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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Knockout

Attunement to the fertility status of same-sex rivals: Women's testosterone responses to olfactory ovulation cues

Jon Maner & James McNulty
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evolutionary theories of mating suggest that changes in fertility across the menstrual cycle play an important role in sexual selection. In line with this framework, the current research examined whether olfactory cues to the fertility of a same-sex rival would prompt hormonal signs of intrasexual competition in women. Women exposed to the scent of another woman close to ovulation subsequently displayed higher levels of testosterone than women exposed to the scent of a woman far from ovulation. Whereas women exposed to the scent of a woman in the mid-luteal phase displayed sizable decreases in testosterone over time, no such decline was observed among women exposed to the scent of a woman near ovulation. Thus, olfactory cues signaling a rival's heightened level of fertility were associated with endocrinological responses in women that could be linked to intrasexual competition.

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Conspicuous Consumption, Relationships, and Rivals: Women’s Luxury Products as Signals to Other Women

Yajin Wang & Vladas Griskevicius
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research shows that luxury products can function to boost self-esteem, express identity, and signal status. We propose that luxury products also have important signaling functions in relationships. Whereas men use conspicuous luxury products to attract mates, women use such products to deter female rivals. Drawing on both evolutionary and cultural perspectives, five experiments investigated how women’s luxury products function as a signaling system directed at other women who pose threats to their romantic relationships. Findings showed that activating a motive to guard one’s mate triggered women to seek and display lavish possessions. Additional studies revealed that women use pricey possessions to signal that their romantic partner is especially devoted to them. In turn, flaunting designer handbags and shoes was effective at deterring other women from poaching a relationship partner. This research identifies a novel function of conspicuous consumption, revealing that luxury products and brands play important roles in relationships.

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The Dark Triad personality: Attractiveness to women

Gregory Louis Carter, Anne Campbell & Steven Muncer
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
It has been suggested that the Dark Triad (DT) personality constellation is an evolved facilitator of men’s short-term mating strategies. However, previous studies have relied on self-report data to consider the sexual success of DT men. To explore the attractiveness of the DT personality to the other sex, 128 women rated created (male) characters designed to capture high DT facets of personality or a control personality. Physicality was held constant. Women rated the high DT character as significantly more attractive. Moreover, this greater attractiveness was not explained by correlated perceptions of Big 5 traits. These findings are considered in light of mating strategies, the evolutionary ‘arms race’ and individual differences.

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Sex Differences in Succumbing to Sexual Temptations: A Function of Impulse or Control?

Natasha Tidwell & Paul Eastwick
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Men succumb to sexual temptations (e.g., infidelity, mate poaching) more than women. Explanations for this effect vary; some researchers propose that men and women differ in sexual impulse strength, whereas others posit a difference in sexual self-control. These studies are the first to test such underlying mechanisms. In Study 1, participants reported on their impulses and intentional control exertion when they encountered a real-life tempting but forbidden potential partner. Study 2 required participants to perform a reaction-time task in which they accepted/rejected potential partners, and we used process dissociation to separate the effects of impulse and control. In both studies, men succumbed to the sexual temptations more than women, and this sex difference emerged because men experienced stronger impulses, not because they exerted less intentional control. Implications for the integration of evolutionary and self-regulatory perspectives on sex differences are discussed.

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Illness in childhood predicts face preferences in adulthood

Mícheál de Barra et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The value of different mate choices may depend on the local pathogen ecology and on personal infection susceptibility: when there is a high risk of infection, choosing a healthy or immunocompetent mate may be particularly important. Frequency of childhood illness may act as a cue of the ecological and immunological factors relevant to mate preferences. Consistent with this proposal, we found that childhood illness – and frequency of diarrhea in particular – was positively correlated with preferences for exaggerated sex-typical characteristics in opposite-sex, but not same-sex, faces. Moreover, this relationship was stronger among individuals with poorer current health. These data suggest that childhood illness may play a role in calibrating adult mate preferences and have implications for theories of disease-avoidance psychology, life-history strategy and cross-cultural differences in mate preferences.

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Women’s Luteal-Phase Sexual Proceptivity and the Functions of Extended Sexuality

Nicholas Grebe et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Women’s sexuality, unlike that of most mammals, is not solely defined by sexual receptivity during the short window of fertility. Women demonstrate extended sexuality (in which they initiate and accept sexual advances outside of the fertile phase) more than any other mammalian female. In this light, surprisingly little research has addressed the functions of women’s luteal-phase sexuality. On the basis of theory and comparative evidence, we propose that women’s initiation of sex during nonfertile phases evolved in part to garner investment from male partners. If so, women should be particularly prone to initiate luteal-phase sex when the potential marginal gains are greatest. Results from a study of 50 heterosexual couples showed that women increasingly initiate sex in the luteal phase (but not the fertile phase) when they perceive their partners’ investment to lag behind their own. These findings provide evidence for the distinct nature of women’s extended sexuality and may contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of women’s sexuality.

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Sexual Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Female Undergraduate Students in Wuhan, China: The Only-Child versus Students with Siblings

Shiyue Li et al.
PLoS ONE, September 2013

Objectives: This study explored sexual knowledge, attitudes and practices of female only-child undergraduates and made a comparison with students with siblings.

Methods: Anonymously completed questionnaires were received from 4,769 female undergraduates, recruited using randomized cluster sampling by type of university and students' major and grade. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the effects of only-child on sexual knowledge, attitudes and practices among female undergraduates.

Results: Of 4,769 female undergraduate students, 41.0% were only-child and 59.0% were students with siblings. Compared with students with siblings, only-child students scored higher on sex-related knowledge, were more inclined to agree with premarital sex, multiple sex partners, one-night stands, extramarital lovers and homosexuality, and were more likely to have a boyfriend and experience sexual intercourse (73.6% vs. 61.4%; 24.0% vs. 14.0%). Only-children were less likely to experience coercion at first sex and have first sexual intercourse with men not their “boyfriends” than children with siblings (3.3% vs. 6.4%; 20.7% vs. 28.8%). There were no significant differences on other risky sexual behaviors (e.g. multiple sex partners and inconsistent condom use) between the only-child students and students with siblings.

Conclusions: Sexual knowledge, attitudes and some practices of only-child female undergraduates were different from students with siblings. Intervention should be designed according to different requirements of only-children and non-only-children.

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A Foxy View of Human Beauty: Implications of the Farm Fox Experiment for Understanding the Origins of Structural and Experiential Aspects of Facial Attractiveness

I.E. Elia
Quarterly Review of Biology, September 2013, Pages 163-183

Abstract:
Within 20 years, experimental selection of quantified “not too aggressive, not too fearful” behavior to human approach was shown in silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes) to produce a neotenic package of traits in adults: ability to seek, induce, and sustain contact (called friendly or rapport behavior); relatively short limbs and foreshortened skull/face; and light pigmentation areas. Earlier sexual maturation, prolonged receptivity, and larger litters were also noted. The increased estradiol supporting these changes was apparently also responsible for faster skeletal maturation, including earlier fusion of the basicranium causing tooth crowding, but also paedomorphic craniofacial proportions that we find attractive in our own and other species. In this paper, these important findings of the farm fox experiment are juxtaposed with insights from social psychology, physical anthropology, and neuroscience about facial beauty and reaction to it. Since many unrelated species show some or all of the neotenic package or domestication profile when they have achieved rapport past the juvenile stage, craniofacial proportions considered attractive are discussed as genetically and hormonally linked to the evolution of rapport — social contact, trust, and cooperation — whether by natural, intuitive, intentional, or mixed paths of selection.

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Changes in the sexual dimorphism of the human mandible during the last 1200 years in Central Europe

Šárka Bejdová et al.
HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to many investigations, changes in mandibular morphology can occur synchronously with changes in the environment, and sexual dimorphism of the mandible can be influenced by the environment. Sexual dimorphism during the last 1200 years was evaluated using geometric morphometric analysis of virtual cranial models. The method of geometric morphometrics allows differences in size and shape to be assessed separately. We analyzed groups of adult individuals dating to Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, Early Modern Ages and from a modern Czech population (21st century). Significant sexual dimorphism in mandibular size was found in all populations. A trend in the sexual dimorphism of size was seen, with differences between the sexes increasing gradually over time. Size changes in female mandibles were a better reflection of environmental conditions and climate than size changes in male mandibles. Regarding changes in the sexual dimorphism of shape, significant dimorphism was found in all four samples. However, the pattern of mandibular shape dimorphism was different and varied considerably between samples. There was only one stable shape trait showing sexual dimorphism across all four samples in our study: the gonion lies more laterally in male than in female mandibles and male mandibles are relatively wider than female mandibles. Sexual dimorphism of shape is not influenced by the climate; instead sexual selection might play a role. This research supports earlier studies that have found that the degree and pattern of sexual dimorphism is population-specific and the factors regulating sexual dimorphism today may not be the same as those in the past.

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Mozart or metallica, who makes you more attractive? A mediated moderation test of music, gender, personality, and attractiveness in cyberspace

Qinghua Yang & Cong Li
Computers in Human Behavior, November 2013, Pages 2796–2804

Abstract:
Computer-mediated communication environments such as personal websites enable users to use multimedia to construct their self-identities. How these multimedia elements in the cyberspace such as audios influence interpersonal impressions is somewhat unclear in the literature. Based on Brunswik’s lens model, this research aims to examine the impact of audio information on impression formation by testing: (a) how the background music of a personal website affects perceived attractiveness of the website owner and how gender moderates this effect, and (b) whether such an effect is mediated by perceived personality. A 2 × 2 full factorial experiment was conducted where participants (N = 122) were randomly assigned to view a cross-gender personal website with either classical or heavy metal background music. The experimental findings suggested a significant mediated moderation effect: gender moderated the relationship between music type and perceived attractiveness of the website owner such that male participants perceived the female website owner with classical background music as more attractive while female participants considered the male website owner with heavy metal background music to be more attractive, and this moderation was mediated by the website owner’s perceived agreeableness.

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Environmental Influences on Mate Preferences as Assessed by a Scenario Manipulation Experiment

Daniele Marzoli et al.
PLoS ONE, September 2013

Abstract:
Many evolutionary psychology studies have addressed the topic of mate preferences, focusing particularly on gender and cultural differences. However, the extent to which situational and environmental variables might affect mate preferences has been comparatively neglected. We tested 288 participants in order to investigate the perceived relative importance of six traits of an ideal partner (wealth, dominance, intelligence, height, kindness, attractiveness) under four different hypothetical scenarios (status quo/nowadays, violence/post-nuclear, poverty/resource exhaustion, prosperity/global well-being). An equal number of participants (36 women, 36 men) was allotted to each scenario; each was asked to allocate 120 points across the six traits according to their perceived value. Overall, intelligence was the trait to which participants assigned most importance, followed by kindness and attractiveness, and then by wealth, dominance and height. Men appraised attractiveness as more valuable than women. Scenario strongly influenced the relative importance attributed to traits, the main finding being that wealth and dominance were more valued in the poverty and post-nuclear scenarios, respectively, compared to the other scenarios. Scenario manipulation generally had similar effects in both sexes, but women appeared particularly prone to trade off other traits for dominance in the violence scenario, and men particularly prone to trade off other traits for wealth in the poverty scenario. Our results are in line with other correlational studies of situational variables and mate preferences, and represent strong evidence of a causal relationship of environmental factors on specific mate preferences, corroborating the notion of an evolved plasticity to current ecological conditions. A control experiment seems to suggest that our scenarios can be considered as realistic descriptions of the intended ecological conditions.

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Dating Relationships in Older Adulthood: A National Portrait

Susan Brown & Sayaka Shinohara
Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2013, Pages 1194–1202

Abstract:
Dating in later life is likely common, especially as the proportion of older adults who are single continues to rise. Yet there are no recent national estimates of either the prevalence or factors associated with dating during older adulthood. Using data from the 2005–2006 National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationally representative sample of 3,005 individuals ages 57–85, the authors constructed a national portrait of older adult daters. Roughly 14% of singles were in a dating relationship. Dating was more common among men than women and declined with age. Compared to non-daters, daters were more socially advantaged. Daters were more likely to be college educated and had more assets, were in better health, and reported more social connectedness. This study underscores the importance of new research on partnering in later life, particularly with the aging of the U.S. population and the swelling ranks of older singles.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rounding up votes

The “Daily Grind”: Work, Commuting, and Their Impact on Political Participation

Benjamin Newman, Joshua Johnson & Patrick Lown
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research demonstrates that free time is an important resource for political participation. We investigate whether two central drains on citizens’ daily time — working and commuting — impact their level of political participation. The prevailing “resources” model offers a quantity-focused view where additional time spent working or commuting reduces free time and should each separately decrease participation. We contrast this view to a “commuter’s strain” hypothesis, which emphasizes time spent in transit as a psychologically onerous burden over and above the workday. Using national survey data, we find that time spent working has no effect on participation, while commuting significantly decreases participation. We incorporate this finding into a comprehensive model of the “daily grind,” which factors in both socioeconomic status and political interest. Our analysis demonstrates that commuting leads to the greatest loss in political interest for low-income Americans, and that this loss serves as a main mechanism through which commuting erodes political participation.

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Election Laws, Mobilization, and Turnout: The Unanticipated Consequences of Election Reform

Barry Burden et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
State governments have experimented with a variety of election laws to make voting more convenient and increase turnout. The impacts of these reforms vary in surprising ways, providing insight into the mechanisms by which states can encourage or reduce turnout. Our theory focuses on mobilization and distinguishes between the direct and indirect effects of election laws. We conduct both aggregate and individual-level statistical analyses of voter turnout in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. The results show that Election Day registration has a consistently positive effect on turnout, whereas the most popular reform — early voting — is actually associated with lower turnout when it is implemented by itself. We propose that early voting has created negative unanticipated consequences by reducing the civic significance of elections for individuals and altering the incentives for political campaigns to invest in mobilization.

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Unresponsive and Unpersuaded: The Unintended Consequences of Voter Persuasion Efforts

Michael Bailey, Daniel Hopkins & Todd Rogers
Georgetown University Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Can randomized experiments at the individual level help assess the persuasive effects of campaign tactics? In the contemporary U.S., vote choice is not observable, so one promising research design involves randomizing appeals and then using a survey to measure vote intentions. Here, we analyze one such field experiment conducted during the 2008 presidential election in which 56,000 registered voters were assigned to persuasion in person, by phone, and/or by mail. Persuasive appeals by canvassers had two unintended consequences. First, they reduced responsiveness to the follow-up survey, lowering the response rate sharply among infrequent voters. Second, various statistical methods to address the resulting biases converge on a counter-intuitive conclusion: the persuasive canvassing reduced candidate support. Our results allow us to rule out even small effects in the intended direction and thus illustrate the backlash that attempts at inter-personal persuasion can engender.

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Unintentional Gerrymandering: Political Geography and Electoral Bias in Legislatures

Jowei Chen & Jonathan Rodden
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Summer 2013, Pages 239-269

Abstract:
While conventional wisdom holds that partisan bias in U.S. legislative elections results from intentional partisan and racial gerrymandering, we demonstrate that substantial bias can also emerge from patterns of human geography. We show that in many states, Democrats are inefficiently concentrated in large cities and smaller industrial agglomerations such that they can expect to win fewer than 50% of the seats when they win 50% of the votes. To measure this "unintentional gerrymandering," we use automated districting simulations based on precinct-level 2000 presidential election results in several states. Our results illustrate a strong relationship between the geographic concentration of Democratic voters and electoral bias favoring Republicans.

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Identifying Election Fraud Using Orphan and Low Propensity Voters

Ray Christensen & Thomas Schultz
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although voter ID laws have become a hot topic of political debate, existing scholarship has failed to produce conclusive evidence concerning the existence or frequency of electoral fraud, especially the type of fraud that would be prevented by photo identification laws and signature verification protocols for voting by mail. We propose a new method of measuring election fraud, especially identity fraud, that is superior to previous measurement efforts because it measures actual instances of fraud rather than waiting for conclusive proof of fraud produced in a criminal prosecution. We test our method in multiple jurisdictions, including two known cases of electoral fraud, and we find no additional cases of fraud. We speculate that public access to voting and registration records play an important role in preventing this type of election fraud, suggesting that these practices are perhaps more important than voter ID laws in preventing election fraud.

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The effects of earmarks on the likelihood of reelection

Thomas Stratmann
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many models predict that incumbent legislators use government spending — “pork barrel” spending — to increase their vote shares in elections. To date, however, evidence for this hypothesis is scarce. Using recently available data on the sponsorship of earmarks in U.S. appropriations legislation, this paper tests the effects of earmarks on the likelihood of legislators’ reelection. The results show that secured earmarks lead to higher vote shares. The analysis demonstrates that a 10 million increase in earmarks leads to as much as a one percentage point increase in vote share on election day. Furthermore, the paper tests for voter responses to earmarks when earmarks have few or many sponsors.

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The Effect of Political Competition on Democratic Accountability

Philip Edward Jones
Political Behavior, September 2013, Pages 481-515

Abstract:
Representing uncompetitive, homogeneous constituencies is increasingly the norm for American legislators. Extensive research has investigated how competition affects the way representatives respond to their constituents’ policy preferences. This paper explores competition’s effect on the other side of representation, how constituents respond to their legislators’ policy record. Combining multiple measures of state competitiveness with large-N survey data, I demonstrate that competition enhances democratic accountability. Voters in competitive states are more interested in politics, more aware of the policy positions their U.S. senators have taken, and more likely to hold them accountable for those positions at election time. Robustness checks show that these effects are not due to the intensity of campaigning in a state: general competition, not particular campaign activities, drives citizens’ response. The recent increase in uncompetitive constituencies has likely lessened the degree to which legislators are held accountable for their actions in office.

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Celebrities and GOTV: An Experiment to Motivate Voting Among College Students

Kaye Usry & Michael Cobb
University of Illinois Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
An increasing number of celebrities have become involved in organized efforts to encourage young people to vote. In this paper, we examine whether celebrities are effective at these get out the vote (GOTV) efforts. In an experiment embedded in a survey conducted right before the 2012 presidential election, we exposed college students to a mock news story encouraging them to vote. We varied whether this information came from a celebrity possessing high or low levels of credibility, a former student body president, or an anonymous generic source. To estimate differences in voting intentions and validated turnout, we also included a control group that was never encouraged to vote. Overall, we find minimal evidence that celebrities are effective at mobilizing young voters. Democrats’ actual turnout was higher when they received an anonymously sourced GOTV appeal, but not when the same message was sourced to a celebrity. In addition, political independents expressed a greater intention to vote in a celebrity treatment condition, but this effect was not replicated with validated turnout data. In fact, Republicans and Independents were actually less likely to have voted when exposed to a GOTV message, and in the case of Independents when it was sourced to a celebrity.

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Substituting the End for the Whole: Why Voters Respond Primarily to the Election-Year Economy

Andrew Healy & Gabriel Lenz
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to numerous studies, the election-year economy influences presidential election results far more than cumulative growth throughout the term. Here we describe a series of surveys and experiments that point to an intriguing explanation for this pattern that runs contrary to standard political science explanations, but one that accords with a large psychological literature. Voters, we find, actually intend to judge presidents on cumulative growth. However, since that characteristic is not readily available to them, voters inadvertently substitute election-year performance because it is more easily accessible. This “end-heuristic” explanation for voters’ election-year emphasis reflects a general tendency for people to simplify retrospective assessments by substituting conditions at the end for the whole. The end-heuristic explanation also suggests a remedy, a way to align voters’ actions with their intentions. Providing people with the attribute they are seeking — cumulative growth — eliminates the election-year emphasis.

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The Effects of Campaign Finance Spending Bans on Electoral Outcomes: Evidence From the States about the Potential Impact of Citizens United v. FEC

Raymond La Raja & Brian Schaffner
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper seeks to understand the effect of campaign finance laws on electoral outcomes. Spurred by the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), which eliminated bans on corporate and union political spending, the study focuses on whether such bans generate electoral outcomes that are notably different from an electoral system that lacks such bans. We look to two key electoral dynamics that such bans might influence: the partisan balance of power and the success of incumbents. Using historical data on regulations in 49 American states between 1968 and 2009 we test alternative models for evaluating the impact of corporate spending bans put in place during this period. The results indicate that spending bans appear to have limited effects on election outcomes.

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Optimal Primaries

Patrick Hummel & Richard Holden
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We analyze a model of US presidential primary elections for a given party. There are two candidates, one of whom is a higher quality candidate. Voters reside in m different states and receive noisy private information about the identity of the superior candidate. States vote in some order, and this order is chosen by a social planner. We provide conditions under which the ordering of the states that maximizes the probability that the higher quality candidate is elected is for states to vote in order from smallest to largest populations and most accurate private information to least accurate private information.

