used multilevel growth curve models with a large, nationally-representative sample in the United States to investigate for potential effects of SDP on the developmental trajectories of cognitive functioning, temperament/personality, and disruptive behavior across childhood, while accounting for shared familial confounds by comparing differentially exposed siblings and statistically controlling for offspring-specific covariates. Maternal SDP predicted the intercept (but not change over time) for all cognitive and externalizing outcomes. Accounting for familial confounds, however, attenuated the association between SDP exposure and all outcomes, except the intercept (age 5) for reading recognition. These findings, which are commensurate with previous quasi-experimental research on more severe indices of adolescent and adult problems, suggest that the associations between SDP and developmental traits in childhood are due primarily to confounding factors and not a causal association.

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Official blame for drivers with very low blood alcohol content: There is no safe combination of drinking and driving

David Phillips, Ana Luiza Sousa & Rebecca Moshfegh
Injury Prevention, forthcoming

Purpose: To determine whether official blame for a crash increases significantly at BAC=0.01%.

Methods: We examined the relationship between the driver’s BAC and the degree to which he or she was assigned sole official blame (SOB) for the crash. We analysed an official, exhaustive, nationwide US database (Fatality Analysis Reporting System; n=570 731), covering 1994–2011.

Results: Even minimally ‘buzzed’ drivers are 46% (24–72%) more likely to be officially blamed for a crash than are the sober drivers they collide with (χ2=20.45; p=0.000006). There is no threshold effect—no sudden transition from blameless to blamed drivers at BAC=0.08% (the US legal limit). Instead, SOB increases smoothly and strongly with BAC (r=0.98 (0.96–0.99) for male drivers, p<0.000001; r=0.99 (0.97–0.99) for female drivers, p<0.000001). This near-linear SOB-to-BAC relationship begins at BAC=0.01% and ends around BAC=0.24%. Our findings persist after controlling for many confounding variables.

Conclusions: There appears to be no safe combination of drinking and driving—even minimally ‘buzzed’ drivers pose increased risk to themselves and to others. Concerns about drunk driving should also be extended to ‘buzzed’ driving. US legislators should reduce the legal BAC limit, perhaps to 0.05%, as in most European countries. Lowering the legal BAC limit is likely to reduce injuries and save lives.

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Breaking the Link Between Legal Access to Alcohol and Motor Vehicle Accidents: Evidence from New South Wales

Jason Lindo, Peter Siminski & Oleg Yerokhin
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
A large literature has documented significant public health benefits associated with the minimum legal drinking age in the United States, particularly because of the resulting effects on motor vehicle accidents. These benefits form the primary basis for continued efforts to restrict youth access to alcohol. It is important to keep in mind, though, that policymakers have a wide variety of alcohol-control options available to them, and understanding how these policies may complement or substitute for one another can improve policy making moving forward. Towards this end, we propose that investigating the causal effects of the minimum legal drinking age in New South Wales, Australia provides a particularly informative case study, because Australian states are among the world leaders in their efforts against drunk driving. Using an age-based regression-discontinuity design applied to restricted-use data from several sources, we find no evidence that legal access to alcohol has effects on motor vehicle accidents of any type in New South Wales, despite having large effects on drinking and on hospitalizations due to alcohol abuse.

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Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates: Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study

Sharon Sznitman & Daniel Romer
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, January 2014, Pages 65-73

Objective: Fostering positive school climates and student drug testing have been separately proposed as strategies to reduce student drug use in high schools. To assess the promise of these strategies, the present research examined whether positive school climates and/or student drug testing successfully predicted changes in youth substance use over a 1-year follow-up.

Method: Two waves of panel data from a sample of 361 high school students, assessed 1 year apart, were analyzed. Changes in reported initiation and escalation in frequency of alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use as a function of perceived student drug testing and positive school climates were analyzed, while we held constant prior substance use.

Results: Perceived student drug testing was not associated with changes in substance use, whereas perceived positive school climates were associated with a reduction in cigarette and marijuana initiation and a reduction in escalation of frequency of cigarette use at 1-year follow-up. However, perceived positive school climates were not associated with a reduction in alcohol use.

Conclusions: Student drug testing appears to be less associated with substance use than positive school climates. Nevertheless, even favorable school climates may not be able to influence the use of alcohol, which appears to be quite normative in this age group.

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Time Horizons and Substance Use among African American Youths Living in Disadvantaged Urban Areas

JeeWon Cheong et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Transitioning from adolescence to full-fledged adulthood is often challenging, and young people who live in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods face additional obstacles and experience disproportionately higher negative outcomes, including substance abuse and related risk behaviors. This study investigated whether substance use among African Americans ages 15 to 25 (M = 18.86 years) living in such areas was related to present-dominated time perspectives and higher delay discounting. Participants (N = 344, 110 males, 234 females) living in Deep South disadvantaged urban neighborhoods were recruited using Respondent Driven Sampling, an improved peer-referral sampling method suitable for accessing this hard-to-reach target group. Structured field interviews assessed alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use and risk/protective factors, including time perspectives (Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory [ZTPI]) and behavioral impulsivity (delay discounting task). As predicted, substance use was positively related to a greater ZPTI orientation toward present pleasure and a lower tendency to plan and achieve future goals. Although the sample as a whole showed high discounting of delayed rewards, discount rates did not predict substance use. The findings suggest that interventions to lengthen time perspectives and promote enriched views of future possible selves may prevent and reduce substance use among disadvantaged youths. Discontinuities among the discounting and time perspective variables in relation to substance use merit further investigation.

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Alcohol Consumption and Political Ideology: What's Party Got to Do with It?

Pavel Yakovlev & Walter Guessford
Journal of Wine Economics, December 2013, Pages 335-354

Abstract:
Recent research in psychology and sociology has established a connection between political beliefs and unhealthy behaviors such as excessive alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug consumption. In this study, we estimate the relationship between political ideology and the demand for beer, wine, and spirits using a longitudinal panel of fifty U.S. states from 1952 to 2010. Controlling for various socioeconomic factors and unobserved heterogeneity, we find that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its consumption of beer and spirits rises, while its consumption of wine may fall. Our findings suggest that political beliefs are correlated with the demand for alcohol.

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The Influence of Discrimination on Smoking Cessation among Latinos

Darla Kendzor et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Although studies have shown a cross-sectional link between discrimination and smoking, the prospective influence of discrimination on smoking cessation has yet to be evaluated. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to determine the influence of everyday and major discrimination on smoking cessation among Latinos making a quit attempt.

Methods: Participants were 190 Spanish speaking smokers of Mexican Heritage recruited from the Houston, TX metropolitan area who participated in the study between 2009 and 2012. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the associations of everyday and major discrimination with smoking abstinence at 26 weeks post-quit.

Results: Most participants reported at least some everyday discrimination (64.4%), and at least one major discrimination event (56%) in their lifetimes. Race/ethnicity/nationality was the most commonly perceived reason for both everyday and major discrimination. Everyday discrimination was not associated with post-quit smoking status. However, experiencing a greater number of major discrimination events was associated with a reduced likelihood of achieving 7-day point prevalence smoking abstinence, OR = .51, p = .004, and continuous smoking abstinence, OR = .29, p = .018, at 26 weeks post-quit.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the high frequency of exposure to discrimination among Latinos, and demonstrate the negative impact of major discrimination events on a smoking cessation attempt. Efforts are needed to attenuate the detrimental effects of major discrimination events on smoking cessation outcomes.

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Alcohol Exposure In Utero and Child Academic Achievement

Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We examine the effect of alcohol exposure in utero on child academic achievement. As well as studying the effect of any alcohol exposure, we investigate the effect of the dose, pattern, and duration of exposure. We use a genetic variant in the maternal alcohol-metabolism gene ADH1B as an instrument for alcohol exposure, whilst controlling for the child’s genotype on the same variant. We show that the instrument is unrelated to an extensive range of maternal and paternal characteristics and behaviours. OLS regressions suggest an ambiguous association between alcohol exposure in utero and children’s academic attainment, but there is a strong social gradient in maternal drinking, with mothers in higher socio-economic groups more likely to drink. In stark contrast to the OLS, the IV estimates show negative effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on child educational attainment. These results are very robust to an extensive set of model specifications. In addition, we show that that the effects are solely driven by the maternal genotype, with no impact of the child’s genotype.

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Does legislation to prevent alcohol sales to drunk individuals work? Measuring the propensity for night-time sales to drunks in a UK city

Karen Hughes et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: By measuring alcohol retailers’ propensity to illegally sell alcohol to young people who appear highly intoxicated, we examine whether UK legislation is effective at preventing health harms resulting from drunk individuals continuing to access alcohol.

