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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

License and registration

Divorce and the Birth Control Pill in the US, 1950–85

Miriam Marcén
Feminist Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the relationship between the advent of the birth control pill and divorce rates. Women using the pill can decide when and whether to have children and whether to maintain their attachment to the labor force. This ability may increase women's autonomy, making divorce more feasible. The pill's effects are identified through a quasi-experiment exploiting differences in the language of the Comstock anti-obscenity statutes approved in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the United States. Empirical evidence from state-level data on US divorce rates 1950 to 1985 shows that sales bans of oral contraceptives have a negative impact on divorce. These findings are robust to alternative specifications and controls for observed (such as women's labor force participation) and unobserved state-specific factors, and time-varying factors at the state level. Results suggest that the impact of women's control of hormonal contraception on their autonomy is important in divorce decisions.

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Close Relationships and Self-Regulation: How Relationship Satisfaction Facilitates Momentary Goal Pursuit

Wilhelm Hofmann, Eli Finkel & Gráinne Fitzsimons
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the new millennium, scholars have built a robust intersection between close-relationships research and self-regulation research. However, virtually no work has investigated how the most basic and broad indicator of relationship quality, relationship satisfaction, affects self-regulation and vice versa. In the present research, we show that higher relationship satisfaction promotes a motivational mind-set that is conducive for effective self-regulation, and thus for goal progress and performance. In Study 1 — a large-scale, intensive experience sampling project of 115 couples (total N = 230) — we closely tracked fluctuations in state relationship satisfaction (SRS) and 4 parameters of effective self-regulation according to our conceptual model. Dyadic process analyses showed that individuals experiencing higher SRS than they typically do exhibited higher levels of (a) perceived control, (b) goal focus, (c) perceived partner support, and (d) positive affect during goal pursuit than they typically exhibit. Together, these 4 self-regulation-relevant variables translated into higher rates of daily progress on specific, idiographic goals. In Study 2 (N = 195), we employed a novel experimental manipulation of SRS, replicating the link between SRS and parameters of effective self-regulation. Taken together, these findings suggest that momentary increases in relationship satisfaction may benefit everyday goal pursuit through a combination of cognitive and affective mechanisms, thus further integrating relationship research with social–cognitive research on goal pursuit.

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Does Marriage Moderate Genetic Effects on Delinquency and Violence?

Yi Li, Hexuan Liu & Guang Guo
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 1,254), the authors investigated whether marriage can foster desistance from delinquency and violence by moderating genetic effects. In contrast to existing gene–environment research that typically focuses on one or a few genetic polymorphisms, they extended a recently developed mixed linear model to consider the collective influence of 580 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 64 genes related to aggression and risky behavior. The mixed linear model estimates the proportion of variance in the phenotype that is explained by the single nucleotide polymorphisms. The authors found that the proportion of variance in delinquency/violence explained was smaller among married individuals than unmarried individuals. Because selection, confounding, and heterogeneity may bias the estimate of the Gene × Marriage interaction, they conducted a series of analyses to address these issues. The findings suggest that the Gene × Marriage interaction results were not seriously affected by these issues.

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Her Support, His Support: Money, Masculinity, and Marital Infidelity

Christin Munsch
American Sociological Review, June 2015, Pages 469-495

Abstract:
Recent years have seen great interest in the relationship between relative earnings and marital outcomes. Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I examine the effect of relative earnings on infidelity, a marital outcome that has received little attention. Theories of social exchange predict that the greater one’s relative income, the more likely one will be to engage in infidelity. Yet, emerging literature raises questions about the utility of gender-neutral exchange approaches, particularly when men are economically dependent and women are breadwinners. I find that, for men, breadwinning increases infidelity. For women, breadwinning decreases infidelity. I argue that by remaining faithful, breadwinning women neutralize their gender deviance and keep potentially strained relationships intact. I also find that, for both men and women, economic dependency is associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in infidelity; but, the influence of dependency on men’s infidelity is greater than the influence of dependency on women’s infidelity. For economically dependent persons, infidelity may be an attempt to restore relationship equity; however, for men, dependence may be particularly threatening. Infidelity may allow economically dependent men to engage in compensatory behavior while simultaneously distancing themselves from breadwinning spouses.

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The Earned Income Tax Credit and Union Formation: The Impact of Expected Spouse Earnings

Katherine Michelmore
University of Michigan Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The earned income tax credit (EITC) has become the largest cash transfer program in the United States, distributing nearly $60 billion dollars in credits in 2010. Several studies have evaluated the impact of the EITC on various aspects of behavioral responses. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation from 2001, 2004, and 2008, I investigate how the change in expected household EITC benefits associated with marrying affect cohabitation and marriage behavior among low-income women. I first simulate a marriage market to predict potential spouse earnings for a sample of low-income women in order to estimate the potential losses or gains in EITC benefits upon marriage. Using multinomial logistic regressions, I then analyze how not only the value of the EITC, but also the anticipated loss in EITC benefits upon marriage affects the likelihood of marrying or cohabiting. Results suggest that the average EITC-eligible woman can expect to lose approximately $1,000 in EITC benefits in the year following marriage, or about half of her pre-marriage benefit. Further, I find that a $1,000 loss in expected EITC benefits upon marriage is associated with a 1.1 percentage point decline in the likelihood of marrying and a 0.7 percentage point increase in the likelihood of cohabiting.

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Life-Course Partnership Status and Biomarkers in Midlife: Evidence From the 1958 British Birth Cohort

George Ploubidis et al.
American Journal of Public Health, August 2015, Pages 1596-1603

Objectives: We examined the association between trajectories of partnership status over the life course and objectively measured health indicators in midlife.

Methods: We used data from 4 waves (1981, 1991, 2000, and 2002–2004) of the British National Child Development Study (NCDS), a prospective cohort study that includes all people born in Britain during 1 week in March 1958 (n = 18 558).

Results: After controlling for selection attributable to early-life and early-adulthood characteristics, we found that life-course trajectories of partnership status were associated with hemostatic and inflammatory markers, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and respiratory function in midlife. Never marrying or cohabiting was negatively associated with health in midlife for both genders, but the effect was more pronounced in men. Women who had married in their late 20s or early 30s and remained married had the best health in midlife. Men and women in cohabiting unions had midlife health outcomes similar to those in formal marriages.

Conclusions: Partnership status over the life course has a cumulative effect on a wide range of objectively measured health indicators in midlife.

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Nonmarital Relationships and Changing Perceptions of Marriage Among African American Young Adults

Ashley Barr, Ronald Simons & Leslie Gordon Simons
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cohabitation has become increasingly widespread over the past decade. Such trends have given rise to debates about the relation between cohabitation and marriage in terms of what cohabitation means for individual relationship trajectories and for the institution of marriage more generally. Using recent data from a sample of almost 800 African Americans and fixed effects modeling procedures, in the present study the authors shed some light on these debates by exploring the extent to which cohabitation, relative to both singlehood and dating, was associated with within-individual changes in African Americans' marital beliefs during the transition to adulthood. The findings suggest that cohabitation is associated with changes in marital beliefs, generally in ways that repositioned partners toward marriage, not away from it. This was especially the case for women. These findings suggest that, for young African American women, cohabitation holds a distinct place relative to dating and, in principle if not practice, relative to marriage.

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Jealousy: Evidence of strong sex differences using both forced choice and continuous measure paradigms

Mons Bendixen, Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair & David Buss
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 212–216

Abstract:
Despite some controversy about sex differences in jealousy, data largely support that sex differences studied with the forced choice (FC) paradigm are robust: Men, relative to women, report greater jealousy in response to sexual infidelity than in response to emotional infidelity. Corresponding sex differences for continuous measures of jealousy typically have been less robust in the literature. A large sample of Norwegian students (N = 1074) randomly responded to either FC or continuous measure questionnaires covering four infidelity scenarios. Large, comparable, theoretically-predicted sex differences were evident for both FC and continuous measures. Relationship status, infidelity experiences, and question order manipulation (activation) did not consistently influence the sex differences for either measure, nor did individual differences in sociosexual orientation or relationship commitment. These large sex differences are especially noteworthy as they emerge from a highly egalitarian nation with high paternal investment expectancy, and because they contradict social role theories that predict a diminution of psychological sex differences as gender economic equality increases.

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The Suffocation Model: Why Marriage in America Is Becoming an All-or-Nothing Institution

Eli Finkel et al.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, June 2015, Pages 238-244

Abstract:
Throughout American history, the fundamental purpose of marriage has shifted from (a) helping spouses meet their basic economic and political needs to (b) helping them meet their intimacy and passion needs to (c) helping them meet their autonomy and personal-growth needs. According to the suffocation model of marriage in America, these changes have had two major consequences for marital quality, one negative and one positive. The negative consequence is that, as Americans have increasingly looked to their marriage to help them meet idiosyncratic, self-expressive needs, the proportion of marriages that fall short of their expectations has grown, which has increased rates of marital dissatisfaction. The positive consequence is that those marriages that succeed in meeting these needs are particularly fulfilling, more so than the best marriages in earlier eras. In tandem, these two consequences have pushed marriage toward an all-or-nothing state.

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Divorce: What Does Learning Have to Do with it?

Ioana Elena Marinescu
University of Chicago Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Learning about marriage quality has been proposed as a key mechanism for explaining how the probability of divorce evolves with marriage duration, and why people often cohabit before getting married. I develop four theoretical models of divorce, three of which include learning. I use data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to test reduced form implications of these models. The data is inconsistent with models including a substantial amount of learning. On the other hand, the data is consistent with a model without any learning, but where marriage quality changes over time.

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Is emotion suppression beneficial or harmful? It depends on self-regulatory strength

Fay Geisler & Michela Schröder-Abé
Motivation and Emotion, August 2015, Pages 553-562

Abstract:
The emotion regulation strategy of expressive suppression intervenes late in the process of emotion generation and encompasses two self-control tasks: the inhibition of the experience of emotion and the inhibition of the expression of emotion. Thus, expressive suppression requires effortful self-control, and therefore the consequences of expressive suppression may differ depending on self-regulatory strength. We examined the influence of trait self-regulatory strength on the outcomes of spontaneous expressive suppression in 102 participants who discussed a topic of conflict with their partners. Self-regulatory strength was assessed via high-frequency heart rate variability measured at rest (HF-HRV). As expected, expressive suppression was positively associated with negative affect in participants with low (but not high) HF-HRV. Furthermore, expressive suppression was positively associated with the partner’s relationship satisfaction and constructive social behavior in participants with high (but not low) HF-HRV. To conclude, the present research demonstrates how considering expressive suppression as an act of self-control can yield a more differentiated perspective on the outcomes of expressive suppression.

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Intimate Partner Violence Risk among Victims of Youth Violence: Are Early Unions Bad, Beneficial, or Benign?

Danielle Kuhl, David Warner & Tara Warner
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Youth violent victimization (YVV) is a risk factor for precocious exits from adolescence via early coresidential union formation. It remains unclear, however, whether these early unions 1) are associated with intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization, 2) interrupt victim continuity or victim–offender overlap through protective and prosocial bonds, or 3) are inconsequential. By using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 11,928; 18–34 years of age), we examine competing hypotheses for the effect of early union timing among victims of youth violence (n = 2,479) — differentiating across victimization only, perpetration only, and mutually combative relationships and considering variation by gender. The results from multinomial logistic regression models indicate that YVV increases the risk of IPV victimization in first unions, regardless of union timing; the null effect of timing indicates that delaying union formation would not reduce youth victims’ increased risk of continued victimization. Gender-stratified analyses reveal that earlier unions can protect women against IPV perpetration, but this is partly the result of an increased risk of IPV victimization. The findings suggest that YVV has significant transformative consequences, leading to subsequent victimization by coresidential partners, and this association might be exacerbated among female victims who form early unions. We conclude by discussing directions for future research.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, July 27, 2015

Money trail

A New Look at the U.S. Foreclosure Crisis: Panel Data Evidence of Prime and Subprime Borrowers from 1997 to 2012

Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Utilizing new panel micro data on the ownership sequences of all types of borrowers from 1997-2012 leads to a reinterpretation of the U.S. foreclosure crisis as more of a prime, rather than a subprime, borrower issue. Moreover, traditional mortgage default factors associated with the economic cycle, such as negative equity, completely account for the foreclosure propensity of prime borrowers relative to all-cash owners, and for three-quarters of the analogous subprime gap. Housing traits, race, initial income, and speculators did not play a meaningful role, and initial leverage only accounts for a small variation in outcomes of prime and subprime borrowers.

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How do insured deposits affect bank risk? Evidence from the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act

Claudia Lambert, Felix Noth & Ulrich Schüwer
Journal of Financial Intermediation, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper tests whether an increase in insured deposits causes banks to become more risky. We use variation introduced by the U.S. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in October 2008, which increased the deposit insurance coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 per depositor and bank. For some banks, the amount of insured deposits increased significantly; for others, it was a minor change. Our analysis shows that the more affected banks increase their investments in risky commercial real estate loans and become more risky relative to unaffected banks following the change. This effect is most distinct for affected banks that are low capitalized.

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Ex Ante CEO Severance Pay and Risk-Taking in the Financial Services Sector

Kareen Brown, Ranjini Jha & Parunchana Pacharn
Journal of Banking & Finance, October 2015, Pages 111–126

Abstract:
We examine 533 CEO severance contracts for financial services firms from 1997 to 2007 and find that ex-ante severance pay is positively associated with risk-taking after controlling for the incentive effects provided by equity-based compensation. We report a positive causal relation between the amount of severance pay and risk-taking using popular market-based risk measures as well as distance-to-default and the Z-score. We also find that severance pay encourages excessive risk-taking using metrics such as tail risk and asset quality. Our results are consistent with the risk-shifting argument and provide support for recent reforms on severance pay in the financial sector.

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Loan Originations and Defaults in the Mortgage Crisis: Further Evidence

Manuel Adelino, Antoinette Schoar & Felipe Severino
NBER Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
This paper addresses two critiques by Mian and Sufi (2015a, 2015b) that were released in response to the results documented in Adelino, Schoar and Severino (2015). We confirm that none of the results in our previous paper are affected by the issues put forward in these critiques; in particular income overstatement does not drive any of our results. Our analysis shows that the origination of purchase mortgages increased across the whole income distribution during the 2002-2006 housing boom, and did not flow disproportionately to low-income borrowers. In addition, middle- and high-income, as well as middle- and high-credit-score borrowers (not the poor), represent a larger fraction of delinquencies in the crisis relative to earlier periods. The results are inconsistent with the idea that distortions in the origination of credit caused the housing boom and the crisis and are more consistent with an expectations-based view where both home buyers and lenders were buying into increasing housing values and defaulted once prices dropped.

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Deregulation, Competition and the Race to the Bottom

Marco Di Maggio, Amir Kermani & Sanket Korgaonkar
Columbia University Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
We take advantage of the pre-emption of national banks from state anti-predatory lending laws as a quasi-experiment to study the effect of deregulation and its interaction with competition on the supply of complex mortgages (interest only, negative amortization, and teaser mortgages). We first show that following the pre-emption ruling, national banks significantly increased their origination of loans with prepayment penalties and negative amortization features, relative to non-OCC regulated lenders, and lenders in states without anti-predatory lending laws. This increase in the supply of complex mortgages is significantly more pronounced for banks that poorly performed in the previous quarters. Further, we highlight a competition channel: first, a higher degree of competition induce OCC lenders to originate more riskier loans; second, in counties where OCC regulated lenders had larger market share prior to the pre-emption, even non-OCC lenders responded by increasing the presence of predatory terms to the extent permitted by the state anti-predatory lending laws. Overall, our evidence is suggestive that the deregulation of credit markets ignited a "race to the bottom" among distressed financial institutions, working through the competition between lenders.

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Household Debt and Defaults from 2000 to 2010: Facts from Credit Bureau Data

Atif Mian & Amir Sufi
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We use individual level credit bureau data to document which individuals saw the biggest rise in household debt from 2000 to 2007 and the biggest rise in defaults from 2007 to 2010. Growth in household debt from 2000 to 2007 was substantially larger for individuals with the lowest initial credit scores. However, initial debt levels were lower for individuals in the lowest 20% of the initial credit score distribution. As a result, the contribution to the total dollar rise in household debt was strongest among individuals in the 20th to 60th percentile of the initial credit score distribution. Consistent with the importance of home-equity based borrowing, the increase in debt is especially large among individuals in the lowest 60% of the credit score distribution living in high house price growth zip codes. In contrast, the borrowing of individuals in the top 20% of the credit score distribution is completely unresponsive to higher house price growth. In terms of defaults, the evidence is unambiguous: both default rates and the share of total delinquent debt is largest among individuals with low initial credit scores. The bottom 40% of the credit score distribution is responsible for 73% of the total amount of delinquent debt in 2007, and 68% of the total in 2008. Individuals in the top 40% of the initial credit score distribution never make up more than 15% of total delinquencies, even in 2009 at the height of the default crisis.

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How Does Executive Compensation Affect Bank Risk Taking: Evidence from FAS 123R

Yongqiang Chu & Tao Ma
University of South Carolina Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
We examine how executive compensation affects bank risk taking in mortgage lending using exogenous variations in stock option grants generated by the FAS 123R, which requires all firms to expense options. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that banks that did not expense options before FAS 123R (treated firms) significantly decreases their approval rates of risky mortgage applications after FAS 123R relative to banks that did not grant stock options or voluntarily expensed their stock option before FAS 123R (control banks). We also find that the treatment effect is concentrated in large banks, suggesting that executives’ risk-taking incentives at large banks are more sensitive to option compensation. This is consistent with the idea that government implicit guarantee on too-big-to-fail banks encourages bank risk-taking. Lastly, we show that treatment banks are more likely than control banks to reduce their exposure to risky mortgage loans through securitization after FAS 123R. Overall, we provide consistent evidence that executive option compensation affects mortgage lending practices in financial institutions, which eventually contributes to the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

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Does Bankruptcy Law Affect Business Turnover? Evidence from New and Existing Business

Shawn Rohlin & Amanda Ross
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines how differences in state bankruptcy laws, specifically the homestead exemption, affect business turnover by studying both new and existing businesses. We focus on areas just near state boundaries to control for unobserved local attributes to better isolate the effect of more wealth protection. We find that an increase in the homestead exemption attracts new businesses but also has a positive impact on existing businesses, suggesting that asset protection through bankruptcy law encourages successful entrepreneurs to incur the risks. Our results indicate that the personal bankruptcy law is an important policy tool that governments can use to encourage business growth without causing business turnover.

