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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Noticeable

Up speeds you down. Awe-evoking monumental buildings trigger behavioral and perceived freezing

Yannick Joye & Siegfried Dewitte

Journal of Environmental Psychology, September 2016, Pages 112-125

Abstract:
Since the dawn of large-scale civilizations, humans have built exceptionally tall architectural structures. We tested whether exposing individuals to images of very tall buildings would produce feelings of awe in them, and would lead to a behavioral response frequently associated with this emotion, namely "freezing". Across four studies participants reported to feel more awestruck (Pilot 1a, Study 1a) and more bodily immobile after having seen pictures of high versus low buildings (Study 1b). In addition to perceived immobility, we also found that participants responded slower on a manual clicking task in the face of high as opposed to low buildings (Pilot 1b, Study 1b). This effect was mediated by perceived bodily immobility, suggesting that slow clicking after seeing high buildings indeed reflected behavioral freezing. Overall, our findings suggest that very tall buildings can be a trigger of awe, and that experiencing this emotion can involve a state of behavioral freezing.

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From Painkiller to Empathy Killer: Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Empathy for Pain

Dominik Mischkowski, Jennifer Crocker & Baldwin Way

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Simulation theories of empathy hypothesize that empathizing with others' pain shares some overlapping psychological computations with the processing of one's own pain. Support for this perspective has largely relied on functional neuroimaging evidence of an overlap between activations during the experience of physical pain and empathy for other people's pain. Here, we extend the functional overlap perspective to the neurochemical level and test whether a common physical painkiller, acetaminophen (paracetamol), can reduce empathy for another's pain. In two double-blind placebo-controlled experiments, participants rated perceived pain, personal distress, and empathic concern in response to reading physical or social pain scenarios, witnessing ostracism in the lab, or visualizing another study participant receiving painful noise blasts. As hypothesized, acetaminophen reduced empathy in response to others' pain. Acetaminophen also reduced the unpleasantness of noise blasts delivered to the participant, which mediated acetaminophen's effects on empathy. Together, these findings suggest that the physical painkiller acetaminophen reduces empathy for pain and provide a new perspective on the neurochemical bases of empathy. Because empathy regulates prosocial and antisocial behavior, these drug-induced reductions in empathy raise concerns about the broader social side effects of acetaminophen, which is taken by almost a quarter of US adults each week.

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Sex Differences in Music: A Female Advantage at Recognizing Familiar Melodies

Scott Miles, Robbin Miranda & Michael Ullman

Frontiers in Psychology, March 2016

Abstract:
Although sex differences have been observed in various cognitive domains, there has been little work examining sex differences in the cognition of music. We tested the prediction that women would be better than men at recognizing familiar melodies, since memories of specific melodies are likely to be learned (at least in part) by declarative memory, which shows female advantages. Participants were 24 men and 24 women, with half musicians and half non-musicians in each group. The two groups were matched on age, education, and various measures of musical training. Participants were presented with well-known and novel melodies, and were asked to indicate their recognition of familiar melodies as rapidly as possible. The women were significantly faster than the men in responding, with a large effect size. The female advantage held across musicians and non-musicians, and across melodies with and without commonly associated lyrics, as evidenced by an absence of interactions between sex and these factors. Additionally, the results did not seem to be explained by sex differences in response biases, or in basic motor processes as tested in a control task. Though caution is warranted given that this is the first study to examine sex differences in familiar melody recognition, the results are consistent with the hypothesis motivating our prediction, namely that declarative memory underlies knowledge about music (particularly about familiar melodies), and that the female advantage at declarative memory may thus lead to female advantages in music cognition (particularly at familiar melody recognition). Additionally, the findings argue against the view that female advantages at tasks involving verbal (or verbalizable) material are due solely to a sex difference specific to the verbal domain. Further, the results may help explain previously reported cognitive commonalities between music and language: since declarative memory also underlies language, such commonalities may be partly due to a common dependence on this memory system. More generally, because declarative memory is well studied at many levels, evidence that music cognition depends on this system may lead to a powerful research program generating a wide range of novel predictions for the neurocognition of music, potentially advancing the field.

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Money in your palm: Sharp shaped vegetation in the surroundings increase the subjective value of houses

Shlomo Hareli et al.

Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Preference for round over sharp shaped objects, is attributed to the potential damage of sharpness. We tested if leaf sharpness of vegetation surrounding a house, affects the evaluation the house and its owner. We demonstrated that houses surrounded by sharp leaf vegetation (SLV) were evaluated as more expensive than houses surrounded by round leaf vegetation (RLV). Among the SLV surrounded houses, those surrounded only by palms were rated highest while SLV houses were evaluated as safer. In a final experiment, the perceptions of individual leaves differing in shape, were consistent with the protective function of sharp leaves. Our findings are explained by theorizing that SLV confer protective value on neighboring houses. The perceived higher values and safety of houses surrounded by palms is attributed to the association of palms with suitable and stable living environments. Furthermore, preference for palm habitats may have deep roots of human evolution in African savannas.

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Testing for Individual Differences in the Identification of Chemosignals for Fear and Happy: Phenotypic Super-Detectors, Detectors and Non-Detectors

Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Terry McGuire & Patricia Wilson

PLoS ONE, May 2016

Abstract:
Mood odor identification, explicit awareness of mood odor, may be an important emotion skill and part of a complex dual processing system. It has already been shown that mood odors have significant implicit effects, effects that occur without awareness. This study applies methods for examining human individual differences in the identification of chemosignals for fear and happy, important in itself, and a key to understanding the dual processing of emotion in the olfactory system. Axillary mood odors had been collected from 14 male donors during a mood induction task. Pads were collected after 12 and 24 minutes, creating two doses. Sixty -one participants (41 females) identified the mood odor chemosignals. On a single trial, participants identified 2 doses of fear, 2 doses of happy, and a sterile control. There were 15 trials. The first analysis (rtt) showed that the population was phenotypically heterogeneous, not homogeneous, in identification accuracy. It also showed that a minimum of 10 trials was needed for test reliability. The second analysis, Growth Mixture Modeling, found three distinct groups of detectors: (1) 49.49% were consistently accurate super detectors, (2) 32.52% were accurate above chance level detectors, and (3) 17.98% were non-detectors. Bayesian Posterior Analyses showed reliability of groups at or above 98%. No differences related to mood odor valence (fear or happy), dose (collection at 12 or 24 minutes) or gender were found. Implications for further study of genetic differences, learning and function of identification are noted. It appears that many people can be reliable in explicitly identifying fear and happy mood odors but this skill is not homogeneous.

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The Song Is You: Preferences for Musical Attribute Dimensions Reflect Personality

David Greenberg et al.

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that musical preferences are linked to personality, but this research has been hindered by genre-based theories and methods. We address this limitation using a novel method based on the actual attributes that people perceive from music. In Study 1, using 102 musical pieces representing 26 genres and subgenres, we show that 38 perceived attributes in music can be organized into three basic dimensions: arousal, valence, and depth. In Study 2 (N = 9,454), we show that people's preferences for these musical attributes reflected their self-ratings of personality traits. Importantly, personality was found to predict musical preferences above and beyond demographic variables. These findings advance previous theory and research and have direct applications for the music industry, recommendation algorithms, and health-care professionals.

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A Simple Task Uncovers a Postdictive Illusion of Choice

Adam Bear & Paul Bloom

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do people know when, or whether, they have made a conscious choice? Here, we explore the possibility that choices can seem to occur before they are actually made. In two studies, participants were asked to quickly choose from a set of options before a randomly selected option was made salient. Even when they believed that they had made their decision prior to this event, participants were significantly more likely than chance to report choosing the salient option when this option was made salient soon after the perceived time of choice. Thus, without participants' awareness, a seemingly later event influenced choices that were experienced as occurring at an earlier time. These findings suggest that, like certain low-level perceptual experiences, the experience of choice is susceptible to "postdictive" influence and that people may systematically overestimate the role that consciousness plays in their chosen behavior.

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Feeling light or dark? Emotions affect perception of brightness

Xiaobin Zhang et al.

Journal of Environmental Psychology, September 2016, Pages 107-111

Abstract:
In three experiments, we tested whether a perceiver's emotions affected the perception of brightness. Experiment 1 primed emotions via happy or sad film clips and found that happy participants judged the room to be brighter than sad participants. In Experiment 2, participants' emotions were primed by recalling happy or sad deeds and also revealed that happy participants judged the room to be brighter in both watts and using a 7-point scale compared to sad participants. Using the same manipulation as Experiment 2, Experiment 3 also showed that happy participants judged a gray picture presented on a computer screen (i.e., the room) to be brighter than sad participants. These experiments provide evidence that perceivers' emotions can affect the perception of brightness in a metaphorically consistent manner.

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The Insula Mediates Access to Awareness of Visual Stimuli Presented Synchronously to the Heartbeat

Roy Salomon et al.

Journal of Neuroscience, 4 May 2016, Pages 5115-5127

Abstract:
The processing of interoceptive signals in the insular cortex is thought to underlie self-awareness. However, the influence of interoception on visual awareness and the role of the insular cortex in this process remain unclear. Here, we show in a series of experiments that the relative timing of visual stimuli with respect to the heartbeat modulates visual awareness. We used two masking techniques and show that conscious access for visual stimuli synchronous to participants' heartbeat is suppressed compared with the same stimuli presented asynchronously to their heartbeat. Two independent brain imaging experiments using high-resolution fMRI revealed that the insular cortex was sensitive to both visible and invisible cardio-visual stimulation, showing reduced activation for visual stimuli presented synchronously to the heartbeat. Our results show that interoceptive insular processing affects visual awareness, demonstrating the role of the insula in integrating interoceptive and exteroceptive signals and in the processing of conscious signals beyond self-awareness.

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Causal Evidence for a Mechanism of Semantic Integration in the Angular Gyrus as Revealed by High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Amy Rose Price et al.

Journal of Neuroscience, 30 March 2016, Pages 3829-3838

Abstract:
A defining aspect of human cognition is the ability to integrate conceptual information into complex semantic combinations. For example, we can comprehend "plaid" and "jacket" as individual concepts, but we can also effortlessly combine these concepts to form the semantic representation of "plaid jacket." Many neuroanatomic models of semantic memory propose that heteromodal cortical hubs integrate distributed semantic features into coherent representations. However, little work has specifically examined these proposed integrative mechanisms and the causal role of these regions in semantic integration. Here, we test the hypothesis that the angular gyrus (AG) is critical for integrating semantic information by applying high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to an fMRI-guided region-of-interest in the left AG. We found that anodal stimulation to the left AG modulated semantic integration but had no effect on a letter-string control task. Specifically, anodal stimulation to the left AG resulted in faster comprehension of semantically meaningful combinations like "tiny radish" relative to non-meaningful combinations, such as "fast blueberry," when compared to the effects observed during sham stimulation and stimulation to a right-hemisphere control brain region. Moreover, the size of the effect from brain stimulation correlated with the degree of semantic coherence between the word pairs. These findings demonstrate that the left AG plays a causal role in the integration of lexical-semantic information, and that high-definition tDCS to an associative cortical hub can selectively modulate integrative processes in semantic memory.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 27, 2016

Who gets what

Money Supply, Class Power, and Inflation: Monetarism Reassessed

Ho-fung Hung & Daniel Thompson

American Sociological Review, June 2016, Pages 447-466

Abstract:
Recent sociological work shows that pro-market neoliberal policies across advanced capitalist countries are due to distributional struggle between classes in the 1970s and 1980s. The orthodox monetarist view, alternatively, sees neoliberal reform as a nonpolitical attempt to end the stagflation crisis of the 1970s. From this perspective, monetary and fiscal expansions brought high inflation, and central bank discipline and government austerity is the solution; but the recent trend of low inflation despite accelerating money growth and government spending contradicts this view. Analyses of time-series cross-section data for 23 OECD countries from 1960 to 2009 support the thesis that the rise and fall of inflation is more about distribution of power between labor and capital than about monetary and fiscal discipline. Inflation in the 1970s originated from a strong working class and hurt capital more than it did workers, while neoliberal repression of workers' power has kept inflation low from the 1980s onward. Disempowerment of labor created rising inequality and economic imbalances that fueled a financial boom underlying the global financial crisis of 2008. Re-empowering labor is a remedy to such imbalances and the subsequent deflationary pressure.

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Adam Smith on What Is Wrong with Economic Inequality

Dennis Rasmussen

American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores Adam Smith's attitude toward economic inequality, as distinct from the problem of poverty, and argues that he regarded it as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, as has often been recognized, Smith saw a high degree of economic inequality as an inevitable result of a flourishing commercial society, and he considered a certain amount of such inequality to be positively useful as a means of encouraging productivity and bolstering political stability. On the other hand, it has seldom been noticed that Smith also expressed deep worries about some of the other effects of extreme economic inequality - worries that are, moreover, interestingly different from those that dominate contemporary discourse. In Smith's view, extreme economic inequality leads people to sympathize more fully and readily with the rich than the poor, and this distortion in our sympathies in turn undermines both morality and happiness.

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Capital in the Twenty-First Century - in the Rest of the World

Michael Albertus & Victor Menaldo

Annual Review of Political Science, 2016, Pages 49-66

Abstract:
Recent work has documented an upward trend in inequality since the 1970s that harks back to the Gilded Age: the inegalitarian pre-World War I world. Most prominently, Thomas Piketty argues in Capital in the Twenty-First Century that this is partially due to the fact that capitalism is hardwired to exacerbate the gap between the rich and poor. By critically evaluating recent literature on this topic, this article offers three big contributions. First, we advance an alternative explanation for the long-term U-shaped nature of inequality that Piketty examines. Political regime types and the social groups they empower, rather than war and globalization, can account for the sharp fall and then sharp rise in inequality over the long 20th century. Second, we demonstrate that this U-shaped pattern only really holds for a handful of industrialized economies and a subset of developing countries. Finally, we provide a unified framework centered on two unorthodox assumptions that can explain inequality patterns beyond the U-shaped one. Capitalists and landholders actually prefer democracy if they can first strike a deal that protects them after transition. This is because dictators are not the loyal servants of the economic elite they are portrayed to be - in fact, they are often responsible for soaking, if not destroying, the rich under autocracy.

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Growth of income and welfare in the U.S, 1979-2011

John Komlos

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
We estimate growth rates of real incomes in the U.S. by quintiles using the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) post-tax, post-transfer data as basis for the period 1979-2011. We improve upon them by including only the present value of earnings that will accrue in retirement and excluding items included in the CBO income estimates such as "corporate taxes borne by labor" that do not increase either current purchasing power or utility. We estimate a high and a low growth rate using two price indexes, the CPI and the Personal Consumption Expenditure index. The major consistent findings include what in the colloquial is referred to as the "hollowing out" of the middle class. According to these estimates, the income of the middle class 2nd and 3rd quintiles increased at a rate of between 0.1% and 0.7% per annum, i.e., barely distinguishable from zero. Even that meager rate was achieved only through substantial transfer payments. In contrast, the income of the top 1% grew at an astronomical rate of between 3.4% and 3.9% per annum during the 32-year period, reaching an average annual value of $918,000, up from $281,000 in 1979 (in 2011 dollars). Hence, the post-tax, post-transfer income of the 1% relative to the 1st quintile increased from a factor of 21 in 1979 to a factor of 51 in 2011. However, income of no other group increased substantially relative to that of the lowest quintile. Oddly, the income of even those in the 96-99 percentiles increased only from a multiple of 8.1 to a multiple of 11.3. We next estimate growth in welfare assuming diminishing marginal utility of income. A logarithmic utility function yields a growth in welfare for the middle class of roughly 0.01% to 0.07% per annum, which is indistinguishable from zero. With interdependent utility functions only the welfare of the 5th quintile experienced meaningful growth while those of the first four quintiles tend to be either negligible or even negative.

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The Unequal Gains from Product Innovations

Xavier Jaravel

Harvard Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
Using detailed product-level data in the retail sector in the United States from 2004 to 2013, this paper shows that product innovations disproportionately benefited high-income households due to increasing inequality and the endogenous response of supply to market size. Annualized quality-adjusted inflation was 0.65 percentage points lower for high-income households, relative to low-income households. Using national and local changes in market size driven by demographic trends plausibly exogenous to supply factors, the paper provides causal evidence that a shock to the relative demand for goods (1) affects the direction of product innovations, and (2) leads to a decrease in the relative price of the good for which demand became relatively larger (i.e. the long-term supply curve is downward sloping). A calibration shows that this channel can explain most of the observed difference in quality-adjusted inflation rates across the income distribution.

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Does Educational Equality Increase Mobility? Exploiting Nineteenth-Century U.S. Compulsory Schooling Laws

Emily Rauscher

American Journal of Sociology, May 2016, Pages 1697-1761

Abstract:
Existing evidence of educational effects on intergenerational mobility is associational. This study employs early compulsory schooling laws to approach a causal estimate of the relationship between education and mobility in the context of a large-scale policy change. Using IPUMS Linked Representative Samples (linked census data), regression discontinuity models exploit state differences in the timing of compulsory schooling laws to estimate an intent-to-treat effect on intergenerational occupational mobility among white males. Despite increasing equality of attendance, results reveal that compulsory laws initially reduced relative mobility for the first few cohorts affected by the laws. Among later cohorts, who were required to attend the maximum years of school, mobility was similar to prelaw levels. School funding and other data suggest that structural lag could explain this nonlinear relationship. It seems, therefore, that educational expansion inadvertently reduced mobility through institutional inertia rather than elite efforts to maintain advantage.

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The Political Economy of Redistribution in the US in the Aftermath of World War II - Evidence and Theory

Roel Beetsma, Alex Cukierman & Massimo Giuliodori

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present legislative, historical, and statistical evidence of a substantial upward ratchet in transfers and taxes in the US due to World-War II. This finding is explained within a political-economy framework with defense spending responding to a war threat and a median voter in the population who interacts with a (richer) agenda setter in Congress in setting redistribution. While the setter managed to cap redistribution before the War, the War itself raised the status-quo tax burden and improved tax collection technology, strengthening the bargaining power of the median voter as defense spending receded. This permanently raised the level of redistribution.

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Physical and situational inequality on airplanes predicts air rage

Katherine DeCelles & Michael Norton

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 May 2016, Pages 5588-5591

Abstract:
We posit that the modern airplane is a social microcosm of class-based society, and that the increasing incidence of "air rage" can be understood through the lens of inequality. Research on inequality typically examines the effects of relatively fixed, macrostructural forms of inequality, such as socioeconomic status; we examine how temporary exposure to both physical and situational inequality, induced by the design of environments, can foster antisocial behavior. We use a complete set of all onboard air rage incidents over several years from a large, international airline to test our predictions. Physical inequality on airplanes - that is, the presence of a first class cabin - is associated with more frequent air rage incidents in economy class. Situational inequality - boarding from the front (requiring walking through the first class cabin) versus the middle of the plane - also significantly increases the odds of air rage in both economy and first class. We show that physical design that highlights inequality can trigger antisocial behavior on airplanes. More broadly, these results point to the importance of considering the design of environments - from airplanes to office layouts to stadium seating - in understanding both the form and emergence of antisocial behavior.