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Tweeting democracy? Examining Twitter as an online public relations strategy for congressional campaigns

Heather LaMarre & Yoshikazu Suzuki-Lambrecht
Public Relations Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Considering the integral relationship between public relations and democracy (Martinelli, 2011) coupled with the growing use of social media for democratic aims (Smith, 2011) the current study examines the effectiveness of Twitter as a public relations communications tool for congressional campaigns. Specifically, as a means of testing Twitter's effectiveness in informing and engaging voters, congressional candidate and political party Twitter use for all 435 U.S. House of Representatives races (N = 1284) are compared with 2010 election outcomes. Results indicate that candidates’ Twitter use significantly increased their odds of winning, controlling for incumbency and Party ID. Additionally, significant differences between incumbents’ and challengers’ Twitter use during the election cycle emerged, which has important implications for public relations practices aimed at achieving democratic outcomes.

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More Tweets, More Votes: Social Media as a Quantitative Indicator of Political Behavior

Joseph DiGrazia et al.
Indiana University Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract:
Is social media a valid indicator of political behavior? We answer this question using a random sample of 537,231,508 tweets from August 1 to November 1, 2010 and data from 406 competitive U.S. congressional elections provided by the Federal Election Commission. Our results show that the percentage of Republican-candidate name mentions correlates with the Republican vote margin in the subsequent election. This finding persists even when controlling for incumbency, district partisanship, media coverage of the race, time, and demographic variables such as the district’s racial and gender composition. With over 500 million active users in 2012, Twitter now represents a new frontier for the study of human behavior. This research provides a framework for incorporating this emerging medium into the computational social science toolkit.

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Life-Cycle Effects on Social Pressure to Vote

Costas Panagopoulos & Marisa Abrajano
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent scholarship reveals social pressure can compel citizens to conform to social norms like voting in elections. In this study, we investigate heterogeneity in the impact of social pressure to vote. We find that age, a key demographic characteristic, moderates the impact of social pressure. Using evidence from a large-scale randomized field experiment conducted in August 2006, we show that older voters are significantly more responsive to social pressure compared to younger voters. Given the emerging consensus that social pressure can be marshaled effectively to stimulate voting in elections, such investigations yield critical insights of both practical and theoretical significance.

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Can the Stress of Voting Be Reduced? A Test within the Context of the 2012 US Presidential Election

Jayme Neiman et al.
University of Nebraska Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
One out of three voters in the 2012 U.S. elections voted at home rather than at traditional polling places yet little is known about the physiological and psychological consequences of distinct voting modalities. One potential difference is the amount of stress involved and, in order to determine the level of stress associated with different voting procedures, we conducted a novel field experiment within the context of the 2012 election. Participants were randomly assigned either to vote at the polls, to vote at home, or (as a control) to go to a convenience store. Stress levels were then measured via survey self-report and also via levels of cortisol, a glucocorticoid known to be relevant to stress. The results indicate a significant elevation in cortisol when voting took place at traditional polling places and therefore have implications for reformers pondering the value of expanding opportunities for at-home voting.

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Presidential Campaigns and the Fundamentals Reconsidered

Peter Enns & Brian Richman
Journal of Politics, July 2013, Pages 803-820

Abstract:
The contrast between the predictability of presidential elections and the variability of early polls has come to be viewed as evidence that campaigns provide crucial information to voters. We argue that unmotivated survey respondents offering minimally acceptable answers (i.e., satisficing) offers an additional explanation for the classic conundrum of why the polls vary when the election outcome is predictable. The analysis relies on data from the National Annenberg Election Survey, a natural experiment that results from California’s election laws, and the 2000 ANES survey mode experiment. The results support the claim that respondents’ motivation to engage the survey question, not the information provided by the campaign, is the most important determinant of whether vote intentions reflect the “correctly” weighted fundamentals. We conclude by discussing the implications of this finding for both survey-based and experimental studies of campaign effects.

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A Natural Experiment in Proposal Power and Electoral Success

Peter John Loewen et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does lawmaker behavior influence electoral outcomes? Observational studies cannot elucidate the effect of legislative proposals on electoral outcomes, since effects are confounded by unobserved differences in legislative and political skill. We take advantage of a unique natural experiment in the Canadian House of Commons that allows us to estimate how proposing legislation affects election outcomes. The right of noncabinet members to propose legislation is assigned by lottery. Comparing outcomes between those who were granted the right to propose and those who were not, we show that incumbents of the governing party enjoy a 2.7 percentage point bonus in vote total in the election following their winning the right to introduce a single piece of legislation, which translates to a 7% increase in the probability of winning. The causal effect results from higher likeability among constituents. These results demonstrate experimentally that what politicians do as lawmakers has a causal effect on electoral outcomes.

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Vote Self-Prediction Hardly Predicts Who Will Vote, And Is (Misleadingly) Unbiased

Todd Rogers & Masa Aida
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Public opinion researchers, campaigns, and political scientists often rely on self-predicted vote to forecast turnout, allocate resources, and measure political engagement. Despite its importance, little research has examined the accuracy of self-predicted vote responses. Seven pre-election surveys with postelection vote validation from three elections (N = 29,403) reveal several patterns. First, many self-predicted voters do not actually vote (flake-out). Second, many self-predicted nonvoters do actually vote (flake-in). This is the first robust observation of flake-in. Third, actual voting is more accurately predicted by past voting (from voter file or recalled) than by self-predicted voting. Finally, self-predicted voters differ from actual voters demographically. Actual voters are more likely to be White (and not Black), older, and partisan than actual nonvoters (i.e., there is participatory bias), but self-predicted voters and self-predicted nonvoters do not differ much. Vote self-prediction is “biased” in that it misleadingly suggests that there is no participatory bias.

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Who benefits from Twitter? Social media and political competition in the U.S. House of Representatives

Sounman Hong
Government Information Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many researchers have assumed that social media will reduce inequalities between elite politicians and those outside the political mainstream and that it will thus benefit democracy, as it circumvents the traditional media that focus too much on a few elite politicians. I test this assumption by investigating the association between U.S. Representatives using Twitter and their fundraising. Evidence suggests that (1) politicians' adoptions of social media have yielded increased donations from outside their constituencies but little from within their own constituencies; (2) politicians with extreme ideologies tend to benefit more from their social media adoptions; and (3) the political use of social media may yield a more unequal distribution of financial resources among candidates. Finally, I discuss the implications of these findings for political equality, polarization, and democracy.

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Party cohesion in presidential races: Applying social network theory to the preprimary multiple donor networks of 2004 and 2008

Song Yang et al.
Party Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars have long been examining the presidential nomination process in the United States. In addition to studies considering the selection mechanism itself, there has been a movement towards analysing the contest even before voting begins. Campaign finance allows for a reliable and valid means to examine the year prior to the nomination with data that are not just vast in quantity but also consistent across time. Donors who gave to multiple campaigns represent a particularly important subset of elite participants in elections whose behaviour shed light on phenomena of parties functioning as a network. We find only rare instances of multiple donors giving across party and that Democratic contributors function as a far more cohesive unit. Also, without any supervising entity, the candidate that amasses the most shared donors goes on to win the nomination in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections.

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Does Election Day Weather Affect Voter Turnout? Evidence from Swedish Elections

Mikael Persson, Anders Sundell & Richard Öhrvall
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does rainfall during the Election Day reduce voter turnout? Previous research shows that in the US one inch of rain reduces turnout with about one percentage point. We turn to the Swedish context in order to test whether rainfall on Election Day have the same impact in a high turnout context. We move beyond previous research by testing the impact of GIS-interpolated rainfall on three different datasets that allows us to view the issue both from a wide time frame as well as with high precision as for turnout measures: (a) aggregate turnout data for Sweden’s 290 municipalities, (b) individual level data from the Swedish National Election Study and (c) data from a register-based survey on voter turnout. In none of the three datasets do we find robust negative effects of rain.

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Mobilization Effects Using Mail: Social Pressure, Descriptive Norms, and Timing

Gregg Murray & Richard Matland
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use field experiments in Texas and Wisconsin to address voter mobilization and turnout by evaluating nonpartisan get-out-the-vote (GOTV) messages delivered via mail during 2010 gubernatorial campaigns. We manipulate three factors in the messages: social pressure, descriptive- and injunctive-voting norm consistency, and message timing. The results present an initial field-based confirmation that norm-consistent messages increase turnout; demonstrate significant message timing effects, which are mediated by state election rules; and indicate social pressure’s effectiveness varies significantly more than previously found. These diverse findings suggest researchers place a greater emphasis on context when evaluating experiments and the effects of mobilization messages.

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Effectiveness of Politicians' Soft Campaign on Twitter Versus TV: Cognitive and Experiential Routes

Eun-Ju Lee
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
An experiment (N = 183) investigated (a) if individuals respond differently to politicians' Twitter messages and their TV interview, and if so, (b) what cognitive and experiential processes account for such differences. Participants viewed either a segment of a TV talk show, wherein a female politician conversed with the hosts about her personal life and political philosophy, or her Twitter page containing identical messages. Exposure to her TV interview (vs. Twitter page) heightened social presence, inducing stronger parasocial interaction (PSI) and more favorable candidate evaluations among those lower in need for cognition (NFC), but the opposite was true for high NFCs. The candidate's TV interview prompted less source-related thoughts, but more counterarguing among those holding unfavorable attitudes, thereby lowering PSI.

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US Voter Registration Reform

Thad Hall
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Voter registration in the United States changed after the 2000 election with a requirement that states adopt statewide voter registries. However, these registries vary in design in practice, with some states having state managed “top-down” registries and other states having more decentralized “bottom-up” registries. I compare the effect of moving to a top-down registry with the adoption of election day registration – where voters can register to vote the day of the election – on voters saying that they are not registered because of election management problems or not voting because of a voter registration issue. EDR had a pronounced effect on reducing voter registration problems but the adoption of new voter registries had minimal effect on the same problems.

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The Influence of Initiative Signature-Gathering Campaigns on Political Participation

Frederick Boehmke & Michael Alvarez
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: This article studies the effect of initiative signature-gathering campaigns on political participation within a state.

Methods: Using data on signatures gathered for eight initiatives and four different elections, we conduct grouped logit regression to test whether counties that are subject to more intense signature-gathering campaigns, measured by the number of signatures gathered per capita, experience greater levels of turnout and ballot roll-off in the subsequent election.

Results: Our analysis provides evidence that the intensity of signature-gathering campaigns has a moderate effect on both of these measures of political participation.

Conclusion: Initiative campaigns influence turnout not just at the state level, but variation in campaigns leads to differences within states as well.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baby monitor

Personality and occupational markers of ‘solid citizenship’ are associated with having fewer children

Adam Perkins et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2013, Pages 871–876

Abstract:
Investigating associations between personality and reproductive fitness may reveal the adaptive significance of human behavioural traits. What we dub ‘solid-citizenship’ personality characteristics such as self-control, diligence and responsibility may repay study from an evolutionary perspective as they protect against negative life-outcomes. We explored associations between reproductive fitness and personality questionnaire markers of solid citizenship in 4981 women from four Australian samples. We also examined relations between reproductive fitness and army discharge status, an applied measure of solid citizenship, in 15,283 Vietnam War-era military veterans. In two Australian samples there were significant negative associations between reproductive fitness and personality measures of solid citizenship. Similarly, in the US study honourably discharged servicemen on average fathered significantly fewer children than non-honourably discharged servicemen. Since personality is genetically influenced, our results suggest that genetic variants for solid citizenship may be decreasing in frequency in some populations, in line with other modern findings but in contrast to historical analyses. Causes for this change may include relatively more conscientious women using contraception to prioritise their careers over reproduction and the availability of systematic welfare provisioning.

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New Evidence on Taxes and the Timing of Birth

Sara LaLumia, James Sallee & Nicholas Turner
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
This paper uses data from the universe of tax returns filed between 2001 and 2010 to test whether parents shift the timing of childbirth around the New Year to gain tax benefits. Filers have an incentive to shift births from early January into late December, through induction or cesarean delivery, because child-related tax benefits are not prorated. We find evidence of a positive, but very small, effect of tax incentives on birth timing. An additional $1000 of tax benefits increases the probability of a late-December birth by only about 1 percentage point. We argue that the response to tax incentives is small in part because of confusion about eligibility and delays in the issuance of Social Security Numbers for newborns, as well as a lack of control over medical procedures on the part of filers with the highest tax values. We also document a precise shifting of reported self-employment income in response to variation in incentives from the Earned Income Tax Credit due to childbirth. We estimate that this reporting response reduces federal revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

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The Changing Relationship Between Fertility Expectations and Educational Expectations: Adolescents in the 1970s Versus the 1980s

Freda Lynn, Barbara Schneider & Zhenmei Zhang
Journal of Family Issues, September 2013, Pages 1147-1174

Abstract:
This article examines the relationship between young women’s fertility expectations and educational expectations in late adolescence and at the outset of adulthood. Given progressive macro-level changes in the United States beginning in the 1960s, we compare the expectation patterns of youth from two cohorts using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys. We find that the relationship between education and fertility expectations is statistically negligible for those born in the height of the baby boom (1950s) and yet statistically positive for those born at the tail end of the baby boom (1960s). The crux of the change, however, is not driven by an increase in those who pair high educational expectations with normative or above-norm fertility expectations but rather an increase in young women who pair modest educational ambitions with low fertility expectations.

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Racial and Ethnic Differences in U.S. Women's Choice Of Reversible Contraceptives, 1995–2010

Josephine Jacobs & Maria Stanfors
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, September 2013, Pages 139–147

Context: In the United States, unintended pregnancies disproportionately affect minority populations. Persistent disparities in contraceptive use between black and Hispanic women and white women have been identified, but it is unclear whether racial and ethnic differences in use of the most effective methods have changed.

Methods: Data on 4,727 women from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth and 5,775 women from the 2006–2010 cycle were used to examine the association between race and ethnicity and women's choice of reversible contraceptives according to level of method effectiveness. Stepwise multinomial logistic regressions were used to identify changes in this association between cycles. Analyses controlled for demographic, socioeconomic, family, religious, behavioral and geographic characteristics.

Results: The proportion of women using the most effective reversible contraceptive methods increased from 46% in 1995 to 53% in 2006–2010. In 1995, black and Hispanic women's use of the most effective reversible contraceptives did not differ from that of white women. By 2006–2010, however, black women were substantially less likely than white women to use highly effective reversible contraceptive methods rather than no method (relative risk ratio, 0.6). An analysis that combined the two data sets and included a term for the interaction between survey year and race and ethnicity found that relative to white women, black women were less likely in 2006–2010 than in 1995 to use more effective methods rather than no method (0.6).

Conclusions: Further research is needed to identify factors that may be causing racial and ethnic disparities in contraceptive decisions to widen.

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The influence of posttraumatic stress on unprotected sex among sexually active adolescent girls and boys involved in the child welfare system of the United States

Courtenay Cavanaugh
Journal of Adolescence, October 2013, Pages 835–837

Abstract:
While posttraumatic stress (PTS) has been positively associated with risky sexual behavior (RSB) among adult women, there is a paucity of research examining PTS in relation to RSB among adolescent girls and boys. This study aimed to replicate findings among adult women with sexually active adolescents (179 females and 106 males) involved in a national study of children in the United States child welfare system. After controlling for age and the complex study design, sexually active adolescent girls with clinically significant PTS symptoms were more than seven times more likely than those without such symptoms to report unprotected intercourse. In contrast, sexually active adolescent boys with clinically significant PTS symptoms were less likely than those without such symptoms to report unprotected intercourse. Research is needed to 1) understand the mechanisms linking PTS and RSB, 2) further explore gender differences reported here, and 3) inform RSB interventions in this high-risk population.

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Potential unintended pregnancies averted and cost savings associated with a revised Medicaid sterilization policy

Sonya Borrero et al.
Contraception, forthcoming

Objective: Medicaid sterilization policy, which includes a mandatory 30-day waiting period between consent and the sterilization procedure, poses significant logistical barriers for many women who desire publicly funded sterilization. Our goal was to estimate the number of unintended pregnancies and the associated costs resulting from unfulfilled sterilization requests due to Medicaid policy barriers.

Study Design: We constructed a cost-effectiveness model from the health care payer perspective to determine the incremental cost over a 1-year time horizon of the current Medicaid sterilization policy compared to a hypothetical, revised policy in which women who desire a postpartum sterilization would face significantly reduced barriers. Probability estimates for potential outcomes in the model were based on published sources; costs of Medicaid-funded sterilizations and Medicaid-covered births were based on data from the Medicaid Statistical Information System and The Guttmacher Institute, respectively.

Results: With the implementation of a revised Medicaid sterilization policy, we estimated that the number of fulfilled sterilization requests would increase by 45%, from 53.3% of all women having their sterilization requests fulfilled to 77.5%. Annually, this increase could potentially lead to over 29,000 unintended pregnancies averted and $215 million saved.

Conclusion: A revised Medicaid sterilization policy could potentially honor women’s reproductive decisions, reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and save a significant amount of public funds.

Implication: Compared to the current federal Medicaid sterilization policy, a hypothetical, revised policy that reduces logistical barriers for women who desire publicly funded, postpartum sterilization could potentially avert over 29,000 unintended pregnancies annually and therefore lead to cost savings of $215 million each year.

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Identifying the Intergenerational Effects of the 1959–1961 Chinese Great Leap Forward Famine on Infant Mortality

Shige Song
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using the 1959-1961 Chinese Great Leap Forward Famine as a natural experiment, this study examines the relationship between mothers’ prenatal exposure to acute malnutrition and their children's infant mortality risk. According to the results, the effect of mothers’ prenatal famine exposure status on children's infant mortality risk depends on the level of famine severity. In regions of low famine severity, mothers’ prenatal famine exposure significantly reduces children's infant mortality, whereas in regions of high famine severity, such prenatal exposure increases children's infant mortality although the effect is not statistically significant. Such a curvilinear relationship between mothers’ prenatal malnutrition status and their children's infant mortality risk is more complicated than the linear relationship predicted by the original fetal origins hypothesis but is consistent with the more recent developmental origins of health and disease theory.

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Revisiting Consanguineous Marriage in the Greater Middle East: Milk, Blood, and Bedouins

Benjamin Reilly
American Anthropologist, September 2013, Pages 374–387

Abstract:
Although exogamy is the worldwide marriage norm, many Middle Eastern populations regularly practice consanguineous marriage. Scholars have posited a number of explanations for this phenomenon, but these theories have not identified a concrete advantage to these marriages sufficient to counterbalance the inbreeding depression and other genetic risks inherent to kin marriages. Drawing on genetic studies and mathematical models, as well as both historical and ethnographic sources, I argue in this article that the Arabian Peninsula's camel Bedouin's dependency on the lactose tolerance allele exerted a selective pressure on marriage strategies that strongly favored consanguineous marriage. For milk-dependent camel Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula, the advantages of consanguineous marriage did indeed outweigh its risks. In addition, I posit that another common Arabian Peninsula marriage practice, the strong prohibition of marriages between higher-status and lower-status groups, was favored by the same environmental and genetic factors that favored consanguineous marriage.

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Consanguinity and Other Marriage Market Effects of a Wealth Shock in Bangladesh

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Randall Kuhn & Christina Peters
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses a wealth shock from the construction of a flood protection embankment in rural Bangladesh coupled with data on the universe of all 52,000 marriage decisions between 1982 and 1996 to examine changes in marital prospects for households protected by the embankment relative to unprotected households living on the other side of the river. We use difference-in-difference specifications to document that brides from protected households commanded larger dowries, married wealthier households, and became less likely to marry biological relatives. Financial liquidity-constrained households appear to use within-family marriage (in which one can promise ex-post payments) as a form of credit to meet up-front dowry demands, but the resultant wealth shock for households protected by the embankment relaxed this need to marry consanguineously. Our results shed light on the socioeconomic roots of consanguinity, which carries health risks for offspring but can also carry substantial benefits for the families involved.

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Education policy and early fertility: Lessons from an expansion of upper secondary schooling

Hans Grönqvist & Caroline Hall
Economics of Education Review, December 2013, Pages 13–33

Abstract:
This paper studies the effects of education policy on early fertility. We study a major educational reform in Sweden in which vocational tracks in upper secondary school were prolonged from two to three years and the curricula were made more academic. Our identification strategy takes advantage of cross-regional and cross-time variation in the implementation of a pilot scheme preceding the reform in which several municipalities evaluated the new policy. The empirical analysis draws on rich population micro data. We find that women who enrolled in the new programs were significantly less likely to give birth early in life. There is however, no statistically significant effect on men's fertility decisions. Our results suggest that the social benefits of changes in education policy may extend beyond those usually claimed.

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Time Trends in Biological Fertility in Western Europe

Michael Joffe et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1 September 2013, Pages 722-730

Abstract:
We investigated trends in biological fertility in a comprehensive analysis of 5 major European data sets with data on time to pregnancy (TTP) and proportion of contraceptive failures. In particular, we distinguished a period effect from a birth cohort effect (lifelong tendency) in both sexes. Attempts at conception not resulting in birth were excluded. We analyzed data on pregnancies occurring in 9,247 couples between 1953 and 1993 and performed sensitivity analyses to check the robustness of findings. Separate analyses of each time effect showed an increasing fertility trend. Mutually adjusted analyses demonstrated that this rise was visible as a male cohort effect for both TTP and contraceptive failure. On the other hand, the female birth cohort effect showed a slight fall in the first half of the study period for both TTP and contraceptive failure. As a period effect, fertility remained generally stable, the slight trends in TTP and contraceptive failure being in opposite directions, likely indicating an artifact. The rising trend accords with most previous evidence. The increasing trend in male fertility does not contradict the previously reported semen quality deterioration, the effects of which are calculated to be small. The declining female fertility accords with a falling dizygotic twinning rate during the same period.