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Risk and Risk Management in the Credit Card Industry

Florentin Butaru et al.
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Using account level credit-card data from six major commercial banks from January 2009 to December 2013, we apply machine-learning techniques to combined consumer-tradeline, credit-bureau, and macroeconomic variables to predict delinquency. In addition to providing accurate measures of loss probabilities and credit risk, our models can also be used to analyze and compare risk management practices and the drivers of delinquency across the banks. We find substantial heterogeneity in risk factors, sensitivities, and predictability of delinquency across banks, implying that no single model applies to all six institutions. We measure the efficacy of a bank’s risk-management process by the percentage of delinquent accounts that a bank manages effectively, and find that efficacy also varies widely across institutions. These results suggest the need for a more customized approached to the supervision and regulation of financial institutions, in which capital ratios, loss reserves, and other parameters are specified individually for each institution according to its credit-risk model exposures and forecasts.

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State Bankruptcy Laws and the Responsiveness of Credit Card Demand

Amanda Dawsey
Journal of Economics and Business, September–October 2015, Pages 54–76

Abstract:
The responsiveness of credit demand to interest rate changes may vary widely by state due to differences in state bankruptcy and insolvency laws. Bankruptcy exemptions and other state laws insulate borrowers against negative consequences from non-repayment, and so lenient regulations may lead to decreased responsiveness to interest rate increases. Lenient laws also decrease creditors’ incentive to lend, and a resulting decrease in loan options will reinforce the inelasticity of credit demand. This paper presents a model that predicts (1) that credit demand is less responsive in states with borrower-friendly, lenient bankruptcy and insolvency laws, and (2) the effects of state laws on demand elasticity will be strongest among borrowers facing credit constraints. Using market experiment data from a large credit card issuer, this paper presents evidence that supports the hypothesis that demand responsiveness and insolvency law leniency are negatively related. Borrowers are more likely to continue using a card in states with lenient exemption and garnishment laws. Borrowers who take up less attractive offers are more likely to be credit constrained; among these borrowers, the impact of exemption laws is much stronger than among the unconstrained group.

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Protecting Financial Stability in the Aftermath of World War I: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Dissenting Policy

Eugene White
NBER Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
During the 1920-1921 recession, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta resisted the deflationary policy sanctioned by the Federal Reserve Board and pursued by other Reserve banks. By borrowing gold reserves from other Reserve banks, it facilitated a reallocation of liquidity to its district during the contraction. Viewing the collapse of the price of cotton, the dominant crop in the region, as a systemic shock to the Sixth District, the Atlanta Fed increased discounting and enabled capital infusions to aid its member banks. The Atlanta Fed believed that it had to limit bank failures to prevent a fire sale of cotton collateral that would precipitate a general panic. In this previously unknown episode, the Federal Reserve Board applied considerable pressure on the Atlanta Fed to adhere to its policy and follow a simple Bagehot-style rule. The Atlanta Fed was vindicated when the shock to cotton prices proved to be temporary, and the Board conceded that the Reserve Bank had intervened appropriately.

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Bankruptcy Discharge and the Emergence of Debtor Rights in Eighteenth Century England

Ann Carlos, Edward Kosack & Luis Castro Penarrieta
University of Colorado Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Bankruptcy is a precise legal process defining the rules when debtor fails to repay their debts. These rules determine willingness to lend and to borrow and thus can affect economic growth. In 1706, the English Parliament passed a bankruptcy statute that provided potential rights for bankrupts and represents a fundamental change in the rules regarding bankruptcy. Where previously a bankrupt could exit bankruptcy only upon full repayment of debts, creditors could now choose to discharge a bankrupt prior to full repayment of his debts. In this paper, we develop a simple model to explore why creditors might discharge a bankrupt, and conduct an empirical analysis of archival bankruptcy data to show that discharges actually occurred. Not only did bankrupts benefit when creditors chose to discharge bankrupts prior to full payment, but also we find that creditors could benefit due to greater asset revelation by bankrupts.

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Corporate governance and performance of financial institutions

Andrey Zagorchev & Lei Gao
Journal of Economics and Business, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how corporate governance affects financial institutions in the U.S. between 2002 and 2009. First, we find that better governance is negatively related to excessive risk-taking and positively related to the performance of U.S. financial institutions. Specifically, sound overall and specific governance practices are associated with less total non-performing assets, less real estate non-performing assets, and higher Tobin's Q. Second, we show that better governance contributes to higher provisions and reserves for loan/asset losses of financial institutions, supporting the income smoothing hypothesis. Moreover, the results are similar without the financial crisis period, and different robustness checks confirm the analysis.

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Shareholders’ preference for excessively risky projects, equilibrium debt contracts, and bailouts

Michael Smith
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, May–June 2015, Pages 244–266

Abstract:
I show that bailouts can reduce excessive risk-taking. After receiving debt financing, a limited-liability firm chooses between two projects. The safe project results in higher expected cash flows. The excessively risky project results in lower expected debt repayments because default occurs more often. In equilibrium, the creditor anticipates the risk choice of the firm and sets the debt repayment to obtain its required rate of return. The implicit bailout subsidy allows the creditor to lower the debt service payment. As a result, the incremental default benefit of the risky project is lower, leading to less risk-taking. The results inform the ongoing debate about the determinants of risk-taking by firms.

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CMBS and Conflicts of Interest: Evidence from a Natural Experiment on Servicer Ownership

Maisy Wong
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
I study a natural experiment in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) where some special servicers changed owners (treatment group) from 2009-2010 but not others (placebo group). The ownership change linked sellers (special servicers who liquidate CMBS assets on behalf of bondholders) and buyers (new owners), presenting a classic self-dealing conflict. Average loss rates for liquidations are 11 percentage points higher (implying additional losses of $3.2 billion for bondholders) after treated special servicers changed owners, but not for the placebo group. I provide the first direct measure of self-dealing that links buyers and sellers in securities markets in the United States.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How nice of you

Give a piece of you: Gifts that reflect givers promote closeness

Lara Aknin & Lauren Human
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 8–16

Abstract:
Gift giving is an ancient, ubiquitous and familiar behavior often thought to build and foster social connections, but what types of gifts are most effective in increasing closeness between the giver and the recipient? In six studies we explore both the perceptions and relational outcomes of gifts that reflect the giver (giver-centric gifts) and gifts that reflect the recipient (recipient-centric gifts). Across studies, we find a strong and consistent preference for giving and receiving recipient-centric gifts. Surprisingly, however, in the gift-giving contexts examined in these studies, both givers and receivers report greater feelings of closeness to their gift partner when the gift reflects the giver.

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A Large Scale Test of the Effect of Social Class on Prosocial Behavior

Martin Korndörfer, Boris Egloff & Stefan Schmukle
PLoS ONE, July 2015

Abstract:
Does being from a higher social class lead a person to engage in more or less prosocial behavior? Psychological research has recently provided support for a negative effect of social class on prosocial behavior. However, research outside the field of psychology has mainly found evidence for positive or u-shaped relations. In the present research, we therefore thoroughly examined the effect of social class on prosocial behavior. Moreover, we analyzed whether this effect was moderated by the kind of observed prosocial behavior, the observed country, and the measure of social class. Across eight studies with large and representative international samples, we predominantly found positive effects of social class on prosociality: Higher class individuals were more likely to make a charitable donation and contribute a higher percentage of their family income to charity (32,090 ≥ N ≥ 3,957; Studies 1–3), were more likely to volunteer (37,136 ≥N ≥ 3,964; Studies 4–6), were more helpful (N = 3,902; Study 7), and were more trusting and trustworthy in an economic game when interacting with a stranger (N = 1,421; Study 8) than lower social class individuals. Although the effects of social class varied somewhat across the kinds of prosocial behavior, countries, and measures of social class, under no condition did we find the negative effect that would have been expected on the basis of previous results reported in the psychological literature. Possible explanations for this divergence and implications are discussed.

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Give me your self: Gifts are liked more when they match the giver's characteristics

Gabriele Paolacci, Laura Straeter & Ilona de Hooge
Journal of Consumer Psychology, July 2015, Pages 487–494

Abstract:
Research on gift giving has devoted considerable attention to understanding whether and how givers succeed in choosing gifts that match recipients' tastes. On the contrary, this article focuses on how recipients' appreciation for a gift depends on the match between the gift and the giver. Four studies demonstrate that recipients are particularly appreciative when they receive gifts that figuratively match the giver, i.e., that contain references to the giver's characteristics, because they perceive such gifts as more congruent with the giver's identity. This effect is not conditional on inferences recipients might make about the giver's motivations or on whether recipients have a good relationship with the giver, but relies on the match concerning core rather than peripheral characteristics of the giver. Importantly for our understanding of identity-based motivation, these findings demonstrate in a gift-giving context that identity-congruence not only drives consumer behavior, but is also appreciated in other people.

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When Gift-Giving Is Selfish: A Motivation to Be Unique

Jeff Galak & Julian Givi
Carnegie Mellon University Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
Gift givers are faced with the difficult task of choosing gifts that will be liked by gift recipients, and the challenging nature of this task often leads gift givers to unintentionally give poor gifts. The results of seven lab and field studies across 1,513 participants suggest that this failure on the part of gift givers is not always unintentional. Rather, it seems that gift givers possess a need for uniqueness and that this longing often leads them to knowingly give poor gifts. The present research demonstrates a robust effect in which gift givers, in some contexts, give gift recipients inferior gifts, because gift givers have a selfish motive in that they want their own possessions to feel unique. Conversely, when given the opportunity to choose between gifts for the self, gift recipients ignore this need for uniqueness in favor of obtaining an optimal gift. This effect holds across a variety of gifts, and gift-giving paradigms.

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Beauty, Weight, and Skin Color in Charitable Giving

Christina Jenq, Jessica Pan & Walter Theseira
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines bias in online charitable microfinance lending. We find that charitable lenders on a large peer-to-peer online microfinance website appear to favor more attractive, lighter-skinned, and less obese borrowers. Borrowers who appear more needy, honest and creditworthy also receive funding more quickly. These effects are quantitatively significant: Borrowers with beauty one standard deviation above average are treated as though they are requesting approximately 11% less money. Statistical discrimination does not appear to explain our findings, as these borrower attributes are uncorrelated with loan performance or borrower enterprise performance. The evidence suggests implicit bias could explain our findings: more experienced lenders, who may rely less on implicit attitudes, appear to exhibit less bias than inexperienced lenders.

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Roots and Benefits of Costly Giving: Children Who Are More Altruistic Have Greater Autonomic Flexibility and Less Family Wealth

Jonas Miller, Sarah Kahle & Paul Hastings
Psychological Science, July 2015, Pages 1038-1045

Abstract:
Altruism, although costly, may promote well-being for people who give. Costly giving by adults has received considerable attention, but less is known about the possible benefits, as well as biological and environmental correlates, of altruism in early childhood. In the current study, we present evidence that children who forgo self-gain to help other people show greater vagal flexibility and higher subsequent vagal tone than children who do not, and children from less wealthy families behave more altruistically than those from wealthier families. These results suggest that (a) altruism should be viewed through a biopsychosocial lens, (b) the influence of privileged contexts on children’s willingness to make personal sacrifices for others emerges early, and (c) altruism and healthy vagal functioning may share reciprocal relations in childhood. When children help others at a cost to themselves, they could be playing an active role in promoting their own well-being as well as the well-being of others.

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Cultivating Disaster Donors Using Data Analytics

Ilya Ryzhov, Bin Han & Jelena Bradić
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nonprofit organizations use direct-mail marketing to cultivate one-time donors and convert them into recurring contributors. Cultivated donors generate much more revenue than new donors, but also lapse with time, making it important to steadily draw in new cultivations. The direct-mail budget is limited, but better-designed mailings can improve success rates without increasing costs. We propose an empirical model to analyze the effectiveness of several design approaches used in practice, based on a massive data set covering 8.6 million direct-mail communications with donors to the American Red Cross during 2009–2011. We find evidence that mailed appeals are more effective when they emphasize disaster preparedness and training efforts over post-disaster cleanup. Including small cards that affirm donors’ identity as Red Cross supporters is an effective strategy, whereas including gift items such as address labels is not. Finally, very recent acquisitions are more likely to respond to appeals that ask them to contribute an amount similar to their most recent donation, but this approach has an adverse effect on donors with a longer history. We show via simulation that a simple design strategy based on these insights has potential to improve success rates from 5.4% to 8.1%.

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Prosociality enhances meaning in life

Daryl Van Tongeren et al.
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A central feature of meaning in life is a consideration of more than oneself. We extend this logic to suggest that altruistically motivated prosociality – acting in ways that benefit others – is a self-transcending action that may provide meaning in life. Study 1 provided evidence of a relationship between self-reported prosocial behavior and meaning in life, even after statistically controlling for personality traits and self-esteem. Study 2 provided evidence that engaging in a prosocial action, via writing notes of gratitude, increased meaning in life. Study 3 provided evidence that individuals bolster perceptions of prosociality following threats to meaning. Study 4 suggested relationship satisfaction partially mediates the link between prosocial actions and meaning in life. These studies provide initial evidence that prosociality enhances meaning in life.

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Doing good when times are bad: Volunteering behaviour in economic hard times

Chaeyoon Lim & James Laurence
British Journal of Sociology, June 2015, Pages 319–344

Abstract:
This paper examines how the 2008–9 recession has affected volunteering behaviours in the UK. Using a large survey dataset, we assess the recession effects on both formal volunteering and informal helping behaviours. Whilst both formal volunteering and informal helping have been in decline in the UK since 2008, the size of the decline is significantly larger for informal helping than for formal volunteering. The decline is more salient in regions that experienced a higher level of unemployment during the recession and also in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. However, we find that a growing number of people who personally experienced financial insecurity and hardship do not explain the decline. We argue that the decline has more to do with community-level factors such as civic organizational infrastructure and cultural norms of trust and engagement than personal experiences of economic hardship.

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A Friend in Need: Time-Dependent Effects of Stress on Social Discounting in Men

Z. Margittai et al.
Hormones and Behavior, July 2015, Pages 75–82

Abstract:
Stress is often associated with a tend-and-befriend response, a putative coping mechanism where people behave generously towards others in order to invest in social relationships to seek comfort and mutual protection. However, this increase in generosity is expected to be directed only towards a delimited number of socially close, but not distant individuals, because it would be maladaptive to befriend everyone alike. In addition, the endocrinological stress response follows a distinct temporal pattern, and it is believed that tend-and-befriend tendencies can be observed mainly under acute stress. By contrast, the aftermath (> 1 hour after) of stress is associated with endocrinological regulatory processes that are proposed to cause increased executive control and reduced emotional reactivity, possibly eliminating the need to tend-and-befriend. In the present experiment, we set out to investigate how these changes immediately and > 1 hour after a stressful experience affect social-distance-dependent generosity levels, a phenomenon called social discounting. We hypothesized that stress has a time-dependent effect on social discounting, with decisions made shortly after (20 min), but not 90 min after stress showing increased generosity particularly to close others. We found that men tested 20 min after stressor onset indeed showed increased generosity towards close but not distant others compared to non-stressed men or men tested 90 minutes after stressor onset. These findings contribute to our understanding on how stress affects prosocial behavior by highlighting the importance of social closeness and the timing of stress relative to the decision as modulating factors in this type of decision making in men.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Make it happen

People underestimate the value of persistence for creative performance

Brian Lucas & Loran Nordgren
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2015, Pages 232-243

Abstract:
Across 7 studies, we investigated the prediction that people underestimate the value of persistence for creative performance. Across a range of creative tasks, people consistently underestimated how productive they would be while persisting (Studies 1–3). Study 3 found that the subjectively experienced difficulty, or disfluency, of creative thought accounted for persistence undervaluation. Alternative explanations based on idea quality (Studies 1–2B) and goal setting (Study 4) were considered and ruled out and domain knowledge was explored as a boundary condition (Study 5). In Study 6, the disfluency of creative thought reduced people’s willingness to invest in an opportunity to persist, resulting in lower financial performance. This research demonstrates that persistence is a critical determinant of creative performance and that people may undervalue and underutilize persistence in everyday creative problem solving.

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It’s a Matter of Mind! Cognitive Functioning Predicts the Athletic Performance in Ultra-Marathon Runners

Giorgia Cona et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2015

Abstract:
The present study was aimed at exploring the influence of cognitive processes on performance in ultra-marathon runners, providing an overview of the cognitive aspects that characterize outstanding runners. Thirty runners were administered a battery of computerized tests right before their participation in an ultra-marathon. Then, they were split according to the race rank into two groups (i.e., faster runners and slower runners) and their cognitive performance was compared. Faster runners outperformed slower runners in trials requiring motor inhibition and were more effective at performing two tasks together, successfully suppressing the activation of the information for one of the tasks when was not relevant. Furthermore, slower runners took longer to remember to execute pre-defined actions associated with emotional stimuli when such stimuli were presented. These findings suggest that cognitive factors play a key role in running an ultra-marathon. Indeed, if compared with slower runners, faster runners seem to have a better inhibitory control, showing superior ability not only to inhibit motor response but also to suppress processing of irrelevant information. Their cognitive performance also appears to be less influenced by emotional stimuli. This research opens new directions towards understanding which kinds of cognitive and emotional factors can discriminate talented runners from less outstanding runners.

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Confidence Enhanced Performance? - The causal effects of success on future performance in professional golf tournaments

Olof Rosenqvist & Oskar Nordström Skans
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 2015, Pages 281–295

Abstract:
This paper provides field evidence on the causal impact of past successes on future performances. Since persistence in success or failure is likely to be linked through potentially time-varying ability, it is intrinsically difficult to identify the causal effect of succeeding on the probability of performing well in the future. We therefore employ a regression discontinuity design on data from professional golf tournaments exploiting that almost equally skilled players are separated into successes and failures half-way into the tournaments (the “cut”). We show that players who (marginally) succeeded in making the cut substantially increased their performance in subsequent tournaments relative to players who (marginally) failed to make the cut. This success-effect is substantially larger when the subsequent (outcome) tournament involves more prize money. The results therefore suggest that past successes provide an important prerequisite when performing high-stakes tasks.

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Disordered environments prompt mere goal pursuit

Bob Fennis & Jacob Wiebenga
Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People have a strong need to perceive their environment as orderly and structured. Among the various strategies to defend against the aversive experience of disorder, the authors propose and test the novel hypothesis that people may reaffirm a sense of order by setting and pursuing goals that may be unrelated to the source of disorder. In a series of (lab and field) studies, the authors show that when environmental cues trigger an experience of disorder, or when people have a chronic need for order, and hence when they are motivated to restore perceptions of order, people are more attracted to clear, well-defined goals and motivated to attain them. Moreover, the authors show that the effect of a disordered environment on goal pursuit is driven by the need to reaffirm perceptions of order, and — conversely — that setting and pursuing goals is indeed functional in promoting a sense of order.

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Unskilled and Don't Want to Be Aware of It: The Effect of Self-Relevance on the Unskilled and Unaware Phenomenon

Young-Hoon Kim, Chi-Yue Chiu & Jessica Bregant
PLoS ONE, June 2015

Abstract:
Previous research found that poor performers tend to overestimate how well their performance compares to others’. This unskilled and unaware effect has been attributed to poor performers’ lack of metacognitive ability to realize their ineptitude. We contend that the unskilled are motivated to ignore (be unaware of) their poor performance so that they can feel better about themselves. We tested this idea in an experiment in which we manipulated the perceived self-relevancy of the task to men and women after they had completed a visual pun task and before they estimated their performance on the task. As predicted, the unskilled and unaware effect was attenuated when the task was perceived to have low self-relevance.

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Dissociable Effects of Salience on Attention and Goal-Directed Action

Jeff Moher, Brian Anderson & Joo-Hyun Song
Current Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Everyday behavior frequently involves encounters with multiple objects that compete for selection. For example, driving a car requires constant shifts of attention between oncoming traffic, rearview mirrors, and traffic signs and signals, among other objects. Behavioral goals often drive this selection process; however, they are not the sole determinant of selection. Physically salient objects, such as flashing, brightly colored hazard signs, or objects that are salient by virtue of learned associations with reward, such as pictures of food on a billboard, often capture attention regardless of the individual’s goals. It is typically thought that strongly salient distractor objects capture more attention and are more disruptive than weakly salient distractors. Counterintuitively, though, we found that this is true for perception, but not for goal-directed action. In a visually guided reaching task, we required participants to reach to a shape-defined target while trying to ignore salient distractors. We observed that strongly salient distractors produced less disruption in goal-directed action than weakly salient distractors. Thus, a strongly salient distractor triggers suppression during goal-directed action, resulting in enhanced efficiency and accuracy of target selection relative to when weakly salient distractors are present. In contrast, in a task requiring no goal-directed action, we found greater attentional interference from strongly salient distractors. Thus, while highly salient stimuli interfere strongly with perceptual processing, increased physical salience or associated value attenuates action-related interference.

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The Snooze of Lose: Rapid Reaching Reveals That Losses Are Processed More Slowly Than Gains

Craig Chapman et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decision making revolves around weighing potential gains and losses. Research in economic decision making has emphasized that humans exercise disproportionate caution when making explicit choices involving loss. By comparison, research in perceptual decision making has revealed a processing advantage for targets associated with potential gain, though the effects of loss have been explored less systematically. Here, we use a rapid reaching task to measure the relative sensitivity (Experiment 1) and the time course (Experiments 2 and 3) of rapid actions with regard to the reward valence and probability of targets. We show that targets linked to a high probability of gain influence actions about 100 ms earlier than targets associated with equivalent probability and value of loss. These findings are well accounted for by a model of stimulus response in which reward modulates the late, postpeak phase of the activity. We interpret our results within a neural framework of biased competition that is resolved in spatial maps of behavioral relevance. As implied by our model, all visual stimuli initially receive positive activation. Gain stimuli can build off of this initial activation when selected as a target, whereas loss stimuli have to overcome this initial activation in order to be avoided, accounting for the observed delay between valences. Our results bring clarity to the perceptual effects of losses versus gains and highlight the importance of considering the timeline of different biasing factors that influence decisions.

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The role of motivation for rewards in vicarious goal satiation

Stephanie Tobin et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 137–143

Abstract:
We examined the role of reward sensitivity and the motivation to balance ‘have-to’ and ‘want-to’ goals in vicarious goal satiation. In Experiment 1, participants who read about a target who completed an academic goal performed worse on an academic (‘have-to’) task and were more interested in engaging in inherently rewarding (‘want-to’) activities than participants who read about an incomplete goal. In Experiment 2, after reading about a target who completed a ‘have-to’ goal, participants who were more sensitive to rewards performed worse on a similar ‘have-to’ task. Furthermore, in Experiment 3, this effect was significant only when participants saw their task as more of a work (i.e., ‘have-to’) task. Together, these findings support the idea that motivation for rewards plays a role in vicarious goal satiation and that other people's goal pursuits can affect observers' perceived balance of ‘have-to’ and ‘want-to’ goals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, July 24, 2015

Leadership vacuum

Destined for Democracy? Labour Markets and Political Change in Colonial British America

Elena Nikolova
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article a new explanation for the emergence of democratic institutions is proposed: elites may extend the right to vote to the masses in order to attract migrant workers. It is argued that representative assemblies serve as a commitment device for any promises made to labourers by those in power, and the argument is tested on a new political and economic dataset from the thirteen British American colonies. The results suggest that colonies that relied on white migrant labour, rather than slaves, had better representative institutions. These findings are not driven by alternative factors identified in the literature, such as inequality or initial conditions, and survive a battery of validity checks.

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Aid and the Rise and Fall of Conflict in the Muslim World

Faisal Ahmed & Eric Werker
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Spring 2015, Pages 155-186

Abstract:
The conflict following the Arab Spring is not the first wave of civil war in the Muslim world in recent time. From the mid-1980s to the end of the century, an average of one in 10 predominantly-Muslim countries experienced violent civil war in any given year. We provide a partial explanation for this statistic: a foreign aid windfall to poor, non-oil producing Muslim countries during the twin oil crises of the 1970s allowed the recipient states to become more repressive and stave off rebellion. When oil prices fell in the mid-1980s, the windfall ended, and the recipient countries experienced a significant uptick in civil war. To provide a causal interpretation we leverage a quasi-natural experiment of oil price induced aid disbursements which favored Muslim countries over non-Muslim countries. Our empirical findings are consistent with existing theories that foreign aid can "buy" stability.

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Military Westernization and State Repression in the Post-Cold War Era

Ori Swed & Alex Weinreb
Social Science Research, September 2015, Pages 270-287

Abstract:
The waves of unrest that have shaken the Arab world since December 2010 have highlighted significant differences in the readiness of the military to intervene in political unrest by forcefully suppressing dissent. We suggest that in the Post-Cold War period, this readiness is inversely associated with the level of military westernization, which is a product of the acquisition of arms from western countries. We identify two mechanisms linking the acquisition of arms from western countries to less repressive responses: dependence and conditionality; and a longer-term diffusion of ideologies regarding the proper form of civil-military relations. Empirical support for our hypothesis is found in an analysis of 2,523 cases of government response to political unrest in 138 countries in the 1996-2005 period. We find that military westernization mitigates state repression in general, with more pronounced effects in the poorest countries. However, we also identify substantial differences between the pre- and post-9/11 periods.

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Do Terrorists Win? Rebels' Use of Terrorism and Civil War Outcomes

Virginia Page Fortna
International Organization, Summer 2015, Pages 519-556

Abstract:
How effective is terrorism? This question has generated lively scholarly debate and is of obvious importance to policy-makers. However, most existing studies of terrorism are not well equipped to answer this question because they lack an appropriate comparison. This article compares the outcomes of civil wars to assess whether rebel groups that use terrorism fare better than those who eschew this tactic. I evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of terrorism relative to other tactics used in civil war. Because terrorism is not a tactic employed at random, I first briefly explore empirically which groups use terrorism. Controlling for factors that may affect both the use of terrorism and war outcomes, I find that although civil wars involving terrorism last longer than other wars, terrorist rebel groups are generally less likely to achieve their larger political objectives than are nonterrorist groups. Terrorism may be less ineffective against democracies, but even in this context, terrorists do not win.

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Bending with the Wind: Revisiting Islamist Parties' Electoral Dilemma

Kadir Yildirim & Caroline Lancaster
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Islamist parties' electoral performance is a hotly debated question. Two arguments dominate the literature in terms of Islamist parties' performance in democratic elections. The conventional argument has been the "one man, one vote, one time" hypothesis. More recently, Kurzman and Naqvi challenge this argument and show that Islamists tend to lose in free elections rather than win them. We argue that existing arguments fall short. Specifically, we theorize that moderateness of Islamist platform plays a key role in increasing the popularity of these parties and leads to higher levels of electoral support. Using data collected by Kurzman and Naqvi, we test our hypothesis, controlling for political platform and political economic factors in a quantitative analysis. We find that there is empirical support for our theory. Islamist parties' support level is positively associated with moderateness; however, this positive effect of moderation is also conditioned by economic openness.

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Ethnic Inequality and the Dismantling of Democracy: A Global Analysis

Christian Houle
World Politics, July 2015, Pages 469-505

Abstract:
Does inequality between ethnic groups destabilize democracies? While the literature largely agrees that inequality harms democracies, previous studies typically focus on the overall level of inequality in a society, leaving unanswered questions about the effect of inequality between ethnic groups. This article fills this gap and argues that inequality between ethnic groups harms the consolidation of democracy but that its effect is strongest when inequality within groups is low. Using group- and country-level data from more than seventy-one democracies and 241 ethnic groups worldwide, the author conducts the first cross-national test to date of the effect of ethnic inequality on transitions away from democracy. Results provide support for the hypothesis: when within-ethnic-group inequality (WGI) is low, between-ethnic-group inequality (BGI) harms democracy, but when WGI is high, BGI has no discernable effect.

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A Theory of Civil Disobedience

Edward Glaeser & Cass Sunstein
NBER Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
From the streets of Hong Kong to Ferguson, Missouri, civil disobedience has again become newsworthy. What explains the prevalence and extremity of acts of civil disobedience? This paper presents a model in which protest planners choose the nature of the disturbance hoping to influence voters (or other decision-makers in less democratic regimes) both through the size of the unrest and by generating a response. The model suggests that protesters will either choose a mild "epsilon" protest, such as a peaceful march, which serves mainly to signal the size of the disgruntled population, or a "sweet spot" protest, which is painful enough to generate a response but not painful enough so that an aggressive response is universally applauded. Since non-epsilon protests serve primarily to signal the leaders' type, they will occur either when protesters have private information about the leader's type or when the distribution of voters' preferences are convex in a way that leads the revelation of uncertainty to increase the probability of regime change. The requirements needed for rational civil disobedience seem not to hold in many world settings, and so we explore ways in which bounded rationality by protesters, voters, and incumbent leaders can also explain civil disobedience.

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Greater Expectations: A Field Experiment to Improve Accountability in Mali

Jessica Gottlieb
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
I argue that if citizens systematically underestimate what their government can and should do for them, then they will hold politicians to a lower standard and sanction poor performers less often. A field experiment across 95 localities in Mali in which randomly assigned localities receive a civics course identifies the effect of raising voter expectations of government on their willingness to hold leaders accountable. The course provides information about local government capacity and responsibility as well as how local politicians perform relative to others, effectively raising voter expectations of what local governments can and should do. Survey experiments among individuals in treated and control communities (N = 5,560) suggest that people in treated villages are indeed more likely to sanction poor performers and vote based on performance more often. A behavioral outcome - the likelihood that villagers challenge local leaders at a town hall meeting - adds external validity to survey findings.

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Terrorism and the Fate of Dictators

Deniz Aksoy, David Carter & Joseph Wright
World Politics, July 2015, Pages 423-468

Abstract:
The authors study the influence of domestic political dissent and violence on incumbent dictators and their regimes. They argue that elite with an interest in preserving the regime hold dictators accountable when there is a significant increase in terrorism. To pinpoint the accountability of dictators to elite who are strongly invested in the current regime, the authors make a novel theoretical distinction between reshuffling coups that change the leader but leave the regime intact and regime-change coups that completely change the set of elites atop the regime. Using a new data set that distinguishes between these two coup types, the authors provide robust evidence that terrorism is a consistent predictor of reshuffling coups, whereas forms of dissent that require broader public participation and support, such as protests and insurgencies, are associated with regime-change coup attempts. This article is the first to show that incumbent dictators are held accountable for terrorist campaigns that occur on their watch.

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Lying or Believing? Measuring Preference Falsification from a Political Purge in China

Junyan Jiang & Dali Yang
University of Chicago Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Despite its wide usage in explaining some nontrivial dynamics in nondemocratic systems, preference falsification remains an empirical myth for students of authoritarian politics. We provide to our knowledge the first quantitative study of preference falsification in an authoritarian setting using a rare coincidence between a major political purge in Shanghai, China, and the administration of a nationwide survey in 2006. We construct two synthetic measures for expressed and actual support from a set of survey questions and track their changes before and after the purge. We find that after the purge there was a dramatic increase in expressed support among Shanghai respondents, yet the increase was paralleled by an equally evident decline in actual support. We interpret this divergence as evidence for the presence of preference falsification. We also find that variations in the degree of preference falsification are jointly predicted by one's access to alternative source of information and vulnerability to state sanctions. Using two additional surveys conducted over the span of a year, we further show that there was substantial deterioration in political trust in Shanghai six months after the purge, which suggests that falsification could not sustain public support in the long run.

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Building Legal Order in Ancient Athens

Federica Carugati, Gillian Hadfield & Barry Weingast
Journal of Legal Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do democratic societies establish and maintain order in ways that are conducive to growth? Contemporary scholarship associates order, democracy, and growth with centralized rule of law institutions. In this article, we test the robustness of modern assumptions by turning to the case of ancient Athens. Democratic Athens was remarkably stable and prosperous, but the ancient city-state never developed extensively centralized rule of law institutions. Drawing on the "what-is-law" account of legal order elaborated by Hadfield and Weingast (2012), we show that Athens' legal order relied on institutions that achieved common knowledge and incentive compatibility for enforcers in a largely decentralized system of coercion. Our approach provides fresh insights into how robust legal orders may be built in countries where centralized rule of law institutions have failed to take root.

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Can Civic Education Make a Difference for Democracy? Hungary and Poland Compared

Florin Fesnic
Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Civic education can have a significant impact on democracy. This article offers evidence for this assertion by comparing the effects of the widely different choices made in the early 1990s by two post-communist countries: Poland and Hungary. Initially, the effects of civic education were confined to teenagers; later, as generational replacement started to have an effect, one can see an impact on the politics of the two countries. The success of civic education in Poland and its failure in Hungary is illustrated by the differences in young people's voting patterns: throughout the last decade, the vote of Polish youth has consistently been less authoritarian than the vote of older Poles, unlike in Hungary, where the pattern is reversed. Ultimately, these developments likely had an impact on democracy: one sees democratic progress in Poland and democratic regression in Hungary.

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Attitudes towards gender equality and perception of democracy in the Arab world

Veronica Kostenko, Pavel Kuzmuchev & Eduard Ponarin
Democratization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyses the relationship between support of democracy and attitudes to human rights, in particular, support for gender equality, in the countries covered by the first wave of the Arab Barometer project. We use cluster analysis and negative binomial regression modelling to show that, unlike in most countries of the world, correlation between support of democracy and gender equality is very low in the Arab countries. There is a group of people in the region who support both democracy and gender equality, but they are a small group (about 17% of the population) of elderly and middle-aged people characterized by higher education and social status. A substantial number of poorly educated males express support for democracy but not for gender equality. Many people, especially young males aged 25-35 in 2007, are against both gender equality and democracy. Younger people tend to be both better educated and more conservative, those belonging to the 25-34 age group being the most patriarchal in their gender attitudes. Yet, controlling for age, education does have a positive effect on gender equality attitudes. Nevertheless, this phenomenon may reflect two simultaneous processes going on in the Middle East. On the one hand, people are getting more educated, urbanized, etc., which means the continuation of modernization. On the other hand, the fact that older people are the most liberal age group may point to a certain retrogression of social values in the younger generations.

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The Indigenous Roots of Representative Democracy

Jeanet Bentzen, Jacob Gerner Hariri & James Robinson
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We document that rules for leadership succession in ethnic societies that antedate the modern state predict contemporary political regimes; leadership selection by election in indigenous societies is associated with contemporary representative democracy. The basic association, however, is conditioned on the relative strength of the indigenous groups within a country; stronger groups seem to have been able to shape national regime trajectories, weaker groups do not. This finding extends and qualifies a substantive qualitative literature, which has found in local democratic institutions of medieval Europe a positive impulse towards the development of representative democracy. It shows that contemporary regimes are shaped not only by colonial history and European influence; indigenous history also matters. For practitioners, our findings suggest that external reformers' capacity for regime-building should not be exaggerated.

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State Capacity and Military Conflict

Nicola Gennaioli & Hans-Joachim Voth
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Powerful, centralized states controlling a large share of national income only begin to appear in Europe after 1500. We build a model that explains their emergence in response to the increasing importance of money for military success. When fiscal resources are not crucial for winning wars, the threat of external conflict stifles state building. As finance becomes critical, internally cohesive states invest in state capacity while divided states rationally drop out of the competition, causing divergence. We emphasize the role of the "Military Revolution", a sequence of technological innovations that transformed armed conflict. Using data from 374 battles, we investigate empirically both the importance of money for military success and patterns of state building in early modern Europe. The evidence is consistent with the predictions of our model.

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The Political Geography of Nationalist Protest in China: Cities and the 2012 Anti-Japanese Protests

Jeremy Wallace & Jessica Chen Weiss
China Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 403-429

Abstract:
Why do some Chinese cities take part in waves of nationalist protest but not others? Nationalist protest remains an important but understudied topic within the study of contentious politics in China, particularly at the subnational level. Relative to other protests, nationalist mobilization is more clustered in time and geographically widespread, uniting citizens in different cities against a common target. Although the literature has debated the degree of state-led and grassroots influence on Chinese nationalism, we argue that it is important to consider both the propensity of citizens to mobilize and local government fears of instability. Analysing an original dataset of 377 anti-Japanese protests across 208 of 287 Chinese prefectural cities, we find that both state-led patriotism and the availability of collective action resources were positively associated with nationalist protest, particularly "biographically available" populations of students and migrants. In addition, the government's role was not monolithically facilitative. Fears of social unrest shaped the local political opportunity structure, with anti-Japanese protests less likely in cities with larger populations of unemployed college graduates and ethnic minorities and more likely in cities with established leaders.

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Executive Constraint, Political Stability and Economic Growth

Gary Cox & Barry Weingast
Stanford Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Previous studies have argued that democracy diminishes the extent to which contests over political leadership depress economic growth, by reducing the violence and uncertainty attendant on such contests. We reconsider the theoretical basis for this claim, highlighting the separate roles of executive constraint and electoral accountability. Exploiting panel data from 1850-2005, we show that the executive's horizontal accountability to the legislature significantly moderates the economic downturns associated with leadership turnover, while its vertical accountability to the electorate does not. These results suggest that, in terms of moderating succession-related downturns and thereby promoting steadier economic growth, the health of legislatures is more important than the health of elections.

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Leader Incentives and Civil War Outcomes

Alyssa Prorok
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the influence that rebel and state leaders have on civil war outcomes, arguing that incentives to avoid punishment influence their strategic decision making during war. Leaders in civil war face punishment from two sources: internal audiences and opponents. I hypothesize that leaders who bear responsibility for involvement in the war have a higher expectation of punishment from both sources following unfavorable war performance, and thus, have incentives to continue the fight in the hope of turning the tide and avoiding the negative consequences of defeat. These incentives, in turn, make leaders who bear responsibility more likely to fight to an extreme outcome and less likely to make concessions to end the war. These propositions are tested on an original data set identifying all rebel and state leaders in all civil conflict dyads ongoing between 1980 and 2011. Results support the hypothesized relationships between leader responsibility and war outcomes.

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Political Connections and Tariff Evasion: Evidence from Tunisia

Bob Rijkers, Leila Baghdadi & Gael Raballand
World Bank Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Are politically connected firms more likely to evade taxes? This paper presents evidence suggesting firms owned by President Ben Ali and his family were more prone to evade import tariffs. During Ben Ali's reign, evasion gaps, defined as the difference between the value of exports to Tunisia reported by partner countries and the value of imports reported at Tunisian customs, were correlated with the import share of connected firms. This association was especially strong for goods subject to high tariffs, and driven by underreporting of unit prices, which diminished after the revolution. Consistent with these product-level patterns, unit prices reported by connected firms were lower than those reported by other firms, and declined faster with tariffs than those of other firms. Moreover, privatization to the Ben Ali family was associated with a reduction in reported unit prices, whereas privatization per se was not.

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Between Dissolution and Blood: How Administrative Lines and Categories Shape Secessionist Outcomes

Ryan Griffiths
International Organization, Summer 2015, Pages 731-751

Abstract:
Common wisdom and current scholarship hold that governments need to stand firm in the face of secessionist demands, since permitting the secession of one region can set a precedent for others. For this reason governments will often choose blood rather than risk dissolution. I argue that administrative organization provides states with a third option. Those regions that represent a unique administrative type stand a much better chance of seceding peacefully. Moreover, large articulated states sometimes downsize by administrative category, which helps explain why governments will release one set of units without contest while preventing another set from doing the same. Finally, secessionist movements that do not cohere with any administrative region are the least likely to be granted independence. In sum, the administrative architecture of states provides governments with a means to discriminate between secessionist demands. I test this theory in a large-N study using original data on secessionist movements and administrative units between 1816 and 2011.

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The Rise of the Chinese Security State

Yuhua Wang & Carl Minzner
China Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 339-359

Abstract:
Over the past two decades, the Chinese domestic security apparatus has expanded dramatically. "Stability maintenance" operations have become a top priority for local Chinese authorities. We argue that this trend goes back to the early 1990s, when central Party authorities adopted new governance models that differed dramatically from those of the 1980s. They increased the bureaucratic rank of public security chiefs within the Party apparatus, expanded the reach of the Party political-legal apparatus into a broader range of governance issues, and altered cadre evaluation standards to increase the sensitivity of local authorities to social unrest. We show that the origin of these changes lies in a policy response to the developments of 1989-1991, namely the Tiananmen democracy movement and the collapse of communist political systems in Eastern Europe. Over the past twenty years, these practices have developed into an extensive stability maintenance apparatus, whereby local governance is increasingly oriented around the need to respond to social unrest, whether through concession or repression. Chinese authorities now appear to be rethinking these developments, but the direction of reform remains unclear.

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Five centuries of flooding events in the SW Netherlands, 1500-2000

A.M.J. de Kraker
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, June 2015, Pages 2673-2684

Abstract:
This paper looks into flood events of the past 500 years in the SW Netherlands, addressing the issue of what kind of flooding events have occurred and which ones have mainly natural causes and which ones are predominantly human induced. The flood events are classified into two major categories: (a) flood events that were caused during storm surges and (b) flood events which happened during warfare. From both categories a selection of flood events has been made. Each flood event is discussed in terms of time, location, extent of the flooded area and specific conditions. Among these conditions, specific weather circumstances and how long they lasted, the highest water levels reached and dike maintenance are discussed as far as flood events caused during storm surges are concerned. Flood events during warfare as both offensive and defensive strategies are relevant; the paper demonstrates that although the strategic flood events obviously were man-made, the natural feature, being the use of fresh water or sea water, of these events also played a major role. Flood events caused during storm surge may have an obvious natural cause, but the extent of the flooding and damage it caused was largely determined by man.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Unacceptable

Apologies demanded yet devalued: Normative dilution in the age of apology

Tyler Okimoto, Michael Wenzel & Matthew Hornsey
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 133-136

Abstract:
Dramatic increases in the issuance of political apologies over the last two decades mean that we now live in the "age of apology". But what does this surge in frequency mean for the effectiveness of intergroup apologies in promoting forgiveness? In the current research we propose a paradoxical "normative dilution" effect whereby behavioral norms increase the perceived appropriateness of an action while at the same time reducing its symbolic value. We experimentally manipulated the salience of the age-of-apology norm prior to assessing participant (N = 128) reactions to past unjust treatment of ingroup POWs by the Japanese during WWII. The apologetic norm increased victim group members' desire for an apology in response to the harm. However, after reading the actual apology, the invocation of the norm decreased perceived apology sincerity and subsequent willingness to forgive. Thus, although apologetic trends may suggest greater contemporary interest in seeking reconciliation and harmony, their inflationary use risks devaluing apologies and undermining their effectiveness.

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Moral Vitalism: Seeing Good and Evil as Real, Agentic Forces

Brock Bastian et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, August 2015, Pages 1069-1081

Abstract:
Moral vitalism refers to a tendency to view good and evil as actual forces that can influence people and events. We introduce a scale designed to assess the belief in moral vitalism. High scorers on the scale endorse items such as "There are underlying forces of good and evil in this world." After establishing the reliability and criterion validity of the scale (Studies 1, 2a, and 2b), we examined the predictive validity of the moral vitalism scale, showing that "moral vitalists" worry about being possessed by evil (Study 3), being contaminated through contact with evil people (Study 4), and forfeiting their own mental purity (Study 5). We discuss the nature of moral vitalism and the implications of the construct for understanding the role of metaphysical lay theories about the nature of good and evil in moral reasoning.

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Group differences in broadness of values may drive dynamics of public opinion on moral issues

Kimmo Eriksson & Pontus Strimling
Mathematical Social Sciences, September 2015, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
Here we propose the idea that the success of an argument in favor of an issue position should depend on whether the argument resonates with the audience's values. Now consider two groups, one of which has a broader set of values than the other. We develop a mathematical model to investigate how this difference in broadness of values may drive a change on the population level towards positions in line with the more narrow set of values. The model is motivated by the empirical finding that conservative morality rests equally on moral foundations that are individualizing (harm and fairness) and binding (purity, authority, and ingroup), whereas liberal morality relies mainly on the individualizing moral foundations. The model then predicts that, under certain conditions, the whole population will tend to move towards positions on moral issues (e.g., same-sex marriage) that are supported by individualizing moral foundations.

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Seeing You Fall vs Taking You Down: The Roles of Agency and Liking in Schadenfreude

Keegan Greenier
Psychological Reports, June 2015, Pages 941-953

Abstract:
People are more likely to experience schadenfreude, i.e., take pleasure in the misfortunes of another, if they do not like the person experiencing the downfall. In the current study, the roles of liking and agency (being the cause of the downfall vs a passive observer) were investigated using a live (rather than hypothetical) situation for participants to react to. Participants were exposed to a rude, neutral, or nice confederate who won a coveted prize. Participants were then put into a position to either cause the confederate to lose her prize, or to only passively observe it happen. Feelings of schadenfreude were strongest when participants were the agent of a rude other's downfall. Implications for incorporating aspects of this study into future research were discussed.

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Chimpanzees' Bystander Reactions to Infanticide

Claudia Rudolf von Rohr et al.
Human Nature, June 2015, Pages 143-160

Abstract:
Social norms - generalized expectations about how others should behave in a given context - implicitly guide human social life. However, their existence becomes explicit when they are violated because norm violations provoke negative reactions, even from personally uninvolved bystanders. To explore the evolutionary origin of human social norms, we presented chimpanzees with videos depicting a putative norm violation: unfamiliar conspecifics engaging in infanticidal attacks on an infant chimpanzee. The chimpanzees looked far longer at infanticide scenes than at control videos showing nut cracking, hunting a colobus monkey, or displays and aggression among adult males. Furthermore, several alternative explanations for this looking pattern could be ruled out. However, infanticide scenes did not generally elicit higher arousal. We propose that chimpanzees as uninvolved bystanders may detect norm violations but may restrict emotional reactions to such situations to in-group contexts. We discuss the implications for the evolution of human morality.

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Not All Fairness Is Created Equal: Fairness Perceptions of Group vs. Individual Decision Makers

Maryam Kouchaki, Isaac Smith & Ekaterina Netchaeva
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on fairness heuristic theory and literature on negative group schemas, we develop and empirically test the idea that, given the exact same decision outcome, people perceive groups to be less fair than individuals when they receive a decision outcome that is unfavorable, but not when they receive one that is favorable or neutral (Studies 1 and 2). To account for this difference in fairness perceptions following an unfavorable outcome, we show that the mere presence of a group as a decision-making body serves as a cue that increases the accessibility of negative group-related associations in a perceiver's mind (Study 3). Moreover, in a sample of recently laid-off workers - representing a broad range of organizations and demographic characteristics - we demonstrate that those who received a layoff decision made by a group of decision makers (versus an individual) are marginally more likely to perceive the decision as unfair and are marginally less likely to endorse the organization (Study 4). Taken together, the results of all four studies suggest that, in response to the same unfavorable decision outcome, a group of decision makers is often perceived to be less fair than an individual.

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Fairness requires deliberation: The primacy of economic over social considerations

Guy Hochman, Shahar Ayal & Dan Ariely
Frontiers in Psychology, June 2015

Abstract:
While both economic and social considerations of fairness and equity play an important role in financial decision-making, it is not clear which of these two motives is more primal and immediate and which one is secondary and slow. Here we used variants of the ultimatum game to examine this question. Experiment 1 shows that acceptance rate of unfair offers increases when participants are asked to base their choice on their gut-feelings, as compared to when they thoroughly consider the available information. In line with these results, Experiments 2 and 3 provide process evidence that individuals prefer to first examine economic information about their own utility rather than social information about equity and fairness, even at the price of foregoing such social information. Our results suggest that people are more economically rational at the core, but social considerations (e.g., inequality aversion) require deliberation, which under certain conditions override their self-interested impulses.

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Individual differences in the explicit power motive predict "utilitarian" choices in moral dilemmas, especially when this choice is self-beneficial

Felix Suessenbach & Adam Moore
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 297-302

Abstract:
We all face moral decisions, whether we are judges, politicians, or just riding the bus. The most well studied of these involve concerns of harming or caring for other people, which have often been researched by employing hypothetical moral dilemmas. This study investigated how the explicit power motive, more precisely the hope to gain power (h_Power), predicts decisions for these types of problems. We found that h_Power was positively related to deciding that it was morally acceptable to kill one person to save multiple others (i.e., making a utilitarian choice). In an exploratory analysis, we found that the probability of making such choices as a function of h_Power was even higher when participants' own lives were at stake as compared to only the lives of others. These findings complement previous research showing that personality variables as well as situational factors predict moral decision making. Finding biases in moral decision making is important, as only when we know these biases we can consciously counteract them.

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Dissociable Effects of Serotonin and Dopamine on the Valuation of Harm in Moral Decision Making

Molly Crockett et al.
Current Biology, 20 July 2015, Pages 1852-1859

Abstract:
An aversion to harming others is a core component of human morality and is disturbed in antisocial behavior. Deficient harm aversion may underlie instrumental and reactive aggression, which both feature in psychopathy. Past work has highlighted monoaminergic influences on aggression, but a mechanistic account of how monoamines regulate antisocial motives remains elusive. We previously observed that most people show a greater aversion to inflicting pain on others than themselves. Here, we investigated whether this hyperaltruistic disposition is susceptible to monoaminergic control. We observed dissociable effects of the serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram and the dopamine precursor levodopa on decisions to inflict pain on oneself and others for financial gain. Computational models of choice behavior showed that citalopram increased harm aversion for both self and others, while levodopa reduced hyperaltruism. The effects of citalopram were stronger than those of levodopa. Crucially, neither drug influenced the physical perception of pain or other components of choice such as motor impulsivity or loss aversion, suggesting a direct and specific influence of serotonin and dopamine on the valuation of harm. We also found evidence for dose dependency of these effects. Finally, the drugs had dissociable effects on response times, with citalopram enhancing behavioral inhibition and levodopa reducing slowing related to being responsible for another's fate. These distinct roles of serotonin and dopamine in modulating moral behavior have implications for potential treatments of social dysfunction that is a common feature as well as a risk factor for many psychiatric disorders.

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To Feel or Not to Feel When My Group Harms Others? The Regulation of Collective Guilt as Motivated Reasoning

Keren Sharvit et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Four studies tested the proposition that regulation of collective guilt in the face of harmful ingroup behavior involves motivated reasoning. Cognitive energetics theory suggests that motivated reasoning is a function of goal importance, mental resource availability, and task demands. Accordingly, three studies conducted in the United States and Israel demonstrated that high importance of avoiding collective guilt, represented by group identification (Studies 1 and 3) and conservative ideological orientation (Study 2), is negatively related to collective guilt, but only when mental resources are not depleted by cognitive load. The fourth study, conducted in Italy, demonstrated that when justifications for the ingroup's harmful behavior are immediately available, the task of regulating collective guilt and shame becomes less demanding and less susceptible to resource depletion. By combining knowledge from the domains of motivated cognition, emotion regulation, and intergroup relations, these cross-cultural studies offer novel insights regarding factors underlying the regulation of collective guilt.

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Experimental philosophy of actual and counterfactual free will intuitions

Adam Feltz
Consciousness and Cognition, November 2015, Pages 113-130

Abstract:
Five experiments suggested that everyday free will and moral responsibility judgments about some hypothetical thought examples differed from free will and moral responsibility judgments about the actual world. Experiment 1 (N = 106) showed that free will intuitions about the actual world measured by the FAD-Plus poorly predicted free will intuitions about a hypothetical person performing a determined action (r = .13). Experiments 2-5 replicated this result and found the relations between actual free will judgments and free will judgments about hypothetical determined or fated actions (rs = .22-.35) were much smaller than the differences between them (ηp2 = .2-.55). These results put some pressure on theoretical accounts of everyday intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility.

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Work-report formats and overbilling: How unit-reporting vs. cost-reporting increases accountability and decreases overbilling

Sreedhari Desai & Maryam Kouchaki
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 79-88

Abstract:
The current paper examines how asking for a report of units of work completed versus cost of the same work can influence overbilling. We suggest that something as simple as asking for a report of units of work completed (for instance, reporting either the time spent or number of units of work completed) as opposed to the cost of the work completed can drive different unethical behaviors. We argue that unit-reporting makes providers feel accountable for their actions, and this induced accountability, in turn, impacts actual billing behaviors. We present seven studies, including a field experiment in the auto-repair industry that demonstrate the effect of different work-report formats on overbilling and provide evidence for our proposed underlying mechanism.

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The Unifying Moral Dyad: Liberals and Conservatives Share the Same Harm-Based Moral Template

Chelsea Schein & Kurt Gray
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, August 2015, Pages 1147-1163

Abstract:
Do moral disagreements regarding specific issues (e.g., patriotism, chastity) reflect deep cognitive differences (i.e., distinct cognitive mechanisms) between liberals and conservatives? Dyadic morality suggests that the answer is "no." Despite moral diversity, we reveal that moral cognition - in both liberals and conservatives - is rooted in a harm-based template. A dyadic template suggests that harm should be central within moral cognition, an idea tested - and confirmed - through six specific hypotheses. Studies suggest that moral judgment occurs via dyadic comparison, in which counter-normative acts are compared with a prototype of harm. Dyadic comparison explains why harm is the most accessible and important of moral content, why harm organizes - and overlaps with - diverse moral content, and why harm best translates across moral content. Dyadic morality suggests that various moral content (e.g., loyalty, purity) are varieties of perceived harm and that past research has substantially exaggerated moral differences between liberals and conservatives.

