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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The hard stuff

The Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid on Drinking in College

Benjamin Cowan & Dustin White
Journal of Health Economics, December 2015, Pages 137-149

Abstract:
We study the effect of state-level merit aid programs (such as Georgia's HOPE scholarship) on alcohol consumption among college students. Such programs have the potential to affect drinking through a combination of channels - such as raising students' disposable income and increasing the incentive to maintain a high GPA - that could theoretically raise or lower alcohol use. We find that the presence of a merit aid program in one's state generally leads to an overall increase in (heavy) drinking. This effect is concentrated among men, students with lower parental education, older students, and students with high college GPA's. Our findings are robust to several alternative empirical specifications including event-study analyses by year of program adoption. Furthermore, no difference in high-school drinking is observed for students attending college in states with merit-aid programs.

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Do Medical Marijuana Laws Increase Hard-Drug Use?

Yu-Wei Luke Chu
Journal of Law & Economics, May 2015, Pages 481-517

Abstract:
Medical marijuana laws generate significant debate regarding drug policy. For instance, if marijuana is a complement to hard drugs, then these laws would increase the usage not only of marijuana but also of hard drugs. In this paper I study empirically the effects of medical marijuana laws by analyzing data on drug arrests and treatment admissions. I find that medical marijuana laws increase these proxies for marijuana consumption by around 10-15 percent. However, there is no evidence that cocaine and heroin usage increases. From the arrest data, the estimates indicate a 0-15 percent decrease in possession arrests for cocaine and heroin combined. From the treatment data, the estimates show a 20 percent decrease in admissions for heroin-related treatment, although there is no significant effect for cocaine-related treatment. These results suggest that marijuana may be a substitute for heroin, but it is not strongly correlated with cocaine.

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Should Parents Allow Their Adolescent Children to Drink at Home? Family Factors as Predictors of Alcohol Involvement Trajectories Over 15 Years

Ash Levitt & Lynne Cooper
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, September 2015, Pages 661-670

Objective: The present study examined familial risk and protective factors as moderators of parents allowing their adolescent children to drink at home on longitudinal alcohol involvement trajectories.

Method: A total of 772 community adolescents and their parents provided data beginning in 1989 and at four subsequent time points over 15 years; Black adolescents were intentionally oversampled (50% at baseline).

Results: Outcomes related to allowing adolescents to drink at home depended on family structure: Adolescents from intact families who were allowed to drink at home showed the lowest levels of alcohol use and problems over time, whereas those from nonintact families who were allowed to drink at home showed the highest levels of involvement. These results controlled for family history of alcohol problems, consistent parenting styles, and demographic characteristics.

Conclusions: Results suggest that allowing adolescents to drink at home is neither inherently protective nor risky but depends on the family context. Implications for the development of adolescent alcohol involvement are discussed.

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How does Electronic Cigarette Access affect Adolescent Smoking?

Abigail Friedman
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Understanding electronic cigarettes' effect on tobacco smoking is a central economic and policy issue. This paper examines the causal impact of e-cigarette access on conventional cigarette use by adolescents. Regression analyses consider how state bans on e-cigarette sales to minors influence smoking rates among 12 to 17 year olds. Such bans yield a statistically significant 0.9 percentage point increase in recent smoking in this age group, relative to states without such bans. Results are robust to multiple specifications as well as several falsification and placebo checks. This effect is both consistent with e-cigarette access reducing smoking among minors, and large: banning electronic cigarette sales to minors counteracts 70 percent of the downward pre-trend in teen cigarette smoking in the states that implemented such bans.

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Alcohol consumption increases bias to shoot at Middle Eastern but not White targets

Timothy Schofield, Christian Unkelbach & Thomas Denson
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Alcohol has been implicated in intergroup aggression and hostility. The effect of consuming alcohol relative to a placebo on hostile cognitive biases toward a social category typically stereotyped as threatening and hostile (i.e., Middle Eastern men) was tested. Undergraduates (N = 81) consumed either an intoxicating dose of alcohol (BrAC = .05% by vol.) or placebo. Then, they played a shooter game in which they were asked to shoot at targets holding guns, but not at targets holding harmless objects. Half of the targets were White and half were Middle Eastern. As predicted, alcohol consumption, relative to a placebo, increased participants' bias to shoot Middle Eastern targets, but did not affect the shooter bias against White targets. Findings suggest that alcohol may heighten aggressive biases toward outgroups stereotyped as threatening and hostile.

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Exploring the Link between Being Bullied and Adolescent Substance Use

Nadine Connell, Robert Morris & Alex Piquero
Victims & Offenders, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although research suggests that bullied adolescents may respond to victimization with substance use, much of this prior work has been cross-sectional. Using longitudinal data from a community-based sample, we examine the impact of early bullying victimization on the initiation of substance use in adolescence after considering the potential influence of selection effects using propensity score matching. After matching, there were moderate differences between victims of bullying and control students for cigarette smoking and alcohol use, which was limited to those exposed to higher levels of bullying. Being bullied in childhood appears to have only minor effects on the onset of adolescent substance use in this sample.