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The effects of birth weight: Does fetal origin really matter for long-run outcomes?

Makiko Nakamuro, Yuka Uzuki & Tomohiko Inui
Economics Letters, October 2013, Pages 53–58

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether birth weight itself causes individuals’ future life chances. By using a sample of twins in Japan and controlling for the potential effects of genes and family backgrounds, we examine the effect of birth weight on later educational and economic outcomes. The most important finding is that birth weight has a causal effect on academic achievement around the age of 15, but not on the highest years of schooling and earnings.

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Reproductive history patterns and long-term mortality rates: A Danish, population-based record linkage study

Priscilla Coleman, David Reardon & Byron Calhoun
European Journal of Public Health, August 2013, Pages 569-574

Background: Inconsistent definitions and incomplete data have left society largely in the dark regarding mortality risks generally associated with pregnancy and with particular outcomes, immediately after resolution and over the long-term. Population-based record-linkage studies provide an accurate means for deriving maternal mortality rate data.

Method: In this Danish population-based study, records of women born between 1962 and 1993 (n = 1 001 266) were examined to identify associations between patterns of pregnancy resolution and mortality rates across 25 years.

Results: With statistical controls for number of pregnancies, birth year and age at last pregnancy, the combination of induced abortion(s) and natural loss(es) was associated with more than three times higher mortality rate than only birth(s). Moderate risks were identified with only induced abortion, only natural loss and having experienced all outcomes compared with only birth(s). Risk of death was more than six times greater among women who had never been pregnant compared with those who only had birth(s). Increased risks of death were 45%, 114% and 191% for 1, 2 and 3 abortions, respectively, compared with no abortions after controlling for other reproductive outcomes and last pregnancy age. Increased risks of death were equal to 44%, 86% and 150% for 1, 2 and 3 natural losses, respectively, compared with none after including statistical controls. Finally, decreased mortality risks were observed for women who had experienced two and three or more births compared with no births.

Conclusion: This study offers a broad perspective on reproductive history and mortality rates, with the results indicating a need for further research on possible underlying mechanisms.

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“Is This Something You Want?”: Genetic Counselors’ Accounts of Their Role in Prenatal Decision Making

Susan Markens
Sociological Forum, September 2013, Pages 431–451

Abstract:
With the widespread availability of prenatal genetic diagnosis, bioethical concerns have emerged about why women make use of these technologies, and the potential eugenic implications. Research on women's experience with genetic screening often suggests that genetic counselors encourage women to undergo prenatal testing and to terminate pregnancies with abnormalities. Yet, this key professional remains relatively understudied. To fill this lacuna, this article examines genetic counselors’ accounts of their role in the decision-making process, drawing on 26 qualitative interviews with master's-trained genetic counselors and illustrative observations of a prenatal counselor. In the context of debates about reproductive politics and genomic medicine, I identify the ways in which genetic counselors view their work and position themselves. I find that contrary to assumptions, genetic counselors provide accounts of being just as likely to discourage as to encourage invasive testing, and persuade against instead of promote termination of affected pregnancies. These findings suggest that genetic counselors may play a more nuanced and less coercive role than their critics contend, challenge assumptions about genetic counselors’ roles in prenatal genetic testing uptake and abortion, and shed light on how this specific professional may curb rather than promote eugenic tendencies feared with the normalization of prenatal screening.

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The Impact of Mothers' Earnings on Health Inputs and Infant Health

Naci Mocan, Christian Raschke & Bulent Unel
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
This paper investigates the impact of mothers’ earnings on birth weight and gestational age of infants. It also analyzes the impact of earnings on mothers’ consumption of prenatal medical care, and their propensity to smoke and drink during pregnancy. The paper uses census-division- and year-specific skill-biased technology shocks as an instrument for mothers’ earnings and employs a two-sample instrumental variables strategy. About 14 million records of births between 1989 and 2004 are used from the Natality Detail files along with the CPS Annual Demographic Files from the same period. The results reveal that an increase in weekly earnings prompts an increase in prenatal care of low-skill mothers (those who have at most a high school degree) who are not likely to be on Medicaid, and that earnings have a small positive impact on birth weight and gestational age of the newborns of these mothers. An increase in earnings does not influence the health of newborns of high-skill mothers (those with at least some college education). Variations in earnings have no impact on birth weight for mothers who are likely to be on Medicaid.

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When Do Laws Matter? National Minimum-Age-of-Marriage Laws, Child Rights, and Adolescent Fertility, 1989–2007

Minzee Kim et al.
Law & Society Review, September 2013, Pages 589–619

Abstract:
Using the case of adolescent fertility, we ask the questions of whether and when national laws have an effect on outcomes above and beyond the effects of international law and global organizing. To answer these questions, we utilize a fixed-effect time-series regression model to analyze the impact of minimum-age-of-marriage laws in 115 poor- and middle-income countries from 1989 to 2007. We find that countries with strict laws setting the minimum age of marriage at 18 experienced the most dramatic decline in rates of adolescent fertility. Trends in countries that set this age at 18 but allowed exceptions (for example, marriage with parental consent) were indistinguishable from countries that had no such minimum-age-of-marriage law. Thus, policies that adhere strictly to global norms are more likely to elicit desired outcomes. The article concludes with a discussion of what national law means in a diffuse global system where multiple actors and institutions make the independent effect of law difficult to identify.

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Women's Emotions One Week After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion in the United States

Corinne Rocca et al.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, September 2013, Pages 122–131

Context: The notion that abortion causes poor mental health has gained traction, even though it is not supported by research. Few studies have comprehensively investigated women's postabortion emotions.

Methods: Baseline data from a longitudinal study of women seeking abortion at 30 U.S. facilities between 2008 and 2010 were used to examine emotions among 843 women who received an abortion just prior to the facility's gestational age limit, were denied an abortion because they presented just beyond the gestational limit or obtained a first-trimester abortion. Multivariable analyses were used to compare women's emotions about their pregnancy and about their receipt or denial of abortion after one week, and to identify variables associated with experiencing primarily negative emotions postabortion.

Results: Compared with women who obtained a near-limit abortion, those denied the abortion felt more regret and anger (scoring, on average, 0.4–0.5 points higher on a 0–4 scale), and less relief and happiness (scoring 1.4 and 0.3 points lower, respectively). Among women who had obtained the abortion, the greater the extent to which they had planned the pregnancy or had difficulty deciding to seek abortion, the more likely they were to feel primarily negative emotions (odds ratios, 1.2 and 2.5, respectively). Most (95%) women who had obtained the abortion felt it was the right decision, as did 89% of those who expressed regret.

Conclusions: Difficulty with the abortion decision and the degree to which the pregnancy had been planned were most important for women's postabortion emotional state. Experiencing negative emotions postabortion is different from believing that abortion was not the right decision.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let them eat cake

The association between county political inclination and obesity: Results from the 2012 presidential election in the United States

Michael Shin & William McCarthy
Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Objective: We examined whether stable, county-level, voter preferences were significantly associated with county-level obesity prevalence using data from the 2012 US presidential election. County voting preference for the 2012 Republican Party presidential candidate was used as a proxy for voter endorsement of personal responsibility approaches to reducing population obesity risk versus approaches featuring government-sponsored, multi-sectoral efforts like those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2009).

Method: Cartographic visualization and spatial analysis were used to evaluate the geographic clustering of obesity prevalence rates by county, and county-level support for the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The spatial analysis informed the spatial econometric approach employed to model the relationship between political preferences and other covariates with obesity prevalence.

Results: After controlling for poverty rate, percent African American and Latino populations, educational attainment, and spatial autocorrelation in the error term, we found that higher county-level obesity prevalence rates were associated with higher levels of support for the 2012 Republican Party presidential candidate.

Conclusion: Future public health efforts to understand and reduce obesity risk may benefit from increased surveillance of this and similar linkages between political preferences and health risks.

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From Fan to Fat? Vicarious Losing Increases Unhealthy Eating, but Self-Affirmation Is an Effective Remedy

Yann Cornil & Pierre Chandon
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using archival and experimental data, we showed that vicarious defeats experienced by fans when their favorite football team loses lead them to consume less healthy food. On the Mondays following a Sunday National Football League (NFL) game, saturated-fat and food-calorie intake increase significantly in cities with losing teams, decrease in cities with winning teams, and remain at their usual levels in comparable cities without an NFL team or with an NFL team that did not play. These effects are greater in cities with the most committed fans, when the opponents are more evenly matched, and when the defeats are narrow. We found similar results when measuring the actual or intended food consumption of French soccer fans who had previously been asked to write about or watch highlights from victories or defeats of soccer teams. However, these unhealthy consequences of vicarious defeats disappear when supporters spontaneously self-affirm or are given the opportunity to do so.

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Effects of Proximate Foreclosed Properties on Individuals’ Weight Gain in Massachusetts, 1987–2008

Mariana Arcaya et al.
American Journal of Public Health, September 2013, Pages e50-e56

Objectives: We assessed the extent to which living near foreclosed properties is associated with individuals’ subsequent weight gain.

Methods: We linked health and address information on 2068 Framingham Offspring Cohort members (7830 assessments) across 5 waves (1987–2008) to records of all Massachusetts foreclosures during that period. We used counts of lender-owned foreclosed properties within 100 meters of participants’ homes to predict body mass index (BMI; defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) and the odds of being overweight (BMI ≥ 25), adjusted for individual and area-level covariates.

Results: Mean BMI increased from 26.6 in 1987–1991 to 28.5 in 2005–2008; overweight prevalence increased from 59.0% to 71.3%. Foreclosures were within 100 meters of 159 (7.8%) participants’ homes on 187 occasions (1.8%), in 42 municipalities (21%). For each additional foreclosure, BMI increased by 0.20 units (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.03, 0.36), and the odds ratio for being overweight associated with proximity to a foreclosure was 1.77 (95% CI = 1.02, 3.05).

Conclusions: We found a robust association between living near foreclosures and BMI, suggesting that neighbors’ foreclosures may spur weight gain.

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Trends in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, Diet, and BMI Among US Adolescents, 2001–2009

Ronald Iannotti & Jing Wang
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: The high prevalence of adolescent obesity in the United States has been attributed to population changes in physical activity (PA), sedentary behaviors, and dietary behaviors. This study examines 8-year trends in these behaviors in US adolescents ages 11 to 16.

Methods: Nationally representative samples of US students in grades 6 to 10 were recruited during the 2001–2002 (N = 14 607), 2005–2006 (N = 9150), and 2009–2010 (N = 10 848) school years by using multistage stratified designs, with census regions and grades as strata, and school districts as the primary sampling units. African-American and Hispanic students were oversampled to obtain better estimates for those groups. Using the Health Behavior in School-aged Children quadrennial surveys, identical questions assessed BMI, PA, and sedentary and dietary behaviors at each school year. Logistic and linear regression analyses were conducted taking into account the sampling design and controlling for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and family affluence.

Results: Across the quadrennial surveys, significant increases were identified in number of days with at least 60 minutes of PA, daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, eating breakfast on weekdays and weekends, and BMI. Television viewing and consumption of sweets and sweetened beverages decreased across this same period. These same patterns were seen in all racial/ethnic groups.

Conclusions: These patterns suggest that public health efforts to improve the obesity-related behaviors of US adolescents may be having some success. However, alternative explanations for the increase in BMI over the same period need to be considered.

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Who Pays for Obesity? Evidence from Health Insurance Benefit Mandates

James Bailey
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is there an obesity externality? A quasi-random natural experiment shows no evidence for the claim that the obese pass their health costs on to others through employer-based health insurance. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, many state governments began requiring health insurance plans to cover treatments for diabetes. These treatments are expensive, and diabetes is about four more prevalent among the obese, so the mandates raised the relative cost of insuring obese people. Using difference-in-difference analysis of restricted geocode data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to compare wages across states with and without diabetes mandates, I find that obese people pay for all of their own increased health costs in the form of lower wages, rather than passing them on to employers, insurers, and co-workers.

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The effect of physical activity on long-term income

Ari Hyytinen & Jukka Lahtonen
Social Science & Medicine, November 2013, Pages 129–137

Abstract:
Empirical evidence for the direct effects of physical activities on long-term labor market outcomes is limited. This state of affairs is surprising, because there is a growing amount of support on the positive effects of physical activities on health on the one hand and on the effects of good health on labor market outcomes on the other hand. We examine the long-term income effects of physical activity using a large sample (N = 5042) of male twins from Finland (Older Finnish Twin Cohort Study, 1975, 1981, 1990), matched to detailed register-based income data (Finnish Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data, 1990-2004). Our primary income measure is calculated over a fifteen-year period and it covers the prime working age of the twins that we study. We use the twin dimension of the data to control for unobservable genetic and family confounding factors. Our within-twin estimates show that being physically active has a positive impact on the long-term income. We argue that our results are not easily reconciled with the intuitive explanation of physical activity enhancing long-term income via health or more intense labor market attachment. We reason that instead, there may be various non-cognitive mechanisms at work: Physical activity can, for example, make people more persistent in the face of work-related difficulties and increase their desire to partake in competitive situations, with greater expected pecuniary rewards.

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Spillovers of Health Education at School on Parents' Physical Activity

Lucila Berniell, Dolores de la Mata & Nieves Valdés
Health Economics, September 2013, Pages 1004–1020

Abstract:
This paper exploits state health education (HED) reforms as quasi-natural experiments to estimate the causal impact of HED received by children on their parents' physical activity. We use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for the period 1999–2005 merged with data on state HED reforms from the National Association of State Boards of Education Health Policy Database and the 2000 and 2006 School Health Policies and Programs Study. To identify the spillover effects of HED requirements on parents' behavior, we use several methodologies (triple differences, changes in changes, and difference in differences) in which we allow for different types of treatments. We find a positive effect of HED reforms at the elementary school on the probability of parents doing light physical activity. Introducing major changes in HED increases the probability of fathers engaging in physical activity by between 6.3 and 13.7 percentage points, whereas on average, this probability for mothers does not seem to be affected. We analyze several heterogeneous impacts of the HED reforms to unveil the mechanisms behind these spillovers. We find evidence consistent with hypotheses such as gender specialization of parents in childcare activities or information sharing between children and parents.

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It takes some effort. How minimal physical effort reduces consumption volume

Thomas Brunner
Appetite, December 2013, Pages 89–94

Abstract:
Plenty of studies have demonstrated that effort influences food choice. However, few have been conducted to analyze the effect of effort on consumption volume. Moreover, the few studies that have measured consumption volume all have strong limitations. The goal of the present paper is to disentangle confounding variables in earlier research and to rule out various alternative explanations. In a tasting setting focusing on snacking behavior, either unwrapping a food product or grabbing it with sugar tongs was enough to significantly reduce consumption, regardless of whether an unhealthy or healthy food item was used. Hardly any cognitive resources seem to be necessary for the effect to occur, as cognitive load did not affect the findings. In light of obesity being a pressing concern, these findings might be valuable for individuals as well as for the food industry.

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Satiation from Sensory Simulation: Evaluating Foods Decreases Enjoyment of Similar Foods

Jeffrey Larson, Joseph Redden & Ryan Elder
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We demonstrate in two studies that people get more satiated on a food after repeatedly rating or choosing among similar foods shown in pictures. Repeated evaluations of food apparently have an effect similar to actual consumption — decreased enjoyment of foods that share a similar taste characteristic (i.e., sensory-specific satiety). We provide mediation evidence to show that satiation manifests because considering a food engenders spontaneous simulations of the taste of that food item, which by itself is enough to produce satiation. These findings establish sensory simulations as an important mechanism underlying satiation, and provide behavioral evidence that simple evaluations can produce sensory-specific satiety.

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Interoceptive sensitivity deficits in women recovered from bulimia nervosa

Megan Klabunde et al.
Eating Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Self-report studies suggest that patients with Bulimia Nervosa (BN) evidence difficulties with interoceptive awareness. Indeed, interoceptive deficits may persist after recovery of BN and may be a biological trait that predisposes symptom development in BN. However, no studies to date have directly assessed interoceptive sensitivity, or accuracy in detecting and perceiving internal body cues, in patients with or recovered from BN. Nine women who had recovered from BN and 10 healthy control women completed the Heart Beat Perception Task (HBPT) in which individuals were required to estimate the number of heartbeats between intervals of time. Accuracy scores were compared between groups. Significant differences were found between the groups on the HBPT ((F1,19) = 7.78, p = .013, Cohen’s d = 1.16) when controlling for age. These results suggest that deficits in interoceptive sensitivity are present in individuals recovered from BN. Thus interoceptive deficits may be one factor that bridges the gap between brain dysfunction and symptom presentation in BN.

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Is Obesity Associated With a Decline in Intelligence Quotient During the First Half of the Life Course?

Daniel Belsky et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cross-sectional studies have found that obesity is associated with low intellectual ability and neuroimaging abnormalities in adolescence and adulthood. Some have interpreted these associations to suggest that obesity causes intellectual decline in the first half of the life course. We analyzed data from a prospective longitudinal study to test whether becoming obese was associated with intellectual decline from childhood to midlife. We used data from the ongoing Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a population-representative birth cohort study of 1,037 children in New Zealand who were followed prospectively from birth (1972–1973) through their fourth decade of life with a 95% retention rate. Intelligence quotient (IQ) was measured in childhood and adulthood. Anthropometric measurements were taken at birth and at 12 subsequent in-person assessments. As expected, cohort members who became obese had lower adulthood IQ scores. However, obese cohort members exhibited no excess decline in IQ. Instead, these cohort members had lower IQ scores since childhood. This pattern remained consistent when we accounted for children's birth weights and growth during the first years of life, as well as for childhood-onset obesity. Lower IQ scores among children who later developed obesity were present as early as 3 years of age. We observed no evidence that obesity contributed to a decline in IQ, even among obese individuals who displayed evidence of the metabolic syndrome and/or elevated systemic inflammation.

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Obesity persistence and duration dependence: Evidence from a cohort of US adults (1985-2010)

Joan Daouli et al.
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigates dynamic patterns of obesity persistence and identifies the determinants of obesity-spell exits and re-entries. We utilize longitudinal data from the NLSY79 covering the period 1985-2010. Non-parametric techniques are applied to investigate the relationship between exit from obesity and spell duration. Multivariate discrete hazard models are also estimated, taking into account duration dependence and observed and time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity. In all cases, the probability of exiting obesity is inversely related to the duration of the obesity spell. Without controlling for unobserved heterogeneity, the probability of exit after one wave in obesity is 31.5 per cent; it is reduced to 3.8 per cent after seven or more waves. When time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity is taken into account, the estimated probabilities are slightly larger and broadly similar (36.8 and 10.3, respectively), which suggests that the identified negative duration dependence is not primarily due to composition effects. The obtained results indicate that public health interventions targeting the newly obese may be particularly effective at reducing incidence of long durations of obesity.

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Food Insecurity Is Linked to a Food Environment Promoting Obesity in Households With Children

Lisa Nackers & Bradley Appelhans
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, forthcoming

Objective: To determine the extent to which the presence and accessibility of healthful and less healthful foods in children's homes vary with level of food security.

Methods: A total of 41 parents or primary caregivers who had at least 1 child ages 2–13 and resided in a low-income area with limited food access completed a home food inventory and a validated measure assessing household food security.

Results: Compared with food-secure participants, marginal or low/very low food-secure caregivers reported significantly more obesity-promoting foods in the home, more microwavable or quick-cook frozen foods, and greater access to less healthful foods in the kitchen (all Ps < .05).

Conclusions and Implications: Given the greater presence and accessibility of less healthful foods, targeting home food environment may improve diet quality and health status in children of low-income, food insecure households.

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Chronic stress exposure may affect the brain's response to high calorie food cues and predispose to obesogenic eating habits

Matthew Tryon et al.
Physiology & Behavior, 15 August 2013, Pages 233–242

Abstract:
Exaggerated reactivity to food cues involving calorically-dense foods may significantly contribute to food consumption beyond caloric need. Chronic stress, which can induce palatable “comfort” food consumption, may trigger or reinforce neural pathways leading to stronger reactions to highly rewarding foods. We implemented functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess whether chronic stress influences activation in reward, motivation and executive brain regions in response to pictures of high calorie and low calorie foods in thirty women. On separate lab visits, we also assessed food intake from a snack food buffet and circulating cortisol. In women reporting higher chronic stress (HCS), pictures of high calorie foods elicited exaggerated activity in regions of the brain involving reward, motivation, and habitual decision-making. In response to pictures of high calorie food, higher chronic stress was also associated with significant deactivation in frontal regions (BA10; BA46) linked to strategic planning and emotional control. In functional connectivity analysis, HCS strengthened connectivity between amygdala and the putamen, while LCS enhanced connectivity between amygdala and the anterior cingulate and anterior prefrontal cortex (BA10). A hypocortisolemic signature and more consumption of high calorie foods from the snack buffet were observed in the HCS group. These results suggest that persistent stress exposure may alter the brain's response to food in ways that predispose individuals to poor eating habits which, if sustained, may increase risk for obesity.