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Hypocrisy by association: When organizational membership increases condemnation for wrongdoing

Daniel Effron, Brian Lucas & Kieran O'Connor
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hypocrisy occurs when people fail to practice what they preach. Four experiments document the hypocrisy-by-association effect, whereby failing to practice what an organization preaches can make an employee seem hypocritical and invite moral condemnation. Participants judged employees more harshly for the same transgression when it was inconsistent with ethical values the employees' organization promoted, and ascriptions of hypocrisy mediated this effect (Studies 1-3). The results did not support the possibility that inconsistent transgressions simply seemed more harmful. In Study 4, participants were less likely to select a job candidate whose transgression did (vs. did not) contradict a value promoted by an organization where he had once interned. The results suggest that employees are seen as morally obligated to uphold the values that their organization promotes, even by people outside of the organization. We discuss how observers will judge someone against different ethical standards depending on where she or he works.

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If I close my eyes, nobody will get hurt: The effect of ignorance on performance in a real-effort experiment

Agne Kajackaite
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, August 2015, Pages 518-524

Abstract:
This paper tests whether choosing to stay ignorant about the negative consequences of one's own actions affects performance in a real-effort experiment. In the experiment, participants' effort increased only their own payoff or also the donation to a negatively perceived charity. We introduced ignorance by letting agents decide whether to learn if the effort benefits the charity. As expected, agents exerted significantly higher efforts if they knew the negatively perceived charity would receive no benefits. Yet, when given the choice, almost a third of the agents chose to stay ignorant and exert significantly more effort than agents who knew their effort would benefit the charity. Importantly, if the uncertainty about the donation to the charity was introduced exogenously, agents exerted lower effort than ignorant agents, which suggests that not having information about the consequences of one's own actions alone does not lead to self-interested behavior, but rather, the sorting of social agents of a low type into ignorance drives self-interested behavior of ignorant agents.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I'll trade you

Men, Women, Trade, and Free Markets

Edward Mansfield, Diana Mutz & Laura Silver
International Studies Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 303-315

Abstract:
In this paper, we provide one of the first systematic analyses of gender's effect on trade attitudes. We draw on a unique representative national survey of American workers that allows us to evaluate a variety of potential explanations for gender differences in attitudes toward free trade and open markets more generally. We find that existing explanations for the gender gap, most notably differences between men and women in economic knowledge and differing material self-interests, do not explain the gap. Rather, the gender difference in trade preferences and attitudes about open markets is due to less favorable attitudes toward competition among women, less willingness to relocate for jobs among women, and more isolationist non-economic foreign policy attitudes among women.

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Trade Competition and American Decolonization

Thomas Pepinsky
World Politics, July 2015, Pages 387-422

Abstract:
This article proposes a political economy approach to decolonization. Focusing on the industrial organization of agriculture, it argues that competition between colonial and metropolitan producers creates demands for decolonization from within the metropole when colonies have broad export profiles and when export industries are controlled by colonial, as opposed to metropolitan, interests. The author applies this framework to the United States in the early 1900s, showing that different structures of the colonial sugar industries in the Philippines, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico - diverse exports with dispersed local ownership versus monocrop economies dominated by large US firms - explain why protectionist continental-agriculture interests agitated so effectively for independence for the Philippines, but not for Hawaii or Puerto Rico. A comparative historical analysis of the three colonial economies and the Philippine independence debates complemented by a statistical analysis of roll call votes in the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act supports the argument. In providing a new perspective on economic relations in the late-colonial era, the argument highlights issues of trade and empire in US history that span the subfields of American political development, comparative politics, and international political economy.

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There goes gravity: eBay and the death of distance

Andreas Lendle et al.
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We compare the effect of geographic distance on eBay and total international trade flows. We consider the same 61 countries and basket of goods for both types of transactions. We find the effect of distance to be on average 65% smaller on eBay. We argue this difference is due to a reduction of search costs; it increases with product differentiation and is higher when trade partners speak different languages, when corruption in the exporting country is high, and when uncertainty avoidance is high in the importing country. Moreover, eBay's seller-rating technology further reduces the distance effect on eBay.

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The Impact of Trade on Labor Market Dynamics

Lorenzo Caliendo, Maximiliano Dvorkin & Fernando Parro
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We develop a dynamic labor search model where production and consumption take place in spatially distinct labor markets with varying exposure to domestic and international trade. The model recognizes the role of labor mobility frictions, goods mobility frictions, geographic factors, and input-output linkages in determining equilibrium allocations. We show how to solve the equilibrium of the model without estimating productivities, reallocation frictions, or trade frictions, which are usually difficult to identify. We use the model to study the dynamic labor market outcomes of aggregate trade shocks. We calibrate the model to 38 countries, 50 U.S. states and 22 sectors and use the rise in China's import competition to quantify the aggregate and disaggregate employment and welfare effects on the U.S. economy. We find that China's import competition growth resulted in 0.6 percentage point reduction in the share of manufacturing employment, approximately 1 million jobs lost, or about 60% of the change in the manufacturing employment share not explained by a secular trend. Overall, China's shock increases U.S. welfare by 6.7% in the long-run and by 0.2% in the short-run with very heterogeneous effects across labor markets.

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The Gilded Wage: Profit-Sharing Institutions and the Political Economy of Trade

Adam Dean
International Studies Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 316-329

Abstract:
Scholars of international political economy often argue that workers automatically share the same trade policy preferences as their employers. However, this approach assumes that trade policies that increase profits necessarily lead to increases in wages. In contrast, I argue that capital and labor are more likely to share the same trade policy preference when "profit-sharing institutions" permit capital to credibly commit that an increase in profits will lead to an increase in wages. In support of my argument, I present a structured, focused comparison of the American textile and steel workers' unions during the late nineteenth century. Both unions supported the high tariffs that protected their industries when credible profit-sharing institutions were in place, but did not support high tariffs when such institutions were absent.

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Bribes and Firm Value

Stefan Zeume
University of Michigan Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
I exploit the passage of the UK Bribery Act 2010 as an exogenous shock to UK firms' cost of doing business in corrupt regions to study whether the ability to use bribes creates firm value. First, I find that UK firms operating in high-corruption regions of the world display a drop in firm value after the Act's passage. Foreign firms subject to the Act because they (i) have a UK subsidiary and (ii) operate in high-corruption regions also exhibit negative abnormal returns. Second, relative to comparable continental European firms, UK firms expand their network of subsidiaries less into high-corruption regions and their sales in such regions grow six percentage points more slowly. Third, non-UK industry peers competing directly with UK firms in specific corrupt countries experience positive spillovers from the passage of the Act. Taken together, these results suggest that bribes are indispensable for doing business in certain regions. The consequences of unilateral anti-bribery regulation for the competitiveness of affected firms warrant attention from policy makers.

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Cross-border Acquisitions and Labor Regulations

Ross Levine, Chen Lin & Beibei Shen
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Do labor regulations influence the reaction of stock markets and firm profitability to cross-border acquisitions? We discover that acquiring firms enjoy smaller abnormal stock returns and profits when targets are in countries with stronger labor protection regulations, i.e., in countries where laws, regulations, and policies increase the costs to firms of adjusting their workforces. These effects are especially pronounced when the target is in a labor-intensive or high labor-volatility industry. Consistent with labor regulations shaping the success of cross-border deals, we find that firms make fewer and smaller cross-border acquisitions into countries with strong labor regulations.

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Resilience and reactivity of global food security

Samir Suweis et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2 June 2015, Pages 6902-6907

Abstract:
The escalating food demand by a growing and increasingly affluent global population is placing unprecedented pressure on the limited land and water resources of the planet, underpinning concerns over global food security and its sensitivity to shocks arising from environmental fluctuations, trade policies, and market volatility. Here, we use country-specific demographic records along with food production and trade data for the past 25 y to evaluate the stability and reactivity of the relationship between population dynamics and food availability. We develop a framework for the assessment of the resilience and the reactivity of the coupled population-food system and suggest that over the past two decades both its sensitivity to external perturbations and susceptibility to instability have increased.

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The Political Economy of Food Price Volatility: The Case of Vietnam and Rice

Murray Fulton & Travis Reynolds
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, July 2015, Pages 1206-1226

Abstract:
This article argues that the structure of the Vietnamese rice export system is, in political economy terms, a rational response to the volatility present in the international rice market. In particular, it is argued that the Vietnamese Food Agency, along with VINAFOOD-1 and VINAFOOD-2, have been structured so that they can benefit from the domestic demands for export restrictions anticipated to occur as a consequence of international price volatility and the psychological demand of consumers for price stability. In turn, the actions of these agencies also contribute to international price volatility and the resulting demand for export restrictions. Since the political and economic elite in Vietnam obtain both political and economic power from this system, it is unlikely to be replaced with more effective and efficient policies to combat domestic price volatility. Thus, continued volatility in the price of rice can be expected.

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Effects of Renminbi Appreciation on Foreign Firms: The Role of Processing Exports

Barry Eichengreen & Hui Tong
Journal of Development Economics, September 2015, Pages 146-157

Abstract:
We examine the impact of Chinese currency (renminbi) revaluation on firm valuations, focusing on the effect of surprise announcements of changes in China's currency policy on 9,753 manufacturing firms in 44 countries. Renminbi appreciation has no significant impact on the valuation of firms in sectors exporting to China on average. But this "non-result" confounds a positive effect on firms in sectors exporting final goods to China with a negligible effect on those providing inputs for China's processing exports. We also find no significant effect on firms in sectors competing with China at home and in third markets. But again this "non-result" confounds the positive effect on firms competing with China in final goods with an insignificant effect on firms competing with China's processing exports. When evaluating the effects of renminbi appreciation on other countries, it follows, distinguishing processing trade from trade in final goods is key.

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Foreign Institutional Ownership and the Global Convergence of Financial Reporting Practices

Vivian Fang, Mark Maffett & Bohui Zhang
Journal of Accounting Research, June 2015, Pages 593-631

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether foreign institutional investors affect the global convergence of financial reporting practices. Using several measures of reporting convergence, we show that U.S. institutional ownership is positively associated with subsequent changes in emerging market firms' accounting comparability to their U.S. industry peers. We identify this association using an instrumental variable approach that exploits exogenous variation in U.S. institutional investment generated by the JGTRRA Act of 2003. Further, we provide evidence of a specific mechanism - the switch to a Big Four audit firm - through which U.S. institutional investors affect reporting convergence. Finally, we show that, for emerging market firms, an increase in comparability to U.S. firms is associated with an improvement in the properties of foreign analysts' forecasts.

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Import Competition and the Cost of Capital

Jean-Noel Barrot, Erik Loualiche & Julien Sauvagnat
MIT Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We investigate how the displacement risk associated with import competition is reflected in the cost of capital. We use shipping costs to measure the vulnerability of U.S. industries to import competition. We find that output and employment in high exposure industries is more sensitive to tariff cuts than in low exposure industries, consistent with the idea that they face a higher risk of being displaced by import competition. We then show that high exposure industries have a higher cost of capital. We confirm displacement risk of import competition is priced and covaries with the marginal utility of the representative agent.

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How Does the Entry of Large Discount Stores Increase Retail Employment? Evidence from Korea

Janghee Cho, Hyunbae Chun & Yoonsoo Lee
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Korean retail sector has undergone significant structural changes in conjunction with the rapid expansion of big-box stores since the mid-1990s. Using county-level data from Korea in 1997-2010, we examine the effects of the entry of large discount stores on local retail employment. Based on a differences-in-differences approach, our analysis shows that the entry of a large discount store leads to an increase of approximately 200 retail jobs in the county. Two thirds of this gain is attributable to the entry of the large store itself, and the other third is a result of the expansion of other retail sectors. In particular, we find that the entry of a large discount store increases employment in non-general merchandise sectors, such as bakeries, clothing stores, and electronics stores. Our finding suggests that the opening of a large discount store may have a spillover effect on the local retail sector, thereby leading to an overall increase in county employment. Such a finding of positive employment effects is in sharp contrast to previous findings on the employment effect of large retail chains, based primarily on the expansion of Wal-Mart in the U.S. While Wal-Mart competes with incumbent chain stores, large discount stores - the first nationwide large-scale chains introduced in Korea - may play the role of anchor stores. By providing modern shopping infrastructure and attracting new small stores into neighborhoods, these large discount stores have transformed local retail sectors from traditional shopping environments.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Working families

Welfare Rules, Incentives, and Family Structure

Robert Moffitt, Brian Phelan & Anne Winkler
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
In this study we provide a new examination of the incentive effects of welfare rules on family structure. Focusing on the AFDC and TANF programs, we first emphasize that the literature, by and large, has assumed that the rules of those programs make a key distinction between married women and cohabiting women, but this is not a correct interpretation. In fact, it is the biological relationship between the children and any male in the household that primarily determines how the family is treated. In an empirical analysis conducted over the period 1996 to 2004 that correctly matches family structure outcomes to welfare rules, we find significant effects of several welfare policies on family structure, both work-related policies and family-oriented policies, effects that are stronger than in most past work. Many of our significant effects show that these rules led to a decrease in single motherhood and an increase in biological partnering. For all of our results, our findings indicate that the impact of welfare rules crucially hinges on the biological relationship of the male partner to the children in the household.

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Single-Parent Households and Children's Educational Achievement: A State-Level Analysis

Paul Amato, Sarah Patterson & Brett Beattie
Social Science Research, September 2015, Pages 191-202

Abstract:
Although many studies have examined associations between family structure and children's educational achievement at the individual level, few studies have considered how the increase in single-parent households may have affected children's educational achievement at the population level. We examined changes in the percentage of children living with single parents between 1990 and 2011 and state mathematics and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Regression models with state and year fixed effects revealed that changes in the percentage of children living with single parents were not associated with test scores. Increases in maternal education, however, were associated with improvements in children's test scores during this period. These results do not support the notion that increases in single parenthood have had serious consequences for U.S. children's school achievement.

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Young Adult Outcomes and the Life-Course Penalties of Parental Incarceration

Daniel Mears & Sonja Siennick
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: The transition to adulthood can be challenging, especially for children of incarcerated parents. Drawing on reentry and life-course scholarship, we argue that parental incarceration may adversely affect multiple life outcomes for children as they progress from adolescence into adulthood and that such effects may persist from early young adulthood into late young adulthood.

Methods: The study uses propensity score matching analyses of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data (N = 12,844).

Results: Analyses identified harmful effects of parental incarceration on many life domains, including criminal behavior, mental health, illegal drug use, education, earnings, and intimate relationships. These effects typically surfaced by early young adulthood and continued into late young adulthood.

Conclusions: The results suggest that parental incarceration constitutes a significant turning point in the lives of young people and underscore the importance of life-course perspectives for understanding incarceration effects. They also illustrate that formal punishment policies may create harms that potentially offset intended benefits.

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Impact of Maternal Incarceration on the Criminal Justice Involvement of Adult Offspring: A Research Note

Lisa Muftić, Leana Bouffard & Gaylene Armstrong
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: This note examines the relationship between maternal incarceration and adverse outcomes for offspring in early adulthood.

Methods: Utilizing data derived from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, a series of multivariate models are conducted to examine the impact maternal incarceration has on criminal justice involvement among young adults. To control for selection effects that may be associated with maternal imprisonment, propensity score matching is utilized.

Results: Respondents whose mothers had served time in prison were significantly more likely to have an adult arrest, conviction, and incarceration, even after controlling for important demographic factors and correlates of criminal behavior. This effect persisted following matching.

Conclusions: Maternal incarceration had a substantial effect on the offspring's adult involvement in the criminal justice system. These findings bolster contentions regarding the unintended consequences of maternal incarceration that include long-term collateral damage to their children.

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Family Structure Transitions and Child Development: Instability, Selection, and Population Heterogeneity

Dohoon Lee & Sara McLanahan
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing literature documents the importance of family instability for child wellbeing. In this article, we use longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine the impacts of family instability on children's cognitive and socioemotional development in early and middle childhood. We extend existing research in several ways: (1) by distinguishing between the number and types of family structure changes; (2) by accounting for time-varying as well as time-constant confounding; and (3) by assessing racial/ethnic and gender differences in family instability effects. Our results indicate that family instability has a causal effect on children's development, but the effect depends on the type of change, the outcome assessed, and the population examined. Generally speaking, transitions out of a two-parent family are more negative for children's development than transitions into a two-parent family. The effect of family instability is more pronounced for children's socioemotional development than for their cognitive achievement. For socioemotional development, transitions out of a two-parent family are more negative for white children, whereas transitions into a two-parent family are more negative for Hispanic children. These findings suggest that future research should pay more attention to the type of family structure transition and to population heterogeneity.

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What makes siblings different? The development of sibling differences in academic achievement and interests

Alexander Jensen & Susan McHale
Journal of Family Psychology, June 2015, Pages 469-478

Abstract:
To illuminate processes that contribute to the development of sibling differences, this study examined cross-lagged links between parents' beliefs about sibling differences in academic ability and differences between siblings' grade point averages (GPAs), and cross-lagged links between differences in siblings' GPAs and sibling differences in academic interests. Data were collected from mothers, fathers, firstborn youth (M age at Time 1 = 15.71, SD = 1.07), and secondborn youth (M age at Time 1 = 13.18, SD = 1.29) from 388 European American families on 3 annual occasions. Findings revealed that, after controlling for siblings' average grades and prior differences in performance, parents' beliefs about sibling differences in academic ability predicted differences in performance such that youth rated by parents as relatively more competent than their sibling earned relatively higher grades the following year. Siblings' relative school performance, however, did not predict parents' beliefs about differences between siblings' competencies. Further, after controlling for average interests and grades, sibling differences in GPA predicted differences in siblings' interests such that youth who had better grades than their siblings reported relatively stronger academic interests the following year. Differences in interest, however, did not predict sibling differences in GPA. Findings are discussed in terms the role of sibling dynamics in family socialization.

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The Intergenerational Transmission of Schooling: Are Mothers Really Less Important than Fathers?

Vikesh Amin, Petter Lundborg & Dan-Olof Rooth
Economics of Education Review, August 2015, Pages 100-117

Abstract:
There is a "puzzle" in the literature on the intergenerational transmission of schooling, where twin studies emphasize the importance of fathers' schooling, whereas IV-studies often emphasize the importance of mothers. We provide new evidence on this "puzzle" using register based Swedish data on the largest sample of twins used so far in the literature. In contrast to previous twin studies, our results confirm the importance of mothers' schooling. We also provide the first twin-based evidence of possible role model effects, where our estimates suggest that mother's schooling matters more than father's schooling for daughters schooling. One additional year of mothers' schooling raises daughter's schooling by a tenth of a year, which is similar to some of the previous IV-based estimates in the literature. Finally, we bring in new US twin data that for the first time allows a replication of previous twin-based estimates of the intergenerational transmission of schooling in the US. The results show no statistically significant effect of mothers' and fathers' schooling on children's schooling. Our results have implications for assessing the efficiency of policies that subsidize the schooling of men and women and are in contrast to most previous findings in the twin literature.