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Developmental pathways from child maltreatment to adolescent marijuana dependence: Examining moderation by FK506 binding protein 5 gene (FKBP5)

Elizabeth Handley, Fred Rogosch & Dante Cicchetti
Development and Psychopathology, November 2015, Pages 1489-1502

Abstract:
The current study examined the prospective association between child maltreatment and the development of substance use disorder in adolescence with the aim of investigating pathways underlying this relation, as well as genetic moderation of these developmental mechanisms. Specifically, we tested whether youth who experienced maltreatment prior to age 8 were at risk for the development of marijuana dependence in adolescence by way of a childhood externalizing pathway and a childhood internalizing pathway. Moreover, we tested whether variation in FK506 binding protein 5 gene (FKBP5) CATT haplotype moderated these pathways. The participants were 326 children (n =179 maltreated; n = 147 nonmaltreated) assessed across two waves of data collection (childhood: ages 7-9 and adolescence: ages 15-18). Results indicated that higher levels of child externalizing symptoms significantly mediated the effect of child maltreatment on adolescent marijuana dependence symptoms for individuals with one or two copies of the FKBP5 CATT haplotype only. We did not find support for an internalizing pathway from child maltreatment to adolescent marijuana dependence, nor did we find evidence of moderation of the internalizing pathway by FKBP5 haplotype variation. Findings extend previous research by demonstrating that whether a maltreated child will traverse an externalizing pathway toward substance use disorder in adolescence is dependent on FKBP5 genetic variation.

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Randomized Trial of Reduced-Nicotine Standards for Cigarettes

Eric Donny et al.
New England Journal of Medicine, 1 October 2015, Pages 1340-1349

Background: The Food and Drug Administration can set standards that reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes.

Methods: We conducted a double-blind, parallel, randomized clinical trial between June 2013 and July 2014 at 10 sites. Eligibility criteria included an age of 18 years or older, smoking of five or more cigarettes per day, and no current interest in quitting smoking. Participants were randomly assigned to smoke for 6 weeks either their usual brand of cigarettes or one of six types of investigational cigarettes, provided free. The investigational cigarettes had nicotine content ranging from 15.8 mg per gram of tobacco (typical of commercial brands) to 0.4 mg per gram. The primary outcome was the number of cigarettes smoked per day during week 6.

Results: A total of 840 participants underwent randomization, and 780 completed the 6-week study. During week 6, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day was lower for participants randomly assigned to cigarettes containing 2.4, 1.3, or 0.4 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco (16.5, 16.3, and 14.9 cigarettes, respectively) than for participants randomly assigned to their usual brand or to cigarettes containing 15.8 mg per gram (22.2 and 21.3 cigarettes, respectively; P<0.001). Participants assigned to cigarettes with 5.2 mg per gram smoked an average of 20.8 cigarettes per day, which did not differ significantly from the average number among those who smoked control cigarettes. Cigarettes with lower nicotine content, as compared with control cigarettes, reduced exposure to and dependence on nicotine, as well as craving during abstinence from smoking, without significantly increasing the expired carbon monoxide level or total puff volume, suggesting minimal compensation. Adverse events were generally mild and similar among groups.

Conclusions: In this 6-week study, reduced-nicotine cigarettes versus standard-nicotine cigarettes reduced nicotine exposure and dependence and the number of cigarettes smoked.

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Did the 18 Drinking Age Promote High School Dropout? Implications for Current Policy

Andrew Plunk et al.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, September 2015, Pages 680-689

Objective: Disagreement exists over whether permissive minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws affected underage adolescents (e.g., those age 17 years with the MLDA of 18). We used MLDA changes during the 1970s and 1980s as a natural experiment to investigate how underage exposure to permissive MLDA affected high school dropout.

Method: MLDA exposure was added to two data sets: (a) the 5% public use microdata samples of the 1990 and 2000 censuses (n = 3,671,075), and (b) a combined data set based on the 1991-1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiological Survey (NLAES) and the 2001-2002 National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; n = 16,331). We used logistic regression to model different thresholds of MLDA on high school dropout. We also estimated models conditioned on demographic variables and familial risk of developing alcohol problems.

Results: Only the MLDA of 18 predicted high school dropout. Exposure was associated with 4% and 13% higher odds of high school dropout for the census and NLAES/NESARC samples, respectively. We noted greater impact on women (5%-18%), Blacks (5%-19%), and Hispanics (6%). Self-report of parental alcohol problems was associated with 40% higher odds, which equals a 4.14-point increase in dropout rate for that population.

Conclusions: The MLDA of 18 likely had a large impact on high school dropout rates, suggesting that the presence of legal-aged peers in a high school setting increased access to alcohol for younger students. Our results also suggest that policy can promote less dangerous drinking behavior even when familial risk of alcohol use disorders is high.

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Effects of artificial sweeteners on breath alcohol concentrations in male and female social drinkers

Amy Stamates, Sarah Maloney & Cecile Marczinski
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Alcohol is often mixed with various nonalcoholic beverages. While consumption of food with alcohol will decrease peak breath alcohol concentrations (BrAC), recent evidence has suggested that mixing alcohol with diet beverages can result in higher BrAC when compared with mixing the same amount of alcohol with sweetened beverages. The purpose of this study was to examine this phenomenon using two different moderate alcohol doses.

Methods: Twenty participants (10 males) attended five sessions where they received 1 of 5 doses (0.91 ml/kg vodka + 3.64 ml/kg of diet soda, 0.91 ml/kg vodka + 3.64 of regular soda, 1.82 ml/kg vodka + 7.28 ml/kg diet soda, 1.82 ml/kg vodka + 7.28 ml/kg regular soda, and a placebo beverage). BrAC was recorded repeatedly up to 180 min after dose administration.

Results: Participants had significantly higher BrAC when the mixer was diet as compared to regular for both alcohol dose conditions. No gender differences were observed.

Conclusions: Mixing alcohol with diet beverages can result in higher BrAC when compared to the same amount of alcohol administered with a similar sweetened beverage. Individuals who consume diet mixers with alcohol may reduce caloric intake but increase the harms associated with higher BrACs.

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Public Health Effects of Medical Marijuana Legalization in Colorado

Jonathan Davis et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Introduction: The public health consequences of the legalization of marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes, are little understood. Despite this, numerous states are considering medical or recreational legalization. In the context of abrupt changes in marijuana policy in 2009 in Colorado, the authors sought to investigate corresponding changes in marijuana-related public health indicators.

Methods: This observational, ecologic study used an interrupted time-series analysis to identify changes in public health indicators potentially related to broad policy changes that occurred in 2009. This was records-based research from the state of Colorado and Denver metropolitan area. Data were collected to examine frequency and trends of marijuana-related outcomes in hospital discharges and poison center calls between time periods before and after 2009 and adjusted for population. Analyses were conducted in 2014.

Results: Hospital discharges coded as marijuana-dependent increased 1% per month (95% CI=0.8, 1.1, p<0.001) from 2007 to 2013. A change in trend was detected in poison center calls mentioning marijuana (p<0.01). After 2009, poison center calls increased 0.8% per month (95% CI=0.2, 1.4, p<0.01). Poison center calls also increased 56% (95% CI=49%, 63%, p<0.001) in the period following the policy change. Further, there was one hospital discharge coded as dependent for every 3,159 (95% CI=2465, 3853, p<0.001) medical marijuana registrant applications.

Conclusions: The abrupt nature of these changes suggests public health effects related to broad policy changes associated with marijuana. This report may be used to assist in policy decisions regarding the short-term public health effects of marijuana legalization.

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Does cigarette smoking relieve stress? Evidence from the event-related potential (ERP)

Damee Choi, Shotaro Ota & Shigeki Watanuki
International Journal of Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have reported a paradox that cigarette smoking reduces stress psychologically; however, it increases the arousal level physiologically. To examine this issue, our study aimed to investigate whether cigarette smoking relieves stress by measuring the late positive potential (LPP), a component of the event-related potential (ERP). In Experiment 1, participants first watched emotionally neutral images; second, they received a break; and finally, they watched emotionally neutral images again. In the break, they smoked a cigarette (smoking condition) or simply rested without smoking (non-smoking condition). The procedure of Experiment 2 was the same as that of Experiment 1, except that the participants watched unpleasant images as stress stimuli before the break. In Experiment 1, the LPP decreased from before to after the break in the smoking condition, but not in the non-smoking condition, suggesting that smoking cigarettes in the neutral state reduces the arousal level. In Experiment 2, the LPP for 400-600 ms decreased from before to after the break, both in the smoking and non-smoking conditions; however, the LPP for 200-400 ms decreased from before to after the break only in the smoking condition. This suggests the possibility that cigarette smoking in the unpleasant state may facilitate a decrease in the arousal level faster than with non-smoking. In both Experiments 1 and 2, the subjective rating results also suggested that cigarette smoking decreased anxiety. Taken together, both the physiological (LPP) and the psychological responses from our study suggest that cigarette smoking perhaps relieves stress.

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Ecological Momentary Assessment of the Association Between Exposure to Alcohol Advertising and Early Adolescents' Beliefs About Alcohol

Steven Martino et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: To evaluate the momentary association between exposure to alcohol advertising and middle-school students' beliefs about alcohol in real-world settings and to explore racial/ethnic differences in this association.

Methods: Middle-school students (N = 588) carried handheld data collection devices for 14 days, recording their exposures to all forms of alcohol advertising during the assessment period. Students also responded to three investigator-initiated control prompts (programmed to occur randomly) on each day of the assessment period. After each exposure to advertising and at each control prompt, students reported their beliefs about alcohol. Mixed-effects regression models compared students' beliefs about alcohol between moments of exposure to alcohol advertising and control prompts.

Results: Students perceived the typical person their age who drinks alcohol (prototype perceptions) more favorably and perceived alcohol use as more normative at times of exposure to alcohol advertising than at times of nonexposure (i.e., at control prompts). Exposure to alcohol advertising was not associated with shifts in the perceived norms of black and Hispanic students, however, and the association between exposure and prototype perceptions was stronger among non-Hispanic students than among Hispanic students.

Conclusions: Exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with acute shifts in adolescents' perceptions of the typical person that drinks alcohol and the normativeness of drinking. These associations are both statistically and substantively meaningful.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Burning issues

Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production

Marshall Burke, Solomon Hsiang & Edward Miguel
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Growing evidence demonstrates that climatic conditions can have a profound impact on the functioning of modern human societies, but effects on economic activity appear inconsistent. Fundamental productive elements of modern economies, such as workers and crops, exhibit highly non-linear responses to local temperature even in wealthy countries. In contrast, aggregate macroeconomic productivity of entire wealthy countries is reported not to respond to temperature, while poor countries respond only linearly. Resolving this conflict between micro and macro observations is critical to understanding the role of wealth in coupled human–natural systems and to anticipating the global impact of climate change. Here we unify these seemingly contradictory results by accounting for non-linearity at the macro scale. We show that overall economic productivity is non-linear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13 °C and declining strongly at higher temperatures. The relationship is globally generalizable, unchanged since 1960, and apparent for agricultural and non-agricultural activity in both rich and poor countries. These results provide the first evidence that economic activity in all regions is coupled to the global climate and establish a new empirical foundation for modelling economic loss in response to climate change, with important implications. If future adaptation mimics past adaptation, unmitigated warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by 2100 and widening global income inequality, relative to scenarios without climate change. In contrast to prior estimates, expected global losses are approximately linear in global mean temperature, with median losses many times larger than leading models indicate.

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Increased threat of tropical cyclones and coastal flooding to New York City during the anthropogenic era

Andra Reed et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 October 2015, Pages 12610–12615

Abstract:
In a changing climate, future inundation of the United States’ Atlantic coast will depend on both storm surges during tropical cyclones and the rising relative sea levels on which those surges occur. However, the observational record of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic basin is too short (A.D. 1851 to present) to accurately assess long-term trends in storm activity. To overcome this limitation, we use proxy sea level records, and downscale three CMIP5 models to generate large synthetic tropical cyclone data sets for the North Atlantic basin; driving climate conditions span from A.D. 850 to A.D. 2005. We compare pre-anthropogenic era (A.D. 850–1800) and anthropogenic era (A.D.1970–2005) storm surge model results for New York City, exposing links between increased rates of sea level rise and storm flood heights. We find that mean flood heights increased by ∼1.24 m (due mainly to sea level rise) from ∼A.D. 850 to the anthropogenic era, a result that is significant at the 99% confidence level. Additionally, changes in tropical cyclone characteristics have led to increases in the extremes of the types of storms that create the largest storm surges for New York City. As a result, flood risk has greatly increased for the region; for example, the 500-y return period for a ∼2.25-m flood height during the pre-anthropogenic era has decreased to ∼24.4 y in the anthropogenic era. Our results indicate the impacts of climate change on coastal inundation, and call for advanced risk management strategies.

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When does the turning point in China's CO2 emissions occur? Results based on the Green Solow model

Yu Hao & Yi-Ming Wei
Environment and Development Economics, December 2015, Pages 723-745

Abstract:
In recent years, the surge in China's CO2 emissions has caused increasing international concern. In this paper, we investigate whether and when the turning point in China's CO2 emissions would occur. A simple yet powerful neoclassical Green Solow model (GSM) is utilized herein as the main forecasting tool. To verify the capability of this framework to address China's economy, a key prediction of the GSM – the convergence in per capita CO2 emissions across Chinese provinces – is empirically verified. By assigning reasonable values to the GSM's key parameters, the trajectories of total CO2 emissions are projected for the three regions of China and the whole country. The forecast results show that, under the benchmark scenario, China's total CO2 emissions would peak around the year 2047. According to the sensitivity analysis, carbon efficiency is the most important determining factor for whether a turning point in total CO2 emissions may occur.

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Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective

Stephanie Herring et al.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, December 2015, Pages S1–S172

Abstract:
Understanding how long-term global change affects the intensity and likelihood of extreme weather events is a frontier science challenge. This fourth edition of explaining extreme events of the previous year (2014) from a climate perspective is the most extensive yet with 33 different research groups exploring the causes of 29 different events that occurred in 2014. A number of this year’s studies indicate that human-caused climate change greatly increased the likelihood and intensity for extreme heat waves in 2014 over various regions. For other types of extreme events, such as droughts, heavy rains, and winter storms, a climate change influence was found in some instances and not in others. This year’s report also included many different types of extreme events. The tropical cyclones that impacted Hawaii were made more likely due to human-caused climate change. Climate change also decreased the Antarctic sea ice extent in 2014 and increased the strength and likelihood of high sea surface temperatures in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. For western U.S. wildfires, no link to the individual events in 2014 could be detected, but the overall probability of western U.S. wildfires has increased due to human impacts on the climate. Challenges that attribution assessments face include the often limited observational record and inability of models to reproduce some extreme events well. In general, when attribution assessments fail to find anthropogenic signals this alone does not prove anthropogenic climate change did not influence the event. The failure to find a human fingerprint could be due to insufficient data or poor models and not the absence of anthropogenic effects. This year researchers also considered other human-caused drivers of extreme events beyond the usual radiative drivers. For example, flooding in the Canadian prairies was found to be more likely because of human land-use changes that affect drainage mechanisms. Similarly, the Jakarta floods may have been compounded by land-use change via urban development and associated land subsidence. These types of mechanical factors reemphasize the various pathways beyond climate change by which human activity can increase regional risk of extreme events.

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Carbon choices determine US cities committed to futures below sea level

Benjamin Strauss, Scott Kulp & Anders Levermann
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 November 2015, Pages 13508–13513

Abstract:
Anthropogenic carbon emissions lock in long-term sea-level rise that greatly exceeds projections for this century, posing profound challenges for coastal development and cultural legacies. Analysis based on previously published relationships linking emissions to warming and warming to rise indicates that unabated carbon emissions up to the year 2100 would commit an eventual global sea-level rise of 4.3–9.9 m. Based on detailed topographic and population data, local high tide lines, and regional long-term sea-level commitment for different carbon emissions and ice sheet stability scenarios, we compute the current population living on endangered land at municipal, state, and national levels within the United States. For unabated climate change, we find that land that is home to more than 20 million people is implicated and is widely distributed among different states and coasts. The total area includes 1,185–1,825 municipalities where land that is home to more than half of the current population would be affected, among them at least 21 cities exceeding 100,000 residents. Under aggressive carbon cuts, more than half of these municipalities would avoid this commitment if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet remains stable. Similarly, more than half of the US population-weighted area under threat could be spared. We provide lists of implicated cities and state populations for different emissions scenarios and with and without a certain collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Although past anthropogenic emissions already have caused sea-level commitment that will force coastal cities to adapt, future emissions will determine which areas we can continue to occupy or may have to abandon.

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Extremely Intense Hurricanes: Revisiting Webster et al. (2005) after 10 Years

Philip Klotzbach & Christopher Landsea
Journal of Climate, October 2015, Pages 7621–7629

Abstract:
Ten years ago, Webster et al. documented a large and significant increase in both the number as well as the percentage of category 4 and 5 hurricanes for all global basins from 1970 to 2004, and this manuscript examines whether those trends have continued when including 10 additional years of data. In contrast to that study, as shown here, the global frequency of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has shown a small, insignificant downward trend while the percentage of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has shown a small, insignificant upward trend between 1990 and 2014. Accumulated cyclone energy globally has experienced a large and significant downward trend during the same period. The primary reason for the increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes noted in observational datasets from 1970 to 2004 by Webster et al. is concluded to be due to observational improvements at the various global tropical cyclone warning centers, primarily in the first two decades of that study.

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Atlantic hurricane surge response to geoengineering

John Moore et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 November 2015, Pages 13794–13799

Abstract:
Devastating floods due to Atlantic hurricanes are relatively rare events. However, the frequency of the most intense storms is likely to increase with rises in sea surface temperatures. Geoengineering by stratospheric sulfate aerosol injection cools the tropics relative to the polar regions, including the hurricane Main Development Region in the Atlantic, suggesting that geoengineering may mitigate hurricanes. We examine this hypothesis using eight earth system model simulations of climate under the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP) G3 and G4 schemes that use stratospheric aerosols to reduce the radiative forcing under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 scenario. Global mean temperature increases are greatly ameliorated by geoengineering, and tropical temperature increases are at most half of those temperature increases in the RCP4.5. However, sulfate injection would have to double (to nearly 10 teragrams of SO2 per year) between 2020 and 2070 to balance the RCP4.5, approximately the equivalent of a 1991 Pinatubo eruption every 2 y, with consequent implications for stratospheric ozone. We project changes in storm frequencies using a temperature-dependent generalized extreme value statistical model calibrated by historical storm surges and observed temperatures since 1923. The number of storm surge events as big as the one caused by the 2005 Katrina hurricane are reduced by about 50% compared with no geoengineering, but this reduction is only marginally statistically significant. Nevertheless, when sea level rise differences in 2070 between the RCP4.5 and geoengineering are factored into coastal flood risk, we find that expected flood levels are reduced by about 40 cm for 5-y events and about halved for 50-y surges.

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The multi-millennial Antarctic commitment to future sea-level rise

N.R. Golledge et al.
Nature, 15 October 2015, Pages 421–425

Abstract:
Atmospheric warming is projected to increase global mean surface temperatures by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial values by the end of this century. If anthropogenic emissions continue unchecked, the warming increase may reach 8–10 degrees Celsius by 2300. The contribution that large ice sheets will make to sea-level rise under such warming scenarios is difficult to quantify because the equilibrium-response timescale of ice sheets is longer than those of the atmosphere or ocean. Here we use a coupled ice-sheet/ice-shelf model to show that if atmospheric warming exceeds 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above present, collapse of the major Antarctic ice shelves triggers a centennial- to millennial-scale response of the Antarctic ice sheet in which enhanced viscous flow produces a long-term commitment (an unstoppable contribution) to sea-level rise. Our simulations represent the response of the present-day Antarctic ice-sheet system to the oceanic and climatic changes of four representative concentration pathways (RCPs) from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We find that substantial Antarctic ice loss can be prevented only by limiting greenhouse gas emissions to RCP 2.6 levels. Higher-emissions scenarios lead to ice loss from Antarctic that will raise sea level by 0.6–3 metres by the year 2300. Our results imply that greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades will strongly influence the long-term contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet to global sea level.

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Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses

Jay Zwally et al.
Journal of Glaciology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mass changes of the Antarctic ice sheet impact sea-level rise as climate changes, but recent rates have been uncertain. Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) data (2003–08) show mass gains from snow accumulation exceeded discharge losses by 82 ± 25 Gt a–1, reducing global sea-level rise by 0.23 mm a–1. European Remote-sensing Satellite (ERS) data (1992–2001) give a similar gain of 112 ± 61 Gt a–1. Gains of 136 Gt a–1 in East Antarctica (EA) and 72 Gt a–1 in four drainage systems (WA2) in West Antarctic (WA) exceed losses of 97 Gt a–1 from three coastal drainage systems (WA1) and 29 Gt a–1 from the Antarctic Peninsula (AP). EA dynamic thickening of 147 Gt a–1 is a continuing response to increased accumulation (>50%) since the early Holocene. Recent accumulation loss of 11 Gt a–1 in EA indicates thickening is not from contemporaneous snowfall increases. Similarly, the WA2 gain is mainly (60 Gt a–1) dynamic thickening. In WA1 and the AP, increased losses of 66 ± 16 Gt a–1 from increased dynamic thinning from accelerating glaciers are 50% offset by greater WA snowfall. The decadal increase in dynamic thinning in WA1 and the AP is approximately one-third of the long-term dynamic thickening in EA and WA2, which should buffer additional dynamic thinning for decades.

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Medieval warming initiated exceptionally large wildfire outbreaks in the Rocky Mountains

John Calder et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 October 2015, Pages 13261–13266

Abstract:
Many of the largest wildfires in US history burned in recent decades, and climate change explains much of the increase in area burned. The frequency of extreme wildfire weather will increase with continued warming, but many uncertainties still exist about future fire regimes, including how the risk of large fires will persist as vegetation changes. Past fire-climate relationships provide an opportunity to constrain the related uncertainties, and reveal widespread burning across large regions of western North America during past warm intervals. Whether such episodes also burned large portions of individual landscapes has been difficult to determine, however, because uncertainties with the ages of past fires and limited spatial resolution often prohibit specific estimates of past area burned. Accounting for these challenges in a subalpine landscape in Colorado, we estimated century-scale fire synchroneity across 12 lake-sediment charcoal records spanning the past 2,000 y. The percentage of sites burned only deviated from the historic range of variability during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) between 1,200 and 850 y B.P., when temperatures were similar to recent decades. Between 1,130 and 1,030 y B.P., 83% (median estimate) of our sites burned when temperatures increased ∼0.5 °C relative to the preceding centuries. Lake-based fire rotation during the MCA decreased to an estimated 120 y, representing a 260% higher rate of burning than during the period of dendroecological sampling (360 to −60 y B.P.). Increased burning, however, did not persist throughout the MCA. Burning declined abruptly before temperatures cooled, indicating possible fuel limitations to continued burning.

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National post-2020 greenhouse gas targets and diversity-aware leadership

Malte Meinshausen et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Achieving the collective goal of limiting warming to below 2 °C or 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels requires a transition towards a fully decarbonized world. Annual greenhouse gas emissions on such a path in 2025 or 2030 can be allocated to individual countries using a variety of allocation schemes. We reanalyse the IPCC literature allocation database and provide country-level details for three approaches. At this stage, however, it seems utopian to assume that the international community will agree on a single allocation scheme. Here, we investigate an approach that involves a major-economy country taking the lead. In a bottom-up manner, other countries then determine what they consider a fair comparable target, for example, either a ‘per-capita convergence’ or ‘equal cumulative per-capita’ approach. For example, we find that a 2030 target of 67% below 1990 for the EU28, a 2025 target of 54% below 2005 for the USA or a 2030 target of 32% below 2010 for China could secure a likely chance of meeting the 2 °C target in our illustrative default case. Comparing those targets to post-2020 mitigation targets reveals a large gap. No major emitter can at present claim to show the necessary leadership in the concerted effort of avoiding warming of 2 °C in a diverse global context.

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Zero emission targets as long-term global goals for climate protection

Joeri Rogelj et al.
Environmental Research Letters, October 2015

Abstract:
Recently, assessments have robustly linked stabilization of global-mean temperature rise to the necessity of limiting the total amount of emitted carbon-dioxide (CO2). Halting global warming thus requires virtually zero annual CO2 emissions at some point. Policymakers have now incorporated this concept in the negotiating text for a new global climate agreement, but confusion remains about concepts like carbon neutrality, climate neutrality, full decarbonization, and net zero carbon or net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Here we clarify these concepts, discuss their appropriateness to serve as a long-term global benchmark for achieving temperature targets, and provide a detailed quantification. We find that with current pledges and for a likely (>66%) chance of staying below 2 °C, the scenario literature suggests net zero CO2 emissions between 2060 and 2070, with net negative CO2 emissions thereafter. Because of residual non-CO2 emissions, net zero is always reached later for total GHG emissions than for CO2. Net zero emissions targets are a useful focal point for policy, linking a global temperature target and socio-economic pathways to a necessary long-term limit on cumulative CO2 emissions.

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Science and the stock market: Investors’ recognition of unburnable carbon

Paul Griffin et al.
Energy Economics, December 2015, Pages 1–12

Abstract:
This paper documents the stock market’s reaction to a 2009 paper in the Nature journal of science, which concluded that only a fraction of the world’s existing oil, gas, and coal reserves could be emitted if global warming by 2050 were not to exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This Nature article is now one of the most cited environmental science studies in recent years. Our analysis indicates that this publication prompted an average stock price drop of 1.5% to 2% for our sample of the 63 largest U.S. oil and gas firms. Later, in 2012–2013, the press “discovered” this article, writing hundreds of stories on the grim consequences of unburnable carbon for fossil fuel companies. We show only a small negative reaction to these later stories, mostly in the two weeks following their publication. This limited market response contrasts with the predictions of some analysts and commentators of a substantial decline in the shareholder value of fossil fuel companies from a carbon bubble. Our paper discusses possible reasons for this discrepancy.

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Super El Niños in response to global warming in a climate model

Mojib Latif, Vladimir Semenov & Wonsun Park
Climatic Change, October 2015, Pages 489-500

Abstract:
Extraordinarily strong El Niño events, such as those of 1982/1983 and 1997/1998, cause havoc with weather around the world, adversely influence terrestrial and marine ecosystems in a number of regions and have major socio-economic impacts. Here we show by means of climate model integrations that El Niño events may be boosted by global warming. An important factor causing El Niño intensification is warming of the western Pacific warm pool, which strongly enhances surface zonal wind sensitivity to eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies. This in conjunction with larger and more zonally asymmetric equatorial Pacific upper ocean heat content supports stronger and longer lasting El Niños. The most intense events, termed Super El Niños, drive extraordinary global teleconnections which are associated with exceptional surface air temperature and rainfall anomalies over many land areas.

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Increasing water cycle extremes in California and in relation to ENSO cycle under global warming

Jin-Ho Yoon et al.
Nature Communications, October 2015

Abstract:
Since the winter of 2013–2014, California has experienced its most severe drought in recorded history, causing statewide water stress, severe economic loss and an extraordinary increase in wildfires. Identifying the effects of global warming on regional water cycle extremes, such as the ongoing drought in California, remains a challenge. Here we analyse large-ensemble and multi-model simulations that project the future of water cycle extremes in California as well as to understand those associations that pertain to changing climate oscillations under global warming. Both intense drought and excessive flooding are projected to increase by at least 50% towards the end of the twenty-first century; this projected increase in water cycle extremes is associated with a strengthened relation to El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) — in particular, extreme El Niño and La Niña events that modulate California’s climate not only through its warm and cold phases but also its precursor patterns.

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Past and future sea-level rise along the coast of North Carolina, USA

Robert Kopp et al.
Climatic Change, October 2015, Pages 693-707

Abstract:
We evaluate relative sea level (RSL) trajectories for North Carolina, USA, in the context of tide-gauge measurements and geological sea-level reconstructions spanning the last ~11,000 years. RSL rise was fastest (~7 mm/yr) during the early Holocene and slowed over time with the end of the deglaciation. During the pre-Industrial Common Era (i.e., 0–1800 CE), RSL rise (~0.7 to 1.1 mm/yr) was driven primarily by glacio-isostatic adjustment, though dampened by tectonic uplift along the Cape Fear Arch. Ocean/atmosphere dynamics caused centennial variability of up to ~0.6 mm/yr around the long-term rate. It is extremely likely (probability P=0.95) that 20th century RSL rise at Sand Point, NC, (2.8 ± 0.5 mm/yr) was faster than during any other century in at least 2,900 years. Projections based on a fusion of process models, statistical models, expert elicitation, and expert assessment indicate that RSL at Wilmington, NC, is very likely (P=0.90) to rise by 42–132 cm between 2000 and 2100 under the high-emissions RCP 8.5 pathway. Under all emission pathways, 21st century RSL rise is very likely (P>0.90) to be faster than during the 20th century. Due to RSL rise, under RCP 8.5, the current ‘1-in-100 year’ flood is expected at Wilmington in ~30 of the 50 years between 2050-2100.

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Catalogue of abrupt shifts in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate models

Sybren Drijfhout et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 October 2015, Pages E5777–E5786

Abstract:
Abrupt transitions of regional climate in response to the gradual rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are notoriously difficult to foresee. However, such events could be particularly challenging in view of the capacity required for society and ecosystems to adapt to them. We present, to our knowledge, the first systematic screening of the massive climate model ensemble informing the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and reveal evidence of 37 forced regional abrupt changes in the ocean, sea ice, snow cover, permafrost, and terrestrial biosphere that arise after a certain global temperature increase. Eighteen out of 37 events occur for global warming levels of less than 2°, a threshold sometimes presented as a safe limit. Although most models predict one or more such events, any specific occurrence typically appears in only a few models. We find no compelling evidence for a general relation between the overall number of abrupt shifts and the level of global warming. However, we do note that abrupt changes in ocean circulation occur more often for moderate warming (less than 2°), whereas over land they occur more often for warming larger than 2°. Using a basic proportion test, however, we find that the number of abrupt shifts identified in Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenarios is significantly larger than in other scenarios of lower radiative forcing. This suggests the potential for a gradual trend of destabilization of the climate with respect to such shifts, due to increasing global mean temperature change.

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Future property damage from flooding: Sensitivities to economy and climate change

Jing Liu et al.
Climatic Change, October 2015, Pages 741-749

Abstract:
Recent trends in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have raised the concern that climate change could increase flooding risks and property damage. However, a major challenge in attributing and projecting changes in disaster risk is that damage is influenced not only by the physical climate hazard, but also by non-climatic factors that shape exposure and vulnerability. Recent assessments of integrated disaster risk have been hampered by the paucity of literature analyzing local-scale interactions between hazard, exposure and vulnerability in the historical record. Here we develop an integrated empirical analysis of historical flood damage that emphasizes spatial and temporal heterogeneity in flood hazard, economic exposure and social vulnerability. Using the Midwestern United States as a testbed, we show that annual property damage from flooding is projected to increase by 13 to 17.4 % over the next two decades. At the state level, over half of the increase is driven by projected growth in housing units. However, at the county level, the dominant factor causing future damage varies, emphasizing the value of a fully integrated, spatially and temporally resolved approach to assessing flooding risk and control strategies.

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Global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing human CO2 emissions

Ivan Nagelkerken & Sean Connell
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 October 2015, Pages 13272–13277

Abstract:
Rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions are anticipated to drive change to ocean ecosystems, but a conceptualization of biological change derived from quantitative analyses is lacking. Derived from multiple ecosystems and latitudes, our metaanalysis of 632 published experiments quantified the direction and magnitude of ecological change resulting from ocean acidification and warming to conceptualize broadly based change. Primary production by temperate noncalcifying plankton increases with elevated temperature and CO2, whereas tropical plankton decreases productivity because of acidification. Temperature increases consumption by and metabolic rates of herbivores, but this response does not translate into greater secondary production, which instead decreases with acidification in calcifying and noncalcifying species. This effect creates a mismatch with carnivores whose metabolic and foraging costs increase with temperature. Species diversity and abundances of tropical as well as temperate species decline with acidification, with shifts favoring novel community compositions dominated by noncalcifiers and microorganisms. Both warming and acidification instigate reduced calcification in tropical and temperate reef-building species. Acidification leads to a decline in dimethylsulfide production by ocean plankton, which as a climate gas, contributes to cloud formation and maintenance of the Earth’s heat budget. Analysis of responses in short- and long-term experiments and of studies at natural CO2 vents reveals little evidence of acclimation to acidification or temperature changes, except for microbes. This conceptualization of change across whole communities and their trophic linkages forecast a reduction in diversity and abundances of various key species that underpin current functioning of marine ecosystems.

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Effect of methane leakage on the greenhouse gas footprint of electricity generation

Nicolas SanchezII & David Mays
Climatic Change, November 2015, Pages 169-178

Abstract:
For the purpose of generating electricity, what leakage rate renders the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of natural gas equivalent to that of coal? This paper answers this question using a simple model, which assumes that the comprehensive GHG footprint is the sum of the carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions resulting from (1) electricity generation and (2) natural gas leakage. The emissions resulting from electricity generation are taken from published life-cycle assessments (LCAs), whereas the emissions from natural gas leakage are estimated assuming that natural gas is 80 % methane, whose global warming potential (GWP) is calculated using equations provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Results, presented on a straightforward plot of GHG footprint versus time horizon, show that natural gas leakage of 2.0 % or 4.8 % eliminates half of natural gas’s GHG footprint advantage over coal at 20- or 100-year time horizons, respectively. Leakage of 3.9 % or 9.1 % completely eliminates the GHG footprint advantage at 20- and 100-year time horizons, respectively. A two-parameter power law approximation of the IPCC’s equation for GWP is utilized and gives equivalent results. Results indicate that leakage control is essential for natural gas to deliver a smaller GHG footprint than coal.

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Slow adaptation in the face of rapid warming leads to collapse of the Gulf of Maine cod fishery

Andrew Pershing et al.
Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several studies have documented fish populations changing in response to long-term warming. Over the last decade, sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine increased faster than 99% of the global ocean. The warming, which was related to a northward shift in the Gulf Stream and to changes in the Atlantic Multidecadal and Pacific Decadal Oscillations, led to reduced recruitment and increased mortality in the region’s Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) stock. Failure to recognize the impact of warming on cod contributed to overfishing. Recovery of this fishery depends on sound management, but the size of the stock depends on future temperature conditions. The experience in the Gulf of Maine highlights the need to incorporate environmental factors into resource management.

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The Migration Response to Increasing Temperatures

Cristina Cattaneo & Giovanni Peri
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
Climate change, especially the warming trend experienced by several countries, could affect agricultural productivity. As a consequence the income of rural populations will change, and with them the incentives for people to remain in rural areas. Using data from 116 countries between 1960 and 2000, we analyze the effect of differential warming trends across countries on the probability of either migrating out of the country or from rural to urban areas. We find that higher temperatures increased emigration rates to urban areas and to other countries in middle income economies. In poor countries, higher temperatures reduced the probability of emigration to cities or to other countries, consistently with the presence of severe liquidity constraints. In middle-income countries, migration represents an important margin of adjustment to global warming, potentially contributing to structural change and even increasing income per worker. Such a mechanism, however, does not seem to work in poor economies.

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Migration and Environment

Katrin Millock
Annual Review of Resource Economics, 2015, Pages 35-60

Abstract:
The concept of environmental migrants occurs frequently in the policy debate, in particular with regard to climate change and the incidence of such migration in low-income countries. This article reviews the economic studies of environmentally induced migration. It includes recent empirical analyses that try to link environmental change to migration flows and the spatial distribution of population. A consensus seems to emerge that there is little likelihood of large increases in international migration flows due to climate variability. The evidence to date shows that regional migration will be affected, however, either on the African continent or internally, within country borders. Theoretically, environmentally induced migration can be analyzed using different frameworks: the classical Harris-Todaro model of rural-urban migration, new economic geography models, models grounded in environmental economics of pollution externalities with free factor mobility, and the new economics of labor migration. I review some of the latest attempts to analyze environmentally induced migration theoretically and the policy-relevant conclusions that can be drawn.

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Deforestation slowdown in the Brazilian Amazon: Prices or policies?

Juliano Assunção, Clarissa Gandour & Rudi Rocha
Environment and Development Economics, December 2015, Pages 697-722

Abstract:
This paper investigates the contribution of agricultural output prices and policies to the reduction in Amazon deforestation in the 2000s. Based on a panel of Amazon municipalities from 2002 through 2009, we first show that deforestation responded to agricultural output prices. After controlling for price effects, we find that conservation policies implemented beginning in 2004 and 2008 significantly contributed to the curbing of deforestation. Counterfactual simulations suggest that conservation policies avoided approximately 73,000 km2 of deforestation, or 56 per cent of total forest clearings that would have occurred from 2005 through 2009 had the policies adopted beginning in 2004 and 2008 not been introduced. This is equivalent to an avoided loss of 2.7 billion tonnes of stored carbon dioxide.

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Solar thermal technologies as a bridge from fossil fuels to renewables

Vishwanath Haily Dalvi, Sudhir Panse & Jyeshtharaj Joshi
Nature Climate Change, November 2015, Pages 1007–1013

Abstract:
Integrating solar thermal systems into Rankine-cycle power plants can be done with minimal modification to the existing infrastructure. This presents an opportunity to introduce these technologies into the commercial space incrementally, to allow engineers to build familiarity with the systems before phasing out fossil-fuel energy with solar electricity. This paper shows that there is no thermodynamic barrier to injecting solar thermal heat into Rankine-cycle plants to offset even up to 50% fossil-fuel combustion with existing technology: with better solar-to-electricity efficiencies than conventionally deployed solar-thermal power plants. This strategy is economically preferable to installing carbon-capture and compression equipment for mitigating an equivalent amount of greenhouse-gas emissions. We suggest that such projects be encouraged by extending the same subsidy/incentives to the solar-thermal fraction of a ‘solar-aided’ plant that would be offered to a conventionally deployed solar-thermal power plant of similar capacity. Such a policy would prepare the ground for an incremental solar-thermal takeover of fossil-fuel power plants.

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Dramatically increased rate of observed hot record breaking in recent Australian temperatures

Sophie Lewis & Andrew King
Geophysical Research Letters, 28 September 2015, Pages 7776–7784

Abstract:
Persistent extreme temperatures were observed in Australia during 2012–2014. We examine changes in the rate of hot and cold record breaking over the observational record for Australia- and State-wide temperatures. The number of new hot (high-maximum and high-minimum temperatures) temperature records increases dramatically in recent decades, while the number of cold records decreases. In a stationary climate, cold and hot records are expected to occur in equal frequency on longer than interannual time scales; however, during 2000–2014, new hot records outnumber new cold records by 12 to one on average. