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Friday, April 18, 2014

Divided governance

Birds of a feather: Value implications of political alignment between top management and directors

Jongsub Lee, Kwang Lee & Nandu Nagarajan
Journal of Financial Economics, May 2014, Pages 232–250

Abstract:
For 2,695 US corporations from 1996 to 2009, we find that alignment in political orientation between the chief executive officer (CEO) and independent directors is associated with lower firm valuations, lower operating profitability, and increased internal agency conflicts such as a reduced likelihood of dismissing poorly performing CEOs, a lower CEO pay-performance sensitivity, and a greater likelihood of accounting fraud. Importantly, we show that our results are driven neither by the effects associated with various measures of similarity and diversity within the board nor the effects of local director labor market and political conditions on board structure. We provide evidence that our measure of individual political orientation reflects the person's political beliefs rather than opportunistic attempts to seek political favor. Overall, our results suggest that diversity in political beliefs among corporate board members is valuable.

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Evasive Shareholder Meetings

Yuanzhi Li & David Yermack
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
We study the location and timing of annual shareholder meetings. When companies move their annual meetings a great distance from headquarters, they tend to announce disappointing earnings results and experience pronounced stock market underperformance in the months after the meeting. Companies appear to schedule meetings in remote locations when the managers have private, adverse information about future performance and wish to discourage scrutiny by shareholders, activists, and the media. However, shareholders do not appear to decode this signal, since the disclosure of meeting locations leads to little immediate stock price reaction. We find that voter participation drops when meetings are held at unusual hours, even though most voting is done electronically during a period of weeks before the meeting convenes.

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Evidence of a transnational capitalist class-for-itself: The determinants of PAC activity among foreign firms in the Global Fortune 500, 2000–2006

Joshua Murray
Global Networks, April 2014, Pages 230–250

Abstract:
Transnational capitalist class (TCC) theory is rooted in the claim that the globalization of the economy has led to a globalization of economic interests and of class formation. However, systematic evidence linking the indicators of transnational class formation with political behaviour is largely missing. In this article, I combine data on board of director interlocks among the 500 largest business firms in the world between 2000 and 2006 with data on the political donations to US elections of foreign corporations via the corporate political action committees (PACs) of their subsidiaries, divisions or affiliates. Controlling for the various interests of individual firms, I find that foreign firms that are highly central in the transnational intercorporate network contribute more money to US elections than do the less central foreign firms. Given prior research on board of director interlocks, this finding suggests that a segment of the transnational business community has emerged as a class-for-itself.

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Political Affiliation and Dividend Tax Avoidance: Evidence from the 2013 Fiscal Cliff

Urs Peyer & Theo Vermaelen
INSEAD Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
This paper uses the 2013 fiscal cliff as a natural experiment to examine how the political affiliation of the CEO affected a firm’s response to an expected increase in personal taxes on dividends. Firms could avoid such additional taxes by paying extra dividends and accelerating dividends in the last two months of 2012. These tax avoiders are compared with a sample that could have easily accelerated dividend payments, but did not. We find that the difference in behaviour between firms that avoid taxes and firms that do not, but could have, is explained by the CEO’s political sympathies: Republican CEOs are more likely to help their investors to save money on income taxes. However, other effects seem to be more significant, such as: the consequences for the CEO’s personal wealth as well as the percentage of insider holdings. Larger firms are also more reluctant to engage in avoiding taxes for “the rich”, possibly indication reputational concerns.

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Peer Effects and Corporate Corruption

Christopher Parsons, Johan Sulaeman & Sheridan Titman
University of California Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
We find evidence that financial misbehavior occurs in regionally concentrated waves: a firm’s tendency to engage in misconduct increases with the misconduct rates of neighboring firms. This effect appears to be the result of peer effects, rather than exogenous shocks like regional variation in enforcement. Further, local waves of financial misconduct are correlated with non-financial misconduct, such as political fraud. Both firm and city performance suffer in the wake of local corruption waves.

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Corporate Socially Responsible Investments: CEO Altruism, Reputation, and Shareholder Interests

Richard Borghesi, Joel Houston & Andy Naranjo
Journal of Corporate Finance, June 2014, Pages 164–181

Abstract:
Corporate managers often invest in activities that are deemed to be socially responsible. In some instances, these investments enhance shareholder value. However, in other cases, altruistic managers or managers who privately benefit from the positive attention arising from these activities may choose to make socially responsible investments even if they are not value enhancing. Given this backdrop, we investigate the various factors that motivate firm managers to make socially responsible investments. We find that larger firms, firms with greater free cash flow, and higher advertising outlays demonstrate higher levels of corporate social responsibility (CSR). We also find that companies with stronger institutional ownership are less likely to invest in CSR – which casts doubt on the argument that these investments are designed to promote shareholder value. Consistent with the literature that explores how CEO personal attributes influence corporate decision making, we find that female CEOs, younger CEOs, and managers who donate to both Republican and Democratic parties are significantly more likely to invest in CSR. This latter result suggests that CSR investments may not be driven solely for altruistic reasons, but instead may be part of a broader strategy to create goodwill and/or help maintain good political relations. Finally, we find a strong positive connection between the level of media scrutiny surrounding the firm and its CEO, and the level of CSR investment. This finding suggests that media attention helps induce firms to make socially responsible investments.

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The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Investment Recommendations: Analysts’ Perceptions and Shifting Institutional Logics

Ioannis Ioannou & George Serafeim
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings on sell-side analysts’ assessments of firms’ future financial performance. We suggest that when analysts perceive CSR as an agency cost they produce pessimistic recommendations for firms with high CSR ratings. Moreover, we theorize that over time, the emergence of a stakeholder focus shifts the analysts’ perceptions of CSR. Using a large sample of publicly traded U.S. firms over 15 years, we confirm that in the early 1990s, analysts issue more pessimistic recommendations for firms with high CSR ratings. However, analysts progressively assess these firms more optimistically over time. Furthermore, we find that analysts of highest status are the first to shift the relation between CSR ratings and investment recommendation optimism.

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Co-opted Boards

Jeffrey Coles, Naveen Daniel & Lalitha Naveen
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We develop two measures of board composition to investigate whether directors appointed by the CEO have allegiance to the CEO and decrease their monitoring. Co-option is the fraction of the board comprised of directors appointed after the CEO assumed office. As Co-option increases, board monitoring decreases: turnover-performance sensitivity diminishes, pay increases (without commensurate increase in pay-performance sensitivity), and investment increases. Non-Co-opted Independence — the fraction of directors who are independent and were appointed before the CEO — has more explanatory power for monitoring effectiveness than the conventional measure of board independence. Our results suggest that not all independent directors are effective monitors.

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Governance in the Executive Suite and Board Independence

Han Kim & Yao Lu
University of Maryland Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
The overall independence of a firm’s governance system depends not only on the independence of its board of directors but also on CEO influence over the other top executives. We find that board independence and independence from CEO influence in the executive suite are inversely related. Difference-in-difference estimates using a regulatory shock reveal that strengthening board independence weakens executive suite independence, which is proxied by (the inverse of) the fraction of top executives appointed by a current CEO. We also find that the greater the increase in the fraction of the current CEO’s appointees in the executive suite, the lesser the improvement in monitoring CEO compensation and the lower the shareholder value enhancement in the aftermath of the regulation. These findings imply that one cannot infer overall independence based on board independence alone and that strengthening a specific governance mechanism by regulation can have undesirable spillover effects to a seemingly unrelated governing body.

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The Idealized Electoral College voting mechanism and shareholder power

Edward Van Wesep
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increasing concern over corporate governance has led to calls for more shareholder influence over corporate decisions, but allowing shareholders to vote on more issues may not affect the quality of governance. We should expect instead that, under current rules, shareholder voting will implement the preferences of the majority of large shareholders and management. This is because majority rule offers little incentive for small shareholders to vote. I offer a potential remedy in the form of a new voting rule, the Idealized Electoral College (IEC), modeled on the American Electoral College, that significantly increases the expected impact that a given shareholder has on election. The benefit of the mechanism is that it induces greater turnout, but the cost is that it sometimes assigns a winner that is not preferred by a majority of voters. Therefore, for issues on which management and small shareholders are likely to disagree, the IEC is superior to majority rule.

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Corporate social responsibility and stock price crash risk

Yongtae Kim, Haidan Li & Siqi Li
Journal of Banking & Finance, June 2014, Pages 1–13

Abstract:
This study investigates whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) mitigates or contributes to stock price crash risk. Crash risk, defined as the conditional skewness of return distribution, captures asymmetry in risk and is important for investment decisions and risk management. If socially responsible firms commit to a high standard of transparency and engage in less bad news hoarding, they would have lower crash risk. However, if managers engage in CSR to cover up bad news and divert shareholder scrutiny, CSR would be associated with higher crash risk. Our findings support the mitigating effect of CSR on crash risk. We find that firms’ CSR performance is negatively associated with future crash risk after controlling for other predictors of crash risk. The result holds after we account for potential endogeneity. Moreover, the mitigating effect of CSR on crash risk is more pronounced when firms have less effective corporate governance or a lower level of institutional ownership. The results are consistent with the notion that firms that actively engage in CSR also refrain from bad news hoarding behavior and thus reducing crash risk. This role of CSR is particularly important when governance mechanisms, such as monitoring by boards or institutional investors, are weak.

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Takeover defenses, innovation, and value creation: Evidence from acquisition decisions

Mark Humphery-Jenner
Strategic Management Journal, May 2014, Pages 668–690

Abstract:
The desirability of antitakeover provisions (ATPs) is a contentious issue. ATPs might enable managerial empire building by insulating managers from disciplinary takeovers. However, some companies, such as “hard-to-value” (HTV) companies, might trade at a discount due to valuation difficulties, thereby exposing HTV companies to opportunistic takeovers and creating agency conflicts of managerial risk aversion. ATPs might ameliorate such managerial risk aversion by inhibiting opportunistic takeovers. This paper analyzes acquisitions made by HTV firms, focusing on whether the acquirer (not the target) is entrenched in order to examine the impact of entrenchment managerial decision making. The results show that HTV firms that are entrenched make acquisitions that generate more shareholder wealth and are more likely to increase corporate innovation, suggesting that ATPs can be beneficial in some firms.

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Commitment to Social Good and Insider Trading

Feng Gao, Ling Lei Lisic & Ivy Xiying Zhang
Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A firm's investment in corporate social responsibility (CSR) builds a positive image of caring for social good and imposes additional costs on executives' informed trading, which is widely perceived self-serving. We thus expect executives of CSR-conscious firms to be more likely to refrain from informed trading. We find that executives of CSR-conscious firms profit significantly less from insider trades and are less likely to trade prior to future news than executives of non-CSR-conscious firms. The negative association between CSR and insider trading profits is more pronounced when executives' personal interests are more aligned with the interests of the firm.

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CEO Inside Debt Incentives and Corporate Tax Policy

Sabrina Chi, Shawn Huang & Juan Manuel Sanchez
Arizona State University Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines the relation between CEO inside debt holdings (pension benefits and deferred compensation) and corporate tax avoidance. Because inside debt holdings are generally unsecured and unfunded liabilities of the firm, CEOs are exposed to risk similar to that faced by outside creditors. As such, theory suggests that inside debt holdings negatively impact CEO risk-appetite. To the extent that aggressive tax policies involve significant cash flow shortfalls, high cash flow volatility, and losses in firm and CEO reputation in the future, we expect that inside debt holdings will curb CEOs from engaging in risky tax strategies. Consistent with the prediction, we document a negative association between CEO inside debt holdings and tax avoidance. Overall, our results highlight the importance of investigating the implication of CEO debt-like compensation for firm tax policies.

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Knowledge, Compensation, and Firm Value: An Empirical Analysis of Firm Communication

Feng Li et al.
Stanford Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Knowledge is central to managing an organization, but its presence in employees is difficult to measure directly. We hypothesize that external communication patterns reveal the location of knowledge within the management team. Using a large database of firm conference call transcripts, we find that CEOs speak less in settings where they are likely to be relatively less knowledgeable. CEOs who speak more are also paid more, and firms whose CEO pay is not commensurate with CEO speaking have a lower industry-adjusted Tobin’s Q. Communication thus appears to reveal knowledge.

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Market Efficiency, Managerial Compensation, and Real Efficiency

Rajdeep Singh & Vijay Yerramilli
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how an exogenous improvement in market efficiency, which allows the stock market to obtain more precise information about the firm’s intrinsic value, affects the shareholder-manager contracting problem, managerial incentives, and shareholder value. A key assumption in the model is that stock market investors do not observe the manager’s pay-performance sensitivity ex ante. We show that an increase in market efficiency weakens managerial incentives by making the firm’s stock price less sensitive to the firm’s current performance. The impact on real efficiency and shareholder value varies depending on the composition of the firm’s intrinsic value.

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Insider Purchases Amid Short Interest Spikes: A Semi-Pooling Equilibrium

Chattrin Laksanabunsong & Wei Wu
University of Chicago Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We study corporate insiders’ purchase behavior amid short interest spikes. The cumulative abnormal returns associated with insider purchases amid short interest spikes increase in the short run but decrease significantly in the long run, which is in sharp contrast to those associated with typical insider purchases. Moreover, insider purchases amid short interest spikes are on average followed by negative rather than positive earnings surprises. Our results suggest corporate insiders, provided with the right incentive, can strategically use purchases to shape firm information environments, steer stock prices, and thus disrupt market efficiency.

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Looking in the Rear View Mirror: The Effect of Managers’ Professional Experience on Corporate Financial Policy

Amy Dittmar & Ran Duchin
University of Maryland Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We track the employment history of over 9,000 managers to study the effects of professional experiences on corporate policies. Our identification strategy exploits exogenous CEO turnovers and employment in other firms, in non-CEO roles and early in their career. Firms run by CEOs who experienced distress issue less debt, save more cash, and invest less than other firms. Past experience affects both managerial appointments and corporate policies, with stronger effects in poorly governed firms. We find similar effects on debt and cash, but not investment, for CFOs. The results suggest that policies vary with managers’ experiences and throughout their careers.

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Service on a Stigmatized Board, Social Capital, and Change in Number of Directorships

Kurt Wurthmann
Journal of Management Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article seeks to develop a nuanced understanding about the relationship between service on a stigmatized board and reduced opportunities for future directorships on other boards by examining the moderating effects of different dimensions of director social capital on this relationship. Evidence based on a unique sample of firms with boards that were viewed as being stigmatized by a group of corporate governance experts suggests that while serving on a stigmatized board is related to a reduction in future number of directorships held, this relationship is significantly mitigated for directors of upper-class origins. However, social capital related to affiliations with other elite institutions does not appear to mitigate reduction in future number of directorships held by outside directors who serve on a stigmatized board. Implications and future directions in research on class-based influence in the corporate community and stigmatization and devaluation of elites associated with corporate failures are discussed.

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Reputation Effects in the Market of Certifiers: Evidence from the Audit Industry

Áron Tóth
Economic Inquiry, April 2014, Pages 505–517

Abstract:
Certifiers verify unobserved product characteristics for buyers and thereby alleviate informational asymmetries and facilitate trade. When sellers pay for the certification, however, certifiers can be tempted to bias their opinion to favor sellers. Indeed, accounting scandals and inflated credit ratings suggest sellers may prefer to select dishonest certifiers. I test this proposition by estimating the effect of adverse quality signals on audit demand. Exploiting the natural experiment of Arthur Andersen's demise, I find that auditors with worse quality signals experience a fall in demand. This suggests that reputation effects are at work even in the presence of conflicts of interest.

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The Executive Turnover Risk Premium

Florian Peters & Alexander Wagner
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We establish that CEOs of companies experiencing volatile industry conditions are more likely to be dismissed. At the same time, accounting for various other factors, industry risk is unlikely to be associated with CEO compensation other than through dismissal risk. Using this identification strategy, we document that CEO turnover risk is significantly positively associated with compensation. This finding is important because job-risk-compensating wage differentials arise naturally in competitive labor markets. By contrast, the evidence rejects an entrenchment model according to which powerful CEOs have lower job risk and at the same time secure higher compensation.

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Acquirer-target social ties and merger outcomes

Joy Ishii & Yuhai Xuan
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates the effect of social ties between acquirers and targets on merger performance. We find that the extent of cross-firm social connection between directors and senior executives at the acquiring and the target firms has a significantly negative effect on the abnormal returns to the acquirer and to the combined entity upon merger announcement. Moreover, acquirer-target social ties significantly increase the likelihood that the target firm's chief executive officer (CEO) and a larger fraction of the target firm's pre-acquisition board of directors remain on the board of the combined firm after the merger. In addition, we find that acquirer CEOs are more likely to receive bonuses and are more richly compensated for completing mergers with targets that are highly connected to the acquiring firms, that acquisitions are more likely to take place between two firms that are well connected to each other through social ties, and that such acquisitions are more likely to subsequently be divested for performance-related reasons. Taken together, our results suggest that social ties between the acquirer and the target lead to poorer decision making and lower value creation for shareholders overall.

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When is Human Capital a Valuable Resource? The Performance Effects of Ivy League Selection among Celebrated CEOs

Danny Miller, Xiaowei Xu & Vikas Mehrotra
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate whether and when highly trained human capital constitutes a rent-sustaining resource. Our study of 444 CEOs celebrated on the covers of major US business magazines found an advantage accruing to graduates of selective universities. Such CEOs led firms with higher and more sustained market valuations. The advantage was strongest for undergraduate programs as these related to the kinds of talent demanded of a CEO. The advantage also was greatest in smaller firms where CEO discretion might be highest and for younger CEOs who may benefit most from college and are less able to appropriate rents. Finally, the advantage accrued to graduates of more recent years, when selective schools had become less socially elitist and increasingly meritocratic, thus favoring human versus social capital.

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Management earnings forecasts, insider trading, and information asymmetry

Anastasia Kraft, Bong Soo Lee & Kerstin Lopatta
Journal of Corporate Finance, June 2014, Pages 96–123

Abstract:
We investigate whether senior officers use accrual-based earnings management to meet voluntary earnings disclosure (i.e., management earnings forecasts) before selling or buying their own shares when they have private information. This study is the first to use the differences in timing of trades by senior officers and other insiders (e.g., directors or large shareholders) to infer information asymmetry. We hypothesize that the timing of senior officers’ trades with no other insiders’ trades at the same time indicates opportunistic trades and asymmetric information between senior officers and other insiders. Our results show that senior officers’ exclusive sales are negatively associated with future returns, indicating that they tend to use insider information. Moreover, senior officers are more likely to meet their earnings forecasts when they plan to sell stocks.

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Advantageous Comparison and Rationalization of Earnings Management

Timothy Brown
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper proposes that psychological factors can change a manager's beliefs about earnings management when they choose to engage in it. I show that, under certain circumstances, engaging in a small amount of earnings management alters a manager's beliefs about the appropriateness of the act, which may increase the likelihood of further earnings management. Specifically, I predict and find in two experiments that participants who initially choose to manage earnings are motivated to rationalize their behavior. Participants who are exposed to an egregious example of earnings management (which are commonly the focus of enforcement actions and press reports) have the opportunity to rationalize their behavior through a mechanism called “advantageous comparison”, where participants compare their behavior against the egregious example and conclude that what they did was relatively innocuous and appropriate. My analysis also indicates that presenting participants with an example of earnings management which is similar to the initial decision they made mitigates advantageous comparison. These results have implications for academics interested in how earnings management, and perhaps fraud, can accrete over time and for regulators and practitioners who are interested in preventing it.

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Upper-Echelon Executive Human Capital And Compensation: Generalist Vs Specialist Skills

Sudip Datta & Mai Iskandar-Datta
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study extends current knowledge of upper echelon executive compensation beyond the CEO, specifically CFO compensation, based on whether they possess generalist or specialist skills. We find that ‘strategic’ CFOs with an elite MBA (generalist) consistently command a compensation premium, while ‘accounting’ CFOs (specialist) and CFOs with a non-MBA master's degree, even from an elite institution, do not. Further, scarce ‘strategic’ CFOs are awarded both higher salaries and higher equity-based compensation. Our findings support the view that unique complementarities between scarce CFOs and firms increase these executives’ bargaining power leading to pay premium. Our results are robust to post-hiring years, firm sizes, board characteristics, and CFO’s insider/outsider status. We contribute at the confluence of upper-echelon compensation, executive human capital, resource-based view, and assortative matching literatures.

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Substitutes or Complements? A Configurational Examination of Corporate Governance Mechanisms

Vilmos Misangyi & Abhijith Acharya
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the nature of the relationships among the bundle of governance mechanisms that have been theorized to effectively control the agency problem. To do so, we performed a qualitative comparative analysis using the fuzzy-set approach to study the combinations of governance mechanisms that yield high firm performance among the S&P 1500 firms. Our configurational approach allowed us to explore the complex interrelationships among the many different governance mechanisms and to elaborate theory on the many ways in which they combine. Our study shows that some type of CEO incentive mechanism and some type of monitoring mechanism are always present among firms that achieve high profitability, thereby suggesting that such mechanisms are complements. Our findings also highlight the simultaneity of substitution and complementarity among and across the various monitoring mechanisms. Finally, our findings suggest that the effectiveness of board independence and CEO non-duality, mechanisms widely held to resolve the agency problem, are a function of how they combine with the other mechanisms in the governance bundle.

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Outside Options and CEO Turnover: The Network Effect

Yun Liu
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most studies consider chief executive officer (CEO) turnover from the firm’s perspective. In this paper, I suggest that the labor market conditions for CEOs affect turnover outcomes. I use CEOs’ positions on corporate executive and director networks to assess their employment options. Controlling for performance, firm characteristics, and personal traits, I find that CEO connectedness significantly increases turnover probability, especially for poor performers. I also show that connectedness increases the likelihood of CEOs leaving for other full-time positions, or their retiring and taking part-time positions elsewhere, but does not have a significant effect on the likelihood that they will step down and remain with the firm in other capacities. The evidence supports the idea that a CEO’s connectedness expands outside options and thus increases turnover probability.

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The role of investment banker directors in M&A

Qianqian Huang et al.
Journal of Financial Economics, May 2014, Pages 269–286

Abstract:
We examine how directors with investment banking experience affect firms’ acquisition behavior. We find that firms with investment bankers on the board have a higher probability of making acquisitions. Furthermore, acquirers with investment banker directors experience higher announcement returns, pay lower takeover premiums and advisory fees, and exhibit superior long-run performance. Overall, our results suggest that directors with investment banking experience help firms make better acquisitions, both by identifying suitable targets and by reducing the cost of the deals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In living color

Black Mexicans, Conjunctural Ethnicity, and Operating Identities: Long-Term Ethnographic Analysis

Robert Courtney Smith
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article draws on more than 15 years of research to analyze “Black Mexicans,” phenotypically “Mexican-looking” youth who identified as Black during adolescence, used this identity to become upwardly mobile, and then abandoned it in early adulthood. Black Mexicans are potentially iconic cases among emerging varieties of U.S. ethnic and racial life, given Mexicans’ status as a key, usually negative, case in assimilation theory. Most such theory posits that assimilation into Black, inner-city culture leads to downward mobility. To explain how and why this did not happen for Black Mexicans, I propose a sensitizing framework using the concepts of conjunctural ethnicity, emphasizing analysis of racial and ethnic identity in local, historical, and life course contexts; and operating identity, which analyzes identities in interactions and can accommodate slippage in informants’ understanding or use of ethnic and racial categories. Some Mexicans used a Black culture of mobility to become upwardly mobile in the late-1990s and early-2000s in New York, adopting a socially advantaged operating identity that helped them in ways they felt Mexicanness could not in that historical conjuncture, especially given intra-ethnic competition between teen migrants and second-generation youth. This article uses case-based ethnographic analysis and net-effects analysis to explain why and how Blackness aided upward mobility among Black and non-Black Mexicans, but was left behind in early adulthood.

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Skin Tone Stratification among Black Americans, 2001–2003

Ellis Monk
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the past few decades, a dedicated collection of scholars have examined the matter of skin tone stratification within the black American population and found that complexion has significant net effects on a variety of stratification outcomes. These analyses relied heavily on data collected between 1950 and 1980. In particular, many scholars have utilized the National Survey of Black Americans (1979–1980). This leaves the question of whether or not the effect of skin tone on stratification outcomes remains decades later. Newly available data from the National Survey of American Life (2001–2003) are used to examine this question. I find that skin tone is significantly associated with Black Americans' educational attainment, household income, occupational status, and even the skin tone and educational attainment of their spouses. Consequently, this study demonstrates that skin tone stratification among Black Americans persists into the 21st century. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the study of ethnoracial inequality in the United States and beyond.

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Partisanship, Structure, and Representation: The Puzzle of African American Education Politics

Kenneth Meier & Amanda Rutherford
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act targeted electoral structures as significant determinants of minority representation. The research regarding electoral structures and representation of constituents, however, has produced conflicting results, and the continued application of some of the provisions set forth in the Voting Rights Act is in doubt. This article addresses the impact of at-large elections on African American representation and reveals a striking and unanticipated finding: African Americans are now overrepresented on school boards that have at-large elections when African Americans are a minority of the population. Using the 1,800 largest school districts in the United States (based on original surveys conducted in 2001, 2004, and 2008), we find that partisanship changes the relationship between electoral structures and race to benefit African American representation.