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Brothers are Better: The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Schooling, Health, Earnings, and Labor Supply

Moiz Bhai
University of Illinois Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Using a twin research design that exploits exogenous gender variation in dizygotic twins, this paper credibly identifies the effect of sibling sex composition on schooling, earnings, health, and labor supply. Women born with a male co-twin have higher earnings, schooling, labor force participation, and better health than women born with a female co-twin. Men born with a female co-twin, on the other hand, have higher rates of ever smoking but differences on all other outcomes are statistically indistinguishable from zero. Family characteristics provide a limited explanation of the sibling sex composition effect.

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Family and Housing Instability: Longitudinal Impact on Adolescent Emotional and Behavioral Well-Being

Patrick Fowler, David Henry & Katherine Marcal
Social Science Research, September 2015, Pages 364-374

Abstract:
This study investigated the longitudinal effects of family structure changes and housing instability in adolescence on functioning in the transition to adulthood. A model examined the influence of household composition changes and mobility in context of ethnic differences and sociodemographic risks. Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health measured household and residential changes over a 12-month period among a nationally representative sample of adolescents. Assessments in young adulthood measured rates of depression, criminal activity, and smoking. Findings suggested housing mobility in adolescence predicted poorer functioning across outcomes in young adulthood, and youth living in multigenerational homes exhibited greater likelihood to be arrested than adolescents in single-generation homes. However, neither family structure changes nor its interaction with residential instability or ethnicity related to young adult outcomes. Findings emphasized the unique influence of housing mobility in the context of dynamic household compositions.

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Autonomy supportive fathers beget system-supporting children: The role of autonomy support on protesting behavior

Sook Ning Chua & Frédérick Philippe
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 348-353

Abstract:
In this paper we examined the influence of father autonomy support on protesting behavior. Drawing from Relational Model Theory and Self-determination Theory, we hypothesized that individuals' perception and interactions with authority figures are shaped by their experiences with their fathers. When people experience their fathers as empathetic and caring, they are more likely to view other authority figures positively and make benevolent interpretations of their actions. We found support for our hypothesis in two studies conducted in Malaysia and Canada with self-reported engagement in political causes. As expected, perceived father autonomy support was related to positive perception of the government and less protesting against the government. Overall, the present paper provides evidence that children's internalized representations of their fathers are related to intentions and behaviors to change the social systems.

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Conformity Expectations: Differential Effects on IVF Twins and Singletons' Parent-Child Relationships and Adjustment

Kayla Anderson et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increased utilization of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to treat infertility has resulted in a growing twin birthrate. Despite early childhood risks, twins have fewer psychosocial problems in middle childhood than singleton children. This study proposes that parents' conformity expectations for children have differential effects on parent-child relationships for twin and singleton children, which indirectly explains twins' more optimum psychosocial adjustment. Parental conformity expectations, parent-child relationship satisfaction, and children's emotional, behavioral, and attention problems were assessed in a sample of 288 6- to 12-year-old IVF-conceived twins and singletons. Overall, parents of twins had higher expectations for child conformity to parent rules than singleton parents. Path models demonstrate that twin status and parental expectations for child conformity interact to influence parent-child relationships, and this interaction indirectly accounted for differences in twins' and singletons' psychosocial adjustment. Findings suggest parenting constructs have differential influences on the association between twin status and parent-child relationships. Parenting research, predominantly conducted with singletons, should be reexamined before applying existing research to twin children and their families.

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The impact of early intervention on the school readiness of children born to teenage mothers

Amber Brown
Journal of Early Childhood Research, June 2015, Pages 181-195

Abstract:
This study examined the effect of participation in the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program on the school readiness of children born to teenage mothers versus children born to traditional-age mothers participating in the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program. A 45-item survey was collected from the kindergarten teachers of both the children of teenage mothers in the Texas Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program and a matched control group. The survey consisted of five subsections: socioemotional development, approaches to learning, physical development, language development, and general knowledge. Results of independent samples t-tests indicated no statistical difference between the two groups. These results seem to suggest that the curriculum used by the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program, which focuses on supporting parents as their child's first teacher, helps to mitigate any potential negative effects on being a child of a teenage mother.

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Housing and Household Instability

Matthew Desmond & Kristin Perkins
Urban Affairs Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research attempting to estimate the effects of residential instability typically overlooks other consequential changes within households that may be coincident with moving. Drawing on novel data of renting households in Milwaukee that recently relocated (N = 569), this article establishes the frequency at which residential or housing instability is accompanied by household instability: changes in the composition of adults living under the same roof. We find that most moves are accompanied by household instability and that households with young children are significantly more likely to experience household instability. These findings imply that researchers attempting to isolate the effects of residential instability, especially for children, should account for the possible influence of household change.

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The effect of child support on the labor supply of custodial mothers participating in TANF

Laura Cuesta & Maria Cancian
Children and Youth Services Review, July 2015, Pages 49-56

Abstract:
Child support is a critical source of income, especially for the growing proportion of children born to unmarried mothers. Current social policy supports custodial parent employment (e.g., the Earned Income Tax Credit [EITC] and other work supports have largely taken the place of an entitlement to cash assistance for single mothers of young children). Given many single mothers' limited earnings potential, child support from noncustodial fathers is also important. This raises questions about the effects of child support on custodial mothers' labor supply, and whether policies that increase child support receipt will thereby discourage mothers' employment. This paper addresses these questions, taking advantage of data from a statewide randomized experiment conducted in Wisconsin. Unlike previous nonexperimental research, we do not find any negative effect of child support on the likelihood to work for pay or the number of hours worked in a given week. Recent U.S. social welfare policies have focused on increasing both custodial mothers' child support collections and their labor supply. The results suggest that these may be compatible policies; the absence of a negative labor supply effect strengthens the potential antipoverty effectiveness of child support.

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Do Social Resources Protect Against Lower Quality of Life Among Diverse Young Adolescents?

Sarah Scott et al.
Journal of Early Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined whether social resources from the family and the community moderate the risk associated with low socioeconomic status (SES) for reduced quality of life (QL) among youth across racial/ethnic groups. Data were from 4,824 fifth-grade youth (age Formula = 11.1, SD = 0.6; 49% females) in the Healthy PassagesT study (2004-2006) located in Birmingham, Alabama; Los Angeles County, California; and Houston, Texas. Youth reported their QL using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory Version 4.0 and the Global Self-Worth subscale of the Self-Perception Profile and their status for hypothesized protective social mechanisms. Overall, family cohesion, parental nurturance, other adult, and peer support were positively associated with QL across racial/ethnic groups. There were few significant interactions, but all suggested that higher SES youth benefited more than lower SES youth. In fact, family cohesion among African American youth and other adult support among Hispanic youth differentiated QL at higher, but not lower SES. Further research should examine other risk contexts and seek to inform targeted prevention efforts.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, July 20, 2015

State of care

Basic versus supplementary health insurance: Moral hazard and adverse selection

Jan Boone
Journal of Public Economics, August 2015, Pages 50-58

Abstract:
This paper introduces a tractable model of health insurance with both moral hazard and adverse selection. We show that government sponsored universal basic insurance should cover treatments with the biggest adverse selection problems. Treatments not covered by basic insurance can be covered on the private supplementary insurance market. Surprisingly, the cost effectiveness of a treatment does not affect its priority to be covered by basic insurance.

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Medical Spending of the U.S. Elderly

Mariacristina De Nardi et al.
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
We use data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) to document the medical spending of Americans aged 65 and older. We find that medical expenses more than double between ages 70 and 90 and that they are very concentrated: the top 10% of all spenders are responsible for 52% of medical spending in a given year. In addition, those currently experiencing either very low or very high medical expenses are likely to find themselves in the same position in the future. We also find that the poor consume more medical goods and services than the rich and have a much larger share of their expenses covered by the government. Overall, the government pays for 65% of the elderly's medical expenses. Despite this, the expenses that remain after government transfers are even more concentrated among a small group of people. Thus, government health insurance, while potentially very valuable, is far from complete. Finally, while medical expenses before death can be large, on average they constitute only a small fraction of total spending, both in the aggregate and over the life cycle. Hence, medical expenses before death do not appear to be an important driver of the high and increasing medical spending found in the U.S.

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Did Medicare Part D Affect National Trends in Health Outcomes or Hospitalizations?: A Time-Series Analysis

Becky Briesacher et al.
Annals of Internal Medicine, 16 June 2015, Pages 825-833

Objective: To examine changes in health outcomes and medical services in the Medicare population after implementation of Part D.

Design: Population-level longitudinal time-series analysis with generalized linear models.

Patients: Nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries (n = 56 293 [unweighted and unique]) from 2000 to 2010.

Results: Five years after Part D implementation, no clinically or statistically significant reductions in the prevalence of fair or poor health status or limitations in ADLs or instrumental ADLs, relative to historical trends, were detected. Compared with trends before Part D, no changes in emergency department visits, hospital admissions or days, inpatient costs, or mortality after Part D were seen. Confirmatory analyses were consistent.

Conclusion: Five years after implementation, and contrary to previous reports, no evidence was found of Part D's effect on a range of population-level health indicators among Medicare enrollees. Further, there was no clear evidence of gains in medical care efficiencies.

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Understanding Pay Differentials Among Health Professionals, Nonprofessionals, And Their Counterparts In Other Sectors

Sherry Glied, Stephanie Ma & Ivanna Pearlstein
Health Affairs, June 2015, Pages 929-935

Abstract:
About half of the $2.1 trillion of US health services spending constitutes compensation to employees. We examined how the wages paid to health-sector employees compared to those paid to workers with similar qualifications in other sectors. Overall, we found that health care workers are paid only slightly more than workers elsewhere in the US economy, but the patterns are starkly different for nonprofessional and professional employees. Nonprofessional health care workers earn slightly less than their counterparts elsewhere in the economy. By contrast, the average nurse earns about 40 percent more than the median comparable worker in a different sector. The average physician earns about 50 percent more than a comparable worker in another sector of the economy, and this differential has increased sharply since 1993. Cost containment is likely to lead to reductions in the earnings of health care professionals, but it will also require using fewer or less skilled employees to produce a given service.

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The Value of Medicaid: Interpreting Results from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment

Amy Finkelstein, Nathaniel Hendren & Erzo Luttmer
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
We develop a set of frameworks for valuing Medicaid and apply them to welfare analysis of the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, a Medicaid expansion for low-income, uninsured adults that occurred via random assignment. Our baseline estimates of Medicaid's welfare benefit to recipients per dollar of government spending range from about $0.2 to $0.4, depending on the framework, with at least two-fifths - and as much as four-fifths - of the value of Medicaid coming from a transfer component, as opposed to its ability to move resources across states of the world. In addition, we estimate that Medicaid generates a substantial transfer, of about $0.6 per dollar of government spending, to the providers of implicit insurance for the low-income uninsured. The economic incidence of these transfers is critical for assessing the social value of providing Medicaid to low-income adults relative to alternative redistributive policies.

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Examining Causes of Racial Disparities in General Surgical Mortality: Hospital Quality Versus Patient Risk

Jeffrey Silber et al.
Medical Care, July 2015, Pages 619-629

Objectives: To determine if black-white disparities in general surgery mortality for Medicare patients are attributable to poorer health status among blacks on admission or differences in the quality of care provided by the admitting hospitals.

Subjects: All black elderly Medicare general surgical patients (N=18,861) and white-matched controls within the same 6 states or within the same 838 hospitals.

Results: Matching on age, sex, year, state, and the exact same procedure, blacks had higher 30-day mortality (4.0% vs. 3.5%, P<0.01), in-hospital mortality (3.9% vs. 2.9%, P<0.0001), in-hospital complications (64.3% vs. 56.8% P<0.0001), and failure-to-rescue rates (6.1% vs. 5.1%, P<0.001), longer length of stay (7.2 vs. 5.8 d, P<0.0001), and more 30-day readmissions (15.0% vs. 12.5%, P<0.0001). Adding preoperative risk factors to the above match, there was no significant difference in mortality or failure-to-rescue, and all other outcome differences were small. Blacks matched to whites in the same hospital displayed no significant differences in mortality, failure-to-rescue, or readmissions.

Conclusions: Black and white Medicare patients undergoing the same procedures with closely matched risk factors displayed similar mortality, suggesting that racial disparities in general surgical mortality are not because of differences in hospital quality. To reduce the observed disparities in surgical outcomes, the poorer health of blacks on presentation for surgery must be addressed.

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Informational Shocks and the Effects of Physician Detailing

Bradley Shapiro
University of Chicago Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
The effects of pharmaceutical firm advertising directly to physicians using sales reps, or detailing, has been a major area of interest for both regulators and firms. As firms spend vast amounts of money on detailing activities, understanding the response of such inputs is crucial to profit maximization. Regulators, on the other hand, worry that detailing might be illegally focused on off-label prescribing. In addition there is a regulatory worry that promotion will lead to prescriptions to those who do not need the drugs. Finally, regulators worry whether detailing provides socially useful information or socially harmful quid pro quo relationships. In this paper, I estimate the effect of detailing in the anti-psychotic category, a roughly $9 billion per year category which has been hit with over $6.5 billion in regulatory fines due to promotional practices in the past fifteen years. I estimate these effects using two studies that disseminated new information that drastically changed the nature of competition. Detailing effects are significant, but modest, with the average effect of a visit being to increase prescriptions by 0.15 over the short term and 0.3 over the long term. While detailing raises both on-label and off-label prescriptions, I find evidence that it disproportionately raises on-label prescriptions. I find evidence that the effect of detailing is primarily informational: those visits that included the presentation of a clinical study were 70% more effective than those that did not and visits that included a meal were no more effective than those visits that did not. Additionally, visits do not increase the proportion of low severity patients taking anti-psychotics.

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Hospitals as Insurers of Last Resort

Craig Garthwaite, Tal Gross & Matthew Notowidigdo
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
American hospitals are required to provide emergency medical care to the uninsured. We use previously confidential hospital financial data to study the resulting uncompensated care, medical care for which no payment is received. We use both panel-data methods and case studies from state-wide Medicaid disenrollments and find that the uncompensated care costs of hospitals increase in response to the size of the uninsured population. The results suggest that each additional uninsured person costs local hospitals $900 each year in uncompensated care. Similarly, the closure of a nearby hospital increases the uncompensated care costs of remaining hospitals. Increases in the uninsured population also lower hospital profit margins, which suggests that hospitals cannot simply pass along all increased costs onto privately insured patients. For-profit hospitals are less affected by these factors, suggesting that non-profit hospitals serve a unique role as part of the social insurance system.

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Misinformed About the Affordable Care Act? Leveraging Certainty to Assess the Prevalence of Misperceptions

Josh Pasek, Gaurav Sood & Jon Krosnick
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to some recent research, Americans hold a great deal of misinformation about important political issues. However, such investigations treat incorrect answers to quiz questions measuring knowledge as evidence of misinformation. This study instead defines misperceptions as incorrect answers that respondents are confident are correct. Two surveys of representative samples of American adults on the Affordable Care Act reveal that most people were uncertain about the provisions in the law. Confidently held incorrect beliefs were far less common than incorrect answers. Misperceptions were most prevalent on aspects of the law on which elites prominently and persistently made incorrect claims. Furthermore, although Americans appear to have learned about the law between 2010 and 2012, misperceptions on many provisions of the law persisted.

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Heterogeneity and the Effect of Mental Health Parity Mandates on the Labor Market

Martin Andersen
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Health insurance benefit mandates are believed to have adverse effects on the labor market, but efforts to document such effects for mental health parity mandates have had limited success. I show that one reason for this failure is that the association between parity mandates and labor market outcomes vary with mental distress. Accounting for this heterogeneity, I find adverse labor market effects for non-distressed individuals, but favorable effects for moderately distressed individuals and individuals with a moderately distressed family member. On net, I conclude that the mandates are welfare increasing for moderately distressed workers and their families, but may be welfare decreasing for non-distressed individuals.

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The Impact of Medicaid Payer Status on Hospitalizations in Nursing Homes

Shubing Cai et al.
Medical Care, July 2015, Pages 574-581

Objectives: To examine the association between payer status (Medicaid vs. private-pay) and the risk of hospitalizations among long-term stay nursing home (NH) residents who reside in the same facility.

Data and Study Population: The 2007-2010 National Medicare Claims and the Minimum Data Set were linked. We identified newly admitted NH residents who became long-stayers and then followed them for 180 days.

Results: The prevalence of all-cause hospitalization during a 180-day follow-up period was 23.3% among Medicaid residents compared with 21.6% among private-pay residents. After accounting for individual characteristics and facility effects, the probability of any all-cause hospitalization was 1.8-percentage point (P<0.01) higher for Medicaid residents than for private-pay residents within the same facility. We also found that Medicaid residents were more likely to be hospitalized for discretionary conditions (5% increase in the likelihood of discretionary hospitalizations), but not for nondiscretionary conditions. The findings from the sensitivity analyses were consistent with the main analyses.

Conclusions: We observed a higher hospitalization rate among Medicaid NH residents than private-pay residents. The difference is in part driven by the financial incentives NHs have to hospitalize Medicaid residents.

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Deficiencies In Care At Nursing Homes And Racial/Ethnic Disparities Across Homes Fell, 2006-11

Yue Li et al.
Health Affairs, July 2015, Pages 1139-1146

Abstract:
Despite the increased use of nursing homes by minority residents, nursing home care remains highly segregated. Compared to whites, racial/ethnic minorities tend to be cared for in facilities with limited clinical and financial resources, low nurse staffing levels, and a relatively high number of care deficiency citations. We assessed the trends from 2006 to 2011 in those citations and in disparities across facilities with four different concentrations of racial/ethnic minority residents. We found that the number of health care-related deficiencies and the percentage of facilities with serious deficiencies decreased over time for all four facility groups. From 2006 to 2011 the average annual number of health care-related deficiencies declined from 7.4 to 6.8 for facilities with low minority concentrations (<5 percent) and from 10.6 to 9.4 for facilities with high minority concentrations (?35 percent). In multivariable analyses, across-site disparities in health care-related deficiencies and in life-safety deficiencies narrowed over time. We also found that increasing the Medicaid payment rate might help improve both overall quality and disparities, but state case-mix payment approaches might worsen both. These results suggest the need to reevaluate quality improvement and cost containment efforts to better foster the quality and equity of nursing home care.