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Human-relevant levels of added sugar consumption increase female mortality and lower male fitness in mice

James Ruff et al.
Nature Communications, August 2013

Abstract:
Consumption of added sugar has increased over recent decades and is correlated with numerous diseases. Rodent models have elucidated mechanisms of toxicity, but only at concentrations beyond typical human exposure. Here we show that comparatively low levels of added sugar consumption have substantial negative effects on mouse survival, competitive ability, and reproduction. Using Organismal Performance Assays — in which mice fed human-relevant concentrations of added sugar (25% kcal from a mixture of fructose and glucose, modeling high fructose corn syrup) and control mice compete in seminatural enclosures for territories, resources and mates — we demonstrate that fructose/glucose-fed females experience a twofold increase in mortality while fructose/glucose-fed males control 26% fewer territories and produce 25% less offspring. These findings represent the lowest level of sugar consumption shown to adversely affect mammalian health. Clinical defects of fructose/glucose-fed mice were decreased glucose clearance and increased fasting cholesterol. Our data highlight that physiological adversity can exist when clinical disruptions are minor, and suggest that Organismal Performance Assays represent a promising technique for unmasking negative effects of toxicants.

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Facial affective reactions to bitter-tasting foods and body mass index in adults

D. Garcia-Burgos & M.C. Zamora
Appetite, December 2013, Pages 178–186

Abstract:
Differences in food consumption among body-weight statuses (e.g., higher fruit intake linked with lower body mass index (BMI) and energy-dense products with higher BMI) has raised the question of why people who are overweight or are at risk of becoming overweight eat differently from thinner people. One explanation, in terms of sensitivity to affective properties of food, suggests that palatability-driven consumption is likely to be an important contributor to food intake, and therefore body weight. Extending this approach to unpalatable tastes, we examined the relationship between aversive reactions to foods and BMI. We hypothesized that people who have a high BMI will show more negative affective reactions to bitter-tasting stimuli, even after controlling for sensory perception differences. Given that hedonic reactions may influence consumption even without conscious feelings of pleasure/displeasure, the facial expressions were included in order to provide more direct access to affective systems than subjective reports. Forty adults (28 females, 12 males) participated voluntarily. Their ages ranged from 18 to 46 years (M = 24.2, SD = 5.8). On the basis of BMI, participants were classified as low BMI (BMI < 20; n = 20) and high BMI (BMI > 23; n = 20). The mean BMI was 19.1 for low BMI (SD = 0.7) and 25.2 for high BMI participants (SD = 1.8). Each subject tasted 5 mL of a grapefruit juice drink and a bitter chocolate drink. Subjects rated the drinks’ hedonic and incentive value, familiarity and bitter intensity immediately after each stimulus presentation. The results indicated that high BMI participants reacted to bitter stimuli showing more profound changes from baseline in neutral and disgust facial expressions compared with low BMI. No differences between groups were detected for the subjective pleasantness and familiarity. The research here is the first to examine how affective facial reactions to bitter food, apart from taste responsiveness, can predict differences in BMI.

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Eating me up inside: Priming attachment security and anxiety, and their effects on snacking

Laura Wilkinson, Angela Rowe & Georgina Heath
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, September 2013, Pages 795-804

Abstract:
Recent research has shown that attachment anxiety (a model of interpersonal relationships characterised by a fear of abandonment) is a good predictor of disinhibited eating and, in turn, body mass index. However, this association has yet to be explored within an eating episode. The present study investigated the effect of priming attachment security and attachment anxiety on food intake. Normal weight participants (N = 21) were primed with security and anxiety on separate occasions and given ad libitum access to a snack food. Priming anxiety led to a significantly higher food intake than priming security (p = .016). We suggest that participants consumed more food in response to the anxious prime in an attempt to manage the resulting feelings of insecurity. These results provide behavioural evidence for a link between attachment anxiety and disinhibited eating.

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Acute sleep deprivation increases food purchasing in men

Colin Chapman et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate if acute sleep deprivation affects food purchasing choices in a mock supermarket.

Design and Methods: On the morning after one night of total sleep deprivation (TSD) or after one night of sleep, 14 normal-weight men were given a fixed budget (300 SEK—approximately 50 USD). They were instructed to purchase as much as they could out of a possible 40 items, including 20 high-caloric foods (>2 kcal/g) and 20 low-caloric foods (<2 kcal/g). The prices of the high-caloric foods were then varied (75%, 100% (reference price), and 125%) to determine if TSD affects the flexibility of food purchasing. Before the task, participants received a standardized breakfast, thereby minimizing the potential confound produced by hunger. In addition, morning plasma concentrations of the orexigenic hormone ghrelin were measured under fasting conditions.

Results: Independent of both type of food offered and price condition, sleep-deprived men purchased significantly more calories (+9%) and grams (+18%) of food than they did after one night of sleep (both P < 0.05). Morning plasma ghrelin concentrations were also higher after TSD (P < 0.05). However, this increase did not correlate with the effects of TSD on food purchasing.

Conclusions: This experiment demonstrates that acute sleep loss alters food purchasing behavior in men.

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Bisphenol A and Chronic Disease Risk Factors in US Children

Donna Eng et al.
Pediatrics, September 2013, Pages e637-e645

Objective: To evaluate the relationship between urinary bisphenol A (BPA) levels and measures of adiposity and chronic disease risk factors for a nationally representative US pediatric sample.

Methods: We used the NHANES 2003–2010 to evaluate cross-sectional associations between urinary BPA and multiple measures of adiposity, cholesterol, insulin, and glucose for children aged 6 to 18 years, adjusting for relevant covariates (eg, demographics, urine creatinine, tobacco exposure, and soda consumption).

Results: We found a higher odds of obesity (BMI ≥95th percentile) with increasing quartiles of BPA for quartiles 2 vs 1 (odds ratio [OR] 1.74, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.17–2.60, P = .008), 3 vs 1 (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.09–2.47, P = .02), and 4 vs 1 (OR 2.01, 95% CI 1.36–2.98, P = .001). We also found a higher odds of having an abnormal waist circumference–to–height ratio (quartiles 2 vs 1 [OR 1.37, 95% CI 0.98–1.93, P = .07], 3 vs 1 [OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.07–1.87, P = .02], and 4 vs 1 [OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.12–2.15, P = .01]). We did not find significant associations of BPA with any other chronic disease risk factors.

Conclusions: Higher levels of urinary BPA were associated with a higher odds of obesity (BMI >95%) and abnormal waist circumference–to–height ratio. Longitudinal analyses are needed to elucidate temporal relationships between BPA exposure and the development of obesity and chronic disease risk factors in children.

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Adolescents’ Intake of Junk Food: Processes and Mechanisms Driving Consumption Similarities Among Friends

Kayla de la Haye et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, September 2013, Pages 524–536

Abstract:
Adolescents’ consumption of low-nutrient, energy-dense (LNED) food often occurs out of home, and friends may be an important source of influence. This study tested whether observed similarities in LNED food intake among friends result from social influence and also explored underlying psychological mechanisms. Three waves of data were collected over 1 year from Grade 8 students in Australia (N = 378, 54% male), including measures of food intake and related cognitions, and friendships to grademates. The results of longitudinal social network models show that adolescent intake was predicted by their friends’ intake, accounting for pre-existing similarities and other potentially confounding factors. Changes to adolescents’ beliefs about LNED food do not appear to be the mechanisms underpinning influence from their friends.

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The Socioeconomic Origins of Physical Functioning among Older U.S. Adults

Jennifer Karas Montez
Advances in Life Course Research, December 2013, Pages 244–256

Abstract:
Mounting evidence finds that adult health reflects socioeconomic circumstances (SES) in early life and adulthood. However, it is unclear how the health consequences of SES in early life and adulthood accumulate — for example, additively, synergistically. This study tests four hypotheses about how the health effects of early-life SES (measured by parental education) and adult SES (measured by own education) accumulate to shape functional limitations, whether the accumulation differs between men and women, and the extent to which key mechanisms explain the accumulation. It uses data from the 1994-2010 Health and Retirement Study on U.S. adults 50-100 years of age (N = 24,026). The physical functioning benefits of parental and own education accumulated additively among men. While the physical functioning benefits generally accumulated among women, the functioning benefits from one's own education were dampened among women with low-educated mothers. The dampening partly reflected a strong tie between mothers’ education level and women's obesity risk. Taken together, the findings reveal subtle differences between men and women in the life course origins of physical functioning. They also shed light on a key mechanism — obesity — that may help explain why a growing number of studies find that early-life SES is especially important for women's health.

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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Leisure-time Physical Activity in California: Patterns and Mechanisms

Kelin Li & Ming Wen
Race and Social Problems, September 2013, Pages 147-156

Abstract:
Evidence has shown that racial/ethnic minorities in the United States are less likely than whites to engage in leisure-time physical activity (LTPA); yet few studies to date have included Asian subgroups in the analyses and mechanisms underlying these disparities are not well known. This study uses data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (N = 37,164) to examine racial/ethnic disparities in self-reported adherence to LTPA recommendations and to explore the mediating roles of socioeconomic status (SES), acculturation, and neighborhood perceptions. Nine racial/ethnic groups were included: non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Mexicans, and six largest Asian subgroups. Results confirm that racial/ethnic minorities are, in general, less likely than whites to meet LTPA recommendations, whereas heterogeneity is also evident across Asian subgroups. No significant disparity is revealed for the Japanese and Filipinos but whites are advantaged compared to all other Asian groups. Educational attainment, percent of lifetime spent in the United States and access to park, playground, or open space are significantly associated with meeting LTPA recommendations. SES and acculturation play differential roles in explaining group disparities for blacks, Mexicans, and some Asian subgroups. Perceived neighborhood environment does not mediate LTPA disparities by race/ethnicity. Net of these mediators, the advantages of whites in meeting LTPA recommendations persist for blacks, Mexicans, the Chinese, and Koreans. Future research should theorize and operationalize additional multilevel pathways linking race/ethnicity and LTPA while assessing measurement errors in the existing constructs.

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New Dynamics in Global Obesity Facing Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Barry Popkin & Meghan Slining
Obesity Reviews, forthcoming

Abstract:
Levels of overweight and obesity across low- and-middle income countries (LMIC) have approached levels found in higher-income countries. This is particularly true in the Middle East and North Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean. Using nationally representative samples of women aged 19–49, n = 815,609, this paper documents the annualized rate of increase of overweight from the first survey in early 1990 to the last survey in the present millennium. Overweight increases ranged from 0.31 percent per year to 0.92 percent per year for Latin America and the Caribbean and for the Middle East and North Africa, respectively. For a sample of eight countries, using quantile regression, we further demonstrate that mean body mass index at the ninety-fifth percentile has increased significantly across all regions, representing predicted weight increases of 5–10 kilograms. Furthermore we highlight a major new concern in LMICs, documenting waist circumference increases of 2-4 cm at the same BMI (.e.g. 25) over an 18 year period. In sum, this paper indicates growing potential for increased cardiometabolic problems linked with a large rightward shift in the BMI distribution and increased waist circumference at each BMI level.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Colorful past

Formulating Voting Rights Act Remedies to Address Current Conditions

Barry Edwards
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down a key component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) closes one of the most successful chapters in the history of civil rights enforcement. Our country has changed since 1965 and it is an opportune time to examine current political conditions for minority voters. Based on analysis of congressional elections from 1960 to 2010, I assess the central holding of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, and other controversial areas of VRA enforcement. My results support the Court’s finding that the Act’s historic coverage formula does not accurately reflect current political conditions. However, my results challenge prevailing views on two points. I conclude that uniform standards are problematic because redistricting guidelines that improve opportunities for African American voters are likely to diminish opportunities for Latino voters (and vice versa). In addition, requiring majority African American districts appears to diminish aggregate African American voting opportunities relative to targeting 45% to 50% African American districts.

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Decomposing School Resegregation: Social Closure, Racial Imbalance, and Racial Isolation

Jeremy Fiel
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Today’s typical minority student attends school with fewer whites than his counterpart in 1970. This apparent resegregation of U.S. schools has sparked outrage and debate. Some blame a rollback of desegregation policies designed to distribute students more evenly among schools; others blame the changing racial composition of the student population. This study clarifies the link between distributive processes of segregation, population change, and school racial composition by framing school segregation as a mode of social closure. I use a novel decomposition approach to determine the relative contributions of distributive processes and compositional change in the apparent resegregation of schools from 1993 to 2010. For the most part, compositional changes are to blame for the declining presence of whites in minorities’ schools. During this period, whites and minorities actually became more evenly distributed across schools, helping increase minority students’ exposure to whites. Further decompositions reveal the continued success of district-level desegregation efforts, but the greatest barrier to progress appears to be the uneven distribution of students between school districts in the same area. These findings call for new research and new policies to address contemporary school segregation.

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The National Social Distance Study: Ten Years Later

Vincent Parrillo & Christopher Donoghue
Sociological Forum, September 2013, Pages 597–614

Abstract:
The Bogardus social distance scale, which measures the level of acceptance that Americans feel toward members of the most common ethnic and racial groups in the United States, was administered six times nationally between 1920 and 2001. Replicating the most recent study with its revised list of ethnic and racial groups, the authors of this study analyzed a stratified random sample of 3,166 college students, making it the largest national social distance study ever conducted. The findings indicate an increase since 2001 in the mean level of social distance toward all ethnic groups, as well as in the spread between the groups with the highest and lowest levels of social distance. Further, a consistency between studies in group preferences reaffirms the relevance of the similarity-attraction bond in accepting those who are racially and culturally different. Mean comparisons and analysis of variance tests also showed that gender, birthplace of respondents and/or their parents, race, and year in college are all significant indicators of the level of social distance toward groups.

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The Political Legacy of American Slavery

Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell & Maya Sen
University of Rochester Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
We show that contemporary differences in political attitudes across counties in the American South trace their origins back to the influence of slavery’s prevalence more than 150 years ago. Whites who currently live in Southern counties that had high shares of slaves population in 1860 are less likely to identify as Democrat, more likely to oppose affirmative action policies, and more likely to express racial resentment toward blacks. These results are robust to accounting for a variety of attributes, including contemporary shares of black population, urban-rural differences, and Civil War destruction. Moreover, the results strengthen when we instrument for the prevalence of slavery using measures of the agricultural suitability to grow cotton. To explain our results, we offer a theory in which political and racial attitudes were shaped historically by the incentives of Southern whites to propagate racist institutions and norms in areas like the “Black Belt” that had high shares of recently emancipated slaves in the decades after 1865. We argue that these attitudes have, to some degree, been passed down locally from one generation to the next.

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New evidence on racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership in the United States from 2001 to 2010

Meghan Kuebler & Jacob Rugh
Social Science Research, September 2013, Pages 1357–1374

Abstract:
Using 2001–2010 homeownership data for the United States we analyze changes in racial and ethnic disparities between whites and blacks, Asians, Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics. We employ Integrated Public Use Microdata (IPUMS) combined with local credit scores and house price to income ratios. Controlling for demographic, income, wealth, employment, and housing characteristics, we find no significant differences between whites and Asians, Mexicans, or Cubans. Conversely, blacks and Puerto Ricans remain substantially disadvantaged. We conduct further analysis for the 2001–2003, 2004–2007, and 2008–2010 periods of the housing boom and collapse. Blacks and Puerto Ricans experienced decreased disparities during the peak years of the boom. Puerto Rican parity with whites continued to improve during the crash while gains among blacks eroded. The results suggest the homeownership differences between whites, Asians, Mexicans, and Cubans are apparently explained by socioeconomic status while racial disparities among blacks and Puerto Ricans evolved but continue to persist.

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Measuring Ethnicity with U.S. Census Data: Implications for Mexicans and Arabs

Jen’nan Ghazal Read
Population Research and Policy Review, August 2013, Pages 611-631

Abstract:
U.S. racial and ethnic populations can be defined by a number of census questions — race/ethnicity, ancestry, place of birth, and/or language — but little is known about how using alternative definitions of identity affect the size and characteristics of different groups. This article examines this question using combined data from the 1 % and 5 % Public Use Microdata Samples in census 2000, using Mexicans and Arabs as case studies. The analysis uses the standard method of classifying these groups (Hispanic origin and Arab ancestry) as a baseline to explore differences across the range of possible permutations of ethnic identity. In the Arab case, persons captured using alternative definitions of identity (Arabic language at home and/or born in an Arab country) are lesser educated, more likely to be in poverty, and more likely to identify as non-white or multi-racial than the Arab population as a whole. In contrast, persons in the Mexican alternative definition group (Mexican ancestry and/or born in Mexico) are more highly educated, less likely to be in poverty, and more likely to identify as white than the Mexican population as a whole. The article concludes with research and policy implications of these findings.

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Racial Disparities in Short Sleep Duration by Occupation and Industry

Chandra Jackson et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Short sleep duration, which is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, has been shown to vary by occupation and industry, but few studies have investigated differences between black and white populations. By using data from a nationally representative sample of US adult short sleepers (n = 41,088) in the National Health Interview Survey in 2004–2011, we estimated prevalence ratios for short sleep duration in blacks compared with whites for each of 8 industry categories by using adjusted Poisson regression models with robust variance. Participants' mean age was 47 years; 50% were women and 13% were black. Blacks were more likely to report short sleep duration than whites (37% vs. 28%), and the black-white disparity was widest among those who held professional occupations. Adjusted short sleep duration was more prevalent in blacks than whites in the following industry categories: finance/information/real estate (prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.44, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.30, 1.59); professional/administrative/management (PR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.18, 1.44); educational services (PR = 1.39, 95% CI: 1.25, 1.54); public administration/arts/other services (PR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.21, 1.41); health care/social assistance (PR = 1.23, 95% CI: 1.14, 1.32); and manufacturing/construction (PR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.20). Short sleep generally increased with increasing professional responsibility within a given industry among blacks but decreased with increasing professional roles among whites. Our results suggest the need for further investigation of racial/ethnic differences in the work-sleep relationship.

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Houston's Emerging Exposure between African Americans and Whites: Evidence of Spatial Assimilation or Place Stratification?

Warren Waren
Population, Space and Place, September/October 2013, Pages 633–643

Abstract:
The persistent finding of a racial gap in residential attainment between African Americans and whites has led to a critique, which argues that spatial assimilation theory does not explain the residential segregation of African Americans, even though it explains segregation for other groups. That critique is typically based on analyses of cross-sectional data, which do not take into account demographic context. In this paper, I examine demographically adjusted exposure scores for educational categories of race and ethnic groups in Houston, Texas, between 1970 and 2000. I find that starting in 1980 higher status African Americans achieved greater spatial assimilation. My findings suggest that analyses that rely on demographically appropriate measures and trend data indicate that spatial assimilation theory is relevant to changes in the residential mobility of African Americans.

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Return to Being Black, Living in the Red: A Race Gap in Wealth That Goes Beyond Social Origins

Alexandra Killewald
Demography, August 2013, Pages 1177-1195

Abstract:
In the United States, racial disparities in wealth are vast, yet their causes are only partially understood. In Being Black, Living in the Red, Conley (1999) argued that the sociodemographic traits of young blacks and their parents, particularly parental wealth, wholly explain their wealth disadvantage. Using data from the 1980–2009 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I show that this conclusion hinges on the specific sample considered and the treatment of debtors in the sample. I further document that prior research has paid insufficient attention to the possibility of variation in the association between wealth and race at different points of the net worth distribution. Among wealth holders, blacks remain significantly disadvantaged in assets compared with otherwise similar whites. Among debtors, however, young whites hold more debt than otherwise similar blacks. The results suggest that, among young adults, debt may reflect increased access to credit, not simply the absence of assets. The asset disadvantage for black net wealth holders also indicates that research and policy attention should not be focused only on young blacks “living in the red.”

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An Anatomy Of Racial and Ethnic Trends in Male Earnings in the U.S.

Barry Hirsch & John Winters
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
Progress in narrowing black–white earnings differences has been far from continuous, with some of the apparent progress resulting from labor force withdrawal among lower-skilled African Americans. This paper documents racial and ethnic differences in male earnings from 1950 through 2010 using data from the decennial census and American Community Surveys. Emphasis is given to annual rather than weekly or hourly earnings. We take a quantile approach, providing evidence on medians and other percentiles of the distribution. Treatment of imputed earnings greatly affects measured outcomes. Hispanic men have exhibited earnings growth similar to white men over several decades. Black men have been left behind economically due in large part to increased joblessness, a process exacerbated by weak labor market conditions. By 2010, joblessness had risen to over 40 percent and the median black–white earnings gap was the largest in at least 60 years.