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Does Race Matter in Government Funding of Nonprofit Human Service Organizations? The Interaction of Neighborhood Poverty and Race

Eve Garrow
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, April 2014, Pages 381-405

Abstract:
Salamon (Salamon, Lester. M. 1995. Partners in public service. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins Univ. Press) and others have argued that government and nonprofit human service organizations work in partnership to address poverty, with government funding the efforts of nonprofits that provide services to the poor. However, this approach does not consider how the racial composition of high-poverty neighborhoods might influence government’s willingness to support the nonprofit human service organizations that locate in them. Using data from a probability sample of nonprofit human service organizations in Los Angeles County that were surveyed in 2002, I estimate logit models predicting receipt of government funding. In neighborhoods with a low percentage of African Americans, I find that greater poverty increases the likelihood that the organization will receive government funding. As the percentage of African Americans increases, however, the relationship between government funding and poverty is reversed. Findings suggest that the influence of race on the government–nonprofit partnership in serving poor neighborhoods is an important, if overlooked, issue that should take its place in scholarship on government–nonprofit relations and policy analysis.

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Subprime lending over time: The role of race

Marvin Smith & Christy Chung Hevener
Journal of Economics and Finance, April 2014, Pages 321-344

Abstract:
In light of the increased scrutiny of the subprime market nationally and the concerns raised that low- and moderate-income and minority homeowners are targeted for high-cost loans, this paper examines the extent to which subprime lending occurs in selected states and the role that race plays in obtaining prime versus subprime loans. It focuses on explaining the gap in subprime rates between African–Americans and whites and estimating its change over time (1999 to 2006) for the study states. We use a unique data set comprised of data from several data sources, including loan-level information, which allows for better controls over factors correlated with race so that better inferences can be drawn. Also, an estimating procedure is employed that fine-tunes the influence of race in the allocation of mortgage capital between the prime and subprime markets. After taking into accounts various controls, the results suggest the possibility of bias in mortgage lending for the period studied.

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Direct evidence for positive selection of skin, hair, and eye pigmentation in Europeans during the last 5,000 y

Sandra Wilde et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 April 2014, Pages 4832–4837

Abstract:
Pigmentation is a polygenic trait encompassing some of the most visible phenotypic variation observed in humans. Here we present direct estimates of selection acting on functional alleles in three key genes known to be involved in human pigmentation pathways — HERC2, SLC45A2, and TYR — using allele frequency estimates from Eneolithic, Bronze Age, and modern Eastern European samples and forward simulations. Neutrality was overwhelmingly rejected for all alleles studied, with point estimates of selection ranging from around 2–10% per generation. Our results provide direct evidence that strong selection favoring lighter skin, hair, and eye pigmentation has been operating in European populations over the last 5,000 y.

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Did southerners favor slavery? Inferences from an analysis of prices in New Orleans, 1805–1860

Jeffrey Grynaviski & Michael Munger
Public Choice, June 2014, Pages 341-361

Abstract:
During the years immediately following the American Revolution, it was common for Southern elites to express concerns about the morality or long-term viability of slavery. It is unclear, however, whether such expressions of anti-slavery sentiment were genuine, especially given the failure of so many slave owners to emancipate their slaves. In this paper, we show that there was a change in elite rhetoric about slavery, initiated by Whig politicians in the mid-1830s seeking a campaign issue in the South, in which anti-slavery rhetoric became linked to attempts by abolitionists to foment slave unrest, making anti-slavery an unsustainable position for the region’s politicians. Before that development, we contend that some planters believed that slavery might some day be abolished. After it, those concerns largely went away. We argue that the change in slave owners’ beliefs about the probability of abolition in the mid-1830s should have been reflected in slave prices at auction and test that claim using evidence from the New Orleans auction market.

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Declining Segregation through the Lens of Neighborhood Quality: Does Middle-Class and Affluent Status Bring Equality?

Samantha Friedman, Joseph Gibbons & Chris Galvan
Social Science Research, July 2014, Pages 155–168

Abstract:
Middle- and upper-class status along with suburban residence are together considered symbolic of the American dream. However, the question of whether they mean access to better quality residential environments has gone largely unexplored. This study relies on data from the 2009 panel of the American Housing Survey and focuses on a range of neighborhood conditions, including indicators of physical and social disorder as well as housing value and a neighborhood rating. Contrary to the tenets of the spatial assimilation model, we find that middle-class and affluent status do not consistently lead to superior conditions for all households. Neighborhood circumstances vary considerably based on householder race and ethnicity, with blacks and Hispanics experiencing the greatest disparities from whites. In addition, suburban residence does not attenuate such differences, and in some cases, well-to-do minorities do even worse than whites in neighborhood quality in suburbs.

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“Savages of Southern Sunshine”: Racial Realignment of the Seminoles in the Selling of Jim Crow Florida

Henry Knight
Journal of American Studies, February 2014, Pages 251-273

Abstract:
In the late nineteenth century, white land and tourism promoters invested in the selling of Florida to American migrants and winter visitors began to recast the Seminoles. From being feared and denigrated as mixed-race killers, associated with runaway slaves, who had defied earlier US attempts to remove them to the West, the Seminoles were “realigned” by boosters into praiseworthy specimens of moral and racial purity. According to promoters, the Seminoles were now human emblems of the Florida wilderness, but also pure-blood primitives. As such, they fitted much better with the Jim Crow ideals of benign racial separation. Although neither smooth nor complete, this process of racial realignment transformed the Seminoles from terrifying threat to marketable curiosity, easing the incorporation of the Seminoles into the selling of south Florida.

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Multiple Disadvantaged Statuses and Health: The Role of Multiple Forms of Discrimination

Eric Anthony Grollman
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, March 2014, Pages 3-19

Abstract:
The double disadvantage hypothesis predicts that adults who hold more than one disadvantaged status may experience worse health than their singly disadvantaged and privileged counterparts. Research that has tested this thesis has yielded mixed findings due partly to a failure to examine the role of discrimination. This article uses data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (N = 2,647) to investigate the relationship between multiple disadvantaged statuses and health, and whether multiple forms of interpersonal discrimination contribute to this association. The results suggest that multiply disadvantaged adults are more likely to experience major depression, poor physical health, and functional limitations than their singly disadvantaged and privileged counterparts. Further, multiple forms of discrimination partially mediate the relationship between multiple stigmatized statuses and health. Taken together, these findings suggest that multiply disadvantaged adults do face a “double disadvantage” in health, in part, because of their disproportionate exposure to discrimination.

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Neuroimaging Evidence for a Role of Neural Social Stress Processing in Ethnic Minority–Associated Environmental Risk

Ceren Akdeniz et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Importance: Relative risk for the brain disorder schizophrenia is more than doubled in ethnic minorities, an effect that is evident across countries and linked to socially relevant cues such as skin color, making ethnic minority status a well-established social environmental risk factor. Pathoepidemiological models propose a role for chronic social stress and perceived discrimination for mental health risk in ethnic minorities, but the neurobiology is unexplored.

Objective: To study neural social stress processing, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, and associations with perceived discrimination in ethnic minority individuals.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional design in a university setting using 3 validated paradigms to challenge neural social stress processing and, to probe for specificity, emotional and cognitive brain functions. Healthy participants included those with German lineage (n = 40) and those of ethnic minority (n = 40) from different ethnic backgrounds matched for sociodemographic, psychological, and task performance characteristics. Control comparisons examined stress processing with matched ethnic background of investigators (23 Turkish vs 23 German participants) and basic emotional and cognitive tasks (24 Turkish vs 24 German participants).

Results: There were significant increases in heart rate (P < .001), subjective emotional response (self-related emotions, P < .001; subjective anxiety, P = .006), and salivary cortisol level (P = .004) during functional magnetic resonance imaging stress induction. Ethnic minority individuals had significantly higher perceived chronic stress levels (P = .02) as well as increased activation (family-wise error–corrected [FWE] P = .005, region of interest corrected) and increased functional connectivity (PFWE = .01, region of interest corrected) of perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The effects were specific to stress and not explained by a social distance effect. Ethnic minority individuals had significant correlations between perceived group discrimination and activation in perigenual ACC (PFWE = .001, region of interest corrected) and ventral striatum (PFWE = .02, whole brain corrected) and mediation of the relationship between perceived discrimination and perigenual ACC–dorsal ACC connectivity by chronic stress (P < .05).

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Asian American cancer disparities: The potential effects of model minority health stereotypes

Alicia Yee Ibaraki, Gordon Nagayama Hall & Janice Sabin
Asian American Journal of Psychology, March 2014, Pages 75-81

Abstract:
Racial/ethnic disparities exist in health care that are not fully explained by differences in access to care, clinical appropriateness, or patient preferences (Smedley, Stith, & Nelson, 2002). An important health disparity that exists within the Asian American population is in preventive cancer screenings. The rates of physicians recommending cancer screening among Asian Americans are disproportionately lower than justified by the relatively small ethnic group differences in cancer and mortality rates (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2012). Despite cancer being the leading cause of death for Asian Americans, (National Center for Health Statistics, 2011) screening rates for cervical and breast cancer in Asian American women, and colorectal cancer in Asian American women and men are well below those of any other ethnic group (King, 2012; U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2012). In this article, we present a conceptual model that seeks to explain a factor in these lower screening rates. We review and incorporate in our model established mechanisms in the literature including physician-patient communication, patient variables, and physician variables. We also propose a new mechanism that may be specific to the Asian American population — the impact of the model minority myth and how that may translate into positive health stereotypes. These positive implicit or explicit health stereotypes can interact with time pressure and limited information to influence physician decision making and cancer screening recommendations. Suggestions are offered for testing this model including using the Implicit Association Test and the Error Choice technique.

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Does perceived racial discrimination predict changes in psychological distress and substance use over time? An examination among black emerging adults

Noelle Hurd et al.
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We assessed whether perceived discrimination predicted changes in psychological distress and substance use over time and whether psychological distress and substance use predicted change in perceived discrimination over time. We also assessed whether associations between these constructs varied by gender. Our sample included 607 Black emerging adults (53% female) followed for 4 years. Participants reported the frequency with which they had experienced racial hassles during the past year, symptoms of anxiety and depression during the past week, and cigarette and alcohol use during the past 30 days. We estimated a series of latent growth models to test our study hypotheses. We found that the intercept of perceived discrimination predicted the linear slopes of anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and alcohol use. We did not find any associations between the intercept factors of our mental health or substance use variables and the perceived discrimination linear slope factor. We found limited differences across paths by gender. Our findings suggest a temporal ordering in the associations among perceived racial discrimination, psychological distress, and alcohol use over time among emerging adults. Further, our findings suggest that perceived racial discrimination may be similarly harmful among men and women.

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Racial Prejudice, Partisanship, and White Turnout in Elections with Black Candidates

Yanna Krupnikov & Spencer Piston
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does racial prejudice affect White turnout in elections with Black candidates? Previous research, which largely focuses on the relationship between prejudice and vote choice, rarely examines the relationship between prejudice and turnout, leading to an incomplete picture of the impact of prejudice on the fate of Black candidates. In this project, we examine a key condition under which partisanship and partisan strength moderate the effect of prejudice on electoral behavior. Specifically, we argue that when a prejudiced strong partisan shares the partisanship of a Black candidate, she is likely to experience a decision conflict — prejudice and partisanship point in opposing directions — increasing the likelihood that she stays home on Election Day. We test this argument through observational analyses of the 2008 presidential election. Our findings illuminate an additional barrier to Black electoral representation: racial prejudice undermines Black candidates’ efforts to mobilize strong partisans.

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Finding Common Ground? Indian Immigrants and Asian American Panethnicity

Ariela Schachter
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
The common political usage of the term Asian American includes Indians, but historical, religious, and phenotypic differences among Indians and East and Southeast Asians raise the question of how far the boundaries of Asian American identity extend. Using the National Asian American Survey, I examine whether the forces that propel Indian immigrants toward selecting a panethnic identification are similar to those of other Asian subgroups. I find that for Indian immigrants who live among large non-Indian Asian populations — the setting most likely to encourage panethnicity for other Asians — both immigrant integration and discrimination serve to discourage a panethnic Asian identification. My findings suggest that the boundaries of Asian American identity are not open for many Indian immigrants, and highlight the importance of group relations for understanding panethnic identification.

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Identity Isomorphism: Role Schemas and White Masculinity Formation

Matthew Hughey
Sociological Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores a counterintuitive intersection of class, gender, and race within two politically antagonistic white movements — white nationalists and white antiracists. Ethnographic field-notes, in-depth interviews, and content analysis provide comprehensive data and triangulation for how implicit perceptions of class and gender are intertwined with the social construction of an ideal white, male, middle-class identity. While both organizations express antithetical political goals, they together reinforce broader discourses about whiteness and white supremacy. In so doing, these two organizations present an empirical and theoretical puzzle: How and why do two supposedly antithetical and divergent white male organizations simultaneously rationalize the inclusion and exclusion of women and the lower class from their ranks? Findings gesture toward tempering conceptual models of white male identity formation to further explore how cultural schemas are utilized toward the construction of both identity formation and interest protection.

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Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Chinyere Osuji
Qualitative Sociology, March 2014, Pages 93-115

Abstract:
Different approaches to race mixture in the U.S. and Brazil have led to the notion that they are polar opposites in terms of race relations. However, the end of de jure segregation in the U.S., the acknowledgement of racial inequality, and subsequent implementation of affirmative action in Brazil have called into question the extent to which these societies are vastly different. By examining race mixture as a lived reality, this study offers a novel approach to understanding racial boundaries in these two contexts. I analyze 87 interviews with individuals in black-white couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to examine the cultural repertoires and discursive traditions they draw on to understand white families’ reactions to black spouses. I find that U.S. couples employ “color-blindness” to understand opposition to Blacks marrying into the family. Brazilian couples perceive overt racism and the use of humor from white family members. Nevertheless, couples with black males experienced more hostility in both sites. In addition, white male autonomy was related to the lower hostility that black female-white male couples experienced in both societies. By examining contemporary race mixture as a lived reality, this study complicates simplistic understandings of race relations as similar or different in these two societies. Furthermore, with the increase of multiracial families in both societies, it reveals the family as an important site for redrawing and policing racial boundaries.

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“Fix My Life”: Oprah, post-racial economic dispossession, and the Precious transfiguration of PUSH

Kim Hester Williams
Cultural Dynamics, March 2014, Pages 53-71

Abstract:
This article examines the critical interventions of Black feminist discourses that advocate for oppositional knowledges and a womanist ethics of care and communalism versus the media-driven hypervisible representation of Black racial subjects that promote neoliberal individualism. The article devotes particular attention to how the 1996 novel, PUSH, by Sapphire, foregrounds the racially oppressive neoliberal welfare reform policies of the 1980s and 1990s while Oprah Winfrey’s coproduction of the 2009 film adaptation of the novel, retitled Precious, functions in opposition to Sapphire’s feminist narrative. The article highlights the Oprah brand’s emphasis on neoliberal self-sufficiency and personal responsibility despite ongoing racial and economic dispossession and discusses, in relation, the promotion of Iyanla Vanzant’s Oprah Winfrey Network television program, Fix My Life, as further reinforcing the post-racial, neoliberal antiwelfare state.

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The Orientalized “Other” and Corrosive Femininity: Threats to White Masculinity in 300

David Oh & Doreen Kutufam
Journal of Communication Inquiry, April 2014, Pages 149-165

Abstract:
The film 300 tells a fictionalized account of 300 Spartans’ courageous stand against Xerxes’s Persian army that provided Greece a beacon of masculine strength, independence, and freedom. This study seeks to understand the racist and sexist ideologies represented in the film’s characterization of the Spartan and the Persian armies. To uncover ideologies in the film, we conducted a textual analysis focusing on the intersecting constructions of nation, race, and gender. Our findings suggest that the film advances ideological support for the duty of Whiteness and masculinity in the United States, specifically, and the West, generally, to protect itself from the external, invading forces of the Orientalized racial “other” and against the internal, corrosive forces of femininity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Burned out

Kyoto and Carbon Leakage: An Empirical Analysis of the Carbon Content of Bilateral Trade

Rahel Aichele & Gabriel Felbermayr
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Has the Kyoto Protocol induced carbon leakage? We conduct the first empirical ex-post evaluation of the Protocol. We derive a theoretical gravity equation for the CO2 content of trade, which accounts for intermediate inputs, both domestic and imported. The structure of our new panel database of the carbon content of sectoral bilateral trade flows allows controlling for the endogenous selection of countries into the Kyoto Protocol. Binding commitments under Kyoto have increased committed countries' embodied carbon imports from non-committed countries by around 8% and the emission intensity of their imports by about 3%. Hence, Kyoto has indeed led to leakage.

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Carbon Emissions from the Commercial Building Sector: The Role of Climate, Quality, and Incentives

Matthew Kahn, Nils Kok & John Quigley
Journal of Public Economics, May 2014, Pages 1–12

Abstract:
Commercial buildings play a major role in determining U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, yet surprisingly little is known about the environmental performance of different buildings at a point in time or how the same buildings perform over time. By exploiting a unique panel of commercial buildings from a major electric utility, we study the association between a building’s electricity consumption and the physical attributes of buildings, lease incentive terms, indicators of human capital, and climatic conditions. We find that buildings that are newer and of higher quality consume more electricity, contrasting evidence for the residential sector. However, using our panel data set, we document that newer buildings are most resilient when exposed to hotter weather. Those buildings that have a building manager on site and whose tenants face a positive marginal cost for electricity also demonstrate a better environmental performance.

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Are younger generations higher carbon emitters than their elders?: Inequalities, generations and CO2 emissions in France and in the USA

Lucas Chancel
Ecological Economics, April 2014, Pages 195–207

Abstract:
Proper understanding of the determinants of household CO2 emissions is essential for a shift to sustainable lifestyles. This paper explores the impacts of date of birth and income on household CO2 emissions in France and in the USA. Direct CO2 emissions of French and American households are computed from consumer budget surveys, over the 1980–2000 time period. Age Period Cohort estimators are used to isolate the generational effect on CO2 emissions — i.e. the specific effect of date of birth, independent of the age, the year and other control variables. The paper shows that French 1935–55 cohorts have a stronger tendency to emit CO2 than their predecessors and followers. The generational effect is explained by the fact that over their lifespan, French baby boomers are better off than other generations and live in energy and carbon inefficient dwellings. In the USA, the absence of a generational effect on CO2 emissions can be explained by the fact that intergenerational income inequalities are weaker than in France. Persistence of the generational effect once income and housing type is controlled for in France can be explained by the difficulty for French 1935–55 cohorts to adapt to sober energy consumption patterns.

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Extreme Weather and Civil War: Does Drought Fuel Conflict in Somalia through Livestock Price Shocks?

Jean-François Maystadt & Olivier Ecker
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of evidence shows a causal relationship between extreme weather events and civil conflict incidence at the global level. We find that this causality is also valid for droughts and local violent conflicts in a within-country setting over a short time frame in the case of Somalia. We estimate that a one standard deviation increase in drought intensity and length raises the likelihood of conflict by 62%. We also find that drought affects conflict through livestock price changes, establishing livestock markets as the primary channel of transmission in Somalia.

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Scientific uncertainty and climate change: Part I. Uncertainty and unabated emissions

Stephan Lewandowsky et al.
Climatic Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Uncertainty forms an integral part of climate science, and it is often used to argue against mitigative action. This article presents an analysis of uncertainty in climate sensitivity that is robust to a range of assumptions. We show that increasing uncertainty is necessarily associated with greater expected damages from warming, provided the function relating warming to damages is convex. This constraint is unaffected by subjective or cultural risk-perception factors, it is unlikely to be overcome by the discount rate, and it is independent of the presumed magnitude of climate sensitivity. The analysis also extends to “second-order” uncertainty; that is, situations in which experts disagree. Greater disagreement among experts increases the likelihood that the risk of exceeding a global temperature threshold is greater. Likewise, increasing uncertainty requires increasingly greater protective measures against sea level rise. This constraint derives directly from the statistical properties of extreme values. We conclude that any appeal to uncertainty compels a stronger, rather than weaker, concern about unabated warming than in the absence of uncertainty.

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Unilateral Climate Policy: Harmful or Even Disastrous?

Hendrik Ritter & Mark Schopf
Environmental and Resource Economics, May 2014, Pages 155-178

Abstract:
This paper deals with possible foreign reactions to unilateral carbon demand reducing policies. It differentiates between demand side and supply side reactions as well as between intra- and inter-temporal shifts in greenhouse gas emissions. In our model, we integrate a stock-dependent marginal physical cost of extracting fossil fuels into Eichner and Pethig’s (Int Econ Rev 52(3):767–805, 2011) general equilibrium carbon leakage model. The results are as follows: Under similar but somewhat tighter conditions than those derived by Eichner and Pethig (Int Econ Rev 52(3):767–805, 2011), a weak green paradox arises. Furthermore, a strong green paradox can arise in our model under supplementary constraints. That means a “green” policy measure might not only lead to a harmful acceleration of fossil fuel extraction but to an increase in the cumulative climate damages at the same time. In some of these cases there is even a cumulative extraction expansion, which we consider disastrous.

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Nitrate assimilation is inhibited by elevated CO2 in field-grown wheat

Arnold Bloom et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Total protein and nitrogen concentrations in plants generally decline under elevated CO2 atmospheres. Explanations for this decline include that plants under elevated CO2 grow larger, diluting the protein within their tissues; that carbohydrates accumulate within leaves, downregulating the amount of the most prevalent protein Rubisco; that carbon enrichment of the rhizosphere leads to progressively greater limitations of the nitrogen available to plants; and that elevated CO2 directly inhibits plant nitrogen metabolism, especially the assimilation of nitrate into proteins in leaves of C3 plants. Recently, several meta-analyses have indicated that CO2 inhibition of nitrate assimilation is the explanation most consistent with observations. Here, we present the first direct field test of this explanation. We analysed wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grown under elevated and ambient CO2 concentrations in the free-air CO2 enrichment experiment at Maricopa, Arizona. In leaf tissue, the ratio of nitrate to total nitrogen concentration and the stable isotope ratios of organic nitrogen and free nitrate showed that nitrate assimilation was slower under elevated than ambient CO2. These findings imply that food quality will suffer under the CO2 levels anticipated during this century unless more sophisticated approaches to nitrogen fertilization are employed.

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Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development

Dana Caulton et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The identification and quantification of methane emissions from natural gas production has become increasingly important owing to the increase in the natural gas component of the energy sector. An instrumented aircraft platform was used to identify large sources of methane and quantify emission rates in southwestern PA in June 2012. A large regional flux, 2.0–14 g CH4 s−1 km−2, was quantified for a ∼2,800-km2 area, which did not differ statistically from a bottom-up inventory, 2.3–4.6 g CH4 s−1 km−2. Large emissions averaging 34 g CH4/s per well were observed from seven well pads determined to be in the drilling phase, 2 to 3 orders of magnitude greater than US Environmental Protection Agency estimates for this operational phase. The emissions from these well pads, representing ∼1% of the total number of wells, account for 4–30% of the observed regional flux. More work is needed to determine all of the sources of methane emissions from natural gas production, to ascertain why these emissions occur and to evaluate their climate and atmospheric chemistry impacts.

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Incentives for Methane Mitigation and Energy-Efficiency Improvements in the Case of Ukraine's Natural Gas Transmission System

Volha Roshchanka & Meredydd Evans
Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
Reducing methane losses is a concern for climate change policy and energy policy. The energy sector is the major source of anthropogenic methane emissions into the atmosphere in Ukraine. Reducing methane emissions and avoiding combustion can be very cost-effective, but various barriers prevent such energy-efficiency measures from taking place. To date, few examples of industry-wide improvements exist. One example of substantial investments into upgrading natural gas transmission system comes from Ukraine's natural gas transmission company, Ukrtransgaz. The company's investments into system upgrades, along with a 34 percent fall in throughput, resulted in reduction of Ukrtransgaz system's own consumption of natural gas by 68 percent in 2011 compared to the level in 2005. Evaluating reductions in methane emissions is challenging because of lack of accurate data and gaps in accounting methodologies. At the same time, Ukraine's transmission system has undergone improvements that, at the very least, have contained methane emissions, if not substantially reduced them. In this paper, we describe recent developments in Ukraine's natural gas transmission system and analyze the incentives that forced the sector to pay close attention to its methane losses. Ukraine is one of the most energy-intensive countries, among the largest natural gas consumers in the world, and a significant emitter of methane. The country is also dependent on imports of natural gas. A combination of several factors has created conditions for successful reductions in methane emissions and combustion. These factors include: an eightfold increase in the price of imported natural gas; comprehensive domestic environmental and energy policies, such as the Laws of Ukraine on Protecting the Natural Environment and on Air Protection; policies aimed at integration with European Union's energy market and accession to the Energy Community Treaty; and the country's participation in international cooperation on environment, such as through the Joint Implementation mechanism and the voluntary Global Methane Initiative. Learning about such case studies can help policymakers and sustainability professionals design better policies elsewhere.