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Projecting Primary Care Use in the Medicaid Expansion Population: Evidence for Providers and Policy Makers

Eric Roberts & Darrell Gaskin
Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Millions of low-income adults are beginning to gain Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. To forecast the resulting need for primary care providers, we estimate the effect of Medicaid take-up on visits to office-based primary care providers, including clinics. We estimate that adults with Medicaid coverage at any point in the year have an average of 1.32 visits per year to primary care providers, 0.48 more visits than low-income adults without Medicaid. Consequently, we project a need for 2,113 additional primary care providers (range: 1,130-3,138) if all states expand Medicaid. Our estimates are somewhat lower than several recent forecasts, which may not have controlled adequately for selection bias, and which used non-representative samples for forecasting. Our findings shed light on disparities in access to care, particularly in counties with relatively few primary care providers per capita. Efforts to expand access to primary care should focus on where providers practice, rather than simply training more providers.

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Sorting Out the Health Risk in California's State-Based Marketplace

Andrew Bindman et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To characterize the health risk of enrollees in California's state-based insurance marketplace (Covered California) by metal tier, region, month of enrollment, and plan.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Chronic Illness and Disability Payment System (CDPS) health risk scores derived from an individual's age and sex from the enrollment file and the diagnoses captured in the hospitalization and ED records. CDPS scores were standardized by setting the average to 1.00.

Principal Findings: Among the 1,286,089 enrollees, 120,573 (9.4 percent) had at least one ED visit and/or a hospitalization in 2012. Higher risk enrollees chose plans with greater actuarial value. The standardized CDPS health risk score was 11 percent higher in the first month of enrollment (1.08; 99 percent CI: 1.07-1.09) than the last month (0.97; 99 percent CI: 0.97-0.97). Four of the 12 plans enrolled 91 percent of individuals; their average health risk scores were each within 3 percent of the marketplace's statewide average.

Conclusions: Providing health plans with a means to assess the health risk of their year 1 enrollees allowed them to anticipate whether they would receive or contribute payments to a risk-adjustment pool. After receiving these findings as a part of their negotiations with Covered California, health plans covering the majority of enrollees decreased their initially proposed 2015 rates, saving consumers tens of millions of dollars in potential premiums.

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Does Defensive Medicine Reduce Health Care Spending?

Scott Barkowski
Clemson University Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
The medical community often argues that physician fear of legal liability increases health care spending. Theoretically, though, the effect could be positive or negative, and empirical evidence has supported both cases. Previous empirical work, however, has ignored the fact that physicians face risk from industry oversight groups like state-level medical licensing boards in addition to civil litigation risk. This paper addresses this omission by incorporating previously unused data on punishments by oversight groups against physicians, known as adverse actions, along with malpractice payments data to study state-level health care spending. My analysis suggests that health care spending does not rise in response to higher levels of risk. An increase in adverse actions equal to 16 (the mean, absolute value of year-to-year changes within a state) is found to be associated with statistically significant average annual spending decreases in hospital care and prescription drugs of as much as 0.25% (nearly $29 million) and 0.29% (almost $9.3 million). Malpractice payments were generally estimated to have smaller, statistically insignificant effects.

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MetroHealth Care Plus: Effects Of A Prepared Safety Net On Quality Of Care In A Medicaid Expansion Population

Randall Cebul et al.
Health Affairs, July 2015, Pages 1121-1130

Abstract:
Studies of Medicaid expansion have produced conflicting results about whether the expansion is having a positive impact on health and the cost and efficiency of care delivery. To explore the issue further, we examined MetroHealth Care Plus, a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waiver program in Ohio composed of three safety-net organizations that enrolled 28,295 uninsured poor patients in closed-panel care during 2013. All participating organizations used electronic health records and patient-centered medical homes, publicly reported performance in a regional health improvement collaborative, and accepted a budget-neutral cap approved by CMS. We compared changes between 2012 and 2013 in achieving quality standards for diabetes and hypertension among 3,437 MetroHealth Care Plus enrollees to changes among 1,150 patients with the same conditions who remained uninsured in both years. Compared to continuously uninsured patients with diabetes, MetroHealth Care Plus enrollees with diabetes improved significantly more on composite standards of care and intermediate outcomes. Among enrollees with hypertension, blood pressure control improvements were insignificantly larger than those in the continuously uninsured group with hypertension. Across all 28,295 enrollees, 2013 total costs of care were 28.7 percent below the budget cap, providing cause for optimism that a prepared safety net can meet the challenges of Medicaid expansion.

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Do Hospital Mergers Reduce Costs?

Matt Schmitt
Northwestern University Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Proponents of hospital consolidation claim that mergers lead to significant cost savings, but there is little systematic evidence backing these claims. For a large sample of hospital mergers between 2000 and 2010, I estimate differences-in-differences models that compare cost trends for acquired hospitals (treatments) to a set of hospitals whose ownership did not change during the period (controls). Pre-merger, the two groups of hospitals appear to share common cost trends. Post-merger, hospitals that were acquired experience slower cost growth than controls. The results indicate that hospitals being acquired realize cost savings between 3 and 5 percent as a result of merger, on average. These results are robust to several different control strategies, such as matching treatments and controls (on the basis of observable hospital characteristics) using optimal matching methods from the statistics literature. I also find suggestive - but not conclusive - evidence that (1) hospitals of acquiring hospitals/systems experience no changes in cost and (2) cost reductions primarily occur with mergers involving multi-hospital systems.

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Beyond Statistics: The Economic Content of Risk Scores

Liran Einav et al.
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
In recent years, the increased use of "big data" and statistical techniques to score potential transactions has transformed the operation of insurance and credit markets. In this paper, we observe that these widely-used scores are statistical objects that constitute a one-dimensional summary of a potentially much richer heterogeneity, some of which may be endogenous to the specific context in which they are applied. We demonstrate this point empirically using rich data from the Medicare Part D prescription drug insurance program. We show that the "risk scores," which are designed to predict an individual's drug spending and are used by Medicare to customize reimbursement rates to private insurers, do not distinguish between two different sources of spending: underlying health, and responsiveness of drug spending to the insurance contract. Naturally, however, these two determinants of spending have very different implications when trying to predict counterfactual spending under alternative contracts. As a result, we illustrate that once we enrich the theoretical framework to allow individuals to have heterogeneous behavioral responses to the contract, strategic incentives for cream skimming still exist, even in the presence of "perfect" risk scoring under a given contract.

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Concentration In Orthopedic Markets Was Associated With A 7 Percent Increase In Physician Fees For Total Knee Replacements

Eric Sun & Laurence Baker
Health Affairs, June 2015, Pages 916-921

Abstract:
Physician groups are growing larger in size and fewer in number. Although this consolidation could result in improved patient care, the resulting increase in market concentration also could allow larger groups to negotiate higher physician fees from private insurers. We examined the association between market concentration and physician fees in the case of total knee arthroplasty by calculating market concentration for orthopedic groups practicing in a given market and by analyzing administrative claims data from Marketscan. In the period 2001-10 the average professional fee for total knee arthroplasty was $2,537. During this time, in markets that moved from the bottom quartile of concentration to the top quartile, physician fees paid by private payers increased by $168 per procedure. The increase nearly offset the $261 decline in fees that we observed, absent changes in market concentration. These findings suggest that caution should be used in implementing policies designed to encourage further group concentration, which could produce similar effects.

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Does Compensating Primary Care Providers to Produce Higher Quality Make Them More or Less Patient Centric?

Judith Hibbard et al.
Medical Care Research and Review, August 2015, Pages 481-495

Abstract:
Both payment reform and patient engagement are key elements of health care reform. Yet the question of how incentivizing primary care providers (PCPs) on quality outcomes affects the degree to which PCPs are supportive of patient activation and patient self-management has received little attention. In this mixed-methods study, we use in-depth interviews and survey data from PCPs working in a Pioneer Accountable Care Organization that implemented a compensation model in which a large percentage of PCP salary is based on quality performance. We assess how much PCPs report focusing their efforts on supporting patient activation and self-management, and whether or not they become frustrated with patients who do not change their behaviors. The findings suggest that most PCPs do not see the value in investing their own efforts in supporting patient self-management and activation. Most PCPs saw patient behavior as a major obstacle to improving quality and many were frustrated that patient behaviors affected their compensation.

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Hospital Alignment with Physicians as a Bargaining Response to Commercial Insurance Markets

Sean Sheng-Hsiu Huang & Ian McCarthy
Georgetown University Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The relationship between physicians and hospitals has dramatically changed over the last decade, with the employer-employee model supplanting the traditional model of private physicians with hospital admitting privileges. We examine the motivations for this increase in physician-hospital alignment, focusing on alignment as a tool to increase bargaining power with private insurers. We then investigate the subsequent effects of such alignment on efficiency and prices, as well as the extent to which a hospital's bargaining motives may influence these effects. Our results suggest that increased concentration in the private insurance market significantly increases hospital-physician alignment, with a 1% increase in health insurance concentration leading to a 0.47% increase in hospital employment of physicians and a 1.08% increase in equity arrangements between hospitals and physicians. We also find significant price increases among some (but not all) forms of physician-hospital alignment, with heterogeneous effects across hospital ownership type. Finally, we find that alignment as a bargaining response to insurance market pressures can lead to significant increases in average Medicare costs per beneficiary of between $900 and $1,350, particularly with certain forms of alignment such as equity agreements. Our results highlight the heterogeneities in the effects of alignment on prices and efficiency, with differential effects across hospital ownership type and competitiveness in the local hospital market. Broadly, we find evidence that physician-hospital alignment in the form of an employee model may improve population-level efficiency with no apparent increase in hospital prices, while some of the more loosely defined arrangements such as physician-hospital organizations are more likely to increase prices and potentially reduce efficiency.

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Risk-Adjusted In-Hospital Mortality Models for Congestive Heart Failure and Acute Myocardial Infarction: Value of Clinical Laboratory Data and Race/Ethnicity

Eunjung Lim et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the impact of key laboratory and race/ethnicity data on the prediction of in-hospital mortality for congestive heart failure (CHF) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

Data Sources: Hawaii adult hospitalizations database between 2009 and 2011, linked to laboratory database.

Principal Findings: Adding a simple three-level summary measure based on the number of abnormal laboratory data observed to hospital administrative claims data significantly improved the model prediction for inpatient mortality compared with a baseline risk model using administrative data that adjusted only for age, gender, and risk of mortality (determined using 3M's All Patient Refined Diagnosis Related Groups classification). The addition of race/ethnicity also improved the model.

Conclusions: The results of this study support the incorporation of a simple summary measure of laboratory data and race/ethnicity information to improve predictions of in-hospital mortality from CHF and AMI. Laboratory data provide objective evidence of a patient's condition and therefore are accurate determinants of a patient's risk of mortality. Adding race/ethnicity information helps further explain the differences in in-hospital mortality.

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Geographic variation in the demand for emergency care: A local population-level analysis

David Lee et al.
Healthcare, forthcoming

Background: Geographic variation in healthcare has been traditionally studied in large areas such as hospital referral regions or service areas. These analyses are limited by variation that exists within local communities.

Materials and methods: Using a New York claims database, we analyzed variation in emergency department use using 35 million visits from 2008 to 2012 among 4797 Census tracts, a smaller unit than usually studied. Using multivariate analysis, we studied associations between population characteristics and proximity to healthcare with rates of emergency department use. We analyzed how factors associated with emergency department utilization differed among urban, suburban, and rural regions.

Results: We found significant geographic variation in emergency department use among Census tracts. Public insurance and uninsurance were correlated with high emergency department utilization across all types of regions. We found that race, ethnicity, and poverty were only associated with high emergency department use in urban regions. In suburban and rural regions, a lower proportion of elderly residents and shorter distances to the nearest ED were correlated with high emergency department use.

Conclusions: Significant variation in emergency department use exists locally when studied within small geographic areas. Insurance type is significantly associated with variation in emergency department use across urban, suburban, and rural regions, whereas the significance of other factors depended on urbanicity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, July 19, 2015

None too happy

Sad as a Matter of Choice? Emotion-Regulation Goals in Depression

Yael Millgram et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on deficits in emotion regulation has devoted considerable attention to emotion-regulation strategies. We propose that deficits in emotion regulation may also be related to emotion-regulation goals. We tested this possibility by assessing the direction in which depressed people chose to regulate their emotions (i.e., toward happiness, toward sadness). In three studies, clinically depressed participants were more likely than nondepressed participants to use emotion-regulation strategies in a direction that was likely to maintain or increase their level of sadness. This pattern was found when using the regulation strategies of situation selection (Studies 1 and 2) and cognitive reappraisal (Study 3). The findings demonstrate that maladaptive emotion regulation may be linked not only to the means people use to regulate their emotions, but also to the ends toward which those means are directed.

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Status- and Stigma-related Consequences of Military Service and PTSD: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment

Crosby Hipes, Jeffrey Lucas & Meredith Kleykamp
Armed Forces & Society, July 2015, Pages 477-495

Abstract:
This article describes an experimental study that investigates the status- and stigma-related consequences of military service and of experiences in war resulting in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the study, participants interacted with fictitious partners whom they believed were real in four conditions: a control condition, a condition in which the “partner” was in the military, a condition in which the “partner” was a war veteran who had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and a condition in which the partner was a military veteran with PTSD who had been deployed. Results support predictions that military experience would advantage partners with respect to influence over participants, but that PTSD would be disadvantaging. Previous contact with veterans moderated this relationship, mitigating the loss of influence associated with PTSD. A prediction that PTSD would significantly increase social distance was not supported.

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Suicide Attempts in the US Army During the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 2004 to 2009

Robert Ursano et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To identify risk factors for suicide attempts among active-duty members of the regular Army from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2009.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This longitudinal, retrospective cohort study, as part of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS), used individual-level person-month records from Army and Department of Defense administrative data systems to examine sociodemographic, service-related, and mental health predictors of medically documented suicide attempts among active-duty regular Army soldiers from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2009. We analyzed data from 9791 suicide attempters and an equal-probability sample of 183 826 control person-months using a discrete-time survival framework. Data analysis was performed from February 3 through November 12, 2014.

Results: Enlisted soldiers accounted for 98.6% of all suicide attempts (9650 attempters; overall rate, 377.0 [95% CI, 369.7-384.7] per 100 000 person-years). In multivariate models, suicide attempts among enlisted soldiers were predicted (data reported as odds ratio [95% CI]) by female sex (2.4 [2.3-2.5]), entering Army service at 25 years or older (1.6 [1.5-1.8]), current age of 29 years or younger (<21 years, 5.6 [5.1-6.2]; 21-24 years, 2.9 [2.6-3.2]; 25-29 years, 1.6 [1.5-1.8]), white race (black, 0.7 [0.6-0.7]; Hispanic, 0.7 [0.7-0.8]; Asian, 0.7 [0.6-0.8]), an educational level of less than high school (2.0 [2.0-2.1]), being in the first 4 years of service (1-2 years, 2.4 [2.2-2.6]; 3-4 years, 1.5 [1.4-1.6]), having never (2.8 [2.6-3.0]) or previously (2.6 [2.4-2.8]) been deployed, and a mental health diagnosis during the previous month (18.2 [17.4-19.1]). Attempts among officers (overall rate, 27.9 per 100 000 person-years) were predicted by female sex (2.8 [2.0-4.1]), entering Army service at 25 years or older (2.0 [1.3-3.1]), current age of 40 years or older (0.5 [0.3-0.8]), and a mental health diagnosis during the previous month (90.2 [59.5-136.7]). Discrete-time hazard models indicated risk among enlisted soldiers was highest in the second month of service (102.7 per 100 000 person-months) and declined substantially as length of service increased (mean during the second year of service, 56.0 per 100 000 person-years; after 4 years of service, 29.4 per 100 000 person-months), whereas risk among officers remained stable (overall mean, 6.1 per 100 000 person-months).

Conclusions and Relevance: Our results represent, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive accounting to date of suicide attempts in the Army. The findings reveal unique risk profiles for enlisted soldiers and officers and highlight the importance of research and prevention focused on enlisted soldiers in their first Army tour.

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Is the Suicide Rate a Random Walk?

Bijou Yang et al.
Psychological Reports, June 2015, Pages 983-985

Abstract:
The yearly suicide rates for the period 1933–2010 and the daily suicide numbers for 1990 and 1991 were examined for whether the distribution of difference scores (from year to year and from day to day) fitted a normal distribution, a characteristic of stochastic processes that follow a random walk. If the suicide rate were a random walk, then any disturbance to the suicide rate would have a permanent effect and national suicide prevention efforts would likely fail. The distribution of difference scores from day to day (but not the difference scores from year to year) fitted a normal distribution and, therefore, were consistent with a random walk.

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Psychopathic personality traits, intelligence, and economic success

Cashen Boccio & Kevin Beaver
Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, July/August 2015, Pages 551-569

Abstract:
A wealth of research has revealed that psychopathy and psychopathic personality traits are associated with criminal involvement. Comparatively less research, however, has examined whether psychopathic personality traits influence economic outcomes in adulthood. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by analyzing data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The results of the analyses indicate that psychopathic personality traits are negatively related to a number of economic outcomes, including household income and employment history measures. Individuals with high levels of psychopathic personality traits were found to have lower household incomes and to be fired more frequently than individuals with lower levels of psychopathic personality traits. Unexpectedly, psychopathic personality traits were also found to be negatively associated with household debt. There was also some evidence that the effect of psychopathic personality traits was moderated by intelligence in the prediction of household income. We discuss what these findings mean for the psychopathy and economics literatures.

