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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The kids are all right

The increasing happiness of US parents

Chris Herbst & John Ifcher

Review of Economics of the Household, September 2016, Pages 529-551

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that parents may be less happy than non-parents. We critically assess the literature and examine parents’ and non-parents’ happiness-trends using the General Social Survey (N = 42,298) and DDB Lifestyle Survey (N = 75,237). We find that parents are becoming happier over time relative to non-parents, that non-parents’ happiness is declining absolutely, and that estimates of the parental happiness gap are sensitive to the time-period analyzed. These results are consistent across two datasets, most subgroups, and various specifications. Finally, we present evidence that suggests children appear to protect parents against social and economic forces that may be reducing happiness among non-parents.

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Father Absence and Adolescent Depression and Delinquency: A Comparison of Siblings Approach

Anna Markowitz & Rebecca Ryan

Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2016, Pages 1300–1314

Abstract:
Although associations between having a nonresident father and increased internalizing and externalizing behaviors in adolescence have been well documented, research has yet to establish the plausible causality of these links or identify underlying mechanisms. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 - Young Adult survey, this study addresses these questions by comparing the depressive symptoms and delinquent behavior of siblings discordant for age at father departure. Findings indicate that father departure later in childhood is associated with increased adolescent delinquency but not depressive symptoms, whereas early childhood father departure was not associated with adolescent outcomes. Both findings suggests that parental monitoring — rather than socialization or emotional distress — may account for links between father departure and adolescent delinquency.

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Shorter Work Hours and Work-to-Family Interference: Surprising Findings from 32 Countries

Leah Ruppanner & David Maume

Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
For many, work interferes with their home life. To mitigate this encroachment, many welfare states have legislated shorter workweeks. Yet, the effectiveness of this policy on work-to-family interference is mixed, thus requiring additional investigation. We address this gap by applying multilevel data pairing the 2005 International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) for individuals in 32 nations (N = 20,937) with country-level measures of legislated weekly work hours, mean reported weekly work hours (aggregated and differentiated by gender), and individualistic/collectivist orientations. We find that legislated work hours have no impact on individuals’ reports of work-to-family interference. By contrast, shorter normative weekly work hours, aggregated and by gender, are associated with greater individual work-to-family interference. We find an equivalent pattern in individualistic countries. While we document individual-level gender and parental differences, we find no differential effects of long workweeks for these groups. We explain these associations through the heightened expectations perspective, arguing that increased resources heighten expectations of work–life balance and sensitivity to work-to-family interference.

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On the Production of Skills and the Birth-Order Effect

Ronni Pavan

Journal of Human Resources, August 2016, Pages 699-726

Abstract:
First-born children tend to outperform their younger siblings on measures such as cognitive exams, wages, educational attainment, and employment. Using a framework similar to Cunha and Heckman (2008) and Cunha, Heckman, and Schennach (2010), this paper finds that differences in parents’ investments across siblings can account for more than one-half of the gap in cognitive skills among siblings. The study’s framework accommodates for endogeneity in parents’ investments, measurement error, missing observations, and dynamic impacts of parental investments.

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Locus of control and its intergenerational implications for early childhood skill formation

Warn Lekfuangfu et al.

Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper builds upon Cunha's (2015) subjective rationality model in which parents have a subjective belief about the impact of their investment on their children's early skill formation. We propose that this subjective belief is determined partly by locus of control (LOC), i.e., the extent to which individuals believe that their actions can influence future outcomes. Consistent with the theory, we show that maternal LOC measured at the 12th week of gestation strongly predicts maternal attitudes towards parenting style and actual time investments. We also utilize maternal LOC to improve the specification typically used to estimate skill production function parameters.

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Breastfeeding duration and offspring conduct problems: The moderating role of genetic risk

Dylan Jackson

Social Science & Medicine, October 2016, Pages 128–136

Methods: A genetically informative design is employed to examine a subsample of twins from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), a nationally representative sample of American children.

Results: The findings suggest that a shorter duration of breastfeeding only enhances the risk of offspring conduct problems among children who possess high levels of genetic risk. Conversely, longer breastfeeding durations were found to protect against childhood behavioral problems when genetic risk was high.

Conclusions: Indicators of genetic risk may help to distinguish individuals whose behavioral development is most sensitive to the duration of breastfeeding. Future research should seek to replicate and extend these findings by considering genetic factors as potential markers of differential susceptibility to breastfeeding duration.

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Effects of Parental Divorce on Teenage Children’s Risk Behaviors: Incidence and Persistence

Geir Wæhler Gustavsen, Rodolfo Nayga & Ximing Wu

Journal of Family and Economic Issues, September 2016, Pages 474–487

Abstract:
It is generally difficult to separate the effects of divorce from selection when analyzing the effects of parental divorce on children’s risk behaviors. We used propensity score matching and longitudinal data methods to estimate the effects of parents’ divorce on their children’s binge drinking, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, marijuana use, and hard drug use. The children were between 12 and 18 years old in the first survey and between 18 and 24 years old in the second survey. Our results suggest that parental divorce significantly increased the probability of risk behaviors in their children. Moreover, many of these adverse impacts persisted over time, especially among teenage girls.

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Like Father Like Son: How Does Parents' Financial Behavior Affect Their Children's Financial Behavior?

Ning Tang

Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the intergenerational influence on financial behavior. Using two national longitudinal studies: the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey Children and Young Adults (NLSCYA) and the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey (NLSY79), we link the financial behavior of 2,520 young adults back to their general self-control skill and their parents' financial behavior conducted during children's adolescence. We find evidence of intergenerational consistency in financial behavior between parents and their children. Results from the generalized structural equation model indicate that parents' financial behavior affects that of their children both directly and indirectly through general self-control skill development. Furthermore, the influence of parents is moderated by parent–child relationship. These findings highlight the importance of parental financial socialization. Its implications are discussed.

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Still standing out: Children's names in the United States during the Great Recession and correlations with economic indicators

Jean Twenge, Lauren Dawson & Keith Campbell

Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Continuing a long-standing trend in the U.S. Social Security Administration database of first names (N = 358 million), American parents were less likely to choose common names for their children between 2004 and 2015, including the years of the Great Recession (2008–2010). These trends were similar in California (severely affected by the recession) and Texas (less affected). Over a longer time period (1901–2015), cyclical economic indicators were either not correlated with common names (e.g., stock market performance) or worse economic times predicted fewer common names. The results are consistent with increasing individualism, with limited support for the idea that economic threat leads people to embrace uniqueness and no real support for the idea that economic deprivation leads to more communal name choices.

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Women's Enfranchisement and Children's Education: The Long-Run Impact of the U.S. Suffrage Movement

Esra Kose, Elira Kuka & Na'ama Shenhav

Dartmouth College Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
While a growing literature has shown that empowering women leads to increased short-term investments in children, little is known about its long-term effects. We investigate the effect of women's political empowerment on children's human capital accumulation by exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in U.S. state and federal suffrage laws. We estimate that exposure to women's suffrage during childhood leads to large increases in educational attainment for children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, in particular blacks and Southern whites. An investigation into the mechanisms behind these effects suggests that the educational gains are plausibly driven by the rise in public expenditures following suffrage.

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Industry Television Ratings for Violence, Sex, and Substance Use

Joy Gabrielli et al.

Pediatrics, September 2016

Methods: Seventeen TV shows (323 episodes and 9214 episode minutes) across several TV show rating categories (TVY7, TVPG, TV14, and TVMA) were evaluated. We content-coded the episodes, recording seconds of each risk behavior, and we rated the salience of violence in each one. Multilevel models were used to test for associations between TV rating categories and prevalence of risk behaviors across and within episodes or salience of violence.

Results: Every show had at least 1 risk behavior. Violence was pervasive, occurring in 70% of episodes overall and for 2.3 seconds per episode minute. Alcohol was also common (58% of shows, 2.3 seconds per minute), followed by sex (53% of episodes, 0.26 seconds per minute), and smoking (31% of shows, 0.54 seconds per minute). TV Parental Guidelines did not discriminate prevalence estimates of TV episode violence. Although TV-Y7 shows had significantly less substance use, other categories were poor at discriminating substance use, which was as common in TV-14 as TV-MA shows. Sex and gory violence were the only behaviors demonstrating a graded increase in prevalence and salience for older-child rating categories.

Conclusions: TV Parental Guidelines ratings were ineffective in discriminating shows for 3 out of 4 behaviors studied. Even in shows rated for children as young as 7 years, violence was prevalent, prominent, and salient. TV ratings were most effective for identification of sexual behavior and gory violence.

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Adolescent Functioning in Housing and Family Contexts: A Mixed Methods Study

Margaret Elliott, Elizabeth Shuey & Tama Leventhal

Journal of Family Psychology, September 2016, Pages 676-686

Abstract:
Although adolescents begin to seek autonomy and strive to be out of the home on their own, the housing context remains the primary setting of their daily lives. Using survey and ethnographic data from Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three City Study (e.g., Winston et al., 1999), this study explored quantitatively and qualitatively how two salient aspects of the housing context, physical housing problems and household size, were associated with low-income adolescents’ emotional and academic functioning, and how these associations were modified by mother–adolescent relationships (specifically, trust and communication) and gender. Results of cross-lagged hierarchical linear models suggest that adolescents living in homes with more housing problems had more mental health symptoms, whereas living in larger households was associated with higher achievement, but only in the context of lower quality mother–adolescent relationships. Qualitative analyses helped to interpret these results by illuminating potential pathways underlying associations observed in quantitative results.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Don't bank on it

Have Big Banks Gotten Safer?

Natasha Sarin & Lawrence Summers

Harvard Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Since the financial crisis, there have been major changes in the regulation of large financial institutions directed at reducing their risk. Measures of regulatory capital have substantially increased; leverage ratios have been reduced; and stress testing has sought to further assure safety by raising levels of capital and reducing risk taking. Standard financial theories would predict that such changes would lead to substantial declines in financial market measures of risk. For major institutions in the United States and around the world and midsized institutions in the United States, we test this proposition using information on stock price volatility, option-based estimates of future volatility, beta, credit default swaps, earnings-price ratios, and preferred stock yields. To our surprise, we find that financial market information provides little support for the view that major institutions are significantly safer than they were before the crisis and some support for the notion that risks have actually increased. This does not make a case against the regulatory approaches that have been pursued, but does caution against complacency. We examine a number of possible explanations for our surprising findings. We conclude that financial markets may have underestimated risk prior to the crisis and that there may have been significant distortions in measures of regulatory capital. While we cannot rule out these explanations, we believe that our findings are most consistent with a dramatic decline in the franchise value of major financial institutions, caused at least in part by new regulations. This decline in franchise value makes financial institutions more vulnerable to adverse shocks. We highlight that the ratio of the market value of common equity to assets on both a risk-adjusted and risk-unadjusted basis has declined significantly for most major institutions. Our findings, if validated by others, may have important implications for regulatory policy.

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Systematic Mistakes in the Mortgage Market and Lack of Financial Sophistication

Sumit Agarwal, Itzhak Ben-David & Vincent Yao

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Institutions often offer a menu of contracts to consumers in an attempt to create a separating equilibrium that reveals borrower types and provides better pricing. We test the effectiveness of a specific set of contracts in the mortgage market: mortgage points. Points allow borrowers to exchange an upfront amount for a decrease in the mortgage rate. We document that, on average, points takers lose about $700. Also, points takers are less financially savvy (less educated, older), and they make mistakes on other dimensions (e.g., inefficiently refinancing their mortgages). Overall, our results show that borrowers overestimate how long they will stay with the mortgage.

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Cat and Mouse: A Dynamic Analysis of Predatory Payday Lending

Daria Roithmayr, Justin Chin & Bruce Levin

University of Southern California Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Legal actors and the regulators who pursue them often engage in a co-evolutionary game of cat and mouse, as each innovates to out-compete the other. Predatory payday lenders are a prime example of this co-evolutionary arms race. Lenders have discovered increasingly creative ways to escape state regulation, like partnering with Indian tribes to claim immunity from state jurisdiction. In turn, regulators continually adapt their regulation to retarget the latest innovation. A regulator trying to keep pace with legal actors faces a tradeoff: adapting more frequently reduces the prohibited behavior, but increases wasteful innovation for both regulator and lenders, as each innovates in response to the other. In this paper, we draw from dynamic mathematical models of drug resistance to map this process and to advise regulators on how to optimize their regulatory approach. We construct a simple mathematical model using coupled differential equations to describe the arms race of innovation between regulatory strategy and the strategy of the regulated, in the context of payday lending. We conduct numerical approximations, to analyze the evolutionary pathways of regulator and lender strategy over time, and to map the tradeoff between the benefit from reducing predatory lending and the harm from having to return again and again to the drawing board to generate new regulation. We show that, contrary to intuition, a regulator should delay responding to an innovative payday lender strategy: we calculate an optimal response time that balances the need to respond slowly in order to minimize triggering repeated innovation, and the need to respond quickly to minimize the number of predatory payday lenders. We also show that a regulator that is unable to adapt quickly should weaken the strength of its innovation, in order to minimize further innovation by predatory lenders.

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Ditching the Middle Class with Consumer Protection Regulation

Francesco D'Acunto & Alberto Rossi

University of Maryland Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
We analyze the effects of a recent piece of consumer protection regulation -- Dodd-Frank -- on mortgage originations. Dodd-Frank aimed at reducing mortgage fees and abuses against vulnerable borrowers, but increased the costs of originating mortgages. We find it triggered a substantial redistribution of credit from middle-class households to wealthy households. Lenders reduced credit to middle-class households by 15%, and increased it to wealthy households by 21%, after controlling for drivers of the demand for housing, local house prices, and foreclosures. Large lenders found it less costly to react to Dodd-Frank. We thus instrument households' exposure to Dodd-Frank with the pre-crisis share of mortgages originated by large lenders in each county. The redistribution of credit from the middle-class to the wealthy was higher in counties more exposed to large lenders, which are similar to other counties. Results hold at the individual-loan level and zip-code level, at the intensive margin (amount lent) and extensive margin (number of loans originated), and for accepted and rejected loans. Changes in the distribution of refinancing loans do not explain the results.

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Consumer Borrowing after Payday Loan Bans

Neil Bhutta, Jacob Goldin & Tatiana Homonoff

Journal of Law and Economics, February 2016, Pages 225-259

Abstract:
High-interest payday loans have proliferated in recent years; so too have efforts to regulate them. Yet how borrowers respond to such regulations remains largely unknown. Drawing on both administrative and survey data, we exploit variation in payday-lending laws to study the effect of payday loan restrictions on consumer borrowing. We find that although such policies are effective at reducing payday lending, consumers respond by shifting to other forms of high-interest credit (for example, pawnshop loans) rather than traditional credit instruments (for example, credit cards). Such shifting is present, but less pronounced, for the lowest-income payday loan users. Our results suggest that policies that target payday lending in isolation may be ineffective at reducing consumers’ reliance on high-interest credit.

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Managerial Myopia and the Mortgage Meltdown

Adam Kolasinski & Nan Yang

Texas A&M University Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
Prominent policy makers assert that managerial short-termism was at the root of the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2009. Prior scholarly research, however, largely rejects this assertion. Using a more comprehensive measure of CEO incentives for short-termism, we uncover evidence that short-termism indeed played a role in the crisis. We find that shorter vesting schedules for CEO equity holdings are positively related to firm exposure to subprime mortgage assets, as well as a higher probability of financial distress and lower risk-adjusted stock returns during the crisis. Furthermore, shorter vesting schedules are positively associated with fines and settlements for subprime-related fraud.