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Loss of cultural world heritage and currently inhabited places to sea-level rise

Ben Marzeion & Anders Levermann
Environmental Research Letters, March 2014

Abstract:
The world population is concentrated near the coasts, as are a large number of Cultural World Heritage sites, defined by the UNESCO. Using spatially explicit sea-level estimates for the next 2000 years and high-resolution topography data, we compute which current cultural heritage sites will be affected by sea-level rise at different levels of sustained future warming. As indicators for the pressure on future cultural heritage we estimate the percentage of each country's area loss, and the percentage of current population living in regions that will be permanently below sea level, for different temperature levels. If the current global mean temperature was sustained for the next two millennia, about 6% (40 sites) of the UNESCO sites will be affected, and 0.7% of global land area will be below mean sea level. These numbers increase to 19% (136 sites) and 1.1% for a warming of 3 K. At this warming level, 3–12 countries will experience a loss of more than half of their current land surface, 25–36 countries lose at least 10% of their territory, and 7% of the global population currently lives in regions that will be below local sea level. Given the millennial scale lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, our results indicate that fundamental decisions with regard to mankind's cultural heritage are required.

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Assessing the effects of anthropogenic aerosols on Pacific storm track using a multiscale global climate model

Yuan Wang et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Atmospheric aerosols affect weather and global general circulation by modifying cloud and precipitation processes, but the magnitude of cloud adjustment by aerosols remains poorly quantified and represents the largest uncertainty in estimated forcing of climate change. Here we assess the effects of anthropogenic aerosols on the Pacific storm track, using a multiscale global aerosol–climate model (GCM). Simulations of two aerosol scenarios corresponding to the present day and preindustrial conditions reveal long-range transport of anthropogenic aerosols across the north Pacific and large resulting changes in the aerosol optical depth, cloud droplet number concentration, and cloud and ice water paths. Shortwave and longwave cloud radiative forcing at the top of atmosphere are changed by −2.5 and +1.3 W m−2, respectively, by emission changes from preindustrial to present day, and an increased cloud top height indicates invigorated midlatitude cyclones. The overall increased precipitation and poleward heat transport reflect intensification of the Pacific storm track by anthropogenic aerosols. Hence, this work provides, for the first time to the authors’ knowledge, a global perspective of the effects of Asian pollution outflows from GCMs. Furthermore, our results suggest that the multiscale modeling framework is essential in producing the aerosol invigoration effect of deep convective clouds on a global scale.

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Vulnerability to the mortality effects of warm temperature in the districts of England and Wales

James Bennett et al.
Nature Climate Change, April 2014, Pages 269–273

Abstract:
Warm temperatures adversely affect disease occurrence and death, in extreme conditions as well as when the temperature changes are more modest1, 2. Therefore climate change, which is expected to affect both average temperatures and temperature variability, is likely to impact health even in temperate climates. Climate change risk assessment is enriched if there is information on vulnerability and resilience to effects of temperature. Some studies have analysed socio-demographic characteristics that make individuals vulnerable to adverse effects of temperature1, 2, 3, 4. Less is known about community-level vulnerability. We used geo-coded mortality and environmental data and Bayesian spatial methods to conduct a national small-area analysis of the mortality effects of warm temperature for all 376 districts in England and Wales. In the most vulnerable districts, those in London and south/southeast England, odds of dying from cardiorespiratory causes increased by more than 10% for 1 °C warmer temperature, compared with virtually no effect in the most resilient districts, which were in the far north. A 2 °C warmer summer may result in 1,552 (95% credible interval 1,307–1,762) additional deaths, about one-half of which would occur in 95 districts. The findings enable risk and adaptation analyses to incorporate local vulnerability to warm temperature and to quantify inequality in its effects.

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Global warming and 21st century drying

Benjamin Cook et al.
Climate Dynamics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Global warming is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of droughts in the twenty-first century, but the relative contributions from changes in moisture supply (precipitation) versus evaporative demand (potential evapotranspiration; PET) have not been comprehensively assessed. Using output from a suite of general circulation model (GCM) simulations from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, projected twenty-first century drying and wetting trends are investigated using two offline indices of surface moisture balance: the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). PDSI and SPEI projections using precipitation and Penman-Monteith based PET changes from the GCMs generally agree, showing robust cross-model drying in western North America, Central America, the Mediterranean, southern Africa, and the Amazon and robust wetting occurring in the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes and east Africa (PDSI only). The SPEI is more sensitive to PET changes than the PDSI, especially in arid regions such as the Sahara and Middle East. Regional drying and wetting patterns largely mirror the spatially heterogeneous response of precipitation in the models, although drying in the PDSI and SPEI calculations extends beyond the regions of reduced precipitation. This expansion of drying areas is attributed to globally widespread increases in PET, caused by increases in surface net radiation and the vapor pressure deficit. Increased PET not only intensifies drying in areas where precipitation is already reduced, it also drives areas into drought that would otherwise experience little drying or even wetting from precipitation trends alone. This PET amplification effect is largest in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, and is especially pronounced in western North America, Europe, and southeast China. Compared to PDSI projections using precipitation changes only, the projections incorporating both precipitation and PET changes increase the percentage of global land area projected to experience at least moderate drying (PDSI standard deviation of ≤−1) by the end of the twenty-first century from 12 to 30 %. PET induced moderate drying is even more severe in the SPEI projections (SPEI standard deviation of ≤−1; 11 to 44 %), although this is likely less meaningful because much of the PET induced drying in the SPEI occurs in the aforementioned arid regions. Integrated accounting of both the supply and demand sides of the surface moisture balance is therefore critical for characterizing the full range of projected drought risks tied to increasing greenhouse gases and associated warming of the climate system.

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Methanogenic burst in the end-Permian carbon cycle

Daniel Rothman et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 15 April 2014, Pages 5462–5467

Abstract:
The end-Permian extinction is associated with a mysterious disruption to Earth’s carbon cycle. Here we identify causal mechanisms via three observations. First, we show that geochemical signals indicate superexponential growth of the marine inorganic carbon reservoir, coincident with the extinction and consistent with the expansion of a new microbial metabolic pathway. Second, we show that the efficient acetoclastic pathway in Methanosarcina emerged at a time statistically indistinguishable from the extinction. Finally, we show that nickel concentrations in South China sediments increased sharply at the extinction, probably as a consequence of massive Siberian volcanism, enabling a methanogenic expansion by removal of nickel limitation. Collectively, these results are consistent with the instigation of Earth’s greatest mass extinction by a specific microbial innovation.

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Sustained mass loss of the northeast Greenland ice sheet triggered by regional warming

Shfaqat Khan et al.
Nature Climate Change, April 2014, Pages 292–299

Abstract:
The Greenland ice sheet has been one of the largest contributors to global sea-level rise over the past 20 years, accounting for 0.5 mm yr−1 of a total of 3.2 mm yr−1. A significant portion of this contribution is associated with the speed-up of an increased number of glaciers in southeast and northwest Greenland. Here, we show that the northeast Greenland ice stream, which extends more than 600 km into the interior of the ice sheet, is now undergoing sustained dynamic thinning, linked to regional warming, after more than a quarter of a century of stability. This sector of the Greenland ice sheet is of particular interest, because the drainage basin area covers 16% of the ice sheet (twice that of Jakobshavn Isbræ) and numerical model predictions suggest no significant mass loss for this sector, leading to an under-estimation of future global sea-level rise. The geometry of the bedrock and monotonic trend in glacier speed-up and mass loss suggests that dynamic drawdown of ice in this region will continue in the near future.

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Sustained increase in ice discharge from the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, from 1973 to 2013

J. Mouginot, E. Rignot & B. Scheuchl
Geophysical Research Letters, 16 March 2014, Pages 1576–1584

Abstract:
We combine measurements of ice velocity from Landsat feature tracking and satellite radar interferometry, and ice thickness from existing compilations to document 41 years of mass flux from the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) of West Antarctica. The total ice discharge has increased by 77% since 1973. Half of the increase occurred between 2003 and 2009. Grounding-line ice speeds of Pine Island Glacier stabilized between 2009 and 2013, following a decade of rapid acceleration, but that acceleration reached far inland and occurred at a rate faster than predicted by advective processes. Flow speeds across Thwaites Glacier increased rapidly after 2006, following a decade of near-stability, leading to a 33% increase in flux between 2006 and 2013. Haynes, Smith, Pope, and Kohler Glaciers all accelerated during the entire study period. The sustained increase in ice discharge is a possible indicator of the development of a marine ice sheet instability in this part of Antarctica.

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Global crop yield response to extreme heat stress under multiple climate change futures

Delphine Deryng et al.
Environmental Research Letters, March 2014

Abstract:
Extreme heat stress during the crop reproductive period can be critical for crop productivity. Projected changes in the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events are expected to negatively impact crop yields and global food production. This study applies the global crop model PEGASUS to quantify, for the first time at the global scale, impacts of extreme heat stress on maize, spring wheat and soybean yields resulting from 72 climate change scenarios for the 21st century. Our results project maize to face progressively worse impacts under a range of RCPs but spring wheat and soybean to improve globally through to the 2080s due to CO2 fertilization effects, even though parts of the tropic and sub-tropic regions could face substantial yield declines. We find extreme heat stress at anthesis (HSA) by the 2080s (relative to the 1980s) under RCP 8.5, taking into account CO2 fertilization effects, could double global losses of maize yield (ΔY = −12.8 ± 6.7% versus − 7.0 ± 5.3% without HSA), reduce projected gains in spring wheat yield by half (ΔY = 34.3 ± 13.5% versus 72.0 ± 10.9% without HSA) and in soybean yield by a quarter (ΔY = 15.3 ± 26.5% versus 20.4 ± 22.1% without HSA). The range reflects uncertainty due to differences between climate model scenarios; soybean exhibits both positive and negative impacts, maize is generally negative and spring wheat generally positive. Furthermore, when assuming CO2 fertilization effects to be negligible, we observe drastic climate mitigation policy as in RCP 2.6 could avoid more than 80% of the global average yield losses otherwise expected by the 2080s under RCP 8.5. We show large disparities in climate impacts across regions and find extreme heat stress adversely affects major producing regions and lower income countries.

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Greater ecosystem carbon in the Mojave Desert after ten years exposure to elevated CO2

R.D. Evans et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas inducing climate change. Increased global CO2 emissions, estimated at 8.4 Pg C yr−1 at present, have accelerated from 1% yr−1 during 1990–1999 to 2.5% yr−1 during 2000–2009. The carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems is the greatest unknown in the global C budget because the actual magnitude, location and causes of terrestrial sinks are uncertain; estimates of terrestrial C uptake, therefore, are often based on the residuals between direct measurements of the atmospheric sink and well-constrained models of ocean uptake of CO2. Here we report significant terrestrial C accumulation caused by CO2 enhancement to net ecosystem productivity in an intact, undisturbed arid ecosystem following ten years of exposure to elevated atmospheric CO2. Results provide direct evidence that CO2 fertilization substantially increases ecosystem C storage and that arid ecosystems are significant, previously unrecognized, sinks for atmospheric CO2 that must be accounted for in efforts to constrain terrestrial and global C cycles.

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Potential Effects of Climate Change on the Productivity of U.S. Dairies

Nigel Key & Stacy Sneeringer
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves, which can reduce meat and milk production in animals. Methods that livestock producers use to mitigate thermal stress — including modifications to animal management or housing — tend to increase production costs. We use operation-level economic data coupled with finely-scaled climate data to estimate how the local thermal environment affects the technical efficiency of dairies across the United States. We then use this information to estimate the possible decline in milk production in 2030 resulting from climate change-induced heat stress under the simplifying assumptions that the production technology, location of production, and other factors are held constant. For four climate model scenarios, the results indicate modest heat-stress-related production declines by 2030, with the largest declines occurring in the southern states.

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Distinct effects of anthropogenic aerosols on tropical cyclones

Yuan Wang et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Long-term observations have revealed large amplitude fluctuations in the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones (TCs), but the anthropogenic impacts, including greenhouse gases and particulate matter pollution, remain to be elucidated. Here, we show distinct aerosol effects on the development of TCs: the coupled microphysical and radiative effects of anthropogenic aerosols result in delayed development, weakened intensity and early dissipation, but an enlarged rainband and increased precipitation under polluted conditions. Our results imply that anthropogenic aerosols probably exhibit an opposite effect to that of greenhouse gases, highlighting the necessity of incorporating a realistic microphysical–radiative interaction of aerosols for accurate forecasting and climatic prediction of TCs in atmospheric models.

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The European climate under a 2 °C global warming

Robert Vautard et al.
Environmental Research Letters, March 2014

Abstract:
A global warming of 2 °C relative to pre-industrial climate has been considered as a threshold which society should endeavor to remain below, in order to limit the dangerous effects of anthropogenic climate change. The possible changes in regional climate under this target level of global warming have so far not been investigated in detail. Using an ensemble of 15 regional climate simulations downscaling six transient global climate simulations, we identify the respective time periods corresponding to 2 °C global warming, describe the range of projected changes for the European climate for this level of global warming, and investigate the uncertainty across the multi-model ensemble. Robust changes in mean and extreme temperature, precipitation, winds and surface energy budgets are found based on the ensemble of simulations. The results indicate that most of Europe will experience higher warming than the global average. They also reveal strong distributional patterns across Europe, which will be important in subsequent impact assessments and adaptation responses in different countries and regions. For instance, a North–South (West–East) warming gradient is found for summer (winter) along with a general increase in heavy precipitation and summer extreme temperatures. Tying the ensemble analysis to time periods with a prescribed global temperature change rather than fixed time periods allows for the identification of more robust regional patterns of temperature changes due to removal of some of the uncertainty related to the global models' climate sensitivity.

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Cessation of deep convection in the open Southern Ocean under anthropogenic climate change

Casimir de Lavergne et al.
Nature Climate Change, April 2014, Pages 278–282

Abstract:
In 1974, newly available satellite observations unveiled the presence of a giant ice-free area, or polynya, within the Antarctic ice pack of the Weddell Sea, which persisted during the two following winters. Subsequent research showed that deep convective overturning had opened a conduit between the surface and the abyssal ocean, and had maintained the polynya through the massive release of heat from the deep sea. Although the polynya has aroused continued interest, the presence of a fresh surface layer has prevented the recurrence of deep convection there since 1976, and it is now largely viewed as a naturally rare event. Here, we present a new analysis of historical observations and model simulations that suggest deep convection in the Weddell Sea was more active in the past, and has been weakened by anthropogenic forcing. The observations show that surface freshening of the southern polar ocean since the 1950s has considerably enhanced the salinity stratification. Meanwhile, among the present generation of global climate models, deep convection is common in the Southern Ocean under pre-industrial conditions, but weakens and ceases under a climate change scenario owing to surface freshening. A decline of open-ocean convection would reduce the production rate of Antarctic Bottom Waters, with important implications for ocean heat and carbon storage, and may have played a role in recent Antarctic climate change.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Caretaker

My Mother and Me: Why Tiger Mothers Motivate Asian Americans But Not European Americans

Alyssa Fu & Hazel Rose Markus
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
“Tiger Mother” Amy Chua provoked a culture clash with her claim that controlling parenting in Asian American (AA) contexts produces more successful children than permissive parenting in European American (EA) contexts. At the heart of this controversy is a difference in the normative models of self that guide behavior. Ideas and practices prevalent in AA contexts emphasize that the person is and should be interdependent with one’s close others, especially one’s mother. In contrast, EA contexts emphasize the person as independent, even from one’s mother. We find that AA compared with EA high school students experience more interdependence with their mothers and pressure from them, but that the pressure does not strain their relationship with their mothers. Furthermore, following failure, AAs compared with EAs are more motivated by their mothers, and AAs are particularly motivated by pressure from their mothers when it conveys interdependence.

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A Not-So-Grim Tale: How Childhood Family Structure Influences Reproductive and Risk-Taking Outcomes in a Historical U.S. Population

Paula Sheppard, Justin Garcia & Rebecca Sear
PLoS ONE, March 2014

Abstract:
Childhood family structure has been shown to play an important role in shaping a child's life course development, especially in industrialised societies. One hypothesis which could explain such findings is that parental investment is likely to be diluted in families without both natural parents. Most empirical studies have examined the influence of only one type of family disruption or composition (e.g. father absence) making it difficult to simultaneously compare the effects of different kinds of family structure on children's future outcomes. Here we use a large, rich data source (n = 16,207) collected by Alfred Kinsey and colleagues in the United States from 1938 to 1963, to examine the effects of particular childhood family compositions and compare between them. The dataset further allows us to look at the effects of family structure on an array of traits relating to sexual maturity, reproduction, and risk-taking. Our results show that, for both sexes, living with a single mother or mother and stepfather during childhood was often associated with faster progression to life history events and greater propensity for risk-taking behaviours. However, living with a single father or father and stepmother was typically not significantly different to having both natural parents for these outcomes. Our results withstand adjustment for socioeconomic status, age, ethnicity, age at puberty (where applicable), and sibling configuration. While these results support the hypothesis that early family environment influences subsequent reproductive strategy, the different responses to the presence or absence of different parental figures in the household rearing environment suggests that particular family constructions exert independent influences on childhood outcomes. Our results suggest that father-absent households (i.e. single mothers or mothers and stepfathers) are most highly associated with subsequent fast life history progressions, compared with mother-absent households, and those with two natural parents.

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Are Television and Video Games Really Harmful for Kids?

Makiko Nakamuro et al.
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are watching television (TV) and playing video games really harmful for children's development? By using a unique longitudinal dataset with detailed information on children's development and health, we examined the causal effect of hours of TV watched or of video games played on school-aged children's problem behavior, orientation to school, and obesity. The results suggested that the answer to the question is yes, but the magnitude of the effect is sufficiently small to be considered as negligible. The results were robust to within-twin-fixed effects.

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Parenthood as a Terror Management Mechanism: The Moderating Role of Attachment Orientations

Erez Yaakobi, Mario Mikulincer & Phillip Shaver
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Six studies examined the hypothesis that parenthood serves a terror management function, with effects that are moderated by attachment orientations. In Studies 1 and 2, mortality salience, as compared with control conditions, increased the self-reported vividness and implicit accessibility of parenthood-related cognitions. In Studies 3 and 4, activating parenthood-related thoughts reduced death-thought accessibility and romantic intimacy following mortality salience. In Study 5, heightening the salience of parenthood-related obstacles increased death-thought accessibility. Across the five studies, the effects were significant mainly among participants who scored relatively low on avoidant attachment. In Study 6, avoidant people also reacted to mortality salience with more positive parenthood-related cognitions following an experimental manipulation that made parenthood compatible with their core strivings. Overall, the findings suggest that parenthood can have an anxiety-buffering effect that is moderated by attachment-related avoidance.

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Social Mobility in the Context of Fathering: The intergenerational link in parenting among co-resident fathers

Christina Diaz
Social Science Research, September 2014, Pages 1–15

Abstract:
Intergenerational transmissions extend across a number of family-related behaviors, including marriage timing, fertility, and divorce. Surprisingly, few studies investigate the link between the fathering men experience and the fathering they ultimately engage in. I use data on the grandfathers and fathers of the 2001 U.S. birth cohort - measured in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (N=4,050) - to test whether men’s perception of the parenting they received influences their subsequent paternal self-assessments and behaviors. I find a nonlinear association between experiencing warm fathering and men’s self-assessed parenting quality and stress. Men with particularly warm fathers are more likely to report being good fathers themselves. Those who report having the harshest fathers also exhibit better paternal self-perceptions and lower stress. Perceptions of paternal warmth show similar associations with men’s fathering engagement. This research sheds light on the significance of family dynamics and how a legacy of fathering may contribute to inequality.

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College Women Miss the Mark When Estimating the Impact of Full-Time Maternal Employment on Children’s Achievement and Behavior

Wendy Goldberg & Rachel Lucas-Thompson
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The goals of the current study were to apply the construct of stereotype accuracy to the domain of college women’s perceptions of the effects of full-time maternal employment on children. Both accuracy/inaccuracy and positive/negative direction were examined. Participants were 1,259 college women who provided stereotyped projections about the effects of full-time employment on children’s IQ scores, formal achievement tests, school grades, and internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Their stereotype effect sizes were compared to meta-analytic effect sizes used to estimate the “actual” effects of maternal employment on children. Individual differences in these stereotypes were also examined. Results indicate that, on average, college women overestimated the negative effects of full-time maternal employment on child outcomes, especially behavior problems. Significant variability in the direction and accuracy of the stereotypes was explained by individual characteristics such as gender ideology, extrinsic work values, and beliefs about the costs of maternal employment. Concerns are that college-educated young women may retreat from the labor force due to stereotypes about the effects of their future employment on children. Efforts by researchers, practitioners, and policy makers should be directed toward disseminating accurate information and dispelling myths about the likely impact of maternal employment on children’s development.

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The Effect of Early Head Start on Child Welfare System Involvement: A First Look at Longitudinal Child Maltreatment Outcomes

Beth Green et al.
Children and Youth Services Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The high societal and personal costs of child maltreatment make identification of effective early prevention programs a high research priority. Early Head Start (EHS), a dual generational program serving low-income families with children prenatally through age three years, is one of the largest federally funded programs for infants and toddlers in the United States. A national randomized trial found EHS to be effective in improving parent and child outcomes, but its effectiveness in reducing child maltreatment was not assessed. The current study used administrative data from state child welfare agencies to examine the impact of EHS on documented abuse and neglect among children from seven of the original seventeen programs in the national EHS randomized controlled trial. Results indicated that children in EHS had significantly fewer child welfare encounters between the ages of five and nine years than did children in the control group, and that EHS slowed the rate of subsequent encounters. Additionally, compared to children in the control group, children in EHS were less likely to have a substantiated report of physical or sexual abuse, but more likely to have a substantiated report of neglect. These findings suggest that EHS may be effective in reducing child maltreatment among low-income children, in particular, physical and sexual abuse.

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Objective and subjective socioeconomic gradients exist for sleep in children and adolescents

Denise Jarrin, Jennifer McGrath & Elizabeth Quon
Health Psychology, March 2014, Pages 301-305

Objective: Socioeconomic position (SEP) is inversely associated with many health outcomes, yielding a socioeconomic gradient in health. In adults, low SEP is associated with short sleep duration, poorer sleep quality, and difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep. Relatively little is known about this relation in youth. The aim of the present study was to examine whether socioeconomic gradients exist for various sleep indices among a healthy sample of children and adolescents.

Method: Participants took part in the larger Healthy Heart Project and included 239 youth (69.6% Caucasian; 45.6% female), aged 8–17 years (M = 12.6, SD = 1.9). Parental income and education were used to measure objective SEP. The Subjective Social Status Scale-Youth Version was used to measure subjective SEP. Sleep duration, sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and sleep disturbances were assessed through self- and parent-report.

Results: In children, objective SEP was related with sleep duration (β = .35, p < .01), although subjective SEP was related with daytime sleepiness (βavg = .33, p < .01) and parent-reported sleep duration (β = .23, p < .05). In adolescents, subjective SEP was related with sleep quality (β = .28, p < .01) and parent-reported sleep duration (β = −.18, p < .05), even after controlling for objective SEP.

Conclusions: Socioeconomic gradients were observed for multiple sleep measures in youth. Objective parental SEP was related with sleep complaints (e.g., sleep disturbances), and subjective SEP was related with sleep quality and daytime sleepiness. Findings suggest sleep may be one pathway underlying the socioeconomic gradient in health. Future research should aim to elucidate how distinct sleep constructs may explain how socioeconomic status “gets under the skin” to affect health.

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Media and technology use predicts ill-being among children, preteens and teenagers independent of the negative health impacts of exercise and eating habits

L.D. Rosen et al.
Computers in Human Behavior, June 2014, Pages 364–375

Abstract:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2 and limited screen time for all children. However, no such guidelines have been proposed for preteens and teenagers. Further, research shows that children, preteens, and teenagers are using massive amounts of media and those with more screen time have been shown to have increased obesity, reduced physical activity, and decreased health. This study examined the impact of technology on four areas of ill-being — psychological issues, behavior problems, attention problems and physical health — among children (aged 4–8), preteens (9–12), and teenagers (13–18) by having 1030 parents complete an online, anonymous survey about their own and their child’s behaviors. Measures included daily technology use, daily food consumption, daily exercise, and health. Hypothesis 1, which posited that unhealthy eating would predict impaired ill-being, was partially supported, particularly for children and preteens. Hypothesis 2, which posited that reduced physical activity would predict diminished health levels, was partially supported for preteens and supported for teenagers. Hypothesis 3, that increased daily technology use would predict ill-being after factoring out eating habits and physical activity, was supported. For children and preteens, total media consumption predicted ill-being while for preteens specific technology uses, including video gaming and electronic communication, predicted ill-being. For teenagers, nearly every type of technological activity predicted poor health. Practical implications were discussed in terms of setting limits and boundaries on technology use and encouraging healthy eating and physical activity at home and at school.