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How the Rich Drive Progressive Marginal Tax Rates

Jason Oh

University of California Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Why do income tax systems consistently feature progressive marginal rates? The existing literature tells a political story focusing on the preferences of the poor and middle class - high rates at the top of the rate schedule can fund greater redistribution. This Article argues that progressive marginal rates can alternatively be explained by focusing on the preferences of the middle class and the rich regarding the bottom of the rate schedule. Specifically, these groups benefit from inframarginal rate cuts at low levels of income. This alternative explanation of marginal rate progressivity is attractive because it focuses on the rich, a group which intuition and research suggest wields disproportionate political power. To make this argument, I use an optimal tax model and focus on two types of changes to the income tax schedule - incremental adjustments and major reform. With respect to incremental changes, I show that middle and upper-income taxpayers generally benefit from reductions in marginal rates at low incomes. With respect to more significant changes to the rate schedule, I use Markov chain Monte Carlo ("MCMC") simulations to explore the policy cycling that results from majoritarian voting. The simulations suggest (1) that progressive rate schedules are generally much more likely than linear or regressive schedules, (2) that progressive rate schedules become more likely as political power is concentrated in the hands of the rich, and (3) progressive rate schedules are still predominant even if the median voter has more income than the average taxpayer.

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The Dynamics of Wealth Inequality and the Effect of Income Distribution

Yonatan Berman, Eshel Ben-Jacob & Yoash Shapira

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
The rapid increase of wealth inequality in the past few decades is one of the most disturbing social and economic issues of our time. Studying its origin and underlying mechanisms is essential for policy aiming to control and even reverse this trend. In that context, controlling the distribution of income, using income tax or other macroeconomic policy instruments, is generally perceived as effective for regulating the wealth distribution. We provide a theoretical tool, based on the realistic modeling of wealth inequality dynamics, to describe the effects of personal savings and income distribution on wealth inequality. Our theoretical approach incorporates coupled equations, solved using iterated maps to model the dynamics of wealth and income inequality. Notably, using the appropriate historical parameter values we were able to capture the historical dynamics of wealth inequality in the United States during the course of the 20th century. It is found that the effect of personal savings on wealth inequality is substantial, and its major decrease in the past 30 years can be associated with the current wealth inequality surge. In addition, the effect of increasing income tax, though naturally contributing to lowering income inequality, might contribute to a mild increase in wealth inequality and vice versa. Plausible changes in income tax are found to have an insignificant effect on wealth inequality, in practice. In addition, controlling the income inequality, by progressive taxation, for example, is found to have a very small effect on wealth inequality in the short run. The results imply, therefore, that controlling income inequality is an impractical tool for regulating wealth inequality.

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Status Traps

Steven Durlauf, Andros Kourtellos & Chih Ming Tan

Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we explore nonlinearities in the intergenerational mobility process using threshold regression models. We uncover evidence of threshold effects in children's outcomes based on parental education and cognitive and non-cognitive skills as well as their interaction with offspring characteristics. We interpret these thresholds as organizing dynastic earnings processes into "status traps". Status traps, unlike poverty traps, are not absorbing states. Rather, they reduce the impact of favorable shocks for disadvantaged children and so inhibit upward mobility in ways not captured by linear models. Our evidence of status traps is based on three complementary datasets; i.e., the PSID, the NLSY, and US administrative data at the commuting zone level, which together suggest that the threshold-like mobility behavior we observe in the data is robust for a range of outcomes and contexts.

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Ethnic Diversity and Support for Redistributive Social Policies

Liza Steele

Social Forces, June 2016, Pages 1439-1481

Abstract:
Scholars and public figures have drawn attention to lower social spending in more ethnically diverse countries, and explicitly or implicitly claimed that this resulted from a lack of public support for more generous social-spending policies in more diverse countries - despite the lack of empirical evidence on the topic. Such arguments ultimately hinge on how diversity is related to attitudes about distribution. However, empirical studies of the relationship between social-spending attitudes and diversity in cross-national perspective are scarce and limited in geographic scope, and have yielded inconsistent results. Through a study of individual-level attitudes in 91 countries in this paper, I explore the relationship between ethnic diversity and actual attitudes about social spending using two different cross-national public opinion data sets, and multiple approaches to measuring diversity. The results of 48 regression models show that ethnic diversity itself is not negatively related, and may even be positively related, to support for redistributive social spending, which challenges the prevailing assumption about the divisiveness of ethnic diversity. There is one exception - support for redistribution may be lower when there have been large increases in the size of the immigrant population in a country, but only in countries in which economic inequality is particularly acute.

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When Fair Isn't Fair: Sophisticated Time Inconsistency in Social Preferences

James Andreoni et al.

Stanford Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
How do people think about fairness in settings with uncertainty? One view holds that fairness requires equality of opportunity; another holds that it requires equality of outcomes. Relative to the resolution of uncertainty, the first view takes an ex ante perspective, while the second takes an ex post perspective. In this paper, we conduct a laboratory experiment designed to determine which perspective people adopt, and under what conditions. We find that most people view fairness from an ex ante perspective when making decisions ex ante, and from an ex post perspective when making decisions ex post. As a result, they exhibit the hallmark of time-inconsistency: after making an initial plan that is fully state-contingent, they revise it upon learning that certain states will not occur. These patterns are robust and persist even when people are aware of their proclivities. Indeed, subjects who switch from ex ante fair to ex post fair choices, and who are aware of this proclivity, generally avoid precommitments and intentionally retain the flexibility to manifest time inconsistency. We argue that these patterns are best explained by a theory of nominal fairness.

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Public Education Expenditures, Growth and Income Inequality

Lionel Artige & Laurent Cavenaile

NYU Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Governments throughout the world spend a lot of public money on education to give any child a chance to have access to well-paid jobs and foster aggregate income growth. The theoretical literature tends to consider that public education is also an emancipatory force which contributes to reducing income inequality. The empirical evidence on this is rather scarce but tends to support the existing theoretical literature conclusions. This paper documents a U-shaped relationship between public education spending and income inequality for a cross-section of 140 countries as well as across US states. We investigate theoretically the potential ambiguous role of public education towards income inequality and identify the potential causes of this U-shaped relationship. We do so by modeling the demand and the supply of the education sector in an overlapping-generations model with heterogenous agents and occupational choice. If an increase in public education spending benefits all through an improvement of production efficiency, it also affects the labor supply in each occupation, which results in first a reduction and then a rise in income inequality as public education spending increases. Finally, we calibrate our model on data from 8 OECD countries and show that some countries, including the U.S., could spend more on public education to yield more income growth and less income inequality.

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Inequality, Costly Redistribution and Welfare in an Open Economy

Pol Antras, Alonso de Gortari & Oleg Itskhoki

Harvard Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies the welfare implications of trade liberalization in a world in which trade increases income inequality, and in which redistribution needs to occur via a distortionary income tax-transfer system. We provide tools to characterize and quantify the actual amount of compensation that will take place following trade opening, as well as the efficiency costs of undertaking such redistribution. We propose two types of adjustments to standard measures of the welfare gains from trade: a 'welfarist' correction inspired by the Atkinson (1970) index of inequality, and a 'costly-redistribution' correction capturing the efficiency costs associated with the behavioral responses of agents to trade-induced shifts across marginal tax rates. We calibrate our model to the United States over the period 1979-2007 using data on the distribution of adjusted gross income in public samples of IRS tax returns, as well as CBO information on the tax liabilities and transfers received by agents at different percentiles of the U.S. income distribution. Our quantitative results suggest that these corrections are nonnegligible and erode about one-fifth of the gains from trade.

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Capital and Inequality

James Mirrlees

Contemporary Economic Policy, July 2016, Pages 399-402

Abstract:
Wealth inequality comes about mainly as a result of lifetime accumulation of capital and risky investment. Evidence from the Forbes Rich Lists show that in recent years volatility of the wealth of the richest has been very great. Randomness of returns to capital can explain a substantial part of global wealth inequality. As a consequence, inequality can best be reduced by a tax on returns to capital in excess of a normal rate of return, in addition to tax on labor earnings.

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The Impact of the Civil War on Southern Wealth Holders

Brandon Dupont & Joshua Rosenbloom

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
The U.S. Civil War and emancipation wiped out a substantial fraction of southern wealth. The prevailing view of most economic historians, however, is that the southern planter elite was able to retain its relative status despite these shocks. Previous studies have been hampered, however, by limits on the ability to link individuals between census years, and have been forced to focus on persistence within one or a few counties. Recent advances in electronic access to the Federal Census manuscripts now make it possible to link individuals without these constraints. We exploit the ability to search the full manuscript census to construct a sample that links top wealth holders in 1870 to their 1860 census records. Although there was an entrenched southern planter elite that retained their economic status, we find evidence that the turmoil of 1860s opened greater opportunities for mobility in the South than was the case in the North, resulting in much greater turnover among wealthy southerners than among comparably wealthy northerners.

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Hierarchy in the Eye of the Beholder: (Anti-)Egalitarianism Shapes Perceived Levels of Social Inequality

Nour Kteily, Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington & Arnold Ho

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Debate surrounding the issue of inequality and hierarchy between social groups has become increasingly prominent in recent years. At the same time, individuals disagree about the extent to which inequality between advantaged and disadvantaged groups exists. Whereas prior work has examined the ways in which individuals legitimize (or delegitimize) inequality as a function of their motivations, we consider whether individuals' orientation toward group-based hierarchy motivates the extent to which they perceive inequality between social groups in the first place. Across 8 studies in both real-world (race, gender, and class) and artificial contexts, and involving members of both advantaged and disadvantaged groups, we show that the more individuals endorse hierarchy between groups, the less they perceive inequality between groups at the top and groups at the bottom. Perceiving less inequality is associated with rejecting egalitarian social policies aimed at reducing it. We show that these differences in hierarchy perception as a function of individuals' motivational orientation hold even when inequality is depicted abstractly using images, and even when individuals are financially incentivized to accurately report their true perceptions. Using a novel methodology to assess accurate memory of hierarchy, we find that differences may be driven by both antiegalitarians underestimating inequality, and egalitarians overestimating it. In sum, our results identify a novel perceptual bias rooted in individuals' chronic motivations toward hierarchy-maintenance, with the potential to influence their policy attitudes.

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They May Not Have the Skills, but They Have the Desire: Why the Skill Composition of Trade Unions Matters for Wage Inequality

Kyung Joon Han & Eric Graig Castater

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
There has been a scholarly consensus that greater union strength translates into lower levels of wage inequality. However, recent evidence indicates that this union effect disappeared in the 1990s. We argue that unions still reduce wage inequality, but that their effect is dependent on the type of workers that are actually unionized. Using survey data, we construct a variable that measures the proportion of union members that are unskilled manual workers in twenty wealthy democracies. We find that as the share of these workers rises, wage inequality falls, regardless of the level of union density, the level of union coverage, or whether a country has liberal, mixed, or coordinated market economy. However, the proportion of union members that are unskilled manual workers has no effect on wage inequality when wage bargaining institutions are decentralized, likely because such workers are unable to extract wage gains from their more skilled and higher paid union brethren in such an institutional context. These results suggest that the unitary actor assumption, so commonly employed by scholars to explain union effects on political and socio-economic outcomes, is misplaced; and that even though politicians may be more responsive to the policy preferences of the wealthy, poorer individuals can achieve relative economic gains when properly organized.

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The Importance of Family Income in the Formation and Evolution of Non-Cognitive Skills in Childhood

Jason Fletcher & Barbara Wolfe

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Little is known about the relationship between family income and children's non-cognitive (or socio-emotional) skill formation. This is an important gap, as these skills have been hypothesized to be a critical link between early outcomes and adult socioeconomic status. This paper presents new evidence of the importance of family income in the formation and evolution of children's non-cognitive skills using a recent US panel dataset that tracks children between grades K-5. Findings suggest an important divergence in non-cognitive skills based on family income that accumulates over time and does not seem to be explained by children's health status differences.

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Income inequality within urban settings and depressive symptoms among adolescents

Roman Pabayo et al.

Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Methods: We analysed the cross-sectional data from a sample of 1878 adolescents living in 38 neighbourhoods participating in the 2008 Boston Youth Survey. Using multilevel linear regression modelling, we: (1) estimated the association between neighbourhood income inequality and depressive symptoms, (2) tested for cross-level interactions between sex and neighbourhood income inequality and (3) examined neighbourhood social cohesion as a mediator of the relationship between income inequality and depressive symptoms.

Results: The association between neighbourhood income inequality and depressive symptoms varied significantly by sex, with girls in higher income inequality neighbourhood reporting higher depressive symptom scores, but not boys. Among girls, a unit increase in Gini Z-score was associated with more depressive symptoms (β=0.38, 95% CI 0.28 to 0.47, p=0.01) adjusting for nativity, neighbourhood income, social cohesion, crime and social disorder. There was no evidence that the association between income inequality and depressive symptoms was due to neighbourhood-level differences in social cohesion.

Conclusions: The distribution of incomes within an urban area adversely affects adolescent girls' mental health; future work is needed to understand why, as well as to examine in greater depth the potential consequences of inequality for males, which may have been difficult to detect here.

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Income Mobility Breeds Tolerance for Income Inequality: Cross-National and Experimental Evidence

Azim Shariff, Dylan Wiwad & Lara Aknin

Perspectives on Psychological Science, May 2016, Pages 373-380

Abstract:
American politicians often justify income inequality by referencing the opportunities people have to move between economic stations. Though past research has shown associations between income mobility and resistance to wealth redistribution policies, no experimental work has tested whether perceptions of mobility influence tolerance for inequality. In this article, we present a cross-national comparison showing that income mobility is associated with tolerance for inequality and experimental work demonstrating that perceptions of higher mobility directly affect attitudes toward inequality. We find support for both the prospect of upward mobility and the view that peoples' economic station is the product of their own efforts, as mediating mechanisms.

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Social Mobility and Stability of Democracy: Re-Evaluating De Toqueville

Daron Acemoglu, Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
An influential thesis often associated with De Tocqueville views social mobility as a bulwark of democracy: when members of a social group expect to join the ranks of other social groups in the near future, they should have less reason to exclude these other groups from the political process. In this paper, we investigate this hypothesis using a dynamic model of political economy. As well as formalizing this argument, our model demonstrates its limits, elucidating a robust theoretical force making democracy less stable in societies with high social mobility: when the median voter expects to move up (respectively down), she would prefer to give less voice to poorer (respectively richer) social groups. Our theoretical analysis shows that in the presence of social mobility, the political preferences of an individual depend on the potentially conflicting preferences of her "future selves," and that the evolution of institutions is determined through the implicit interaction between occupants of the same social niche at different points in time. When social mobility is endogenized, our model identifies new political economic forces limiting the amount of mobility in society - because the middle class will lose out from mobility at the bottom and because a peripheral coalition between the rich and the poor may oppose mobility at the top.

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Capuchin monkeys punish those who have more

Kristin Leimgruber, Alexandra Rosati & Laurie Santos

Evolution and Human Behavior, May 2016, Pages 236-244

Abstract:
Punishment of non-cooperators is important for the maintenance of large-scale cooperation in humans, but relatively little is known about the relationship between punishment and cooperation across phylogeny. The current study examined second-party punishment behavior in a nonhuman primate species known for its cooperative tendencies - the brown capuchin monkey (Cebus apella). We found that capuchins consistently punished a conspecific partner who gained possession of a food resource, regardless of whether the unequal distribution of this resource was intentional on the part of the partner. A non-social comparison confirmed that punishment behavior was not due to frustration, nor did punishment stem from increased emotional arousal. Instead, punishment behavior in capuchins appears to be decidedly social in nature, as monkeys only pursued punitive actions when such actions directly decreased the welfare of a recently endowed conspecific. This pattern of results is consistent with two features central to human cooperation: spite and inequity aversion, suggesting that the evolutionary origins of some human-like punitive tendencies may extend even deeper than previously thought.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dependents

Gendering Genetics: Biological Contingencies in the Protective Effects of Social Integration for Men and Women

Brea Perry

American Journal of Sociology, May 2016, Pages 1655-1696

Abstract:
Evidence that social and biological processes are intertwined in producing health and human behavior is rapidly accumulating. Using a feminist approach, this research explores how gender moderates the interaction between biological processes and men’s and women’s behavioral and emotional responses to similar social environments. Using data from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism, the influence of gender, social integration, and genetic risk on nicotine and alcohol dependence is examined. Three-way interaction models reveal gender-specific moderation of interactions between genetic risk score and social integration. Namely, being currently married and reporting positive social psychological integration are predictive of reduced risk of nicotine dependence among men with genetic susceptibility to strong nicotine cravings in the presence of social cues like stress. In contrast, the protective effects of marital status and social integration are substantially attenuated and absent, respectively, among women with high-risk genotypes. This pattern reflects the dualism (i.e., simultaneous costs and benefits) inherent in social integration for women, which may disproportionately affect those with a genetic sensitivity to stress. These findings contest the notion of genotype as static biological hardwiring that is independent from social and cultural systems of gender difference.

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Payments For Opioids Shifted Substantially To Public And Private Insurers While Consumer Spending Declined, 1999–2012

Chao Zhou, Curtis Florence & Deborah Dowell

Health Affairs, May 2016, Pages 824-831

Abstract:
Deaths from opioid pain reliever overdose in the United States quadrupled between 1999 and 2013, concurrent with an increase in the use of the drugs. We used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine trends in opioid pain reliever expenditures, financing by various payers, and use from 1999 to 2012. We found major shifts in expenditures by payer type for these drugs, with private and public insurers paying a much larger share than patients in recent years. Consumer out-of-pocket spending on opioids per 100 morphine milligram equivalents (a standard reference measure of strength for various opioids) declined from $4.40 to $0.90 between 2001 and 2012. Since the implementation of Medicare Part D in 2006, Medicare has been the largest payer for opioid pain relievers, covering about 20–30 percent of the cost. Medicare spends considerably more on these drugs for enrollees younger than age sixty-five than it does for any other age group or than Medicaid or private insurance does for any age group. Further research is needed to evaluate whether payer strategies to address the overuse of opioids could reduce avoidable opioid-related mortality.

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How do smoking bans in restaurants affect restaurant and at-home alcohol consumption?

Aycan Koksal & Michael Wohlgenant

Empirical Economics, June 2016, Pages 1193-1213

Abstract:
In this paper, we analyze the impact of smoking bans on restaurant and at-home alcohol consumptions in a rational addiction model using a pseudo-panel data approach. Cigarette consumption, restaurant alcohol consumption and at-home alcohol consumption fit well with the rational addiction model. Our results suggest that cigarettes and alcohol reinforce each other in consumption, but consumers increase restaurant alcohol consumption when cigarette prices increase. We find that smoking bans increase restaurant alcohol consumption, but decrease at-home alcohol consumption. After a smoking ban is imposed, nonsmokers are likely to stay longer at restaurants and consume more alcohol. On the other hand, when smokers are not allowed to smoke in restaurants, they are likely to compensate for it by increasing restaurant alcohol consumption. As smoking bans increase social drinking habits, a decrease in at-home alcohol consumption is observed. Our results suggest that smoking bans in restaurants or bars must be accompanied by decreased blood alcohol concentration limits and increased road controls so that negative externalities such as fatalities due to drunk driving can be avoided.

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Opioids and social bonding: Naltrexone reduces feelings of social connection

Tristen Inagaki et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, May 2016, Pages 728-735

Abstract:
Close social bonds are critical to a happy and fulfilled life and yet little is known, in humans, about the neurochemical mechanisms that keep individuals feeling close and connected to one another. According to the brain opioid theory of social attachment, opioids may underlie the contented feelings associated with social connection and may be critical to continued bonding. However, the role of opioids in feelings of connection toward close others has only begun to be examined in humans. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study of naltrexone (an opioid antagonist), 31 volunteers took naltrexone for 4 days and placebo for 4 days (separated by a 10-day washout period). Participants came to the laboratory once on the last day of taking each drug to complete a task designed to elicit feelings of social connection. Participants also completed daily reports of feelings of social connection while on naltrexone and placebo. In line with hypotheses, and for the first time in humans, results demonstrated that naltrexone (vs placebo) reduced feelings of connection both in the laboratory and in daily reports. These results highlight the importance of opioids for social bonding with close others, lending support to the brain opioid theory of social attachment.

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Prescription drug coverage and chronic pain

Padmaja Ayyagari

International Journal of Health Economics and Management, June 2016, Pages 189-200

Abstract:
Chronic pain is one of the most common chronic conditions affecting more than 50 % of older adults. While pain management can be quite complex, prescription drugs are the most commonly used treatment modality. In this study, I examine whether increased access to prescription drugs due to the introduction of the Medicare Part D program in 2006 led to better management of pain among the elderly. While prior work has identified increases in the utilization of analgesics due to the introduction of Medicare Part D, the extent to which this increase in drug use actually improved the well-being of older adults is not known. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, I employ a difference-in-differences strategy that compares pre versus post 2006 changes in pain related outcomes between Medicare eligible persons and a younger ineligible group. I find that Medicare Part D significantly reduced pain related activity limitations among a sample of older adults who report being troubled by pain.

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The economics of the war on illegal drug production and trafficking

Daniel Mejia & Pascual Restrepo

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, June 2016, Pages 255–275

Abstract:
We model the war on drugs in source countries as a conflict over scarce inputs in successive levels of the production and trafficking chain, and study how policies aimed at different stages affect prices and quantities in upstream and downstream markets. We use the model to study Plan Colombia, a large intervention aimed at reducing the downstream supply of cocaine by targeting illicit crops and blocking the transport of cocaine outside this source country. The model fits the main patterns found in the data, including the displacement of the drug trade to other source countries, the increase in coca crops’ productivity as a response to eradication, and the lack of apparent effects in consumer markets. We use a reasonable parametrization of our model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different policies implemented under Plan Colombia. We find that the marginal cost to the U.S. of reducing cocaine transacted in retail markets by one kilogram is $940,000, if it subsidizes eradication efforts; and $175,000, if it subsidizes interdiction efforts in Colombia.

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The price elasticity of marijuana demand: Evidence from crowd-sourced transaction data

Adam Davis, Karl Geisler & Mark Nichols

Empirical Economics, June 2016, Pages 1171-1192

Abstract:
This paper uses crowd-sourced transaction data from a cross section of the USA to examine demand for marijuana. State and regional variations in consumption, price, and quality are also explored. Our data are a unique cross section of over 23,000 actual marijuana transactions where price, quantity, and quality are reported, allowing for an estimation of the full demand elasticity rather than the participation elasticity. In addition, we account for the endogeneity of price by using instrumental variable estimation to calculate price elasticity. Price elasticity of demand estimates ranges between −−0.67 and −−0.79. Noticeable price differences are found between high-, medium-, and low-quality marijuana, with high-quality marijuana, at $13.77 per gram, 144 % greater than low-quality marijuana, at $5.63 a gram. Significant price variation is also found by medical marijuana status and census region, although this variation depends critically on the quality of the marijuana.

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Advertising, Habit Formation, and U.S. Tobacco Product Demand

Yuqing Zheng et al.

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The U.S. tobacco market has experienced a shift toward noncigarette tobacco products. We examined the degree of habit formation and the role of advertising for cigarettes, little cigars/cigarillos, large cigars, e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco using market-level scanner data for convenience stores from 2009 to 2013. Results based on a dynamic demand system show that while all tobacco products are habitual, e-cigarettes are the most habitual product. More choices of flavors, less restrictions on its use in public places, less documented harmful effects, and a higher upfront cost might explain the higher degree of habit formation for e-cigarettes. We also find that e-cigarettes did not substitute for or complement cigarettes. The results imply that e-cigarettes may serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction but not necessarily to cigarette smoking. Regarding advertising, cigarette magazine advertising did not affect cigarette demand, while e-cigarette TV advertising increased e-cigarette demand with a positive spillover to cigarette demand. Such results may help explain e-cigarettes’ recent success in sales and imply that e-cigarette TV advertising might undermine efforts to reduce cigarette smoking. Advertising was also found to affect the degree of habit formation for cigarettes, large cigars, and e-cigarettes.

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The inequitable distribution of tobacco outlet density: The role of income in two Black Mid-Atlantic geopolitical areas

D.O. Fakunle et al.

Public Health, forthcoming

Study design: In this cross-sectional examination of tobacco outlet and census tract-level sociodemographic data, Baltimore City, Maryland, and Prince George's County, Maryland, were geocoded to determine tobacco outlet density.

Methods: Tobacco outlet density was defined as the mean number of tobacco outlets per 1000 persons per census tract. Comparisons of tobacco outlet density and sociodemographic variables were analysed via two-sample t-tests, and the direct effect of sociodemographic variables on tobacco outlet density for each area was analysed via spatial lag regressions.

Results: Prince George's County, the area with the higher income level ($77,190 vs $43,571), has a significantly lower tobacco outlet density than Baltimore City (P < 0.001). Prince George's County has a 67.5% Black population and an average of 3.94 tobacco outlets per 1000 persons per tract. By contrast, Baltimore City has a 65.3% Black population and an average of 7.95 tobacco outlets per 1000 persons per tract. Spatial lag regression model results indicate an inverse relationship between income and tobacco outlet density in Baltimore City and Prince George's County (β = −0.03, P < 0.01 & β = −0.01, P = 0.02, respectively), and a significant interaction term indicating a greater magnitude in the relationship between income and tobacco outlet density in Baltimore City (β = −0.05, P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Results suggest that higher socio-economic status, even in primarily underrepresented racial and ethnic geopolitical areas, is linked to lower tobacco outlet density.

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Evidence That Implementation Intentions Can Overcome the Effects of Smoking Habits

Christopher Armitage

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: In this study, the aim was to (a) test for the first time whether implementation intentions formed outside the laboratory can overcome the effects of habits, and (b) see whether the operation of implementation intentions could be improved by asking people to form certain “when–then” plans as opposed to uncertain “if–then” plans.

Method: The study employed a 2 × 2 fully factorial design with baseline and follow-up measures of smoking status and habits. Smokers (N = 168; circa 33 years of age; 79 women, 89 men) were randomly allocated to 1 of 2 intervention groups to form either if–then plans or when–then plans using supporting tools, or to 1 of 2 control conditions in which they were exposed to identical supporting tools but were not asked to form if–then plans or when–then plans.

Results: Certainty did not affect the operation of implementation intentions, but smokers who formed implementation intentions were significantly more likely to quit, χ2(1, N = 168) = 8.86, p < .01, and the effect was mediated by changes in smoking habits (95% CI [0.02, 0.14]). Similar effects were observed when cigarettes smoked per day, nicotine dependence, and craving served as the dependent variables.

Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that people who have formed implementation intentions can overcome habits, such as smoking, outside the laboratory. The supporting tools described in the present research could be deployed at low cost with high public health reach to support behavior change.

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Neighborhood × Serotonin Transporter Linked Polymorphic Region (5-HTTLPR) interactions for substance use from ages 10 to 24 years using a harmonized data set of African American children

Michael Windle et al.

Development and Psychopathology, May 2016, Pages 415-431

Abstract:
This study investigated the influences of neighborhood factors (residential stability and neighborhood disadvantage) and variants of the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype on the development of substance use among African American children aged 10–24 years. To accomplish this, a harmonized data set of five longitudinal studies was created via pooling overlapping age cohorts to establish a database with 2,689 children and 12,474 data points to span ages 10–24 years. A description of steps used in the development of the harmonized data set is provided, including how issues such as the measurement equivalence of constructs were addressed. A sequence of multilevel models was specified to evaluate Gene × Environment effects on growth of substance use across time. Findings indicated that residential instability was associated with higher levels and a steeper gradient of growth in substance use across time. The inclusion of the 5-HTTLPR genotype provided greater precision to the relationships in that higher residential instability, in conjunction with the risk variant of 5-HTTLPR (i.e., the short allele), was associated with the highest level and steepest gradient of growth in substance use across ages 10–24 years. The findings demonstrated how the creation of a harmonized data set increased statistical power to test Gene × Environment interactions for an under studied sample.

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Breaking the cycle demonstration project: Using a quasi-experimental analysis to test the “worst of both worlds” hypothesis and risk principle

Glenn Walters

Journal of Experimental Criminology, March 2016, Pages 127-141

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to test the “worst of both worlds” hypothesis and the risk principle in a sample of drug-involved offenders enrolled in the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) demonstration project, an intensive drug intervention implemented in Birmingham, Alabama, Jacksonville, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington.

Methods: A group of 1081 drug-involved offenders enrolled in BTC were compared to 934 drug-involved offenders (pre-BTC) who processed through the regular court system of each city 1 year prior to implementation of BTC. Participants from both groups were divided into risk levels based on scores from the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) Drug (D) and Legal (L) scales. Individuals who scored at or above the mean on both the ASI-D and ASI-L were identified as high risk, individuals who scored at or above the mean on either the ASI-D or ASI-L but not both were identified as moderate risk, and individuals who scored below the mean on both the ASI-D and ASI-L were identified as low risk.

Results: Consistent with the risk principle, high-risk BTC participants displayed significant improvements in subsequent drug problem days, criminal offending, and days spent in jail relative to high-risk pre-BTC participants. There was no apparent benefit of BTC enrollment for moderate- and low-risk participants.

Conclusions: These results indicate that drug–crime comorbidity can be used to assess risk and that individuals identified as high risk are more likely to benefit from higher-intensity forms of intervention than moderate- or low-risk individuals.

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The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Labor Market Outcomes

Joseph Sabia & Thanh Tam Nguyen

San Diego State University Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
A number of recent studies have found that medical marijuana laws (MMLs) are associated with increased marijuana use among adults, in part due to spillover effects into the recreational market. This study is the first to explore the labor market consequences of MMLs. Using repeated cross-sections of the Current Population Survey from January 1990 to December 2014, we find that the enforcement of MMLs is associated with a 2 to 3 percent reduction in hourly earnings for young adult males. The effect is particularly pronounced when examining MMLs that include a collective cultivation provision. For women and older males, there is little evidence of adverse labor market effects of MMLs. We conclude that the health effects of MMLs may adversely affect labor market productivity of young males.

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Impact of Tobacco Control Policies on Adolescent Smoking

Summer Sherburne Hawkins, Nicoline Bach & Christopher Baum

Journal of Adolescent Health, June 2016, Pages 679–685

Methods: Using data on 717,543 adolescents from 43 states in the 1999–2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, we used difference-in-differences regression models to evaluate the impact of tobacco control policies on current adolescent smoking (yes/no) and, separately, smoking frequency (defined as 0, 1–5, 6–29, 30+ days per month). We tested an interaction between age and cigarette taxes and, separately, smoke-free legislation.

Results: From 1999 to 2013, adolescent smoking decreased from 35.3% to 13.9% and 41 of 43 states increased their cigarette tax in real terms by an average of 257%. By the end of the study period, 29 of 43 states had 100% smoke-free restaurant legislation. Although we found no overall effect of cigarette taxes on current smoking, there was a significant interaction by age. Among 14- and 15-year olds, every $1.00 cigarette tax increase was associated with a 2.2 and 1.6 percentage point reduction in smoking, respectively. The enactment of 100% smoke-free restaurant legislation was associated with an overall reduction in adolescent smoking by 1.1 percentage points and there were no differences by age. Cigarette taxes and smoke-free legislation were also associated with decreased smoking frequency.

Conclusions: The youngest adolescents are the most price sensitive, and cigarette taxes continue to be a successful approach to reduce adolescent smoking. Smoke-free legislation may also be an effective strategy to reduce smoking among all adolescents.

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The Pass-Through of Beer Taxes to Prices: Evidence from State and Federal Tax Changes

Vinish Shrestha & Sara Markowitz

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
From a policy perspective, it is crucial to understand how changes in beer taxes affect retail beer prices. This study provides new evidence of the pass-through rate of state beer taxes to prices in a post-merger era. Our estimates that use state-level beer tax changes suggest that a 10-cent increase in beer taxes raises retail prices by about 17 cents. Comparable findings from the 1991 federal beer tax increase show a rise in retail beer prices of 19–22 cents. Our findings suggest that consumers fully bear the burden of increased beer taxes.

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Separating Family-Level and Direct Exposure Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy on Offspring Externalizing Symptoms: Bridging the Behavior Genetic and Behavior Teratologic Divide

Ryne Estabrook et al.

Behavior Genetics, May 2016, Pages 389-402

Abstract:
Maternal smoking during pregnancy (MSDP) has been robustly associated with externalizing problems and their developmental precursors in offspring in studies using behavioral teratologic designs (Wakschlag et al., Am J Public Health 92(6):966–974, 2002; Espy et al., Dev Psychol 47(1):153–169, 2011). In contrast, the use of behavior genetic approaches has shown that the effects commonly attributed to MSDP can be explained by family-level variables (D’Onofrio et al., Dev Psychopathol 20(01):139–164, 2008). Reconciling these conflicting findings requires integration of these study designs. We utilize longitudinal data on a preschool proband and his/her sibling from the Midwest Infant Development Study-Preschool (MIDS-P) to test for teratologic and family level effects of MSDP. We find considerable variation in prenatal smoking patterns both within and across pregnancies within families, indicating that binary smoking measures are not sufficiently capturing exposure. Structural equation models indicate that both conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms showed unique effects of MSDP over and above family level effects. Blending high quality exposure measurement with a within-family design suggests that it is premature to foreclose the possibility of a teratologic effect of MSDP on externalizing problems. Implications and recommendations for future studies are discussed.

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Effects of serotonin 2A/1A receptor stimulation on social exclusion processing

Katrin Preller et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 May 2016, Pages 5119–5124

Abstract:
Social ties are crucial for physical and mental health. However, psychiatric patients frequently encounter social rejection. Moreover, an increased reactivity to social exclusion influences the development, progression, and treatment of various psychiatric disorders. Nevertheless, the neuromodulatory substrates of rejection experiences are largely unknown. The preferential serotonin (5-HT) 2A/1A receptor agonist, psilocybin (Psi), reduces the processing of negative stimuli, but whether 5-HT2A/1A receptor stimulation modulates the processing of negative social interactions remains unclear. Therefore, this double-blind, randomized, counterbalanced, cross-over study assessed the neural response to social exclusion after the acute administration of Psi (0.215 mg/kg) or placebo (Pla) in 21 healthy volunteers by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and resting-state magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Participants reported a reduced feeling of social exclusion after Psi vs. Pla administration, and the neural response to social exclusion was decreased in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the middle frontal gyrus, key regions for social pain processing. The reduced neural response in the dACC was significantly correlated with Psi-induced changes in self-processing and decreased aspartate (Asp) content. In conclusion, 5-HT2A/1A receptor stimulation with psilocybin seems to reduce social pain processing in association with changes in self-experience. These findings may be relevant to the normalization of negative social interaction processing in psychiatric disorders characterized by increased rejection sensitivity. The current results also emphasize the importance of 5-HT2A/1A receptor subtypes and the Asp system in the control of social functioning, and as prospective targets in the treatment of sociocognitive impairments in psychiatric illnesses.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Talking dirty

Unemployment and Environmental Regulation in General Equilibrium

Marc Hafstead & Roberton Williams

NBER Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the effects of environmental policy on employment (and unemployment) using a new general-equilibrium two-sector search model. We find that imposing a pollution tax causes substantial reductions in employment in the regulated (polluting) industry, but this is offset by increased employment in the unregulated (nonpolluting) sector. Thus the policy causes a substantial shift in employment between industries, but the net effect on overall employment (and unemployment) is small, even in the short run. An environmental performance standard causes a substantially smaller sectoral shift in employment than the emissions tax, with roughly similar net effects. The effects on the unregulated industry suggest that empirical studies of environmental regulation that focus only on regulated firms can be misleading (and those that use nonregulated firms as controls for regulated firms will be even more misleading). The paper’s results also suggest that overall effects on employment are not a major issue for environmental policy, and that policymakers who want to minimize sectoral shifts in employment might prefer performance standards over environmental taxes.

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Political conservatism, religion, and environmental consumption in the United States

Jared Peifer, Simranjit Khalsa & Elaine Howard Ecklund

Environmental Politics, July/August 2016, Pages 661-689

Abstract:
The role of political conservatism and religion in shaping attitudes toward environmental consumption in the US is examined. Previous research suggests that while there is a mixed relationship between religiosity (measured in various ways) and environmentalism, political conservatives are unlikely to support pro-environment measures. Using nationally representative survey data, mixed results are found regarding the relationship of religiosity and environmental consumption: religious attendance and religious identity are positively related to environmental consumption, while belief in an involved God and biblical literalism are negatively related. Increased levels of religiosity, however, mute the otherwise strong negative effect of political conservatism. This suggests, surprisingly, that Green marketers and activists are likely to face less conservative resistance to environmental consumption among religious Americans.