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How Does Personal Bankruptcy Law Affect Startups?

Geraldo Cerqueiro & María Fabiana Penas

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We exploit state-level changes in the amount of personal wealth individuals can protect under Chapter 7 to analyze the effect of debtor protection on the financing structure and performance of a representative panel of U.S. startups. The effect of increasing debtor protection depends on the entrepreneur's level of wealth. Firms owned by mid-wealth entrepreneurs whose assets become fully protected suffer a reduction in credit availability, employment, operating efficiency, and survival rates. We find no such negative effects for low-wealth and high-wealth owners. Our results are consistent with theories that predict that asset protection in bankruptcy leads to a redistribution of credit.

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Debtor Rights, Credit Supply, and Innovation

Geraldo Cerqueiro et al.

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Firms’ innovative activities can be sensitive to public policies that affect the availability of capital. In this paper, we investigate the effects of regional and temporal variation in U.S. personal bankruptcy laws on firms’ innovative activities. We find that bankruptcy laws that provide stronger debtor protection decrease the number of patents produced by small firms. Stronger debtor protection also decreases the average quality, and variance in quality, of firms’ patents. We find evidence that the negative effect of stronger debtor protection on experimentation and innovation may be due to the decreased availability of external financing in response to stronger debtor rights, an effect amplified in industries with a high dependence on external financing. Hence, while it is typically assumed that stronger debtor protection encourages innovation by reducing the cost of failure for innovators, we show that it can instead dampen innovative activities by tightening the availability of external financing to innovative firms.

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International Banking and Cross-border Effects of Regulation: Lessons from the United States

Jose Berrospide et al.

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Domestic prudential regulation can have unintended effects across borders and may be less effective in an environment where banks operate globally. Using U.S. micro-banking data for the first quarter of 2000 through the third quarter of 2013, this study shows that some regulatory changes indeed spill over. First, a foreign country’s tightening of limits on loan-to-value ratios and local currency reserve requirements increase lending growth in the United States through the U.S. branches and subsidiaries of foreign banks. Second, a foreign tightening of capital requirements shifts lending by U.S. global banks away from the country where the tightening occurs to the United States and to other countries. Third, tighter U.S. capital regulation reduces lending by large U.S. global banks to foreign residents.

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Illiquidity and its Discontents: Trading Delays and Foreclosures in the Housing Market

Aaron Hedlund

Journal of Monetary Economics, October 2016, Pages 1–13

Abstract:
The macroeconomic effects of housing illiquidity are analyzed using a novel directed search model of housing with long-term debt and default. Debt overhang emerges when highly leveraged sellers are forced to post high prices that produce long selling delays. These delays increase foreclosures, raise default premia, and curtail credit. Cheaper credit fuels temporarily higher house prices, faster sales, and fewer foreclosures, but the borrowing surge facilitates future debt overhang and default. More stringent foreclosure punishments also expand credit and, therefore, either generate higher foreclosures or more debt overhang. Leverage caps avoid this conundrum but reduce welfare by restricting borrowing.

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Designing Corporate Bailouts

Antonio Bernardo, Eric Talley & Ivo Welch

Journal of Law and Economics, February 2016, Pages 75-104

Abstract:
Although common economic wisdom suggests that government bailouts are inefficient because they reduce incentives to avoid failure and induce excessive entry by marginal firms, in practice bailouts are difficult to avoid for systemically significant enterprises. Recent experience suggests that bailouts also induce litigation from shareholders and managers complaining about expropriation and wrongful termination by the government. Our model shows how governments can design tax-financed corporate bailouts to reduce these distortions and points to the causes of inefficiencies in real-world implementations such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Bailouts with minimal distortion depend critically on the government’s ability to expropriate shareholders and terminate managers.

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Does Increased Access to Home Mortgage Money Decrease Local Crime Rates?: Evidence from San Diego County

William Bunting

U.S. Department of Justice Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This study provides estimates of the impact of increased access to home mortgage credit on local crime rates, and uses national home mortgage loan origination volume as an instrument for local home mortgage loan origination volume. The focus of the study is San Diego County from 2007-Q1 to 2013-Q1. Our estimates indicate that increased access to home mortgage loans during this time period had a statistically significant negative impact on local crime rates. In particular, our baseline specification suggests that a one standard deviation increase in home mortgage loan originations per person decreases local crime rates by approximately three and one-half percent. This finding is robust to a number of model specifications.

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Does inequality lead to credit growth? Testing the Rajan hypothesis using state-level data

Steven Yamarik, Makram El-Shagi & Guy Yamashiro

Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses state-level data to test the Rajan hypothesis, from his book Fault Lines, that an increase in inequality can lead to a credit boom. Using dynamic heterogeneous panel estimation methods (i.e. MG, PMG, DFE), we find a significant positive long-run relationship between inequality and real estate lending across U.S. states.

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Mortgage Default Risk: New Evidence From Internet Search Queries

Marcelle Chauvet, Stuart Gabriel & Chandler Lutz

Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use Google search query data to develop a broad-based and real-time index of mortgage default risk. Unlike established indicators, our Mortgage Default Risk Index (MDRI) directly reflects households’ concerns regarding their risk of mortgage default. The MDRI predicts housing returns, mortgage delinquency indicators, and subprime credit default swaps. These results persist both in- and out-of-sample and at multiple data frequencies. Together, research findings suggest internet search queries yield valuable new insights into household mortgage default risk.

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Mortgage companies and regulatory arbitrage

Yuliya Demyanyk & Elena Loutskina

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mortgage companies (MCs) do not fall under the strict regulatory regime of depository institutions. We empirically show that this gap resulted in regulatory arbitrage and allowed bank holding companies (BHCs) to circumvent consumer compliance regulations, mitigate capital requirements, and reduce exposure to loan-related losses. Compared to bank subsidiaries, MC subsidiaries of BHCs originated riskier mortgages to borrowers with lower credit scores, lower incomes, higher loan-to-income ratios, and higher default rates. Our results imply that precrisis regulations had the capacity to mitigate the deterioration of lending standards if consistently applied and enforced for all types of intermediaries.

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The effect of state bans of payday lending on consumer credit delinquencies

Chintal Desai & Gregory Elliehausen

Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
The debt trap hypothesis implicates payday loans as a factor exacerbating consumers’ financial distress. Accordingly, restricting access to payday loans would be expected to reduce delinquencies on mainstream credit products. We test this implication of the hypothesis by analyzing delinquencies on revolving, retail, and installment credit in Georgia, North Carolina, and Oregon. These states reduced availability of payday loans by either banning them outright or capping the fees charged by payday lenders at a low level. We find small, mostly positive, but often insignificant changes in delinquencies after the payday loan bans. In Georgia, however, we find mixed evidence: an increase in revolving credit delinquencies but a decrease in installment credit delinquencies. These findings suggest that payday loans may cause little harm while providing benefits, albeit small ones, to some consumers. With more states and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considering payday regulations that may limit availability of a product that appears to benefit some consumers, further study and caution are warranted.

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Are Lemons Sold First? Dynamic Signaling in the Mortgage Market

Manuel Adelino, Kristopher Gerardi & Barney Hartman-Glaser

Federal Reserve Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
A central result in the theory of adverse selection in asset markets is that informed sellers can signal quality by delaying trade. This paper uses the residential mortgage market as a laboratory to test this mechanism. Using detailed, loan-level data on privately securitized mortgages, we find a strong relation between mortgage performance and time-to-sale. Importantly, this finding is conditional on all observable information about the loans. This effect is strongest in the "Alt-A" segment of the market, where loans are often originated with incomplete documentation. The results provide some of the first evidence of a signaling mechanism through delay of trade.

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How do financial institutions react to a tax increase?

Alexander Schandlbauer

Journal of Financial Intermediation, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper empirically highlights the role and significance of taxes for the capital structure decisions of banks. Using a difference-in-differences methodology, I show that an increase in the local U.S. state corporate tax rate affects the banks’ financing as well as their operating choices. Better-capitalized banks raise their long-term non-depository debt and thus benefit from an enlarged tax shield. Worse-capitalized banks instead reduce their lending because a higher tax rate increases the tax-adjusted cost of funding, which renders the marginal loan unprofitable.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Baby talk

Understanding the Decline in Adolescent Fertility in the United States, 2007–2012

Laura Lindberg, John Santelli & Sheila Desai

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: We used data on sexual activity and contraceptive use from National Surveys of Family Growth for young women 15–19 years of age, and contraceptive failure rates, to estimate a Pregnancy Risk Index (PRI) for the periods 2007, 2009, and 2012. Logistic regression was used to test for change over time in sexual activity, contraceptive use, and PRI. Statistical decomposition was used to calculate attribution of change in the PRI to changes in sexual activity or contraceptive method use.

Results: Sexual activity in the last 3 months did not change significantly from 2007 to 2012. Pregnancy risk declined among sexually active adolescent women (p = .046), with significant increases in the use of any method (78%–86%, p = .046) and multiple methods (26%–37%, p = .046). Use of highly effective methods increased significantly from 2007 to 2009 (38%–51%, p = .010). Overall, the PRI declined at an annual rate of 5.6% (p = .071) from 2007 to 2012 and correlated with birth and pregnancy rate declines. Decomposition estimated that this decline was entirely attributable to improvements in contraceptive use.

Conclusions: Improvements in contraceptive use appear to be the primary proximal determinants of declines in adolescent pregnancy and birth rates in the United States from 2007 to 2012. Efforts to further improve access to and use of contraception among adolescents are necessary to ensure they have the means to prevent pregnancy.

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Efficacy of infant simulator programmes to prevent teenage pregnancy: A school-based cluster randomised controlled trial in Western Australia

Sally Brinkman et al.

Lancet, forthcoming

Background: Infant simulator-based programmes, which aim to prevent teenage pregnancy, are used in high-income as well as low-income and middle-income countries but, despite growing popularity, no published evidence exists of their long-term effect. The aim of this trial was to investigate the effect of such a programme, the Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) programme, on pregnancy outcomes of birth and induced abortion in Australia.

Methods: In this school-based pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial, eligible schools in Perth, Western Australia, were enrolled and randomised 1:1 to the intervention and control groups. Randomisation using a table of random numbers without blocking, stratification, or matching was done by a researcher who was masked to the identity of the schools. Between 2003 and 2006, the VIP programme was administered to girls aged 13–15 years in the intervention schools, while girls of the same age in the control schools received the standard health education curriculum. Participants were followed until they reached 20 years of age via data linkage to hospital medical and abortion clinic records. The primary endpoint was the occurrence of pregnancy during the teenage years. Binomial and Cox proportional hazards regression was used to test for differences in pregnancy rates between study groups. This study is registered as an international randomised controlled trial, number ISRCTN24952438.

Findings: 57 (86%) of 66 eligible schools were enrolled into the trial and randomly assigned 1:1 to the intervention (28 schools) or the control group (29 schools). Then, between Feb 1, 2003, and May 31, 2006, 1267 girls in the intervention schools received the VIP programme while 1567 girls in the control schools received the standard health education curriculum. Compared with girls in the control group, a higher proportion of girls in the intervention group recorded at least one birth (97 [8%] of 1267 in the intervention group vs 67 [4%] of 1567 in the control group) or at least one abortion as the first pregnancy event (113 [9%] vs 101 [6%]). After adjustment for potential confounders, the intervention group had a higher overall pregnancy risk than the control group (relative risk 1•36 [95% CI 1•10–1•67], p=0•003). Similar results were obtained with the use of proportional hazard models (hazard ratio 1•35 [95% CI 1•10–1•67], p=0•016).

Interpretation: The infant simulator-based VIP programme did not achieve its aim of reducing teenage pregnancy. Girls in the intervention group were more likely to experience a birth or an induced abortion than those in the control group before they reached 20 years of age.

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Abortion, Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Early Adulthood: Thirteen-Year Longitudinal Evidence from the United States

Paul Sullins

Sage Open Medicine, July 2016

Objective: To examine the links between pregnancy outcomes (birth, abortion, or involuntary pregnancy loss) and mental health outcomes for U. S. women during the transition into adulthood to determine the extent of increased risk, if any, associated with exposure to induced abortion.

Method: Panel data on pregnancy history and mental health history for a nationally-representative cohort of 8,005 women at (average) ages 15, 22, and 28 years from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health were examined for risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, cannabis abuse, and nicotine dependence by pregnancy outcome (birth, abortion, involuntary pregnancy loss). Risk ratios (RR) were estimated for time-dynamic outcomes from population-averaged longitudinal logistic and poisson regression models.

Results: After extensive adjustment for confounding, other pregnancy outcomes, and sociodemographic differences, abortion was consistently associated with increased risk of mental health disorder. Overall risk was elevated 45% (RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.30-1.62, p. < .0001). Risk of mental health disorder with pregnancy loss was mixed, but also elevated 24% (RR 1.24, 95% CI 1.13-1.37, p. < .0001) overall. Birth was weakly associated with reduced mental disorders. One-eleventh (8.7%, 95% CI 6.0-11.3) of the prevalence of mental disorders examined over the period were attributable to abortion.

Conclusion: Evidence from the United States confirms previous findings from Norway and New Zealand that, unlike other pregnancy outcomes, abortion is consistently associated with a moderate increase in risk of mental health disorders during late adolescence and early adulthood.

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Is underage abortion associated with adverse outcomes in early adulthood? A longitudinal birth cohort study up to 25 years of age

Suvi Leppälahti et al.

Human Reproduction, September 2016, Pages 2142-2149

Study design, size, duration: This nationwide, retrospective cohort study from Finland, included all women born in 1987 (n = 29 041) and followed until 2012.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: We analysed socioeconomic, psychiatric and risk-taking-related health outcomes up to 25 years of age after underage (<18 years) abortion (n = 1041, 3.6%) and after childbirth (n = 394, 1.4%). Before and after conception analyses within the study groups were performed to further examine the association between abortion and adverse health outcomes. A group with no pregnancies up to 20 years of age (n = 25 312, 88.0%) served as an external reference group.

Main results and the role of chance: We found no significant differences between the underage abortion and the childbirth group regarding risks of psychiatric disorders (adjusted odds ratio 0.96 [0.67–1.40]) or suffering from intentional or unintentional poisoning by medications or drugs (1.06 [0.57–1.98]). Compared with those who gave birth, girls who underwent abortion were less likely to achieve only a low educational level (0.41 [95% confidence interval 0.31–0.54]) or to be welfare-dependent (0.31 [0.22–0.45]), but more likely to suffer from injuries (1.51 [1.09–2.10]). Compared with the external control group, both pregnancy groups were disadvantaged already prior to the pregnancy. Psychiatric disorders and risk-taking-related health outcomes, including injury, were increased in the abortion group and in the childbirth group similarly on both sides of the pregnancy.

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Can left-right differences in abortion support be explained by sexism?

Gordon Hodson & Cara MacInnis

Personality and Individual Differences, January 2017, Pages 118–121

Abstract:
Individuals on the right (vs. left) generally oppose abortion, but why? Past research (C.C. MacInnis, M.H. MacLean, & G. Hodson, 2014) tested whether differences in perceived preborn-humanness explain this difference, finding little evidence. Here we re-analyze two large datasets from New Zealand and the U.S., testing whether sexism can mediate the relation between conservatism and abortion opposition. This pattern would be consistent with feminist critiques, and with Social Dominance Theory (J. Sidanius & F. Pratto, 1999), whereby individual differences in ideology (e.g., conservatism) predict policy positions (e.g., abortion) through legitimizing myths (e.g., sexism) that justify/facilitate the ideology-policy relation. After controlling for potential confounds (e.g., participant sex; religiosity; abortion experience), 30% (Study 1) or 75% (Study 2) of the left-right difference in abortion stance was explained by sexism. Despite political rhetoric on the right emphasizing concerns for the pre-born, individual differences in abortion positions may instead concern the maintenance of group-based inequalities that disadvantage women. Implications are discussed.