Methods: 73 randomly selected pubs, bars and nightclubs in a city in North West England were subjected to an alcohol purchase test by pseudo-drunk actors. Observers recorded venue characteristics to identify poorly managed and problematic (PMP) bars.

Results: 83.6% of purchase attempts resulted in a sale of alcohol to a pseudo-intoxicated actor. Alcohol sales increased with the number of PMP markers bars had, yet even in those with no markers, 66.7% of purchase attempts resulted in a sale. Bar servers often recognised signs of drunkenness in actors, but still served them. In 18% of alcohol sales, servers attempted to up-sell by suggesting actors purchase double rather than single vodkas.

Conclusions: UK law preventing sales of alcohol to drunks is routinely broken in nightlife environments, yet prosecutions are rare. Nightlife drunkenness places enormous burdens on health and health services. Preventing alcohol sales to drunks should be a public health priority, while policy failures on issues, such as alcohol pricing, are revisited.

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Evidence of underage targeting of alcohol advertising on television in the United States: Lessons from the Lockyer v. Reynolds decisions

Craig Ross, Joshua Ostroff & David Jernigan
Journal of Public Health Policy, February 2014, Pages 105–118

Abstract:
Underage alcohol use is a global public health problem and alcohol advertising has been associated with underage drinking. The alcohol industry regulates itself and is the primary control on alcohol advertising in many countries around the world, advising trade association members to advertise only in adult-oriented media. Despite high levels of compliance with these self-regulatory guidelines, in several countries youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television has grown faster than adult exposure. In the United States, we found that exposure for underage viewers ages 18–20 grew from 2005 through 2011 faster than any adult age group. Applying a method adopted from a court in the US to identify underage targeting of advertising, we found evidence of targeting of alcohol advertising to underage viewers ages 18–20. The court's rule appeared in Lockyer v. Reynolds (The People ex rel. Bill Lockyer v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, GIC764118, 2002). We demonstrated that alcohol companies were able to modify their advertising practices to maintain current levels of adult advertising exposure while reducing youth exposure.

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Avoidance of Cigarette Pack Health Warnings among Regular Cigarette Smokers

Olivia Maynard et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Previous research with adults and adolescents indicates that plain cigarette packs increase visual attention to health warnings among non-smokers and non-regular smokers, but not among regular smokers. This may be because regular smokers: 1) are familiar with the health warnings, 2) preferentially attend to branding, or 3) actively avoid health warnings. We sought to distinguish between these explanations using eye-tracking technology.

Method: A convenience sample of 30 adult dependent smokers participated in an eye-tracking study. Participants viewed branded, plain and blank packs of cigarettes with familiar and unfamiliar health warnings. The number of fixations to health warnings and branding on the different pack types were recorded.

Results: Analysis of variance indicated that regular smokers were biased towards fixating the branding rather than the health warning on all three pack types. This bias was smaller, but still evident, for blank packs, where smokers preferentially attended the blank region over the health warnings. Time-course analysis showed that for branded and plain packs, attention was preferentially directed to the branding location for the entire 10 seconds of the stimulus presentation, while for blank packs this occurred for the last 8 seconds of the stimulus presentation. Familiarity with health warnings had no effect on eye gaze location.

Conclusion: Smokers actively avoid cigarette pack health warnings, and this remains the case even in the absence of salient branding information. Smokers may have learned to divert their attention away from cigarette pack health warnings. These findings have implications for cigarette packaging and health warning policy.

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Parent–Child Drug Communication: Pathway From Parents' Ad Exposure to Youth's Marijuana Use Intention

Thipnapa Huansuriya, Jason Siegel & William Crano
Journal of Health Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors combined the 2-step flow of communication model and the theory of planned behavior to create a framework to evaluate the effectiveness of a set of advertisements from the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign promoting parent–child drug communication. The sample consisted of 1,349 pairs of parents and children who responded to the first and second annual rounds of the National Survey of Parents and Youth, and 1,276 pairs from Rounds 3 and 4. Parents' exposure to the campaign reported at Round 1 was indirectly associated with youth's lowered intentions to use marijuana at Round 2. Ad exposure was associated with positive changes in parental attitudes toward drug communication and perceived social approval of antidrug communications. These two beliefs, along with perceived behavioral control, predicted parents' intentions to discuss drugs with their children. Parental intentions to discuss drugs reported at Round 1 were associated with youth's report of actual drug communication with their parents at Round 2. Frequency and breadth of the topics in parent–child drug communication were associated with less positive attitudes toward marijuana use among youth who spoke with their parents. Together, the child's attitudes toward marijuana use and perceived ability to refuse marijuana use predicted youth's intentions to use marijuana. The proposed model fit well with the data and was replicated in a parallel analysis of the data from Rounds 3 and 4. Implications for future antidrug media campaign efforts are discussed.

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Pregnenolone Can Protect the Brain from Cannabis Intoxication

Monique Vallée et al.
Science, 3 January 2014, Pages 94-98

Abstract:
Pregnenolone is considered the inactive precursor of all steroid hormones, and its potential functional effects have been largely uninvestigated. The administration of the main active principle of Cannabis sativa (marijuana), ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), substantially increases the synthesis of pregnenolone in the brain via activation of the type-1 cannabinoid (CB1) receptor. Pregnenolone then, acting as a signaling-specific inhibitor of the CB1 receptor, reduces several effects of THC. This negative feedback mediated by pregnenolone reveals a previously unknown paracrine/autocrine loop protecting the brain from CB1 receptor overactivation that could open an unforeseen approach for the treatment of cannabis intoxication and addiction.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Get a good lawyer

Judges on Trial: A Reexamination of Judicial Race and Gender Effects Across Modes of Conviction

Brian Johnson
Criminal Justice Policy Review, March 2014, Pages 159-184

Abstract:
Extant research on the effects of judicial background characteristics suggests minimal influence from the race or gender of the sentencing judge in criminal cases. This raises at least two possibilities: (1) the combined influence of judicial recruitment, indoctrination, and socialization into the judgeship results in a homogenous body of criminal court judges; or (2) current approaches to identifying judge effects in criminal sentencing have methodological and conceptual flaws that limit their ability to detect important influences from judicial background characteristics. The current article examines this issue with data from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing that is augmented to include information on sentencing judges and criminal court contexts. It argues that the mode of conviction shapes the locus of sentencing discretion in ways that systematically underestimate judge effects for pooled estimates of incarceration and sentence length. The empirical results support this interpretation, especially for incarceration in trial cases, where older, female, and minority judges are substantially less likely to sentence offenders to jail or prison terms. The article concludes with a discussion of future research directions and policy implications for judge effects and disparity in sentencing.

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The Color of Juvenile Justice: Racial Disparities in Dispositional Decisions

Jamie Fader, Megan Kurlychek & Kirstin Morgan
Social Science Research, March 2014, Pages 126–140

Abstract:
Existing research on dispositional decisions typically models the outcome as merely placed or not placed. However, this does not accurately reflect the wide variation in residential options available to juvenile court actors. In this research, we combine data from ProDES, which tracks adjudicated youth in Philadelphia, with data from the Program Design Inventory, which describes over 100 intervention programs, to further examine the factors that influence court actors’ decision making in selecting an appropriate program for a juvenile offender. We find that even after controlling for legal and needs-based factors, race continues to exert a significant influence, with decision makers being significantly more likely to commit minority youth to facilities using physical regimen as their primary modality and reserving smaller, therapeutic facilities for their white counterparts. Using focal concerns theory as an explanatory lens, we suggest that court actors in this jurisdiction employ a racialized perceptual shorthand of youthful offenders that attributes both higher levels of blame and lower evaluations of reformability to minority youth.

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The Relationship Between Skin Tone and School Suspension for African Americans

Lance Hannon, Robert DeFina & Sarah Bruch
Race and Social Problems, December 2013, Pages 281-295

Abstract:
This study contributes to the research literature on colorism – discrimination based on skin tone — by examining whether skin darkness affects the likelihood that African Americans will experience school suspension. Using data from The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, logistic regression analyses indicated that darker skin tone significantly increased the odds of suspension for African American adolescents. Closer inspection of the data revealed that this overall result was disproportionately driven by the experiences of African American females. The odds of suspension were about 3 times greater for young African American women with the darkest skin tone compared to those with the lightest skin. This finding was robust to the inclusion of controls for parental SES, delinquent behavior, academic performance, and several other variables. Furthermore, this finding was replicated using similar measures in a different sample of African Americans from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The results suggest that discrimination in school discipline goes beyond broad categories of race to include additional distinctions in skin tone.

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A Winner's Curse?: Promotions from the Lower Federal Courts

Stephen Choi, Mitu Gulati & Eric Posner
University of Chicago Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
The standard model of judicial behavior suggests that judges primarily care about deciding cases in ways that further their political ideologies. But judicial behavior seems much more complex. Politicians who nominate people for judgeships do not typically tout their ideology (except sometimes using vague code words), but they always claim that the nominees will be competent judges. Moreover, it stands to reason that voters would support politicians who appoint competent as well as ideologically compatible judges. We test this hypothesis using a dataset consisting of promotions to the federal circuit courts. We find, using a set of objective measures of judicial performance, that competence seems to matter in promotions in that the least competent judges do not get elevated. But the judges who score the highest on our competence measures also do not get elevated. So, while there is no loser’s reward, there may be something of a winner’s curse, where those with the highest levels of competence hurt their chances of elevation.

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Mandatory Sentencing and Racial Disparity: Assessing the Role of Prosecutors and the Effects of Booker

Sonja Starr & Marit Rehavi
Yale Law Journal, October 2013, Pages 2-80

Abstract:
This Article presents new empirical evidence concerning the effects of United States v. Booker, which loosened the formerly mandatory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, on racial disparities in federal criminal cases. Two serious limitations pervade existing empirical literature on sentencing disparities. First, studies focus on sentencing in isolation, controlling for the “presumptive sentence” or similar measures that themselves result from discretionary charging, plea-bargaining, and fact-finding processes. Any disparities in these earlier processes are excluded from the resulting sentence-disparity estimates. Our research has shown that this exclusion matters: pre-sentencing decision-making can have substantial sentence-disparity consequences. Second, existing studies have used loose causal inference methods that fail to disentangle the effects of sentencing-law changes, such as Booker, from surrounding events and trends. In contrast, we use a dataset that traces cases from arrest to sentencing, allowing us to assess Booker’s effects on disparities in charging, plea-bargaining, and fact-finding, as well as sentencing. We disentangle background trends by using a rigorous regression discontinuity-style design. Contrary to other studies (and in particular, the dramatic recent claims of the U.S. Sentencing Commission), we find no evidence that racial disparity has increased since Booker, much less because of Booker. Unexplained racial disparity remains persistent, but does not appear to have increased following the expansion of judicial discretion.

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Gender and Voting Decisions in the US Court of Appeals: Testing Critical Mass Theory

Katherine Felix Scheurer
Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Winter 2014, Pages 31-54

Abstract:
Although a wide body of research examines whether gender influences judicial decisions, past studies do not analyze whether a critical mass of female judges affects the voting behavior of the US court of appeals. To address this gap in the existing literature, I examine whether a critical mass of female judges influences the voting decisions of court of appeals judges in civil rights and economic activity cases. Providing support for critical mass theory, I find that female judges are more likely to vote liberally in civil rights and economic activity cases when there is a critical mass of female judges.

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Gender and Sentencing in the Federal Courts: Are Women Treated More Leniently?

Jill Doerner & Stephen Demuth
Criminal Justice Policy Review, March 2014, Pages 242-269

Abstract:
Using data from the United States Sentencing Commission (2001-2003), we examine the role of gender in the sentencing of defendants in federal courts. We address two questions: First, can we explain the gender gap in sentencing by taking into account differences in legal and extralegal factors? And second, do legal and extralegal factors have the same impact for male and female defendants? Overall, we find that female defendants receive more lenient sentence outcomes than their male counterparts. Legal factors account for a large portion of the gender differences, but even after controlling for legal characteristics a substantial gap in sentencing outcomes remains. Also, despite their influence on sentencing outcomes in some instances, extralegal characteristics do not help to close the gender gap. Finally, when male and female defendants are examined separately, we find that not all legal and extralegal factors weigh equally for male and female defendants.

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Bankrupt Apologies

Jennifer Robbennolt & Robert Lawless
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2013, Pages 771–796

Abstract:
Apologies result in better outcomes for wrongdoers in a variety of legal contexts. Previous research, however, has primarily addressed settings in which a clear victim receives the apology. This research uses experimental methods to examine the influence of apologies on a different kind of legal decision — the decision of a bankruptcy judge to confirm or not to confirm a proposed repayment plan. This article expands examination of apologies to a legal setting in which there is no clear “victim” and to decisions of a neutral (nonvictim) decisionmaker. We find that judges' assessments of debtors were influenced by apologies. These assessments, in turn, affected judges' confirmation decisions.

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Trial and Error: Decision Reversal and Panel Size in State Courts

Yosh Halberstam
University of Toronto Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Using data on appeals to state courts, I show that lower court decisions are reversed more frequently by high courts on which justices sit in larger, rather than smaller, panels. I do not find evidence that appeal selection effects are driving this result. As a possible mechanism, I propose a theory that highlights the effect of free riding on reversals as a function of the number of justices reviewing an appeal. My findings suggest that the predictability of judicial decisions decreases in panel size.

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Is the Modern American Death Penalty a Fatal Lottery? Texas as a Conservative Test

Scott Phillips & Alena Simon
Laws, Winter 2014, Pages 85-105

Abstract:
In Furman v. Georgia (1972), the Supreme Court was presented with data indicating that 15% to 20% of death-eligible defendants were actually sentenced to death. Based on such a negligible death sentence rate, some Justices concluded that the imposition of death was random and capricious — a fatal lottery. Later, the Court assumed in Gregg v. Georgia (1976) that guided discretion statutes would eliminate the constitutional infirmities identified in Furman: If state legislatures narrowed the pool of death-eligible defendants to the “worst of the worst” then most would be sentenced to death, eliminating numerical arbitrariness. However, recent research suggests that numerical arbitrariness remains, as the death sentence rate falls below the Furman threshold in California (11%), Connecticut (4%), and Colorado (less than 1%). The current research estimates the death sentence rate in Texas. Interestingly, Texas provides a conservative test. In contrast to most states, the Texas statute does not include broad aggravators that substantially enlarge the pool of death-eligible defendants and therefore depress the death sentence rate. Nonetheless, the death sentence rate in Texas during the period from 2006 to 2010 ranges from 3% to 6% (depending on assumptions made about the data). The same pattern holds true in the key counties that send the largest number of defendants to death row: Harris (Houston), Dallas (Dallas), Tarrant (Fort Worth and Arlington), and Bexar (San Antonio). Thus, the data suggest that Texas can be added to the list of states in which capital punishment is unconstitutional as administered. If the death sentence rate in Texas runs afoul of the Furman principle then the prognosis for other states is not encouraging.

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The animal in you: Animalistic descriptions of a violent crime increase punishment of perpetrator

Eduardo Vasquez et al.
Aggressive Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Criminal acts are sometimes described using animal metaphors. What is the impact of a violent crime being described in an animalistic versus a non-animalistic way on the subsequent retribution toward the perpetrator? In two studies, we experimentally varied animalistic descriptions of a violent crime and examined its effect on the severity of the punishment for the act. In Study 1, we showed that compared to non-animalistic descriptions, animalistic descriptions resulted in significantly harsher punishment for the perpetrator. In Study 2, we replicated this effect and further demonstrated that this harsher sentencing is explained by an increase in perceived risk of recidivism. Our findings suggest that animalistic descriptions of crimes lead to more retaliation against the perpetrator by inducing the perception that he is likely to continue engaging in violence.

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Does it matter how you deny it?: The role of demeanour in evaluations of criminal suspects

Amy Bradfield Douglass et al.
Legal and Criminological Psychology, forthcoming

Purpose: In some cases of wrongful convictions, demeanour seen as inappropriate can trigger suspicions of guilt. Two experiments systematically manipulated the demeanour of criminal suspects in interrogations to test its impact on guilt ratings.

Methods: In Experiment 1 (N = 60), participants saw a videotaped interrogation in which the suspect displayed flat demeanour or emotional demeanour. Before viewing the interrogation, participants were told that normal reactions to trauma consisted of either flat or emotional demeanour. In Experiment 2 (N = 147), the presence of the suspect's coerced confession and demeanour evidence were both manipulated.

Results: In Experiment 1, a suspect who displayed flat demeanour during the interrogation produced higher ratings of guilt than did a suspect who displayed emotional demeanour, especially when participants were told to expect emotional demeanour. In Experiment 2, without a confession, flat demeanour inflated guilt ratings, whereas emotional demeanour slightly (but non-significantly) decreased guilt ratings compared with a no demeanour information condition. When a confession was introduced, guilt ratings increased for all groups, with the highest ratings in the emotional demeanour condition.

Conclusions: Flat demeanour biases judgments against defendants. On its own, emotional demeanour is neutral (or potentially exonerating), but when paired with a confession, it becomes just as incriminating as flat demeanour. Recommendations for educating police professionals on the wide range of appropriate reactions to trauma are described.