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Economic downturns and suicide mortality in the USA, 1980–2010: Observational study

Sam Harper et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Several studies have suggested strong associations between economic downturns and suicide mortality, but are at risk of bias due to unmeasured confounding. The rationale for our study was to provide more robust evidence by using a quasi- experimental design.

Methods: We analysed 955 561 suicides occurring in the USA from 1980 to 2010 and used a broad index of economic activity in each US state to measure economic conditions. We used a quasi-experimental, fixed-effects design and we also assessed whether the effects were heterogeneous by demographic group and during periods of official recession.

Results: After accounting for secular trends, seasonality and unmeasured fixed characteristics of states, we found that an economic downturn similar in magnitude to the 2007 Great Recession increased suicide mortality by 0.14 deaths per 100 000 population [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.00, 0.28] or around 350 deaths. Effects were stronger for men (0.28, 95% CI 0.07, 0.49) than women and for those with less than 12 years of education (1.22 95% CI 0.83, 1.60) compared with more than 12 years of education. The overall effect did not differ for recessionary (0.11, 95% CI −0.02, 0.25) vs non- recessionary periods (0.15, 95% CI 0.01, 0.29). The main study limitation is the potential for misclassified death certificates and we cannot definitively rule out unmeasured confounding.

Conclusions: We found limited evidence of a strong, population-wide detrimental effect of economic downturns on suicide mortality. The overall effect hides considerable heterogeneity by gender, socioeconomic position and time period.

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Word-finding impairment in veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War

Kristin Moffett et al.
Brain and Cognition, August 2015, Pages 65–73

Abstract:
Approximately one quarter of 1991 Persian Gulf War Veterans experience cognitive and physiological sequelae that continue to be unexplained by known medical or psychological conditions. Difficulty coming up with words and names, familiar before the war, is a hallmark of the illness. Three Gulf War Syndrome subtypes have been identified and linked to specific war-time chemical exposures. The most functionally impaired veterans belong to the Gulf War Syndrome 2 (Syndrome 2) group, for which subcortical damage due to toxic nerve gas exposure is the suspected cause. Subcortical damage is often associated with specific complex language impairments, and Syndrome 2 veterans have demonstrated poorer vocabulary relative to controls. 11 Syndrome 1, 16 Syndrome 2, 9 Syndrome 3, and 14 age-matched veteran controls from the Seabees Naval Construction Battalion were compared across three measures of complex language. Additionally, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was collected during a covert category generation task, and whole-brain functional activity was compared between groups. Results demonstrated that Syndrome 2 veterans performed significantly worse on letter and category fluency relative to Syndrome 1 veterans and controls. They also exhibited reduced activity in the thalamus, putamen, and amygdala, and increased activity in the right hippocampus relative to controls. Syndrome 1 and Syndrome 3 groups tended to show similar, although smaller, differences than the Syndrome 2 group. Hence, these results further demonstrate specific impairments in complex language as well as subcortical and hippocampal involvement in Syndrome 2 veterans. Further research is required to determine the extent of language impairments in this population and the significance of altered neurologic activity in the aforementioned brain regions with the purpose of better characterizing the Gulf War Syndromes.

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A Longitudinal Analysis of Changes in Job Control and Mental Health

Rebecca Bentley et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Deteriorating job control has been previously shown to predict poor mental health. The impact of improvement in job control on mental health is less well understood, yet it is of policy significance. We used fixed-effects longitudinal regression models to analyze 10 annual waves of data from a large Australian panel survey (2001–2010) to test within-person associations between change in self-reported job control and corresponding change in mental health as measured by the Mental Component Summary score of Short Form 36. We found evidence of a graded relationship; with each quintile increase in job control experienced by an individual, the person's mental health increased. The biggest improvement was a 1.55-point increase in mental health (95% confidence interval: 1.25, 1.84) for people moving from the lowest (worst) quintile of job control to the highest. Separate analyses of each of the component subscales of job control — decision authority and skill discretion — showed results consistent with those of the main analysis; both were significantly associated with mental health in the same direction, with a stronger association for decision authority. We conclude that as people's level of job control increased, so did their mental health, supporting the value of targeting improvements in job control through policy and practice interventions.

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How regional personality affects individuals’ life satisfaction: A case of emotional contagion?

Olga Stavrova
Journal of Research in Personality, October 2015, Pages 1–5

Abstract:
Recent research has shown that life satisfaction is lower in states with a high neuroticism level than in less neurotic states. The present study disentangles the effect of state- and individual-level neuroticism on life satisfaction in a multilevel regression analysis using nationally representative data from 16 German federal states. The results show that controlling for individual-level neuroticism results in a reduction of the effect of state-level neuroticism on individuals’ life satisfaction, although it remains statistically and practically significant. Hence, the ecological correlation between state-level neuroticism and state-level life satisfaction reported in prior research is not a mere reflection of individual-level associations. The process of emotional contagion is proposed as the potential mechanism of the state-level neuroticism effect.

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Computer Game Play Reduces Intrusive Memories of Experimental Trauma via Reconsolidation-Update Mechanisms

Ella James et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Memory of a traumatic event becomes consolidated within hours. Intrusive memories can then flash back repeatedly into the mind’s eye and cause distress. We investigated whether reconsolidation — the process during which memories become malleable when recalled—can be blocked using a cognitive task and whether such an approach can reduce these unbidden intrusions. We predicted that reconsolidation of a reactivated visual memory of experimental trauma could be disrupted by engaging in a visuospatial task that would compete for visual working memory resources. We showed that intrusive memories were virtually abolished by playing the computer game Tetris following a memory-reactivation task 24 hr after initial exposure to experimental trauma. Furthermore, both memory reactivation and playing Tetris were required to reduce subsequent intrusions (Experiment 2), consistent with reconsolidation-update mechanisms. A simple, noninvasive cognitive-task procedure administered after emotional memory has already consolidated (i.e., > 24 hours after exposure to experimental trauma) may prevent the recurrence of intrusive memories of those emotional events.

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Psychological Effect of an Analogue Traumatic Event Reduced by Sleep Deprivation

Kate Porcheret et al.
Sleep, July 2015, Pages 1017–1025

Study Objective: To examine the effect of sleep deprivation compared to sleep, immediately after experimental trauma stimuli on the development of intrusive memories to that trauma stimuli.

Design: Participants were exposed to a film with traumatic content (trauma film). The immediate response to the trauma film was assessed, followed by either total sleep deprivation (sleep deprived group, N = 20) or sleep as usual (sleep group, N = 22). Twelve hours after the film viewing the initial psychological effect of the trauma film was measured and for the subsequent 6 days intrusive emotional memories related to the trauma film were recorded in daily life.

Measurements and results: On the first day after the trauma film, the psychological effect as assessed by the Impact of Event Scale – Revised was lower in the sleep deprived group compared to the sleep group. In addition, the sleep deprived group reported fewer intrusive emotional memories (mean 2.28, standard deviation [SD] 2.91) compared to the sleep group (mean 3.76, SD 3.35). Because habitual sleep/circadian patterns, psychological health, and immediate effect of the trauma film were similar at baseline for participants of both groups, the results cannot be accounted for by pre-existing inequalities between groups.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that sleep deprivation on one night, rather than sleeping, reduces emotional effect and intrusive memories following exposure to experimental trauma.

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(Dis)connected: An Examination of Interoception in Individuals With Suicidality

Lauren Forrest et al.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sensing one’s internal physiological sensations is a process known as interoception. Several lines of research suggest that poor interoception may facilitate engagement in dangerous self-harm. In 2 studies, we investigated interoceptive abilities in individuals with differing degrees of suicidality. In Study 1, we compared interoception in controls (n = 27) and suicide ideators (n = 35), planners (n = 14), and attempters (n = 30). We found that those with suicidality had worse interoception than controls. Further, attempters reported worse interoception than planners or ideators. In Study 2, we compared interoception in psychiatric outpatients who had (n = 136) or had not (n = 459) attempted suicide. Again, we found that attempters reported worse interoception than nonattempters. In addition, we found that recent attempts were more strongly associated with interoceptive deficits than distant attempts. Together, our findings suggest that interoception is impaired in individuals with suicidality. Furthermore, the extent to which interoception is disturbed may differentiate not only between those who desire suicide from those who attempt suicide, but also between recent and distant suicide attempters. Impaired interoception may be important for engaging in serious self-injury; thus, reestablishing one’s connection to the body may aid in the prevention of suicidal behavior.

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Happiness and Age in European Adults: The Moderating Role of Gross Domestic Product per Capita

Jessica Morgan, Oliver Robinson & Trevor Thompson
Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
Studies of happiness levels across the life span have found support for two rival hypotheses. The positivity effect states that as people get older, they increasingly attend to positive information, which implies that happiness remains stable or increases with age, whereas the U-shaped hypothesis posits a curvilinear shape resulting from a dip during midlife. Both have been presented as potentially universal hypotheses that relate to cognitive and/or biological causes. The current study examined the happiness-age relationship across 29 European nations (N = 46,301) to explore whether it is moderated by national wealth, as indexed by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. It was found that eudaimonic and hedonic happiness remained relatively stable across the life span only in the most affluent nations; in poorer nations, there was either a fluctuating or steady age-associated decline. These findings challenge the cultural universality of the happiness-age relationship and suggest that models of how age relates to happiness should include the socioeconomic level of analysis.

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Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation

Gregory Bratman et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 July 2015, Pages 8567–8572

Abstract:
Urbanization has many benefits, but it also is associated with increased levels of mental illness, including depression. It has been suggested that decreased nature experience may help to explain the link between urbanization and mental illness. This suggestion is supported by a growing body of correlational and experimental evidence, which raises a further question: what mechanism(s) link decreased nature experience to the development of mental illness? One such mechanism might be the impact of nature exposure on rumination, a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses. We show in healthy participants that a brief nature experience, a 90-min walk in a natural setting, decreases both self-reported rumination and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC), whereas a 90-min walk in an urban setting has no such effects on self-reported rumination or neural activity. In other studies, the sgPFC has been associated with a self-focused behavioral withdrawal linked to rumination in both depressed and healthy individuals. This study reveals a pathway by which nature experience may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.

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Gender, Status, and Psychiatric Labels

Amy Kroska et al.
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine a key modified labeling theory proposition — that a psychiatric label increases vulnerability to competence-based criticism and rejection — within task- and collectively oriented dyads comprised of same-sex individuals with equivalent education. Drawing on empirical work that approximates these conditions, we expect the proposition to hold only among men. We also expect education, operationalized with college class standing, to moderate the effects of gender by reducing men’s and increasing women’s criticism and rejection. But, we also expect the effect of education to weaken when men work with a psychiatric patient. As predicted, men reject suggestions from teammates with a psychiatric history more frequently than they reject suggestions from other teammates, while women’s resistance to influence is unaffected by their teammate’s psychiatric status. Men also rate psychiatric patient teammates as less powerful but no lower in status than other teammates, while women’s teammate assessments are unaffected by their teammate’s psychiatric status. Also as predicted, education reduces men’s resistance to influence but only when working with non-psychiatric patients. Education also increases men’s ratings of their teammate’s power, as predicted, but has no effect on women’s resistance or teammate ratings. We discuss the implications of these findings for the modified labeling theory of mental illness and status characteristics theory.

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Increased Levels of Depressive Symptoms Among Pregnant Women in The Netherlands After the Crash of Flight MH17

Sophie Truijens et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down, a tragedy that shocked the Dutch population. As part of a large longitudinal survey on mental health in pregnant women that had a study inclusion period of 19 months, we were able to evaluate the possible association of that incident with mood changes using pre- and postdisaster data. We compared mean Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS) scores from a group of women (n = 126 cases) at 32 weeks’ gestation during the first month after the crash with mean scores from a control group (n = 102) with similar characteristics who completed the EDS at 32 weeks’ gestation during the same summer period in 2013. The mean EDS scores of the 126 case women in the first month after the crash were significantly higher than the scores of 102 control women. There were no differences in mean EDS scores between the 2 groups at the first and second trimesters. The present study is among the first in which perinatal mental health before and after the occurrence of a disaster has been investigated, and the results suggest that national disasters might lead to emotional responses.

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Thin Images Reflected in the Water: Narcissism and Girls' Vulnerability to the Thin-Ideal

Sander Thomaes & Constantine Sedikides
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: The purpose of this research is to test how adolescent girls' narcissistic traits ― characterized by a need to impress others and avoid ego-threat ― influence acute adverse effects of thin-ideal exposure.

Method: Participants (11-15 years; total N = 366; all female) reported their narcissistic traits. Next, in two experiments, they viewed images of either very thin or average-sized models, reported their wishful identification with the models (Experiment 2), and tasted high-calorie foods in an alleged taste test (both experiments).

Results: Narcissism kept girls from wishfully identifying with thin models, which is consistent with the view that narcissistic girls are prone to disengage from thin-ideal exposure. Moreover, narcissism protected vulnerable girls (those who experience low weight-esteem) from inhibiting their food intake, and led other girls (those who consider their appearance relatively unimportant) to increase their food intake. These effects did not generalize to conceptually related traits of self-esteem and perfectionism, and were not found for a low-calorie foods outcome, attesting to the specificity of findings.

Conclusions: These experiments demonstrate the importance of narcissism at reducing girls' thin-ideal vulnerability. Girls high in narcissism disengage self-protectively from threats to their self-images, a strategy that renders at least subsets of them less vulnerable to the thin-ideal.

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Selective Attention Toward Angry Faces and Risk for Major Depressive Disorder in Women: Converging Evidence From Retrospective and Prospective Analyses

Mary Woody et al.
Clinical Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study examined selective attention toward emotional images as a risk factor for major depressive disorder (MDD). Using multiple indices of attention in a dot-probe task (i.e., reaction time [RT] and eye-tracking-based measures) in a retrospective, high-risk design, we found that women with remitted MDD, compared with controls, exhibited greater selective attention toward angry faces across RT and eye-tracking indices and greater attention toward sad faces for RT measures. Second, we followed women with remitted MDD prospectively to determine if the attentional biases retrospectively associated with MDD history would predict MDD recurrence across a 2-year follow-up. We found that women who spent a greater proportion of time looking at angry faces during the dot-probe task at the baseline assessment had a significantly shorter time to MDD onset. Taken together, these findings provide converging retrospective and prospective evidence that selective attention toward angry faces may increase risk for MDD recurrence.

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Pupillary Reactivity to Sad Stimuli as a Biomarker of Depression Risk: Evidence From a Prospective Study of Children

Katie Burkhouse et al.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The primary aim of the current study was to examine whether physiological reactivity to depression-relevant stimuli, measured via pupil dilation, serves as a biomarker of depression risk among children of depressed mothers. Participants included 47 mother–child dyads. All mothers had a history of major depressive disorder. Pupil dilation was recorded while children viewed angry, happy, and sad faces. Follow-up assessments occurred 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after the initial assessment, during which structured interviews were used to assess for children’s levels of depressive symptoms as well as the onset of depressive diagnoses. Children exhibiting relatively greater pupil dilation to sad faces experienced elevated trajectories of depressive symptoms across the follow-up as well as a shorter time to depression onset. These findings were not observed for children’s pupillary reactivity to angry or happy faces. The current findings suggest that physiological reactivity to sad stimuli, assessed using pupillometry, serves as a potential biomarker of depression risk among children of depressed mothers. Notably, pupillometry is an inexpensive tool that could be administered in clinical settings, such as pediatricians’ offices, to help identify which children of depressed mothers are at highest risk for developing depression themselves.

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Relaxation training assisted by heart rate variability biofeedback: Implication for a military predeployment stress inoculation protocol

Gregory Lewis et al.
Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decreased heart rate variability (HRV) is associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms, but PTSD's effects on the autonomic stress response and the potential influence of HRV biofeedback in stress relaxation training on improving PTSD symptoms are not well understood. The objective of this study was to examine the impact of a predeployment stress inoculation training (PRESTINT) protocol on physiologic measures of HRV in a large sample of the military population randomly assigned to experimental HRV biofeedback-assisted relaxation training versus a control condition. PRESTINT altered the parasympathetic regulation of cardiac activity, with experimental subjects exhibiting greater HRV, that is, less arousal, during a posttraining combat simulation designed to heighten arousal. Autonomic reactivity was also found to be related to PTSD and self-reported use of mental health services. Future PRESTINT training could be appropriate for efficiently teaching self-help skills to reduce the psychological harm following trauma exposure by increasing the capacity for parasympathetically modulated reactions to stress and providing a coping tool (i.e., relaxation method) for use following a stressful situation.

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Thinking of Attachments Reduces Noradrenergic Stress Response

Richard Bryant & Lilian Chan
Psychoneuroendocrinology, October 2015, Pages 39–45

Abstract:
Although there is much evidence that activating mental representations of attachments figure is beneficial for psychological health and can reduce stress response, no research has directly investigated whether attachment activation can ameliorate hormonal stress response. This study investigated whether activating an attachment figure or a non-attachment figure following administration of a socially evaluated cold pressor test to elicit stress impacted on glucocorticoid and noradrenergic response. Participants (N = 61) provided baseline salivary samples, underwent a cold pressor test, then imagined an attachment or non-attachment figure, and finally provided subsequent saliva samples. Participants who imagined a non-attachment figure had greater noradrenergic response following the stressor than those who imagined an attachment figure. These findings highlight that activating attachment representations can ameliorate the immediate noradrenergic stress response.

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Implicit Theories of Change and Stability Moderate Effects of Subjective Distance on the Remembered Self

Cindy Ward & Anne Wilson
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Temporal self-appraisal theory suggests that people can regulate current self-view by recalling former selves in ways that flatter present identity. People critique their subjectively distant (but not recent) former selves, creating the illusion of improvement over time. However, this revisionist strategy might not apply to everyone: People with fixed (entity) beliefs may not benefit from critiquing even distant selves. In three studies, we found that implicit theories of change and stability moderate the effects of subjective distance on the remembered self. In all studies, participants rated past selves portrayed as subjectively close or distant (controlling calendar time). Incremental theorists (but not entity theorists) were more critical of their subjectively distant (but not recent) past attributes. We found the same pattern when measuring existing implicit theories (Studies 1, 2) or manipulating them (Study 3). The present research is the first to integrate temporal self-appraisal theory and the implicit theories literature.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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