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The Timing of Teenage Births and the Signaling Value of a High School Degree

Danielle Sandler & Lisa Schulkind

U.S. Census Bureau Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
This paper estimates the effect of high school graduation on later life outcomes for young women who have a child as a teenager. Teenage mothers tend to have poor economic outcomes later in life. However, the girls who become teenage mothers come from less advantaged backgrounds than those who delay childbearing, making causality difficult to establish. This paper examines the effect of having a child around the time of high school graduation, comparing young mothers who had their child before their expected graduation date to those who had their child after. Examining this question builds our understanding both of the long run consequences of teenage fertility and the signaling value of a high school diploma. We find that girls who give birth during the school year are 7 percent less likely to graduate from high school; however, this has little effect on their eventual labor market outcomes. Despite being much more likely to obtain a high school degree, the control group does not enjoy higher labor earnings later in life, suggesting that the signaling value of a high school degree is zero for this population.

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Fertility Choice in a Life Cycle Model with Idiosyncratic Uninsurable Earnings Risk

Kamila Sommer

Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Motivated by large shifts in uninsurable earnings risk over time, this paper studies the link between delaying and reducing fertility on the one hand, and earnings and fertility risks on the other. When children are modeled as consumption commitments, increases in earnings risk are associated with a reduction in family sizes and patterns of delayed childbearing. Since household ability to bear children declines with age, the postponement of birth associated with the increased earnings risk drives down the number of birth per family further. An access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is shown to have only a limited offsetting effect.

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Behind-the-Counter, but Over-the-Border? The Assessment of the Geographical Spillover Effects of Emergency Contraception on Abortions

Inna Cintina

Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Washington was the first state to ease the prescription requirements making emergency contraception (EC) available behind-the-counter at pharmacies to women of any age in 1998. Using county-level vital statistics data in conjunction with the pharmacy specific location data from the Not-2-Late Hotline database, I study whether the increased access to EC affects fertility rates within the state and beyond the borders of the state that allows it. Unlike other studies that rely on geographic variations in access, I show that increased availability of EC in Washington, measured by the distance to the closest ‘no-prescription EC pharmacy’, is associated with a statistically significant albeit economically moderate decrease in abortion rates in Washington counties where women had access to ‘no-prescription EC’. These effects are localized (i.e., decrease with travel distance) and robust in a number of specifications. Finally, I find some evidence in support of geographical spillover effects in Idaho, but not in Oregon. However, after accounting for the availability of abortion services, the decrease in ‘treated’ Idaho counties is rather small.

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The impact of periconceptional maternal stress on fecundability

Shekufe Akhter et al.

Annals of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Methods: Daily stress was reported on a scale from 1 to 4 (lowest to highest) among 400 women who completed daily diaries including data on lifestyle and behavioral factors, menstrual characteristics, contraceptive use, and intercourse for up to 20 cycles or until pregnancy. Discrete survival analysis was used to estimate the associations between self-reported stress during specific windows of the menstrual cycle and fecundability (cycles at risk until pregnancy), adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: One hundred thirty-nine women became pregnant. During the follicular phase, there was a 46% reduction in fecundability for a 1-unit increase in self-reported stress during the estimated ovulatory window (fecundability odds ratio [FOR] = 0.54; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.35–0.84) and an attenuated trend for the preovulatory window (FOR = 0.73; 95% CI 0.48–1.10). During the luteal phase, higher stress was associated with increased probability of conception (FOR = 1.63, 95% CI 1.07–2.50), possibly due to reverse causality.

Conclusions: Higher stress during the ovulatory window may reduce probability of conception; however, once conception occurs, changes in the hormonal milieu and/or knowledge of the pregnancy may result in increased stress. These findings reinforce the need for encouraging stress management techniques in the aspiring and expecting mother.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, September 19, 2016

Something to learn from

The Long-Run Effects of Teacher Collective Bargaining

Michael Lovenheim & Alex Willen

Cornell University Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
This paper presents the first analysis of the effect of teacher collective bargaining on long-run labor market and educational attainment outcomes. Our analysis exploits the different timing across states in the passage of duty-to-bargain laws in a difference-in-difference framework to identify how exposure to teacher collective bargaining affects the long-run outcomes of students. Using American Community Survey (ACS) data linked to each respondent’s state of birth, we examine labor market outcomes and educational attainment for 35-49 year olds. Our estimates suggest that teacher collective bargaining worsens the future labor market outcomes of students: living in a state that has a duty-to-bargain law for all 12 grade-school years reduces earnings by $800 (or 2%) per year and decreases hours worked by 0.50 hours per week. The earnings estimate indicates that teacher collective bargaining reduces earnings by $199.6 billion in the US annually. We also find evidence of lower employment rates, which is driven by lower labor force participation, as well as reductions in the skill levels of the occupations into which workers sort. The effects are driven by men and nonwhites, who experience larger relative declines in long-run outcomes. Using data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we demonstrate that collective bargaining leads to sizable reductions in measured cognitive and non-cognitive skills among young adults. Taken together, our results suggest laws that support collective bargaining for teachers have adverse long-term labor market consequences for students.

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Financial Aid, Debt Management, and Socioeconomic Outcomes: Post-College Effects of Merit-Based Aid

Judith Scott-Clayton & Basit Zafar

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Prior research has demonstrated that financial aid can influence both college enrollments and completions, but less is known about its post-college consequences. Even for students whose attainment is unaffected, financial aid may affect post-college outcomes via reductions in both time to degree and debt at graduation. We utilize two complementary quasi-experimental strategies to identify causal effects of the WV PROMISE scholarship, a broad-based state merit aid program, up to 10 years post-college-entry. This study is the first to link college transcripts and financial aid information to credit bureau data later in life, enabling us to examine important outcomes that have not previously been examined, including homeownership, neighborhood characteristics, and financial management (credit risk scores, defaults, and delinquencies). We find that even as graduation impacts fade out over time, impacts on other outcomes emerge: scholarship recipients are more likely to earn a graduate degree, more likely to own a home and live in higher-income neighborhoods, less likely to have adverse credit outcomes, and are more likely to be in better financial health than similar students who did not receive scholarships.

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Did Cheaper Flights Change the Direction of Science?

Christian Catalini, Christian Fons-Rosen & Patrick Gaulé

MIT Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
We test how a reduction in travel cost affects the rate and direction of scientific research. Using a fine-grained, scientist-level dataset within chemistry (1991-2012), we find that after Southwest Airlines enters a new route, scientific collaboration increases by 50%, an effect that is magnified when weighting output by quality. The benefits from the lower fares, however, are not uniform across scientist types: younger scientists and scientists that are more productive than their local peers respond the most. Thus, cheaper flights, by reducing frictions otherwise induced by geography and allowing for additional face-to-face interactions, seem to enable better matches over distance.

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The Effect of Teacher Ratings on Teacher Performance

Nolan Pope

University of Chicago Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
In August 2010, the Los Angeles Times publicly released value-added ratings for teachers and elementary schools in Los Angeles. Exploiting the release of these ratings as a natural experiment and using the timing of their release to account for regression to the mean, I find that low-rated teachers saw increases in their students’ math and English test scores. High-rated teachers saw little to no change in their students’ tests with the release of the ratings. These differential responses from low- and high-rated teachers suggest possible test score gains from the release of teacher ratings. School ratings had no additional impact on student test scores. I find no evidence that the release of the ratings affected classroom composition or teacher turnover.

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Charter Schools and Labor Market Outcomes

Will Dobbie & Roland Fryer

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings. No Excuses charter schools increase test scores and four-year college enrollment, but have a small and statistically insignificant impact on earnings, while other types of charter schools decrease test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings. Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings. In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of what might explain our set of facts.

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Do Top Dogs Rule in Middle School? Evidence on Bullying, Safety, and Belonging

Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel & Michah Rothbart

American Educational Research Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research finds that grade span affects academic achievement but only speculates about the mechanisms. In this study, we examine one commonly cited mechanism, the top dog/bottom dog phenomenon, which states that students at the top of a grade span (“top dogs”) have better experiences than those at the bottom (“bottom dogs”). Using an instrumental variables strategy introduced in Rockoff and Lockwood (2010) and a longitudinal data set containing student survey data for New York City public middle school students, we estimate the impact of top dog and bottom dog status on bullying, safety, belonging, and academic achievement. This article provides the first credibly causal evidence that top dog status improves the learning environment and academic achievement. We further find that the top dog effect is strongest in sixth grade and in schools with longer grade spans and that the top dog effect is not explained by new students to a school or student height.

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The Natural Selection of Bad Science

Paul Smaldino & Richard McElreath

University of California Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
Poor research design and data analysis encourage false-positive findings. Such poor methods persist despite perennial calls for improvement, suggesting that they result from something more than just misunderstanding. The persistence of poor methods results partly from incentives that favor them, leading to the natural selection of bad science. This dynamic requires no conscious strategizing — no deliberate cheating nor loafing — by scientists, only that publication is a principle factor for career advancement. Some normative methods of analysis have almost certainly been selected to further publication instead of discovery. In order to improve the culture of science, a shift must be made away from correcting misunderstandings and towards rewarding understanding. We support this argument with empirical evidence and computational modeling. We first present a 60-year meta-analysis of statistical power in the behavioral sciences and show that power has not improved despite repeated demonstrations of the necessity of increasing power. To demonstrate the logical consequences of structural incentives, we then present a dynamic model of scientific communities in which competing laboratories investigate novel or previously published hypotheses using culturally transmitted research methods. As in the real world, successful labs produce more “progeny,” such that their methods are more often copied and their students are more likely to start labs of their own. Selection for high output leads to poorer methods and increasingly high false discovery rates. We additionally show that replication slows but does not stop the process of methodological deterioration. Improving the quality of research requires change at the institutional level.

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Human Capital Investments and Expectations about Career and Family

Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies how individuals "believe" human capital investments will affect their future career and family life. We conducted a survey of high-ability currently enrolled college students and elicited beliefs about how their choice of college major, and whether to complete their degree at all, would affect a wide array of future events, including future earnings, employment, marriage prospects, potential spousal characteristics, and fertility. We find that students perceive large "returns" to human capital not only in their own future earnings, but also in a number of other dimensions (such as future labor supply and potential spouse's earnings). In a recent follow-up survey conducted six years after the initial data collection, we find a close connection between the expectations and current realizations. Finally, we show that both the career and family expectations help explain human capital choices.

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Does Financial Aid Impact College Student Engagement? Evidence from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program

Angela Boatman & Bridget Terry Long

Research in Higher Education, September 2016, Pages 653-681

Abstract:
While increasing numbers of students have gained access to higher education during the last several decades, postsecondary persistence and academic success remain serious concerns with only about half of college entrants completing degrees. Given concerns about affordability and resources, policymakers and administrators wonder how financial aid impacts student outcomes, particularly among low-income students. We investigate this question looking at a range of outcomes beyond just academic performance by focusing on the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, a generous grant program that provided a renewable scholarship to talented undergraduate students of color with financial need. We isolate the impact of financial aid on academic and community engagement by comparing the outcomes of GMS recipients to similar non-recipients who were likely to have comparably-high levels of motivation and potential for success. With information about the application process, we use similar applicants not selected for the award as a comparison group. We then employ a Regression Discontinuity research design to provide causal estimates of the effects of GMS. The results suggest that GMS recipients were more likely to engage with peers on school work outside of class. Additionally, GMS recipients were much more likely to participate in community service activities and marginally more likely to participate in other extracurricular activities than their non-GMS peers.

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One size fits all? The effects of teachers' cognitive and social abilities on student achievement

Erik Grönqvist & Jonas Vlachos

Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We document a substantial decline in cognitive and social interactive abilities and in GPAs among entering teachers. Then, using matched student-teacher data, we find that teacher abilities have a negligible impact on average student achievement. This finding hides interesting heterogeneities. In particular, an increase in teachers' cognitive (social) abilities increases (reduces) the achievement gap between high- and low-aptitude students. Teacher cognitive and social abilities further appear to be complements. We also find strong positive effects of male teachers' GPAs that are uniform across students, but similar effects are not found for female teachers' GPAs.

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Assessing the Effect of School Days and Absences on Test Score Performance

Esteban Aucejo & Teresa Foy Romano

Economics of Education Review, December 2016, Pages 70–87

Abstract:
While instructional time is viewed as crucial to learning, little is known about the effectiveness of reducing absences relative to increasing the number of school days. Using administrative data from North Carolina public schools, this paper jointly estimates the effect of absences and length of the school calendar on test score performance. We exploit a state policy that provides variation in the number of school days prior to standardized testing and find substantial differences between these two effects. Extending the school calendar by ten days increases math and reading test scores by only 1.7% and 0.8% of a standard deviation, respectively. A similar reduction in absences would lead to gains of 5.5% in math and 2.9% in reading. We perform a number of robustness checks including utilizing flu data to instrument for absences, family-year fixed effects, distinguishing between excused and unexcused absences, and controlling for a contemporaneous measure of student disengagement. Our results are robust to these alternative specifications. In addition, our findings indicate considerable heterogeneity across student ability, suggesting that targeting absenteeism among low performing students could aid in narrowing current gaps in performance.

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“Why Wait Years to Become Something?” Low-income African American Youth and the Costly Career Search in For-profit Trade Schools

Megan Holland & Stefanie DeLuca

Sociology of Education, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increasing numbers of low-income and minority youth are now pursuing shorter-duration sub-baccalaureate credentials at for-profit trade and technical schools. However, many students drop out of these schools, leaving with large debts and few job prospects. Despite these dismal outcomes, we know very little about students’ experiences in for-profit programs and how these institutions shape postsecondary attainment. Using data from fieldwork with 150 inner-city African American youth, we examine why disadvantaged youth are attracted to these schools and why they struggle to complete certifications. In contrast to previous research, we find that the youth in our study have quite modest ambitions and look to for-profit trade schools as the quickest and most direct route to work. However, youth receive little information or guidance to support such postsecondary transitions. Therefore, the very element that makes for-profit trade school programs seem the most appealing — a curriculum focused on one particular career — becomes an obstacle when it requires youth to commit to a program of study before they have explored their interests. When youth realize they do not like or are not prepared for their chosen career, they adopt coping strategies that keep them in school but swirling between programs, rather than accumulating any credentials.

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The Effects of State Merit Aid Programs on Attendance at Elite Colleges

David Sjoquist & John Winters

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
State merit aid programs have been found to reduce the likelihood that students attend college out of state. Using the U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) rankings of colleges and universities to measure college quality and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System data to measure enrollment, we explore how this reduction in out-of-state enrollment differs by the academic quality of the institution. Our difference-in-differences results suggest that state merit aid programs do not induce students to forgo attending top 15 ranked schools. However, state merit aid does induce some students to forgo attending out-of-state schools ranked below the top 15 and shifts them toward lower quality in-state schools, so that the net effect is a reduction in academic quality, as measured by USNWR. These effects may have long-term implications for students' degree completion rates and labor market earnings.

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The Incidence of Student Loan Subsidies

Mahyar Kargar & William Mann

University of California Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
We investigate the effect of subsidized loans on credit-constrained students. For identification, we exploit a tightening of credit standards for the PLUS loan program in 2011. Following the standards tightening, enrollment and tuition both fell at colleges that relied heavily on PLUS loans. We exploit this demand shock to estimate elasticities of supply and demand for higher education. Demand elasticity is identified through a novel approach that exploits differential effects on public and private colleges. Our elasticity estimates imply that a 10% tuition subsidy would increase tuition by about 7.5% and enrollment by about 10%. Colleges primarily respond to tuition revenue shortfalls by cutting back on instructional expenses.

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Detracking and Tracking Up: Mathematics Course Placements in California Middle Schools, 2003–2013

Thurston Domina et al.

American Educational Research Journal, August 2016, Pages 1229-1266

Abstract:
Between 2003 and 2013, the proportion of California eighth graders enrolled in algebra or a more advanced course nearly doubled to 65%. In this article, we consider the organizational processes that accompanied this curricular intensification. Facing a complex set of accountability, institutional, technical/functional, and internal political pressures, California schools responded to the algebra-for-all effort in diverse ways. While some schools detracked by enrolling all eighth graders in algebra, others “tracked up,” creating more advanced geometry opportunities while increasing algebra enrollments. These responses created a new differentiated course structure that is likely to benefit advantaged students. Consistent with the effectively maintained inequality hypothesis, we find that detracking occurred primarily in disadvantaged schools while “tracking up” occurred primarily in advantaged schools.

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Non-public competition and public school performance: Evidence from West Virginia

Richard Cebula, Joshua Hall & Maria Tackett

Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we investigate whether non-public school enrolment affects the performance of public school districts. If homeschooling and private schools act as competition, public school districts test scores should be positively associated with non-public enrolment. Using data on West Virginia county school districts, and controlling for endogeneity with an instrumental variables approach, we find that a one standard deviation increase in relative non-public enrolment in a county is associated with statistically significant improvements in public school district test scores. Our findings thus confirm that non-public enrollment and the competition it provides act to improve, rather than impede, public school performance.

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Academic Tenure

Albert Yoon

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, September 2016, Pages 428–453

Abstract:
In academia, a subset of faculty has tenure, which allows its beneficiaries to retain their professorships without mandatory retirement and with only limited grounds for revocation. Proponents of tenure argue it protects intellectual freedom and encourages investment in human capital. Detractors contend it discourages effort and distorts the academic labor market. This article develops a framework for examining academic tenure in the context of U.S. law schools. We construct a unique data set of tenured U.S. law professors who began their careers between 1993 through 2002, and follow their employment and scholarship for the first 10 years of their career. Across all journal publications, tenured faculty publish more frequently, are cited with roughly the same frequency, and place in comparable caliber of journal. These productivity gains, however, largely disappear when excluding solicited publications. These results suggest that legal academics continue to produce after tenure, but channel more of their efforts toward less competitive outlets.

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Sleepwalking through School: New Evidence on Sleep and Academic Achievement

Joseph Sabia, Kurt Wang & Resul Cesur

Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policymakers advocating for later school starting times argue that increased sleep duration may generate important schooling benefits. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study examines the relationship between sleep duration and academic performance, while carefully controlling for difficult-to-measure characteristics at the family and individual levels. We find that increased sleep time is associated with improvements in classroom concentration as well as increased educational attainment. However, we also find evidence of diminishing returns to increased sleep. We estimate an “academic optimum” number of sleep hours of, on average, 8.5 hours per night. Turning to sleep quality, we find that the onset of insomnia-like symptoms is associated with diminished contemporaneous academic concentration, but little change in long-run educational attainment.

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Bias against Novelty in Science: A Cautionary Tale for Users of Bibliometric Indicators

Jian Wang, Reinhilde Veugelers & Paula Stephan

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Research which explores unchartered waters has a high potential for major impact but also carries a higher uncertainty of having impact. Such explorative research is often described as taking a novel approach. This study examines the complex relationship between pursuing a novel approach and impact. Viewing scientific research as a combinatorial process, we measure novelty in science by examining whether a published paper makes first time ever combinations of referenced journals, taking into account the difficulty of making such combinations. We apply this newly developed measure of novelty to all Web of Science research articles published in 2001 across all scientific disciplines. We find that highly novel papers, defined to be those that make more (distant) new combinations, deliver high gains to science: they are more likely to be a top 1% highly cited paper in the long run, to inspire follow on highly cited research, and to be cited in a broader set of disciplines. At the same time, novel research is also more risky, reflected by a higher variance in its citation performance. In addition, we find that novel research is significantly more highly cited in “foreign” fields but not in its “home” field. We also find strong evidence of delayed recognition of novel papers and that novel papers are less likely to be top cited when using a short time window. Finally, novel papers typically are published in journals with a lower than expected Impact Factor. These findings suggest that science policy, in particular funding decisions which rely on traditional bibliometric indicators based on short-term direct citation counts and Journal Impact Factors, may be biased against “high risk/high gain” novel research. The findings also caution against a mono-disciplinary approach in peer review to assess the true value of novel research.

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Making Connections: Replicating and Extending the Utility Value Intervention in the Classroom

Chris Hulleman et al.

Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We replicated and extended prior research investigating a theoretically guided intervention based on expectancy-value theory designed to enhance student learning outcomes (e.g., Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009). First, we replicated prior work by demonstrating that the utility value intervention, which manipulated whether students made connections between the course material and their lives, increased both interest and performance of low-performing students in a college general education course. Second, we extended prior research by both measuring and manipulating one possible pathway of intervention effects: the frequency with which students make connections between the material and their lives. In Study 1, we measured connection frequency and found that making more connections was positively related to expecting to do well in the course, valuing the course material, and continuing interest. In Study 2, we manipulated connection frequency by developing an enhanced utility value intervention designed to increase the frequency with which students made connections. The results indicated that students randomly assigned to either utility value intervention, compared with the control condition, subsequently became more confident that they could learn the material, which led to increased course performance. The utility value interventions were particularly effective for the lowest-performing students. Compared with those in the control condition who showed a steady decline in performance across the semester, low-performing male students randomly assigned to the utility value conditions increased their performance across the semester. The difference between the utility value and control conditions for low-performing male students was strongest on the final exam (d = .76).

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Revisiting the Relationship Between International Assessment Outcomes and Educational Production: Evidence From a Longitudinal PISA-TIMSS Sample

Martin Carnoy et al.

American Educational Research Journal, August 2016, Pages 1054-1085

Abstract:
International assessments, such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), are being used to recommend educational policies to improve student achievement. This study shows that the cross-sectional estimates behind such recommendations may be biased. We use a unique data set from one country that applied the PISA mathematics test in 2012 in ninth grade to all students who had taken the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS) test in 2011 and collected information on students’ teachers in ninth grade. These data allowed us to more precisely estimate the effects of classroom variables on students’ PISA performance. Our results suggest that the positive roles of teacher “quality” and “opportunity to learn” in improving student performance are much more modest than claimed in PISA documents.

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Dynamic Effects of Teacher Turnover on the Quality of Instruction

Eric Hanushek, Steven Rivkin & Jeffrey Schiman

NBER Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
It is widely believed that teacher turnover adversely affects the quality of instruction in urban schools serving predominantly disadvantaged children, and a growing body of research investigates various components of turnover effects. The evidence at first seems contradictory, as the quality of instruction appears to decline following turnover despite the fact that most work shows higher attrition for less effective teachers. This raises concerns that confounding factors bias estimates of transition differences in teacher effectiveness, the adverse effects of turnover or both. After taking more extensive steps to account for nonrandom sorting of students into classrooms and endogenous teacher exits and grade-switching, we replicate existing findings of adverse selection out of schools and negative effects of turnover in lower-achievement schools. But we find that these turnover effects can be fully accounted for by the resulting loss in experience and productivity loss following the reallocation of some incumbent teachers to different grades.

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The Productivity Costs of Inefficient Hiring Practices: Evidence From Late Teacher Hiring

John Papay & Matthew Kraft

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Fall 2016, Pages 791–817

Abstract:
We use matched employee–employer records from the teacher labor market to explore the effects of late teacher hiring on student achievement. Hiring teachers after the school year starts reduces student achievement by 0.042 SD in mathematics and 0.026 SD in reading. This reflects, in part, a temporary disruption effect in the first year. In mathematics, but not in reading, late-hired teachers remain persistently less effective, evidence of negative selection in the teacher labor market. Late hiring concentrates in schools that disproportionately serve disadvantaged student populations, contributing to challenges in ensuring an equitable distribution of educational resources for all students.

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A Quantitative Analysis of the Effects of Postsecondary Institution Conversions from Not-For-Profit to For-Profit

Bonnie Fox Garrity & Roger Fiedler

Public Organization Review, September 2016, Pages 371-389

Abstract:
This study highlights the changes that have occurred at postsecondary institutions after conversion from not-for-profit to for-profit control. Using Delta Cost Project Data and a pre-post study design with a control group of not-for-profit institutions that did not convert, comparisons are drawn. The findings suggest that institutions that convert experience greater enrollment growth, a decline in fulltime employment levels per full time equivalent (FTE) student, no change in average expenses per FTE student, a decrease in total revenue, a decrease in Pell Grants received, a decrease in tuition and fees revenue, and a decline in average subsidy per student post conversion. These findings are critical to the creation of informed policy decisions regarding institutional conversions.

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The Impact of Mass Layoffs on the Educational Investments of Working College Students

Ben Ost, Weixiang Pan & Douglas Webber

Temple University Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
Analyzing how working students weather personal economic shocks is increasingly important as the fraction of college students working substantial hours has increased dramatically over the past few decades. Using administrative data on Ohio college students linked to matched firm-worker data on earnings, we examine how layoff affects the educational outcomes of working college students. Theoretically, layoff decreases the opportunity cost of college enrollment, but it could also make financing one's education more difficult, so the net effect is ambiguous. We find that layoff leads to a considerable reduction in the probability of employment while in school, but it has little impact on enrollment decisions at the extensive margin. On the intensive margin, we find that layoff leads to an increase in enrolled credits, consistent with the fact that the opportunity cost of college has decreased.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Primal

Men’s status and reproductive success in 33 nonindustrial societies: Effects of subsistence, marriage system, and reproductive strategy

Christopher von Rueden & Adrian Jaeggi

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social status motivates much of human behavior. However, status may have been a relatively weak target of selection for much of human evolution if ancestral foragers tended to be more egalitarian. We test the “egalitarianism hypothesis” that status has a significantly smaller effect on reproductive success (RS) in foragers compared with nonforagers. We also test between alternative male reproductive strategies, in particular whether reproductive benefits of status are due to lower offspring mortality (parental investment) or increased fertility (mating effort). We performed a phylogenetic multilevel metaanalysis of 288 statistical associations between measures of male status (physical formidability, hunting ability, material wealth, political influence) and RS (mating success, wife quality, fertility, offspring mortality, and number of surviving offspring) from 46 studies in 33 nonindustrial societies. We found a significant overall effect of status on RS (r = 0.19), though this effect was significantly lower than for nonhuman primates (r = 0.80). There was substantial variation due to marriage system and measure of RS, in particular status associated with offspring mortality only in polygynous societies (r = −0.08), and with wife quality only in monogamous societies (r = 0.15). However, the effects of status on RS did not differ significantly by status measure or subsistence type: foraging, horticulture, pastoralism, and agriculture. These results suggest that traits that facilitate status acquisition were not subject to substantially greater selection with domestication of plants and animals, and are part of reproductive strategies that enhance fertility more than offspring well-being.

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A Dynamical Analysis of the Suitability of Prehistoric Spheroids from the Cave of Hearths as Thrown Projectiles

Andrew Wilson et al.

Scientific Reports, August 2016

Abstract:
Spheroids are ball-shaped stone objects found in African archaeological sites dating from 1.8 million years ago (Early Stone Age) to at least 70,000 years ago (Middle Stone Age). Spheroids are either fabricated or naturally shaped stones selected and transported to places of use making them one of the longest-used technologies on record. Most hypotheses about their use suggest they were percussive tools for shaping or grinding other materials. However, their size and spherical shape make them potentially useful as projectile weapons, a property that, uniquely, humans have been specialised to exploit for millions of years. Here we show (using simulations of projectile motions resulting from human throwing) that 81% of a sample of spheroids from the late Acheulean (Bed 3) at the Cave of Hearths, South Africa afford being thrown so as to inflict worthwhile damage to a medium-sized animal over distances up to 25 m. Most of the objects have weights that produce optimal levels of damage from throwing, rather than simply being as heavy as possible (as would suit other functions). Our results show that these objects were eminently suitable for throwing, and demonstrate how empirical research on behavioural tasks can inform and constrain our theories about prehistoric artefacts.

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Behavioral Variation in Gorillas: Evidence of Potential Cultural Traits

Martha Robbins et al.

PLoS ONE, September 2016

Abstract:
The question of whether any species except humans exhibits culture has generated much debate, partially due to the difficulty of providing conclusive evidence from observational studies in the wild. A starting point for demonstrating the existence of culture that has been used for many species including chimpanzees and orangutans is to show that there is geographic variation in the occurrence of particular behavioral traits inferred to be a result of social learning and not ecological or genetic influences. Gorillas live in a wide variety of habitats across Africa and they exhibit flexibility in diet, behavior, and social structure. Here we apply the ‘method of exclusion’ to look for the presence/absence of behaviors that could be considered potential cultural traits in well-habituated groups from five study sites of the two species of gorillas. Of the 41 behaviors considered, 23 met the criteria of potential cultural traits, of which one was foraging related, nine were environment related, seven involved social interactions, five were gestures, and one was communication related. There was a strong positive correlation between behavioral dissimilarity and geographic distance among gorilla study sites. Roughly half of all variation in potential cultural traits was intraspecific differences (i.e. variability among sites within a species) and the other 50% of potential cultural traits were differences between western and eastern gorillas. Further research is needed to investigate if the occurrence of these traits is influenced by social learning. These findings emphasize the importance of investigating cultural traits in African apes and other species to shed light on the origin of human culture.

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Advanced maritime adaptation in the western Pacific coastal region extends back to 35,000–30,000 years before present

Masaki Fujita et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Maritime adaptation was one of the essential factors that enabled modern humans to disperse all over the world. However, geographic distribution of early maritime technology during the Late Pleistocene remains unclear. At this time, the Indonesian Archipelago and eastern New Guinea stand as the sole, well-recognized area for secure Pleistocene evidence of repeated ocean crossings and advanced fishing technology. The incomplete archeological records also make it difficult to know whether modern humans could sustain their life on a resource-poor, small oceanic island for extended periods with Paleolithic technology. We here report evidence from a limestone cave site on Okinawa Island, Japan, of successive occupation that extends back to 35,000−30,000 y ago. Well-stratified strata at the Sakitari Cave site yielded a rich assemblage of seashell artifacts, including formally shaped tools, beads, and the world’s oldest fishhooks. These are accompanied by seasonally exploited food residue. The persistent occupation on this relatively small, geographically isolated island, as well as the appearance of Paleolithic sites on nearby islands by 30,000 y ago, suggest wider distribution of successful maritime adaptations than previously recognized, spanning the lower to midlatitude areas in the western Pacific coastal region.

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Intertidal resource use over millennia enhances forest productivity

Andrew Trant et al.

Nature Communications, August 2016

Abstract:
Human occupation is usually associated with degraded landscapes but 13,000 years of repeated occupation by British Columbia’s coastal First Nations has had the opposite effect, enhancing temperate rainforest productivity. This is particularly the case over the last 6,000 years when intensified intertidal shellfish usage resulted in the accumulation of substantial shell middens. We show that soils at habitation sites are higher in calcium and phosphorous. Both of these are limiting factors in coastal temperate rainforests. Western redcedar (Thuja plicata) trees growing on the middens were found to be taller, have higher wood calcium, greater radial growth and exhibit less top die-back. Coastal British Columbia is the first known example of long-term intertidal resource use enhancing forest productivity and we expect this pattern to occur at archaeological sites along coastlines globally.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mate market

Patterns of Family Formation in Response to Sex Ratio Variation

Ryan Schacht & Karen Kramer

PLoS ONE, August 2016

Abstract:
The impact that unbalanced sex ratios have on health and societal outcomes is of mounting contemporary concern. However, it is increasingly unclear whether it is male- or female-biased sex ratios that are associated with family and social instability. From a socio-demographic perspective, male-biased sex ratios leave many men unable to find a mate, elevating competition among males, disrupting family formation and negatively affecting social stability. In contrast, from a mating-market perspective, males are expected to be less willing to marry and commit to a family when the sex ratio is female-biased and males are rare. Here we use U.S. data to evaluate predictions from these competing frameworks by testing the relationship between the adult sex ratio and measures of family formation. We find that when women are rare men are more likely to marry, be part of a family and be sexually committed to a single partner. Our results do not support claims that male-biased sex ratios lead to negative family outcomes due to a surplus of unmarried men. Rather, our results highlight the need to pay increased attention to female-biased sex ratios.

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Boundary crossing in first marriage and remarriage

Kate Choi & Marta Tienda

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Owing to secular increases in divorce rates, remarriage has become a prevalent feature of American family life; yet, research about mate selection behavior in higher order marriages remains limited. Using log-linear methods to recent data from the 2008-2014 American Community Survey, we compare racial and ethnic sorting behavior in first and subsequent marriages. The two most frequently crossed boundaries - those involving White-Asian and White-Hispanic couples - are more permeable in remarriages than in first marriages. Boundaries that are crossed with less frequency - those between minority groups and the White-Black boundary-are less permeable in remarriages than in first marriages. Collectively, these findings suggest that racial and ethnic sorting processes in remarriage may reify existing social distances between pan-ethnic groups. Racial and ethnic variations in how the relative permeability of boundary changes between first and higher-order marriages underscore the importance of considering a broad array of interracial pairings when assessing the ways in which changes in family structure and marital sorting behavior promote integration.

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Effects of exogenous testosterone and mating context on men's preferences for female facial femininity

Brian Bird et al.

Hormones and Behavior, September 2016, Pages 76-85

Abstract:
Correlational research suggests that men show greater attraction to feminine female faces when their testosterone (T) levels are high. Men's preferences for feminine faces also seem to vary as a function of relationship context (short versus long-term). However, the relationship between T and preferences for female facial femininity has yet to be tested experimentally. In the current paper, we report the results of two experiments examining the causal role of T in modulating preferences for facial femininity across both short and long-term mating contexts. Results of Experiment 1 (within-subject design, n = 24) showed that participants significantly preferred feminized versus masculinized versions of women's faces. Further, participants showed a stronger preference for feminine faces in the short versus the long-term context after they received T, but not after they received placebo. Post-hoc analyses suggested that this effect was driven by a lower preference for feminine faces in the long-term context when on T relative to placebo, and this effect was found exclusively for men who received placebo on the first day of testing, and T on the second day of testing (i.e., order X drug X mating context interaction). In Experiment 2 (between-subject design, n = 93), men demonstrated a significant preference for feminized female faces in the short versus the long-term context after T, but not after placebo administration. Collectively, these findings provide the first causal evidence that T modulates men's preferences for facial femininity as a function of mating context.

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Women's evaluations of other women's natural body odor depend on targets' fertility status

Kelly Gildersleeve, Melissa Fales & Martie Haselton

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large research literature indicates that men perceive women as more attractive when they are at high fertility than at low fertility within the ovulatory cycle. However, it remains unclear whether women also perceive women as more attractive at high fertility. This study examined women's ratings of samples of natural body odor collected from naturally-cycling women at high and low fertility within the cycle and from hormonal contraceptive-using women at mid-cycle. Like men, women rated naturally-cycling women's high-fertility scent samples as more attractive than their low-fertility samples. Women rated hormonal contraceptive users' scent samples as more attractive than naturally-cycling women's high- and low-fertility samples, though the difference between HC and high-fertility samples was statistically significant only when raters were treated as the unit of analysis. These findings reveal a potentially important role for scent communication in women's perceptions of other women and are consistent with the notion that the ovulatory cycle could influence human social behavior. The findings also highlight the need for rigorous investigations of the possible impacts of hormonal contraception on women's attractiveness and social relationships with other women.

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Sex Differences in Young Adults' Attraction to Opposite-Sex Friends: Natural Sampling versus Mental Concepts

April Bleske-Rechek et al.

Evolutionary Psychological Science, September 2016, Pages 214-219

Abstract:
When young adults are asked to either think of an opposite-sex friend or bring an opposite-sex friend to the lab, men report much more attraction to their friend than women do (Bleske-Rechek et al. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 29: 569-596, 2012; Kaplan and Keys Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14: 191-206, 1997). In two studies, we utilized a naturalistic sampling strategy to obtain our friendship dyads. We approached and surveyed male-female dyads who were lounging at a university student center and found that the mean difference between male and female friends' attraction to one another was weak and statistically unreliable. We speculated that the opposite-sex friends that men and women find themselves with in their everyday life might be different from the opposite-sex friends who come to mind when asked by researchers to think of their friends. Men's and women's mating adaptations, which differ particularly in attention to attractiveness and proclivity toward short-term sex, might be reflected in how men and women conceptualize opposite-sex friends; hence, previous studies may have documented a stronger sex difference in attraction because men and women in those samples had different types of people in mind when they thought about opposite-sex friends. To test that possibility, we asked young adults to "think of an opposite-sex friend" and then choose descriptors for that person. Men less often than women characterized the person as "a friend" and more often than women characterized the person as someone they were "attracted to." We conclude that men's and women's everyday experiences with opposite-sex friends differ from their mental conceptions of opposite-sex friends.

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Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor

Andrea Zuniga et al.

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human axillary sweat may provide information pertaining to genetic relatedness and health status. A significant contributor to good health, both in the short and longer term, is a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. In this study we tested whether dietary fruit and vegetable intake, assessed indirectly by skin spectrophotometry (assessing dietary carotenoid intakes) and subjectively by food frequency questionnaire, were associated with more pleasant smelling sweat. Male participants provided axillary sweat samples and dietary information. Female participants then evaluated these samples on several affective, qualitative and psychophysical dimensions. The skin spectrophotometry measure (CIELab b*), indicative of greater fruit and vegetable intake, was significantly associated with more pleasant smelling sweat (with more floral, fruity, sweet and medicinal qualities), independent of sweat intensity. Self-report dietary data revealed that fat, meat, egg and tofu intake was associated with more pleasant smelling sweat, and greater carbohydrate intake with stronger smelling less pleasant sweat. These data parallel facial judgments, in which yellower more carotenoid rich skin, is found to be more attractive.

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Duration of Cunnilingus Predicts Estimated Ejaculate Volume in Humans: a Content Analysis of Pornography

Michael Pham et al.

Evolutionary Psychological Science, September 2016, Pages 220-227

Abstract:
Humans perform copulatory behaviors that do not contribute directly to reproduction (e.g., cunnilingus, prolonged copulation). We conducted a content analysis of pornography to investigate whether such behaviors might contribute indirectly to reproduction by influencing ejaculate volume - an indicator of ejaculate quality. We coded 100 professional pornography scenes depicting the same male actor copulating with 100 different females, affording control for between-male differences in estimated ejaculate volume. Coders visually estimated ejaculate volume and recorded the time the actor spent engaged in cunnilingus, penile-vaginal penetration, and in any physical contact with his partner. We found support for the hypothesis that a man who spends more time performing cunnilingus produces an ejaculate with greater estimated volume, even after controlling statistically for the age and attractiveness of the actress, and time spent in physical contact with his partner. Additionally, we tested the ejaculate adjustment hypothesis for prolonged copulation and found no support. Prolonged copulation does not facilitate production of an ejaculate with greater estimated volume, even after controlling statistically for time spent in physical contact with a partner. This research is the first to use content analysis to document that pre-ejaculatory copulatory behavior predicts estimated ejaculate volume and also is the first to document a relationship between the time spent performing cunnilingus and ejaculate quality.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 16, 2016

Caste systems

College Socialization and the Economic Views of Affluent Americans

Tali Mendelberg, Katherine McCabe & Adam Thal

American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Affluent Americans support more conservative economic policies than the nonaffluent, and government responds disproportionately to these views. Yet little is known about the emergence of these consequential views. We develop, test, and find support for a theory of class cultural norms: These preferences are partly traceable to socialization that occurs on predominantly affluent college campuses, especially those with norms of financial gain, and especially among socially embedded students. The economic views of the student's cohort also matter, in part independently of affluence. We use a large panel data set with a high response rate and more rigorous causal inference strategies than previous socialization studies. The affluent campus effect holds with matching, among students with limited school choice, and in a natural experiment; and it passes placebo tests. College socialization partly explains why affluent Americans support economically conservative policies.

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Economic Recessions and Congressional Preferences for Redistribution

Maria Carreri & Edoardo Teso

Harvard Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
We analyze the roots of politicians' preferences for redistribution by exploring whether early life experiences have persistent, long-run effects on U.S. Members of Congress' voting records. We study whether having experienced an economic recession during early adulthood affected their positions on redistribution-specific bills during the period 1957-2012. We find that politicians who experienced a recession hold more conservative positions on redistribution, even compared to members of the same party in the same legislature. We rule out alternative accounts and show that experiencing a recession directly affects future politicians' personal preferences. In light of recent empirical evidence showing that voters become more supportive of redistribution following a recession, our findings suggest that macroeconomic shocks have a polarizing effect: recessions can create an ideological wedge between voters and their future representatives.

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Change the Things You Can: Emotion Regulation Is More Beneficial for People From Lower Than From Higher Socioeconomic Status

Allison Troy et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotion regulation is central to psychological health, and several emotion-regulation strategies have been identified as beneficial. However, new theorizing suggests the benefits of emotion regulation should depend on its context. One important contextual moderator might be socioeconomic status (SES), because SES powerfully shapes people’s ecology: lower SES affords less control over one’s environment and thus, the ability to self-regulate should be particularly important. Accordingly, effectively regulating one’s emotions (e.g., using cognitive reappraisal) could be more beneficial in lower (vs. higher) SES contexts. Three studies (N = 429) tested whether SES moderates the link between cognitive reappraisal ability (CRA; measured with surveys and in the laboratory) and depression. Each study and a meta-analysis of the 3 studies revealed that CRA was associated with less depression for lower SES but not higher SES individuals. Thus, CRA may be uniquely beneficial in lower SES contexts. More broadly, the effects of emotion regulation depend upon the ecology within which it is used.

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Measuring Income and Wealth at the Top Using Administrative and Survey Data

Jesse Bricker et al.

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2016, Pages 261-331

Abstract:
Most available estimates of U.S. wealth and income concentration indicate that the top shares are high and have been rising in recent decades, but there is some disagreement about specific levels and trends. Household surveys are the traditional data source used to measure the top shares, but recent studies using administrative tax records suggest that these survey-based top share estimates may not be capturing all of the increasing concentration. In this paper, we reconcile the divergent top share estimates, showing how the choices of data sets and methodological decisions affect levels and trends. Relative to the new and most widely cited top share estimates based on administrative tax data alone, our preferred estimates for both wealth and income concentration are lower and have been rising less rapidly in recent years.

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Experienced Inequality and Preferences for Redistribution

Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart

University of Oxford Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
We examine in how far people’s experiences of income inequality affect their preferences for redistribution. We use several large nationally representative datasets and provide evidence that people with higher levels of inequality experience are less in favor of redistribution, after controlling for income, demographics, unemployment experiences and current macro-economic conditions. Moreover, we show that people with experiences of higher inequality believe that success in life depends on effort rather than luck and are more likely to believe that inequality increases motivation. Importantly, they are also less likely to consider the prevailing distribution of incomes to be unfair, suggesting that inequality experiences act as reference points about what is a fair division of resources. Finally, we conduct an online experiment to show that individuals randomly exposed to environments with higher inequality in the first stage of the experiment redistribute less in a subsequent behavioral measure.

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Economic Freedom & Happiness Inequality: Friends or Foes?

Daniel Bennett & Boris Nikolaev

Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the relationship between economic freedom and happiness inequality for a large sample of countries. We find that economic freedom is negatively associated with happiness inequality and robust to several alternative measures of happiness inequality, including the standard deviation, mean absolute difference, coefficient of variation, and Gini coefficient. Among the economic freedom areas, legal system and sound money are negatively correlated with happiness inequality. Drawing on the Engerman-Sokoloff hypothesis, we use a measure of factor endowments as an instrument for economic freedom to provide a further robustness test, finding a negative association between economic freedom and happiness inequality.

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Do rising class differentials in earnings increase productivity? Evidence for non-production and production employees in U.S. manufacturing industries

Aytekin Guven & Arthur Sakamoto

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, September 2016, Pages 41–50

Abstract:
Quantitative sociological research rarely investigates productivity but it is pertinent to the study of inequality and social stratification. In this analysis, we focus on the earnings differential between non-production and production employees and evaluate the extent to which it has a net effect on productivity across U.S. manufacturing industries. Contrary to assumptions of traditional economics, the findings indicate that this earnings differential increased significantly since the 1980’s but actually had a negative effect on productivity. There is also some evidence that this effect has become more negative in recent years. We interpret these findings as suggesting that, rather than inexorably enhancing economic efficiency, rising earnings differentials between non-production and production employees partly derive from changes in the relative bargaining power of these two class categories in the labor market.

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Empires of Inequality: Ancient China and Rome

Walter Scheidel

Stanford Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the dynamics of income and wealth inequality in two of the largest ancient empires, Han China and Rome. Pervasive structural similarities emerge from this comparative survey. In both cases, resource concentration at the top of society was greatly amplified by rent-seeking and predatory behavior that was commonly linked to privileged access to governmental functions and institutions. The exercise of or proximity to political power were crucial means of elite enrichment. Yet the same features also served to constrain the growth and persistence of large fortunes as the violent seizure and recirculation of elite wealth ensured ongoing redistribution within the ruling class and among its associates. In the long run, imperial stability was conducive to growing economic inequality.

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Money and Status: How Best to Incentivize Work

Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos

Yale Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
Status is greatly valued in the real world, yet it has not received much attention from economic theorists. We examine how the owner of a firm can best combine money and status to get her employees to work hard for the least total cost. We find that she should motivate workers of low skill mostly by status and high skill mostly by money. Moreover, she should do so by using a small number of titles and wage levels. This often results in star wages to the elite performers. By analogy, the governance of a society should pay special attention to the status concerns of ordinary citizens, which may often be accomplished by reinforcing suitable social norms.

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Societal income inequality and individual subjective well-being: Results from 68 societies and over 200,000 individuals, 1981–2008

Jonathan Kelley & M.D.R. Evans

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Income inequality has been contentious for millennia, a source of political conflict for centuries, and is now widely feared as a pernicious "side effect" of economic progress. But equality is only a means to an end and so must be evaluated by its consequences. The fundamental question is: What effect does a country's level of income inequality have on its citizens' quality of life, their subjective well-being? We show that in developing nations inequality is certainly not harmful but probably beneficial, increasing well-being by about 8 points out of 100. This may well be Kuznets's inverted "U": In the earliest stages of development some are able to move out of the (poorly paying) subsistence economy into the (better paying) modern economy, that higher pay increasing their well-being while simultaneously increasing inequality. In advanced nations, income inequality on average neither helps nor harms. Estimates are from random-intercept fixed-effects multi-level models, confirmed by over four dozen sensitivity tests. Data are from the pooled World Values/European Values Surveys, Waves 1 to 5 with 169 representative national samples in 69 nations, 1981 to 2009, and over 200,000 respondents, replicated and extended in the European Quality of Life Surveys.

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Long term trends in fair and unfair inequality in the United States

Andrew Hussey & Michael Jetter

Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyses the microeconomic sources of wage inequality in the United States from 1967–2012. Decomposing inequality into factors categorized by degree of personal responsibility, education explains over twice as much of inequality today as 45 years ago. However, neither hours worked nor education, industry, marital status, or geographical location can explain the rise in income inequality. In fact, ‘unfair’ inequality (income disparity derived from non-responsibility factors) has risen faster than ‘fair’ inequality (income disparity derived from responsibility factors), regardless of the set of variables chosen as fair sources of inequality. We further examine income inequalities within gender and racial groups, finding substantial heterogeneity. Overall, using micro data to understand the sources of inequality and how these changes over time can provide better information for policymakers motivated to combat rising inequality.

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Socioeconomic Gaps in Early Childhood Experiences: 1998 to 2010

Daphna Bassok et al.

AERA Open, August 2016

Abstract:
This study compares the early life experiences of kindergarteners in 1998 and 2010 using two nationally representative data sets. We find that (a) young children in the later period are exposed to more books and reading in the home, (b) they have more access to educational games on computers, and (c) they engage with their parents more, inside and outside the home. Although these increases occurred among low- and high-income children, in many cases the biggest changes were seen among the lowest-income children. Our results indicate narrowing but still large early childhood parental investment gaps. In addition, socioeconomic gaps in preschool participation grew over this period, despite substantial investments in public preschool. Implications for early socioeconomic achievement gaps are discussed.

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Inequality and the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Daniel Jacob Hemel & Kyle Rozema

Tax Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The mortgage interest deduction is often criticized for contributing to after-tax income inequality. Yet the effects of the mortgage interest deduction on income inequality are more nuanced than the conventional wisdom would suggest. We show that the mortgage interest deduction causes high-income households (i.e., those in the top 10% and top 1%) to bear a larger share of the total tax burden than they would if the deduction were repealed. We further show that the effect of the mortgage interest deduction on income inequality is highly sensitive to the alternative scenario against which the deduction is evaluated. These findings demonstrate that claims about the distributional effects of the mortgage interest deduction depend critically on the counterfactual to which the status quo is compared. We extend our analysis to the deduction for state and local taxes and the charitable contribution deduction. We conclude that the appropriate counterfactual for distributional claims is dependent upon political context — and, in particular, on the feasible set of politically acceptable reforms up for consideration.

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Gender and Redistribution: Experimental Evidence

Thomas Buser, Louis Putterman & Joel van der Weele

Brown University Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Gender differences in voting patterns and political attitudes towards redistribution are well-documented. The experimental gender literature suggests several plausible behavioral explanations behind these differences, relating to gender differences in confidence concerning future relative income position, risk aversion, and social preferences. We use data from lab experiments on preferences for redistribution conducted in the U.S. and several European countries to disentangle these potential mechanisms. We find that when choosing to redistribute income as a disinterested observer, women choose higher tax rates than men when initial income depends on performance in a task but not when it is randomly allocated. In a veil of ignorance condition with uncertainty about the income position of the decision maker, this effect is even stronger, leading to a 10ppt gender difference in average chosen tax rates in the performance conditions. We find that this gender difference is mainly due to men being more (over)confident about their task performance and the resulting income position, with gender differences in risk aversion and social preferences playing a minor role.

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Levels and Trends in the Income Mobility of U.S. Families, 1977−2012

Katharine Bradbury

Federal Reserve Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
Much of America’s promise is predicated on economic mobility — the possibility that people can move up and down the economic ladder during their lifetimes. Mobility is of particular consequence when economic disparities are increasing. Using panel data and mobility concepts and measures adapted from the literature, this paper examines 10-year income mobility levels and trends for U.S. working-age families during the time span 1977–2012. According to many measures, mobility, already limited in the 1978–1988 decade, declined over ensuing decades: families’ later-year incomes increasingly depended on their starting place, and the distribution of longer-term family incomes became less equal.

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Living in wealthy neighborhoods increases material desires and maladaptive consumption

Jia Wei Zhang, Ryan Howell & Colleen Howell

Journal of Consumer Culture, March 2016, Pages 297-316

Abstract:
Despite the presumed national economic benefits that result from high levels of discretionary spending, past studies suggest that material consumption decreases individual economic and subjective well-being. However, most research on the development of materialistic values has examined how persuasive materialistic messages cause materialism. We recruited 2702 participants to test our prediction that living in wealthy neighborhoods should increase material desires and maladaptive consumption in much the same way it decreases happiness. Interestingly, our regression models revealed that individual socioeconomic status (SES) and neighborhood SES have unique, and opposite, predictive patterns of material consumption. Specifically, after controlling for age, gender, and population size, greater neighborhood SES predicted greater desires for material consumption, more impulsive buying, and fewer savings behaviors while individual SES showed the reverse pattern. Our path model suggests that greater neighborhood SES leads to increased material desires, which then predicts more frequent impulsive buying, and fewer savings behaviors. We discuss why neighborhood SES might change values and consumer behaviors.

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Keeping the American Dream Alive: The Interactive Effect of Perceived Economic Mobility and Materialism on Impulsive Spending

Sunyee Yoon & Hyeongmin Christian Kim

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research illustrates how perceived economic mobility moderates the linkage between materialism and impulsive spending. Using various data sources, four studies show that materialistic consumers do not easily engage in impulsive spending when they perceive high economic mobility, whereas they tend to spend impulsively when they perceive low economic mobility. However, perceived economic mobility functions in the opposite manner when the purchase is a means to achieve financial success. The authors trace this effect to the self-regulation process of materialistic consumers, such that when perceiving high economic mobility, these consumers regulate their behavior toward long-term financial success, sacrificing the pleasure of acquisitions in the present. By elucidating the important role that perceived economic mobility plays in impulsive spending, the current research sheds new light on consumer research and offers managerial and public policy implications.

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Progressive taxation in a tournament economy

Jeffrey Carpenter, Peter Hans Matthews & Benjamin Tabb

Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Not enough is known about the responsiveness of individuals, in particular those who work under different incentives, to changes in marginal tax rates. We ask whether changes in tax rates are less distortionary for workers engaged in a contest. To examine this potential rationale for a more progressive tax code, we first model the effort decisions of workers faced with progressive taxation under tournaments and piece rates. Because of the difficulty identifying any distortion that may be induced by the tax code in naturally occurring data, we then report on the results of a real-effort experiment based on this model. Consistent with a behavioral approach to public finance, we find that competitive tournament workers are less sensitive and hint, in our discussion, at the possible welfare benefits of progressive taxation in tournament economies.

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Unions and Income Inequality: A Panel Cointegration and Causality Analysis for the United States

Dierk Herzer

Economic Development Quarterly, August 2016, Pages 267-274

Abstract:
In this research note it is shown that, by applying cointegration and causality techniques to U.S. state-level panel data, there is a negative long-run relationship between unionization and income inequality in the United States, and that causality is unidirectional from unionization to inequality.

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Testing Piketty’s Hypothesis on the Drivers of Income Inequality : Evidence from Panel VARs with Heterogeneous Dynamics

Carlos Góes

IMF Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century puts forth a logically consistent explanation for changes in income and wealth inequality patterns. However, while rich in data, the book provides no formal empirical testing for its theoretical causal chain. In this paper, I build a set of Panel SVAR models to check if inequality and capital share in the national income move up as the r-g gap grows. Using a sample of 19 advanced economies spanning over 30 years, I find no empirical evidence that dynamics move in the way Piketty suggests. Results are robust to several alternative estimates of r-g.

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Effort, luck, and voting for redistribution

Lars Lefgren, David Sims & Olga Stoddard

Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conduct an experiment to determine how the correspondence between economic rewards and effort, as opposed to luck, affects subjects' ex post voting over redistribution. We find that a large, statistically significant proportion of both high- and low-payoff voters are willing to vote contrary to their self-interest in favor of groups that exert proportionately more effort. We confirm these results in an additional, distinct sample. We also show that when subjects' own effort is greater than the group's average effort level, they exhibit greater self-interest in voting for redistribution compared to subjects whose effort is below average. Our results have implications for both understanding individual redistributive preferences and group voting behavior.

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Bright Minds, Big Rent: Gentrification and the Rising Returns to Skill

Lena Edlund, Cecilia Machado & María Micaela Sviatschi

U.S. Census Bureau Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
In 1980, Census data indicate, housing prices in large US cities rose with distance from the city center. By 2010, that relationship had reversed. We propose that this development can be traced to greater labor supply of high-income households which reduced the tolerance for commuting. In a tract-level data set covering the 27 largest US cities, years 1980-2010, we find support for our hypothesis using a Bartik-type demand shifter for skilled labor: full-time skilled workers favor proximity to the city center and their increased presence can account for the rising price premium commanded by centrality.

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Have Supra-Normal Returns to Corporations Been Increasing Over Time?

Laura Power & Austin Frerick

U.S. Department of the Treasury Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines how the fraction of the C corporation tax base attributable to the normal return has been changing over time. Using a panel of micro-economic tax return data from 1992 to 2013, we compute the normal return fraction for all nonfinancial C corporations, for multinationals, and for industries. The results show that the normal return has been gradually declining over time, averaging about 40% in the first half of the period and 25% in the second half of the period. This suggests that supra-normal returns are becoming more important to the tax base.

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On the Distribution of the Welfare Losses of Large Recessions

Dirk Krueger, Kurt Mitman & Fabrizio Perri

NBER Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
How big are the welfare losses from severe economic downturns, such as the U.S. Great Recession? How are those losses distributed across the population? In this paper we answer these questions using a canonical business cycle model featuring household income and wealth heterogeneity that matches micro data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). We document how these losses are distributed across households and how they are affected by social insurance policies. We find that the welfare cost of losing one's job in a severe recession ranges from 2% of lifetime consumption for the wealthiest households to 5% for low-wealth households. The cost increases to approximately 8% for low-wealth households if unemployment insurance benefits are cut from 50% to 10%. The fact that welfare losses fall with wealth, and that in our model (as in the data) a large fraction of households has very low wealth, implies that the impact of a severe recession, once aggregated across all households, is very significant (2.2% of lifetime consumption). We finally show that a more generous unemployment insurance system unequivocally helps low-wealth job losers, but hurts households that keep their job, even in a version of the model in which output is partly demand determined, and therefore unemployment insurance stabilizes aggregate demand and output.

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Can Political Inequalities Be Educated Away? Evidence from a Large-Scale Reform

Karl-Oskar Lindgren, Sven Oskarsson & Christopher Dawes

American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the years, many suggestions have been made on how to reduce the importance of family background in political recruitment. In this study, we examine the effectiveness of one such proposal: the expansion of mass education. We utilize a difference-in-difference strategy to analyze how a large school reform launched in Sweden in the 1950s, which lengthened schooling and postponed tracking, affected the likelihood of individuals with different family backgrounds to run for public office. The data come from public registers and pertain to the entire Swedish population born between 1943 and 1955. The empirical analysis provides strong support for the view that improved educational opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds can be an effective means to reduce the social bias of elected assemblies.

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The Scandinavian Fantasy: The Sources of Intergenerational Mobility in Denmark and the U.S

Rasmus Landersø & James Heckman

NBER Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines the sources of differences in social mobility between the U.S. and Denmark. Measured by income mobility, Denmark is a more mobile society, but not when measured by educational mobility. There are pronounced nonlinearities in income and educational mobility in both countries. Greater Danish income mobility is largely a consequence of redistributional tax, transfer, and wage compression policies. While Danish social policies for children produce more favorable cognitive test scores for disadvantaged children, these do not translate into more favorable educational outcomes, partly because of disincentives to acquire education arising from the redistributional policies that increase income mobility.

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Economic performance and public concerns about social class in twentieth-century books

Yunsong Chen & Fei Yan

Social Science Research, September 2016, Pages 37–51

Abstract:
What is the association between macroeconomic conditions and public perceptions of social class? Applying a novel approach based on the Google Books N-gram corpus, this study addresses the relationship between public concerns about social class and economic conditions throughout the twentieth century. The usage of class-related words/phrases, or “literary references to class,” in American English-language books is related to US economic performance and income inequality. The findings of this study demonstrate that economic conditions play a significant role in literary references to class throughout the century, whereas income inequality does not. Similar results are obtained from further analyses using alternative measures of class concerns as well as different corpora of English Fiction and the New York Times. We add to the social class literature by showing that the long-term temporal dynamics of an economy can be exhibited by aggregate class concerns. The application of massive culture-wide content analysis using data of unprecedented size also represents a contribution to the literature.

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Popular Acceptance of Inequality due to Brute Luck and Support for Classical Benefit-Based Taxation

Matthew Weinzierl

NBER Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
U.S. survey respondents’ views on distributive justice are shown to differ in two specific, related ways from what is conventionally assumed in modern optimal tax research. A large share of respondents, and in some cases a large majority, resist the full equalization of inequality due to brute luck that standard analyses would recommend. Related, a similar share prefer a classical benefit-based logic for the assignment of taxes over the conventional logic of diminishing marginal social welfare. Moreover, these two views are linked: respondents who more strongly resist equalization are more likely to prefer the classical benefit-based principle. Together, these results suggest that a large share of the American public views the allocation of pre-tax incomes as relevant to optimal tax policy and — at least in part — justly deserved unless proven otherwise, judgments that are inconsistent with standard welfarist objectives.

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Government's Unequal Attentiveness to Citizens' Political Priorities

Patrick Flavin & William Franko

Policy Studies Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
An accumulation of evidence suggests citizens with low incomes have relatively little influence over the policy decisions made by lawmakers in the United States. However, long before elected officials are asked to cast a final vote on a bill's passage, an equally important decision has already been made: the decision for government to focus its limited attention and agenda space on the issue at all. Therefore, it is possible that political inequality is infused earlier in the policymaking process at the agenda-setting stage if the issues held important by some citizens are given attention while the issues held important by others are not. To investigate this question, we develop novel state-level measures of citizens' issue priorities and find sizable differences in which issues poor and rich citizens think are most important and deserving of government attention. We then use bill introduction data from state legislatures to measure government attention and uncover evidence that state legislators are less likely to act on an issue when it is prioritized by low-income citizens as compared to affluent citizens. These findings have important implications for our understanding of political equality and the functioning of American democracy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Discriminating

Going Back in Time? Gender Differences in Trends and Sources of the Racial Pay Gap, 1970 to 2010

Hadas Mandel & Moshe Semyonov

American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using IPUMS data for five decennial years between 1970 and 2010, we delineate and compare the trends and sources of the racial pay gap among men and women in the U.S. labor force. Decomposition of the pay gap into components underscores the significance of the intersection between gender and race; we find meaningful gender differences in the composition of the gap and in the gross and the net earnings gaps - both are much larger among men than among women. Despite these differences, the over-time trend is strikingly similar for both genders. Racial gaps sharply declined between 1970 and 1980 and continued to decline, but at a slower rate, until 2000. However, at the turn of the millennium, the trend reversed for both gender groups. The growth of the racial pay gap at the turn of the millennium is attributable to the increase in overall income inequality, stagnation in occupational segregation, and an increase in the unexplained portion of the gap, a portion we attribute to economic discrimination.