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Detecting Deception in Non-Native English Speakers

Jacqueline Evans & Stephen Michael
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The ability to accurately assess credibility is important in countless situations, including many in which individuals being assessed are not speaking their native language. There is reason to believe that native and non-native speakers may behave differently when lying and that detectors may have a bias to believe non-native speakers are lying. However, very little is known about detecting deception in non-native speakers, and the few existing studies have not resulted in consistent findings. The current research compared the ability to detect lies and truths in native speakers with that in non-native speakers and looked at differences in the cues displayed via the Psychologically Based Credibility Assessment Tool. Results from two samples with different demographic characteristics and backgrounds indicated that there was a bias to believe that non-native speakers were lying. These results may have implications regarding the use of interpreters in settings where credibility is being assessed.

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Misdemeanor Justice: Control without Conviction

Issa Kohler-Hausmann
American Journal of Sociology, September 2013, Pages 351-393

Abstract:
Current scholarship has explored how the carceral state governs and regulates populations. This literature has focused on prison and on the wide-reaching collateral consequences of a felony conviction. Despite the obvious importance of these findings, they capture only a portion of the criminal justice system’s operations. In most jurisdictions, misdemeanors, not felonies, constitute the bulk of criminal cases, and the number of such arrests is rising. This article explores a puzzling fact about New York City’s pioneering experiment in mass misdemeanor arrests: the preponderance result in no finding of guilt and no assignment of formal punishment. Drawing on two years of fieldwork, this article explores how the criminal justice system functions to regulate significant populations without conviction or sentencing. The author details the operation of penal power through the techniques of marking through criminal justice record keeping, the procedural hassle of case processing, and mandated performance evaluated by court actors to show the social control capacity of the criminal justice system.

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Judicial Selection and Death Penalty Decisions

Brandice Canes-Wrone, Tom Clark & Jason Kelly
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most U.S. state supreme court justices face elections or reappointment by elected officials, and research suggests that judicial campaigns have come to resemble those for other offices. We develop predictions on how selection systems should affect judicial decisions and test these predictions on an extensive dataset of death penalty decisions by state courts of last resort. Specifically, the data include over 12,000 decisions on over 2000 capital punishment cases decided between 1980 and 2006 in systems with partisan, nonpartisan, or retention elections or with reappointment. As predicted, the findings suggest that judges face the greatest pressure to uphold capital sentences in systems with nonpartisan ballots. Also as predicted, judges respond similarly to public opinion in systems with partisan elections or reappointment. Finally, the results indicate that the plebiscitary influences on judicial behavior emerge only after interest groups began achieving success at targeting justices for their decisions.

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The Costs and Benefits of American Policy-Making Venues

Aaron Ley
Law & Society Review, March 2014, Pages 91–126

Abstract:
Many law and policy scholars consider judges inimical to good public policymaking, and the criticisms they level on the judiciary implicitly reflect some of the concerns raised by Alexander Bickel and other critics. Despite the charge by critics that judges are institutionally ill equipped to participate in the policy-making process and that legal processes are costly, there are reasons to believe otherwise. This article uses field interviews and three case studies of an environmental dispute in the Pacific Northwest to show that the judiciary can be an institutional venue that enhances public input, can be more inclusive than other venues, and produces positive-sum outcomes when other venues cannot. The findings also suggest that legislative and agency policymaking are just as contentious and costly as judicial policy-making processes.

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An Economic Theory of Supreme Court News

Richard Vining & Phil Marcin
Political Communication, Winter 2014, Pages 94-111

Abstract:
In this article, we develop and test an economic theory of Supreme Court news. We hypothesize that information about the Third Branch is newsworthy when it has lower production costs and qualities attractive to the audiences and advertisers desired by news organizations. We examine Supreme Court news in elite newspapers, television news broadcasts, and online news sources during the October 2008 and 2010 terms. The results of our quantitative analyses indicate that all three types of news outlets are more likely to provide content about Supreme Court decisions with substantive importance but vary in their responses to costs and qualities appealing to the lay audience. We conclude by discussing the similarities and differences among news outlets with regard to their selection of Supreme Court information as news content.

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Death Row Confessions and the Last Meal Test of Innocence

Kevin Kniffin & Brian Wansink
Laws, March 2014, Pages 1-11

Abstract:
Post hoc analyses of Rector v. Arkansas have regularly highlighted that the defendant requested that part of his last meal be saved so that he could it eat later. While the observation is typically raised as part of arguments that Rector was incompetent and unfit for execution, the more basic fact is that commentators have drawn important inferences about Rector’s mental state from how he treated his last meal. In this essay, we draw upon multiple disciplines in order to apply the same inferential logic to a much broader sample and explore the question of whether traditionally customized last meals might offer signals of defendants’ guilt or innocence. To investigate this, the content of last-meal requests and last words reported for people executed in the United States during a recent five-year period were examined. Consistent with the idea that declination of the last meal is equivalent to a signal of (self-perceived) innocence, those who denied guilt were 2.7 times as likely to decline a last meal than people who admitted guilt (29% versus 8%). Consistent with the complementary theory that people who admit guilt are relatively more “at peace” with their sentence, these individuals requested 34% more calories of food than the rest of the sample (2786 versus 2085 calories). A third finding is that those who denied guilt also tended to eat significantly fewer brand-name food items. Previous discussions of last meals have often lacked quantitative measurements; however, this systematic analysis shows that last meal requests offer windows into self-perceived or self-proclaimed innocence. Knowing one’s last meal request and one’s last words can provide valuable new variables for retrospectively assessing the processes that led to past executions.

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Do Confessions Taint Perceptions of Handwriting Evidence? An Empirical Test of the Forensic Confirmation Bias

Jeff Kukucka & Saul Kassin
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Citing classic psychological research and a smattering of recent studies, Kassin, Dror, and Kukucka (2013) proposed the operation of a forensic confirmation bias, whereby preexisting expectations guide the evaluation of forensic evidence in a self-verifying manner. In a series of studies, we tested the hypothesis that knowing that a defendant had confessed would taint people’s evaluations of handwriting evidence relative to those not so informed. In Study 1, participants who read a case summary in which the defendant had previously confessed were more likely to erroneously conclude that handwriting samples from the defendant and perpetrator were authored by the same person, and were more likely to judge the defendant guilty, compared with those in a no-confession control group. Study 2 replicated and extended these findings using a within-subjects design in which participants rated the same samples both before and after reading a case summary. These findings underscore recent critiques of the forensic sciences as subject to bias, and suggest the value of insulating forensic examiners from contextual information.

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Unfounding Sexual Assault: Examining the Decision to Unfound and Identifying False Reports

Cassia Spohn, Clair White & Katharine Tellis
Law & Society Review, March 2014, Pages 161–192

Abstract:
One of the most controversial — and least understood — issues in the area of sexual violence is the prevalence of false reports of rape. Estimates of the rate of false reports vary widely, which reflects differences in way false reports are defined and in the methods that researchers use to identify them. We address this issue using a mixed methods approach that incorporates quantitative and qualitative data on sexual assault cases that were reported to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2008 and qualitative data from interviews with LAPD detectives assigned to investigate reports of sexual assault. We found that the LAPD was clearing cases as unfounded appropriately most, but not all, of the time and we estimated that the rate of false reports among cases reported to the LAPD was 4.5 percent. We also found that although complainant recantation was the strongest predictor of the unfounding decision, other factors indicative of the seriousness of the incident and the credibility of the victim also played a role. We interpret these findings using an integrated theoretical perspective that incorporates both Black's sociological theory of law and Steffensmeier, Ulmer, and Kramer's focal concerns perspective.

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The effect of the election of prosecutors on criminal trials

Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan McCannon
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine whether elections of public prosecutors influence the mix of cases taken to trial versus plea bargained. A theoretical model is constructed wherein voters use outcomes of the criminal justice system as a signal of prosecutors’ quality, leading to a distortion in the mix of cases taken to trial. Using data from North Carolina we test whether reelection pressures lead to (a) an increase in the number and proportion of convictions from jury trials and (b) a decrease in the average sanction obtained in both jury trials and pleas. Our empirical findings are consistent with our theoretical predictions.