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Residential Segregation, Spatial Mismatch and Economic Growth across US Metropolitan Areas

Huiping Li, Harrison Campbell & Steven Fernandez
Urban Studies, October 2013, Pages 2642-2660

Abstract:
Numerous studies have demonstrated the detrimental influence of residential segregation on poor inner-city residents. This study examines the impact of residential segregation on the welfare of populations in US metropolitan areas using economic growth as the indicator. Panel data of US metropolitan areas spanning 25 years, 1980–2005, are used to analyse the effect of segregation on economic growth. The results show that both racial and skill segregation have a negative impact on short- and long-term economic growth, which have increased over time. Further, the negative impact of the variables associated with spatial mismatch is also revealed. The results clearly point to the need for mobility policies that favour non-White households and comprehensive strategies that promote economic opportunities in low-resource communities in the US.

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Metropolitan Residential Segregation and Very Preterm Birth Among African American and Mexican-Origin Women

Marcus Britton & Heeju Shin
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Residential segregation is associated with poor health — including poor birth outcomes — among African Americans in US cities and metropolitan areas. However, the few existing studies of this relationship among Mexican-origin women have produced mixed results. In this study, the relationship between segregation and very preterm birth was examined with National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data on singleton births to African American women (n = 400,718) in 238 metropolitan areas and to Mexican-origin women (n = 552,382) in 170 metropolitan areas. The study evaluated 1) whether residential segregation is positively associated with very preterm birth among both African American and Mexican-origin women and 2) if so, whether exposure to neighborhood poverty accounts for these associations. Results from multi-level analysis indicate that residential segregation is positively associated with very preterm birth among both groups of women. However, this association is robust across different measures of segregation only for African Americans. Conversely, differences across metropolitan areas in average levels of exposure to neighborhood poverty account for the positive association between segregation and very preterm birth among Mexican-origin women, but not among African American women.

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Within-Group Health Disparities Among Blacks: The Effects of Afrocentric Features and Unfair Treatment

Nao Hagiwara et al.
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research on the impact of Afrocentric features on health has focused primarily on a single feature, skin color. We explored the effects of two other Afrocentric features (lip thickness, nose width) on Blacks' health status and whether unfair treatment mediates any relationship between these features and health. A secondary analysis of a prior study of Black patients' health was conducted. Patients with strong (high lip and high nose ratios) and weak (low lip and low nose ratios) Afrocentric features (i.e., congruent features) had poorer health than patients with incongruent features. Unlike findings for skin color, congruence of features rather than strength predicted health. Congruence predicted perceived unfair treatment in the same manner. Importantly, perceived unfair treatment mediated the relation between Afrocentric features and health. The study suggests that even subtle differences in Afrocentric features can have serious long-term health consequences among Blacks. Clinical implications of the findings are discussed.

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Stress-Induced Inflammatory Responses in Women: Effects of Race and Pregnancy

Lisa Christian et al.
Psychosomatic Medicine, September 2013, Pages 658-669

Objective: African Americans experience preterm birth at nearly twice the rate of whites. Chronic stress associated with minority status is implicated in this disparity. Inflammation is a key biological pathway by which stress may affect birth outcomes. This study examined the effects of race and pregnancy on stress-induced inflammatory responses.

Methods: Thirty-nine women in the second trimester of pregnancy (19 African American, 20 white) and 39 demographically similar nonpregnant women completed an acute stressor (Trier Social Stress Test). Psychosocial characteristics, health behaviors, and affective responses were assessed. Serum interleukin (IL)-6 was measured at baseline, 45 minutes, and 120 minutes poststressor.

Results: IL-6 responses at 120 minutes poststressor were 46% higher in African Americans versus whites (95% confidence interval = 8%–81%, t(72) = 3.51, p = .001). This effect was present in pregnancy and nonpregnancy. IL-6 responses at 120 minutes poststressor tended to be lower (15%) in pregnant versus nonpregnant women (95% confidence interval = −5%–32%, p = .14). Racial differences in inflammatory responses were not accounted for by demographics, psychological characteristics, health behaviors, or differences in salivary cortisol. Pregnant whites showed lower negative affective responses than did nonpregnant women of either race (p values ≤ .007).

Conclusions: This study provides novel evidence that stress-induced inflammatory responses are more robust among African American women versus whites during pregnancy and nonpregnancy. The ultimate impact of stress on health is a function of stressor exposure and physiological responses. Individual differences in stress-induced inflammatory responses represent a clear target for continued research efforts in racial disparities in health during pregnancy and nonpregnancy.

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Exploring the Health Consequences of Majority-Minority Neighborhoods: Minority Diversity and Birthweight among Native-born and Foreign-born Blacks

Zoua Vang & Irma Elo
Social Science & Medicine, November 2013, Pages 56–65

Abstract:
We examined the association between neighborhood minority diversity and infant birthweight among non-Hispanic US-born black women and foreign-born black women from Sub-Saharan Africa and the non-Spanish speaking Caribbean using 2002-2006 vital statistics birth record data from the state of New Jersey (n=73,907). We used a standardized entropy score to measure the degree of minority diversity (i.e., non-white multiethnic racial heterogeneity) for each census tract where women lived. We distinguished between four levels of minority diversity, with the highest level representing majority-minority neighborhoods. We estimated mean birthweight for singleton births over this 5-year period using linear regression with robust standard errors to correct for clustering of mothers within census tracts. We found significant differences in mean birthweight by mother’s country of origin such that infants of US-born black mothers weighed significantly less than the infants of African and Caribbean immigrants (3130 g vs. 3299 g and 3212 g; p<0.001). Adjustments for neighborhood deprivation, residential instability, individual-level sociodemographics, maternal health behaviors and conditions, and gestational age did not reduce these origin differences. Minority diversity had a protective effect on black infant health. Women living in low and moderately diverse tracts as well as those in majority-minority neighborhoods had heavier babies (β=26.5, 29.8 and 61.2, respectively, p<0.001) on average than women in the least diverse tracts. The results for majority-minority neighborhoods were robust when we controlled for neighborhood- and individual-level covariates.

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Self-Esteem Among Young Adults: Differences and Similarities Based on Gender, Race, and Cohort (1990–2012)

Susan Sprecher, James Brooks & Winfred Avogo
Sex Roles, September 2013, Pages 264-275

Abstract:
The major purpose of this study was to examine the joint effects of race and gender on the self-esteem of young adults. Data came from a large sample of undergraduate students (N = 7,552; 2,785 men and 4,767 women) enrolled at a Midwestern U.S. University over the period 1990–2012. Consistent with prior research, we found that men had higher self-esteem than women and that Blacks had higher self-esteem than Whites, Hispanics, and Asians. The analyses, however, revealed that the gender differences in self-esteem were not found among Blacks and that the higher self-esteem of Blacks relative to other races was greater among women than among men. The effects of race and gender did not change controlling for social class and other demographic variables, did not differ across domains of self-esteem, and were not affected by period of time. This study deepens our knowledge of social group differences in self-esteem, providing evidence that the higher self-esteem of men (relative to women) and of Blacks (relative to other races) persisted across the past two decades.

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Doctors, Patients and the Racial Mortality Gap

Emilia Simeonova
Journal of Health Economics, September 2013, Pages 895–908

Abstract:
Research in the health sciences reports persistent racial differences in health care access, utilization, and outcomes. This study investigates three potential sources of these disparities – differential quality of care, physician discrimination, and patient response to therapy. It uses a unique panel dataset of physician-patient encounters, the resulting medication therapies and the patients’ adherence to those medical recommendations. Equalizing access to quality health care will not erase the racial differences in mortality among chronically ill patients. Targeted programs aimed at improving adherence with medication therapy among disadvantaged groups must be an integral part of any policy aimed at achieving equality in health outcomes.

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The Influence of Political Dynamics on Southern Lynch Mob Formation and Lethality

Ryan Hagen, Kinga Makovi & Peter Bearman
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing literature focuses on economic competition as the primary causal factor in Southern lynching. Political drivers have been neglected, as findings on their effects have been inconclusive. We show that these consensus views arise from selection on a contingent outcome variable: whether mobs intent on lynching succeed. We constructed an inventory of averted lynching events in Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina — instances in which lynch mobs formed but were thwarted, primarily by law enforcement. We combined these with an inventory of lynching and analyzed them together to model the dynamics of mob formation, success, and intervention. We found that low Republican vote share is associated with a higher lethality rate for mobs. Lynching is better understood as embedded in a post-conflict political system, wherein all potential lynching events, passing through the prism of intervention, are split into successful and averted cases.

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The Great Migration to the North and the “Black Metropolis” of the early twentieth century: A reevaluation of the role of Black community size

Robert Boyd
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
By some accounts, large Black populations in northern cities aided Blacks’ employment in occupations of the “Black Metropolis” at the start of the Great Migration. Yet, the present study, analyzing Census data, refutes these accounts. Blacks’ odds of employment in such occupations – for example, mass media and cultural expression – were often greatest in major northern cities with the smallest Black populations, consistent with the proposition that small and stable minority communities avoid intense discrimination. Overall, however, there is little evidence that Black population size substantially affected Blacks’ employment in Black Metropolis occupations.

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The Nonmartial Origins of the “Martial Races”: Ethnicity and Military Service in Ex-British Colonies

Subhasish Ray
Armed Forces & Society, July 2013, Pages 560-575

Abstract:
Did colonial rule “construct” the “martial races” or do these groups have an innate cultural disposition toward military service? Despite the centrality of this question for evaluating different military manpower recruitment strategies in postcolonial settings, no study has subjected these hypotheses to systematic empirical testing. This article fills this gap using an original data set on the colonial status of 181 ethnic groups across twenty-nine ex-British colonies to examine the origins of colonial “martialness.” The empirical analysis provides robust evidence in support of the constructivist argument.

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The Socioeconomic Attainments of Non-immigrant Cambodian, Filipino, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese Americans

Isao Takei, Arthur Sakamoto & ChangHwan Kim
Race and Social Problems, September 2013, Pages 198-212

Abstract:
Using recent American Community Survey data, this study investigates socioeconomic attainments of six ethnic groups of Southeast Asian Americans. Findings show that the educational attainment of Filipinos, Vietnamese, and Thai is higher than that of whites, while the educational attainment of Cambodians, Hmong, and Laotians is lower than that of whites. Regarding earnings, Southeast Asian American women are generally not disadvantaged relative to white women, but Southeast Asian American men tend to have lower earnings than white men after controlling for education and other demographic factors such as age, metropolitan residence, and region. We conclude that Cambodians, Hmong, and Laotians are the most disadvantaged groups among Southeast Asian Americans and that most Southeast Asian American male groups tend to be at least slightly disadvantaged in the labor market at least after controlling for metropolitan residence and region.

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Stoking the "Abolition Fire in the Capitol": Liberty Party Lobbying and Antislavery in Congress

Corey Brooks
Journal of the Early Republic, Fall 2013, Pages 523-547

Abstract:
One of the most crucial and underappreciated political weapons in the arsenal of antebellum abolitionists was their innovative and influential lobbying strategy. Abolitionist agitators, working independently in the late 1830s and through the Liberty Party in the early 1840s, targeted a small number of sympathetic congressmen who could insert antislavery arguments into debates that would reach a broad northern audience. Though only a small fraction of the electorate, political abolitionists thereby profoundly altered congressional politics. Abolition lobbyists especially encouraged antislavery representatives to provoke proslavery overreactions that could be used to substantiate abolitionist warnings that a southern "Slave Power" controlled the national government. Political abolitionists' Slave Power argument, however, also represented a pointed critique of the Second Party System of Whigs and Democrats. Because both major parties relied on cross-sectional support, abolitionists contended that no genuine antislavery policymaking could be expected from either. Liberty Party leaders thus publicly assailed prominent, ostensibly antislavery Whigs as structurally complicit with the Slave Power, while simultaneously privately beseeching the very same Whig politicians to precipitate new congressional controversies. By skillfully managing these complicated relationships, Liberty partisans were able to exploit Congress as a forum through which they could further popularize their anti-Slave Power message.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bankable

Long-Term Growth in Housing Prices and Stock Returns

Henock Louis & Amy Sun
Real Estate Economics, Fall 2013, Pages 663–708

Abstract:

A firm's long-term stock returns are negatively related to past growth in housing prices in the state where the firm is located. The housing price effect is persistent and robust to controlling for the long-term stock return reversal effect, changes in mortgage interest rates across the states, cyclicality in housing prices and overall local economic conditions. There is no evidence that extant asset pricing models can adequately explain the effect. The study discusses potential explanations for, and the implications of, the cross-regional housing price effect.

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Strategic Behavior of Federal Open Market Committee Board Members: Evidence from Members’ Forecasts

Yoshiyuki Nakazono
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 2013, Pages 62–70

Abstract:

In this paper, we use panel data to test whether Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) board members’ forecasts are rational. Rationality is rejected in the sense that forecasts by members are heavily dependent on previous own forecasts and last consensus made in FOMC. Furthermore, we reveal the strategic behavior of FOMC board members. Forecasts by governors, who always have voting rights, agree much with the previous consensus of FOMC members’ forecasts. In contrast, non-governors, who rotate voting rights, exaggerate their forecasts: they aggressively deviate their forecasts from previous consensus. The former is herding behavior and the latter is anti-herding behavior. Our results imply that individual members behave strategically; governors want to present policy-consistent forecasts to the Congress and non-governors utilize their forecasts to influence decision making in FOMC.

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Why Don't Lenders Renegotiate More Home Mortgages? Redefaults, Self-Cures and Securitization

Manuel Adelino, Kristopher Gerardi & Paul Willen
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:

A leading explanation for the lack of widespread mortgage renegotiation is the existence of frictions in the mortgage securitization process. This paper finds similarly small renegotiation rates for securitized loans and loans held on banks' balance sheets that become seriously delinquent, in particular during the early part of the financial crisis. We argue that information issues endemic to home mortgages, where lenders negotiate with large numbers of borrowers, lead to barriers in renegotiation. Consistent with the theory, renegotiation rates are strongly negatively correlated with the degree of informational asymmetries between borrowers and lenders over the course of the crisis.

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Negative Equity and Wages

Chris Cunningham & Robert Reed
Regional Science and Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:

We examine the relationship between housing equity and wage earnings using nine waves of the national American Housing Survey from 1985-2003. Employing a rich set of time and place controls, a synthetic mortgage instrumental variable strategy, and a first difference estimator we find that people underwater on their mortgage command a significantly lower wage than other homeowners. The finding survives a number of robustness checks for reverse causality and unobserved heterogeneity. We also explore other determinants of “house lock” including loss aversion, a low existing mortgage interest rate and property tax assessment caps, but do not find these factors mitigate the effect of negative equity on wages.

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TARP Funds Distribution and Bank Loan Supply

Lei Li
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:

This paper investigates the determinants of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds distribution to banks and the stimulus effect of TARP investments on credit supply in the economy. Using banks’ political and regulatory connections as instruments, this paper finds that TARP investments increased bank loan supply by an annualized rate of 6.36% for banks with below median Tier 1 capital ratios. This increase is found in all major types of loans and can be translated into $404 billion of additional loans for all TARP banks. On average, TARP banks employed about one-third of their TARP capital to support new loans and kept the rest to strengthen their balance sheets. Furthermore, there is little evidence that loans made by TARP banks had lower quality than those by non-TARP banks. In sum, this paper shows a positive stimulus effect of TARP on credit supply during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

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Exporting Liquidity: Branch Banking and Financial Integration

Erik Gilje, Elena Loutskina & Philip Strahan
NBER Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:

Using exogenous deposit windfalls from oil and natural gas shale discoveries, we demonstrate that bank branch networks help integrate U.S. lending markets. We find that banks exposed to shale booms increase their mortgage lending in non-boom counties by 0.93% per 1% increase in deposits. This effect is present only in markets where banks have branches and is strongest for mortgages that are hard to securitize. Our findings suggest that contracting frictions limit the ability of arm’s length finance to integrate credit markets fully. Branch networks continue to play an important role in financial integration, despite the development of securitization markets.

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Global Imbalances and Structural Change in the United States

Timothy Kehoe, Kim Ruhl & Joseph Steinberg
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:

Since the early 1990s, as the United States has borrowed from the rest of the world, employment in U.S. goods-producing sectors has fallen. Using a dynamic general equilibrium model, we find that rapid productivity growth in goods production, not U.S. borrowing, has been the most important driver of the decline in goods-sector employment. As the United States repays its debt, its trade balance will reverse, but goods-sector employment will continue to fall. A sudden stop in foreign lending in 2015–2016 would cause a sharp trade balance reversal and painful reallocation across sectors, but would not affect long-term structural change.

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Factoryless Goods Producers in the US

Andrew Bernard & Teresa Fort
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:

This paper documents the extent and characteristics of plants and firms in the US that are outside the manufacturing sector according to official government statistics but nonetheless are heavily involved in activities related to the production of manufactured goods. Using new data on establishment activities in the Census of Wholesale Trade conducted by the US Bureau of the Census in 2002 and 2007, this paper provides evidence on so-called “factoryless goods producers” (FGPs) in the US economy. FGPs are formally in the wholesale sector but, unlike traditional wholesale establishments, FGPs design the goods they sell and coordinate the production activities. This paper documents the extent of FGPs in the wholesale sector and how they differ from traditional wholesalers in terms of their employment, wages, productivity and output. Reclassifying FGP establishments to the manufacturing sector using our definition would have shifted at least 595,000 workers to as many as 1,311,000 workers from wholesale to manufacturing sectors in 2002 and at least 431,000 workers to as many as 1,934,000 workers in 2007.

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Income Increases Do not Compensate for Perceived Inflation, A Price-Consumption Anomaly

Tommy Gärling, Amelie Gamble & Fabian Christandl
Journal of Socio-Economics, December 2013, Pages 11–15

Abstract:

We conjecture that lay people extrapolate past inflation, evaluate product prices relative to recalled reference prices, and perceive income increases as opportunities to increase consumption. From these conjectures we derive the hypothesis that past inflation makes products or expenditures appear more expensive, whereas income increases make them more affordable but not less expensive. In Experiment 1 205 undergraduates were in different conditions asked to imagine that they received no income increase, a 10% income increase, or that past inflation was 5%, 10% or 30%. In line with the hypothesis, expensiveness of common products and expenditures was rated higher for the higher inflation rates but not lower for the income increase. In Experiment 2 114 undergraduates imagined that they would receive a 10% income decrease or increase and that past inflation was 5% or 15%. Also in line with the hypothesis, ratings of expensiveness of the products and expenditures increased with increased inflation but did not vary with income, whereas ratings of affordability of the products and expenditures increased more with an income increase than a decrease but did not vary with inflation.

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The Network Origins of Large Economic Downturns

Daron Acemoglu, Asuman Ozdaglar & Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi
NBER Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:

This paper shows that large economic downturns may result from the propagation of microeconomic shocks over the input-output linkages across different firms or sectors within the economy. Building on the framework of Acemoglu et al. (2012), we argue that the economy’s input-output structure can fundamentally reshape the distribution of aggregate output, increasing the likelihood of large downturns from infinitesimal to substantial. More specifically, we show that an economy with non-trivial intersectoral input-output linkages that is subject to thin-tailed productivity shocks may exhibit deep recessions as frequently as economies that are subject to heavy-tailed shocks. Moreover, we show that in the presence of input-output linkages, aggregate volatility is not necessarily a sufficient statistic for the likelihood of large downturns. Rather, depending on the shape of the distribution of the idiosyncratic shocks, different features of the economy’s input-output network may be of first-order importance. Finally, our results establish that the effects of the economy’s input-output structure and the nature of the idiosyncratic firm-level shocks on aggregate output are not separable, in the sense that the likelihood of large economic downturns is determined by the interplay between the two.

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Unintended Consequences of the Increased Asset Threshold for FDICIA Internal Controls: Evidence from U.S. Private Banks

Justin Yiqiang Jin, Kiridaran Kanagaretnam & Gerald Lobo
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:

We examine the unintended consequences of the 2005 increase from $500 million to $1 billion in the asset threshold for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act (FDICIA) internal control reporting requirements. We focus on a test sample of banks that increased their total assets from between $100 million and $500 million prior to the change in regulation to between $500 million and $1 billion within two years following the change. These “affected” banks are no longer subject to the internal control requirements but would have been had the regulation not been changed. We hypothesize that these affected banks are likely to make riskier loans, which will increase the likelihood of failure during the crisis period. We find evidence consistent with this hypothesis. Affected banks have higher likelihood of failure during the crisis period than banks from two different control samples. We also find that auditor reputation (i.e., whether the bank is audited by a Big 4 auditor or an industry specialist auditor) has a moderating effect on the likelihood of failure for these affected banks.

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Personal Bankruptcy Law, Wealth, and Entrepreneurship — Evidence from the Introduction of a “Fresh Start” Policy

Frank Fossen
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

Abstract:

A personal bankruptcy law that allows for a “fresh start” not only reduces the individual risk involved in entrepreneurship, but may also lead to higher interest rates charged by creditors. Both effects are less relevant for wealthy potential entrepreneurs. This paper illustrates these effects in a model and tests the hypotheses derived by exploiting the introduction of a “fresh start” policy in Germany in 1999 as a quasi-experiment, based on representative household panel data. The results indicate that the insurance effect of a more forgiving personal bankruptcy law exceeds the interest effect and encourages less wealthy individuals to enter into entrepreneurship.

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Payment Size, Negative Equity, and Mortgage Default

Andreas Fuster & Paul Willen
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:

Surprisingly little is known about the importance of mortgage payment size for default, as efforts to measure the treatment effect of rate increases or loan modifications are confounded by borrower selection. We study a sample of hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages that have experienced large rate reductions over the past years and are largely immune to these selection concerns. We show that interest rate reductions dramatically affect repayment behavior, even for borrowers who are significantly underwater on their mortgages. Our estimates imply that cutting a borrower’s payment in half reduces his hazard of becoming delinquent by about 55 percent, an effect approximately equivalent to lowering the borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio from 145 to 95 (holding the payment fixed). These findings shed light on the driving forces behind default behavior and have important implications for public policy.

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Leverage and the Foreclosure Crisis

Dean Corbae & Erwan Quintin
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:

How much of the recent rise in foreclosures can be explained by the large number of high-leverage mortgage contracts originated during the housing boom? We present a model where heterogeneous households select from a set of mortgage contracts and choose whether to default on their payments given realizations of income and housing price shocks. The set of mortgage contracts consists of loans with high downpayments and loans with low downpayments. We run an experiment where the use of low downpayment loans is initially limited by payment-to-income requirements but then becomes unrestricted for 8 years. The relaxation of approval standards causes homeownership rates, high-leverage originations and the frequency of high interest rate loans to rise much like they did in the US between 1998-2006. When home values fall by the magnitude observed in the US from 2007-08, default rates increase by over 180% as they do in the data. Two distinct counterfactual experiments where approval standards remain the same throughout suggest that the increased availability of high-leverage loans prior to the crisis can explain between 40% to 65% of the initial rise in foreclosure rates. Furthermore, we run policy experiments which suggest that recourse could have had significant dampening effects during the crisis.

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Beyond Bankruptcy: Does the U.S. Bankruptcy Code Provide a Fresh Start To Entrepreneurs?

Aparna Mathur
Journal of Banking & Finance, November 2013, Pages 4198–4216

Abstract:

This paper assesses the extent to which the U.S. bankruptcy system is effective in providing small businesses a “fresh start” after a bankruptcy filing. I use data from the 1993, 1998 and 2003 National Survey of Small Business Finances to explore how firms fare after a bankruptcy filing. On the positive side, previously bankrupt firms are not any more burdened than the average small firm by problems relating to profitability, cash flow, health insurance costs, or taxes. Further, the fact that these firms are surviving several years after the filing is itself a testament to the efficient functioning of the U.S. bankruptcy system. It suggests that the bankruptcy system goes a long way toward helping businesses recover after a bankruptcy filing. However, the one area of concern that persists after a filing is financing or credit access. In general, these firms have a nearly 24 percentage point higher likelihood of being denied a loan and are charged interest rates that are more than 1 percentage point higher than those charged to other businesses. A bankruptcy affects all types of financing, even trade credit, which is a significant form of lending between businesses. In fact, it appears that firms with a bankruptcy record are rationed out of the market, with all types of loans being denied at significantly higher rates than other firms. Further, my results show that bankruptcy leads to a class of discouraged borrowers who are significantly less likely to even apply for a loan.

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Who Gets Credit after Bankruptcy and Why? An Information Channel

Ethan Cohen-Cole, Burcu Duygan-Bump & Judit Montoriol-Garriga
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:

Conventional wisdom holds that individuals find it difficult to obtain new credit post-bankruptcy. Using credit bureau data, we test this hypothesis and show that more than 90% of bankrupt individuals receive credit shortly after filing. Individuals with good credit history prior to filing have reduced credit availability after bankruptcy while those with ex-ante low credit quality receive more credit. We show that credit supplied to low quality individuals is severely curtailed during the financial crisis. We also find that the default probability on new debt increases after bankruptcy, especially among individuals with high ex-ante credit score. These findings are consistent with an information channel, in which bankruptcy reveals new information about a borrower’s credit quality.

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Why Are the 2000s So Different from the 1970s? A Structural Interpretation of Changes in the Macroeconomic Effects of Oil Prices

Olivier Blanchard & Marianna Riggi
Journal of the European Economic Association, October 2013, Pages 1032–1052

Abstract:

In the 1970s, large increases in the price of oil were associated with sharp decreases in output and large increases in inflation. In the 2000s, even larger increases in the price of oil were associated with much milder movements in output and inflation. Using a structural VAR approach, Blanchard and Gali (in J. Gali and M. Gertler (eds.) 2009, International Dimensions of Monetary Policy, University of Chicago Press, pp. 373–428) argued that this reflected a change in the causal relation from the price of oil to output and inflation. They then argued that this change could be due to a combination of three factors: a smaller share of oil in production and consumption, lower real wage rigidity, and better monetary policy. Their argument, based on simulations of a simple new-Keynesian model, was informal. Our purpose in this paper is to take the next step, and to estimate the explanatory power and contribution of each of these factors. To do so, we use a minimum distance estimator that minimizes, over the set of structural parameters and for each of two samples (pre- and post-1984), the distance between the empirical SVAR-based impulse response functions and those implied by a new-Keynesian model. Our empirical results point to an important role for all three factors.

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Railroads and American Economic Growth: A “Market Access” Approach

Dave Donaldson & Richard Hornbeck
NBER Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:

This paper examines the historical impact of railroads on the American economy. Expansion of the railroad network may have affected all counties directly or indirectly – an econometric challenge that arises in many empirical settings. However, the total impact on each county is captured by changes in that county's “market access,” a reduced-form expression derived from general equilibrium trade theory. We measure counties' market access by constructing a network database of railroads and waterways and calculating lowest-cost county-to-county freight routes. As the railroad network expanded from 1870 to 1890, changes in market access were capitalized into county agricultural land values with an estimated elasticity of 1.1. County-level declines in market access associated with removing all railroads in 1890 are estimated to decrease the total value of US agricultural land by 64%. Feasible extensions to internal waterways or improvements in country roads would have mitigated 13% or 20% of the losses from removing railroads.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dole

Helping Them Stay Where They Are: Status Effects on Dependency/Autonomy-Oriented Helping

Arie Nadler & Lily Chernyak-Hai
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
On the basis of expectation states theory and Weiner’s attributional model of help giving (Weiner, 1980), we predicted that low-status help seekers would be viewed as chronically dependent and their need as due to lack of ability, leading to the giving of dependency-oriented help (i.e., full solution to the problem). High-status help seekers were expected to be viewed as competent and their request as representing their high motivation to overcome a transient difficulty, resulting in autonomy-oriented help (i.e., tools to solve the problem). Help seeking is viewed as a stigma-consistent behavior that implies weakness when help seekers are low-status individuals and as strength when they are high-status individuals. Three experiments supported these predictions. The 4th experiment indicated that low-status persons who seek autonomy-oriented help are not seen as chronically dependent. Implications of these findings for helping and inequality are discussed.

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Are Voters More Likely to Contribute to Other Public Goods? Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Policy Experiment

Toby Bolsen, Paul Ferraro & Juan Jose Miranda
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Voting has been described as a contribution to a public good. Are people who vote frequently therefore more likely to contribute to other public goods? Does partisanship affect how likely a person is to engage in these cooperative behaviors? Although surveys suggest that the answer to these questions is “Yes,” few empirical studies examine these questions using observed behaviors. We examine them in the context of a large-scale, randomized controlled trial to induce voluntary action in a common-pool resource dilemma. During a drought in the southeastern United States, pro-social messages that encouraged water conservation were randomly assigned to 35,000 out of 106,000 households. Frequent voters in primary and general elections (1990–2008) were substantially more responsive to the messages, but there was no detectable difference in the responses of Republican and Democrat households. Our results suggest that internalized pro-social preferences promote action for the public good across behavioral contexts.

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When Appreciating Nature Makes One Care Less for Human Beings: The Role of Belief in Just Nature in Helping Victims of Natural Disasters

Adrian Wojcik & Aleksandra Cislak
Social Justice Research, September 2013, Pages 253-271

Abstract:
The concept that nature is just and that it can act against its perpetrators is widespread among environmentalists. In the research presented, we show the consequences of sharing just-nature beliefs for reactions toward victims of natural catastrophes. A preliminary qualitative analysis of environmentalist discourse related to victims of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster caused by a tsunami showed that just-nature beliefs were used to justify the Japanese tragedy. In the following three quantitative studies, we demonstrate that the belief in just-nature is related to a diminished tendency to help human beings who suffered from natural catastrophes. Two correlation studies conducted directly after the earthquake in Japan in 2011 on members of ecological organizations (N = 183) and undergraduates (N = 123) showed that just-nature beliefs result in a tendency to help by giving donations for reducing the consequences of nature rather than for human victims of the tragedy. The results were replicated in a correlation study of undergraduates (N = 153) conducted after Hurricane Sandy.

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When Mother Earth rises up: Anthropomorphizing nature reduces support for natural disaster victims

Simona Sacchi, Paolo Riva & Marco Brambilla
Social Psychology, Fall 2013, Pages 271-277

Abstract:
Anthropomorphization is the tendency to ascribe humanlike features and mental states, such as free will and consciousness, to nonhuman beings or inanimate agents. Two studies investigated the consequences of the anthropomorphization of nature on people’s willingness to help victims of natural disasters. Study 1 (N = 96) showed that the humanization of nature correlated negatively with willingness to help natural disaster victims. Study 2 (N = 52) tested for causality, showing that the anthropomorphization of nature reduced participants’ intentions to help the victims. Overall, our findings suggest that humanizing nature undermines the tendency to support victims of natural disasters.

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Selfless giving

Daniel Bartels, Trevor Kvaran & Shaun Nichols
Cognition, November 2013, Pages 392–403

Abstract:
In four studies, we show that people who anticipate more personal change over time give more to others. We measure and manipulate participants’ beliefs in the persistence of the defining psychological features of a person (e.g., his or her beliefs, values, and life goals) and measure generosity, finding support for the hypothesis in three studies using incentive-compatible charitable donation decisions and one involving hypothetical choices about sharing with loved ones.

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The Impact of Social Comparison of Ability on Pro-Social Behavior

Yohanes Riyanto & Jianlin Zhang
Journal of Socio-Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We experimentally investigate the impact of social comparison of ability on pro-social behavior. Randomly-selected participants were required to perform a task to earn money. Subsequently, they had to decide how much of the money to transfer to a recipient. In our baseline treatment, allocators were not informed of their relative performance (ability) ranking on the task. In another treatment, allocators were provided with such information. We found that the amount of giving to unknown recipients decreased significantly when allocators were socially aware of their relative ability. This result is robust to a variation in the format of the allocation game employed in the experiment.

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Giving to Others and the Association Between Stress and Mortality

Michael Poulin et al.
American Journal of Public Health, September 2013, Pages 1649-1655

Objectives: We sought to test the hypothesis that providing help to others predicts a reduced association between stress and mortality.

Methods: We examined data from participants (n = 846) in a study in the Detroit, Michigan, area. Participants completed baseline interviews that assessed past-year stressful events and whether the participant had provided tangible assistance to friends or family members. Participant mortality and time to death was monitored for 5 years by way of newspaper obituaries and monthly state death-record tapes.

Results: When we adjusted for age, baseline health and functioning, and key psychosocial variables, Cox proportional hazard models for mortality revealed a significant interaction between helping behavior and stressful events (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.58; P < .05; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.35, 0.98). Specifically, stress did not predict mortality risk among individuals who provided help to others in the past year (HR = 0.96; 95% CI = 0.79, 1.18), but stress did predict mortality among those who did not provide help to others (HR = 1.30; P < .05; 95% CI = 1.05, 1.62).

Conclusions: Helping others predicted reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality.

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Social Networks and Externalities from Gift Exchange: Evidence from A Field Experiment

Janet Currie, Wanchuan Lin & Juanjuan Meng
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper asks whether gift exchange generates externalities for people outside of the bilateral relationship between the gift giver and recipient, and whether the nature of this relationship is affected by social networks. We examine this question in the context of a field experiment in urban Chinese hospital outpatient clinics. We first show that when patients give a small gift, doctors reciprocate with better service and a fewer unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics. We then show that gift giving creates externalities for third parties. If two patients, A and B are perceived as unrelated, B receives worse care when A gives a gift. However, if A identifies B as a friend, then both A and B benefit from A’s gift giving. Hence, we show that gift giving can create positive or negative externalities, depending on the giver’s social distance to the third party.

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New experimental evidence on charitable gift restrictions and donor behavior

Sara Helms, Brian Scott & Jeremy Thornton
Applied Economics Letters, Fall 2013, Pages 1521-1526

Abstract:
Gift restrictions are a common tool used by donors to ensure charitable intent. Owing to increased monitoring costs and the loss of flexibility, gift restrictions are costly to the recipient nonprofit organizations. Using an economic experiment, we studied the impact of offering donors the option to restrict their charitable gift. Our primary finding demonstrates that allowing the option to restrict a charitable gift increases the average gift size, whether or not the donor chooses to exercise that option. This result implies that restricted gifts both are an important tool for increasing donations and may be less costly to the nonprofit organizations than originally believed. We further demonstrate that high levels of religious attendance are associated with an increased use of gift restrictions and an increased responsiveness to those restrictions.

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Charitable giving among females and males: An empirical test of the competitive altruism hypothesis

Robert Böhm & Tobias Regner
Journal of Bioeconomics, October 2013, Pages 251-267

Abstract:
We conduct a real-effort task experiment where subjects’ performance translates into a donation to a charity. In a within-subjects design we vary the visibility of the donation (no/private/public feedback). Confirming previous studies, we find that subjects’ performance increases, that is, they donate more to charity, when their relative performance is made public. In line with the competitive altruism hypothesis, a biology-based explanation for status-seeking behavior, especially male subjects increase performance in the public setting.

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Meta-stereotypes, Social Image and Help Seeking: Dependency-Related Meta-stereotypes Reduce Help-Seeking Behaviour

Juliet Wakefield, Nick Hopkins & Ronni Michelle Greenwood
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, September/October 2013, Pages 363–372

Abstract:
People who need help can be reluctant to seek it. This can be due to social image concerns. Here, we investigate if these concerns may be prompted by a salient negative meta-stereotype: the belief that one's group is judged negatively by another group. Specifically, we researched group members' help-seeking behaviour in the context of a dependency-related meta-stereotype. In a two-condition study (N = 45), we manipulated participants' belief that their national group was judged dependent by a significant out-group. We then examined their subsequent help-seeking behaviour on a real-world task. Participants whose social identity as a group member was salient showed greater reluctance to seek help when the meta-stereotype was made prominent compared with when it was not. This suggests that, in a context where social image and social identity concerns are relevant, group members are willing to sacrifice the possibility of accessing needed help in order to avoid confirming a negative stereotype of their group. The implications of these results for helping transactions and community development are discussed.

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I Want to Help You, But I Am Not Sure Why: Gaze-Cuing Induces Altruistic Giving

Robert Rogers et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Detecting subtle indicators of trustworthiness is highly adaptive for moving effectively amongst social partners. One powerful signal is gaze direction, which individuals can use to inform (or deceive) by looking toward (or away from) important objects or events in the environment. Here, across 5 experiments, we investigate whether implicit learning about gaze cues can influence subsequent economic transactions; we also examine some of the underlying mechanisms. In the 1st experiment, we demonstrate that people invest more money with individuals whose gaze information has previously been helpful, possibly reflecting enhanced trust appraisals. However, in 2 further experiments, we show that other mechanisms driving this behavior include obligations to fairness or (painful) altruism, since people also make more generous offers and allocations of money to individuals with reliable gaze cues in adapted 1-shot ultimatum games and 1-shot dictator games. In 2 final experiments, we show that the introduction of perceptual noise while following gaze can disrupt these effects, but only when the social partners are unfamiliar. Nonconscious detection of reliable gaze cues can prompt altruism toward others, probably reflecting the interplay of systems that encode identity and control gaze-evoked attention, integrating the reinforcement value of gaze cues.

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Do people care about social context? Framing effects in dictator games

Anna Dreber et al.
Experimental Economics, September 2013, Pages 349-371

Abstract:
Many previous experiments document that behavior in multi-person settings responds to the name of the game and the labeling of strategies. With a few exceptions, these studies cannot tell whether frames affect preferences or beliefs. In three large experiments, we investigate whether social framing effects are also present in Dictator games. Since only one of the subjects makes a decision, the frame can affect behavior merely through preferences. In all the experiments, we find that behavior is insensitive to social framing. We discuss how to reconcile the absence of social framing effects in Dictator games with the presence of social framing effects in Ultimatum games.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Push and pull

Why Does Choice Enhance Treatment Effectiveness? Using Placebo Treatments to Demonstrate the Role of Personal Control

Andrew Geers et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In modern health care, individuals frequently exercise choice over health treatment alternatives. A growing body of research suggests that when individuals choose between treatment options, treatment effectiveness can increase, although little experimental evidence exists clarifying this effect. Four studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that exercising choice over treatment alternatives enhances outcomes by providing greater personal control. Consistent with this possibility, in Study 1 individuals who chronically desired control reported less pain from a laboratory pain task when they were able to select between placebo analgesic treatments. Study 2 replicated this finding with an auditory discomfort paradigm. In Study 3, the desire for control was experimentally induced, and participants with high desire for control benefited more from a placebo treatment when they were able to choose their treatment. Study 4 revealed that the benefit of choice on treatment efficacy was partially mediated by thoughts of personal control. This research suggests that when individuals desire control, choice over treatment alternatives improves treatment effectiveness by enhancing personal control.

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Freedom from constraints: Darkness and dim illumination promote creativity

Anna Steidle & Lioba Werth
Journal of Environmental Psychology, September 2013, Pages 67–80

Abstract:
Employee creativity is critical to organizational competitiveness. However, the potential contribution made by the workspace and the physical environment is not fully taken into account because, up to now, it has been rather unclear how aspects of the physical environment, especially light, can support creativity. Consequently, in six studies, the present research investigated the effect of light and darkness on creative performance. We expected that darkness would offer individuals freedom from constraints, enabling a global and explorative processing style, which in turn facilitates creativity. First, four studies demonstrated that both priming darkness and actual dim illumination improved creative performance. The priming studies revealed that the effect can occur outside of people's awareness and independent of differences in visibility. Second, two additional studies tested the underlying mechanism and showed that darkness elicits a feeling of being free from constraints and triggers a risky, explorative processing style. As expected, perceived freedom from constraints mediated the effect of dim illumination on creativity. Third, moderation analyses demonstrated the effects' boundary conditions: the darkness-related increase in creativity disappeared when using a more informal indirect light instead of direct light or when evaluating ideas instead of generating creative ideas. In sum, these results contribute to the understanding of visual atmospheres (i.e. visual messages), their importance for lighting effects, and their impact via conceptual links and attentional tuning. Limitations as well as practical implications for lighting design are discussed.

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Stereotype Threat and the Student-Athlete

Thomas Dee
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Achievement gaps may reflect the cognitive impairment thought to occur in evaluative settings (e.g., classrooms) where a stereotyped identity is salient (i.e., stereotype threat). This study presents an economic model of stereotype threat that reconciles prior evidence on how student effort and performance are influenced by this social-identity phenomenon. This study also presents empirical evidence from a framed field experiment in which students at a selective college were randomly assigned to a treatment that primed their awareness of a negatively stereotyped identity (i.e., student-athlete). This social-identity manipulation reduced the test-score performance of athletes relative to non-athletes by 12%. These negative performance effects were concentrated among male student-athletes who also responded to the social-identity manipulation by attempting to answer more questions.

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Beliefs about willpower determine the impact of glucose on self-control

Veronika Job et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 September 2013, Pages 14837-14842

Abstract:
Past research found that the ingestion of glucose can enhance self-control. It has been widely assumed that basic physiological processes underlie this effect. We hypothesized that the effect of glucose also depends on people’s theories about willpower. Three experiments, both measuring (experiment 1) and manipulating (experiments 2 and 3) theories about willpower, showed that, following a demanding task, only people who view willpower as limited and easily depleted (a limited resource theory) exhibited improved self-control after sugar consumption. In contrast, people who view willpower as plentiful (a nonlimited resource theory) showed no benefits from glucose — they exhibited high levels of self-control performance with or without sugar boosts. Additionally, creating beliefs about glucose ingestion (experiment 3) did not have the same effect as ingesting glucose for those with a limited resource theory. We suggest that the belief that willpower is limited sensitizes people to cues about their available resources including physiological cues, making them dependent on glucose boosts for high self-control performance.

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Power increases situated creativity

Sarah Gervais et al.
Social Influence, Fall 2013, Pages 294-311

Abstract:
The present paper examined whether power was linked with situated creativity. We proposed that powerful (vs powerless) people engage in creative thought when creativity contributes to contextual goals but avoid creative thought when creativity impedes contextual goals. Extending the Situated Focus Theory of Power (Guinote, 2007a; 2010) to creativity, we suggested that powerful people are better able to achieve situational goals because they can flexibly focus on cues that indicate what is required for success in a given context. Across three experiments, we found that powerful (vs powerless) people engaged in more creative thinking when creativity facilitated contextual goals. This was not the case when creativity hindered contextual goals. Further, neither affect (Experiment 2) nor effort (Experiments 1 and 3) contributed to these effects. However, local processing undermined creativity for powerful people, indicating that processing style may contribute to the link between power and situated creativity. These findings suggest that powerful people flexibly vary creativity in line with the situation.

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The Allometry of Metabolism and Stature: Worker Fatigue and Height In The Tanzanian Labor Market

Gregory Price
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
If the positive wage-height correlation is at least partially biological in origin, one plausible pathway is the effect of stature on energy expenditure in individuals. If metabolism scales proportionately with stature, then relative to short individuals, taller individuals can produce more energy for a given work task. This also suggests that end-of-the-workday fatigue, or lack of energy, varies inversely with stature. We test this hypothesis with data from the 2004 Tanzanian Household Worker Survey in which workers report the extent of their fatigue at the end-of-the-workday. Ordinal latent variable parameter estimates reveal that relative to short workers, taller workers are less likely to report being tired at the end-of-the-workday. This suggests that the positive wage-height relationship also has a biological foundation whereby the energy requirements and metabolic costs associated with work effort/tasks are inversely related to stature.

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Response to restrictive policies: Reconciling system justification and psychological reactance

Kristin Laurin et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2013, Pages 152–162

Abstract:
Here we propose a dual process model to reconcile two contradictory predictions about how people respond to restrictive policies imposed upon them by organizations and systems within which they operate. When participants’ attention was not drawn to the restrictive nature of the policy, or when it was, but their cognitive resources were restricted, we found evidence supporting a prediction based on System Justification Theory: Participants reacted favorably to restrictive policies, endorsing them and downplaying the importance of the restricted freedom. Only when we cued participants to focus their undivided attention on the restrictive nature of the policy did we find evidence supporting a prediction based on psychological reactance: Only then did participants display reactance and respond negatively to the policies.

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Stereotype threat can enhance, as well as impair, older adults’ memory

Sarah Barber & Mara Mather
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Negative stereotypes about aging can impair older adults’ memory; however, the mechanisms underlying this are unclear. In two experiments we tested competing predictions derived from two theoretical accounts: executive control interference and regulatory fit. Older adults completed a working memory test either under stereotype threat about their memory or not. Monetary incentives were manipulated such that recall either led to gains or forgetting led to losses. The executive control interference account predicts that threat decreases the availability of executive control resources and hence should impair working memory performance. The regulatory fit account predicts that threat induces a prevention focus. Because of this threat should impair performance when gains are emphasized but improve performance when losses are emphasized. Results were only consistent with the regulatory fit account. Although stereotype threat significantly impaired older adults’ working memory performance when remembering led to gains, it significantly improved performance when forgetting led to losses.

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Marking Time: Selective Use of Temporal Landmarks as Barriers Between Current and Future Selves

Johanna Peetz & Anne Wilson
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Temporal landmarks such as birthdays and significant calendar dates structure our perception of time. People might highlight temporal landmarks spontaneously in an effort to regulate connections between temporal selves. Five studies demonstrated that landmarks are used spontaneously to induce psychological separation from undesirable temporal selves. Participants were more likely to think of events that fell in between the current and the future self if an imagined future self was negative than if it was positive (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2). Furthermore, when a self-enhancement mindset was activated, participants were more likely to call to mind intervening temporal landmarks to protect themselves from a negative future self than when this mindset was not activated (Study 3). Finally, when psychological separations between the current self and a negative future self were introduced through alternate means, participants no longer selectively used landmarks to separate themselves from this future self (Study 4).

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To Do It or to Let an Automatic Tool Do It?: The Priority of Control Over Effort

François Osiurak et al.
Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aim of the present study is to provide experimental data relevant to the issue of what leads humans to use automatic tools. Two answers can be offered. The first is that humans strive to minimize physical and/or cognitive effort (principle of least effort). The second is that humans tend to keep their perceived control over the environment (principle of more control). These two factors certainly play a role, but the question raised here is to what do people give priority in situations wherein both manual and automatic actions take the same time – minimizing effort or keeping perceived control? To answer that question, we built four experiments in which participants were confronted with a recurring choice between performing a task manually (physical effort) or in a semi-automatic way (cognitive effort) versus using an automatic tool that completes the task for them (no effort). In this latter condition, participants were required to follow the progression of the automatic tool step by step. Our results showed that participants favored the manual or semi-automatic condition over the automatic condition. However, when they were offered the opportunity to perform recreational tasks in parallel, the shift toward manual condition disappeared. The findings give support to the idea that people give priority to keeping control over minimizing effort.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spirited debate

Exporting Christianity: Governance And Doctrine In The Globalization Of US Denominations

Gordon Hanson & Chong Xiang
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we build a model of market competition among religious denominations, using a framework that involves incomplete contracts and the production of club goods. We treat denominations akin to multinational enterprises, which decide which countries to enter based on local market conditions and their own “productivity.” The model guides us in estimating how a denomination’s religious doctrine and governance structure affect its ability to attract adherents. Using data on the foreign operations of US Protestant denominations in 2005 from the World Christian Database, we find that (1) denominations with stricter religious doctrine attract more adherents in countries in which the risk of natural disaster or disease outbreak is greater and in which government provision of health services is weaker, and (2) denominations with a decentralized governance structure attract more adherents in countries in which the pastor cost of connecting with congregants is lower. These findings illuminate factors shaping the composition of religion within countries, helping account for the rise of new Protestant groups. They also provide empirical evidence for the recent theoretical developments in organization and trade.

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Loss of Control Increases Belief in Precognition and Belief in Precognition Increases Control

Katharine Greenaway, Winnifred Louis & Matthew Hornsey
PLoS ONE, August 2013

Abstract:
Every year thousands of dollars are spent on psychics who claim to “know” the future. The present research questions why, despite no evidence that humans are able to psychically predict the future, do people persist in holding irrational beliefs about precognition? We argue that believing the future is predictable increases one’s own perceived ability to exert control over future events. As a result, belief in precognition should be particularly strong when people most desire control – that is, when they lack it. In Experiment 1 (N = 87), people who were experimentally induced to feel low in control reported greater belief in precognition than people who felt high in control. Experiment 2 (N = 53) investigated whether belief in precognition increases perceived control. Consistent with this notion, providing scientific evidence that precognition is possible increased feelings of control relative to providing scientific evidence that precognition was not possible. Experiment 3 (N = 132) revealed that when control is low, believing in precognition helps people to feel in control once more. Prediction therefore acts as a compensatory mechanism in times of low control. The present research provides new insights into the psychological functions of seemingly irrational beliefs, like belief in psychic abilities.

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Are Muslims a Distinctive Minority? An Empirical Analysis of Religiosity, Social Attitudes, and Islam

Valerie Lewis & Ridhi Kashyap
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2013, Pages 617–626

Abstract:
Scholarly and public discourses on Muslim immigrants in Europe have questioned if Islam is an impediment to sociocultural adaptation and whether Muslims are a distinctive group in their religiosity and social values. We use a new survey of 480 British Muslims in conjunction with the British Social Attitudes Survey to examine differences between Muslim and non-Muslim Britons on religiosity (practice, belief, salience) and moral and social issues regarding gender, abortion, and homosexuality. Muslims are more religious than other Britons, including both British Christians and religious “nones.” Muslims also are more conservative than other Britons across the range of social and moral attitudes. Multivariate analysis shows, however, that much of the difference on moral issues is due to socioeconomic disadvantage and high religiosity among Muslims. Although being a highly religious group in an otherwise secular country renders Muslims distinctive, factors that predict social conservatism among all Britons — high religiosity and low SES — apply similarly to Muslims.

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Different Effects of Religion and God on Prosociality With the Ingroup and Outgroup

Jesse Lee Preston & Ryan Ritter
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have found that activating religious cognition by priming techniques can enhance prosocial behavior, arguably because religious concepts carry prosocial associations. But many of these studies have primed multiple concepts simultaneously related to the sacred. We argue here that religion and God are distinct concepts that activate distinct associations. In particular, we examine the effect of God and religion on prosociality toward the ingroup and outgroup. In three studies, we found that religion primes enhanced prosociality toward ingroup members, consistent with ingroup affiliation, whereas, God primes enhanced prosociality toward outgroup members, consistent with concerns of moral impression management. Implications for theory and methodology in religious cognition are discussed.

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Traditional Jewish Sexual Practices and Their Possible Impact on Jewish Fertility and Demography

Evyatar Marienberg
Harvard Theological Review, July 2013, Pages 243 286

"Why do Jews have such a low reproduction rate? And is this something that also characterized them in earlier periods?...I do not have an answer to the question as to whether Jews were always
characterized by a low rate of reproduction. This article will consider the possibility that, regardless of whether or not Jews had a relatively low number of offspring before the modern fertility transition, certain rabbinic rules contributed to a lower birth rate. I will explore the eventuality that these rabbinic rules may have had a demographic impact on certain traditional Jewish communities and perhaps contributed to a low rate of reproduction, sometimes despite the will of those involved."

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Priming Religious Belief and Religious Social Behavior Affects Support for Democracy

Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom & Gizem Arikan
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Autumn 2013, Pages 368-382

Abstract:
The effects of religious belief and religious social behavior on support for democracy are investigated in a priming experiment conducted among Turkish Muslims and Israeli Jews. By varying the question order of World Values Survey (WVS) items, which measure religious belief and religious social behavior, it was demonstrated that priming religious social behavior facilitates, while priming religious belief impedes, support for democracy, compared with a control group of no prime. These results were independent of participants’ intensity of religious belief or the frequency of their religious social behavior and held for the most part across both religious affiliations and political contexts.

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Outsourcing Moral Authority: The Internal Secularization of Evangelicals’ Anti-Pornography Narratives

Jeremy Thomas
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2013, Pages 457–475

Abstract:
Based on content analysis of the popular evangelical magazine Christianity Today, I show that while evangelicals' outward opposition to pornography has remained steady and robust across the period 1956 to 2010, nonetheless, during this same time, evangelicals' anti-pornography narratives have become increasingly secular. Through using and expanding Chaves's notion of internal secularization, I demonstrate how these narratives have become decreasingly legitimated through religious forms of moral authority such as scriptural prohibitions and derivative ideas about God's plan for society, and increasingly legitimated through secular forms of moral authority such as humanistic conceptions of individual rights and of psychological health. I refer to this type of internal secularization as the process of outsourcing moral authority, and I discuss the theoretical significance of this process for potential investigations of a range of other moral narratives.

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Reversing One’s Fortune by Pushing Away Bad Luck

Yan Zhang, Jane Risen & Christine Hosey
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across cultures, people try to “undo” bad luck with superstitious rituals such as knocking on wood, spitting, or throwing salt. We suggest that these rituals reduce the perceived likelihood of anticipated negative outcomes because they involve avoidant actions that exert force away from one’s representation of self, which simulates the experience of pushing away bad luck. Five experiments test this hypothesis by having participants tempt fate and then engage in avoidant actions that are either superstitious (Experiment 1, knocking on wood) or nonsuperstitious (Experiments 2–5, throwing a ball). We find that participants who knock down (away from themselves) or throw a ball think that a jinxed negative outcome is less likely than participants who knock up (toward themselves) or hold a ball. Experiments 3 and 4 provide evidence that after tempting fate, engaging in an avoidant action leads to less clear mental representations for the jinxed event, which, in turn, leads to lower perceived likelihoods. Finally, we demonstrate that engaging in an avoidant action — rather than creating physical distance — is critical for reversing the perceived effect of the jinx. Although superstitions are often culturally defined, the underlying psychological processes that give rise to them may be shared across cultures.

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Searching for Control: Priming Randomness Increases the Evaluation of Ritual Efficacy

Cristine Legare & André Souza
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Reestablishing feelings of control after experiencing uncertainty has long been considered a fundamental motive for human behavior. We propose that rituals (i.e., socially stipulated, causally opaque practices) provide a means for coping with the aversive feelings associated with randomness due to the perception of a connection between ritual action and a desired outcome. Two experiments were conducted (one in Brazil [n = 40] and another in the United States [n = 94]) to evaluate how the perceived efficacy of rituals is affected by feelings of randomness. In a between-subjects design, the Scramble Sentence Task was used as a priming procedure in three conditions (i.e., randomness, negativity, and neutral) and participants were then asked to rate the efficacy of rituals used for problem-solving purposes. The results demonstrate that priming randomness increased participants' perception of ritual efficacy relative to negativity and neutral conditions. Implications for increasing our understanding of the relationship between perceived control and ritualistic behavior are discussed.

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The Existential Function of Intrinsic Religiousness: Moderation of Effects of Priming Religion on Intercultural Tolerance and Afterlife Anxiety

Daryl Van Tongeren et al.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2013, Pages 508–523

Abstract:
Managing existential concerns is theorized to be a key function of religion. We posit that priming religion should be related to greater existential security for those high in intrinsic religiosity. In Experiment 1, priming religion increased intercultural tolerance among individuals who were highly intrinsically religious but decreased it for those low in intrinsic religiousness. In Experiment 2, intrinsic religiousness again moderated the effects of the prime, suggesting that priming religion resulted in attenuated afterlife anxiety for intrinsically religious individuals but greater anxiety for individuals low in intrinsic religiousness. Religious reminders appeared to provide existential security — evidenced by tolerance and reduced death anxiety — only to those high in intrinsic religiousness and can be threatening to those low in intrinsic religiousness. Existential outcomes are a specific case in which intrinsic religiousness can moderate the effects of religious primes, suggesting that religion plays a different existential role for different people.

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Religion and Returns in Europe

Julie Salaber
European Journal of Political Economy, December 2013, Pages 149–160

Abstract:
Drawing on social identity and social impact theory, this paper is the first to investigate the impact of religious preferences on share prices and expected returns at the country level. Using data from 12 European countries, our findings suggest that religion has a significant effect on the share price of companies whose activities are considered unethical, i.e., tobacco manufacturers and alcohol producers. The share price of these companies (called sin stocks) is depressed when they are located in a predominantly Protestant environment (relative to a Catholic environment). With investors in Protestant countries being more sin averse than in Catholic countries, they insist upon higher expected returns on sin stocks. Conversely, religious preferences do not have the same impact on the performance of other companies, e.g. socially responsible companies. Our results are robust to various methodologies and controlling for several firm-specific, industry-specific and country-specific characteristics.

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Religion and Mental Health Among Israeli Jews: Findings from the SHARE-Israel Study

Jeff Levin
Social Indicators Research, September 2013, Pages 769-784

Abstract:
This study investigates the impact of religiousness on mental health indicators in a population sample of Israeli Jews aged 50 or older. Data are from the Israel sample of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE-Israel), collected from 2005 to 2006. Of the 1,287 Jewish respondents, 473 (36.8 %) were native-born Israelis and 814 (63.2 %) were diaspora-born. Religious measures included past-month synagogue activities, current prayer, and having received a religious education. Mental health outcomes included single-item measures of lifetime depression and life satisfaction, along with the CES-D and EURO-D depression scales, the CASP-12 quality of life scale, and the LOT-R optimism scale. Participation in synagogue activities was found to be significantly associated with less depression, better quality of life, and more optimism, even after adjusting for effects of the other religious measures, for sociodemographic covariates, for the possibly confounding effect of age-related activity limitation, and for nativity. Findings for prayer were less consistent, including inverse associations with mental health, perhaps reflecting prayer’s use as a coping response. Finally, religious education was associated with greater optimism. These results underscore a modest contribution of religious participation to well-being among middle-aged and older adults, extending this research to the Israeli and Jewish populations.

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The minds of gods: A comparative study of supernatural agency

Benjamin Grant Purzycki
Cognition, October 2013, Pages 163–179

Abstract:
The present work is the first study to systematically compare the minds of gods by examining some of the intuitive processes that guide how people reason about them. By examining the Christian god and the spirit-masters of the Tyva Republic, it first confirms that the consensus view of the Christian god’s mind is one of omniscience with acute concern for interpersonal social behavior (i.e., moral behaviors) and that Tyvan spirit-masters are not as readily attributed with knowledge or concern of moral information. Then, it reports evidence of a moralization bias of gods’ minds; American Christians who believe that God is omniscient rate God as more knowledgeable of moral behaviors than nonmoral information. Additionally, Tyvans who do not readily report pro- or antisocial behavior among the things that spirit-masters care about will nevertheless rate spirit-masters’ knowledge and concern of moral information higher than nonmoral information. However, this knowledge is distributed spatially; the farther away from spirits’ place of governance a moral behavior takes place, the less they know and care about it. Finally, the wider the breadth of knowledge Tyvans attribute to spirit-masters, the more they attribute moral concern for behaviors that transpire beyond their jurisdiction. These results further demonstrate that there is a significant gulf between expressed beliefs and intuitive religious cognition and provides evidence for a moralization bias of gods’ minds.

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Believe it or not: Exploring the relationship between dogmatism and openness within non-religious samples

Daniel Gurney et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Personality and dogmatic thinking within religious individuals have been examined by previous research, but neglected for non-religious individuals. In this experiment, we distinguish between two types of non-religious groups; those who ascribe themselves to an identity (atheists) and those who do not (no beliefs in particular). A total of 103 non-religious individuals (36% atheists and 64% with no particular beliefs) completed an online questionnaire measuring dogmatism and openness traits, with an additional Christian group (n = 91) serving as a control. After confirming a relationship between identity salience and dogmatism, and validating a measure of dogmatism (DOG) in both non-religious groups, we note key personality differences between the two. Those with no beliefs in particular demonstrated a traditional negative correlation between openness and dogmatism (along with Christians) while these variables correlated positively for atheists (in particular, on ‘unconventionality’). This study is the first to establish differences between the relationship of dogmatism and openness within non-religious populations and explain these differences through group identity. Thus, identity strength and group belief systems are suggested to be key contributors to observed group differences between non-religious individuals.

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Experiments on the role of deleterious mutations as stepping stones in adaptive evolution

Arthur Covert et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 August 2013, Pages E3171-E3178

Abstract:
Many evolutionary studies assume that deleterious mutations necessarily impede adaptive evolution. However, a later mutation that is conditionally beneficial may interact with a deleterious predecessor before it is eliminated, thereby providing access to adaptations that might otherwise be inaccessible. It is unknown whether such sign-epistatic recoveries are inconsequential events or an important factor in evolution, owing to the difficulty of monitoring the effects and fates of all mutations during experiments with biological organisms. Here, we used digital organisms to compare the extent of adaptive evolution in populations when deleterious mutations were disallowed with control populations in which such mutations were allowed. Significantly higher fitness levels were achieved over the long term in the control populations because some of the deleterious mutations served as stepping stones across otherwise impassable fitness valleys. As a consequence, initially deleterious mutations facilitated the evolution of complex, beneficial functions. We also examined the effects of disallowing neutral mutations, of varying the mutation rate, and of sexual recombination. Populations evolving without neutral mutations were able to leverage deleterious and compensatory mutation pairs to overcome, at least partially, the absence of neutral mutations. Substantially raising or lowering the mutation rate reduced or eliminated the long-term benefit of deleterious mutations, but introducing recombination did not. Our work demonstrates that deleterious mutations can play an important role in adaptive evolution under at least some conditions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Executive summary

Executives' "Off-The-Job" Behavior, Corporate Culture, and Financial Reporting Risk

Robert Davidson, Aiyesha Dey & Abbie Smith
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how executives' behavior outside the workplace, as measured by their ownership of luxury goods (low "frugality") and prior legal infractions, is related to financial reporting risk. We predict and find that chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) with a legal record are more likely to perpetrate fraud. In contrast, we do not find a relation between executives' frugality and the propensity to perpetrate fraud. However, as predicted, we find that unfrugal CEOs oversee a relatively loose control environment characterized by relatively high and increasing probabilities of other insiders perpetrating fraud and unintentional material reporting errors during their tenure. Further, cultural changes associated with an increase in fraud risk are more likely during unfrugal (vs. frugal) CEOs' reigns, including the appointment of an unfrugal CFO, an increase in executives' equity-based incentives to misreport, and a decline in measures of board monitoring intensity.

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Demographics of Dividends

Gina Nicolosi
Journal of Corporate Finance, December 2013, Pages 54-70

Abstract:
Using seventeen observable demographic characteristics, we investigate the impact of six CEO profiles on dividend policy. Firms headed by married, Republican, Christian CEOs with children maintain higher dividend yields and are more likely to considerably increase their dividend payout. Following substantial dividend hikes, firms led by CEOs with these more traditional personal lives exhibit deteriorating performance. Potential explanations include managerial optimism coupled with dividend signaling and the possibility that CEO profiles proxy for an unobserved firm effect such as firm maturity. However, the associations above continue to persist in both mature firm and turnover sub-samples. Overall, this suggests that these relationships are related to characteristics of the CEOs themselves.

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Managerial Miscalibration

Itzhak Ben-David, John Graham & Campbell Harvey
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a unique 10-year panel that includes more than 13,300 expected stock market return probability distributions, we find that executives are severely miscalibrated, producing distributions that are too narrow: realized market returns are within the executives' 80% confidence intervals only 36% of the time. We show that executives reduce the lower bound of the forecast confidence interval during times of high market uncertainty; however, ex post miscalibration is worst during periods of high uncertainty. We also find that executives who are miscalibrated about the stock market show similar miscalibration regarding their own firms' prospects. Finally, firms with miscalibrated executives seem to follow more aggressive corporate policies: investing more and using more debt financing.

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Governance and CEO Turnover: Do Something or Do the Right Thing?

Raymond Fisman et al.
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study how corporate governance affects firm value through the decision of whether to fire or retain the chief executive officer (CEO). We present a model in which weak governance - which prevents shareholders from controlling the board - protects inferior CEOs from dismissal, while at the same time insulates the board from pressures by biased or uninformed shareholders. Whether stronger governance improves retain/replace decisions depends on which of these effects dominates. We use our theoretical framework to assess the effect of governance on the quality of firing and hiring decisions using data on the CEO dismissals of large U.S. corporations during 1994-2007. Our findings are most consistent with a beneficent effect of weak governance on CEO dismissal decisions, suggesting that insulation from shareholder pressure may allow for better long-term decision making.

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Do cash stockpiles fuel cash acquisitions?

Lee Pinkowitz, Jason Sturgess & Rohan Williamson
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. firms currently hold a $2 trillion cash stockpile. We examine if cash stockpiles fuel cash acquisitions by studying the method of payment decision for cash-rich firms. Surprisingly, cash-rich firms are 23% less likely to make cash bids than stock bids, relative to firms that are not cash rich. We examine several potential explanations related to omitted variable bias and endogeneity and the result remains. More specifically, the results are robust to explanations related to agency, financial constraints, tax-related explanations, equity overvaluation, and capital structure. Our evidence implies that the link between cash stockpiles and cash acquisitions is not obvious.

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The Efficacy of Shareholder Voting: Evidence from Equity Compensation Plans

Christopher Armstrong, Ian Gow & David Larcker
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the effects of shareholder support for equity compensation plans on subsequent chief executive officer (CEO) compensation. Using cross-sectional regression, instrumental variable, and regression discontinuity research designs, we find little evidence that either lower shareholder voting support for, or outright rejection of, proposed equity compensation plans leads to decreases in the level or composition of future CEO incentive-compensation. We also find that in cases where the equity compensation plan is rejected by shareholders, firms are more likely to propose, and shareholders are more likely to approve, a plan the following year. Our results suggest that shareholder votes for equity pay plans have little substantive impact on firms' incentive-compensation policies. Thus, recent regulatory efforts aimed at strengthening shareholder voting rights, particularly in the context of executive compensation, may have limited effect on firms' compensation policies.

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The effect of corporate governance on CEO luck: Evidence from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)

Pandej Chintrakarn, Pornsit Jiraporn & J.C. Kim
Finance Research Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
CEOs are "lucky" when they receive stock option grants on days when the stock price is the lowest in the month of the grant, implying opportunistic timing. Extending the work of Bebchuk, Grinstein, Peyer (2010), we explore the effect of overall corporate governance quality on CEO luck. Provided by the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), our comprehensive governance metrics are much broader than those used in prior studies, encompassing more diverse aspects of corporate governance, such as audit, state laws, boards, ownership, and director education. We show that an improvement in governance quality by one standard deviation diminishes CEO luck by 14.77-21.06%. The governance standards recommended by ISS appear to be effective in deterring the opportunistic timing of option grants.

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Why Do Firms Pay Dividends?: Evidence from an Early and Unregulated Capital Market

John Turner, Qing Ye & Wenwen Zhan
Review of Finance, September 2013, Pages 1787-1826

Abstract:
Why do firms pay dividends? To answer this question, we use a hand-collected data set of companies traded on the London stock market between 1825 and 1870. As tax rates were effectively zero, the capital market was unregulated, and there were no institutional stockholders, we can rule out these potential determinants ex ante. We find that, even though they were legal, share repurchases were not used by firms to return cash to shareholders. Instead, our evidence provides support for the information-communication explanation for dividends, while providing little support for agency, illiquidity, catering, or behavioral explanations.

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Quadratic Vote Buying as Efficient Corporate Governance

Eric Posner & Glen Weyl
University of Chicago Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Shareholder voting is a weak and much criticized mechanism for controlling managerial opportunism. Among other problems, shareholders are often too uninformed to vote wisely, and majority and supermajority rule permits large shareholders to exploit small shareholders. We propose a new voting system called Quadratic Vote Buying (QVB), according to which shareholders are not given voting rights but may purchase votes, with the price of votes being a quadratic function of the number of votes purchased. QVB ensures that voting outcomes are efficient under reasonable conditions. We argue that corporations should implement QVB and that the law permits them to do so. Certain legal protections for shareholders, such as the appraisal remedy, are unnecessary if QVB is implemented.

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Keeping Up with CEO Jones: Benchmarking and Executive Compensation

Ron Laschever
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 2013, Pages 78-100

Abstract:
This paper seeks to understand the role that peer comparisons play in the determination of executive compensation. I exploit a recent change in the Securities and Exchange Commission's regulations that requires firms to disclose the peer companies used for determining the compensation of their top executives. Using a new dataset of S&P 900 companies' choice of benchmarking firms during two fiscal periods (2007 and 2008), I investigate what determines the choice of comparison firms. I find that companies have a preference for choosing higher-CEO-compensation firms as their benchmark. Though I find that companies prefer to choose as their benchmark peers with similar firm characteristics, for CEO compensation, this effect is countered by a preference for firms with higher-than-own CEO compensation. Using the complete map of firms' choices, I implement an instrumental variable strategy that uses the characteristics of peers-of-peers to estimate the effect of others' compensation on own compensation. For Fiscal Year 2007, I find an elasticity of 0.5.

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Unethical Culture, Suspect CEOs and Corporate Misbehavior

Lee Biggerstaff, David Cicero & Andy Puckett
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We show that firms with CEOs who personally benefitted from options backdating were more likely to engage in other forms of corporate misbehavior, suggestive of an unethical corporate culture. These firms were more likely to overstate firm profitability and to engage in less profitable acquisition strategies. The increased level of corporate misbehaviors is concentrated in firms with suspect CEOs who were outside hires, consistent with adverse selection in the market for chief executives. Difference-in-differences tests confirm that the propensity to engage in these activities is significantly increased following the arrival of an outside-hire 'suspect' CEO, suggesting that causation flows from the top executives to the firm. Finally, while these suspect CEOs appear to have avoided market discipline when the market was optimistic, they were more likely to lose their jobs and their firms were more likely to experience dramatic declines in value during the ensuing market correction.

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Shareholder Democracy in Play: Career Consequences of Proxy Contests

Vyacheslav Fos & Margarita Tsoutsoura
University of Chicago Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:
This paper shows that proxy contests have a significant adverse effect on careers of incumbent directors. Following a proxy contest, directors experience a significant decline in number of directorships not only in the targeted company, but also in other non-targeted companies. The results are established using the universe of all proxy contests during 1996-2010. To establish that this effect of proxy contests is causal, we use within-firm variation in directors' exposure to proxy contests and exploit the predetermined schedule of staggered boards that only allows a fraction of directors to be nominated for election every year. We find that nominated directors relative to non-nominated ones lose 45% more seats on other boards. We discuss that this pattern can be expected if proxy contest mechanism imposes a significant career cost on incumbent directors.

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Skill Differences in Corporate Acquisitions

Jeffrey Jaffe, David Pedersen & Torben Voetmann
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are there skill differences in mergers and acquisitions? To investigate this question, we focus on persistence in the performance of corporate acquirers. We find persistence only when successive deals occur under the same CEO and conclude that skill differences in acquisitions reside with the CEO, not with the firm as a whole. These differences are economically meaningful. An acquirer that was successful in its last deal and kept its CEO earns 1.02% more on its next deal than does a previously-unsuccessful firm that kept its CEO. This percentage difference is equivalent to a $175 million difference in value creation.

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Boards, CEO entrenchment, and the cost of capital

James Dow
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing research on chief executive officer (CEO) turnover focuses on CEO ability. This paper argues that board ability is also important. Corporate boards are reluctant to replace CEOs, as this makes financing expensive by sending a negative signal about board ability. Entrenchment in this model does not result from CEO power, or from agency problems. Entrenchment is mitigated when there are more assets-in-place relative to investment opportunities. The paper also compares public and private equity. Private ownership eliminates CEO entrenchment, but market signals improve investment decisions. Finally, the model implies that board choice in publicly listed firms will be conservative.

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CEO Investment Cycles

Yihui Pan, Tracy Yue Wang & Michael Weisbach
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
This paper documents the existence of a CEO Investment Cycle, in which firms disinvest early in a CEO's tenure and increase investment subsequently, leading to "cyclical" firm growth in assets as well as in employment over CEO tenure. The CEO investment cycle occurs for both firings and non-performance related CEO turnovers, and for CEOs with different relationships with the firm prior to becoming CEO. The magnitude of the CEO cycle is substantial: The estimated difference in investment rate between the first three years of a CEO's tenure and subsequent years is approximately 6 to 8 percentage points, which is of the same order of magnitude as the differences caused by other factors known to affect investment, such as business cycles or financial constraints. We present a variety of tests suggesting that this investment cycle is best explained by a combination of agency-based theories: Early in his tenure the CEO disinvests poorly performing assets that his predecessor established and was unwilling to give up on. Subsequently, the CEO overinvests when he gains more control over his board. There is no evidence that the investment cycles occur because of shifting CEO skill or productivity shocks. Overall, the results imply that public corporations' investments deviate substantially from the first-best, and that governance-related factors internal to the firm are as important as economy-wide factors in explaining firms' investments.

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CEO Career Variety: Effects on Firm-level Strategic and Social Novelty

Craig Crossland et al.
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We introduce the concept of CEO career variety - defined as the array of distinct professional and institutional experiences an executive has had prior to becoming CEO. Using a longitudinal sample of Fortune 250 CEOs, we hypothesize, and find strong evidence, that CEO career variety is positively associated with firm-level strategic novelty - manifested in strategic dynamism (period-on-period change) and strategic distinctiveness (deviance from industry central tendencies). We also find mixed evidence that CEO career variety is positively associated with social novelty - manifested in top management team turnover and heterogeneity.

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Group Polarization in Board Decisions About CEO Compensation

David Zhu
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines how chief executive officer (CEO) compensation decisions may be influenced by a major group decision-making tendency referred to as group polarization among outside directors. I start by explaining why outside directors on average tend to support relatively high (low) CEO compensation when they previously witnessed relatively high (low) CEO compensation across different boards. Group polarization theory then suggests that when outside directors on average tend to support relatively high (low) CEO compensation prior to board discussions, they will support even higher (lower) focal CEO compensation after the discussions. In addition, this study proposes three important moderators of the group polarization effect. Specifically, (1) demographic homogeneity among outside directors and (2) the similarity of the minority's prior decision context are proposed to weaken the group polarization effect, whereas (3) outside directors' power relative to inside directors is predicted to strengthen it. Longitudinal analyses (1995-2006) of Fortune 500 CEOs' compensation provide support for these theoretical predictions. This study contributes to corporate governance research on CEO compensation by advancing a novel group decision-making approach to examining this important decision.

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Who Says Yes When the Headhunter Calls? Understanding Executive Job Search Behavior

Peter Cappelli & Monika Hamori
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We examine an aspect of job search in the important context of executive-level jobs using a unique data set from a prominent executive search firm. Specifically, we observe whether or not executives pursue offers to be considered for a position at other companies. The fact that the initial call from the search firm, which we observe, is an exogenous event for the executive makes the context particularly useful. We use insights from the Multi-Arm Bandit problem to analyze the individual's decision as it emphasizes assessments of future prospects in the decision process, which are particularly relevant for executive careers. More than half the executives we observe were willing to be a candidate for a job elsewhere. Executives are more likely to search where their current roles are less certain and where their career experience has been broader. Search is more likely even for broader experience within the same employer. In the latter case, the array of likely opportunities is also broader, making search more useful.

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Human capital, capital structure, and employee pay: An empirical analysis

Thomas Chemmanur, Yingmei Cheng & Tianming Zhang
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test the predictions of Titman (1984) and Berk, Stanton, and Zechner (2010) by examining the effect of leverage on labor costs. Leverage has a significantly positive impact on cash, equity-based, and total compensation of chief executive officers (CEOs). Compensation of new CEOs hired from outside the firm is positively related to prior-year firm leverage. In addition, leverage has a positive and significant impact on average employee pay. The incremental total labor expenses associated with an increase in leverage are large enough to offset the incremental tax benefits of debt. The empirical evidence supports the theoretical prediction that labor costs limit the use of debt.

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Asymmetric Benchmarking of Pay in Firms

Bill Francis et al.
Journal of Corporate Finance, December 2013, Pages 39-53

Abstract:
This paper examines whether asymmetric benchmarking of pay exists for vice presidents (VPs). Using ExecuComp data for 1992-2007, we find that companies reward VPs for good luck but do not penalize them for bad luck. However, asymmetric benchmarking of VP pay is mitigated by governance, power, gender, and industry factors. The presence of asymmetric benchmarking of pay could suggest that managers are involved in skimming, or it could mean that firms insulate managers from poor firm performance to prevent them from accessing outside opportunities. We also find that unlike CEOs, asymmetric benchmarking of pay for VPs is not consistent with the skimming hypothesis.

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CEO compensation and corporate risk: Evidence from a natural experiment

Todd Gormley, David Matsa & Todd Milbourn
Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the two-way relationship between managerial compensation and corporate risk by exploiting an unanticipated change in firms' business risks. The natural experiment provides an opportunity to examine two classic questions related to incentives and risk - how boards adjust incentives in response to firms' risk and how these incentives affect managers' risk-taking. We find that, after left-tail risk increases, boards reduce managers' exposure to stock price movements and that less convexity from options-based pay leads to greater risk-reducing activities. Specifically, managers with less convex payoffs tend to cut leverage and R&D, stockpile cash, and engage in more diversifying acquisitions.

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Duration of Executive Compensation

Radhakrishnan Gopalan et al.
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extensive discussions on the inefficiencies of "short-termism" in executive compensation notwithstanding, little is known empirically about the extent of such short-termism. We develop a novel measure of executive pay duration that reflects the vesting periods of different pay components, thereby quantifying the extent to which compensation is short-term. We calculate pay duration in various industries and document its correlation with firm characteristics. Pay duration is longer in firms with more growth opportunities, more long-term assets, greater R&D intensity, lower risk, and better recent stock performance. Longer CEO pay duration is negatively related to the extent of earnings-increasing accruals.

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The harder they fall, the faster they rise: Approach and avoidance focus in Narcissistic CEOs

Pankaj Patel & Danielle Cooper
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on theoretical underpinnings of approach-avoidance motivation and CEO narcissism, we provide a framework examining stronger approach focus (motivation towards desirable outcomes) and weaker avoidance focus (motivation away from undesirable outcomes) in narcissistic CEOs using a quasi-natural experimental setting - the economic crisis beginning in 2007. Because highly narcissistic CEOs possess lower avoidance motivation in the pre-crisis period, their firms face greater declines in the onset of the crisis. However, their greater tendency towards approach motivation enables narcissistic CEOs to increase firm performance in the post-crisis period. While narcissistic CEOs are less likely to protect against potential shocks, they are adept at helping firms quickly recover from such shocks. Using a sample of 392 CEOs representing 2,352 CEO-firm-years, we find support for the proposed framework.

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Board structure and role of monitoring committees

Arun Upadhyay, Rahul Bhargava & Sheri Faircloth
Journal of Business Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Regulators and researchers alike have focused significant attention on the structure of the corporate board. In general, the results of prior empirical studies suggest that larger boards are costly to firms because of communication and co-ordination problems. How firms use committees to mitigate these costs, however, has not received as much attention. Since boards delegate authority for specific tasks to monitoring committees with independent directors, we re-examine the impact of board structure on firm performance by specifically focusing on the number of monitoring committees. Using ROA and EVA, we find that board size is positively associated with firm performance when firms use more than three monitoring committees. We also find that the previously documented negative association between board size and Tobin's Q disappears when a firm uses more than three monitoring committees. Overall, the results suggest that firms use monitoring committees to mitigate the costs associated with larger boards.

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How Do Public Companies Adjust Their Board Structures?

David Cicero, Babajide Wintoki & Tina Yang
Journal of Corporate Finance, December 2013, Pages 108-127

Abstract:
We show that public companies frequently changed their board structures before implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, with two-thirds of firms changing board size or independence during an average two-year period. Board changes were associated with changes in firm-specific fundamentals, but the rate of change toward predicted structures was negatively associated with the level of CEO influence. Companies changed board structures in either direction as underlying firm fundamentals changed, consistent with the pursuit of economically efficient board structures. However, board changes have become less frequent since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted. We provide some evidence that companies became less likely to decrease board independence when changes in fundamentals suggested they should, which may reflect a loss of economic efficiency.

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Effect of Decision Makers' Education Level on their Corporate Risk Taking

Yonghai Wang, Wei Zhou & Ke-Chiun Chang
Social Behavior and Personality, August 2013, Pages 1225-1229

Abstract:
We examined whether or not the education level of corporate decision makers helps explain their level of corporate risk taking. Using a sample population of listed companies in China, we documented a significant negative correlation between decision makers' education level and their level of corporate risk taking. Corporations run by more highly educated decision makers were found to have lower leverage and less volatile earnings. These results have important implications for corporate governance and educational choices.

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Which U.S. Market Interactions Affect CEO Pay? Evidence from UK Companies

Joseph Gerakos, Joseph Piotroski & Suraj Srinivasan
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how different types of interactions with U.S. markets by non-U.S. firms are associated with higher levels of CEO pay, greater emphasis on incentive-based compensation, and smaller pay gaps with U.S. firms. Using a sample of CEOs of UK firms and using both broad cross-sectional and narrow event-window tests, we find that capital market relationship in the form of a U.S. exchange listing is related to higher UK CEO pay; however, the effect is similar when UK firms have a listing in any foreign country, implying a foreign listing effect not unique to the United States. Product market relationships measured by the extent of sales in the United States by UK companies are associated with higher pay, greater use of U.S.-style pay arrangements, and a reduction in the U.S.-UK pay gap. The product market effect is incremental to the effect of a U.S. exchange listing, the extent of the firm's non-U.S. foreign market interactions, and the characteristics of the executive. The U.S-UK CEO pay gap reduces in UK firms that make U.S. acquisitions. Furthermore, the firm's use of a U.S. compensation consultant increases the sensitivity of UK pay practices to U.S. product market relationships.

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Should Entrepreneurially Oriented Firms Have Narcissistic CEOs?

Andreas Engelen, Christoph Neumann & Susanne Schmidt
Journal of Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extant research has shown that firms with high levels of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) outperform competitors. The present study sheds light on this performance relationship in large, publicly listed high-tech firms by examining whether the strength of this relationship depends upon the CEO's narcissism, an executive personality trait recently debated controversially in both academic and practitioner publications. A theoretically derived research model is empirically validated by means of multisource secondary data for 41 S&P 500 firms from 2005 to 2007. Findings indicate that narcissistic CEOs usually weaken the EO-performance relationship, although the opposite is true under some conditions, such as in highly concentrated and dynamic markets.

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Directors' and officers' liability insurance and loan spreads

Chen Lin et al.
Journal of Financial Economics, October 2013, Pages 37-60

Abstract:
We analyze the effect of directors' and officers' liability insurance (D&O insurance) on the spreads charged on bank loans. We find that higher levels of D&O insurance coverage are associated with higher loan spreads and that this relation depends on loan characteristics in economically sensible ways and is attenuated by monitoring mechanisms. This association between loan spreads and D&O insurance coverage is robust to controlling for endogeneity (because both could be related to firm risk), including instrumental variable specifications, change regressions, and regressions using an exogenous regulatory event that increases managerial liability. Our evidence suggests that lenders view D&O insurance coverage as increasing credit risk (potentially via moral hazard or information asymmetry). Further analyses show that higher levels of D&O insurance coverage are associated with greater risk taking and higher probabilities of financial restatement due to aggressive financial reporting. While greater use of D&O insurance appears to raise the cost of debt financing, the purchase of D&O insurance might not necessarily be harmful to shareholders. We find some evidence that D&O insurance coverage appears to improve the value of investment in firms with better internal and external governance.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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