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A Difficult Road Ahead: Fleet Fuel Economy, Footprint Based CAFE Compliance, and Manufacturer Incentives

Darin Ullman

Energy Economics, June 2016, Pages 94–105

Abstract:
Using detailed vehicle specifications, this paper analyzes the impact identifiable vehicle characteristics and technological progress has on fleet fuel economy by vehicle type and class. The results suggest manufacturers will face a difficult task complying with the new footprint-based CAFE standards if compliance is met by only changing identifiable vehicle characteristics. I find evidence that the stringent footprint-based standards create a manufacturer incentive to increase vehicle size to lower the burden of compliance. This undermines the standards' potential to create expected fuel savings and lower emissions levels.

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Systems thinking and environmental concern

Stephen Lezak & Paul Thibodeau

Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Systems thinking is thought to facilitate complex decision-making, but relatively little is known about its psychological underpinning. We present three studies that situate a measure of the construct in relation to other dispositional measures that have received more attention in environmental psychology and by testing whether the mindset predicts behavior in a set of novel decision making tasks. In Study 1, we find that systems thinkers tend to believe in scientific consensus, recognize risks posed by climate change, and support policy interventions to address climate change; systems thinking was negatively related to conspiracist and free-market ideation. In Studies 2 and 3 we find that systems thinkers ascribe more value to the natural world — both in monetary terms as well as on social and ecological grounds. The findings suggest that models of environmental cognition can be improved by measuring peoples' tendency to engage in systems thinking.

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The Dynamics of Behavior Change: Evidence from Energy Conservation

Omar Asensio & Magali Delmas

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, June 2016, Pages 196–212

Abstract:
Little is known about the effect of message framing on conservation behavior over time. In a randomized controlled trial with residential households, we use advanced metering and information technologies to test how different messages about household energy use impact the dynamics of conservation behavior down to the appliance level. Our results, based on 374 million panel observations of kilowatt-hour (kWh) electricity consumption for 118 households over 9 months, show that differences in behavioral responses due to message framing become more significant over time. We find that a health-based frame, in which households consider the human health effects of their marginal electricity use, induced persistent energy savings behavior of 8-10% over 100 days; whereas a more traditional cost savings frame, drove sharp attenuation of treatment effects after 2 weeks with no significant savings versus control after 7 weeks. We discuss implications for the design of effective information campaigns to engage households in conservation behavior.

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Lead exposure and violent crime in the early twentieth century

James Feigenbaum & Christopher Muller

Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the second half of the nineteenth century, many American cities built water systems using lead or iron service pipes. Municipal water systems generated significant public health improvements, but these improvements may have been partially offset by the damaging effects of lead exposure through lead water pipes. We study the effect of cities' use of lead pipes on homicide between 1921 and 1936. Lead water pipes exposed entire city populations to much higher doses of lead than have previously been studied in relation to crime. Our estimates suggest that cities' use of lead service pipes considerably increased city-level homicide rates.

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Unintended consequences of the Clean Air Act: Mortality rates in Appalachian coal mining communities

Michael Hendryx & Benjamin Holland

Environmental Science & Policy, September 2016, Pages 1–6

Abstract:
The 1990 amendments to the US Clean Air Act (CAA) encouraged the growth of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining in Central Appalachia. This study tests the hypothesis that the amendments had unintended impacts on increasing mortality rates for populations living in these mining areas. We used a panel design to examine adjusted mortality rates for three groups (all-cause, respiratory cancer, and non-cancer respiratory disease) between 1968 and 2014 in 404 counties stratified by MTR and Appalachian/non-Appalachian status. The results showed significant interactions between MTR status and post-CAA period for all three mortality groups. These differences persisted after control for time, age, smoking rates, poverty, obesity, and physician supply. The MTR region in the post-CAA years experienced an excess of approximately 1200 adjusted deaths per year. Although the CAA has benefits, energy policies have in general focused on the combustion portion of the fossil fuel cycle. Other components of fossil fuel production (e.g. extraction, transport, and processing) should be considered in the comprehensive development of sustainable energy policy.

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Geographic proximity to coal plants and U.S. public support for extending the Production Tax Credit

Jillian Goldfarb, Marric Buessing & Douglas Kriner

Energy Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is an important policy instrument through which the federal government promotes renewable energy development in the United States. However, the efficacy of the PTC is hampered by repeated expirations and short-term extensions, and by the general uncertainty surrounding its future status. We examine the factors driving variation in public support for the extension of the PTC using a nationally representative, internet-based survey. Americans living near a coal-fired power plant are significantly more likely to support extending the PTC than are their peers who are more insulated from the externalities of burning coal. The evidence for this dynamic was strongest and most statistically significant among subjects experimentally primed to think about the adverse health effects of burning coal. Raising awareness of the public health ramifications of generating electricity from fossil fuels holds the potential to increase support for renewable energy policies among those living in proximity to coal plants, even in a highly politicized policy debate.

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Neighborhood Greenness and Chronic Health Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries

Scott Brown et al.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Introduction: Prior studies suggest that exposure to the natural environment may impact health. The present study examines the association between objective measures of block-level greenness (vegetative presence) and chronic medical conditions, including cardiometabolic conditions, in a large population-based sample of Medicare beneficiaries in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Methods: The sample included 249,405 Medicare beneficiaries aged ≥65 years whose location (ZIP+4) within Miami-Dade County, Florida, did not change, from 2010 to 2011. Data were obtained in 2013 and multilevel analyses conducted in 2014 to examine relationships between greenness, measured by mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index from satellite imagery at the Census block level, and chronic health conditions in 2011, adjusting for neighborhood median household income, individual age, gender, race, and ethnicity.

Results: Higher greenness was significantly associated with better health, adjusting for covariates: An increase in mean block-level Normalized Difference Vegetation Index from 1 SD less to 1 SD more than the mean was associated with 49 fewer chronic conditions per 1,000 individuals, which is approximately similar to a reduction in age of the overall study population by 3 years. This same level of increase in mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index was associated with a reduced risk of diabetes by 14%, hypertension by 13%, and hyperlipidemia by 10%. Planned post-hoc analyses revealed stronger and more consistently positive relationships between greenness and health in lower- than higher-income neighborhoods.

Conclusions: Greenness or vegetative presence may be effective in promoting health in older populations, particularly in poor neighborhoods, possibly due to increased time outdoors, physical activity, or stress mitigation.

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Intrauterine Inflammation and Maternal Exposure to Ambient PM2.5 during Preconception and Specific Periods of Pregnancy: The Boston Birth Cohort

Rebecca Massa Nachman et al.

Environmental Health Perspectives, forthcoming

Background: Prenatal exposure to ambient PM2.5, (i.e., fine particulate matter) has been associated with preterm birth and low birth weight. The association between prenatal PM2.5 exposure and intrauterine inflammation (IUI), an important risk factor for preterm birth and neurodevelopmental outcomes, has not been evaluated.

Objectives: We aimed to investigate the association between maternal exposure to PM2.5 and IUI in the Boston Birth Cohort (BBC), a predominantly urban low-income minority population.

Methods: This analysis included 5,059 mother-infant pairs in the BBC. IUI was assessed based on intrapartum fever and placenta pathology. PM2.5 exposure was assigned using data from EPA’s Air Quality System. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) quantified the association of maternal PM2.5 exposure during preconception and various periods of pregnancy with IUI.

Results: Comparing the highest with the lowest PM2.5 exposure quartiles, the multi-adjusted association with IUI was significant for all exposure periods considered, including 3 months prior to conception (OR = 1.52; 95% CI: 1.22, 1.89), first trimester (OR = 1.93; 95% CI: 1.55, 2.40), second trimester (OR = 1.67; 95% CI: 1.35, 2.08), third trimester (OR = 1.53; 95% CI: 1.24, 1.90) and whole pregnancy (OR = 1.92; 95% CI: 1.55, 2.37).

Conclusions: Despite relatively low exposures, our results suggest a monotonic positive relationship between PM2.5 exposure during preconception and pregnancy and IUI. IUI may be a sensitive biomarker for assessing early biological effect of PM2.5 exposure on the developing fetus.

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Particulate Matter Exposure and Preterm Birth: Estimates of U.S. Attributable Burden and Economic Costs

Leonardo Trasande, Patrick Malecha & Teresa Attina

Environmental Health Perspectives, forthcoming

Background: Preterm birth (PTB) rates (11.4% in 2013) in the United States (US) remain high and are a substantial cause of morbidity. Studies of prenatal exposure have associated particulate matter <2.5microns in diameter (PM2.5) and other ambient air pollutants with adverse birth outcomes, yet, to our knowledge, burden and costs of PM 2.5-attributable PTB have not been estimated in the US.

Methods: Annual deciles of PM2.5 were obtained from US EPA. We converted PTB odds ratio (OR), identified in a previous meta-analysis (1.15 per 10µg/m3 for our base case, 1.07-1.16 for low- and high-end scenarios) to relative risk (RRs), to obtain an estimate that better represents the true relative risk. A reference level (RL) of 8.8µg/m3 was applied. We then used the RR estimates and county-level PTB prevalence to quantify PM2.5 attributable PTB. Direct medical costs were obtained from the 2007 Institute of Medicine report, and lost economic productivity (LEP) was estimated using a meta-analysis of PTB-associated IQ loss, and well-established relationships of IQ loss with LEP. All costs were calculated using 2010 dollars.

Results: An estimated 3.32% of PTBs nationally (corresponding to15,808 PTBs) in 2010 could be attributed to PM2.5 (PM2.5>8.8 µg/m3). Attributable PTBs cost were estimated at $4.33 billion (SA: $2.06-8.22B), of which $760 million were spent for medical care (SA: $362M-1.44B). The estimated PM2.5-attributable fraction (AF) of PTB was highest in urban counties, with highest AFs in the Ohio valley and Southern US.

Conclusions: PM2.5 may contribute substantially to burden and costs of PTB in the US, and considerable health and economic benefits could be achieved through environmental regulatory interventions that reduce PM2.5 exposure in pregnancy.

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Cancer Mortality Risks from Long-term Exposure to Ambient Fine Particle

Chit Ming Wong et al.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, May 2016, Pages 839-845

Background: Few studies have assessed long-term effects of particulate matter (PM) with aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 μm (PM2.5) on mortality for causes of cancer other than the lung; we assessed the effects on multiple causes. In Hong Kong, most people live and work in urban or suburban areas with high-rise buildings. This facilitates the estimation of PM2.5 exposure of individuals, taking into account the height of residence above ground level for assessment of the long-term health effects with sufficient statistical power.

Methods: We recruited 66,820 persons who were ≥65 in 1998 to 2001 and followed up for mortality outcomes until 2011. Annual concentrations of PM at their residential addresses were estimated using PM2.5 concentrations measured at fixed-site monitors, horizontal–vertical locations, and satellite data. We used Cox regression model to assess the HR of mortality for cancer per 10 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5.

Results: PM2.5 was associated with increased risk of mortality for all causes of cancer [HR, 1.22 (95% CI, 1.11–1.34)] and for specific cause of cancer in upper digestive tract [1.42 (1.06–1.89)], digestive accessory organs [1.35 (1.06–1.71)] in all subjects; breast [1.80 (1.26–2.55)] in females; and lung [1.36 (1.05–1.77)] in males.

Conclusions: Long-term exposures to PM2.5 are associated with elevated risks of cancer in various organs.

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Fee disbursements and the local acceptance of unconventional gas development: Insights from Pennsylvania

Naveed Paydar et al.

Energy Research & Social Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the extent to which local public support for an unconventional gas development (UGD) project is associated with public revenues disbursed to county and municipal governments where UGD occurs. Pennsylvania adopted “impact fees” in 2012, which have raised more than $400 million for use by county and municipal governments that host UGD. We designed a public opinion survey (N = 453) that oversamples residents in UGD counties in Pennsylvania to test whether residents in counties and municipalities that received impact fees are more supportive of a hypothetical UGD project than residents in counties and municipalities that received less or no impact fee revenue. We found that impact fee revenue is positively associated with support for the UGD project. Further, the level of government receiving the funds (county versus municipality) is related to public support for UGD: impact fee revenue disbursed to municipal governments is associated with a higher rate of public support than comparable amounts disbursed to county governments, conditional on the respondent being aware of fracking prior to the survey. Our findings are consistent with the literature on public trust in local government and have implications for understanding the social feasibility of UGD in the United States and internationally.

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Canary in a Coal Mine: Infant Mortality, Property Values, and Tradeoffs Associated with Mid-20th Century Air Pollution

Karen Clay, Joshua Lewis & Edson Severnini

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Pollution is a common byproduct of economic activity. Although policymakers should account for both the benefits and the negative externalities of polluting activities, it is difficult to identify those who are harmed and those who benefit from them. To overcome this challenge, our paper uses a novel dataset on the mid-20th century expansion of the U.S. power grid to study the costs and the benefits of coal-fired electricity generation. The empirical analysis exploits the timing of coal-fired power plant openings and annual variation in plant-level coal consumption from 1938 to 1962, when emissions were virtually unregulated. Pollution from the burning of coal for electricity generation is shown to have quantitatively important and nonlinear effects on county-level infant mortality rates. By 1962, it was responsible for 3,500 infant deaths per year, over one death per thousand live births. These effects are even larger at lower levels of coal consumption. We also find evidence of clear tradeoffs associated with coal-fired electricity generation. For counties with low access to electricity in the baseline, increases in local power plant coal consumption reduced infant mortality and increased housing values and rental prices. For counties with near universal access to electricity in the baseline, increases in coal consumption by power plants led to higher infant mortality rates, and lower housing values and rental prices. These results highlight the importance of considering both the costs and benefits of polluting activities, and suggest that demand for policy intervention may emerge only when the negative externalities are significantly larger than the perceived benefits.

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Brine Spills Associated with Unconventional Oil Development in North Dakota

Nancy Lauer, Jennifer Harkness & Avner Vengosh

Environmental Science & Technology, 17 May 2016, Pages 5389–5397

Abstract:
The rapid rise of unconventional oil production during the past decade in the Bakken region of North Dakota raises concerns related to water contamination associated with the accidental release of oil and gas wastewater to the environment. Here, we characterize the major and trace element chemistry and isotopic ratios (87Sr/86Sr, δ18O, δ2H) of surface waters (n = 29) in areas impacted by oil and gas wastewater spills in the Bakken region of North Dakota. We establish geochemical and isotopic tracers that can identify Bakken brine spills in the environment. In addition to elevated concentrations of dissolved salts (Na, Cl, Br), spill waters also consisted of elevated concentrations of other contaminants (Se, V, Pb, NH4) compared to background waters, and soil and sediment in spill sites had elevated total radium activities (228Ra + 226Ra) relative to background, indicating accumulation of Ra in impacted soil and sediment. We observed that inorganic contamination associated with brine spills in North Dakota is remarkably persistent, with elevated levels of contaminants observed in spills sites up to 4 years following the spill events.

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Do Constitutions Matter? The Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes

Chris Jeffords & Lanse Minkler

Kyklos, May 2016, Pages 294–335

Abstract:
We use a novel data set within an instrumental variables framework to test whether the presence and language of constitutional environmental rights influence environmental outcomes. The outcome variables include Yale's Environmental Performance Index and its components. We employ two-stage least squares to account for reverse causality, that is, the possibility that a country which takes steps to protect the environment might also be more likely to constitutionalize environmental rights. Our first stage theory combines constitution norms, opposition costs, and generation effects. Our controls include country income, which means that our study is also related to the Environmental Kuznets Curve literature. We find that constitutions do indeed matter for positive environmental outcomes, which suggests that we should not only pay attention to the incentives confronting polluters and resource users, but also to the incentives and constraints confronting those policymakers who initiate, monitor, and enforce environmental policies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Big issues

Obesity and sex ratios in the U.S.

Wanchuan Lin, Kathryn McEvilly & Juan Pantano

Review of Economics of the Household, June 2016, Pages 269-292

Abstract:
This paper studies how rising male incarceration and its impact on marriage markets has affected female incentives to gain weight. Exogenous variation in marriage market conditions is obtained from differential trends in male incarceration rates across markets defined by race, location and age. We provide evidence that marriage market conditions do in fact affect the incidence of obesity. In particular, we find that increases in male imprisonment that reduced the male–female sex-ratio explain about 18 % of the increase in the female obesity rate for African-Americans in the United States over the 1990s. Results are particularly large for those in the younger age group (ages 18–23).

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Shining Light on Atmospherics: How Ambient Light Influences Food Choices

Dipayan Biswas et al.

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Retail atmospherics is emerging as a major competitive tool, and it is especially notable in the restaurant industry where lighting is used to create the overall ambience and influence consumer experience. Along with influencing overall experience, can ambient light luminance have unintended consequences in terms of influencing what a diner orders? The results of a field study at multiple locations of a major restaurant chain and a series of lab studies robustly show that consumers tend to choose less healthy food options when ambient lighting is dim (vs. bright). Process evidence suggests that this phenomenon occurs because ambient light luminance influences mental alertness, which in turn influences food choices. While restaurant and perhaps grocery store managers can use these insights and their ambient light switches to nudge consumers toward targeted food choices, such as healthy or high margin signature items, health conscious consumers can opt for dining environments with bright ambient lighting.

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Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in US children, 1999-2014

Asheley Cockrell Skinner, Eliana Perrin & Joseph Skelton

Obesity, May 2016, Pages 1116–1123

Objective: Provide the most recent data on the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among United States children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years.

Methods: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2014, was used. Weight status was defined using measured height and weight and standard definitions as follows: overweight as ≥85th percentile for age- and sex-specific BMI; class I obesity as ≥95th percentile; class II obesity as ≥120 of the 95th percentile, or BMI ≥35; and class III obesity as ≥140% of the 95th percentile, or BMI ≥40. This study reports the prevalence of obesity by 2-year National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cycle and Wald tests comparing the 2011–2012 cycle with the 2013–2014 cycle, as well as the linear trend from 1999 to 2014. Multivariable logistic regression models estimated odds ratios for differences by each 2-year cycle.

Results: In 2013–2014, 17.4% of children met criteria for class I obesity, including 6.3% for class II and 2.4% for class III, none statistically different than 2011–2012. A clear, statistically significant increase in all classes of obesity continued from 1999 through 2014.

Conclusions: There is no evidence of a decline in obesity prevalence in any age group, despite substantial clinical and policy efforts targeting the issue.

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Why can't we control our food intake? The downside of dietary variety on learned satiety responses

Ashley Martin

Physiology & Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
A striking feature of the modern food environment is the sheer amount of dietary choice available to the individual. In addition to an endless variety of highly palatable and energy dense foods, efforts to combat obesity have resulted in the production of several low- and reduced-calorie versions of these foods that are marketed to consumers. As a result, we are now confronted with a staggering amount of ‘dietary variability’ — the same food item can be obtained in a variety of different energy densities. This is a concern because evidence in rodents suggests that this kind of dietary variability can compromise one of the major cognitive determinants of food intake among non-human animals — flavor-nutrient satiety learning. Flavor-nutrient satiety learning enables animals to learn about the energy content or satiating quality of the foods they consume and adjust their intake to fit their energy needs. Notably, evidence suggests that dietary variability can disrupt this kind of learning, leading to overeating and weight gain. Here, we discuss the utility of flavor-nutrient satiety learning in human dietary behavior, highlighting certain features of the modern environment that can be disruptive to the acquisition of this kind of learning in humans. Special emphasis is placed on dietary variability, however we will also highlight other aspects of the environment that can undermine this kind of learning, such as competition from other satiety-relevant cues (i.e., food labels), detrimental effects of Western diets on food-related cognitive processing, and the abundance of macronutrients that are inadequate at supporting learned satiety responses. The goal of this work is to highlight novel ways in which the environment may disrupt food-relevant learning and energy intake, and to provide some explanation for the elusive nature of flavor-nutrient learning in humans.

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Neighborhood and Home Food Environment and Children’s Diet and Obesity: Evidence from Military Personnel’s Installation Assignment

Victoria Shier, Nancy Nicosia & Ashlesha Datar

Social Science & Medicine, June 2016, Pages 122–131

Abstract:
Research and policy initiatives are increasingly focused on the role of neighborhood food environment in children’s diet and obesity. However, existing evidence relies on observational data that is limited by neighborhood selection bias. The Military Teenagers’ Environments, Exercise, and Nutrition Study (M-TEENS) leverages the quasi-random variation in neighborhood environment generated by military personnel’s assignment to installations to examine whether neighborhood food environments are associated with children’s dietary behaviors and BMI. Our results suggest that neither the actual nor the perceived availability of particular food outlets in the neighborhood is associated with children’s diet or BMI. The availability of supermarkets and convenience stores in the neighborhood was not associated with where families shop for food or children’s dietary behaviors. Further, the type of store that families shop at was not associated with the healthiness of food available at home. Similarly, availability of fast food and restaurants was unrelated to children’s dietary behaviors or how often children eat fast food or restaurant meals. However, the healthiness of food available at home was associated with healthy dietary behaviors while eating at fast food outlets and restaurants were associated with unhealthy dietary behaviors in children. Further, parental supervision, including limits on snack foods and meals eaten as a family, was associated with dietary behaviors. These findings suggest that focusing only on the neighborhood food environment may ignore important factors that influence children’s outcomes. Future research should also consider how families make decisions about what foods to purchase, where to shop for foods and eating out, how closely to monitor their children’s food intake, and, ultimately how these decisions collectively impact children’s outcomes.

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Food Environments and Obesity: Household Diet Expenditure Versus Food Deserts

Danhong Chen, Edward Jaenicke & Richard Volpe

American Journal of Public Health, May 2016, Pages 881-888

Objectives: To examine the associations between obesity and multiple aspects of the food environments, at home and in the neighborhood.

Methods: Our study included 38 650 individuals nested in 18 381 households located in 2104 US counties. Our novel home food environment measure, USDAScore, evaluated the adherence of a household’s monthly expenditure shares of 24 aggregated food categories to the recommended values based on US Department of Agriculture food plans. The US Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns (2008), the detailed food purchase information in the IRi Consumer Panel scanner data (2008–2012), and its associated MedProfiler data set (2012) constituted the main sources for neighborhood-, household-, and individual-level data, respectively.

Results: After we controlled for a number of confounders at the individual, household, and neighborhood levels, USDAScore was negatively linked with obesity status, and a census tract–level indicator of food desert status was positively associated with obesity status.

Conclusions: Neighborhood food environment factors, such as food desert status, were associated with obesity status even after we controlled for home food environment factors.

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Why has the prevalence of obesity doubled?

Charles Baum & Shin-Yi Chou

Review of Economics of the Household, June 2016, Pages 251-267

Abstract:
The prevalence of obesity has doubled over the last 25 years. We estimate the effects of multiple socio-environmental factors (e.g., physical demands at work, restaurants, food prices, cigarette smoking, food stamps, and urban sprawl) on obesity using NLSY data. Then we use the Oaxaca–Blinder decomposition technique to approximate the contribution of each socio-environmental factor to the increase during this time. Many socio-environmental factors significantly affect weight, but none are able to explain a large portion of the obesity increase. Decreases in cigarette smoking consistently explains about 2–4 % of the increase in obesity and BMI. Food stamp receipt also consistently affects the measures of weight, but the small decrease in food stamp program participation during the period we examine actually dampened the increases in obesity and BMI. Collectively, the socio-environmental factors we examine never explain more than about 6.5 % of the weight increases.

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Psychosocial factors as mediators of food Insecurity and weight status among middle school students

Don Willis & Kevin Fitzpatrick

Appetite, August 2016, Pages 236–243

Abstract:
Research regarding the association between food insecurity and weight status among youth has produced mixed results. However, few studies on this topic have utilized data that includes survey responses from children themselves regarding their experience with food insecurity. This study was undertaken to examine the association between food insecurity and weight status among youth, as well as the potential mediation by psychosocial factors. A survey of 5th-7th grade students was administered to gather information on food insecurity, social and psychological resources, and health. The primary analysis includes OLS (Ordinary Least Squares) regression conducted using SPSS software and Sobel's test for mediation. Results suggest a positive association between food insecurity and weight status even when controlling for key demographic variables. In addition, we find that this association is mediated by psychosocial factors — namely, perceived social status and depression. Insights from this work highlight the need to consider non-nutritional pathways through which food insecurity impacts health as well the need to continue surveying youth directly when examining their experiences with food insecurity.

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More Similar but Less Satisfying: Comparing Preferences for and the Efficacy of Within- and Cross-Category Substitutes for Food

Young Eun Huh, Joachim Vosgerau & Carey Morewedge

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When people cannot get what they want, they often satisfy their desire by consuming a substitute. Substitutes can originate from within the taxonomic category of the desired stimulus (i.e., within-category substitutes) or from a different taxonomic category that serves the same basic goal (i.e., cross-category substitutes). Both a store-brand chocolate (within-category substitute) and a granola bar (cross-category substitute), for example, can serve as substitutes for gourmet chocolate. Here, we found that people believe that within-category substitutes, which are more similar to desired stimuli, will more effectively satisfy their cravings than will cross-category substitutes (Experiments 1, 2a, and 2b). However, because within-category substitutes are more similar than cross-category substitutes to desired stimuli, they are more likely to evoke an unanticipated negative contrast effect. As a result, unless substitutes are equivalent in quality to the desired stimulus, cross-category substitutes more effectively satisfy cravings for the desired stimulus (Experiments 3 and 4).

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Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition

Erin Fothergill et al.

Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: To measure long-term changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition in participants of “The Biggest Loser” competition.

Methods: Body composition was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and RMR was determined by indirect calorimetry at baseline, at the end of the 30-week competition and 6 years later. Metabolic adaptation was defined as the residual RMR after adjusting for changes in body composition and age.

Results: Of the 16 “Biggest Loser” competitors originally investigated, 14 participated in this follow-up study. Weight loss at the end of the competition was (mean ± SD) 58.3 ± 24.9 kg (P < 0.0001), and RMR decreased by 610 ± 483 kcal/day (P = 0.0004). After 6 years, 41.0 ± 31.3 kg of the lost weight was regained (P = 0.0002), while RMR was 704 ± 427 kcal/day below baseline (P < 0.0001) and metabolic adaptation was −499 ± 207 kcal/day (P < 0.0001). Weight regain was not significantly correlated with metabolic adaptation at the competition's end (r = −0.1, P = 0.75), but those subjects maintaining greater weight loss at 6 years also experienced greater concurrent metabolic slowing (r = 0.59, P = 0.025).

Conclusions: Metabolic adaptation persists over time and is likely a proportional, but incomplete, response to contemporaneous efforts to reduce body weight.

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An exploration of exercise-induced cognitive enhancement and transfer effects to dietary self-control

Cassandra Lowe, Dimitar Kolev & Peter Hall

Brain and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
The primary objective of this study was to examine the effects of aerobic exercise on executive function, specifically inhibitory control, and the transfer to self-control in the dietary domain. It was hypothesized that exercise would enhance inhibitory control, and that this enhancement would facilitate self-control in a laboratory taste test paradigm. Using a crossover design, 51 participants completed counterbalanced sessions of both moderate exercise (experimental condition) and minimal effort walking (control condition) using a treadmill; the intersession interval was 7 days. Prior to each exercise bout participants completed a Stroop task. Following each bout participants completed a second Stoop task, as well as a bogus taste test involving three appetitive calorie dense snack foods and two control foods; the amount of each food type consumed during the taste test was covertly measured. Results revealed that moderate exercise significantly improved performance on the Stroop task, and also reduced food consumption during the taste test for appetitive calorie dense snack foods; there was no exercise effect on control food consumption. Exercise-induced gains in Stroop performance mediated the effects of moderate exercise on appetitive snack food consumption. Together these findings provide evidence that a bout of a moderate aerobic exercise can enhance inhibitory control, and support for cross-domain transfer effects to dietary self-control.

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Satiety effects of psyllium in healthy volunteers

Jose Brum et al.

Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
Controlling hunger between meals is a challenge for many individuals. This manuscript comprises 2 sequential clinical trials investigating the effects of psyllium (Metamucil) on satiety, both using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over design. The first study determined the effects of 3.4 g, 6.8 g, and 10.2 g of psyllium taken before breakfast and lunch for 3 days. The second study determined the effects of 6.8 g (taken before breakfast and lunch on Days 1 and 2 and before breakfast on Day 3) on the satiety of participants receiving an energy restricted meal in the morning (breakfast) for 3 days. Efficacy endpoints were mean inter-meal hunger, desire to eat, and Satiety Labeled Intensity Magnitude Visual Analog Scale scores. In Study 1, all 3 psyllium doses resulted in directional or statistically significant mean reduction in hunger and desire to eat, and increased fullness between meals compared to placebo, with both higher doses better than placebo or 3.4 g. The 6.8 g dose provided more consistent (p ≤ 0.013) satiety benefits versus placebo. In Study 2, satiety was assessed similarly to Study 1. A significant (p ≤ 0.004) decrease in the 3-day mean hunger and desire to eat, as well as an increase in fullness for psyllium relative to placebo was observed. Most adverse events were mild gastrointestinal symptoms and were similar for psyllium compared to placebo. These results indicate that psyllium supplementation contributes to greater fullness and less hunger between meals.

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Believing in food addiction: Helpful or counterproductive for eating behavior?

Helen Ruddock et al.

Obesity, forthcoming

Methods: In two studies, female participants (study 1: N = 64; study 2: N = 90) completed food-related computerized tasks and were given bogus feedback on their performance which indicated that they had high, low, or average food addiction tendencies. Food intake was then assessed in an ad libitum taste test. Dietary concern and time taken to complete the taste test were recorded in study 2.

Results: In study 1, participants in the high-addiction condition consumed fewer calories than those in the low-addiction condition, F(1,60) = 7.61, P = 0.008, ηp2 = 0.11. Study 2 replicated and extended this finding, showing that the effect of the high-addiction condition on food intake was mediated by increased dietary concern, which reduced the amount of time participants willingly spent exposed to the foods during the taste test, b = −0.06 (0.03), 95% confidence interval = −0.13 to −0.01.

Conclusions: Believing oneself to be a food addict is associated with short-term dietary restriction. The longer-term effects on weight management now warrant attention.

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Change in Body Mass Index Associated With Lowest Mortality in Denmark, 1976-2013

Shoaib Afzal et al.

Journal of the American Medical Association, 10 May 2016, Pages 1989-1996

Objective: To determine whether the BMI value that is associated with the lowest all-cause mortality has increased in the general population over a period of 3 decades.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Three cohorts from the same general population enrolled at different times: the Copenhagen City Heart Study in 1976-1978 (n = 13 704) and 1991-1994 (n = 9482) and the Copenhagen General Population Study in 2003-2013 (n = 97 362). All participants were followed up from inclusion in the studies to November 2014, emigration, or death, whichever came first.

Results: The number of deaths during follow-up was 10 624 in the 1976-1978 cohort (78% cumulative mortality; mortality rate [MR], 30/1000 person-years [95% CI, 20-46]), 5025 in the 1991-1994 cohort (53%; MR, 16/1000 person-years [95% CI, 9-30]), and 5580 in the 2003-2013 cohort (6%; MR, 4/1000 person-years [95% CI, 1-10]). Except for cancer mortality, the association of BMI with all-cause, cardiovascular, and other mortality was curvilinear (U-shaped). The BMI value that was associated with the lowest all-cause mortality was 23.7 (95% CI, 23.4-24.3) in the 1976-1978 cohort, 24.6 (95% CI, 24.0-26.3) in the 1991-1994 cohort, and 27.0 (95% CI, 26.5-27.6) in the 2003-2013 cohort. The corresponding BMI estimates for cardiovascular mortality were 23.2 (95% CI, 22.6-23.7), 24.0 (95% CI, 23.4-25.0), and 26.4 (95% CI, 24.1-27.4), respectively, and for other mortality, 24.1 (95% CI, 23.5-25.9), 26.8 (95% CI, 26.1-27.9), and 27.8 (95% CI, 27.1-29.6), respectively. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality for BMI of 30 or more vs BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 were 1.31 (95% CI, 1.23-1.39; MR, 46/1000 person-years [95% CI, 32-66] vs 28/1000 person-years [95% CI, 18-45]) in the 1976-1978 cohort, 1.13 (95% CI, 1.04-1.22; MR, 28/1000 person-years [95% CI, 17-47] vs 15/1000 person-years [95% CI, 7-31]) in the 1991-1994 cohort, and 0.99 (95% CI, 0.92-1.07; MR, 5/1000 person-years [95% CI, 2-12] vs 4/1000 person-years [95% CI, 1-11]) in the 2003-2013 cohort.

Conclusions and Relevance: Among 3 Danish cohorts, the BMI associated with the lowest all-cause mortality increased by 3.3 from cohorts enrolled from 1976-1978 through 2003-2013. Further investigation is needed to understand the reason for this change and its implications.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's a developing story

The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub-Saharan Africa

Julia Cagé & Valeria Rueda

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates the long-term consequences of the printing press in the 19th century sub-Saharan Africa on social capital nowadays. Protestant missionaries were the first to import the printing press and to allow the indigenous population to use it. We build a new geocoded dataset locating Protestant missions in 1903. This dataset includes, for each mission station, the geographic location and its characteristics, as well as the printing-, educational-, and health-related investments undertaken by the mission. We show that, within regions close to missions, proximity to a printing press is associated with higher newspaper readership, trust, education, and political participation.

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Law and Finance Matter: Lessons from Externally Imposed Courts

James Brown, Anthony Cookson & Rawley Heimer

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides novel evidence on the real and financial market effects of legal institutions. Our analysis exploits persistent and externally imposed differences in court enforcement that arose when the U.S. Congress assigned state courts to adjudicate contracts on a subset of Native American reservations. Using area-specific data on small business lending, we find that reservations assigned to state courts, which enforce contracts more predictably than tribal courts, have stronger credit markets. Moreover, the law-driven component of credit market development is associated with significantly higher per capita income, with stronger effects in sectors that depend more on external financing.

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Time for Growth

Lars Boerner & Battista Severgnini

London School of Economics Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies the impact of the early adoption of one of the most important high-technology machines in history, the public mechanical clock, on long-run growth in Europe. We avoid endogeneity by considering the relationship between the adoption of clocks with two sets of instruments: distance from the first adopters and the appearance of repeated solar eclipses. The latter instrument is motivated by the predecessor technologies of mechanical clocks, astronomic instruments that measured the course of heavenly bodies. We find significant growth rates between 1500 and 1700 in the range of 30 percentage points in early adopter cities and areas.

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Abstinence Funding Was Not Associated With Reductions In HIV Risk Behavior In Sub-Saharan Africa

Nathan Lo, Anita Lowe & Eran Bendavid

Health Affairs, May 2016, Pages 856-863

Abstract:
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has been the largest funder of abstinence and faithfulness programming in sub-Saharan Africa, with a cumulative investment of over US $1.4 billion in the period 2004-13. We examined whether PEPFAR funding for abstinence and faithfulness programs, which aimed to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, was associated with a relative change in five outcomes indicative of high-risk sexual behavior: number of sexual partners in the past twelve months for men and for women, age at first sexual intercourse for men and for women, and teenage pregnancies. Using nationally representative surveys from twenty-two sub-Saharan African countries, we compared trends between people living in countries that received PEPFAR abstinence and faithfulness funding and those living in countries that did not in the period 1998-2013. We found no evidence to suggest that PEPFAR funding was associated with population-level reductions in any of the five outcomes. These results suggest that alternative funding priorities for HIV prevention may yield greater health benefits.

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Population Size Effects in the Structural Development of England

Oksana Leukhina & Stephen Turnovsky

American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The English structural transformation from farming to manufacturing was accompanied by rapid technological change, expansion of trade, and massive population growth. While the roles of technology and trade in this process have been investigated, the literature has largely ignored the role of population growth. We examine population size effects on various aspects of structural development, characterizing their explicit dependence on preference-side and production-side characteristics of the economy, and trade. Our quantitative analysis of the English transformation assigns a major role to population growth, with especially notable contributions to post-1750 rise in the manufacturing employment share and the relative price dynamics.

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Jewish Communities and City Growth in Preindustrial Europe

Noel Johnson & Mark Koyama

George Mason University Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
We study whether cities with Jewish communities grew faster than cities without Jewish communities in Europe between 1400 and 1850. We match data on city populations from Bairoch (1988) with data on the presence of a Jewish community from the Encyclopedia Judaica. Our difference-in-differences results indicate that cities with Jewish communities grew about 30% faster than comparable cities without Jewish communities between 1400 and 1850. To establish causality, we create time varying instrumental variables which rely only on the spatially extended network of Jewish communities in order to predict Jewish presence in a given city. We also provide evidence that the advantage of cities with Jewish communities stemmed in part from Jewish Emancipation and their ability to exploit increases in market access after 1600.

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Gender Discrimination in Property Rights: Six Centuries of Commons Governance in the Alps

Marco Casari & Maurizio Lisciandra

Journal of Economic History, June 2016, Pages 559-594

Abstract:
Starting from the Medieval period, women in the Italian Alps experienced a progressive erosion in property rights over the commons. We collected documents about the evolution of inheritance regulations on collective land issued by hundreds of villages over a period of six centuries (thirteenth-nineteenth). Based on this original dataset, we provide a long-term perspective of decentralized institutional change in which gender-biased inheritance systems emerged as a defensive measure to preserve the wealth of village insiders. This institutional change also had implications for the population growth, marriage strategies, and the protection from economic shocks.

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Are the world's poorest being left behind?

Martin Ravallion

Journal of Economic Growth, June 2016, Pages 139-164

Abstract:
Traditional assessments of economic growth and progress against poverty tell us little about whether the poorest are being left behind - whether the consumption floor is rising above the biological minimum. To address this deficiency, the paper identifies the expected value of the floor as a weighted mean of observed consumptions for the poorest stratum. Under the identifying assumptions and using data for the developing world over 1981-2011, the estimated floor is about half the $1.25 a day poverty line. Economic growth and social policies have delivered only modest progress in raising the floor, despite overall growth and progress in reducing the number living near the floor.

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Aid, Catastrophes and the Samaritan's Dilemma

Paul Raschky & Manijeh Schwindt

Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper analyses the impact of past foreign aid on the recipient country's preparedness against natural disasters. We estimate the impact of past foreign aid on the occurrence of natural disasters and the death toll from disasters using data from 5089 major natural disasters in 81 developing countries between 1979 and 2012. The results suggest that past foreign aid flows crowd out the recipient's incentives to provide protective measures that decrease the likelihood and the societal impact of a disaster. The crowding-out effect appears to be stronger in developing countries that are relatively poorer and have weaker political institutions.

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The Global Spatial Distribution of Economic Activity: Nature, History, and the Role of Trade

Vernon Henderson et al.

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
We study the distribution of economic activity, as proxied by lights at night, across 250,000 grid cells of average area 560 square kilometers. We first document that nearly half of the variation can be explained by a parsimonious set of physical geography attributes. A full set of country indicators only explains a further 10%. When we divide geographic characteristics into two groups, those primarily important for agriculture and those primarily important for trade, we find that the agriculture variables have relatively more explanatory power in countries that developed early and the trade variables have relatively more in countries that developed late, despite the fact that the latter group of countries are far more dependent on agriculture today. We explain this apparent puzzle in a model in which two technological shocks occur, one increasing agricultural productivity and the other decreasing transportation costs, and in which agglomeration economies lead to persistence in urban locations. In countries that developed early, structural transformation due to rising agricultural productivity began at a time when transport costs were still relatively high, so urban agglomerations were localized in agricultural regions. When transport costs fell, these local agglomerations persisted. In late developing countries, transport costs fell well before structural transformation. To exploit urban scale economies, manufacturing agglomerated in relatively few, often coastal, locations. With structural transformation, these initial coastal locations grew, without formation of more cities in the agricultural interior.

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State Capacity and Public Goods: Institutional Change, Human Capital, and Growth in Early Modern Germany

Jeremiah Dittmar & Ralf Meisenzahl

Federal Reserve Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
What are the origins and consequences of the state as a provider of public goods? We study legal reforms that established mass public education and increased state capacity in German cities during the 1500s. These fundamental changes in public goods provision occurred where ideological competition during the Protestant Reformation interacted with popular politics at the local level. We document that cities that formalized public goods provision in the 1500s began differentially producing and attracting upper tail human capital and grew to be significantly larger in the long-run. We study plague outbreaks in a narrow time period as exogenous shocks to local politics and find support for a causal interpretation of the relationship between public goods institutions, human capital, and growth. More broadly, we provide evidence on the origins of state capacity directly targeting welfare improvement.

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Demographic Dividend and Asia's Economic Convergence towards the US

Joonkyung Ha & Sang-Hyop Lee

Journal of the Economics of Ageing, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper shows the possibility of a middle-income trap for Asia due to demographics. Using panel analyses for 93 countries from all continents for 1970-2011, we show that, first, the speed of convergence to the US in terms of GDP per capita is closely related to the share of working age population - the support ratio - as it drives national saving and various investments. In the case of Asia, the speed of convergence is more elastic to support ratios than other continents, suggesting that the first and the second demographic dividend have been extracted to a deeper degree. Second, fertility - the main driving force of support ratio dynamics - is determined by child rearing costs that are, in turn, a function of the level of GDP per capita relative to the US. Again, Asia's fertility is extremely sensitive to the level of development, implying that economic convergence leads to too high child rearing costs and too low fertility. These findings lead to the possibility of Asia's demography-driven middle-income trap: low fertility eventually turns the positive demographic dividends of the past into negative ones and forces the speed of convergence to slow down, so that the relative per capita GDP stagnates before it fully converges to the US. However, in the meantime, East Asia's declining support ratios and South and South East Asia's increasing support ratios imply that within-Asia convergence may occur for some time. In the long run, economic convergence cannot be sustained without demographic convergence.

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The Effect of Aid on Growth: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment

Sebastian Galiani et al.

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
The literature on aid and growth has not found a convincing instrumental variable to identify the causal effects of aid. This paper exploits an instrumental variable based on the fact that since 1987, eligibility for aid from the International Development Association (IDA) has been based partly on whether or not a country is below a certain threshold of per capita income. The paper finds evidence that other donors tend to reinforce rather than compensate for reductions in IDA aid following threshold crossings. Overall, aid as a share of gross national income (GNI) drops about 59 percent on average after countries cross the threshold. Focusing on the 35 countries that have crossed the income threshold from below between 1987 and 2010, a positive, statistically significant, and economically sizable effect of aid on growth is found. A one percentage point increase in the aid to GNI ratio from the sample mean raises annual real per capita growth in gross domestic product by approximately 0.35 percentage points.

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Is Living in African Cities Expensive?

Shohei Nakamura et al.

World Bank Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Although several studies have examined why overall price levels are higher in richer countries, little is known about whether there is a similar relationship at the urban and city level across countries. This paper compares the price levels of cities in Sub-Saharan Africa with those of other regions by analyzing price information collected for the 2011 round of the International Comparison Program. Readjusting the calculated price levels from national to urban levels, the analysis indicates that African cities are relatively more expensive, despite having lower income levels. The price levels of goods and services consumed by households are up to 31 percent higher in Sub-Saharan Africa than in other low- and middle-income countries, relative to their income levels. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are especially expensive, with price levels around 35 percent higher than in other countries. The paper also analyzes price information collected by the Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, and obtains a similar result, indicating higher prices of goods and services in African cities.

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Transforming lives: The impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness

Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur

Journal of Population Economics, July 2016, Pages 911-956

Abstract:
This is the first article examining the causal impact of mandatory extended primary schooling on happiness (sense of well-being) of young adults. We rely on a law change that raised compulsory schooling from 5 to 8 years in Turkey to address the endogeneity of education to happiness. Our study shows that, for females, earning at least a middle school diploma increases the likelihood of being happy and the probability of being satisfied with various life domains. Descriptive tests suggest that being hopeful about one's own future well-being partly explains the relationship between women's schooling and happiness. For males, although relatively imprecisely estimated, we find evidence that earning at least a middle school degree results in a decline in subjective well-being. Supplemental analysis develops evidence consistent with the view that an imbalance between aspirations and attainments, flowing from extended primary schooling, may be the reason behind this counterintuitive finding among men.

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IQ and Socioeconomic Development across Regions of the UK

Noah Carl

Journal of Biosocial Science, May 2016, Pages 406-417

Abstract:
Cross-regional correlations between average IQ and socioeconomic development have been documented in many different countries. This paper presents new IQ estimates for the twelve regions of the UK. These are weakly correlated (r=0.24) with the regional IQs assembled by Lynn (1979). Assuming the two sets of estimates are accurate and comparable, this finding suggests that the relative IQs of different UK regions have changed since the 1950s, most likely due to differentials in the magnitude of the Flynn effect, the selectivity of external migration, the selectivity of internal migration or the strength of the relationship between IQ and fertility. The paper provides evidence for the validity of the regional IQs by showing that IQ estimates for UK nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) derived from the same data are strongly correlated with national PISA scores (r=0.99). It finds that regional IQ is positively related to income, longevity and technological accomplishment; and is negatively related to poverty, deprivation and unemployment. A general factor of socioeconomic development is correlated with regional IQ at r=0.72.

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The Political Cure: Gender Quotas and Women's Health

Aubrey Westfall & Carissa Chantiles

Politics & Gender, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political gender quotas have become the institutional solution for most governments hoping to increase women's descriptive and substantive representation in national and local government, despite the lack of consensus over whether quotas have a consistent positive effect on the lives of women. We argue that the different forms in which quotas are implemented result in diverse effects in the substantive representation of women's issues. Using women's health to illustrate the substantive effect of women's political participation through quotas, we utilize multilevel models to find that quotas are effective at placing women into legislative office and that this descriptive representation is associated with positive conditions for women's health. However, the strength of the relationship depends on the type of quota implemented. Countries implementing candidate quotas exhibit more consistent but weaker relationships between representation and women's health outcomes than in countries with reserved seat quotas. These results affirm the quota's objective to place women in political office but suggest that the policy effectiveness of the individual female legislators may depend on the quota system in place.

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How did trade norms evolve in Scandinavia? Long-distance trade and social trust in the Viking age

Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen & Gert Tinggaard Svendsen

Economic Systems, forthcoming

Abstract:
As the saying goes, "it takes years to build up trust and only seconds to destroy it." In this paper, we argue that this is indeed the case when explaining trust formation in Scandinavia. Hence, in an attempt to explain why the Scandinavian welfare states hold the highest social trust scores in the world today, we argue that one possible historical root of social trust may be the long-distance trade practices of the Viking age. To manage the risk of being cheated, trade between strangers in an oral world required a strong informal institution of trust-based trade norms out of necessity to deal with the risk of being cheated. In contrast to similar cases like the famous medieval Maghribi traders, who counted on writing (Greif, 1989), the punishment of cheaters could not be supported by written documents such as legal documents and letters, as the large majority of Vikings were non-literate. If a trader did not keep his word, social sanctioning by word of mouth was most likely the only method to discipline the cheater and prevent future free-rider behavior. The early rise of trust-based trade norms in Scandinavia is an overlooked factor in the region's long-term socio-economic development and social trust accumulation. This result points to the importance of free trade today, especially in poor countries with low levels of economic development and high rates of non-literacy.

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Corporate Resilience to Banking Crises: The Roles of Trust and Trade Credit

Ross Levine, Chen Lin & Wensi Xie

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Are firms more resilient to systemic banking crises in economies with higher levels of social trust? Using firm-level data in 34 countries from 1990 through 2011, we find that liquidity-dependent firms in high-trust countries obtain more trade credit and suffer smaller drops in profits and employment during banking crises than similar firms in low-trust economies. The results are consistent with the view that when banking crises block the normal banking-lending channel, greater social trust facilitates access to informal finance, cushioning the effects of these crises on corporate profits and employment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The ascent of man

Metabolic acceleration and the evolution of human brain size and life history

Herman Pontzer et al.

Nature, 19 May 2016, Pages 390–392

Abstract:
Humans are distinguished from the other living apes in having larger brains and an unusual life history that combines high reproductive output with slow childhood growth and exceptional longevity. This suite of derived traits suggests major changes in energy expenditure and allocation in the human lineage, but direct measures of human and ape metabolism are needed to compare evolved energy strategies among hominoids. Here we used doubly labelled water measurements of total energy expenditure (TEE; kcal day−1) in humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans to test the hypothesis that the human lineage has experienced an acceleration in metabolic rate, providing energy for larger brains and faster reproduction without sacrificing maintenance and longevity. In multivariate regressions including body size and physical activity, human TEE exceeded that of chimpanzees and bonobos, gorillas and orangutans by approximately 400, 635 and 820 kcal day−1, respectively, readily accommodating the cost of humans’ greater brain size and reproductive output. Much of the increase in TEE is attributable to humans’ greater basal metabolic rate (kcal day−1), indicating increased organ metabolic activity. Humans also had the greatest body fat percentage. An increased metabolic rate, along with changes in energy allocation, was crucial in the evolution of human brain size and life history.

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Reproductive trade-offs in extant hunter-gatherers suggest adaptive mechanism for the Neolithic expansion

Abigail Page et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 April 2016, Pages 4694–4699

Abstract:
The Neolithic demographic transition remains a paradox, because it is associated with both higher rates of population growth and increased morbidity and mortality rates. Here we reconcile the conflicting evidence by proposing that the spread of agriculture involved a life history quality–quantity trade-off whereby mothers traded offspring survival for increased fertility, achieving greater reproductive success despite deteriorating health. We test this hypothesis by investigating fertility, mortality, health, and overall reproductive success in Agta hunter-gatherers whose camps exhibit variable levels of sedentarization, mobility, and involvement in agricultural activities. We conducted blood composition tests in 345 Agta and found that viral and helminthic infections as well as child mortality rates were significantly increased with sedentarization. Nonetheless, both age-controlled fertility and overall reproductive success were positively affected by sedentarization and participation in cultivation. Thus, we provide the first empirical evidence, to our knowledge, of an adaptive mechanism in foragers that reconciles the decline in health and child survival with the observed demographic expansion during the Neolithic.

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Technological Analysis of the World’s Earliest Shamanic Costume: A Multi-Scalar, Experimental Study of a Red Deer Headdress from the Early Holocene Site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire, UK

Aimée Little et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
Shamanic belief systems represent the first form of religious practice visible within the global archaeological record. Here we report on the earliest known evidence of shamanic costume: modified red deer crania headdresses from the Early Holocene site of Star Carr (c. 11 kya). More than 90% of the examples from prehistoric Europe come from this one site, establishing it as a place of outstanding shamanistic/cosmological significance. Our work, involving a programme of experimental replication, analysis of macroscopic traces, organic residue analysis and 3D image acquisition, metrology and visualisation, represents the first attempt to understand the manufacturing processes used to create these artefacts. The results produced were unexpected — rather than being carefully crafted objects, elements of their production can only be described as expedient.

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The genetic history of Ice Age Europe

Qiaomei Fu et al.

Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Modern humans arrived in Europe ~45,000 years ago, but little is known about their genetic composition before the start of farming ~8,500 years ago. Here we analyse genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from ~45,000–7,000 years ago. Over this time, the proportion of Neanderthal DNA decreased from 3–6% to around 2%, consistent with natural selection against Neanderthal variants in modern humans. Whereas there is no evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe contributing to the genetic composition of present-day Europeans, all individuals between ~37,000 and ~14,000 years ago descended from a single founder population which forms part of the ancestry of present-day Europeans. An ~35,000-year-old individual from northwest Europe represents an early branch of this founder population which was then displaced across a broad region, before reappearing in southwest Europe at the height of the last Ice Age ~19,000 years ago. During the major warming period after ~14,000 years ago, a genetic component related to present-day Near Easterners became widespread in Europe. These results document how population turnover and migration have been recurring themes of European prehistory.

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Localizing Ashkenazic Jews to Primeval Villages in the Ancient Iranian Lands of Ashkenaz

Ranajit Das et al.

Genome Biology and Evolution, April 2016, Pages 1132-1149

Abstract:
The Yiddish language is over 1,000 years old and incorporates German, Slavic, and Hebrew elements. The prevalent view claims Yiddish has a German origin, whereas the opposing view posits a Slavic origin with strong Iranian and weak Turkic substrata. One of the major difficulties in deciding between these hypotheses is the unknown geographical origin of Yiddish speaking Ashkenazic Jews (AJs). An analysis of 393 Ashkenazic, Iranian, and mountain Jews and over 600 non-Jewish genomes demonstrated that Greeks, Romans, Iranians, and Turks exhibit the highest genetic similarity with AJs. The Geographic Population Structure analysis localized most AJs along major primeval trade routes in northeastern Turkey adjacent to primeval villages with names that may be derived from “Ashkenaz.” Iranian and mountain Jews were localized along trade routes on the Turkey’s eastern border. Loss of maternal haplogroups was evident in non-Yiddish speaking AJs. Our results suggest that AJs originated from a Slavo-Iranian confederation, which the Jews call “Ashkenazic” (i.e., “Scythian”), though these Jews probably spoke Persian and/or Ossete. This is compatible with linguistic evidence suggesting that Yiddish is a Slavic language created by Irano-Turko-Slavic Jewish merchants along the Silk Roads as a cryptic trade language, spoken only by its originators to gain an advantage in trade. Later, in the 9th century, Yiddish underwent relexification by adopting a new vocabulary that consists of a minority of German and Hebrew and a majority of newly coined Germanoid and Hebroid elements that replaced most of the original Eastern Slavic and Sorbian vocabularies, while keeping the original grammars intact.

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Pre-Clovis occupation 14,550 years ago at the Page-Ladson site, Florida, and the peopling of the Americas

Jessi Halligan et al.

Science Advances, May 2016

Abstract:
Stone tools and mastodon bones occur in an undisturbed geological context at the Page-Ladson site, Florida. Seventy-one radiocarbon ages show that ~14,550 calendar years ago (cal yr B.P.), people butchered or scavenged a mastodon next to a pond in a bedrock sinkhole within the Aucilla River. This occupation surface was buried by ~4 m of sediment during the late Pleistocene marine transgression, which also left the site submerged. Sporormiella and other proxy evidence from the sediments indicate that hunter-gatherers along the Gulf Coastal Plain coexisted with and utilized megafauna for ~2000 years before these animals became extinct at ~12,600 cal yr B.P. Page-Ladson expands our understanding of the earliest colonizers of the Americas and human-megafauna interaction before extinction.

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Post-invasion demography of prehistoric humans in South America

Amy Goldberg, Alexis Mychajliw & Elizabeth Hadly

Nature, 14 April 2016, Pages 232–235

Abstract:
As the last habitable continent colonized by humans, the site of multiple domestication hotspots, and the location of the largest Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, South America is central to human prehistory. Yet remarkably little is known about human population dynamics during colonization, subsequent expansions, and domestication. Here we reconstruct the spatiotemporal patterns of human population growth in South America using a newly aggregated database of 1,147 archaeological sites and 5,464 calibrated radiocarbon dates spanning fourteen thousand to two thousand years ago (ka). We demonstrate that, rather than a steady exponential expansion, the demographic history of South Americans is characterized by two distinct phases. First, humans spread rapidly throughout the continent, but remained at low population sizes for 8,000 years, including a 4,000-year period of ‘boom-and-bust’ oscillations with no net growth. Supplementation of hunting with domesticated crops and animals had a minimal impact on population carrying capacity. Only with widespread sedentism, beginning ~5 ka, did a second demographic phase begin, with evidence for exponential population growth in cultural hotspots, characteristic of the Neolithic transition worldwide. The unique extent of humanity’s ability to modify its environment to markedly increase carrying capacity in South America is therefore an unexpectedly recent phenomenon.