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The Impact of Neuroimages in the Sentencing Phase of Capital Trials

Michael Saks et al.
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, March 2014, Pages 105–131

Abstract:
Although recent research has found that neurological expert testimony is more persuasive than other kinds of expert and nonexpert evidence, no impact has been found for neuroimages beyond that of neurological evidence sans images. Those findings hold true in the context of a mens rea defense and various forms of insanity defenses. The present studies test whether neuroimages afford heightened impact in the penalty phase of capital murder trials. Two mock jury experiments (n = 825 and n = 882) were conducted online using nationally representative samples of persons who were jury eligible and death qualified. Participants were randomly assigned to experimental conditions varying the defendant's diagnosis (psychopathy, schizophrenia, normal), type of expert evidence supporting the diagnosis (clinical, genetic, neurological sans images, neurological with images), evidence of future dangerousness (high, low), and whether the proponent of the expert evidence was the prosecution (arguing aggravation) or the defense (arguing mitigation). For defendants diagnosed as psychopathic, neuroimages reduced judgments of responsibility and sentences of death. For defendants diagnosed as schizophrenic, neuroimages increased judgments of responsibility; nonimage neurological evidence decreased death sentences and judgments of responsibility and dangerousness. All else equal, psychopaths were more likely to be sentenced to death than schizophrenics. When experts opined that the defendant was dangerous, sentences of death increased. A backfire effect was found such that the offering party produced the opposite result than that being argued for when the expert evidence was clinical, genetic, or nonimage neurological, but when the expert evidence included neuroimages, jurors moved in the direction argued by counsel.

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The Verifiability Approach: Countermeasures Facilitate its Ability to Discriminate Between Truths and Lies

Galit Nahari, Aldert Vrij & Ronald Fisher
Applied Cognitive Psychology, January/February 2014, Pages 122–128

Abstract:
According to the verifiability approach, liars tend to provide details that cannot be checked by the investigator and awareness of this increases the investigator's ability to detect lies. In the present experiment, we replicated previous findings in a more realistic paradigm and examined the vulnerability of the verifiability approach to countermeasures. For this purpose, we collected written statements from 44 mock criminals (liars) and 43 innocents (truth tellers), whereas half of them were told before writing the statements that the verifiability of their statements will be checked. Results showed that ‘informing’ encouraged truth tellers but not liars to provide more verifiable details and increased the ability to detect lies. These findings suggest that verifiability approach is less vulnerable to countermeasures than other lie detection tools. On the contrary, in the current experiment, notifying interviewees about the mechanism of the approach benefited lie detection.

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The (Dis)Advantage of Certainty: The Importance of Certainty in Language

Pamela Corley & Justin Wedeking
Law & Society Review, March 2014, Pages 35–62

Abstract:
How can legal decision makers increase the likelihood of a favorable response from other legal and social actors? To answer this, we propose a novel theory based on the certainty expressed in language that is applicable to many different legal contexts. The theory is grounded in psychology and legal advocacy and suggests that expressing certainty enhances the persuasiveness of a message. We apply this theory to the principal–agent framework to examine the treatment of Supreme Court precedent by the Federal Courts of Appeal. We find that as the level of certainty in the Supreme Court's opinion increases, the lower courts are more likely to positively treat the Court's decision. We then discuss the implications of our findings for using certainty in a broader context.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Think it over

Evolutionary Origins of the Endowment Effect: Evidence from Hunter-Gatherers

Coren Apicella et al.
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The endowment effect, the tendency to value possessions more than non-possessions, is a well known departure from rational choice and has been replicated in numerous settings. We investigate the universality of the endowment effect, its evolutionary significance, and its dependence on environmental factors. We experimentally test for the endowment effect in an isolated and evolutionarily relevant population of hunter-gatherers, the Hadza Bushmen of Northern Tanzania. We find that Hadza living in isolated regions do not display the endowment effect, while Hadza living in a geographic region with increased exposure to modern society and markets do display the endowment effect.

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Exposure to Media Information About a Disease Can Cause Doctors to Misdiagnose Similar-Looking Clinical Cases

Henk Schmidt et al.
Academic Medicine, February 2014, Pages 285–291

Purpose: Anecdotal evidence indicates that exposure to media-distributed disease information, such as news about an outbreak, can lead physicians to errors; influenced by an availability bias, they misdiagnose patients with similar-looking but different diseases. The authors investigated whether exposure to media-provided disease information causes diagnostic errors and whether reflection (systematic review of findings) counteracts bias.

Method: In 2010, 38 internal medicine residents first read the Wikipedia entry about one or another of two diseases (Phase 1). Six hours later, in a seemingly unrelated study, they diagnosed eight clinical cases (Phase 2). Two cases superficially resembled the disease in the Wikipedia entry they had read (bias expected), two cases resembled the other disease they had not read about (bias not expected), and four were filler cases. In Phase 3, they diagnosed the bias-expected cases again, using reflective reasoning.

Results: Mean diagnostic accuracy scores (Phase 2; range: 0-1) were significantly lower on bias-expected cases than on bias-not-expected cases (0.56 versus 0.70, P = .016) because participants misdiagnosed cases that looked similar to a Wikipedia description of a disease more often when they had read the Wikipedia description (mean = 0.61) than when they had not (mean = 0.29). Deliberate reflection (Phase 3) restored performance on bias-expected cases to pre-bias levels (mean = 0.71).

Conclusions: Availability bias may arise simply from exposure to media-provided information about a disease, causing diagnostic errors. The bias's effect can be substantial. It is apparently associated with nonanalytical reasoning and can be counteracted by reflection.

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How Childhood Advertising Exposure Can Create Biased Product Evaluations That Persist into Adulthood

Paul Connell, Merrie Brucks & Jesper Nielsen
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has found that children incrementally learn how to cope with advertising as they age. The current research investigates whether these developmental constraints in advertising knowledge at time of exposure have enduring consequences. Results from four experimental studies show that childhood exposure to advertisements can lead to resilient biased product evaluations that persist into adulthood. Study 1 demonstrates that positive affect toward ad-related stimuli encountered in childhood mediates the relationship between childhood advertising exposure and biased evaluations for products associated with childhood (but not adulthood) advertising. Study 2 demonstrates stronger biases when participants are exposed to childhood advertising cues relative to childhood consumption cues. Studies 3 and 4 show that even when ability and motivation to correct bias are high, lingering positive affect toward childhood ad-related stimuli is a motivational deterrent to correct biased product evaluations. Study 4 also shows that biased product evaluations can transfer to line extensions.

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Smart People Ask for (My) Advice: Seeking Advice Boosts Perceptions of Competence

Alison Wood Brooks, Francesca Gino & Maurice E. Schweitzer
Harvard Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:
Although individuals can derive substantial benefits from exchanging information and ideas, many individuals are reluctant to seek advice from others. We find that people are reticent to seek advice for fear of appearing incompetent. This fear, however, is misplaced. We demonstrate that individuals perceive those who seek advice as more competent than those who do not. This effect is moderated by task difficulty and advisor ego. Individuals perceive those who seek advice as more competent when the task is difficult than when it is easy, and when people seek advice from them personally than when they seek advice from others.

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From Van Gogh to Lady Gaga: Artist eccentricity increases perceived artistic skill and art appreciation

Wijnand Adriaan Pieter Van Tilburg & Eric Raymond Igou
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined the impact of eccentricity on the evaluation of artistic skills and the quality of artworks. Based on the notion that artists are typically perceived as eccentric, creative and skilled, we tested the hypothesis that eccentricity increases perceptions of artistic quality. In Study 1, Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting was evaluated more positively when he was said to have cut off his left ear lobe than when this information was not presented. In Study 2, participants liked art more when the artist was eccentric. In Study 3, the evaluation of fictitious art increased because of the artist's eccentric appearance. Study 4 established that the eccentricity effect was specific to unconventional as opposed to conventional art. In Study 5, Lady Gaga's music was more appreciated when she was displayed as highly eccentric; however, the eccentricity effect emerged only when the display seemed authentic. These novel findings indicate that art evaluations are partly rooted in perceptions of artists' eccentricity and evidence the importance of perceived authenticity and skills for these attributions.

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What makes an art expert? Emotion and evaluation in art appreciation

Helmut Leder et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do some people like negative, or even disgusting and provocative artworks? Art expertise, believed to influence the interplay among cognitive and emotional processing underlying aesthetic experience, could be the answer. We studied how art expertise modulates the effect of positive-and negative-valenced artworks on aesthetic and emotional responses, measured with self-reports and facial electromyography (EMG). Unsurprisingly, emotionally-valenced art evoked coherent valence as well as corrugator supercilii and zygamoticus major activations. However, compared to non-experts, experts showed attenuated reactions, with less extreme valence ratings and corrugator supercilii activations and they liked negative art more. This pattern was also observed for a control set of International Affective Picture System (IAPS) pictures suggesting that art experts show general processing differences for visual stimuli. Thus, much in line with the Kantian notion that an aesthetic stance is emotionally distanced, art experts exhibited a distinct pattern of attenuated emotional responses.

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The Trophy Effect

Christoph Bühren & Marco Pleßner
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
By extending a typical endowment effect experiment with the possibility of winning the endowment in a real effort contest, we found two reinforcing effects that led to a complete market failure. Subjects who won the item in the effortful competition had a very high willingness to accept (trophy winner effect). By contrast, subjects who were not successful had an extremely low willingness to pay for the same item (trophy loser effect). We disentangle different components of these effects and investigate the underlying emotional responses. Further, we analyze the duration of the effects and discuss economic implications.