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Mothers’ unresolved trauma blunts amygdala response to infant distress

Sohye Kim et al.
Social Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
While the neurobiology of post-traumatic stress disorder has been extensively researched, much less attention has been paid to the neural mechanisms underlying more covert but pervasive types of trauma (e.g., those involving disrupted relationships and insecure attachment). Here, we report on a neurobiological study documenting that mothers’ attachment-related trauma, when unresolved, undermines her optimal brain response to her infant’s distress. We examined the amygdala blood oxygenation level-dependent response in 42 first-time mothers as they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning, viewing happy- and sad-face images of their own infant, along with those of a matched unknown infant. Whereas mothers with no trauma demonstrated greater amygdala responses to the sad faces of their own infant as compared to their happy faces, mothers who were classified as having unresolved trauma in the Adult Attachment Interview (Dynamic Maturational Model) displayed blunted amygdala responses when cued by their own infants’ sadness as compared to happiness. Unknown infant faces did not elicit differential amygdala responses between the mother groups. The blunting of the amygdala response in traumatized mothers is discussed as a neural indication of mothers’ possible disengagement from infant distress, which may be part of a process linking maternal unresolved trauma and disrupted maternal caregiving.

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Opting Out, Scaling Back, or Business-as-Usual? An Occupational Assessment of Women's Employment

Liana Christin Landivar
Sociological Forum, March 2014, Pages 189–214

Abstract:
After decades of growth, women's labor force participation stagnated in the 2000s, prompting widespread interest in work–family balance and opting out. However, much of the research and media attention is limited to small samples of women in managerial and professional occupations. Using data from the 2009 American Community Survey, this article examines mothers' labor force participation and work hours across 92 occupations to assess whether mothers in nonmanagerial and nonprofessional occupations exhibit similar work patterns. I find that mothers in managerial and professional occupations are the least likely to remain out of the labor force but most likely to work reduced hours. The results indicate that there is significant occupational variation in women's work–family strategies, and these comparisons provide insight into the differential structures of disadvantage that encourage different work–family outcomes.

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Kinship and Nonrelative Foster Care: The Effect of Placement Type on Child Well-Being

Sarah Font
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study uses a national sample of 1,215 children, ages 6–17, who spent some time in formal kinship or nonrelative foster care to identify the effect of placement type on academic achievement, behavior, and health. Several identification strategies are used to reduce selection bias, including ordinary least squares, change score models, propensity score weighting, and instrumental variables regression. The results consistently estimate a negative effect of kin placements on reading scores, but kin placements appear to have no effect on child health, and findings on children's math and cognitive skills test scores and behavioral problems are mixed. Estimated declines in both academic achievement and behavioral problems are concentrated among children who are lower functioning at baseline.

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The development of children’s inhibition: Does parenting matter?

Isabelle Roskam et al.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, June 2014, Pages 166–182

Abstract:
Whereas a large body of research has investigated the maturation of inhibition in relation to the prefrontal cortex, far less research has been devoted to environmental factors that could contribute to inhibition improvement. The aim of the current study was to test whether and to what extent parenting matters for inhibition development from 2 to 8 years of age. Data were collected from 421 families, with 348 mother–child dyads and 342 father–child dyads participating. Children’s inhibition capacities and parenting behaviors were assessed in a three-wave longitudinal data collection. The main analyses examined the impact of parenting on the development of children’s inhibition capacities. They were conducted using a multilevel modeling (MLM) framework. The results lead to the conclusion that both mothers and fathers contribute through their child-rearing behavior to their children’s executive functioning, even when controlling for age-related improvement (maturation) and important covariates such as gender, verbal IQ, and place of enrollment. More significant relations between children’s inhibition development and parenting were displayed for mothers than for fathers. More precisely, parenting behaviors that involve higher monitoring, lower discipline, inconsistency and negative controlling, and a positive parenting style are associated with good development of inhibition capacities in children.

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Genetic imaging of the association of oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) polymorphisms with positive maternal parenting

Kalina Michalska et al.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, February 2014

Background: Well-validated models of maternal behavior in small-brain mammals posit a central role of oxytocin in parenting, by reducing stress and enhancing the reward value of social interactions with offspring. In contrast, human studies are only beginning to gain insights into how oxytocin modulates maternal behavior and affiliation.

Methods: To explore associations between oxytocin receptor genes and maternal parenting behavior in humans, we conducted a genetic imaging study of women selected to exhibit a wide range of observed parenting when their children were 4–6 years old.

Results: In response to child stimuli during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), hemodynamic responses in brain regions that mediate affect, reward, and social behavior were significantly correlated with observed positive parenting. Furthermore, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs53576 and rs1042778) in the gene encoding the oxytocin receptor were significantly associated with both positive parenting and hemodynamic responses to child stimuli in orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and hippocampus.

Conclusions: These findings contribute to the emerging literature on the role of oxytocin in human social behavior and support the feasibility of tracing biological pathways from genes to neural regions to positive maternal parenting behaviors in humans using genetic imaging methods.

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Parental Death During Childhood and Subsequent School Performance

Lisa Berg et al.
Pediatrics, April 2014, Pages 682-689

Objectives: Parental death during childhood has been linked to increased mortality and mental health problems in adulthood. School failure may be an important mediator in this trajectory. We investigated the association between parental death before age 15 years and school performance at age 15 to 16 years, taking into account potentially contributing factors such as family socioeconomic position (SEP) and parental substance abuse, mental health problems, and criminality.

Methods: This was a register-based national cohort study of 772 117 subjects born in Sweden between 1973 and 1981. Linear and logistic regression models were used to analyze school performance as mean grades (scale: 1–5; SD: 0.70) and school failure (finished school with incomplete grades). Results are presented as β-coefficients and odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: Parental death was associated with lower grades (ORs: –0.21 [95% CI: –0.23 to –0.20] and –0.17 [95% CI: –0.19 to –0.15]) for paternal and maternal deaths, respectively. Adjustment for SEP and parental psychosocial factors weakened the associations, but the results remained statistically significant. Unadjusted ORs of school failure were 2.04 (95% CI: 1.92 to 2.17) and 1.51 (95% CI: 1.35 to 1.69) for paternal and maternal deaths. In fully adjusted models, ORs were 1.40 (95% CI: 1.31 to 1.49) and 1.18 (95% CI: 1.05 to 1.32). The higher crude impact of death due to external causes (ie, accident, violence, suicide) (OR: –0.27 [90% CI: –0.28 to –0.26]), compared with natural deaths (OR: –0.16 [95% CI: –0.17 to –0.15]), was not seen after adjustment for SEP and psychosocial situation of the family.

Conclusions: Parental death during childhood was associated with lower grades and school failure. Much of the effect, especially for deaths by external causes, was associated with socially adverse childhood exposures.

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Genetics of parenting: The power of the dark side

Bonamy Oliver, Maciej Trzaskowski & Robert Plomin
Developmental Psychology, April 2014, Pages 1233-1240

Abstract:
Reviews of behavioral genetic studies note that “control” aspects of parenting yield low estimates of heritability, while “affective” aspects (parental feelings) yield moderate estimates. Research to date has not specifically considered whether positive and negative aspects of parenting — for both feelings and control — may explain these etiological distinctions. We addressed this issue using parent reports of parenting in a large twin sample in the United Kingdom, at ages 9 (N = 2,260 twin pairs), 12 (N = 3,850 twin pairs) and 14 (N = 2,293 twin pairs) years. Our findings supported previous work indicating that parental feelings show greater heritability (h2) than control (across all ages, mean h2 feelings = .42, control = .13). Of specific interest is our novel finding that for control as well as for feelings, the heritability for negative aspects of parenting was greater than for positive aspects (e.g., across all ages, mean h2 total negativity = .44; total positivity = .12). Results across the 3 ages using common pathway models for all scales further endorsed our hypotheses. Previous research has shown that children’s genetically driven characteristics elicit parenting; our pattern of our results suggests that what is critical is the “dark” side of these characteristics for eliciting negativity from parents, whether feelings toward the child or control strategies are considered. Improving understanding of how the environment is shaped by the dark side is important theoretically and, ultimately, for targeting intervention.

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The Consequences of Paternal Incarceration for Maternal Neglect and Harsh Parenting

Kristin Turney
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
The rise in mass incarceration, as well as its unequal distribution across the population, may widen inequalities among individuals and families. In this manuscript, I use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a data source uniquely situated to understand the collateral consequences of incarceration, to consider the consequences of paternal incarceration for an overlooked aspect of family life: maternal parenting (measured by neglect, psychological aggression, and physical aggression). Results show that, among parents living together prior to paternal incarceration, confinement has modest, positive associations with maternal neglect and physical aggression, and that changes in family life (including relationship characteristics, economic insecurity, and mental health) following incarceration explain some of these associations. Additionally, there is some evidence that the consequences of paternal incarceration for neglect are strongest among mothers with a low propensity for sharing a child with a recently incarcerated father. Taken together, these results suggest that incarceration — given its concentration among disadvantaged families and, at least in one domain, its most consequential effects for the most advantaged of these disadvantaged families — has complicated and countervailing implications for inequalities in family life.

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Cumulative Risks of Foster Care Placement by Age 18 for U.S. Children, 2000–2011

Christopher Wildeman & Natalia Emanuel
PLoS ONE, March 2014

Abstract:
Foster care placement is among the most tragic events a child can experience because it more often than not implies that a child has experienced or is at very high risk of experiencing abuse or neglect serious enough to warrant state intervention. Yet it is unclear how many children will experience foster care placement at some point between birth and age 18. Using synthetic cohort life tables and data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), we estimated how many U.S. children were placed in foster care between birth and age 18, finding support for three conclusions. First, up to 5.91% of all U.S. children were ever placed in foster care between their birth and age 18. Second, Native American (up to 15.44%) and Black (up to 11.53%) children were at far higher risk of placement. Foster care is thus quite common in the U.S., especially for historically disadvantaged racial/ethnic groups. Third, differences in foster care placement were minimal between the sexes, indicating that the high risks of foster care placement are shared almost equally by boys and girls.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, April 14, 2014

Acto de amor

Causal effect of intergroup contact on exclusionary attitudes

Ryan Enos
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 March 2014, Pages 3699–3704

Abstract:
The effect of intergroup contact has long been a question central to social scientists. As political and technological changes bring increased international migration, understanding intergroup contact is increasingly important to scientific and policy debates. Unfortunately, limitations in causal inference using observational data and the practical inability to experimentally manipulate demographic diversity has limited scholars’ ability to address the effects of intergroup contact. Here, I report the results of a randomized controlled trial testing the causal effects of repeated intergroup contact, in which Spanish-speaking confederates were randomly assigned to be inserted, for a period of days, into the daily routines of unknowing Anglo-whites living in homogeneous communities in the United States, thus simulating the conditions of demographic change. The result of this experiment is a significant shift toward exclusionary attitudes among treated subjects. This experiment demonstrates that even very minor demographic change causes strong exclusionary reactions. Developed nations and politically liberal subnational units are expected to experience a politically conservative shift as international migration brings increased intergroup contact.

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Crossing the Border and Migration Duration

Michael Quinn
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policies to deter illegal entry and reduce the number of undocumented immigrants have a complex impact on migration patterns, border crossings, and duration. However, studies generally assume the method of crossing into the United States is exogenous with respect to migration duration. Using data from the Mexican Migration Project, this paper finds that the migrant's decision to hire a coyote (smuggler) to cross the border is endogenous with respect to duration. Instrumental variable estimates provide evidence that migrants who incur the cost of hiring a coyote have longer migration durations as they need to work longer in the United States. The migrants most likely to hire coyotes have less education, little migration experience, and/or come from rural communities. Results suggest that continuing to increase guest worker programs could actually decrease the number of Mexican immigrants in the United States by eliminating the need for coyotes which would reduce migration durations. This would better utilize the immigrant population in the United States by encouraging immigrants to stay while employed and to migrate home when unemployed, with the knowledge they can later return. Reducing coyote use would also reduce income flowing to Mexican cartels which have profited from human smuggling.

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The Labor Market Effects of Reducing Undocumented Immigrants

Andri Chassamboulli & Giovanni Peri
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
A key controversy in US immigration reforms is how to deal with undocumented workers. Some policies aimed at reducing them, such as increased border security or deportation will reduce illegal immigrants as well as total immigrants. Other policies, such as legalization would decrease the illegal population but increase the legal one. These policies have different effects on job creation as they affect the firm profits from creating a new job. Economists have never analyzed this issue. We set up and simulate a novel and general model of labor markets, with search and legal/illegal migration between two countries. We then calibrate it to the US and Mexico labor markets and migration. We find that policies increasing deportation rates have the largest negative effect on employment opportunities of natives. Legalization, instead has a positive employment effect for natives. This is because repatriations are disruptive of job matches and they reduce job-creation by US firms. Legalization instead stimulates firms' job creation by increasing the total number of immigrants and stimulating firms to post more vacancies some of which are filled by natives.

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Policy Climates, Enforcement Rates, and Migrant Behavior: Is Self-Deportation a Viable Immigration Policy?

Rene Rocha et al.
Policy Studies Journal, February 2014, Pages 79–100

Abstract:
U.S. immigration policy has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years. Previous research has focused on how temporal variation in federal policy has altered the migratory behavior of immigrants. The effect of spatial variation in enforcement remains untested. Relying on the criminological distinction between general and specific deterrence, we argue that high rates of enforcement are unlikely to encourage undocumented immigrants to self-deport. We also examine the effects of cultural and economic immigration policies adopted by the states. Previous research suggests that migrants will choose to remain in states with favorable environments, but this claim has not been directly tested. We draw on data from the Mexican Migration Project (MMP) to address these gaps. MMP data are supplemented with government data on federal enforcement obtained from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and measures of state policy. Our findings suggest that higher rates of enforcement and the establishment of negative policy environments do not encourage undocumented immigrants to leave the United States at a higher rate than their documented counterparts do. Rather, high enforcement contexts exaggerate the differences between documented and undocumented migrant behavior, with undocumented migrants staying longer. Liberal state policies have no discernible effect.

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How Do E-Verify Mandates Affect Unauthorized Immigrant Workers?

Pia Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny
Federal Reserve Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
A number of states have adopted laws that require employers to use the federal government's E-Verify program to check workers' eligibility to work legally in the United States. Using data from the Current Population Survey, this study examines whether such laws affect labor market outcomes among Mexican immigrants who are likely to be unauthorized. We find evidence that E-Verify mandates reduce average hourly earnings among likely unauthorized male Mexican immigrants while increasing labor force participation and employment among likely unauthorized female Mexican immigrants. In contrast, the mandates appear to lead to better labor market outcomes among workers likely to compete with unauthorized immigrants. Employment and earnings rise among male Mexican immigrants who are naturalized citizens in states that adopt E-Verify mandates, and earnings rise among U.S.-born Hispanic men.

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Employment Verification Mandates and the Labor Market Outcomes of Likely Unauthorized and Native Workers

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Cynthia Bansak
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
As recent efforts to reform immigration policy at the federal level have failed, states have started to take immigration matters into their own hands and researchers have been paying closer attention to state dynamics surrounding immigration policy. Yet, to this date, there is not a clear understanding of the consequences of enforcing E-Verify on likely unauthorized immigrants or on natives across the United States. This study aims to fill in that gap by analyzing the impact that the enactment of various types of E-Verify mandates may have on the employment and wages of these groups. We find that the enactment of employment verification mandates reduces the employment likelihood of likely unauthorized workers. Additionally, it raises the hourly wages of likely unauthorized women. None of these impacts are observed among a similarly skilled sample of naturalized Hispanic immigrants. Finally, the enactment of E-Verify mandates appears to raise the employment likelihood of alike non-Hispanic natives, while raising the hourly wage of native-born male employees, alluding to the potential substitutability of unauthorized immigrants and non-Hispanic natives.

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A Global View of Cross-Border Migration

Julian di Giovanni, Andrei Levchenko & Francesc Ortega
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
This paper evaluates the global welfare impact of observed levels of migration using a quantitative multi-sector model of the world economy calibrated to aggregate and firm-level data. Our framework features cross-country labor productivity differences, international trade, remittances, and a heterogeneous workforce. We compare welfare under the observed levels of migration to a no-migration counterfactual. In the long run, natives in countries that received a lot of migration – such as Canada or Australia – are better off due to greater product variety available in consumption and as intermediate inputs. In the short run the impact of migration on average welfare in these countries is close to zero, while the skilled and unskilled natives tend to experience welfare changes of opposite signs. The remaining natives in countries with large emigration flows – such as Jamaica or El Salvador – are also better off due to migration, but for a different reason: remittances. The welfare impact of observed levels of migration is substantial, at about 5 to 10% for the main receiving countries and about 10% in countries with large incoming remittances. Our results are robust to accounting for imperfect transferability of skills, selection into migration, and imperfect substitution between natives and immigrants.

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Investigating Whether and When English Learners Are Reclassified Into Mainstream Classrooms in the United States: A Discrete-Time Survival Analysis

Rachel Slama
American Educational Research Journal, April 2014, Pages 220-252

Abstract:
Using eight waves of longitudinal data on a statewide kindergarten cohort of English learners (ELs), I examined ELs’ tenure in language-learning programs and their academic performance following reclassification as fluent English proficient. I employed discrete-time survival analysis to estimate the average time to and grade of reclassification with and without controlling for socioeconomic status and home language. The average EL exited 3 years after school entry or in second grade; however, the odds that a non-Spanish-speaking EL was reclassified were nearly twice that of their Spanish-speaking EL classmates after controlling for income. Despite reclassification in the early elementary grades, large percentages of the kindergarten cohort experienced later academic difficulties and 22% of the sample was retained in grade.

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Estimating Labor Trafficking among Unauthorized Migrant Workers in San Diego

Sheldon Zhang et al.
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 2014, Pages 65-86

Abstract:
Research on labor trafficking faces many methodological challenges, which make it difficult to provide reliable estimates of the problem. In this research, we applied respondent-driven sampling and unique access to migrant communities in San Diego County, California, to estimate the extent of trafficking violations in one of America’s largest Spanish-speaking immigrant destinations. We found that 30 percent of undocumented migrant laborers were victims of labor trafficking, 55 percent were victims of other labor abuses, and about half of these victimization experiences occurred within the past 12 months. The rate of trafficking violations varied markedly across business sectors that typically hire unauthorized migrant workers. Construction and janitorial services had the most reported trafficking violations and labor abuses. Findings in this study also suggest that the illegal status in the country is likely the most significant factor contributing to vulnerability to trafficking violations.

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The Employment Effects of Immigration: Evidence from the Mass Arrival of German Expellees in Postwar Germany

Sebastian Braun & Toman Omar Mahmoud
Journal of Economic History, March 2014, Pages 69-108

Abstract:
This article studies the employment effects of one of the largest forced population movements in history, the influx of millions of German expellees to West Germany after World War II. This episode of forced mass migration provides a unique setting to study the causal effects of immigration. Expellees were not selected on the basis of skills or labor market prospects and, as ethnic Germans, were close substitutes to native West Germans. Expellee inflows substantially reduced native employment. The displacement effect was, however, highly nonlinear and limited to labor market segments with very high inflow rates.

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German-Jewish Emigres and U.S. Invention

Petra Moser, Alessandra Voena & Fabian Waldinger
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
Historical accounts suggest that Jewish émigrés from Nazi Germany revolutionized U.S. science. To analyze the émigrés’ effects on chemical innovation in the U.S. we compare changes in patenting by U.S. inventors in research fields of émigrés with fields of other German chemists. Patenting by U.S. inventors increased by 31 percent in émigré fields. Regressions that instrument for émigré fields with pre-1933 fields of dismissed German chemists confirm a substantial increase in U.S. invention. Inventor-level data indicate that émigrés encouraged innovation by attracting new researchers to their fields, rather than by increasing the productivity of incumbent inventors.

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My Child Will Be a Citizen: Intergenerational Motives for Naturalization

Alex Street
World Politics, April 2014, Pages 264-292

Abstract:
A reform of German citizenship law in 2000 was expected to greatly increase the number of foreign residents becoming German citizens. In fact, the naturalization rate fell and has remained low ever since. This outcome cannot be explained either by existing research on citizenship laws or by scholarship on individual incentives to naturalize. Instead, this article argues that the family context shapes decision making about citizenship, with distinctive behavioral implications. Parents have an incentive to naturalize and thereby extend their new citizenship status to their children. The introduction of a right to citizenship for many children born in Germany to immigrant parents removed this incentive for the parents to naturalize. The author tests the predictions of this argument against both qualitative and quantitative evidence. The article concludes with a discussion of other domains in which it may be possible to gain analytic leverage by studying political decisions in the family context.

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Beyond English Proficiency: Rethinking Immigrant Integration

Ilana Redstone Akresh, Douglas Massey & Reanne Frank
Social Science Research, May 2014, Pages 200–210

Abstract:
We develop and test a conceptual model of English language acquisition and the strength of the latter in predicting social and cultural assimilation. We present evidence that the path to English proficiency begins with exposure to English in the home country and on prior U.S. trips. English proficiency, then, has direct links to the intermediate migration outcomes of occupational status in the U.S., the amount of time in the U.S. since the most recent trip, and the co-ethnic residential context in the U.S. In turn, pre-migration characteristics and the intermediate characteristics work in tandem with English proficiency to determine social assimilation in the U.S., while cultural assimilation is primarily determined by pre-migration habits. A shift in focus to English use is desirable in studies of immigrant integration.

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Subsidizing Migration? Mexican Agricultural Policies and Migration to the United States

Jeronimo Cortina
Policy Studies Journal, February 2014, Pages 101–121

Abstract:
Migration theories often ignore the role that states play in stimulating migration through public assistance policies. Using the case of Mexico, this article explores the role of the state as a migrant-producing actor by examining the relationship between migration and social assistance policies in the form of monetary cash transfers. It argues that direct, unconditional cash transfers, like those provided by agricultural programs such as Procampo, rather than providing the incentives needed to retain individuals in their home country, may instead be providing the resources needed to migrate, particularly if the amount of the transfer is insufficient to spur investment. Instead of discouraging migration by enhancing economic opportunities and reducing poverty, such policies can actually make it easier and more appealing for its beneficiaries to migrate.

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Discrimination against students with foreign backgrounds: Evidence from grading in Swedish public high schools

Bjorn Tyrefors Hinnerich, Erik Höglin & Magnus Johannesson
Education Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We rigorously test for discrimination against students with foreign backgrounds in high school grading in Sweden. We analyse a random sample of national tests in the Swedish language graded both non-blindly by the student's own teacher and blindly without any identifying information. The increase in the test score due to non-blind grading is significantly higher for students with a Swedish background. This discrimination effect is sizeable, about 10% of the mean or 20% of the standard deviation of the blind test score.

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Gender inequality and emigration: Push factor or selection process?

Thierry Baudassé & Rémi Bazillier
International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our objective in this research is to provide empirical evidence relating to the linkages between gender equality and international emigration. Two theoretical hypotheses can be made for the purpose of analyzing such linkages. The first is that gender inequality in origin countries could be a push factor for women. The second one is that gender inequality may create a “gender bias” in the selection of migrants within a household or a community. An improvement of gender equality would then increase female migration. We build several original indices of gender equality using principal component analysis. Our empirical results show that the push factor hypothesis is clearly rejected. All else held constant, improving gender equality in the labour market is positively correlated with the migration of women, especially of the high-skilled. We observe the opposite effect for low-skilled men. This result is robust to several specifications and to various measurements of gender equality.

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The Effect of Minority/Majority Origins on Immigrants' Integration

Elyakim Kislev
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper develops an inexplicably understudied variable with far-reaching implications for immigrants' experience: whether an immigrant was a member of a minority group in his or her country of origin. I investigate three groups of Israeli-born immigrants in the United States: Israeli Palestinians, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and the Jewish majority. Using the US censuses and American Community Surveys, I show that each group possesses different socioeconomic and demographic characteristics as well as different cultural and economic trajectories. Ultra-Orthodox Jews display processes of separation; the Jewish majority displays processes of integration; and Israeli Palestinians display processes of accelerated integration. In addition, analysis of these three groups' background and self-selection mechanisms, utilizing data from the Israeli Social Survey, provides a better understanding of these profound differences.

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Undocumented Migration and the Residential Segregation of Mexicans in New Destinations

Matthew Hall & Jonathan Stringfield
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study uses data from the 2000 Census and 2005-2009 American Community Survey to examine the impact of undocumented Mexican migration to new destinations on residential segregation between Mexican immigrants and native-born whites and native-born blacks. We find that Mexican-white and Mexican-black segregation is higher in new Mexican gateways than in established areas and that, for Mexican-immigrant segregation from whites, this heightened level of residential segregation in new destinations can be explained by the high presence of unauthorized Mexican immigrants living there which tends to bolster segregation between the two groups. By contrast, Mexican-immigrant segregation from native-born blacks tends to be lower in areas with larger undocumented populations, a pattern that is especially true in new destinations. Neither of these opposing effects of legal status on Mexican-immigrant segregation can be explained by compositional differences in assimilation (English ability and earnings) between documented and undocumented immigrants nor by structural variation in metropolitan areas, suggesting a unique association between legal status and segregation.

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The Ideological and Electoral Determinants of Laws Targeting Undocumented Migrants in the U.S. States

Joshua Zingher
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, March 2014, Pages 90-117

Abstract:
State legislatures have been extremely active in passing legislation relating to all facets of immigration policy over the last several years. In this article, I develop a framework that explains how party ideology, party control of the legislature, and electoral conditions affect the likelihood that a state legislature will adopt policies that increase immigration enforcement. I test my arguments using state immigration policy adoption data that span from 2005 to 2011. I find that conservative Republican state parties are more likely to pass legislation enhancing immigration enforcement — on the condition that the Republican Party controls the state’s legislative institutions. However, the willingness of Republican-controlled legislatures to pass immigration reform is often tempered by electoral concerns. Republican-controlled legislatures in states where Latinos make up a large proportion of the electorate are significantly less likely to adopt new legislation that targets undocumented migrants. I argue that Republican support for increasing sanctions on undocumented migrants is eroded by the potential for an electoral backlash from Latino voters. Democratic-controlled legislatures are unlikely to pass legislation under any conditions. Ultimately, the observed pattern of policy adoption is the product of the trade-off between the state parties’ ideologically driven policy goals and the electoral consequences associated with actually implementing immigration policies.

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The “Nature” of American Immigration Restrictionism

John Hultgren
New Political Science, Winter 2014, Pages 52-75

Abstract:
How do commitments to nature factor into the American immigration restrictionist movement? This question initially appears odd; in contemporary American politics, environmentalism is generally assumed to be a value of the political left, and restrictionism of the right. Through an in-depth analysis of the American “environmental restrictionist” logic, this article suggests that the reality is more complicated. First, the historical trajectory of the relationship between nature and restrictionism is outlined, demonstrating that commitments to particular conceptions of nature have long intersected with American restrictionism. Second, textual analysis, semi-structured interviews, and content analysis are employed in analyzing how contemporary activists making the environmental argument against immigration conceptualize nature and relate it to foundational ideals of political community, political economy, and governance. Three discourses of environmental restrictionism are identified, and the role that nature plays in each is detailed. The article concludes by reflecting on the resonance of these “natures” with mainstream American greens, and offering several prescriptions for environmentalists concerned with inclusion and social justice.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Working together

For Members Only: Ingroup Punishment of Fairness Norm Violations in the Ultimatum Game

Saaid Mendoza, Sean Lane & David Amodio
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although group membership has many privileges, members are expected to reciprocate those privileges. We tested whether in-group members would be punished more harshly than out-group members for marginal fairness norm violations within ultimatum game bargaining interactions. Participants considered monetary splits (of US$20) from in-group and out-group proposers, which ranged in proportion. Accepting an offer yielded the proposed payout; rejecting it caused each player to earn nothing - a punishment of the proposer at a personal cost. Participants exacted stricter costly punishment on racial in-group than out-group members for marginally unfair offers (Study 1), an effect that was replicated with college group membership and magnified among strong in-group identifiers (Study 2). Importantly, ultimatum game decisions were driven by fairness perceptions rather than proposer evaluations (Study 3), suggesting our effects reflected norm enforcement and not esteem preservation. These findings illuminate a previously unexplored process for maintaining group-based norms that may promote in-group favoritism.

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The reputational and social network benefits of prosociality in an Andean community

Henry Lyle & Eric Smith
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 April 2014, Pages 4820-4825

Abstract:
Several theories have emerged to explain how group cooperation (collective action) can arise and be maintained in the face of incentives to engage in free riding. Explanations focusing on reputational benefits and partner choice have particular promise for cases in which punishment is absent or insufficient to deter free riding. In indigenous communities of highland Peru, collective action is pervasive and provides critical benefits. Participation in collective action is unequal across households, but all households share its benefits. Importantly, investment in collective action involves considerable time, energy, and risk. Differential participation in collective action can convey information about qualities of fellow community members that are not easily observable otherwise, such as cooperative intent, knowledge, work ethic, skill, and/or physical vitality. Conveying such information may enhance access to adaptive support networks. Interview and observational data collected in a Peruvian highland community indicate that persons who contributed more to collective action had greater reputations as reliable, hard workers with regard to collective action and also were considered the most respected, influential, and generous people in the community. Additionally, household heads with greater reputations had more social support partners (measured as network indegree centrality), and households with larger support networks experienced fewer illness symptoms.

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Laboratories of Oligarchy? How the Iron Law Extends to Peer Production

Aaron Shaw & Benjamin Hill
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Peer production projects like Wikipedia have inspired voluntary associations, collectives, social movements, and scholars to embrace open online collaboration as a model of democratic organization. However, many peer production projects exhibit entrenched leadership and deep inequalities, suggesting that they may not fulfill democratic ideals. Instead, peer production projects may conform to Robert Michels' "iron law of oligarchy," which proposes that democratic membership organizations become increasingly oligarchic as they grow. Using exhaustive data of internal processes from a sample of 683 wikis, we construct empirical measures of participation and test for increases in oligarchy associated with growth in wikis' contributor bases. In contrast to previous studies, we find support for Michels' iron law and conclude that peer production entails oligarchic organizational forms.

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Do Natural Disasters Enhance Societal Trust?

Hideki Toya & Mark Skidmore
Kyklos, May 2014, Pages 255-279

Abstract:
In this article we investigate the relationship between disasters and societal trust. A growing body research suggests that factors such as income inequality, ethnic fractionalization and religious heritage are important determinants of social capital in general and trust in particular. We present new panel data evidence of another important determinant of trust - the frequency of natural disasters. Frequent naturally occurring events such as storms require (and provide opportunity for) societies to work closely together to meet their challenges. While natural disasters can have devastating human and economic impacts, a potential spillover benefit of greater disaster exposure may be a more tightly knit society.

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Computer Games and Prosocial Behaviour

Friederike Mengel
PLoS ONE, April 2014

Abstract:
We relate different self-reported measures of computer use to individuals' propensity to cooperate in the Prisoner's dilemma. The average cooperation rate is positively related to the self-reported amount participants spend playing computer games. None of the other computer time use variables (including time spent on social media, browsing internet, working etc.) are significantly related to cooperation rates.

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Hunter gatherer population structure and the evolution of contingent cooperation

Robert Boyd, Roberto Schonmann & Renato Vicente
Evolution and Human Behavior, May 2014, Pages 219-227

Abstract:
Unlike other vertebrates, humans cooperate in large groups with unrelated individuals. Many authors have argued that the evolution of such cooperation has resulted from reciprocity and other forms of contingent cooperation. This argument is not well supported by existing theory. The theory of contingent cooperation in pairs is well developed: reciprocating strategies are stable when common, and can increase when rare as long as population structure leads to modest levels of relatedness. In larger groups, however, it is not clear whether contingent cooperation can increase when rare. Existing work suggests that contingent strategies cannot increase unless relatedness is high, but depends on unrealistic assumptions about the effects of population structure. Here we develop and analyze a model incorporating a two level population structure that captures important features of human hunter-gatherer societies. This model suggests that previous work underestimates the range of conditions under which contingent cooperation can evolve, but also predicts that cooperation will not evolve unless (1) social groups are small, and (2) the relatedness within ethnolinguistic groups is at the high end of the range of empirical estimates.

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Wallflowers: Experimental Evidence of an Aversion to Standing Out

Daniel Jones & Sera Linardi
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
An extensive literature on reputation signaling in prosocial settings has focused on an intrinsic desire for positive reputation. In this paper, we provide experimental evidence that some individuals are averse to both positive and negative reputation and will therefore respond to visibility by signaling that they are an "average altruism type" relative to their audience. We formalize our hypotheses about "wallflower" behavior in a theoretical model. Our experimental results show that instead of uniformly increasing contributions, visibility draws contributions toward the middle of others' contributions. As a result, visibility is associated with higher levels of giving only in scenarios where others are giving a large amount. We also observe heterogeneity in reputation concerns: wallflower behavior is particularly strong for women and can be observed in several different settings.

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No praise without effort: Experimental evidence on how rewards affect Wikipedia's contributor community

Michael Restivo & Arnout van de Rijt
Information, Communication & Society, Spring 2014, Pages 451-462

Abstract:
The successful provision of public goods through mass volunteering over the Internet poses a puzzle to classic social science theories of human cooperation. A solution suggested by recent studies proposes that informal rewards (e.g. a thumbs-up, a badge, an editing award, etc.) can motivate participants by raising their status in the community, which acts as a select incentive to continue contributing. Indeed, a recent study of Wikipedia found that receiving a reward had a large positive effect on the subsequent contribution levels of highly-active contributors. While these findings are suggestive, they only pertained to already highly-active contributors. Can informal rewards also serve as a mechanism to increase participation among less-active contributors by initiating a virtuous cycle of work and reward? We conduct a field experiment on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia in which we bestowed rewards to randomly selected editors of varying productivity levels. Analysis of post-treatment activity shows that despite greater room for less-active contributors to increase their productive efforts, rewards yielded increases in work only among already highly-productive editors. On the other hand, rewards were associated with lower retention of less-active contributors. These findings suggest that the incentive structure in peer production is broadly meritocratic, as highly-active contributors accumulate the most rewards. However, this may also contribute to the divide between the stable core of highly-prodigious producers and a peripheral population of less-active contributors with shorter volunteer tenures.

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Imitation in Mediation: Effects of the Duration of Mimicry on Reaching Agreement

Jacques Fischer-Lokou et al.
Social Behavior and Personality, Winter 2014, Pages 189-195

Abstract:
We conducted 2 experiments (N = 180 participants in Study 1 and N = 102 in Study 2) to examine the effect of imitation shown by a mediator towards negotiators who were on opposing sides in regard to a financial decision being made by a fictitious company. Contrary to what was expected, data in the first study showed that, when the mediator imitated the negotiator during the first 5 minutes of an interview, this was insufficient to predispose negotiators to be more likely to reach an agreement with one another. The results in the second study showed that imitation conducted over a longer time and repeated more often during negotiations predisposed opposing parties to be more likely to agree with one another. Applications and limitations of these studies are discussed.

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Starting Small towards Voluntary Formation of Efficient Large Groups in Public Goods Provision

Gary Charness & Chun-Lei Yang
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test a mechanism whereby groups are formed voluntarily, through the use of voting. These groups play a public-goods game, where efficiency increases with group size (up to a limit, in one treatment). It is feasible to exclude group members, to exit one's group, or to form larger groups through mergers involving the consent of both merging groups. We find a great degree of success for this mechanism, as the average contribution rate is very high. The driving force appears to be the economies of scale combined with the awareness that bad behavior will result in exclusion or no admission. However, an important additional component is that it is possible for previous outsiders to later redeem themselves by becoming high contributors, typically in efficient large groups.

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Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game: Are there brains in games?

Sean Duffy & John Smith
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We find that differences in the ability to devote cognitive resources to a strategic interaction imply differences in strategic behavior. In our experiment, we manipulated the availability of cognitive resources by applying a differential cognitive load. In cognitive load experiments, subjects are directed to perform a task which occupies cognitive resources, in addition to making a choice in another domain. The greater the cognitive resources required for the task implies that fewer such resources are available for deliberation on the choice. In our experiment, subjects played a finitely repeated multi-player prisoner's dilemma game under two cognitive load treatments. In one treatment, subjects were placed under a high cognitive load (given a 7 digit number to recall) and subjects in the other were placed under a low cognitive load (given a 2 digit number). According to two different measures, we find evidence that the low load subjects behaved more strategically. First, the low load subjects exhibited more strategic defection near the end of play than the high load subjects. Second, we find evidence that low load subjects were better able to condition their behavior on the outcomes of previous periods.

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Imitation Is Necessary for Cumulative Cultural Evolution in an Unfamiliar, Opaque Task

Helen Wasielewski
Human Nature, March 2014, Pages 161-179

Abstract:
Imitation, the replication of observed behaviors, has been proposed as the crucial social learning mechanism for the generation of humanlike cultural complexity. To date, the single published experimental microsociety study that tested this hypothesis found no advantage for imitation. In contrast, the current paper reports data in support of the imitation hypothesis. Participants in "microsociety" groups built weight-bearing devices from reed and clay. Each group was assigned to one of four conditions: three social learning conditions and one asocial learning control condition. Groups able to observe other participants building their devices, in contrast to groups that saw only completed devices, show evidence of successive improvement. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that imitation is required for cumulative cultural evolution. This study adds crucial data for understanding why imitation is needed for cultural accumulation, a central defining feature of our species.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Getting together

Birds of feather flock together - Evidence for assortative mating for the Dark Triad traits

D. Asquith et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2014, Pages S27

Abstract:
Dark Triad of personality (i.e., psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism) relate to increased mating success in men. Much less is known about characteristics of the women who enter relationship with callous, manipulative, and self-aggrandising men. Here, we investigated assortative mating for Dark Triad characteristics. Using items from Dark Triad inventories, we created male profiles that were high or low in the Dark Triad traits. In three conditions, we asked women (N = 161) to rate the fictional males for long-term and short-term relationships, and to complete the Dark Triad scale that was associated with the profiles they were rating. We found assortative preferences for all Dark Triad traits in long-term mating, and assortative preferences for Machiavellianism and psychopathy in short-term mating. Our study is the first one to suggest that the sexual success of high Dark Triad males may be driven by assortative mate choice by women with the same characteristics.

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Does Casual Sex Harm College Students' Well-Being? A Longitudinal Investigation of the Role of Motivation

Zhana Vrangalova
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Engagement in casual sex (or hooking up) is generally feared to have negative well-being consequences; however, empirical evidence is inconclusive, pointing toward potential moderators. Using self-determination theory (SDT), we hypothesized that well-being following hookups would depend on the type and level of motivation for hooking up. A university-wide sample of 528 undergraduates completed online surveys at the beginning (T1) and end (T3) of one academic year. After controlling for demographics, personality traits (i.e., neuroticism and extraversion), prior casual and romantic sex, and T1 well-being, having genital hookups between T1 and T3 for non-autonomous reasons (i.e., due to self-imposed pressures, external contingencies and controls, or complete lack of intentionality) was linked to lower self-esteem, higher depression and anxiety, and more physical symptoms. Autonomous hookup motivation (i.e., emanating from one's self) was not linked to any outcomes. Compared to peers without hookups, those with high non-autonomy in their hookups typically had inferior well-being; this was not true of those with low non-autonomy hookups. Gender differences, implications for SDT and casual sex research, and implications for educational programs and clinical work are discussed.

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Evidence of Change in Men's Versus Women's Emotional Reactions to First Sexual Intercourse: A 23-year Study in a Human Sexuality Course at a Midwestern University

Susan Sprecher
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
With a large sample (N = 5,769) of university students obtained over a 23-year period (1990-2012), which represented three decades of first sexual intercourse experiences, the present study examined gender differences in pleasure, anxiety, and guilt in response to first intercourse. Men reported more pleasure and anxiety than women, and women reported more guilt than men. Anxiety decreased over the three decades for men; pleasure increased and guilt decreased for women. As a result of these changes, the differences between men and women in emotional reactions decreased slightly over time. The magnitude of the gender differences overall and in the most recent years of data collection, however, suggests that emotional responses to first sexual intercourse should be included in a small list of sexuality variables that are exceptions to Hyde's (2005) gender similarities hypothesis.

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Miscalibrations in judgements of attractiveness with cosmetics

Alex Jones, Robin Kramer & Robert Ward
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Women use cosmetics to enhance their attractiveness. How successful they are in doing so remains unknown - how do men and women respond to cosmetics use in terms of attractiveness? There are a variety of miscalibrations where attractiveness is concerned - often, what one sex thinks the opposite sex finds attractive is incorrect. Here, we investigated observer perceptions about attractiveness and cosmetics, as well as their understanding of what others would find attractive. We used computer graphic techniques to allow observers to vary the amount of cosmetics applied to a series of female faces. We asked observers to optimise attractiveness for themselves, for what they thought women in general would prefer, and what they thought men in general would prefer. We found that men and women agree on the amount of cosmetics they find attractive, but overestimate the preferences of women, and when considering the preferences of men, overestimate even more. We also find that models' self-applied cosmetics are far in excess of individual preferences. These findings suggest attractiveness perceptions with cosmetics are a form of pluralistic ignorance, whereby women tailor their cosmetics use to an inaccurate perception of others' preferences. These findings also highlight further miscalibrations of attractiveness ideals.

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Gaze properties of women judging the attractiveness of masculine and feminine male faces

Robert Burriss, Urszula Marcinkowska & Minna Lyons
Evolutionary Psychology, Winter 2014, Pages 19-35

Abstract:
Most studies of female facial masculinity preference have relied upon self-reported preference, with participants selecting or rating the attractiveness of faces that differ in masculinity. However, researchers have not established a consensus as to whether women's general preference is for male faces that are masculine or feminine, and several studies have indicated that women prefer neither. We investigated women's preferences for male facial masculinity using standard two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) preference trials, paired with eye tracking measures, to determine whether conscious and non-conscious measures of preference yield similar results. We found that women expressed a preference for, gazed longer at, and fixated more frequently on feminized male faces. We also found effects of relationship status, relationship context (whether faced are judged for attractiveness as a long- or short-term partner), and hormonal contraceptive use. These results support previous findings that women express a preference for feminized over masculinized male faces, demonstrate that non-conscious measures of preference for this trait echo consciously expressed preferences, and suggest that certain aspects of the preference decision-making process may be better captured by eye tracking than by 2AFC preference trials.

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Self-Reported Impulsivity, Rather than Sociosexuality, Predicts Women's Preferences for Masculine Features in Male Faces

Lynda Boothroyd & Gayle Brewer
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has suggested that an individual's sociosexual orientation (i.e., their willingness to engage in sexual behavior outside of long-term relationships) may influence the qualities they find attractive in a potential mate. Results, however, have not been consistent and, moreover, studies have tended to draw from specific social groups. Here, we tested the relationship between sociosexuality and female's preferences for masculinity in male faces, using a diverse population. We furthermore investigated impulsivity alongside sociosexuality, as this trait has been suggested as a "root" cause of variation in sexual behavior (Cross, 2010) and thus may better explain variation in mate choice. Results showed a significant association between increases in both sociosexuality and two subcomponents of impulsivity and greater preferences for masculine male features. Regression analysis suggested that a subcomponent of impulsivity, namely lack of planning, was the primary determinant of preferences. We discuss the implications these results have for our understanding of female attraction to masculine features.

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Manipulated luxury-apartment ownership enhances opposite-sex attraction in females but not males

Michael Dunn & A. Hill
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, March 2014, Pages 1-17

Abstract:
Manipulated prestige car ownership has been shown previously to enhance male attractiveness. In the current study the illusion of status-linked property ownership was achieved by presenting a target male and female (matched for attractiveness) adopting a casual posture standing in either a 'high status' (luxury apartment) or a 'neutral status' (standard apartment) context. A between-subjects design was used with the photographic stimuli presented amongst other masking stimuli and rated for attractiveness by opposite-sex university undergraduate participants (N = 102) on a scale of 1-10. The male model was rated significantly more attractive when presented to females in the high status compared to the neutral status context and was also adjudged to be significantly more attractive than the female target superimposed on an identical background. There was no significant difference in the female target models attractiveness ratings given by males across the two contexts. These results were obtained despite no sex-differences being found when separate participants were asked to rate the plausibility of each target model owning or renting the luxury property they were depicted in. These findings add to a growing body of work high-lighting the importance of contextual, evolutionarily relevant status cues in male attractiveness judgements.

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A greater decline in female facial attractiveness during middle age reflects women's loss of reproductive value

Dario Maestripieri et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, February 2014

Abstract:
Facial attractiveness represents an important component of an individual's overall attractiveness as a potential mating partner. Perceptions of facial attractiveness are expected to vary with age-related changes in health, reproductive value, and power. In this study, we investigated perceptions of facial attractiveness, power, and personality in two groups of women of pre- and post-menopausal ages (35-50 years and 51-65 years, respectively) and two corresponding groups of men. We tested three hypotheses: (1) that perceived facial attractiveness would be lower for older than for younger men and women; (2) that the age-related reduction in facial attractiveness would be greater for women than for men; and (3) that for men, there would be a larger increase in perceived power at older ages. Eighty facial stimuli were rated by 60 (30 male, 30 female) middle-aged women and men using online surveys. Our three main hypotheses were supported by the data. Consistent with sex differences in mating strategies, the greater age-related decline in female facial attractiveness was driven by male respondents, while the greater age-related increase in male perceived power was driven by female respondents. In addition, we found evidence that some personality ratings were correlated with perceived attractiveness and power ratings. The results of this study are consistent with evolutionary theory and with previous research showing that faces can provide important information about characteristics that men and women value in a potential mating partner such as their health, reproductive value, and power or possession of resources.

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Mate attraction in the Dark Triad: Narcissists are hot, Machiavellians and psychopaths not

J.F. Rauthmann & J. Denissen
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2014, Pages S16

Abstract:
The Dark Triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy) is linked to a fast life strategy and short-term mating in males, but strong ecologically valid evidence of their success in actual mating-situations is scarce. In natural and non-hypothetical men-women interactions (with ratings from men, women, and independent observers), we investigated (a) how the Dark Triad is related to mate attraction, (b) mediating variables of mate attraction, and (c) women's and men's physical attractiveness as a moderators. Fifty-nine men approached 1395 women on the streets aiming to obtain contact information, while two assistants unobtrusively observed interactions and questioned the women afterwards. Narcissism was uniquely associated to different mate attraction indicators because of approach-oriented behaviours (e.g., self-assuredness, charm). Machiavellianism and psychopathy showed neutral or negative relations. Men's (but not women's) physical attractiveness moderated the relation between narcissism and Machiavellianism with mate attraction. The courtship style and reproductive success of "dark personalities" is discussed.

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The Emotional Experiences of Early First Intercourse: A Multi-Method Study

Katrien Symons, Hans Vermeersch & Mieke Van Houtte
Journal of Adolescent Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The experience of the first intercourse at an early age is a well-established sexual risk behavior as it is related to adverse physical and mental health outcomes. However, the diversity within the group of early starters as well as the actual processes that make early first-time intercourse (potentially) more harmful remain understudied. The goal of this research is to understand the mechanisms that make an early experience of the first intercourse either more or less emotionally harmful. Therefore, a combination of quantitative and qualitative data are used. The quantitative data stem from a population survey (ages 14-35 years; N = 705); the qualitative data were gathered by in-depth interviews among 24 young people (ages 16-18 years) with an early first-time intercourse (at age 14 years or younger). Quantitative analyses show that the age at first-time intercourse is positively related to the feeling of readiness. For the male respondents only, it is also positively related to the general experience of the first intercourse. For female respondents, the age at the first intercourse is only related to the general experience of it in interaction with the age difference with the first partner. Qualitative analyses show that much variation goes behind these statistical regularities. Successful early starters can be differentiated from problematic early starters based on relationship characteristics, the preceding sexual trajectory, and the preceding sexual decision making. Practical implications are described, and recommendations for further research are made.

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Perceived mate availability influences intrasexual competition, jealousy and mate-guarding behavior

S. Arnocky et al.
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, March 2014, Pages 45-64

Abstract:
Mate availability has been shown to influence intrasexual competition and mate-guarding behavior across a variety of species. Nevertheless, little is known about how perceived mate scarcity affects such behavior in humans. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of experimentally induced perceptions of mate availability upon intrasexual competition, jealousy and aggressive mate guarding behavior. Heterosexual undergraduate students (N = 124, 60 women, 64 men) were primed with perceptions of either mate scarcity or mate abundance and subsequently completed measures of intrasexually competitive attitude, jealousy and willingness to aggress against a mate-poacher (either directly or indirectly). For both men and women, results showed that individuals who were exposed to the mate scarcity condition reported significantly more intrasexual competition, jealousy and willingness to aggress indirectly against a matepoacher compared to those exposed to the mate abundance condition. Results provide evidence of an attitudinal and behavioral shift toward sexual conflict when individuals perceive mates to be a scarce resource.

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The allure of vulnerability: Advertising cues to exploitability as a signal of sexual accessibility

Cari Goetz, Judith Easton & Cindy Meston
Personality and Individual Differences, July 2014, Pages 121-125

Abstract:
Research has documented that men are sexually attracted to women displaying cues to sexual exploitability. The current study investigated individual differences hypothesized to predict the display of exploitability cues as a mate attraction tactic. It was predicted that women who are more inclined toward short-term mating, high in openness, and high in extraversion would be more likely to display sexual exploitability cues. Fifty-seven women created hypothetical video dating profiles that were later coded for exploitability cues. Results supported the predicted relationships and provided the first behavioral evidence that some women may capitalize on the relationship between perceived exploitability and sexual attractiveness in pursuit of mating goals.

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Condition-dependent calibration of men's uncommitted mating orientation: Evidence from multiple samples

Aaron Lukaszewski et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Physical strength and physical attractiveness are both hypothesized as indicators of overall phenotypic condition in humans. Strategic Pluralism Theory (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000) predicts that men's orientation toward uncommitted mating is facultatively calibrated (i.e. contingently adjusted over ontogeny) in response to condition-dependent physical features, such as strength and attractiveness. Herein, we suggest that previous research bearing on this hypothesis has been limited because (a) researchers have often neglected to distinguish between mating orientations and past sexual behavior and (b) sample sizes have not always been large enough to reliably detect correlations of moderate magnitude. To address these issues and extend previous findings, we present aggregated data from three independent samples of young adults that permit us to examine multiple measures of physical strength and attractiveness in relation to uncommitted mating orientation, committed mating orientation, and past sexual behavior. As predicted, meta-analyses across samples demonstrated that strength and attractiveness were positively correlated with men's (but not women's) uncommitted mating orientation (but not their committed mating orientation). In addition, strength (in men only) and attractiveness (in both sexes) positively predicted participants' number of past sex partners. Moreover, path analyses demonstrated that the association of men's physical features with their number of sex partners was mediated via uncommitted mating orientation. These results (a) provide the most extensive support to date for the hypothesis that men's uncommitted mating orientation is calibrated to condition-dependent features and (b) clarify the sex-specific functional links among physical features, mating orientations and sexual behavior.

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Human body morphology, prevalence of nasopharyngeal potential bacterial pathogens, and immunocompetence handicap principal

Boguslaw Pawlowski et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Objective: Body height, body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) are the main traits characterizing human body morphology. Studies show that these traits are related to attractiveness and, therefore, according to an evolutionary point of view, are supposed to be honest signals of biological quality. If the immunocompetence handicap principal (IHP) is true, people with more attractive values of these traits should be more immunologically competent. To test this, we analyzed whether nasal and throat colonization with potentially pathogenic bacteria is related to body height and BMI in both sexes and to WHR in females.

Methods: 103 healthy females and 90 healthy males (with the mean age of 21.4 and 22.8, respectively) participated in the study. The heights and weights were self-reported and waist and hip circumferences measured. Six potentially pathogenic species (with the most common Staphylococcus aureus) isolated from nasal and throat swabs were identified by colony morphology, standard biochemical assays, and latex tests. To compare carrier and noncarrier individuals, Kruskal-Wallis test was used.

Results: Colonized males had higher BMI than non-colonized males (no difference for females) and colonized females had lower WHR's. Body height was not related to colonization in either sex.

Conclusions: We confirmed our hypothesis only for BMI in males. This result and a higher WHR in non-colonized females indicate higher immunocompetence of those who bear the costs of higher levels of testosterone, which according to previous studies is correlated negatively to BMI in males and positively to WHR in females.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, April 11, 2014

Backcountry

Democracy Does Cause Growth

Daron Acemoglu et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
We provide evidence that democracy has a significant and robust positive effect on GDP. Our empirical strategy relies on a dichotomous measure of democracy coded from several sources to reduce measurement error and controls for country fixed effects and the rich dynamics of GDP, which otherwise confound the effect of democracy on economic growth. Our baseline results use a linear model for GDP dynamics estimated using either a standard within estimator or various different Generalized Method of Moments estimators, and show that democratizations increase GDP per capita by about 20% in the long run. These results are confirmed when we use a semiparametric propensity score matching estimator to control for GDP dynamics. We also obtain similar results using regional waves of democratizations and reversals to instrument for country democracy. Our results suggest that democracy increases future GDP by encouraging investment, increasing schooling, inducing economic reforms, improving public good provision, and reducing social unrest. We find little support for the view that democracy is a constraint on economic growth for less developed economies.

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Plagues, Wages, and Economic Change in the Islamic Middle East, 700-1500

Şevket Pamuk & Maya Shatzmiller
Journal of Economic History, March 2014, Pages 196-229

Abstract:
This study establishes long-term trends in the purchasing power of the wages of unskilled workers and develops estimates for GDP per capita for medieval Egypt and Iraq. Wages were heavily influenced by two long-lasting demographic shocks, the Justinian Plague and the Black Death and the slow population recovery that followed. As a result, they remained above the subsistence minimum for most of the medieval era. We also argue that the environment of high wages that emerged after the Justinian Plague contributed to the Golden Age of Islam by creating demand for higher income goods.

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Should one hire a corrupt CEO in a corrupt country?

Maxim Mironov
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the interaction between the propensity to corrupt (PTC) and firm performance. Using a unique data set of Moscow traffic violations, I construct the PTC of every Muscovite with a driver's license. Next, I determine the PTC for the top management of 58,157 privately held firms. I find that a 1 standard deviation increase in management PTC corresponds to a 3.6% increase in income diversion and that firms with corrupt management significantly outperform their counterparts. This study contributes to the literature that characterizes corruption using objective (instead of perception-based) measures and provides evidence regarding the positive aspects of corruption at the firm level.

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Institutions, Human Capital, and Development

Francisco Gallego, Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson
Annual Review of Economics, 2014

Abstract:
In this paper we revisit the relationship between institutions, human capital and development. We argue that empirical models that treat institutions and human capital as exogenous are misspecified both because of the usual omitted variable bias problems and because of differential measurement error in these variables, and that this misspecification is at the root of the very large returns of human capital, about 4 to 5 times greater than that implied by micro (Mincerian) estimates, found in some of the previous literature. Using cross-country and cross-regional regressions, we show that when we focus on historically-determined differences in human capital and control for the effect of institutions, the impact of institutions on long-run development is very robust, while the estimates of the effect of human capital are much diminished and become consistent with micro estimates. Using historical and cross-country regression evidence, we also show that there is no support for the view that differences in the human capital endowments of early European colonists have been a major factor in the subsequent institutional development of these polities.

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Medieval Universities, Legal Institutions, and the Commercial Revolution

Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present new data documenting medieval Europe's "Commercial Revolution" using information on the establishment of markets in Germany. We use these data to test whether medieval universities played a causal role in expanding economic activity, examining the foundation of Germany's first universities after 1386 following the Papal Schism. We find that the trend rate of market establishment breaks upward in 1386 and that this break is greatest where the distance to a university shrank most. There is no differential pre-1386 trend associated with the reduction in distance to a university, and there is no break in trend in 1386 where university proximity did not change. These results are robust to estimating a variety of specifications that address concerns about the endogeneity of university location. Universities provided training in newly-rediscovered Roman and canon law; students with legal training served in positions that reduced the uncertainty of trade in the Middle Ages. We argue that training in the law, and the consequent development of legal and administrative institutions, was an important channel linking universities and greater economic activity in medieval Germany.

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From Wood to Coal May Well Be from Malthus to Solow

Egemen Eren & Daniel Garcia-Macia
Stanford Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:
Why did the Industrial Revolution happen in England and at that time, but not somewhere else and around a different time? By using an endogenous growth model of directed technical change and natural resources, we provide an explanation of the Industrial Revolution as a transition from wood to coal as the main source of energy. We calibrate the model to historical data on energy uses and growth in England. Switching to the wood and coal stocks of France, the model matches the income gap between the two countries in 1600 and slightly overpredicts the gap in their 1600-1900 growth rates.

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Education, Complaints, and Accountability

Juan Botero, Alejandro Ponce & Andrei Shleifer
Journal of Law and Economics, November 2013, Pages 959-996

Abstract:
Better-educated countries have better governments, an empirical regularity that holds in both dictatorships and democracies. Possible reasons for this fact are that educated people are more likely to complain about misconduct by government officials and that more frequent complaints encourage better behavior from officials. Newly assembled individual-level survey data from the World Justice Project show that, within countries, better-educated people are more likely to report official misconduct. The results are confirmed using other survey data on reporting crime and corruption. Citizens' complaints might thus be an operative mechanism that explains the link between education and the quality of government.

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Regulation of Speech and Media Coverage of Corruption: An Empirical Analysis of the Mexican Press

Piero Stanig
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Restrictions to media freedom, in the form of repressive defamation legislation, are thought to affect the amount of information about corruption that the media report. Exploiting variation in regulation of speech across states in a federal country, Mexico, and using a novel data set based on content analysis of the local press, I estimate the effect of lack of freedom on the coverage devoted to acts of malfeasance by public officials. Corruption receives significantly less attention in states with a more repressive defamation law. Instrumental variable models corroborate the interpretation of the negative association between regulation and coverage as a causal "chilling effect."

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Who Cooks the Books in China, and Does it Pay?

Toby Stuart & Yanbo Wang
University of California Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
We document the extent of fraudulent reporting among 467 private Chinese technology companies. Comparing the financial statements of companies that concurrently apply for government-funded innovation grants and that file financial statements with a second state agency, we demonstrate a systematic gap in reported profit figures in the two sets of books. We find: (i) over half the companies report materially different profit numbers to the two agencies; (ii) companies founded by individuals with political connections and those that have received investments from venture capital firms are much more likely to commit fraud, and (iii) it pays to cheat; net of ties to the government, we estimate that companies which "cook" their books have considerably higher odds of being awarded an innovation grant. Especially given the prevalence of fraud, we conclude that the prognostic factors for the propensity to commit fraud can be a source of performance differential for emerging market companies.

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Social Media, Internet and Corruption

Chandan Kumar Jha & Sudipta Sarangi
Louisiana State University Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
In this paper we study the relationship between multi-way means of communication and corruption. Unlike traditional platforms like TV or print media, which only provide a one-way channel of communication, the internet and social media platforms provide for two-way flow of information. Using Facebook as a proxy for social media, we show that Facebook penetration and corruption are negatively associated. The same holds for internet penetration. We then exploit variations in cross-country technological adoption in the field of communication in 1500 AD to address endogeneity concerns. We show that internet penetration and Facebook penetration have a causal and negative impact on corruption. Our results also suggest that these effects are sizable making them effective tools against corruption.

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Mass Media and Public Education: The Effects of Access to Community Radio in Benin

Philip Keefer & Stuti Khemani
Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research on mass media and government accountability has not examined the effects of citizen media access on broad public services, such as education. At the same time, research has abstracted from the potentially influential role of mass media on parental investments in children's education. We address both issues using a "natural experiment" in radio access in Benin and find that school children's literacy rates are higher in villages exposed to a larger number of community radio stations. There is no evidence that this effect operates through greater government responsiveness. Instead, households with greater media access make larger private investments in their children's education.

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The Six-Shooter Marketplace: 19th-Century Gunfighting as Violence Expertise

Jonathan Obert
Studies in American Political Development, April 2014, Pages 49-79

Abstract:
How are new forms of violence expertise organized and exploited? Most scholars view this as primarily a question of state-building; that is, violence experts use their skills in an attempt to regulate economic transactions or to extract and redistribute resources via protection rents either for themselves or at the behest of political elites. In an alternative view, this article demonstrates that historical gunfighters active in the late 19th-century American Southwest were actually market actors - the possessors of valuable skills cultivated through participation in the Civil War and diffused through gunfighting and reputation building in key market entrepôts. Neither solely state-builders nor state-resisters, as they have traditionally been interpreted, gunfighters composed a professional class that emerged in the 1870s and 1880s and who moved frequently between wage-paying jobs, seizing economic opportunities on both sides of the law and often serving at the behest of powerful economic, rather than political, actors. I establish this claim by examining a dataset of over 250 individuals active in the "gunfighting system" of the post-bellum West, demonstrating that the social connections forged through fighting, and diffused through social networks, helped generate a form of organized violence that helped bring "law and order" to the frontier but as a byproduct of market formation rather than as state-building.

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Economic growth, financial crisis, and property rights: Observer bias in perception-based measures

Thomas Stubbs, Lawrence King & David Stuckler
International Review of Applied Economics, May/June 2014, Pages 401-418

Abstract:
Recent years have seen an increasing number of empirical papers using subjective indicators in cross-country quantitative analyses of growth. We evaluate potential observer biases in the three most commonly employed subjective measures of property rights - taken from the Heritage Foundation, Fraser Institute, and World Economic Forum. Drawing on cross-national data for 156 countries during the years 2000 - 2010, we use Granger causality tests to assess whether exposure to recent information on economic performance introduces bias to coding of property rights scores. Further, we evaluate whether the Great Recession led observers to change property rights scores in advanced nations. We find consistent evidence that observers who provide subjective coding of property rights scores rated nations more positively when their economic performance was positive, and more negatively during the recent global financial crisis. Taken together, our findings suggest that coding of commonly employed property rights measures are subject to substantial observer bias.

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The Black Man's Burden: The Cost of Colonization of French West Africa

Elise Huillery
Journal of Economic History, March 2014, Pages 1-38

Abstract:
Was colonization costly for France? Did French taxpayers contribute to colonies' development? This article reveals that French West Africa's colonization took only 0.29 percent of French annual expenditures, including 0.24 percent for military and central administration and 0.05 percent for French West Africa's development. For West Africans, the contribution from French taxpayers was almost negligible: mainland France provided about 2 percent of French West Africa's revenue. In fact, colonization was a considerable burden for African taxpayers since French civil servants' salaries absorbed a disproportionate share of local expenditures.

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The minimal impact of a large-scale financial education program in Mexico City

Miriam Bruhn, Gabriel Lara Ibarra & David McKenzie
Journal of Development Economics, May 2014, Pages 184-189

Abstract:
We conduct randomized experiments around a large-scale financial literacy course in Mexico City to understand the reasons for low take-up among a general population, and to measure the impact of this financial education course. Our results suggest that reputational, logistical, and specific forms of behavioral constraints are not the main reasons for limited participation, and that people do respond to higher benefits from attending in the form of monetary incentives. Attending training results in a 9 percentage point increase in financial knowledge, and a 9 percentage point increase in some self-reported measures of saving, but in no impact on borrowing behavior. Administrative data suggests that any savings impact may be short-lived. Our findings indicate that this course which has served over 300,000 people and has expanded throughout Latin America has minimal impact on marginal participants, and that people are likely making optimal choices not to attend this financial education course.

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Intermediaries in corruption: An experiment

Mikhail Drugov, John Hamman & Danila Serra
Experimental Economics, March 2014, Pages 78-99

Abstract:
Anecdotal evidence suggests that intermediaries are ubiquitous in corrupt activities; however, empirical evidence on their role as facilitators of corrupt transactions is scarce. This paper asks whether intermediaries facilitate corruption by reducing the moral or psychological costs of possible bribers and bribees. We designed bribery lab experiment that simulates petty corruption transactions between private citizens and public officials. The experimental data confirm that intermediaries lower the moral costs of citizens and officials and, thus, increase corruption. Our results have implications with respect to possible anti-corruption policies targeting the legitimacy of the use of intermediaries for the provision of government services.

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The Impact of Stakeholder Power on Corporate Reputation: A Cross-Country Corporate Governance Perspective

Abrahim Soleimani, William Schneper & William Newburry
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Corporate reputation has roots in national beliefs about the role of the business corporation in society; these beliefs are constructed in accordance with the preferences of powerful stakeholders. Building on a stakeholder-power approach to corporate governance, we investigate whether differences in the legal rights and protections of shareholders, creditors, and workers across countries affect the general public's reputation assessments of business corporations. Using a sample of 593 of the largest publicly traded companies in the world from 32 countries during 2007 to 2011, we find that in societies where shareholders enjoy a high degree of legal rights, the impact of stock market returns on corporate reputation becomes more positive. Likewise, the negative relationship between earnings volatility and reputation becomes greater when creditor rights are stronger. Contrary to expectations, we found no evidence of an interaction effect between labor rights and corporate social performance on corporate reputation.

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Knowing the Right Person in the Right Place: Political Connections and Resistance to Change

Giorgio Bellettini, Carlotta Berti Ceroni & Giovanni Prarolo
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use a political economy model of Schumpeterian growth with entry to investigate how an incumbent politician can strategically use the level of red tape to acquire incumbency advantage. By setting sufficiently high red tape, the politician induces the incumbent firm in the intermediate sector to invest in political connections, which are valued also by voters, who recognize that bureaucratic costs can be reduced by connected firms. Within this framework, we study the Markov perfect equilibria of an infinitely repeated game among politicians, firms, and voters, and show that all equilibria are characterized by investments in political connections and the re-election of the incumbent politician. Political connections may prevent entry of advanced competitors and cause the economy to lag behind the technological frontier. Our model provides a possible explanation for the persistence of inefficient democracies and political barriers to technology development, where these reflect shared rather than conflicting interests.

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Governance of Commons in a Large Nondemocratic Country: The Case of Forestry in the Russian Federation

Alexander Libman & Anastassia Obydenkova
Publius, Spring 2014, Pages 298-323

Abstract:
A substantial portion of Elinor Ostrom's work critically examines the interplay between decentralization and efficient governance of commons. Ostrom's suggestion is to shift from the dichotomous view of decentralization versus centralization to a more complex picture, labeled "polycentric governance." This article applies this theory and uses a novel data set to test how the allocation of jurisdictions between the center and the regions affects forest governance in the Russian Federation. The main finding confirms the central argument of polycentricity; that is, the combination of federal involvement and the involvement of subnational interest groups improves the efficiency of forestry management. However, when either federal government or subnational nongovernmental actors dominate forest governance, the efficiency of forest management decreases.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Food for thought

Is Obesity Un-American? Disease Concerns Bias Implicit Perceptions of National Identity

Erik Lund & Saul Miller
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current research examined whether Americans incorporate obesity into their national identity, and further investigated the role an evolved behavioral immune system plays in shaping Americans’ perceptions of obesity and national identity. Two studies revealed that obesity is not, on the whole, incorporated into the American identity at an implicit level. Moreover, when disease concerns were salient, either because of an experimental priming manipulation (Study 1) or due to recent illness (Study 2), thin individuals (for whom obesity may represent a particularly atypical morphology and thus a heuristic cue to disease) implicitly excluded obesity from the American identity to a greater degree. Thus, implicitly categorizing a subgroup of people as an outgroup pathogen threat may promote behavioral avoidance, exclusion, or stigmatization. This behavioral avoidance, could, in turn lead to less risk of fitness-reducing disease contraction. Further implications for evolutionary theories of disease avoidance, group identity, and discrimination are discussed.

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Racial and Ethnic Differences Associated With Feeding- and Activity-Related Behaviors in Infants

Eliana Perrin et al.
Pediatrics, April 2014, Pages e857-e867

Objective: To examine parental reports of feeding and activity behaviors in a cohort of parents of 2-month-olds and how they differ by race/ethnicity.

Methods: Parents participating in Greenlight, a cluster, randomized trial of obesity prevention at 4 health centers, were queried at enrollment about feeding and activity behaviors thought to increase obesity risk. Unadjusted associations between race/ethnicity and the outcomes of interest were performed by using Pearson χ2 and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Adjusted analyses were performed by using proportional odds logistic regressions.

Results: Eight hundred sixty-three parents (50% Hispanic, 27% black, 18% white; 86% Medicaid) were enrolled. Exclusive formula feeding was more than twice as common (45%) as exclusive breastfeeding (19%); 12% had already introduced solid food; 43% put infants to bed with bottles; 23% propped bottles; 20% always fed when the infant cried; 38% always tried to get children to finish milk; 90% were exposed to television (mean, 346 minutes/day); 50% reported active television watching (mean, 25 minutes/day); and 66% did not meet “tummy time” recommendations. Compared with white parents, black parents were more likely to put children to bed with a bottle (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.97, P < .004; bottle propping, aOR = 3.1, P < .001), and report more television watching (aOR = 1.6, P = .034). Hispanic parents were more likely than white parents to encourage children to finish feeding (aOR = 1.9, P = .007), bottle propping (aOR = 2.5, P = .009), and report less tummy time (aOR = 0.6, P = .037).

Conclusions: Behaviors thought to relate to later obesity were highly prevalent in this large, diverse sample and varied by race/ethnicity, suggesting the importance of early and culturally-adapted interventions.

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Is Diet Quality Improving? Distributional Changes in the United States, 1989–2008

Timothy Beatty, Biing-Hwan Lin & Travis Smith
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, April 2014, Pages 769-789

Abstract:
This article measures changes in the distribution of dietary quality among adults in the United States over the period 1989–2008. Diet quality is a direct input to health, is often used as a proxy for well-being, and is an outcome variable for a wide variety of economic interventions. For the population as a whole, we find significant improvements across all levels of diet quality. Further, we find improvements for both low-income and higher-income individuals alike. Counterfactual distributions of dietary quality are constructed to investigate the extent to which observed improvements can be attributed to changes in the nutritional content of foods and to changes in population characteristics. We find that 63% of the improvement for all adults can be attributed to changes in food formulation and demographics. Changes in food formulation account for a substantially larger percentage of the dietary improvement within the lower-income population (19.6%) vs. the higher-income population (6.4%).

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How and When Grouping Low-Calorie Options Reduces the Benefits of Providing Dish-Specific Calorie Information

Jeffrey Parker & Donald Lehmann
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
To date the effectiveness of inducing lower-calorie choices by providing consumers with calorie information has yielded mixed results. Here four controlled experiments show that adding dish-specific calorie information to menus (calorie posting) tends to result in lower-calorie choices. However, additionally grouping low-calorie dishes into a single “low-calorie” category (calorie organizing) ironically diminishes the positive effects of calorie posting. This outcome appears to be caused by the effect that grouping low-calorie options has on consumers’ consideration sets. When choosing from a calorie-organized menu, consumers are more likely to filter out low-calorie options in the early noncompensatory screening stages of the decision process and, consequently, are less likely to choose low-calorie options. This result disappears when consumers deliberate longer before choosing. These results are important for consumer welfare as well-intentioned restaurateurs (policy makers) may be tempted to institute (mandate) the calorie organization of menus, inadvertently resulting in consumers choosing higher-calorie meals.

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Cigarette smoking and obesity are associated with decreased fat perception in women

Marta Yanina Pepino & Julie Mennella
Obesity, April 2014, Pages 1050–1055

Objective: Smoking and obesity are independently associated with high consumption of high-fat foods in women. We tested whether the co-occurrence of smoking and obesity associates with reduced oral fat perception.

Methods: Four groups of women (14 obese smokers, 11 obese never-smokers, 10 normal-weight smokers, 12 normal-weight never-smokers) rated vanilla puddings that varied in fat content for perceived intensity of creaminess and sweetness, using the general Labeled Magnitude Scale (gLMS), and degree of pleasantness, using the hedonic gLMS. To determine the role of retronasal smell, subjects rated puddings with and without noseclips.

Results: For all groups, perception of creaminess grew with increasing fat concentrations; puddings with any amount of fat were perceived as sweeter than fat-free pudding, and sweetness was enhanced when tasted without noseclips. Overall, obese smokers perceived less creaminess, sweetness, and pleasure while tasting the puddings than did the other three groups (all P values < 0.02).

Conclusion: The ability to perceive fat and sweetness in and derive pleasure from foods is particularly compromised in obese women who smoke, which could contribute to excess calorie intake in this population already at high risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Retronasal olfaction appears not to contribute to blunted flavor perception observed in obese smokers.

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Reporting Risk, Producing Prejudice: How News Reporting on Obesity Shapes Attitudes about Health Risk, Policy, and Prejudice

Abigail Saguy, David Frederick & Kjerstin Gruys
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
News reporting on research studies may influence attitudes about health risk, support for public health policies, or attitudes towards people labeled as unhealthy or at risk for disease. Across five experiments (N = 2,123) we examined how different news framings of obesity research influence these attitudes. We exposed participants to either a control condition, a news report on a study portraying obesity as a public health crisis, a news report on a study suggesting that obesity may not be as much of a problem as previously thought, or an article discussing weight-based discrimination. Compared to controls, exposure to the public health crisis article did not increase perception of obesity-related health risks but did significantly increase the expression of antifat prejudice in four out of seven comparisons. Across studies, compared to controls, participants who read an article about weight-based discrimination were less likely to agree that overweight constitutes a public health crisis or to support various obesity policies. Effects of exposure to an article questioning the health risks associated with overweight and obesity were mixed. These findings suggest that news reports on the “obesity epidemic” – and, by extension, on public health crises commonly blamed on personal behavior – may unintentionally activate prejudice.

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Food addiction as a causal model of obesity. Effects on stigma, blame, and perceived psychopathology

Janet Latner et al.
Appetite, June 2014, Pages 79–84

Abstract:
The present study examined the impact of the food-addiction model of obesity on weight stigma directed at obese people. Participants (n = 625) were randomly assigned to four experimental conditions. They were asked to read either a food-addiction explanatory model of obesity or a nonaddiction model, and subsequently read a vignette describing a target person who met the characteristics of one of these models and was either obese or of normal weight. Questionnaires assessed participants’ stigmatization and blame of targets and their attribution of psychopathology toward targets. Additional questionnaires assessed stigma and blame directed toward obese people generally, and personal fear of fat. A manipulation check revealed that the food-addiction experimental condition did significantly increase belief in the food-addiction model. Significant main effects for addiction showed that the food-addiction model produced less stigma, less blame, and lower perceived psychopathology attributed to the target described in vignettes, regardless of the target's weight. The food-addiction model also produced less blame toward obese people in general and less fear of fat. The present findings suggest that presenting obesity as an addiction does not increase weight bias and could even be helpful in reducing the widespread prejudice against obese people.

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Estimating Heterogeneous and Hierarchical Peer Effects on Body Weight Using Roommate Assignments as a Natural Experiment

Olga Yakusheva, Kandice Kapinos & Daniel Eisenberg
Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2014, Pages 234-261

Abstract:
We investigate peer effects in weight gain by exploiting a natural experiment, roommate assignments of 751 male and 845 female first-year college students. Results indicate that females are subject to peer influence in weight gain, with little evidence of peer effects for males. Peer influences appear to be heterogeneous as heavier and thinner females are affected by roommates more than average-weight females, and hierarchical with females influenced only by roommates who are thinner, of a higher socioeconomic status, and more sexually experienced relative to themselves. Similarity of academic performance, religiosity, and political views appears to facilitate transmission of peer influences.

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Employment Impact of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes

Lisa Powell et al.
American Journal of Public Health, April 2014, Pages 672-677

Objectives: We assessed the impact of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes on net employment.

Methods: We used a macroeconomic simulation model to assess the employment impact of a 20% SSB tax accounting for changes in SSB demand, substitution to non-SSBs, income effects, and government expenditures of tax revenues for Illinois and California in 2012.

Results: We found increased employment of 4406 jobs in Illinois and 6654 jobs in California, representing a respective 0.06% and 0.03% change in employment. Declines in employment within the beverage industry occurred but were offset by new employment in nonbeverage industry and government sectors.

Conclusions: SSB taxes do not have a negative impact on state-level employment, and industry claims of regional job losses are overstated and may mislead lawmakers and constituents.

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The Effects of a Soft Drink Tax in the UK

Richard Tiffin, Ariane Kehlbacher & Matthew Salois
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The majority of the UK population is either overweight or obese. Health economists, nutritionists and doctors are calling for the UK to follow the example of other European countries and introduce a tax on soft drinks as a result of the perception that high intakes contribute to diet-related disease. We use a demand model estimated with household-level data on beverage purchases in the UK to investigate the effects of a tax on soft drink consumption. The model is a Quadratic Almost Ideal Demand System, and censoring is handled by applying a double hurdle. Separate models are estimated for low, moderate and high consumers to allow for a differential impact on consumption between these groups. Applying different hypothetical tax rates, we conclude that understanding the nature of substitute/complement relationships is crucial in designing an effective policy as these relationships differ between consumers depending on their consumption level. The overall impact of a soft drink tax on calorie consumption is likely to be small.

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Non-Linear Effects of Soda Taxes on Consumption and Weight Outcomes

Jason Fletcher, David Frisvold & Nathan Tefft
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The potential health impacts of imposing large taxes on soda to improve population health have been of interest for over a decade. As estimates of the effects of existing soda taxes with low rates suggest little health improvements, recent proposals suggest that large taxes may be effective in reducing weight because of non-linear consumption responses or threshold effects. This paper tests this hypothesis in two ways. First, we estimate non-linear effects of taxes using the range of current rates. Second, we leverage the sudden, relatively large soda tax increase in two states during the early 1990s combined with new synthetic control methods useful for comparative case studies. Our findings suggest virtually no evidence of non-linear or threshold effects.

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Television viewing over the life course and the metabolic syndrome in mid-adulthood: A longitudinal population-based study

Patrik Wennberg et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Accumulating evidence suggests that television (TV) viewing is associated with cardio-metabolic risk, but little is known about how this relationship unfolds over the life course. This study employs a life course epidemiological framework by examining the potential cumulative effect of frequent TV viewing during adolescence and young adulthood on the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in mid-adulthood; and whether TV viewing during adolescence constitutes a sensitive period for the development of the metabolic syndrome in mid-adulthood.

Methods: We used data from the Northern Swedish Cohort, a nationally representative cohort comprising 855 participants (80% of the baseline sample). Data were collected during 1981–2008 and analysed in 2013. Logistic regression was applied to examine the associations between TV viewing at ages 16, 21 and 30 years, and the metabolic syndrome at age 43 years.

Results: Cumulative frequent TV viewing was associated with subsequent prevalence of the metabolic syndrome after adjustment for potential confounders (p for trend=0.026). Watching ‘several shows a day’ compared with ‘one show/week’ or less at age 16 years was associated with the metabolic syndrome at age 43 years after adjustment for later exposure (TV viewing at ages 21 and 30 years) and potential confounders (OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.06 to 3.27).

Conclusions: The number of life periods of frequent TV viewing during adolescence and early adulthood influenced cardio-metabolic risk in mid-adulthood in a dose-dependent manner, corresponding to a cumulative risk life course model. Additionally, TV viewing in adolescence may constitute a sensitive period for the metabolic syndrome in mid-adulthood.

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Obesity, Abdominal Obesity, Physical Activity, and Caloric Intake in U.S. Adults: 1988-2010

Uri Ladabaum et al.
American Journal of Medicine, forthcoming

Background: Obesity and abdominal obesity are independently associated with morbidity and mortality. Physical activity attenuates these risks. We examined trends in obesity, abdominal obesity, physical activity, and caloric intake in U.S. adults from 1988 to 2010.

Methods: Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data.

Results: Average body-mass index (BMI) increased by 0.37% (95% CI, 0.30-0.44%) per year in both women and men. Average waist circumference increased by 0.37% (95% CI, 0.30-0.43%) and 0.27% (95% CI, 0.22-0.32%) per year in women and men, respectively. The prevalence of obesity and abdominal obesity increased substantially, as did the prevalence of abdominal obesity among overweight adults. Younger women experienced the greatest increases. The proportion of adults who reported no leisure-time physical activity increased from 19.1% (95% CI, 17.3-21.0%) to 51.7% (95% CI, 48.9-54.5%) in women, and from 11.4% (95% CI, 10.0-12.8%) to 43.5% (95% CI, 40.7-46.3%) in men. Average daily caloric intake did not change significantly. BMI and waist circumference trends were associated with physical activity level, but not caloric intake. The associated changes in adjusted BMIs were 8.3% (95% CI, 6.9-9.6%) higher among women and 1.7% (95% CI, 0.68-2.8%) higher among men with no leisure-time physical activity compared to those with an ideal level of leisure-time physical activity.

Conclusions: Our analyses highlight important dimensions of the public health problem of obesity, including trends in younger women and in abdominal obesity, and lend support to the emphasis placed on physical activity by the Institute of Medicine.

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Robust relation between temporal discounting rates and body mass

David Jarmolowicz et al.
Appetite, July 2014, Pages 63–67

Abstract:
When given the choice between $100 today and $110 in 1 week, certain people are more likely to choose the immediate, yet smaller reward. The present study examined the relations between temporal discounting rate and body mass while accounting for important demographic variables, depressive symptoms, and behavioral inhibition and approach. After having their heights and weights measured, 100 healthy adults completed the Monetary Choice Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and the Behavioral Inhibition Scale/Behavioral Approach Scale. Overweight and obese participants exhibited higher temporal discounting rates than underweight and healthy weight participants. Temporal discounting rates decreased as the magnitude of the delayed reward increased, even when other variables known to impact temporal discounting rate (i.e., age, education level, and annual household income) were used as covariates. A higher body mass was strongly related to choosing a more immediate monetary reward. Additional research is needed to determine whether consideration-of-future-consequences interventions, or perhaps cognitive control interventions, could be effective in obesity intervention or prevention programs.

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Early Life Adversity Is Associated With Elevated Levels of Circulating Leptin, Irisin, and Decreased Levels of Adiponectin in Midlife Adults

Kyoung Eun Joung et al.
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, forthcoming

Objectives: The objective of the study was to evaluate the association between early-life adversity and circulating the levels of the adipomyokines such as leptin, adiponectin, and irisin and the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein (CRP).

Design/Subjects/Setting: This study was a cross-sectional study of 95 adults at a university-based research center. We collected venous blood from participants and analyzed serum for leptin, adiponectin, irisin, and CRP.

Results: Circulating leptin, irisin, and CRP levels were significantly higher in the highest adversity tertile group compared with low and middle tertile groups (P < .001 for leptin, P = .01 for irisin, and P = .02 for CRP). Adiponectin levels were lower in the highest tertile group compared with the low and middle tertile groups (P = .03). After adjusting for demographic variables, physical activity, diet, current mental health, and body mass index, the associations between early-life adversity leptin, irisin, and did not change. However, adiponectin and CRP levels were no longer significantly related to early life adversity.

Conclusion: Early-life adversity is directly associated with elevated circulating leptin and irisin, and indirectly associated with elevated CRP and decreased adiponectin. These findings suggest that these adipomyokines may play a role in the pathogenesis of metabolic abnormality in a population with significant early life adversity.

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A method for neighborhood-level surveillance of food purchasing

David Buckeridge et al.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Added sugar, particularly in carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), represents a considerable proportion of caloric intake in North America. Interventions to decrease the intake of added sugar have been proposed, but monitoring their effectiveness can be difficult due to the costs and limitations of dietary surveys. We developed, assessed the accuracy of, and took an initial step toward validating an indicator of neighborhood-level purchases of CSDs using automatically captured store scanner data in Montreal, Canada, between 2008 and 2010 and census data describing neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics. Our indicator predicted total monthly neighborhood sales based on historical sales and promotions and characteristics of the stores and neighborhoods. The prediction error for monthly sales in sampled stores was low (2.2%), and we demonstrated a negative association between predicted total sales and median personal income. For each $10,000 decrease in median personal income, we observed a fivefold increase in predicted monthly sales of CSDs. This indicator can be used by public health agencies to implement automated systems for neighborhood-level monitoring of an important upstream determinant of health. Future refinement of this indicator is possible to account for factors such as store catchment areas and to incorporate nutritional information about products.

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Virtually Perfect: Image Retouching and Adolescent Body Image

Kristen Harrison & Veronica Hefner
Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most studies of ideal-body media effects on body image focus on the extreme thinness of the models, not their idealness. In modern media, this idealness is often created or maximized via digital image editing. This experiment tested the effects of image editing outside the research-typical context of exclusive thinness. Original unretouched photographs were manipulated by a professional retoucher to produce unretouched and retouched image conditions. In a third condition (retouched-aware), the retouched images were explicitly labeled as retouched. Adolescents (N = 393, average age 15.43) were randomly assigned to one of these conditions or a no-exposure control, and they completed a questionnaire following exposure. Objectified body consciousness increased and physical self-esteem decreased among male and female adolescents in the retouched-aware condition only. This boomerang effect of retouching awareness is explored in the discussion.

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Counteracting Media's Thin-Body Ideal for Adolescent Girls: Informing Is More Effective Than Warning

Jolanda Veldhuis, Elly Konijn & Jacob Seidell
Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study investigated whether information or warnings about depictions of the thin-body ideal in mass media are effective in counteracting media-induced negative body perceptions of adolescent girls. Based on counter-advertising and reactance theories, our hypotheses were tested in a 3 (weight labels: information vs. warning vs. no label) × 2 (media models' body shape: thin vs. normal weight) × 2 (self-esteem: lower vs. higher) design (N = 178). Body dissatisfaction, objectified body consciousness, and body comparison with media models served as dependent variables. Pretested media models were systematically combined with various textual weight labels and presented on the front page of a magazine targeted toward girls. The results indicated that a simple information label that provided the weight status of thin media models induced less negative body perceptions in adolescent girls when compared with the use of warning labels or images only. Especially, girls with lower self-esteem then exhibited lower levels of body dissatisfaction and objectified body consciousness. When compared with exposure to images only, the warning labels had little effect on body perceptions by adolescent girls. Thus, informing is more effective than warning in counteracting the undesired effects of the thin-body ideal promoted by the media.

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Effect of violent and non-violent video games on stress markers and test meal intakes. A randomized control trial in overweight young men

J. Gan et al.
Appetite, May 2014, Page 214

Abstract:
Associations between sedentary activities and overweight/obesity have been demonstrated in experimental and epidemiological studies; traditionally this has been assumed to involve the displacement of physical activity, promoting positive energy balance and weight gain. Increasingly, researchers are challenging the utility of this ‘energy balance approach’, proposing that sedentary activities may promote weight gain through metabolic perturbations. A three arm, prospective, randomised control trial was conducted in 72 overweight/obese adult males, divided into three equal groups: (i) watching TV; or playing (ii) a non-violent video game; or (iii) a violent video game. The 1-h intervention was followed by a 25-min rest period where a selection of sweet and savoury snacks/drinks was available ad libitum. Data on stress (heart rate, blood pressure, and visual analogue scale (VAS)) were collected throughout. Heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and stress measured by VAS were all significantly higher (p < 0.05) when playing video games (FIFA and COD groups combined) compared to watching TV. Ad libitum energy intake after playing video games was 173 kcal (p < 0.03) higher than controls, in association with a preference for sweet and fatty foods (p < 0.05). Furthermore, playing the violent video game (COD) was individually associated with stronger preference for sweet foods (p < 0.01). A 1-h session of playing video games in overweight/obese adult males is associated with a stress response, and increased calorie intake, which might arise through stress-induced cerebral metabolic perturbations. Furthermore, playing the violent video game may cause an enhanced cerebral metabolic perturbation, associated with preference for sweet foods.

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Timing and Intensity of Light Correlate with Body Weight in Adults

Kathryn Reid et al.
PLoS ONE, April 2014

Abstract:
Light exposure can influence sleep and circadian timing, both of which have been shown to influence weight regulation. The goal of this study was to evaluate the relationship between ambient light, sleep and body mass index. Participants included 54 individuals (26 males, mean age 30.6, SD = 11.7 years). Light levels, sleep midpoint and duration were measured with wrist actigraphy (Actiwatch-L) for 7 days. BMI was derived from self-reported height and weight. Caloric intake was determined from 7 days of food logs. For each participant, light and activity data were output in 2 minute epochs, smoothed using a 5 point (10 minute) moving average and then aggregated over 24 hours. The mean light timing above 500 lux (MLiT500) was defined as the average clock time of all aggregated data points above 500 lux. MLiT500 was positively correlated with BMI (r = 0.51, p<0.001), and midpoint of sleep (r = 0.47, p<0.01). In a multivariable linear regression model including MLiT500 and midpoint of sleep, MLiT500 was a significant predictor of BMI (B = 1.26 SE = 0.34, β = 0.53 p = 0.001, r2Δ = 0.22). Adjusting for covariates, MLiT500 remained an independent predictor of BMI (B = 1.28 SE = 0.36, β = 0.54, p = 0.002, r2Δ = 0.20). The full model accounted for 34.7% of the variance in BMI (p = 0.01). Exposure to moderate levels of light at biologically appropriate times can influence weight, independent of sleep timing and duration.

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Variations in Cereal Volume Affect the Amount Selected and Eaten for Breakfast

Barbara Rolls, Jennifer Meengs & Liane Roe
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Food volume could influence both the portions that people take and the amount that they eat, but these effects have had little investigation. The influence of food volume was tested by systematically reducing the flake size of a breakfast cereal so that the cereal was more compact and the same weight filled a smaller volume. In a crossover design, 41 adults ate cereal for breakfast once a week for 4 weeks during 2011 and 2012. The cereal was either standard wheat flakes or the same cereal crushed to reduce the volume to 80%, 60%, or 40% of the standard. A constant weight of cereal was provided in an opaque container and participants poured the amount they wanted into a bowl, added fat-free milk and noncalorie sweetener as desired, and consumed as much as they wanted. Results from a mixed linear model showed that as flake size was reduced, subjects poured a smaller volume of cereal, but still took a greater amount by weight and energy content (both P values <0.0001). Despite these differences, subjects estimated that they had taken a similar number of calories of all versions of the cereal. They ate most of the cereal they took, so as flake size was reduced, breakfast energy intake increased from a mean±standard error of the mean of 286±18 kcal to 358±19 kcal, an increase of a mean±standard error of the mean 34%±7% (P<0.0001). These findings demonstrate that variations in food volume associated with the size of a food's individual pieces affect the portion served, which in turn affects energy intake.

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Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Consumption: The Long-term Influences on Body Mass Index in Children

Stacey Tiberio et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objectives: To examine the potential influences of maternal and paternal monitoring of child media exposure and children’s general activities on body mass index (BMI) in middle childhood.

Design, Setting, and Participants: A longitudinal study, taken from a subsample of the Three Generational Study, a predominantly white, Pacific Northwest community sample (overall participation rate, 89.6%), included assessments performed from June 1998 to September 2012. Analyses included 112 mothers, 103 fathers, and their 213 children (55.4% girls) at age 5, 7, and/or 9 years. Participation rates ranged from 66.7% to 72.0% of all eligible Three Generational Study children across the 3 assessments.

Results: Linear mixed-effects modeling indicated that more maternal, but not paternal, monitoring of child media exposure predicted lower child BMI z scores at age 7 years (95% CI, −0.39 to −0.07) and less steeply increasing child BMI z scores from 5 to 9 years (95% CI, −0.11 to −0.01). These effects held when more general parental monitoring, and parent BMI, annual income, and educational level were controlled for. The significant negative effect of maternal media monitoring on children’s BMI z scores at age 7 years was marginally accounted for by the effect of child media time. The maternal media monitoring effect on children’s BMI z score slopes remained significant after adjustment for children’s media time and sports and recreational activity.

Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that parental behaviors related to children’s media consumption may have long-term effects on children’s BMI in middle childhood. They underscore the importance of targeting parental media monitoring in efforts to prevent childhood obesity.

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Effects of promoting longer-term and exclusive breastfeeding on childhood eating attitudes: A cluster-randomized trial

Oleg Skugarevsky et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Observational studies suggest that breastfeeding benefits later maternal child-feeding practices, which in turn may contribute to positive eating attitudes. We investigated the effect of a randomized intervention to increase duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding on pre-adolescent eating attitudes.

Methods: Long-term follow-up of the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT), a cluster-randomized trial in 31 maternity hospitals and affiliated polyclinics in Belarus. Sites were randomly assigned an experimental intervention to promote longer duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding in mothers who initiated breastfeeding (n = 16 sites), or a control intervention of continuing usual care (n = 15 sites); 17 046 healthy infants were enrolled in 1996–7, of whom 13 751 (80.7%) completed the Children’s Eating Attitude Test (ChEAT) at 11.5 years of age. A ChEAT score ≥22.5 (85th percentile) was used as an indicator of problematic eating attitudes. Analysis was based on intention-to-treat, accounting for clustering within hospitals/clinics.

Results: Compared with the control arm, the experimental intervention substantially increased breastfeeding exclusivity (43.3% vs 6.4% exclusively breastfed at 3 months of age) and duration of any breastfeeding throughout infancy. The proportion of children with ChEAT scores ≥22.5 was lower in the experimental than control arm (boys 11.4% vs 17.2%; girls 18.5% vs 23.4%) [cluster-adjusted odds ratio (OR), boys: 0.44; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.21,0.93; girls: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.27,0.99). Results were robust to adjustment for potential confounders and using a ChEAT score ≥25.5 (91st percentile) as the outcome (OR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.28,1.03).

Conclusions: An intervention to improve the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding among term infants in Belarus was associated with a reduction in problematic eating attitudes at 11.5 years of age.

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Attentional retraining can reduce chocolate consumption

Eva Kemps et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, March 2014, Pages 94-102

Abstract:
There is emerging evidence that attentional biases are related to the consumption of substances such as alcohol and tobacco, and that attentional bias modification can reduce unwanted consumption of these substances. We present evidence for the first time to our knowledge that the same logical argument applies in the food and eating domain. We conducted two experiments that used a modified dot probe paradigm to train undergraduate women to direct their attention toward (“attend”) or away from (“avoid”) food cues (i.e., pictures of chocolate). In Experiment 1, attentional bias for chocolate cues increased in the “attend” group, and decreased in the “avoid” group. Experiment 2 showed that these training effects generalized to novel, previously unseen chocolate pictures. Importantly, attentional retraining affected chocolate consumption and craving. In both experiments, participants in the “avoid” group ate less chocolate in a so-called taste test than did those in the “attend” group. In addition, in Experiment 2, but not in Experiment 1, the “attend” group reported stronger chocolate cravings following training, whereas the “avoid” group reported less intense cravings. The results support predictions of cognitive–motivational models of craving and consumption that attentional biases play a causal role in consumption behavior. Furthermore, they present a promising avenue for tackling unwanted food cravings and (over)eating.

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Genetic influences on dietary variety. Results from a twin study

Benjamin Scheibehenne et al.
Appetite, June 2014, Pages 133–140

Abstract:
The heritability of variety seeking in the food domain was estimated from a large sample (N = 5543) of middle age to elderly monozygotic and dizygotic twins from the “Virginia 30,000” twin study. Different dietary variety scores were calculated based on a semi-quantitative food choice questionnaire that assessed consumption frequencies and quantities for a list of 99 common foods. Results indicate that up to 30% of the observed variance in dietary variety was explained through heritable influences. Most of the differences between twins were due to environmental influences that are not shared between twins. Additional non-genetic analyses further revealed a weak relationship between dietary variety and particular demographic variables, including socioeconomic status, age, sex, religious faith, and the number of people living in the same household.

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The Effect of Holiday Weight Gain on Body Weight

Dale Schoeller
Physiology & Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The topic of holiday weight gain has been a frequent subject of the lay media, however, scientific interest has only been recent. Multiple studies in Western societies have reported average weight gains among adults during the period between mid-November and mid-January that were about 0.5 kg. The range in individual weight changes was large, however, and the already overweight and obese gain more weight than those who are healthy weight. When the average gain across the year was also measured, the holiday weight was the major contributor to annual excess weight gain. Efforts patterned to increase awareness to energy balance and body weight have been shown to be successful at reducing such gain. An exception to holiday weight gain being a major contributor to annual excess gain has been children, in whom summer weight gains have been observed to be the major contributor to average excess weight gain.

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The Association Between Food Prices and the Blood Glucose Level of US Adults With Type 2 Diabetes

Tobenna Anekwe & Ilya Rahkovsky
American Journal of Public Health, April 2014, Pages 678-685

Objectives: We estimated the association between the price of healthy and less-healthy food groups and blood sugar among US adults with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: We linked 1999–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey health information to food prices contained in the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database. We regressed blood sugar levels on food prices from the previous calendar quarter, controlling for market region and a range of other covariates. We also examined whether the association between food prices and blood sugar varies among different income groups.

Results: The prices of produce and low-fat dairy foods were associated with blood sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes. Specifically, higher prices for produce and low-fat dairy foods were associated with higher levels of glycated hemoglobin and fasting plasma glucose 3 months later. Food prices had a greater association with blood sugar for low-income people than for higher-income people, and in the expected direction.

Conclusions: Higher prices of healthy foods were associated with increased blood sugar among people with type 2 diabetes. The association was especially pronounced among low-income people with type 2 diabetes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vitals

Social security and the rise in health spending

Kai Zhao
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a quantitative model of Social Security with endogenous health, I argue that Social Security increases the aggregate health spending of the economy because it redistributes resources to the elderly whose marginal propensity to spend on health is high. I show by using computational experiments that the expansion of US Social Security can account for over a third of the dramatic rise in US health spending from 1950 to 2000. In addition, Social Security has a spill-over effect on Medicare. As Social Security increases health spending, it also increases the payments from Medicare, thus raising its financial burden.

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Love, Toil, and Health Insurance: Why American Husbands Retire When They Do

Joshua Congdon-Hohman
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The provision of health insurance has previously been shown to be an important determinant of retirement timing among older Americans, but the existing literature has largely ignored some aspects of the interspousal dependence of health insurance benefits. Specifically, the literature examines only how retirement may affect the health insurance available to the potential retiree but not how it might affect a spouse's options. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, I find that the impact a husband's retirement might have on a wife's health insurance options has a statistically significant impact on a husband's rate of retirement that is independent of considerations of his own health insurance options. In households where the wife is the only one at risk of losing affordable health insurance if the husband retires, the husband is 30% less likely to retire than if neither spouse is at risk (a 5 percentage point decrease in the retirement rate). Based on these findings, prior research is missing one avenue that changes to the Medicare eligibility age and health insurance policy changes through the Affordable Care Act might impact the labor supply of older workers.

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The ACA: Some Unpleasant Welfare Arithmetic

Casey Mulligan
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
Under the Affordable Care Act, between six and eleven million workers would increase their disposable income by cutting their weekly work hours. About half of them would primarily do so by making themselves eligible for the ACA's federal assistance with health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health costs, despite the fact that subsidized workers are not able to pay health premiums with pre-tax dollars. The remainder would do so primarily by relieving their employers from penalties, or the threat of penalties, pursuant to the ACA's employer mandate. Women, especially those who are not married, are more likely than men to have their short-term financial reward to full-time work eliminated by the ACA. Additional workers, beyond the six to eleven million, could increase their disposable income by using reduced hours to climb one of the "cliffs" that are part of the ACA's mapping from household income to federal assistance.

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Adults in the Income Range for the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion Are Healthier than Pre-ACA Enrollees

Steven Hill et al.
Health Affairs, April 2014, Pages 691-699

Abstract:
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has dramatically increased the number of low-income nonelderly adults eligible for Medicaid. Starting in 2014, states can elect to cover individuals and families with modified adjusted gross incomes below a threshold of 133 percent of federal poverty guidelines, with a 5 percent income disregard. We used simulation methods and data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to compare nondisabled adults enrolled in Medicaid prior to the ACA with two other groups: adults who were eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled in it, and adults who were in the income range for the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and thus newly eligible for coverage. Although differences in health across the groups were not large, both the newly eligible and those eligible before the ACA but not enrolled were healthier on several measures than pre-ACA enrollees. Twenty-five states have opted not to use the ACA to expand Medicaid eligibility. If these states reverse their decisions, their Medicaid programs might not enroll a population that is sicker than their pre-ACA enrollees. By expanding Medicaid eligibility, states could provide coverage to millions of healthier adults as well as to millions who have chronic conditions and who need care.

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Who Benefits when the Government Pays More? Pass-Through in the Medicare Advantage Program

Mark Duggan, Amanda Starc & Boris Vabson
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
Governments contract with private firms to provide a wide range of services. While a large body of previous work has estimated the effects of that contracting, surprisingly little has investigated how those effects vary with the generosity of the contract. In this paper we examine this issue in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, through which the federal government contracts with private insurers to coordinate and finance health care for more than 15 million Medicare recipients. To do this, we exploit a substantial policy-induced increase in MA reimbursement in metropolitan areas with a population of 250 thousand or more relative to MSAs just below this threshold. Our results demonstrate that the additional reimbursement leads more private firms to enter this market and to an increase in the share of Medicare recipients enrolled in MA plans. Our findings also reveal that only about one-fifth of the additional reimbursement is passed through to consumers in the form of better coverage. A somewhat larger share accrues to private insurers in the form of higher profits and we find suggestive evidence of a large impact on advertising expenditures. Our results have implications for a key feature of the Affordable Care Act that will reduce reimbursement to MA plans by $156 billion from 2013 to 2022.

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The doctor will be with you ... shortly?

Lindsey Woodworth
Journal of Regulatory Economics, April 2014, Pages 138-174

Abstract:
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) requires that Medicare-participating hospitals screen and stabilize all individuals appearing in their emergency departments, regardless of expected compensation. To counter the incentive to prioritize revenue-generating patients, the law also prohibits facilities from delaying care to under-insured individuals. I estimate whether timeliness of emergency care is, in fact, unaffected by payer source as mandated. Using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, I first examine the direct effect of under-insurance and find that under-insurance is associated with an approximately 6–10 % increase in emergency department wait time. Because of concerns that the effects of under-insurance may be mediated by triage assignment, I subsequently estimate the relationship between under-insurance and triage assignment, using the office hours of general practitioners as an exogenous source of variation in payer source. Instrumental variable results suggest that under-insured patients are inexplicably assigned higher triage scores which are known to lengthen waits. Contrary to the stipulations of EMTALA, discrepancies in timeliness of care do exist. Yet, this noncompliance is not readily apparent; roughly 80 % of the increase in under-insured individuals’ wait times are masked by adjustments to triage scores.

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Effects of Prescription Drug Insurance on Hospitalization and Mortality: Evidence from Medicare Part D

Robert Kaestner, Cuiping Long & Caleb Alexander
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
We examine whether obtaining prescription drug insurance through the Medicare Part D program affected hospital admissions, expenditures associated with those admissions, and mortality. We use a large, geographically diverse sample of Medicare beneficiaries and exploit the natural experiment of Medicare Part D to obtain estimates of the effect of prescription drug insurance on hospitalizations and mortality. Results indicate that obtaining prescription drug insurance through Medicare Part D was associated with an 8% decrease in the number of hospital admissions, a 7% decrease in Medicare expenditures, and a 12% decrease in total resource use. Gaining prescription drug insurance through Medicare Part D was not significantly associated with mortality.

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Medicaid And Marketplace Eligibility Changes Will Occur Often In All States; Policy Options Can Ease Impact

Benjamin Sommers et al.
Health Affairs, April 2014, Pages 700-707

Abstract:
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), changes in income and family circumstances are likely to produce frequent transitions in eligibility for Medicaid and health insurance Marketplace coverage for low- and middle-income adults. We provide state-by-state estimates of potential eligibility changes (“churning”) if all states expanded Medicaid under health reform, and we identify predictors of rates of churning within states. Combining longitudinal survey data with state-specific weighting and small-area estimation techniques, we found that eligibility changes occurred frequently in all fifty states. Higher-income states and states that had more generous Medicaid eligibility criteria for nonelderly adults before the ACA experienced more churning, although the differences were small. Even in states with the least churning, we estimated that more than 40 percent of adults likely to enroll in Medicaid or subsidized Marketplace coverage would experience a change in eligibility within twelve months. Policy options for states to reduce the frequency and impact of coverage changes include adopting twelve-month continuous eligibility for adults in Medicaid, creating a Basic Health Program, using Medicaid funds to subsidize Marketplace coverage for low-income adults, and encouraging the same health insurers to offer plans in Medicaid and the Marketplaces.

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Negative Tests and the Efficiency of Medical Care: What Determines Heterogeneity in Imaging Behavior?

Jason Abaluck et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
We develop a model of the efficiency of medical testing based on the frequency of negative CT scans for pulmonary embolism. The model is estimated using a 20% sample of Medicare claims from 2000-2009. We document enormous heterogeneity in testing conditional on patient population. Less experienced physicians and those practicing in high spending areas test more low-risk patients. Assessing the efficiency of current practices requires calibration assumptions regarding the costs of testing, the benefits of treatment and the likelihood of false positives. While we cannot tell whether any particular testing decision was mistaken in the context of our model, we find that collectively – given these additional calibration assumptions – there are systematic differences between doctor testing practices and the recommendations of our model of optimal testing. According to our model, 90-99% of doctors test even when costs exceed expected benefits; optimal testing thresholds would increase social welfare by 20-35%. Shifting doctor practice to weight risk factors differently could increase net welfare in our model by 275%.

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Cost-Effectiveness Analysis and Insurance Coverage: Solving a Puzzle

Mark Pauly
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The conventional model for the use of cost-effectiveness analysis for health programs involves determining whether the cost per unit of effectiveness of the program is lower than some socially determined maximum acceptable cost per unit of effectiveness. If a program is better by this criterion, the policy implication is that it should be implemented by full coverage of its cost by insurance; if not, the program should not be implemented. This paper examines the unanswered question of how cost-effectiveness analysis should be performed and interpreted when insurance coverage may involve cost sharing. It explores the question of how cost sharing should be related to the magnitude of a cost-effectiveness ratio. A common view that cost sharing should vary inversely with program cost-effectiveness is shown to be incorrect. A key issue in correct analysis is whether there is heterogeneity in marginal effectiveness of care that cannot be perceived by the social planner but is known by the demander. It is possible that some programs that would fail the social efficiency test at full coverage will be acceptable with positive cost sharing. Combining individual and social preferences affects both the choice of programs and the extent of cost sharing.

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Taxpayer Willingness to Pay for Health Insurance Reform: A Contingent Valuation Analysis

Kurt Lavetti, Kosali Simon & William White
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
A key criterion for evaluating policies to expand health insurance coverage is weighing the costs of such policies against the willingness of the public to pay for coverage expansions. We use new panel survey data from New York State to estimate residents' willingness to pay (WTP) to expand public insurance coverage. Using a nonparametric double-bounded contingent valuation (CV) approach, we specifically ask residents about their WTP to reduce the rate of uninsurance in the state. Our results imply an aggregate lower-bound WTP of over $2,800 per year to cover one person. We also analyze heterogeneity in WTP by sub-group and changes in individual WTP over time between 2008 and 2010. We find that a large majority of residents are willing to pay additional taxes to reduce the number of uninsured in the state, and that average WTP remained remarkably stable despite the economic downturn and the politically polarized discussions surrounding the Affordable Care Act. Decomposing the changes in individual WTP, we find that economic factors related to the recession, including changes in income and employment status, cannot explain changes in individual WTP, whereas individual changes in political opinions about health insurance reform between 2008 and 2010 are strongly correlated with changes in WTP.

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Preparedness of Americans for the Affordable Care Act

Silvia Helena Barcellos et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether individuals are sufficiently informed to make reasonable choices in the health insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We document knowledge of health reform, health insurance literacy, and expected changes in healthcare using a nationally representative survey of the US population in the 5 wk before the introduction of the exchanges, with special attention to subgroups most likely to be affected by the ACA. Results suggest that a substantial share of the population is unprepared to navigate the new exchanges. One-half of the respondents did not know about the exchanges, and 42% could not correctly describe a deductible. Those earning 100–250% of federal poverty level (FPL) correctly answered, on average, 4 out of 11 questions about health reform and 4.6 out of 7 questions about health insurance. This compares with 6.1 and 5.9 correct answers, respectively, for those in the top income category (400% of FPL or more). Even after controlling for potential confounders, a low-income person is 31% less likely to score above the median on ACA knowledge questions, and 54% less likely to score above the median on health insurance knowledge than a person in the top income category. Uninsured respondents scored lower on health insurance knowledge, but their knowledge of ACA is similar to the overall population. We propose that simplified options, decision aids, and health insurance product design to address the limited understanding of health insurance contracts will be crucial for ACA’s success.

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The Nature of Surgeon Human Capital Depreciation

Jason Hockenberry & Lorens Helmchen
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
To test how practice interruptions affect worker productivity, we estimate how temporal breaks affect surgeons’ performance of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Using a sample of 188 surgeons who performed 56,315 CABG procedures in Pennsylvania between 2006 and 2010, we find that a surgeon’s additional day away from the operating room raised patients’ inpatient mortality risk by up to 0.067 percentage points (2.4% relative effect) but reduced total hospitalization costs by up to 0.59 percentage points. In analyses of 93 high-volume surgeons treating 9,853 patients admitted via an emergency department, where temporal distance effects are most plausibly exogenous, an additional day away raised mortality risk by 0.398 percentage points (11.4% relative effect) but reduced cost by up to 1.396 percentage points. These estimates imply a cost per life-year saved ranging from $7,871 to $18,500, rendering additional treatment intensity within surgery cost-effective at conventional cutoffs. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that after returning from temporal breaks surgeons may be less likely to recognize and address life-threatening complications, in turn reducing resource use. This form of human capital loss would explain the decrease in worker productivity and the simultaneous reduction in input use.

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A Tale of Two Cities? The Heterogeneous Impact of Medicaid Managed Care

James Marton, Aaron Yelowitz & Jeffery Talbert
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evaluating Accountable Care Organizations is difficult because there is a great deal of heterogeneity in terms of their reimbursement incentives and other programmatic features. We examine how variation in reimbursement incentives and administration among two Medicaid managed care plans impacts utilization and spending. We use a quasi-experimental approach exploiting the timing and county-specific implementation of Medicaid managed care mandates in two contiguous regions of Kentucky. We find large differences in the relative success of each plan in reducing utilization and spending that are likely driven by important differences in plan design. The plan that capitated primary care physicians and contracted out many administrative responsibilities to an experienced managed care organization achieved significant reductions in outpatient and professional utilization. The plan that opted for a fee-for-service reimbursement scheme with a group withhold and handled administration internally saw a much more modest reduction in outpatient utilization and an increase in professional utilization.

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How Has the Affordable Care Act’s Medical Loss Ratio Regulation Affected Insurer Behavior?

Jean Abraham, Pinar Karaca-Mandic & Kosali Simon
Medical Care, April 2014, Pages 370-377

Background: Starting in 2011, the Affordable Care Act stipulates that insurers meet the minimum medical loss ratio (MLR) standards or issue rebates. An MLR is the proportion of premium revenues spent on clinical benefits, and must be at least 80% in the individual and small-group markets. Although some insurers have issued rebates, it is unclear whether they also adjusted MLRs and their components in ways to move toward compliance.

Objective: To investigate early responses of individual and small-group insurers’ MLR-related outcomes to the Affordable Care Act provisions.

Results: In 2010, only 44.3% of individual market insurers reported MLRs of at least the stipulated level; by 2011, this percentage was 63.2%. Among small-group insurers, 74.9% had 2010 MLRs at or above the stipulated level, with little change in 2011. Individual insurers with 2010 MLRs >10 percentage points below the minimum exhibited the largest increases in MLRs, with changes occurring through increases in claims and indirectly through decreases in administrative expenses.

Conclusions: Early responses to MLR regulation seem more pronounced in the individual versus small-group market, with insurers using both direct and indirect strategies for compliance. Because insurers learned of final MLR regulations only in late 2010, early responses may be limited and skewed more toward greater use of rebates than other adjustments.

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The Persuasive Effect of External Financial Relationships: The Influence of Pharmaceutical Industry Payments on Decision-Making in Hospitals

Sara Parker Lue
Rutgers Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines the potential for conflicts of interest to influence managers, specifically in the context of health care. Managers in all types of firms may be expected to have relationships with outside firms such as vendors in the course of performing their duties. Yet these relationships open managers to the possibility of conflicts of interest as well, to the extent that this contact is persuasive rather than informational. The possibility for a conflict of interest becomes particularly concerning in the presence of a financial relationship between a firm’s employees and its suppliers. I examine this possibility in the context of health care, where physician contact with pharmaceutical companies (key vendors for hospitals) is important for clinical decision-making, but also presents the possibility of conflict of interest. I examine physician prescribing behavior after the termination of a financial relationship with a pharmaceutical company in order to identify the persuasive (rather than informational) effect of the relationship, and find that affected physicians do significantly alter their behavior, confirming the presence of a persuasive and non-informational effect.

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How Much Favorable Selection Is Left in Medicare Advantage?

Joseph Newhouse et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
There are two types of selection models in the health economics literature. One focuses on choice between a fixed set of contracts. Consumers with greater demand for medical care services prefer contracts with more generous reimbursement, resulting in a suboptimal proportion of consumers in such contracts in equilibrium. In extreme cases more generous contracts may disappear (the “death spiral”). In the other model insurers tailor the contracts they offer consumers to attract profitable consumers. An equilibrium may or may not exist in such models, but if it exists it is not first best. The Medicare Advantage program offers an opportunity to study these models empirically, although unlike the models in the economics literature there is a regulator with various tools to address selection. One such tool is risk adjustment, or making budget neutral transfers among insurers using observable characteristics of enrollees that predict spending. Medicare drastically changed its risk adjustment program starting in 2004 and made a number of other changes to reduce selection as well. Previous work has argued that the changes worsened selection. We show, using a much larger data set, that this was not the case, but that some inherent selection may remain.

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Can We Trust Online Physician Ratings? Evidence from Cardiac Surgeons in Florida

Susan Lu & Huaxia Rui
University of Rochester Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
Despite heated debate about the pros and cons of online physician ratings, very little systematic work examines the correlation between physicians’ online ratings and their actual medical performance. Using patients’ ratings of physicians at RateMDs website and the Florida Hospital Discharge data, we investigate whether online ratings reflect physicians’ medical skill by means of a two-stage model that takes into account patients’ ratings-based selection of cardiac surgeons. Estimation results suggest that five-star surgeons perform significantly better and are more likely to be selected by sicker patients than lower-rated surgeons. Our findings suggest that we can trust online physician reviews, at least of cardiac surgeons.

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The Effects of Medicare on Medical Expenditure Risk and Financial Strain

Silvia Helena Barcellos & Mireille Jacobson
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
We estimate the current impact of Medicare on medical expenditure risk and financial strain. At age 65, out-of-pocket expenditures drop by 33% at the mean and 53% among the top 5% of spenders. The fraction of the population with out-of-pocket medical expenditures above income drops by more than half. Medical-related financial strain, such as problems paying bills, is dramatically reduced. Using a stylized expected utility framework, the gain from reducing out-of-pocket expenditures alone accounts for 18% of the social costs of financing Medicare. This calculation ignores the benefits of reduced financial strain and direct health improvements due to Medicare.

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The impact of risk preference on health insurance and health expenditures in the United States

Simon Condliffe & Gregory Fiorentino
Applied Economics Letters, Spring 2014, Pages 613-616

Abstract:
The Affordable Care Act includes an individual mandate whereby persons are required to carry health insurance. This mandate will bring currently uninsured persons into the insurance pool. The uninsured are a heterogeneous group that includes persons with diverse risk preferences. It is important, therefore, to understand the role risk preference plays in (1) the likelihood of being uninsured and (2) the health care expenditures. Using the recently available data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), we analyse eight years of US data using multivariate regression and quantify the role of risk preference in insurance and expenditure equations. The results provide evidence that a person with high risk preference is less likely to hold health insurance, and spends less on healthcare even when controlling for insurance.

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Do IT students prefer doctors who use IT?

James Wolf
Computers in Human Behavior, June 2014, Pages 287–294

Abstract:
Several studies suggest that clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) reduce physician diagnostic errors, decrease medical costs, and improve the quality of patient care. However, despite the many potential benefits, physicians have been slow to adopt CDSSs and fail to use them when they are available. Some researchers have speculated that physicians are reluctant to adopt these diagnostic aids, in part, due to the widespread psychological bias that patients and peers feel against physicians who use them. This bias has been well documented among the general public. Many have assumed that this human-is-better attitude is limited to older and less computer savvy populations. We test this assumption with two vignette-based experiments. Our data suggest that, when it comes to physicians, even young participants with positive attitudes towards computers (i.e., IT students) have a human-is-better bias.

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Young Adults' Health Care Utilization and Expenditures Prior to the Affordable Care Act

Josephine Lau et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: To examine young adults' health care utilization and expenditures prior to the Affordable Care Act.

Methods: We used 2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to (1) compare young adults' health care utilization and expenditures of a full-spectrum of health services to children and adolescents and (2) identify disparities in young adults' utilization and expenditures, based on access (insurance and usual source of care) and other sociodemographic factors, including race/ethnicity and income.

Results: Young adults had (1) significantly lower rates of overall utilization (72%) than other age groups (83%–88%, p < .001), (2) the lowest rate of office-based utilization (55% vs. 67%–77%, p < .001) and (3) higher rate of emergency room visits compared with adolescents (15% vs. 12%, p < .01). Uninsured young adults had high out-of-pocket expenses. Compared with the young adults with private insurance, the uninsured spent less than half on health care ($1,040 vs. $2,150/person, p < .001) but essentially the same out-of-pocket expenses ($403 vs. $380/person, p = .57). Among young adults, we identified significant disparities in utilization and expenditures based on the presence/absence of a usual source of care, race/ethnicity, home language, and sex.

Conclusions: Young adults may not be utilizing the health care system optimally by having low rates of office-based visits and high rates of emergency room visits. The Affordable Care Act provision of insurance for those previously uninsured or under-insured will likely increase their utilization and expenditures and lower their out-of-pocket expenses. Further effort is needed to address noninsurance barriers and ensure equal access to health services.

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What The Affordable Care Act Means For People With Jail Stays

Marsha Regenstein & Sara Rosenbaum
Health Affairs, March 2014, Pages 448-454

Abstract:
About one in six people expected to enroll in Medicaid under health reform expansions and nearly one in ten expected to enroll in qualified health plans through the health insurance Marketplaces will have spent some time in jail during the past year. People who have spent time in jail frequently cycle in and out of incarceration; have high rates of chronic physical, mental health, and substance use conditions; and historically have been uninsured and without access to continuous health care. The Affordable Care Act may not change the quality of health care in jails, but its provision of better access to care before and after people are incarcerated could have positive long-term effects on both the health of those individuals and overall health care costs. Achieving these results will require careful planning and coordination among jail health care programs, Medicaid, and Marketplace health plans. The use of electronic health records by jails and community providers could help ensure that treatments are consistent no matter where a patient resides. Policy makers and health plans could also ensure continuity of care by including in their networks some of the same safety-net providers that are under contract to furnish care to jail inmates.

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Health Insurance Tax Credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Health Insurance Coverage of Single Mothers

Merve Cebi & Stephen Woodbury
Health Economics, May 2014, Pages 501–515

Abstract:
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 enacted a refundable tax credit for low-income working families who purchased health insurance coverage for their children. This health insurance tax credit (HITC) existed during tax years 1991, 1992, and 1993, and was then rescinded. A difference-in-differences estimator applied to Current Population Survey data suggests that adoption of the HITC, along with accompanying increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), was associated with a relative increase of about 4.7 percentage points in the private health insurance coverage of working single mothers with high school or less education. Also, a difference-in-difference-in-differences estimator, which attempts to net out the possible influence of the EITC increases but which requires strong assumptions, suggests that the HITC was responsible for about three-quarters (3.6 percentage points) of the total increase. The latter estimate implies a price elasticity of health insurance take-up of −0.42.

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Use of Hospital-Based Services Among Young Adults With Behavioral Health Diagnoses Before and After Health Insurance Expansions

Ellen Meara et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, April 2014, Pages 404-411

Objective: To evaluate the association between health insurance coverage expansions and use of hospital-based care among young adults with behavioral health diagnoses.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Quasi-experimental analyses of community hospital inpatient and emergency department use from 2003-2009 based on hospital discharge data, comparing differential changes in service use among young adults with behavioral health diagnoses in Massachusetts vs other states before and after Massachusetts’ 2006 health reform. This population-based sample included inpatient admissions (n = 2 533 307, representing 12 821 746 weighted admissions across 7 years) nationwide and emergency department visits (n = 6 817 855 across 7 years) from Maryland and Massachusetts for 12- to 25-year-old patients.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Inpatient admission rates per 1000 population for primary diagnosis of any behavioral health disorder by diagnosis; emergency department visit rates per 1000 population by behavioral health diagnosis; and insurance coverage for hospital discharges.

Results: After 2006, uninsurance among 19- to 25-year-old individuals in Massachusetts decreased from 26% to 10% (16 percentage points; 95% CI, 13-20). Young adults experienced relative declines in inpatient admission rates of 2.0 per 1000 for primary diagnoses of any behavioral health disorder (95% CI, 0.95-3.2), 0.38 for depression (95% CI, 0.18-0.58), and 1.3 for substance use disorder (95% CI, 0.68-1.8). The increase in emergency department visits with any behavioral health diagnosis after 2006 was lower among young adults in Massachusetts compared with Maryland (16.5 per 1000; 95% CI, 11.4-21.6). Among young adults in Massachusetts, the percentage of behavioral health discharges that were uninsured decreased by 5.0 (95% CI, 3.0-7.2) percentage points in inpatient settings and 5.0 (95% CI, 1.7-7.8) percentage points in emergency departments relative to other states.

Conclusions and Relevance: Expanded health insurance coverage for young adults was not associated with large increases in hospital-based care for behavioral health, but it increased financial protection for young adults with behavioral health diagnoses and for the hospitals that care for them.

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Impact of Resident Involvement on Urologic Surgery Outcomes: An analysis of 40,000 Patients from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Database

Richard Matulewicz et al.
Journal of Urology, forthcoming

Purpose: In addition to excellent patient care, the focus of academic medicine has traditionally been resident training. The changing landscape of healthcare has put an increased focus on objective outcomes. As a result, the surgical training process has come under scrutiny for its influence on patients care. We seek to elucidate resident involvement’s effect on patients’ outcomes.

Materials/Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on data collected from the 2005 - 2011 National Surgical Quality Improvement Program’s (NSQIP) participant use database. Patients were separated into two cohorts by resident participation (RP) or lack thereof. The cohorts were compared based on preoperative comorbidities, demographic characteristics, and intraoperative factors. Confounders were adjusted for using propensity score modification and complications were analyzed using perioperative variables as predictors.

Results: Forty thousand patients met inclusion criteria. Raw data analysis showed cases with RP to have higher rates of overall complications. However, with propensity score modification, there were no significant differences in overall, medical, or surgical complications in cases with RP. Resident participation was associated with decreased odds (0.85) of overall complications. Operative times (159m vs. 98m) were found to be significantly longer in cases with RP.

Conclusions: We demonstrated that urology resident involvement is not associated with increased overall and surgical complications and may even be protective when adjusted for appropriate factors such as case mix, complexity and operative time.

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Economies of Scale and Scope: The Case of Specialty Hospitals

Kathleen Carey, James Burgess & Gary Young
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The recent growth of physician-owned hospitals specializing in orthopedic and surgical specialty services in the United States has generated considerable controversy, yet there is little understanding of the economic logic of organizing hospital services around these single specialties. This article takes a multiple output hospital cost function approach to an empirical investigation of whether single specialty hospitals (SSHs) exhibit economies of scale and economies of scope as keys to new insights into that logic. We applied generalized estimating equation techniques to a sample of 80 SSHs and 883 general hospital competitors over the 1998–2008 period. Results indicated large underlying scale differences across the organizational types. Simulation analysis revealed the potential for exploitation of economies of scope gained from shifting output from SSHs to general hospitals.

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How Important is Governance? Evidence from Heart Attack Survival

Jonathan Kalodimos
University of Washington Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
The effect of internal governance on performance is economically significant but difficult to estimate because of noisy measures of performance, confounding external governance mechanisms, and the endogenous choice of strength of governance. This study addresses these difficulties by using nonprofit hospitals as an economic environment with muted external governance mechanisms and using patient survival of a heart attack as an unambiguous measure of performance. To establish a causal relationship I use governance spillovers of geographically local public firms to instrument for nonprofit hospital governance. I find that a one standard deviation increase in strength of governance reduces the probability of death by 0.86 percentage points after controlling for patient characteristics.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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