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Disease dynamics and costly punishment can foster socially imposed monogamy

Chris Bauch & Richard McElreath

Nature Communications, April 2016

Abstract:
Socially imposed monogamy in humans is an evolutionary puzzle because it requires costly punishment by those who impose the norm. Moreover, most societies were — and are — polygynous; yet many larger human societies transitioned from polygyny to socially imposed monogamy beginning with the advent of agriculture and larger residential groups. We use a simulation model to explore how interactions between group size, sexually transmitted infection (STI) dynamics and social norms can explain the timing and emergence of socially imposed monogamy. Polygyny dominates when groups are too small to sustain STIs. However, in larger groups, STIs become endemic (especially in concurrent polygynist networks) and have an impact on fertility, thereby mediating multilevel selection. Punishment of polygynists improves monogamist fitness within groups by reducing their STI exposure, and between groups by enabling punishing monogamist groups to outcompete polygynists. This suggests pathways for the emergence of socially imposed monogamy, and enriches our understanding of costly punishment evolution.

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Neandertal versus Modern Human Dietary Responses to Climatic Fluctuations

Sireen El Zaatari et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
The Neandertal lineage developed successfully throughout western Eurasia and effectively survived the harsh and severely changing environments of the alternating glacial/interglacial cycles from the middle of the Pleistocene until Marine Isotope Stage 3. Yet, towards the end of this stage, at the time of deteriorating climatic conditions that eventually led to the Last Glacial Maximum, and soon after modern humans entered western Eurasia, the Neandertals disappeared. Western Eurasia was by then exclusively occupied by modern humans. We use occlusal molar microwear texture analysis to examine aspects of diet in western Eurasian Paleolithic hominins in relation to fluctuations in food supplies that resulted from the oscillating climatic conditions of the Pleistocene. There is demonstrable evidence for differences in behavior that distinguish Upper Paleolithic humans from members of the Neandertal lineage. Specifically, whereas the Neandertals altered their diets in response to changing paleoecological conditions, the diets of Upper Paleolithic humans seem to have been less affected by slight changes in vegetation/climatic conditions but were linked to changes in their technological complexes. The results of this study also indicate differences in resource exploitation strategies between these two hominin groups. We argue that these differences in subsistence strategies, if they had already been established at the time of the first contact between these two hominin taxa, may have given modern humans an advantage over the Neandertals, and may have contributed to the persistence of our species despite habitat-related changes in food availabilities associated with climate fluctuations.

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Evidence for Quantity-Quality Trade-Offs, Sex-Specific Parental Investment, and Variance Compensation in Colonized Agta Foragers Undergoing Demographic Transition

Cody Ross et al.

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evolutionary ecological models of human fertility predict that (1) parents will bias investment toward the sex with the highest fitness prospects in a particular socio-ecological context; (2) fertility is subject to quantity-quality trade-offs; and (3) fertility decisions will be sensitive to both predictable and stochastic mortality risk and the relative fitness value of differently sized sib-sets (the variance compensation hypothesis). We test these predictions using demographic records from the Agta, an indigenous population from the Philippines, who, as a result of disruption by loggers, miners, and settlers, are undergoing a demographic and social/ecological transition from foragers to peasant laborers. Leveraging the spatial and temporal variation in the Agta Demographic Database, we conduct a Bayesian analysis of Agta life-history traits across this transition. Specifically, we compare the Casiguran Agta (CA) with the more isolated peninsular San Ildefonso Agta (SIA) sub-population from before (phase 1) and after (phase 2) encroachment. We find: (1) evidence of a decline in overall survival from phase 1 to phase 2, coupled with increased parental investment in first-born daughters compared to first-born sons in the CA population, and increased parental investment in sons versus daughters in the SIA population; (2) evidence of a moderate quantity-quality trade-off in CA and SIA fertility in phase 1; and (3) support for predictions of the variance compensation hypothesis as a driver of the lowered relative fertility in the CA. Our customized methods, comparative framework, and simultaneous focus on fertility and mortality allow us to show how heterogeneity in mortality and fertility are linked to life history trade-offs and environmental context in a manner consistent with the predictions of evolutionary ecological models.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hotness

Facial Contrast Is a Cue for Perceiving Health From the Face

Richard Russell et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
How healthy someone appears has important social consequences. Yet the visual cues that determine perceived health remain poorly understood. Here we report evidence that facial contrast — the luminance and color contrast between internal facial features and the surrounding skin — is a cue for the perception of health from the face. Facial contrast was measured from a large sample of Caucasian female faces, and was found to predict ratings of perceived health. Most aspects of facial contrast were positively related to perceived health, meaning that faces with higher facial contrast appeared healthier. In 2 subsequent experiments, we manipulated facial contrast and found that participants perceived faces with increased facial contrast as appearing healthier than faces with decreased facial contrast. These results support the idea that facial contrast is a cue for perceived health. This finding adds to the growing knowledge about perceived health from the face, and helps to ground our understanding of perceived health in terms of lower-level perceptual features such as contrast.

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Selection works both ways: BMI and marital formation among young women

Michael Malcolm & Ilker Kaya

Review of Economics of the Household, June 2016, Pages 293-311

Abstract:
The literature on entry into marriages has almost universally regarded a high body mass index (BMI) to be a disadvantage for women in the marriage market. But the theoretical effect of BMI on marital entry is actually uncertain because women who anticipate poor outcomes in the marriage market are more likely to accept early offers, while women with more desirable characteristics can afford to wait for a better match. Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we show that female entry into marriage does decline as BMI rises, but that early marriage is nonlinear in BMI. Women with an extremely high BMI or with a BMI in the most attractive range are less likely to marry early.

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Transitory Environmental Threat Alters Sexually Dimorphic Mate Preferences and Sexual Strategy

Simon Reeve, Kristine Kelly & Lisa Welling

Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2016, Pages 101-113

Abstract:
The Environmental Security Hypothesis (ESH) proposes that when the environment is less secure, people will show greater preference for mates with survival-promoting traits (Pettijohn and Jungeberg in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(9), 1186–1197, 2004). In this study, we manipulated perceived environmental security and measured preference for different body and face characteristics as well as attitudes toward long-term (LTM) and short-term mating (STM) strategies. Participants (N = 100) received a cover story designed to lead experimental, but not control, participants to believe they would be required to handle a poisonous snake. Participants then completed a measure of sociosexual orientation and selected the three opposite-sex face and body types that they found most attractive from image matrices depicting physical characteristics varying systematically across body and face shape. Female bodies varied in body fat and waist-to-hip ratio, and male bodies varied in muscle mass and waist-to-chest ratio. Face stimuli varied in masculine–feminine facial shape and masculine–feminine facial coloration. Results indicated that, compared to controls, men in the environmental-threat condition showed a preference for higher body fat, and women in the environmental-threat condition showed a preference for higher muscle mass and more masculine faces. These women also showed a more positive attitude toward STM, but not LTM. In line with the ESH, our findings predominantly support a context-specific pattern of mate preference and sexual strategies.

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Conception Risk and the Ultimatum Game: When Fertility is High, Women Demand More

Adar Eisenbruch & James Roney

Personality and Individual Differences, August 2016, Pages 272–274

Abstract:
Evidence suggests that women become more intrasexually competitive in the fertile window of the menstrual cycle. Studies using the ultimatum game have extended this to economic decisions, finding that women in the fertile window are less generous towards and more likely to punish other women. In the present study, we used continuous estimates of conception risk to test replication of these findings in a sample of women who played the ultimatum game with same-sex partners. We found that women at higher conception risk made higher demands of their partners, indicating less inclination to cooperate and perhaps greater willingness to engage in costly punishment. Possible functions of cycle-phase shifts in intrasexual competition are discussed, and directions for future research on the psychology of cooperation are suggested.

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Gender Interacts with Opioid Receptor Polymorphism A118G and Serotonin Receptor Polymorphism −1438 A/G on Speed-Dating Success

Karen Wu et al.

Human Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined an understudied but potentially important source of romantic attraction — genetics — using a speed-dating paradigm. The mu opioid receptor (OPRM1) polymorphism A118G (rs1799971) and the serotonin receptor (HTR2A) polymorphism −1438 A/G (rs6311) were studied because they have been implicated in social affiliation. Guided by the social role theory of mate selection and prior genetic evidence, we examined these polymorphisms’ gender-specific associations with speed-dating success (i.e., date offers, mate desirability). A total of 262 single Asian Americans went on speed-dates with members of the opposite gender and completed interaction questionnaires about their partners. Consistent with our prediction, significant gender-by-genotype interactions were found for speed-dating success. Specifically, the minor variant of A118G (G-allele), which has been linked to submissiveness/social sensitivity, predicted greater speed-dating success for women, whereas the minor variant of −1438 A/G (G-allele), which has been linked to leadership/social dominance, predicted greater speed-dating success for men. For both polymorphisms, reverse “dampening” effects of minor variants were found for opposite-gender counterparts. These results support previous research on the importance of the opioid and serotonergic systems in social affiliation, indicating that their influence extends to dating success, with opposite, yet gender-norm consistent, effects for men and women.

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The impact of artificial fragrances on the assessment of mate quality cues in body odor

Caroline Allen et al.

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cultural practices may either enhance or interfere with evolved preferences as predicted by culture-gene coevolution theory. Here, we investigated the impact of artificial fragrances on the assessment of biologically relevant information in human body odor. To do this, we examined cross-sensory consistency (across faces and odors) in the perception of masculinity and femininity in men and women, and how consistency is influenced by the use of artificial fragrance. Independent sets of same and opposite-sex participants rated odor samples (with and without a fragrance, N = 239 raters), and photographs (N = 130) of 20 men and 20 women. In female, but not male raters, judgments of masculinity/femininity of non-fragranced odor and faces were correlated. However, the correlation between female ratings of male facial and odor masculinity was not evident when assessing a fragranced body odor. Further analysis also indicated that differences in ratings of male odor masculinity between men with high and low levels of facial masculinity were not present in fragranced body odor samples. This effect was absent in ratings of female odors by both female and male raters, suggesting sex-specificity in the effects of fragrance on odor perception. Our findings suggest that women may be more attentive to these odor cues, and therefore also to disruption of this information through fragrance use. Our results show that cultural practices might both enhance and interfere with evolved preferences.

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Variation in Men’s Masculinity Affects Preferences for Women’s Voices at Different Points in the Menstrual Cycle

Nathan Pipitone, Gordon Gallup & Astrid Bartels

Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent work shows that humans respond to subtle shifts in women’s behavior across the menstrual cycle. In the present study, males rated voice recordings for attractiveness that had been taken from females at times of high and low fertility to determine whether levels of masculinity in men affect preferences for fertile female voices. Using a principle component analysis, we discovered that men with lower aggregate levels of body and vocal masculinity were more likely to prefer voices from naturally cycling women at high fertility. The present study replicates previous findings showing that voices from women at high fertility are more attractive, and provides some of the first evidence showing that between-subjects variation in levels of masculinity among men affect their preferences for women’s voices at different points in the menstrual cycle. These results add to previous work that show pair-bonded men who are judged to be lower in mate quality may have a vested interest in their female partners at times of higher fertility.

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Sexual selection on male vocal fundamental frequency in humans and other anthropoids

David Puts et al.

Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 27 April 2016

Abstract:
In many primates, including humans, the vocalizations of males and females differ dramatically, with male vocalizations and vocal anatomy often seeming to exaggerate apparent body size. These traits may be favoured by sexual selection because low-frequency male vocalizations intimidate rivals and/or attract females, but this hypothesis has not been systematically tested across primates, nor is it clear why competitors and potential mates should attend to vocalization frequencies. Here we show across anthropoids that sexual dimorphism in fundamental frequency (F0) increased during evolutionary transitions towards polygyny, and decreased during transitions towards monogamy. Surprisingly, humans exhibit greater F0 sexual dimorphism than any other ape. We also show that low-F0 vocalizations predict perceptions of men's dominance and attractiveness, and predict hormone profiles (low cortisol and high testosterone) related to immune function. These results suggest that low male F0 signals condition to competitors and mates, and evolved in male anthropoids in response to the intensity of mating competition.

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The Effects of Disease Vulnerability on Preferences for Self-Similar Scent

Naomi Muggleton & Corey Fincher

Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2016, Pages 129-139

Abstract:
Humans possess disease avoidance mechanisms, which promote xenophobic attitudes under conditions of perceived vulnerability to disease (PVD). We investigate whether concerns about disease vulnerability influence attraction to olfactory cues of self-similarity. Participants donated a sample of their body odour, then completed a PVD questionnaire (subscales: germ aversion, perceived infectability; Duncan et al. 2009). Told that they were rating strangers’ odours, participants rated self, versus non-self, scent donations. Among women, attraction to self-scent was positively predicted by germ aversion (but not perceived infectability); surprisingly, men’s ratings of self-scent were negatively associated with germ aversion. Priming with pathogenic cues did not influence scent preferences. This association between germ aversion and odour preference suggests that mere scent exposure can inform the receiver of the immunological similarity between self and sender, which can influence social responses (i.e. attraction to vs. avoidance of scent sender). We discuss these results, as well as implications for the study of intergroup biases.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 20, 2016

Officialdom

Gridlock: Ethnic Diversity in Government and the Provision of Public Goods

Brian Beach & Daniel Jones

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does ethnic diversity in government impact public good provision? We construct a novel dataset linking the ethnicity of California city council candidates to election outcomes and expenditure decisions. Using a regression discontinuity approach, we find that increased diversity on the council leads to less spending on public goods. This is especially true in cities with high segregation and economic inequality. Those serving on councils that experience an increase in diversity also receive fewer votes when they run for reelection. These results point towards disagreement within the council generating lower spending.

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Representing the Preferences of Donors, Partisans, and Voters in the US Senate

Michael Barber

Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 2016, Pages 225-249

Abstract:
Who do legislators best represent? This paper addresses this question by investigating the degree of ideological congruence between senators and constituents on a unified scale. Specifically, I measure congruence between legislators and four constituent subsets - donors, co-partisans, supporters, and registered voters. To estimate the preferences of these groups, I use a large survey of voters and an original survey of campaign contributors that samples both in- and out-of-state contributors in the 2012 election cycle. I find that senators' preferences reflect the preferences of the average donor better than any other group. Senators from both parties are slightly more ideologically extreme than the average co-partisan in their state and those who voted for them in 2012. Finally, senators' preferences diverge dramatically from the preference of the average voter in their state. The degree of divergence is nearly as large as if voters were randomly assigned to a senator. These results show that in the case of the Senate, there is a dearth of congruence between constituents and senators - unless these constituents are those who write checks and attend fund-raisers.

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Extremity in Congress: Communications versus Votes

Lindsey Cormack

Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
I propose a theory of legislator-to-constituent communication that describes a relationship between the types of votes a legislator reveals and the partisan composition of her constituency. To test this theory, I use an original data set of 40,000 official communications containing 30,000 vote revelations from the 111th Congress. I find evidence substantiating this theory; the extent to which a legislator endeavors to appear more ideologically extreme in communications varies systematically with the relative amounts of different types of voters in her district. This result is contrasted with an analysis of voting extremism where I find that the ideological preferences of donors better explain voting patterns.

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Leadership Power in Congress, 1890-2014: Evidence from PAC Contributions and Newspaper Coverage

Pamela Ban, Daniel Moskowitz & James Snyder

Harvard Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
For decades, scholars have studied the relative power of parties and committees in the U.S. Congress. An influential theory, Conditional Party Government (CPG), hypothesizes that as intra-party preferences converge and inter-party preferences diverge, rank-and-file members and committees transfer power to party leaders. Most previous tests of CPG and other theories of party power rely on roll call votes to measure both the distribution of preferences within the chamber and the relative power of party leaders. We propose an alternative that assesses shifts of power within Congress by using PAC contributions and newspaper coverage. Since PACs are sophisticated donors who target their contributions to gain access and influence in Congress, following the money allows us to construct a measure of relative power. During the period 1978-2014, we find that party leaders receive an increasing share of the donations over time at the expense of committee leaders and rank-and-file. The share of PAC donations to party leaders closely tracks standard measures of CPG. Another measure of power, based on newspaper coverage, produces similar patterns for an even longer period, from 1890-2014. Overall, our results provide strong support for the CPG theory.

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The Political Economy of Program Design: Overcoming Principal-Agent Goal Disparities Between Congress and the Executive Using Grants to States

Stuart Kasdin & Federica Iorio

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
When programs are grants to states, federal funds will be used to meet both the national objectives and the local priorities of the state or local government recipients. This article examines the decision to design new federal programs as either a grant to states or as administered by federal agencies. We predict that Congress will choose either the states or the federal bureaucracy based on which agent is more likely to manage the program consistent with the preferences of the Congressional majority. We examine the political and economic conditions present in the year before Congress created a program. We find that Congress's perception of a government agency's partisan orientation matters: A perceived divergence in partisan orientation between the Congress and federal agency increases the likelihood of a grant design. In addition, we see evidence that a grant design is preferred when the president is not a co-partisan of Congress.

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Bypassing Congressional Committees: Parties, Panel Rosters, and Deliberative Processes

William Bendix

Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although scholars have examined committee rosters extensively, no study has considered the relationship between the ideological composition of panels and their participation in bill drafting. I thus ask: Which committees are frequently excluded from legislative deliberations? Does the composition of committees affect the degree to which they contribute to bill development? Using DW-NOMINATE data, I calculate ideological scores for congressional panels between 1989 and 2010 to see whether certain committees are routinely bypassed. I find that moderate panels, polarized panels, and panels with moderate chairs are often excluded, while extreme committees in the majority direction tend to retain bill-writing duties.

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Corporate lobbying, CEO political ideology and firm performance

Omer Unsal, Kabir Hassan & Duygu Zirek

Journal of Corporate Finance, June 2016, Pages 126-149

Abstract:
In this paper, we investigate the influence of CEO political orientation on corporate lobbying efforts. Specifically, we study whether CEO political ideology, in terms of manager-level campaign donations, determines the choice and amount of firm lobbying involvement and the impact of lobbying on firm value. We find a generous engagement in lobbying efforts by firms with Republican leaning-managers, which lobby a larger number of bills and have higher lobbying expenditures. However, the cost of lobbying offsets the benefit for firms with Republican CEOs. We report higher agency costs of free cash flow, lower Tobin's Q, and smaller increases in buy and hold abnormal returns following lobbying activities for firms with Republican managers, compared to Democratic and Apolitical rivals. Overall, our results suggest that the effects of lobbying on firm performance vary across firms with different managerial political orientations.

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Lobbying, political connectedness and financial performance in the air transportation industry

Richard Brown

Journal of Air Transport Management, July 2016, Pages 61-69

Abstract:
While there is a deeper understanding of the outcomes to firm-level political activities in general, there are very few papers that address this relationship in transportation studies. In this paper, I empirically test firm-level rent-seeking through corporate political activity (CPA) in the air transportation industry. I find, in a sample of 46 firms over 15 years, that lobbying intensity and political connections are positively related to subsequent profitability in both fixed-effects and random-effects estimations. I also test the interaction of these two main effects and find mixed support for the moderating effect of political connections on lobbying intensity. This paper contributes to the theoretical literature on political rent-seeking and the topical literature on political action in air transportation.

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US political corruption and firm financial policies

Jared Smith

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using US Department of Justice data on local political corruption, I find that firms in more corrupt areas hold less cash and have greater leverage than firms in less corrupt areas. The results are robust to including a range of controls and to using an instrumental variable approach, two alternative survey measures of corruption, and propensity score matching. Further, the association between corruption and leverage is largest among firms that operate primarily around their headquarters. Overall, the evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that firms manage liquidity downward and debt obligations upward to limit expropriation by corrupt local officials.

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When Voters Pull the Trigger: Can Direct Democracy Restrain Legislative Excesses?

Vladimir Kogan

Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2016, Pages 297-325

Abstract:
Direct democracy is sometimes described as a "gun behind the door," but how do legislators react when voters pull the trigger? Leveraging the high-profile referendum defeat of a controversial law passed by the Ohio legislature, I examine how legislators respond to voter disaffection. Using interest groups to "bridge" votes before and after the election, I show that the measure's defeat induced moderation on the part of the Republican legislative majority, while leaving the behavior of opposition Democrats largely unchanged. The results suggest that direct democracy has the potential to restrain legislative excesses and alleviate polarization in state legislatures.

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Slow-Rolling, Fast-Tracking, and the Pace of Bureaucratic Decisions in Rulemaking

Rachel Augustine Potter

University of Virginia Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
The slow pace of administrative action is arguably a defining characteristic of modern bureaucracy. The reasons proffered for delay are numerous, often centering on procedural hurdles or bureaucrats' ineptitude. I offer a different perspective on delay in one important bureaucratic venue: the federal rulemaking process. I argue that agencies can speed up (fast-track) or slow down (slow-roll) the rulemaking process in order to undermine political oversight provided by Congress, the president, and the courts. That is, when the political climate is favorable agencies rush to lock in a rule, but when it is less favorable they "wait out" the tenure of current political overseers. I find empirical support for this proposition using an event history analysis of more than 9,600 agency rules from 147 agencies. The results support the interpretation that agencies strategically delay, and that delay is not simply evidence of increased bureaucratic effort.

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Getting Short-Changed? The Impact of Outside Money on District Representation

Anne Baker

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: As incumbent House members increasingly recruit campaign contributions from individuals who reside outside of their districts, this raises the question of whether a dependency on outside money affects members' responsiveness and ideological proximity to district constituents.

Method: Using data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies of 2006, 2008, and 2010 as well as individual contribution data corresponding to those years from the U.S. Federal Election Commission, I examine this relationship using responsiveness and proximity models of representation.

Results: I find a dependency on outside contributions decreases members' responsiveness to their districts and increases the members' ideological extremity. Moreover, within-district contributions only minimally improve ideological alignment between the member and the district.

Conclusion: Donors receive additional representation from members of the House at the expense of constituents.

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Up the Hill and Across the Aisle: Discovering the Path to Bipartisanship in Washington

Matthew Beckmann

Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2016, Pages 269-295

Abstract:
Appeals for bipartisan diplomacy pepper popular commentary, often with wistful references to a bygone era where leaders (like Lyndon Johnson and Everett Dirksen) set aside partisan point scoring to serve the public interest. Here we reconsider the elements driving bipartisan contact in Washington. Stepping back from popular narratives, we situate the president-opposing leader relationship within a more general class of institutional bargaining, leading to the prediction that bipartisan negotiation emerges from a particular combination of incentives and institutions - namely, when the president is strong politically (rendering opposing leaders willing to compromise) but opposing party leaders are strong institutionally (rendering them crucial to passing the deal). Utilizing Presidential Daily Diaries, hypotheses are tested against original data on presidents' personal interactions with opposing Senate leaders across 40 years, 20 Congresses, and eight presidencies (1961-2000).

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Congressional Assertions of the Spending Power: Institutional Conflict and Regulatory Authority

Miranda Yaver

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, May 2016, Pages 272-305

Abstract:
This study seeks to answer a crucial and unexplored question about American regulatory law and policy: How do majority coalitions in Congress use the spending power to circumvent intra-branch conflict and judicial constraints against regulating by finding alternate avenues to regulate states and private actors? This study provides the first large-scale empirical evidence of congressional use of the spending power to assert implementation authority in the face of constraints against more direct legislating. It is through this process of conditioning funds upon regulatory compliance that Congress works toward ideal policy outcomes without inciting institutional conflict with the other branches or from the opposing party. I base my conditional spending analysis on data on statutory specificity and congressional delegation from the 80th to the 110th Congresses provided by Farhang, and include additional measures of institutional conflict. The above argument is supported by the empirical analysis.

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Legislative Error and the "Politics of Haste"

Jonathan Lewallen

PS: Political Science & Politics, April 2016, Pages 239-243

Abstract:
Legislative error is an important and understudied element of the policy process. Even simple clerical mistakes - if unnoticed before enactment - can lead to ambiguity about a law's meaning, spark political battles concerning rulemaking and implementation, and involve the courts in statutory interpretation. Understanding how and why error occurs can help us better understand how political institutions are intertwined in the design, enactment, and implementation of public policy. This article analyzes the sources of legislative error using data on corrected legislation in the US Senate from 1981 to 2012. The author finds that Senate drafting error is related to unified control of Congress and new majority parties, inexperienced committee members, and committee workload. In addition to bringing in different perspectives and preferences, elections can affect a legislature's ability to draft clear, error-free statutes.

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Measuring Elite Personality Using Speech

Adam Ramey, Jonathan Klingler & Gary Hollibaugh

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
We apply recent advances in machine learning to measure Congressmember personality traits using floor speeches from 1996 to 2014. We also demonstrate the superiority of text-based measurement over survey-based measurement by showing that personality traits are correlated with survey response rates for members of Congress. Finally, we provide one empirical application showcasing the importance of personality on congressional behavior.

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Informal Consequences of Budget Institutions in the US Congress

Andrew Clarke & Kenneth Lowande

Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Though considerable research focuses on formal institutions in Congress, scholars have long acknowledged that much of what guides legislative behavior is unwritten. To advance this area, we leverage a tool that allows appropriators to redirect billions of dollars from mandatory programs to discretionary projects. Changes in mandatory program spending - known as "CHIMPs" - show that existing institutions are often maintained by the strategic action of legislators. In the case of CHIMPs, we find their use is largely a response to formal constraints and that they are preserved through avoidance of minimum reform coalitions. This highlights that the legislative process - and budgetary outcomes in particular - cannot be understood without attention to procedures which remain "off the books."

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Transparency by Conformity: A Field Experiment Evaluating Openness in Local Governments

Jim ben-Aaron et al.

Public Administration Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sunshine laws establishing government transparency are ubiquitous in the United States; however, the intended degree of openness is often unclear or unrealized. Although researchers have identified characteristics of government organizations or officials that affect the fulfillment of public records requests, they have not considered the influence that government organizations have on each other. This picture of independently acting organizations does not accord with the literature on diffusion in public policy and administration. In this article, we present a field experiment to test whether a county government's fulfillment of a public records request is influenced by the knowledge that its peers have already complied. We argue that knowledge of peer compliance should (1) induce competitive pressures to comply and (2) resolve legal ambiguity in favor of compliance. We find evidence of peer conformity effects both in the time to initial response and in the rate of complete request fulfillment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Race and history

Race and Consumption: Black and White Disparities in Household Spending

Raphaël Charron-Chénier, Joshua Fink & Lisa Keister

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Differences in consumption patterns are usually treated as a matter of preferences. In this article, the authors examine consumption from a structural perspective and argue that black households face unique constraints restricting their ability to acquire important goods and services. Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys, the authors examine racial differences in total spending and in spending on major categories of goods and services (food, transportation, utilities, housing, health care, and entertainment). The authors also capture heterogeneous effects of racial stratification across class by modeling racial consumption gaps across household income levels. The results show that black households tend to have lower levels of total spending than their white counterparts and that these disparities tend to persist across income levels. Overall, these analyses indicate that racial disparities in consumption exist independently of other economic disparities and may be a key unexamined factor in the reproduction of racial inequality.

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Race, Class, Religion and the Southern Party System: A Field Report from Dixie

M.V. Hood

The Forum, April 2016, Pages 83–96

Abstract:
The purpose of this essay is to provide a contemporary examination of the political party system in the Southern US. In doing so, an assessment is undertaken to determine which cleavage line – race, class, or religion – does the best job of explaining the division between Republicans and Democrats in the region. Using survey research data from the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study three multivariate models are employed to study partisan affiliation, presidential voting, and voting in US Senate elections. The results indicate that race, especially the Black-White dichotomy, is the largest dividing line between the Republican and Democratic Parties in the region. In fact, in terms of party identification race dwarfs the effects of religion and class. As related to presidential and Senate voting behavior race continues to exert a significant influence, even after controlling for partisan identification. Conversely, class and religion produced minimal or no effects in models of vote choice. In conclusion, it would appear that the contemporary Southern political landscape, like its predecessor, continues to be defined by racial divisions.

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The (Non)Politics of Emergency Political Intervention: The Racial Geography of Urban Crisis Management in Michigan

Owen Kirkpatrick & Nate Breznau

Southern Methodist University Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
The following mixed method study investigates Michigan’s system of fiscal emergency management, which disproportionately impacts African Americans. According to conventional explanations, the overrepresentation of emergency political intervention (EPI) in black communities is a happenstance product of African American populations being concentrated in fiscally distressed urban areas. We first investigate this hypothetically spurious association using multivariate methods. While the State’s objective fiscal scoring of local political units explains a great deal in terms of the distribution of EPI, black population is also an independently significant predictor. When we control for fiscal score, the odds of intervention in a local political unit (e.g. city, township, school district) increase by 50% for every 10 percentage-point increase in the local black population. Second, a qualitative analysis of the EPI law and its application both supports our statistical findings and points to two explanations of the role of race in EPI. First, racial bias and segregation may have a direct impact on EPI distribution. Second, race may play an indirect role, insofar as its effects are intertwined in complex ways with other processes and mechanisms. Specifically, we emphasize the relationship between post-crisis patterns of urban value extraction and the racial logic of emergency fiscal intervention.

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Contested Terrain: The State versus Threatened Lynch Mob Violence

E.M. Beck, Stewart Tolnay & Amy Kate

Bailey American Journal of Sociology, May 2016, Pages 1856-1884

Abstract:
Prior research on mob violence in the American South has focused on lynchings that were successfully completed. Here, the authors explore new territory by studying the relationship between state interventions in threatened mob violence and industrial expansion in the South. Using a newly available inventory of lynching threats, they find that the frequency of extraordinary state interventions to avoid mob violence between 1880 and 1909 was positively related to the strength of the manufacturing sector within counties and negatively related to the prevalence of a “Deep South cotton culture.” The authors’ research offers support for the hypothesis that mob violence was incompatible with the image of the “New South” and that contradiction motivated state authorities to make extraordinary interventions when lynching was threatened.

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Obama, Katrina, and the Persistence of Racial Inequality

Robert Margo

Journal of Economic History, June 2016, Pages 301-341

Abstract:
New benchmark estimates of Black-White income ratios for 1870, 1900, and 1940 are combined with standard post-World War census data. The resulting time series reveals that the pace of racial income convergence has generally been steady but slow, quickening only during the 1940s and the modern Civil Rights era. I explore the interpretation of the time series with a model of intergenerational transmission of inequality in which racial differences in causal factors that determine income are very large just after the Civil War and which erode slowly across subsequent generations.

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The Electoral Determinants of State Welfare Effort in the U.S. South, 1960–2008

William Terry

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the impact of electoral politics on state welfare policy in the post-civil rights era South. In contrast to an emerging consensus concluding that southern African Americans materially benefited from rejoining the electorate, this study suggests that higher black registration rates actually reduced states’ poverty relief efforts. In the years immediately following the Voting Rights Act (VRA), when Democrats controlled state government, the significant negative relationship between the size of the black electorate and state welfare generosity was moderated to some extent by high levels of partisan competition. In such cases, Democrats ostensibly chose a “core” targeting strategy of pursuing lower-income votes and had the institutional wherewithal to purchase these votes with policy concessions. Overall, however, the liberal “Downsian” policy response to African American mobilization was dominated by an antiredistributive response. In the South, welfare policies were relatively conservative vis-à-vis the other states during Jim Crow and became more so in response to black voting.

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African Ancestry, Social Factors, and Hypertension Among Non-Hispanic Blacks in the Health and Retirement Study

Jessica Marden et al.

Biodemography and Social Biology, Spring 2016, Pages 19-35

Abstract:
The biomedical literature contains much speculation about possible genetic explanations for the large and persistent black–white disparities in hypertension, but profound social inequalities are also hypothesized to contribute to this outcome. Our goal is to evaluate whether socioeconomic status (SES) differences provide a plausible mechanism for associations between African ancestry and hypertension in a U.S. cohort of older non-Hispanic blacks. We included only non-Hispanic black participants (N = 998) from the Health and Retirement Study who provided genetic data. We estimated percent African ancestry based on 84,075 independent single nucleotide polymorphisms using ADMIXTURE V1.23, imposing K = 4 ancestral populations, and categorized into quartiles. Hypertension status was self-reported in the year 2000. We used linear probability models (adjusted for age, sex, and southern birth) to predict prevalent hypertension with African ancestry quartile, before and after accounting for a small set of SES measures. Respondents with the highest quartile of African ancestry had 8 percentage points’ (RD = 0.081; 95% CI: −0.001, 0.164) higher prevalence of hypertension compared to the lowest quartile. Adjustment for childhood disadvantage, education, income, and wealth explained over one-third (RD = 0.050; 95% CI: −0.034, 0.135) of the disparity. Explanations for the residual disparity remain unspecified and may include other indicators of SES or diet, lifestyle, and psychosocial mechanisms.

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Maternal Age and Infant Mortality for White, Black, and Mexican Mothers in the United States

Philip Cohen

Sociological Science, January 2016

Abstract:
This paper assesses the pattern of infant mortality by maternal age for white, black, and Mexican mothers using the 2013 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Public Use File from the Centers for Disease Control. The results are consistent with the “weathering” hypothesis, which suggests that white women benefit from delayed childbearing while for black women early childbearing is adaptive because of deteriorating health status through the childbearing years. For white women, the risk (adjusted for covariates) of infant death is U-shaped — lowest in the early thirties — while for black women the risk increases linearly with age. Mexican-origin women show a J-shape, with highest risk at the oldest ages. The results underscore the need for understanding the relationship between maternal age and infant mortality in the context of unequal health experiences across race/ethnic groups in the US.

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Black Pioneers, Intermetropolitan Movers, and Housing Desegregation

Yana Kucheva & Richard Sander

U.S. Census Bureau Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
In this project, we examine the mobility choices of black households between 1960 and 2000. We use household-level Decennial Census data geocoded down to the census tract level. Our results indicate that, for black households, one’s status as an intermetropolitan migrant – especially from an urban area outside the South – is a powerful predictor of pioneering into a white neighborhood. Moreover, and perhaps even more importantly, the ratio of these intermetropolitan black arrivals to the incumbent metropolitan black population is a powerful predictor of whether a metropolitan area experiences substantial declines in housing segregation.

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Civil Rights, World War II, and U.S. Public Opinion

Steven White

Studies in American Political Development, April 2016, Pages 38-61

Abstract:
Scholars of American politics often assume World War II liberalized white racial attitudes. This conjecture is generally premised on the existence of an ideological tension between a war against Nazism and the maintenance of white supremacy at home, particularly the Southern system of Jim Crow. A possible relationship between the war and civil rights was also suggested by a range of contemporaneous voices, including academics like Gunnar Myrdal and activists like Walter White and A. Philip Randolph. However, while intuitively plausible, this relationship is generally not well verified empirically. A common flaw is the lack of attention to public opinion polls from the 1940s. Using the best available survey evidence, I argue the war's impact on white racial attitudes is more limited than is often claimed. First, I demonstrate that for whites in the mass public, while there is some evidence of liberalization on issues of racial prejudice, this generally does not extend to policies addressing racial inequities. White opposition to federal anti-lynching legislation actually seems to have increased during the war. Second, there is some evidence of racial moderation among white veterans, relative to their counterparts who did not serve. White veterans were more supportive of anti-lynching legislation in the immediate postwar period, and they offered stronger support for black voting rights in the early 1960s. However, they were not distinguishable on many other issues, including measures of racial prejudice and attitudes toward segregation.

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Pickup Basketball in the Production of Black Community

Francisco Vieyra

Qualitative Sociology, June 2016, Pages 101-123

Abstract:
Recent studies on basketball employ Elijah Anderson’s decent-street dichotomy. In these works, institutional basketball is “decent” and unifying, whereas pickup basketball is “street” and atomizing. Based on ethnographic research in New York City’s pickup basketball scene, this article argues that such an approach obscures many of the ways in which pickup basketball actually strengthens Black community. The article shows that through practice, contests, competitions, and its embeddedness in everyday life pickup basketball directly produces Black community by bringing together diverse people. Pickup basketball also indirectly produces community by: 1) articulating, enacting, and disseminating essential communal values; and 2) serving as a collective depot for information and support. In rejecting the institutional basketball-pickup basketball as decent-street binary, the article attempts to reorient the very understanding of pickup basketball and its place in the urban Black community.

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“A Grain of Salt in a Pepper Shaker”: Interviewing Whites, Blacks, and Latinos about their Neighborhood Preferences

Cassi Meyerhoffer

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several perspectives dominate as explanations for neighborhood preferences: pure race, racial proxy, race-based neighborhood stereotyping, and race-associated neighborhood factors. This analysis extends and supports the pure race and race-associated neighborhood factors arguments by showing that these theories are applied differently depending on respondents' social class, race and ethnicity, and whether they are talking about white, black, or Latino neighborhoods. Race-associated factors are emphasized for white and black neighborhoods, but pure race serves as a better theoretical framework for understanding people's preferences for Latino neighborhoods. I analyze qualitative interview data, using maps of real neighborhoods and hypothetical neighborhood show cards, to examine the neighborhood preferences of 65 white, black, and Latino residents in Ogden, Utah, and Buffalo, New York.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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