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Name-Letter and Birthday-Number Implicit Egotism Effects in Pricing

Keith Coulter & Dhruv Grewal
Journal of Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines how the implicit egotism resulting from consumers' positive self-associations affects their evaluations of product prices. The effects can occur when the product's price and the consumer share either name letters (name-letter/price effect), or birthday numbers (birthday-number/price effect).Through a series of studies, we demonstrate that the positive affect linked to name-letters and birthday-numbers transfers directly to consumers' price predilections, and ultimately affects their purchase intentions. More specifically, consumers like prices (e.g., “fifty-five dollars”) that contain digits beginning with the same first letter (e.g., “F”) as their own name (e.g., “Fred” or “Mr. Frank”) more than prices that do not. Similarly, prices containing cents digits (e.g., $49.15) that correspond to a consumer's date of birth (e.g., April 26) also enhance pricing liking and purchase intentions. Across groups of consumers, our findings demonstrate that implicit egotism effects can result in greater purchase intentions for a higher priced product compared to a lower-priced product.

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Paying More When Paying for Others: Consumer Elective Pricing with Pay-It-Forward Framing

Minah Jung et al.
University of California Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
In a series of field and lab experiments we compare how people behave under two forms of consumer elective pricing: “pay-what-you-want” pricing, in which a customer chooses how much to pay the seller (including zero) for a product or a service, and “pay-it-forward” pricing, which is financially identical, but is framed as paying for others, and others are paying for the customer. We predict that this reframing will change the social nature of the exchange and increase payments. Four field experiments confirmed our prediction; people paid more under pay-it-forward than pay-what-you-want in both non-profit and for-profit settings (Studies 1-4). Four subsequent lab studies consider whether affective intensity explains the increased payments (Study 5), whether people pay more out of a need to justify (Study 6), or whether implicit social preferences are influenced by the manipulation (Studies 7 and 8). Results indicate that when descriptive norms, in the form of other’s payment amount, are explicit, participants conform to them and pay just about the same amount. However, when descriptive norms are implicit, people overestimate the kindness of others and bring their own behavior in line with their misperception.

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Why Blame?

Mehmet Gurdal, Joshua Miller & Aldo Rustichini
Journal of Political Economy, December 2013, Pages 1205-1247

Abstract:
We provide experimental evidence that subjects blame others on the basis of events they are not responsible for. In our experiment an agent chooses between a lottery and a safe asset; payment from the chosen option goes to a principal, who then decides how much to allocate between the agent and a third party. We observe widespread blame: regardless of their choice, agents are blamed by principals for the outcome of the lottery, an event they are not responsible for. We provide an explanation of this apparently irrational behavior with a delegated-expertise principal-agent model, the subjects’ salient perturbation of the environment.

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Killing Hope with Good Intentions: The Effects of Consolation Prizes on Preference for Lottery Promotions

Dengfeng Yan & A.V. Muthukrishnan
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research examines how the inclusion of consolation or token prizes influences consumers' valuation of a promotional lottery. Results from four experiments show that consolation prizes lower consumers' expectations of winning the big prize, their valuations of, and their intentions to participate in the lottery. Because of the high likelihood of attaining the consolation prizes, consumers shift their focus from the value of a big prize to the probability of attaining it. This shift increases the weight given to the probability dimension and results in lowered valuations of the lottery. The first two experiments demonstrated the effect in hypothetical and real choices. In experiment 3, we proposed and showed a boundary condition for the effect. In experiment 4, we conducted an exploratory test of the process.

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Reducing and Exaggerating Escalation of Commitment by Option Partitioning

Jessica Kwong & Kin Fai Ellick Wong
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Options under escalation situations can be presented as a general class (e.g., investing in electronic products) or be partitioned into disjunctive suboptions within that class (e.g., investing in MP3 players, portable TV game consoles, and other electronic products). Drawing from the theoretical bases of partition priming and mental accounting, this research found support from 4 experiments that (a) a decision maker’s commitment to a failing course of action is exaggerated when the escalation options are partitioned into multiple suboptions, whereas such commitment is reduced when the alternative options are portioned into suboptions, and (b) these partitioning effects are mediated by the subjective utility, including subjective values and probability, of the escalation option.

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Handedness differences in information framing

John Jasper, Candice Fournier & Stephen Christman
Brain and Cognition, February 2014, Pages 85–89

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that strength of handedness predicts differences in sensory illusions, Stroop interference, episodic memory, and beliefs about body image. Recent evidence also suggests handedness differences in the susceptibility to common decision biases such as anchoring and sunk cost. The present paper extends this line of work to attribute framing effects. Sixty-three undergraduates were asked to advise a friend concerning the use of a safe allergy medication during pregnancy. A third of the participants received negatively-framed information concerning the fetal risk of the drug (1–3% chance of having a malformed child); another third received positively-framed information (97–99% chance of having a normal child); and the final third received no counseling information and served as the control. Results indicated that, as predicted, inconsistent (mixed)-handers were more responsive than consistent (strong)-handers to information changes and readily update their beliefs. Although not significant, the data also suggested that only inconsistent handers were affected by information framing. Theoretical implications as well as ongoing work in holistic versus analytic processing, contextual sensitivity, and brain asymmetry will be discussed.

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Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Susceptibility to the Conjunction Fallacy

Robert Brotherton & Christopher French
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People who believe in the paranormal have been found to be particularly susceptible to the conjunction fallacy. The present research examines whether the same is true of people who endorse conspiracy theories. Two studies examined the association between conspiracist ideation and the number of conjunction violations made in a variety of contexts (neutral, paranormal and conspiracy). Study 1 found that participants who endorsed a range of popular conspiracy theories more strongly also made more conjunction errors than participants with weaker conspiracism, regardless of the contextual framing of the conjunction. Study 2, using an independent sample and a generic measure of conspiracist ideation, replicated the finding that conspiracy belief is associated with domain-general susceptibility to the conjunction fallacy. The findings are discussed in relation to the association between conspiracism and other anomalous beliefs, the representativeness heuristic and the tendency to infer underlying causal relationships connecting ostensibly unrelated events.

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Far-Out Thinking: Generating Solutions to Distant Analogies Promotes Relational Thinking

Michael Vendetti, Aaron Wu & Keith Holyoak
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is it possible to induce a mind-set that will affect relational thinking in a subsequent reasoning task involving unrelated materials? We investigated whether evaluating the validity of verbal analogies (Experiment 1a) or generating solutions for them (Experiment 1b) could induce a relational mind-set that would transfer to an unrelated picture-mapping task. The verbal analogies were based on either near or far semantic relations. We found that generating (but not evaluating) solutions for semantically distant analogies increased the proportion of relational mappings on the transfer task, even after we controlled for fluid intelligence and response time. Solving near analogies did not produce transfer. Generation of solutions to far analogies appears to provide a potent method for triggering a mind-set that can enhance relational thinking in a different task.

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Retrieving Autobiographical Memories Influences Judgments About Others: The Role of Metacognitive Experiences

Karl-Andrew Woltin, Olivier Corneille & Vincent Yzerbyt
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research investigates whether metacognitive experiences accompanying the retrieval of autobiographical memories influence judgments about others. Based on social projection research, we tested the hypothesis that ease-of-retrieval, affecting how the self is perceived, affects first impressions. In line with this prediction, Experiment 1 showed that participants asked to recall a few personal instances of assertive behavior (easy retrieval) judged an unknown person to be more assertive than participants recalling many instances (difficult retrieval). Experiment 2, targeting creativity, provided evidence for the retrieval-ease mechanism: The effect disappeared when ease-of-retrieval was discredited as informational source in a misattribution paradigm. Finally, Experiments 3 and 4 replicated this pattern for the same personality traits and demonstrated two boundary conditions: Participants’ ease of autobiographical recalls affected judgments of in- but not outgroup members (Experiment 3), and judgments of unknown others were affected after autobiographical recall but not after recalling behaviors of someone else (Experiment 4).

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Pluralistic Ignorance in Virtually Assembled Peers: The Case of World of Warcraft

Margaret de Larios & John Lang
Games and Culture, March 2014, Pages 102-121

Abstract:
This article presents a study of pluralistic ignorance situated within the virtual community of guilds in World of Warcraft (WoW). Pluralistic ignorance is a mistaken perception of social norms that overwhelms personal attitudes and leads to behavior contrary to an actor’s attitude, and it has never been studied in the context of a virtual world. We analyze the presence of pluralistic ignorance in WoW guilds with the use of a sample of 195 players who responded to an Internet-based survey and 15 focus group participants. Findings show that pluralistic ignorance has a demonstrably lower presence in that community of WoW players than in a physical world equivalent, suggesting a higher tendency in that community toward consistency between private attitudes and public behavior. Factors uncovered that explain this difference include anonymity, safety of the Internet as social medium, and a hypersalience of identity in the WoW player community.

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Gamers against science: The case of the violent video games debate

Peter Nauroth et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores the notion that scientific research programs and empirical findings are fundamentally devalued when they threaten a perceiver's social identity. Findings from three studies show the following: (1) identification with the group of “gamers” (i.e., people who play video games on a regular basis) influences the extent to which perceivers devalue research suggesting that playing violent video games has negative consequences; (2) this effect is mediated by the feeling that the group of gamers is being stigmatized by such research (Studies 1 and 2) as well as by anger about this research (Study 2); (3) the effect of in-group identification on negative research evaluations cannot be explained by attitude or behavioral preference inconsistency (Studies 1 and 3); and (4) strongly identified gamers not only devalue a specific scientific study but also generalize their negative evaluations to the entire field of violent video games research (Study 3). The findings suggest that the influence of social identity processes on the evaluation of research is larger than it has previously been recognized. Implications of these findings for science communication are discussed.

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Stuck in the moment: Cognitive inflexibility in preschoolers following an extended time period

Carolina Garcia & Anthony Steven Dick
Frontiers in Psychology, December 2013

Abstract:
Preschoolers display surprising inflexibility in problem solving, but seem to approach new challenges with a fresh slate. We provide evidence that while the former is true the latter is not. Here, we examined whether brief exposure to stimuli can influence children’s problem solving following several weeks after first exposure to the stimuli. We administered a common executive function task, the Dimensional Change Card Sort, which requires children to sort picture cards by one dimension (e.g., color) and then switch to sort the same cards by a conflicting dimension (e.g., shape). After a week or after a month delay, we administered the second rule again. We found that 70% of preschoolers continued to sort by the initial sorting rule, even after a month delay, and even though they are explicitly told what to do. We discuss implications for theories of executive function development, and for classroom learning.

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But consider the alternative: The influence of positive affect on overconfidence

Kyle Emich
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies find evidence that positive affect reduces comparative overconfidence (overplacement). This occurs because positive affect attenuates focalism via decreasing people's tendency to overweight information regarding themselves in the light of information concerning others. Specifically, Study 1 provides evidence that positive affect leads to more realistic estimates of comparative ability and that other-focus partially mediates this effect. Then, Study 2 provides causal evidence that positive affect independently influences other-focus and that other-focus, in turn, influences overplacement. Additionally, Study 2 uses an indirect measure of focalism to better capture this attentional process. Finally, Study 3 explores the influence of negative affect on overplacement. In addition, each study finds that positive affect does not influence overconfidence regarding participant's raw performances (overestimation) as this type of overconfidence is not dependent on self-other comparisons.

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The Etiology of Diagnostic Errors: A Controlled Trial of System 1 Versus System 2 Reasoning

Geoffrey Norman et al.
Academic Medicine, February 2014, Pages 277–284

Purpose: Diagnostic errors are thought to arise from cognitive biases associated with System 1 reasoning, which is rapid and unconscious. The primary hypothesis of this study was that the instruction to be slow and thorough will have no advantage in diagnostic accuracy over the instruction to proceed rapidly.

Method: Participants were second-year residents who volunteered after they had taken the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) Qualifying Examination Part II. Participants were tested at three Canadian medical schools (McMaster, Ottawa, and McGill) in 2010 (n = 96) and 2011 (n = 108). The intervention consisted of 20 computer-based internal medicine cases, with instructions either (1) to be as quick as possible but not make mistakes (the Speed cohort, 2010), or (2) to be careful, thorough, and reflective (the Reflect cohort, 2011). The authors examined accuracy scores on the 20 cases, time taken to diagnose cases, and MCC examination performance.

Results: Overall accuracy in the Speed condition was 44.5%, and in the Reflect condition was 45.0%; this was not significant. The Speed cohort took an average of 69 seconds per case versus 89 seconds for the Reflect cohort (P < .001). In both cohorts, cases diagnosed incorrectly took an average of 17 seconds longer than cases diagnosed correctly. Diagnostic accuracy was moderately correlated with performance on both written and problem-solving components of the MCC licensure examination and inversely correlated with time.

Conclusions: The study demonstrates that simply encouraging slowing down and increasing attention to analytical thinking is insufficient to increase diagnostic accuracy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 3, 2014

Passion of the parties

The Punctuated Origins of Senate Polarization

Adam Bonica
Legislative Studies Quarterly, February 2014, Pages 5–26

Abstract:
This article uses a new dynamic ideal-point estimation method that incorporates smoothing techniques to construct a more detailed account of Senate polarization. The results reveal that the Senate polarized in two distinct phases. Member replacement accounts for nearly all of the increase from the early 1970s through the mid-1990s after which ideological adaptation emerges as the dominant force behind polarization. In addition, I find that a few brief periods of intensified partisanship account for most of the increase in polarization since the mid-1990s, suggesting that these episodes have had significant and lasting effects.

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Long-term effect of September 11 on the political behavior of victims’ families and neighbors

Eitan Hersh
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 24 December 2013, Pages 20959–20963

Abstract:
This article investigates the long-term effect of September 11, 2001 on the political behaviors of victims’ families and neighbors. Relative to comparable individuals, family members and residential neighbors of victims have become — and have stayed — significantly more active in politics in the last 12 years, and they have become more Republican on account of the terrorist attacks. The method used to demonstrate these findings leverages the random nature of the terrorist attack to estimate a causal effect and exploits new techniques to link multiple, individual-level, governmental databases to measure behavioral change without relying on surveys or aggregate analysis.

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Does “humanization” of the preborn explain why conservatives (vs. liberals) oppose abortion?

Cara MacInnis, Mary MacLean & Gordon Hodson
Personality and Individual Differences, March 2014, Pages 77–82

Abstract:
Those on the political right (vs. left) generally oppose abortion, with preborn humanness frequently cited as the reason. We test whether differences in preborn humanness perceptions actually underpin left–right differences in abortion support. We examine two types of right-wing ideology in student and community samples, asking whether perceptions of preborn humanness (a) explain conservative (vs. liberal) opposition to abortion; or (b) exert a greater impact on abortion opposition among conservatives (vs. liberals). Without exception, perceptions of preborn humanness explained very little of right–left differences in abortion support, and the association between preborn humanness perceptions and abortion opposition was no stronger for those on the political right (vs. left). These findings suggest that left–right differences on this critical, election-relevant social attitude are not explained by beliefs about “humanness”, contrary to popular belief.

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“If He Wins, I'm Moving to Canada”: Ideological Migration Threats Following the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election

Matt Motyl
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Every four years, partisan Americans threaten to migrate to Canada (or some other country) if their preferred candidate loses the Presidential election. This phenomenon has yet to undergo an empirical test. In the present experiment, 308 Obama voters and 142 Romney voters following the 2012 election responded to one of two writing prompts that led them to think about how the United States was becoming more liberal or conservative. Regardless of the writing prompt condition, Romney voters endorsed migration expressions more than Obama voters. Furthermore, Romney voters, compared to Obama voters, expressed a reduced sense of belonging in the United States. The relationship between voting for Romney and migration expressions was fully mediated by sense of belonging. Together, these findings support the ideological migration hypothesis and suggest that threatening to move to Canada following an undesirable election outcome may be driven by voters’ belonging needs.

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Measuring Partisan Bias in Single-Member District Electoral Systems

Eric McGhee
Legislative Studies Quarterly, February 2014, Pages 55–85

Abstract:
In recent decades, the literature has coalesced around either symmetry or responsiveness as measures of partisan bias in single-member district systems. I argue neither accurately captures the traditional idea of an “efficient” gerrymander, where one party claims more seats without more votes. I suggest a better measure of efficiency and then use this new measure to reconsider a classic study of partisan gerrymandering. Contrary to the original study findings, I show that the effects of party control on bias are small and decay rapidly, suggesting that redistricting is at best a blunt tool for promoting partisan interests.

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Partisan Agenda Control and the Dimensionality of Congress

Keith Dougherty, Michael Lynch & Anthony Madonna
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have questioned the familiar characterization of Congress as unidimensional. We argue that agenda control, orchestrated through the House Rules Committee and other techniques, can make multidimensional congresses appear more unidimensional. We evaluate this argument by examining the relationship between measures of unidimensionality and various measures of party control for the House of Representatives from 1875 to 1997, at both the roll-call level and congress level. Our findings contribute to an expanding literature explaining why a single dimension could explain most of the variance in voting data, even if latent ideology is multidimensional.

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Preliminary Support for a Generalized Arousal Model of Political Conservatism

Shona Tritt, Michael Inzlicht & Jordan Peterson
PLoS ONE, December 2013

Abstract:
It is widely held that negative emotions such as threat, anxiety, and disgust represent the core psychological factors that enhance conservative political beliefs. We put forward an alternative hypothesis: that conservatism is fundamentally motivated by arousal, and that, in this context, the effect of negative emotion is due to engaging intensely arousing states. Here we show that study participants agreed more with right but not left-wing political speeches after being exposed to positive as well as negative emotion-inducing film-clips. No such effect emerged for neutral-content videos. A follow-up study replicated and extended this effect. These results are consistent with the idea that emotional arousal, in general, and not negative valence, specifically, may underlie political conservatism.

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We the People: Intergroup Interdependence Breeds Liberalism

Jojanneke van der Toorn, Jaime Napier & John Dovidio
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whereas much social psychological research has focused on the conditions that lead to political conservatism, the current research suggests that instilling a sense of intergroup interdependence can increase political liberalism and, in turn, foster concern for universal welfare. Using both correlational (Study 1) and experimental (Study 2) methodologies, we find convergent support for the novel hypothesis that perceived interdependence between groups in society increases people’s support for human rights because it increases liberalism. In addition to establishing the hypothesized effect, we empirically distinguished the effect of intergroup interdependence from that of intragroup (or “interpersonal”) interdependence, which was related to conservatism. This research presents a novel demonstration of the effect of intergroup interdependence on political attitudes and fills a gap in the literature on the conditions that lead to liberalism.

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The Policy Consequences of Motivated Information Processing Among the Partisan Elite

Sarah Anderson & Laurel Harbridge
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
An analysis of U.S. budgetary changes shows that, among subaccounts that are cut, Democrats make more large cuts when they control more lawmaking institutions. This surprising finding is consistent with legislators who are subject to motivated reasoning. In an information-rich world, they disproportionately respond to information in line with their bias unless they must make a large accuracy correction. This article tests, for the first time, motivated information processing among legislators. It finds evidence that Democrats engage in motivated information processing and that the effects of it are felt more on social spending and in off-election years.

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Ideology, Deliberation and Persuasion within Small Groups: A Randomized Field Experiment on Fiscal Policy

Kevin Esterling, Archon Fung & Taeku Lee
Harvard Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
This paper evaluates the dynamics of small group persuasion within a large scale randomized deliberative experiment, in particular whether persuasion in this context is driven by the ideological composition of small groups, to which participants were randomly assigned. In these discussions focusing on U.S. fiscal policy, ideological persuasion occurs but does not tend to be polarizing, a result that is inconsistent with the "law'' of group polarization identified in small group research. In addition, the results demonstrate the presence of persuasion that is net of ideological considerations, a residual form of preference change that we label "deliberative persuasion.'' The direction and magnitude of deliberative persuasion are each associated with participants' perceptions of the informativeness of the discussion, but not with the civility or the enjoyableness of the discussion. In addition, informativeness is most closely associated with deliberative persuasion for liberals who come to agree with conservative policies, for conservatives who come to agree with liberal policies, and equally associated for both liberals and conservatives on items that are orthogonal to ideology. The results show that small group dynamics depend heavily on the context in which discussion occurs; that much of the small group experimental work pays little to no attention to this context; and that deliberative institutions are likely to ameliorate many of the pathologies that are often attributed to small group discussion.

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Political Attitudes Bias the Mental Representation of a Presidential Candidate’s Face

Alison Young, Kyle Ratner & Russell Fazio
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a technique known as reverse correlation image classification, we demonstrate that the physical face of Mitt Romney represented in people’s minds varies as a function of their attitudes toward Mitt Romney. This provides evidence that attitudes bias how we see something as concrete and well-learned as the face of a political candidate during an election. Practically, this implies that citizens may not merely interpret political information about a candidate to fit their opinion, but that they may construct a political world where they literally see candidates differently.

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The Politics of the Face-in-the-Crowd

Mark Mills et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent work indicates that the more conservative one is, the faster one is to fixate on negative stimuli, whereas the less conservative one is, the faster one is to fixate on positive stimuli. The present series of experiments used the face-in-the-crowd paradigm to examine whether variability in the efficiency with which positive and negative stimuli are detected underlies such speed differences. Participants searched for a discrepant facial expression (happy or angry) amid a varying number of neutral distractors (Experiments 1 and 4). A combination of response time and eye movement analyses indicated that variability in search efficiency explained speed differences for happy expressions, whereas variability in post-selectional processes explained speed differences for angry expressions. These results appear to be emotionally mediated as search performance did not vary with political temperament when displays were inverted (Experiment 2) or when controlled processing was required for successful task performance (Experiment 3). Taken together, the present results suggest political temperament is at least partially instantiated by attentional biases for emotional material.

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The influence of political ideology on trust in science

Aaron McCright et al.
Environmental Research Letters, November 2013

Abstract:
In recent years, some scholars, journalists, and science advocates have promoted broad claims that 'conservatives distrust science' or 'conservatives oppose science'. We argue that such claims may oversimplify in ways that lead to empirical inaccuracies. The Anti-Reflexivity Thesis suggests a more nuanced examination of how political ideology influences views about science. The Anti-Reflexivity Thesis hypothesizes that some sectors of society mobilize to defend the industrial capitalist order from the claims of environmentalists and some environmental scientists that the current economic system causes serious ecological and public health problems. The Anti-Reflexivity Thesis expects that conservatives will report significantly less trust in, and support for, science that identifies environmental and public health impacts of economic production (i.e., impact science) than liberals. It also expects that conservatives will report a similar or greater level of trust in, and support for, science that provides new inventions or innovations for economic production (i.e., production science) than liberals. Analyzing data from a recent survey experiment with 798 adults recruited from the US general public, our results confirm the expectations of the Anti-Reflexivity Thesis. Conservatives report less trust in impact scientists but greater trust in production scientists than their liberal counterparts. We argue that further work that increases the accuracy and depth of our understanding of the relationship between political ideology and views about science is likely crucial for addressing the politicized science-based issues of our age.

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Visual Political Knowledge: A Different Road to Competence?

Markus Prior
Journal of Politics, January 2014, Pages 41-57

Abstract:
Even though visual images and television are ubiquitous in politics, surveys rarely use visuals to assess what people know about politics. I measure visual political knowledge in a series of experiments that ask otherwise identical questions using either relevant visual elements or words only. These experiments were embedded in two representative surveys of U.S. residents conducted in 2003 and 2008. Adding a visual to an otherwise identical knowledge question causes, on average, a small but significant increase in correct answers. Treatment effects are larger for a subset of the population: women, older people, the less educated, and people with a visual cognitive style all perform disproportionately better on visual knowledge questions. Validation shows that visual knowledge is as indicative of civic competence as verbal knowledge. Hence, traditional verbal-only questions miss a significant amount of political knowledge. Several population segments previously deemed ill-informed in fact store some political information visually.

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Support for radical left ideologies in Europe

Mark Visser et al.
European Journal of Political Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines support for radical left ideologies in 32 European countries. It thus extends the relatively scant empirical research available in this field. The hypotheses tested are derived mainly from group-interest theory. Data are deployed from the 2002–2010 European Social Surveys (N = 174,868), supplemented by characteristics at the country level. The results show that, also in the new millennium, unemployed people and those with a lower income are more likely to support a radical left ideology. This is only partly explained by their stronger opinion that governments should take measures to reduce income differences. In contrast to expectations, the findings show that greater income inequality within a country is associated with reduced likelihood of an individual supporting a radical left ideology. Furthermore, cross-national differences in the likelihood of supporting the radical left are strongly associated with whether a country has a legacy of an authoritarian regime.

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Nativist but not alienated: A comparative perspective on the radical right vote in Western Europe

Kirill Zhirkov
Party Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present study I use large-scale survey data to compare radical right voting to other forms of electoral behavior in Western Europe. The chosen method, multilevel multinomial logistic regression, allows, first, distinguishing among voting for several party families as well as abstention and, second, controlling for differences between countries and survey rounds. I find that the radical right electorate is not characterized by social alienation or anti-modern values; these characteristics are more likely to be encountered among people who abstain from elections. Radical right voting is most strongly motivated by political attitudes, namely by negative perception of immigration, political mistrust, opposition to income redistribution, and – rather unexpectedly – political satisfaction. My analysis also shows that radical right parties in different West European countries attract voters with similar ideological orientations which remain relatively stable over time. In the conclusion I discuss the implications of my findings for comparative research on the radical right party family.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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