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The Politics of Achievement Gaps: U.S. Public Opinion on Race-Based and Wealth-Based Differences in Test Scores

Jon Valant & Daniel Newark

Educational Researcher, August/September 2016, Pages 331-346

Abstract:
For decades, researchers have documented large differences in average test scores between minority and White students and between poor and wealthy students. These gaps are a focal point of reformers' and policymakers' efforts to address educational inequities. However, the U.S. public's views on achievement gaps have received little attention from researchers, despite playing an important role in shaping policymakers' behaviors. Drawing on randomized experiments with a nationally representative sample of adults, we explore the public's beliefs about test score gaps and its support for gap-closing initiatives. We find that Americans are more concerned about - and more supportive of proposals to close - wealth-based achievement gaps than Black-White or Hispanic-White gaps. Americans also explain the causes of wealth-based gaps more readily.

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The Efficiency of Race-Neutral Alternatives to Race-Based Affirmative Action: Evidence from Chicago's Exam Schools

Glenn Ellison & Parag Pathak

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Several public K-12 and university systems have recently shifted from race-based affirmative action plans to race-neutral alternatives. This paper explores the degree to which race-neutral alternatives are effective substitutes for racial quotas using data from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), where a race-neutral, place-based affirmative action system is used for admissions at highly competitive exam high schools. We develop a theoretical framework that motivates quantifying the efficiency cost of race-neutral policies by the extent admissions decisions are distorted more than needed to achieve a given level of diversity. According to our metric, CPS's race-neutral system is 24% and 20% efficient as a tool for increasing minority representation at the top two exam schools, i.e. about three-fourths of the reduction in composite scores could have been avoided by explicitly considering race. Even though CPS's system is based on socioeconomic disadvantage, it is actually less effective than racial quotas at increasing the number of low-income students. We examine several alternative race-neutral policies and find some to be more efficient than the CPS policy. What is feasible varies with the school's surrounding neighborhood characteristics and the targeted level of minority representation. However, no race-neutral policy restores minority representation to prior levels without substantial inefficiency, implying significant efficiency costs from prohibitions on affirmative action policies that explicitly consider race.

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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment

Tumaini Coker et al.

Pediatrics, September 2016

Methods: We used a population-based, multisite sample of 4297 children and parents surveyed over 3 waves (fifth, seventh, and 10th grades). Multivariate logistic regression examined disparities in parent-reported ADHD diagnosis and medication use in the following analyses: (1) using the total sample; (2) limited to children with an ADHD diagnosis or symptoms; and (3) limited to children without a diagnosis or symptoms.

Results: Across all waves, African-American and Latino children, compared with white children, had lower odds of having an ADHD diagnosis and of taking ADHD medication, controlling for sociodemographics, ADHD symptoms, and other potential comorbid mental health symptoms. Among children with an ADHD diagnosis or symptoms, African-American children had lower odds of medication use at fifth, seventh, and 10th grades, and Latino children had lower odds at fifth and 10th grades. Among children who had neither ADHD symptoms nor ADHD diagnosis by fifth grade (and thus would not likely meet ADHD diagnostic criteria at any age), medication use did not vary by race/ethnicity in adjusted analysis.

Conclusions: Racial/ethnic disparities in parent-reported medication use for ADHD are robust, persisting from fifth grade to 10th grade. These findings suggest that disparities may be more likely related to underdiagnosis and undertreatment of African-American and Latino children as opposed to overdiagnosis or overtreatment of white children.

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Effects of dyadic communication on race-based impressions and memory

Monica Biernat et al.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
In an experimental study, we examined the effects of dyadic communication and implicit racial attitudes on impressions formed of Black versus White individuals. Participants viewed a graduate application of a student depicted as a Black or White male and then had a conversation about the applicant with another student (or not) before individually rendering judgments of him. Subjective impressions were more favorable for the Black than White applicant among participants in the communication condition, conversations about Whites included more negations, and participants wrote longer narratives in which they were less likely to mention race when they had previously communicated than when they had not. Communication also disrupted the association between implicit racial attitudes and memory for the applicant's Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores: Those with negative racial attitudes remembered the Black applicant as having lower GRE scores than the White applicant, but this effect was eliminated following communication. Findings are discussed with reference to audience tuning, shifting standards, and attitude-behavior consistency models.

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Weeds in the Ivy: College admissions under preference constraints

Dennis Weisman & Dong Li

Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a series of cases spanning more than three decades, the courts have attempted to establish boundaries on the permissible use of racial preferences in college admissions. Proponents of these policies believe that race-based preferences are needed to create a diverse student body that facilitates effective learning and social inclusion. Opponents of such policies contend that racial preferences are inherently discriminatory and eliminating them would yield a more able student body. Whereas race-based preferences have garnered the most attention, elite colleges regularly employ other types of preferences, including those for alumni and talented athletes. To inform this important policy debate, we develop a simple model comprised of a rational college administrator that maximizes a linear combination of student body ability and the college endowment through the choice of race, legacy and merit admission shares. We find that relaxing the racial-preferences constraint can produce a 'less-able' student body even when the college administrator places greater weight on student body ability than she does on the college endowment. The change in admissions policy may serve only to increase the number of admissions that can be 'sold' to wealthy alumni through legacy preferences and thereby foster the growth of weeds in the Ivy.

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Context matters: Diversity's short and long term effects in Fortune's 'Best Companies to Work For'

Scott Julian & Joseph Ofori-Dankwa

Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has examined the racial diversity-productivity relationship in corporations with an evident high commitment to minority programs, Fortune's Best Companies for Minorities. To assess generalizability, we replicate this research using a different context of high organizational-employee value congruence, Fortune's Best Companies to Work For. We are not able to find evidence for the curvilinear relationships previously found, but do uncover a linear negative relationship between racial diversity and short-run performance.

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Executive Mobility and Minority Status

Paul Guest

Industrial Relations, October 2016, Pages 604-631

Abstract:
We examine the mobility of minority executives, defined as ethnic minority and female executives, in publicly listed U.S. firms. Minority executives as a whole experience lower promotion, higher demotion, and higher exit than Caucasian males. Female and African American executives account for the majority of these differences. Specifically, female executives experience lower promotion and exit, while African Americans experience lower promotion, higher demotion, and higher exit. In contrast, Asian and Hispanic executives do not experience different mobility outcomes from Caucasian executives.

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Ethnically-Based Theme House Residency and Expected Discrimination Predict Downstream Markers of Inflammation Among College Students

Michelle Rheinschmidt-Same, Neha John-Henderson & Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined participation in an ethnically based residential program or "theme house" during the first year of college as a predictor of downstream immune system inflammation among undergraduates. Using a 4-year prospective design, we compared markers of inflammation among Latino/Latina students in a residential theme program with a matched sample of nonresidents. Students provided oral mucosal transudate samples for the assessment of circulating Interleukin 6 (IL-6), an inflammatory cytokine linked to health vulnerabilities. Findings suggest a protective benefit of theme house residency especially among students with anxious expectations of discrimination. Such expectations predicted higher levels of IL-6 after the first year of college among nonresidents only. In years 2-3, following exit from the theme house, the relationship between expected discrimination and IL-6 levels remained positive among nonresidents and was attenuated among residents, controlling for past IL-6 levels. Culturally based spaces may therefore offset the physiological burden of expected discrimination among undergraduates.

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The racialized construction of exceptionality: Experimental evidence of race/ethnicity effects on teachers' interventions

Rachel Fish

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars, policy-makers, and practitioners have long argued that students of color are over-represented in special education and under-represented in gifted education, arguing that educators make racially/ethnically biased decisions to refer and qualify students with disabilities and giftedness. Recent research has called this into question, focusing on the role of confounders of race/ethnicity. However, the role of educator decisions in the disproportionality is still unclear. In this study, I examine the role of student race/ethnicity in teachers' categorization of student needs as "exceptional" and in need of special or gifted education services. I use an original survey experiment in which teachers read case studies of fictional male students in which the race/ethnicity, English Language Learner status, and exceptionality characteristics were experimentally manipulated. The teachers are then asked whether they would refer the student for exceptionality testing. My findings suggest a complex intersection of race/ethnicity and exceptionality, in which white boys are more likely to be suspected of having exceptionalities when they exhibit academic challenges, while boys of color are more likely to be suspected when they exhibit behavioral challenges. This suggests that the racialized construction of exceptionalities reflects differential academic expectations and interpretations of behavior by race/ethnicity, with implications for the subjectivity of exceptionality identification and for the exacerbation of racial/ethnic inequalities in education.

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New Evidence on Self-Affirmation Effects and Theorized Sources of Heterogeneity From Large-Scale Replications

Paul Hanselman et al.

Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Brief, targeted self-affirmation writing exercises have recently been offered as a way to reduce racial achievement gaps, but evidence about their effects in educational settings is mixed, leaving ambiguity about the likely benefits of these strategies if implemented broadly. A key limitation in interpreting these mixed results is that they come from studies conducted by different research teams with different procedures in different settings; it is therefore impossible to isolate whether different effects are the result of theorized heterogeneity, unidentified moderators, or idiosyncratic features of the different studies. We addressed this limitation by conducting a well-powered replication of self-affirmation in a setting where a previous large-scale field experiment demonstrated significant positive impacts, using the same procedures. We found no evidence of effects in this replication study and estimates were precise enough to reject benefits larger than an effect size of 0.10. These null effects were significantly different from persistent benefits in the prior study in the same setting, and extensive testing revealed that currently theorized moderators of self-affirmation effects could not explain the difference. These results highlight the potential fragility of self-affirmation in educational settings when implemented widely and the need for new theory, measures, and evidence about the necessary conditions for self-affirmation success.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cleanup

Whose Backyard and What’s at Issue? Spatial and Ideological Dynamics of Local Opposition to Fracking in New York State, 2010 to 2013

Fedor Dokshin

American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
What drives local decisions to prohibit industrial land uses? This study examines the passage of municipal ordinances prohibiting gas development using hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in New York State. I argue that local action against fracking depended on multiple conceptions of the shale gas industry. Matching these alternative conceptions with prevailing spatial models of public response to industrial land uses — “not in my backyard,” “not in anyone’s backyard,” and “please in my backyard” — improves our understanding of where local contention might emerge and how it contributes to policy change. Results from event history and logistic regression analyses show, first, that communities lying above favorable areas of the shale did not pass anti-fracking laws because opposition to fracking was counteracted by significant local support for development. Fracking bans passed primarily in a geographic sweet spot on the periphery of targeted regions, where little or no compelling economic interest in development existed. Second, as fracking became the subject of a highly politicized national debate, local opposition increasingly reflected mobilization by political liberals. This trend is reflected in the increasing rate of ordinance adoption among Democratic-leaning communities outside the geographic sweet spot.

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Can Polluting Firms Favor Regulation?

Félix Muñoz-García & Sherzod Akhundjanov B.E.

Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the production decisions of firms with asymmetric environmental damages, and how their profits are affected by environmental regulation. We demonstrate that emission fees entail a negative effect on firms’ profits, since they increase unit production costs. However, fees can also produce a positive effect for a relatively inefficient firm, given that environmental regulation mitigates its cost disadvantage. If such a disadvantage is sufficiently large, we show that the positive effect dominates, thus leading this firm to actually favor the introduction of environmental policy, while the relatively efficient firm opposes regulation. Furthermore, we show that such support can originate from polluting companies.

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Estimating Indirect Benefits: Fracking, Coal and Air Pollution

Reid Johnsen, Jacob LaRiviere & Hendrik Wolff

University of California Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This paper estimates indirect benefits of improved air quality induced by hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking". The recent increase in natural gas supply led to displacement of coal-fired electricity by cleaner natural gas-fired generation. Using detailed spatial panel data comprising the near universe of US power plants, we find that coal generation decreased by 28%. Further, fracking decreased local air pollution by an average of 4%. We show that benefits vary geographically; air pollution levels decreased by 35% in the most affected region. Back of the envelope calculations imply accumulated health benefits of roughly $17 billion annually.

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The Impact of Removing Tax Preferences for U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Production: Measuring Tax Subsidies by an Equivalent Price Impact Approach

Gilbert Metcalf

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This paper presents a novel methodology for estimating impacts on domestic supply of oil and natural gas arising from changes in the tax treatment of oil and gas production. It corrects a downward bias when the ratio of aggregate tax expenditures to domestic production is used to measure the subsidy value of tax preferences. That latter approach underestimates the value of the tax preferences to firms by ignoring the time value of money. The paper introduces the concept of the equivalent price impact, the change in price that has the same impact on aggregate drilling decisions as a change in the tax provisions for oil and gas drilling and production. Using this approach I find that removing the three largest tax preferences for the oil and gas industry would likely have very modest impacts on global oil production, consumption or prices. Domestic oil and gas production is estimated to decline by 4 to 5 percent over the long run. Global oil prices would rise by less than one percent. Domestic natural gas prices are estimated to rise by 7 to 10 percent. Changes to these tax provisions would have modest to negligible impacts on greenhouse gas emissions or energy security.

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Economic gains stimulate negative evaluations of corporate sustainability initiatives

Tamar Makov & George Newman

Nature Climate Change, September 2016, Pages 844–846

Abstract:
In recent years, many organizations have sought to align their financial goals with environmental ones by identifying strategies that maximize profits while minimizing environmental impacts. Examples of this ‘win–win’ approach can be found across a wide range of industries, from encouraging the reuse of hotel towels, to the construction of energy efficient buildings, to the large-scale initiatives of multi-national corporations. Although win–win strategies are generally thought to reflect positively on the organizations that employ them, here we find that people tend to respond negatively to the notion of profiting from environmental initiatives. In fact, observers may evaluate environmental win–wins less favourably than profit-seeking strategies that have no environmental benefits. The present studies suggest that how those initiatives are communicated to the general public may be of central importance. Therefore, organizations would benefit from carefully crafting the discourse around their win–win initiatives to ensure that they avoid this type of backlash.

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How geographic distance and political ideology interact to influence public perception of unconventional oil/natural gas development

Christopher Clarke et al.

Energy Policy, October 2016, Pages 301–309

Abstract:
A growing area of research has addressed public perception of unconventional oil and natural gas development via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). We extend this research by examining how geographic proximity to such extraction interacts with political ideology to influence issue support. Regression analysis of data from a fall 2013 national telephone survey of United States residents reveals that as respondents’ geographic distance from areas experiencing significant development increases, political ideology becomes more strongly associated with issue support, with the liberal-partisan divide widening. Our findings support construal level theory's central premise: that people use more abstract considerations (like political ideology) the more geographically removed they are from an issue. We discuss implications for studying public opinion of energy development as well as for risk communication.

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The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Survivor Studies: Discrepancies Between Results and General Perception

Bertrand Jordan

Genetics, August 2016, Pages 1505-1512

Abstract:
The explosion of atom bombs over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 resulted in very high casualties, both immediate and delayed but also left a large number of survivors who had been exposed to radiation, at levels that could be fairly precisely ascertained. Extensive follow-up of a large cohort of survivors (120,000) and of their offspring (77,000) was initiated in 1947 and continues to this day. In essence, survivors having received 1 Gy irradiation (∼1000 mSV) have a significantly elevated rate of cancer (42% increase) but a limited decrease of longevity (∼1 year), while their offspring show no increased frequency of abnormalities and, so far, no detectable elevation of the mutation rate. Current acceptable exposure levels for the general population and for workers in the nuclear industry have largely been derived from these studies, which have been reported in more than 100 publications. Yet the general public, and indeed most scientists, are unaware of these data: it is widely believed that irradiated survivors suffered a very high cancer burden and dramatically shortened life span, and that their progeny were affected by elevated mutation rates and frequent abnormalities. In this article, I summarize the results and discuss possible reasons for this very striking discrepancy between the facts and general beliefs about this situation.

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Inequality, democracy, and the environment: A cross-national analysis

Prakash Kashwan

Ecological Economics, January 2017, Pages 139–151

Abstract:
This paper joins the debate on the relationship between inequality and the environment. Departing from the past contributions, which focused either on the theories of environmental behavior or on economic interests, this paper develops arguments about “political choice” mechanisms that help explain the linkages between inequality and national policymaking related to the establishment of protected areas. A cross-national analysis of the interactions between inequality, democracy and the legal designation of protected areas in a global sample of 137 countries shows that, ceteris paribus, the effects of inequality vary depending on the strength of democracy: in relatively democratic countries inequality is associated with less land in protected areas, whereas in relatively undemocratic countries the reverse is true. The highly significant effects of inequality undermine the democratic dividend in the arena of nature conservation.

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Does the Conservation of Land Reduce Development? An Econometric-Based Landscape Simulation with Land Market Feedbacks

Katherine Zipp, David Lewis & Bill Provencher

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use an econometrically-based landscape simulation to investigate the effect of conservation on the net change in local development – the amount of land directly protected from development minus the amount of development that may occur on neighboring unprotected private land in response to conservation. First, we use spatial-panel data from Wisconsin to estimate parcel-level subdivision probabilities and density expectations, controlling for the endogenous location of open space. Second, we use these subdivision probabilities and density expectations in a landscape simulation model. Our simulation results indicate that 57% of conserved open space created between 1978 and 2009 generated close to zero net change in local development. This suggests that conserved open space mostly reallocated development in a small neighborhood (in a half-mile radius) rather than altering the total amount of development. We explore the landscape conditions that may lead to conservation having either a positive or negative effect on local development.

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Do Low Levels of Blood Lead Reduce Children's Future Test Scores?

Anna Aizer et al.

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
We construct a unique individual-level longitudinal dataset linking preschool blood lead levels with third grade test scores for eight birth cohorts of Rhode Island children born between 1997 and 2005. Using these data, we show that reductions of lead from even historically low levels have significant positive effects on children's reading test scores in third grade. Our preferred estimates use the introduction of a lead remediation program as an instrument in order to control for the possibility of confounding and for considerable error in measured lead exposures. The estimates suggest that a one unit decrease in average blood lead levels reduces the probability of being substantially below proficient in reading by 3.1 percentage points (on a baseline of 12 percent). Moreover, as we show, poor and minority children are more likely to be exposed to lead, suggesting that lead poisoning may be one of the causes of continuing gaps in test scores between disadvantaged and other children.

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Economics of Modern Energy Boomtowns: Do Oil and Gas Shocks Differ from Shocks in the Rest of the Economy?

Alexandra Tsvetkova & Mark Partridge

Energy Economics, September 2016, Pages 81–95

Abstract:
The U.S. shale boom has intensified interest in how the expanding oil and gas sector affects local economic performance. Research has produced mixed results and has not compared how energy shocks differ from equal-sized shocks elsewhere in the economy. What emerges is that the estimated impacts of energy development vary by region, empirical methodology, as well as the time horizon that is considered. This paper captures these dimensions to present a more complete picture of energy boomtowns. Utilizing US county data, we estimate the effects of changes in oil and gas extraction employment on total employment growth as well as growth by sector. We compare this to the effects of equal-sized shocks in the rest of the economy to assess whether energy booms are inherently different. The analysis is performed separately for nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties using instrumental variables. We difference over 1-, 3-, 6-, and 10-year time periods to account for county fixed effects and to assess responses across different time horizons. The results show that in nonmetro counties, energy sector multiplier effects on total county employment first increase up to 6-year horizons and then decline for 10-year horizons. We also observe positive spillovers to the nontraded goods sector, while spillovers are small or negative for traded goods. In metro counties, there are no significant effects on total employment although positive spillovers are present in some sectors. Yet, equal-sized shocks in the rest of the economy produce more jobs on average than oil and gas shocks, suggesting that policymakers should seek more diversified development.

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Feathered Detectives: Real-Time GPS Tracking of Scavenging Gulls Pinpoints Illegal Waste Dumping

Joan Navarro et al.

PLoS ONE, July 2016

Abstract:
Urban waste impacts human and environmental health, and waste management has become one of the major challenges of humanity. Concurrently with new directives due to manage this human by-product, illegal dumping has become one of the most lucrative activities of organized crime. Beyond economic fraud, illegal waste disposal strongly enhances uncontrolled dissemination of human pathogens, pollutants and invasive species. Here, we demonstrate the potential of novel real-time GPS tracking of scavenging species to detect environmental crime. Specifically, we were able to detect illegal activities at an officially closed dump, which was visited recurrently by 5 of 19 GPS-tracked yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis). In comparison with conventional land-based surveys, GPS tracking allows a much wider and cost-efficient spatiotemporal coverage, even of the most hazardous sites, while GPS data accessibility through the internet enables rapid intervention. Our results suggest that multi-species guilds of feathered detectives equipped with GPS and cameras could help fight illegal dumping at continental scales. We encourage further experimental studies, to infer waste detection thresholds in gulls and other scavenging species exploiting human waste dumps.

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Point source attribution of ambient contamination events near unconventional oil and gas development

Zacariah Hildenbrand et al.

Science of The Total Environment, 15 December 2016, Pages 382–388

Abstract:
We present an analysis of ambient benzene, toluene, and xylene isomers in the Eagle Ford shale region of southern Texas. In situ air quality measurements using membrane inlet mobile mass spectrometry revealed ambient benzene and toluene concentrations as high as 1000 and 5000 parts-per-billion, respectively, originating from specific sub-processes on unconventional oil and gas well pad sites. The detection of highly variant contamination events attributable to natural gas flaring units, condensate tanks, compressor units, and hydrogen sulfide scavengers indicates that mechanical inefficiencies, and not necessarily the inherent nature of the extraction process as a whole, result in the release of these compounds into the environment. This awareness of ongoing contamination events contributes to an enhanced knowledge of ambient volatile organic compounds on a regional scale. While these reconnaissance measurements on their own do not fully characterize the fluctuations of ambient BTEX concentrations that likely exist in the atmosphere of the Eagle Ford Shale region, they do suggest that contamination events from unconventional oil and gas development can be monitored, controlled, and reduced.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Couples therapy

Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence from Longitudinal Data

Samuel Perry

Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous studies have examined the connection between pornography viewing and marital quality, with findings most often revealing a negative association. Data limitations, however, have precluded establishing directionality with a representative sample. This study is the first to draw on nationally representative, longitudinal data (2006-2012 Portraits of American Life Study) to test whether more frequent pornography use influences marital quality later on and whether this effect is moderated by gender. In general, married persons who more frequently viewed pornography in 2006 reported significantly lower levels of marital quality in 2012, net of controls for earlier marital quality and relevant correlates. Pornography's effect was not simply a proxy for dissatisfaction with sex life or marital decision-making in 2006. In terms of substantive influence, frequency of pornography use in 2006 was the second strongest predictor of marital quality in 2012. Interaction effects revealed, however, that the negative effect of porn use on marital quality applied to husbands, but not wives. In fact, post-estimation predicted values indicated that wives who viewed pornography more frequently reported higher marital quality than those who viewed it less frequently or not at all. The implications and limitations of this study are discussed.

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The Dark Side of Heterosexual Romance: Endorsement of Romantic Beliefs Relates to Intimate Partner Violence

Leanna Papp et al.

Sex Roles, forthcoming

Abstract:
Romance and control are often conflated by the media, and individuals may believe that certain controlling or jealous behaviors by men toward women are romantic and can be a sign of love and commitment in heterosexual relationships. The current study explored three types of romantic beliefs among women: endorsement of the ideology of romanticism, highly valuing romantic relationships, and the belief that jealousy is good. The goal was to determine whether these beliefs would be related to finding controlling behaviors romantic as well as to reported experiences of both physical and psychological intimate partner violence (IPV). We surveyed 275 heterosexual-identified women, aged 18 to 50, and measured their endorsement of romantic beliefs, the extent to which they romanticized controlling behavior, and experiences of physical and psychological abuse within their current or most recent romantic relationship. Romantic beliefs were related to romanticizing controlling behaviors, which, in turn, was related to experiences of IPV. There was also a significant indirect relationship between romantic beliefs and experiences of IPV. The data indicate that seemingly positive romantic ideologies can have insidious negative effects. Findings may be useful for clinicians and those who advocate for prevention of IPV as they illustrate a need to refocus traditional ideas of healthy relationships at the societal level.

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Marital quality, marital dissolution, and mortality risk during the later life course

Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda, Scott Brown & Takashi Yamashita

Social Science & Medicine, September 2016, Pages 119-127

Abstract:
This study examines the relationship between later-life marital quality, marital dissolution, and mortality using discrete-time event history models with data from nine waves (1992-2008) of the Health and Retirement Study (n = 7388). Results show marital status is more important for men's mortality risk than women's, whereas marital quality is more important for women's survival than men's. Being widowed or divorced more than two years raises mortality risk for men, but later-life marital dissolution is not significantly associated with women's mortality risk, regardless of the type of dissolution or length of time since it occurred. Low-quality marital interaction is negatively related to women's odds of death, but none of the marital quality measures are significantly associated with mortality for men. Marital satisfaction moderates the relationship between widowhood and mortality for women, but the relationship between marital dissolution and mortality is similar for men regardless of marital quality prior to divorce/widowhood. Results suggest the importance of accounting for both marital status and marital quality when examining older individuals' mortality risk.

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Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk among Older Men and Women

Hui Liu et al.

Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2016, Pages 276-296

Abstract:
Working from a social relationship and life course perspective, we provide generalizable population-based evidence on partnered sexuality linked to cardiovascular risk in later life using national longitudinal data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP) (N = 2,204). We consider characteristics of partnered sexuality of older men and women, particularly sexual activity and sexual quality, as they affect cardiovascular risk. Cardiovascular risk is defined as hypertension, rapid heart rate, elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), and general cardiovascular events. We find that older men are more likely to report being sexually active, having sex more often, and more enjoyably than are older women. Results from cross-lagged models suggest that high frequency of sex is positively related to later risk of cardiovascular events for men but not women, whereas good sexual quality seems to protect women but not men from cardiovascular risk in later life. We find no evidence that poor cardiovascular health interferes with later sexuality for either gender.

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The Value of Prospective Reasoning for Close Relationships

Alex Huynh, Daniel Yang & Igor Grossmann

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined how adopting a future (vs. present)-oriented perspective when reflecting on a relationship conflict impacts the process of reasoning and relationship well-being. Across two studies, participants instructed to think about how they would feel in the future (vs. present) expressed more adaptive reasoning over a relationship conflict - low partner blame, greater insight, and greater forgiveness, which was then associated with greater relationship well-being - for example, more positive versus negative emotions about the relationship and expectations that the relationship will grow. These findings were driven by a decrease in person-centered language when reflecting on the conflict. Implications for understanding how temporal distance and reasoning impact relationship conflict management are discussed.

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Commitment in the Household: Evidence from the Effect of Inheritances on the Labor Supply of Older Married Couples

David Blau & Ryan Goodstein

University of North Carolina Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
We study the effect of receiving an inheritance on the labor force participation (LFP) of both the recipient and the recipient's spouse in a population of older married couples. An inheritance is not subject to laws governing division of marital property at divorce, because it is not acquired with income earned during marriage. Hence it plays the role of a "distribution factor" in the intrahousehold allocation of resources, increasing bargaining power of the recipient. Controlling for inheritance expectations, we interpret the receipt of an inheritance as a shock to wealth. Our results indicate that receiving an inheritance reduces LFP of the recipient by four percentage points, comparable in magnitude to the effect of a decline in health. However, an inheritance has little or no effect on LFP of the spouse. These estimates are inconsistent with a dynamic, collective model of the household in which spouses have the ability to commit to an ex ante efficient allocation. The results are consistent with a model of limited commitment in which a shock to household resources can alter bargaining power. We discuss the implications for reform of Social Security spouse and survivor benefits.

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Mate value both positively and negatively predicts intentions to commit an infidelity

Valerie Starratt, Viviana Weekes-Shackelford & Todd Shackelford

Personality and Individual Differences, January 2017, Pages 18-22

Abstract:
As a socially monogamous species, humans generally have one committed romantic partner at a time, but sometimes engage in infidelity. Previous research has related infidelity to individual difference traits, including global assessments of "mate value" (relative value as a romantic partner on the "mating market"). We explored the extent to which one's intention to commit an infidelity is uniquely predicted by different components of mate value. The results confirm a negative relationship between one's overall mate value and one's intention to commit an infidelity, and also identify four distinct mate value components (agreeableness/commitment, surgency, emotional stability, and physical attractiveness) that uniquely predict infidelity intention. Two of these factors, surgency (for women) and agreeableness/commitment (for men), positively predict anticipated infidelity. Additionally, the results indicate that men's but not women's infidelity intention is better predicted by the combination of their own and their partner's mate value. Discussion includes interpretations of the results in terms of potential social or personal advancement.

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Mate Value Discrepancy and Mate Retention Behaviors of Self and Partner

Yael Sela et al.

Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Method: In two studies, participants in long-term, exclusive, sexual, heterosexual relationships reported their own, and partner's, mate value and mate retention. Samples included 899 community members (Study 1) and 941 students and community members (Study 2).

Results: In Study 1, we documented that individuals with higher self-perceived short-term mate value, and who perceive their partner to have lower (vs. higher) short-term mate value, perform less frequent Benefit-Provisioning mate retention, controlling for the partner's Benefit-Provisioning mate retention. In Study 2, we documented that individuals who perceive that they could less easily replace their partner, and who perceive their partner could more (vs. less) easily replace them, perform more frequent mate retention (Benefit-Provisioning and Cost-Inflicting), controlling for the partner's mate retention.

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Let's stay home and watch TV: The benefits of shared media use for close relationships

Sarah Gomillion et al.

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sharing a social identity is a key component of interdependence in romantic relationships. In particular, sharing a social network of friends and family members with a romantic partner enhances relationship quality, but maintaining an integrated social network is not always possible. When people lack a shared circle of friends with their partners, sharing media like TV shows, books, and movies with partners may compensate for this deficit and restore closeness. Two studies examined the influence of sharing real and fictional social worlds on relationship outcomes. Our findings showed that when people lack shared friends with their romantic partners, sharing media predicts greater relationship quality and people become motivated to share media with their partners. These studies show that shared media can enhance interdependence and allow people to compensate for lacking a shared social network in the real-world.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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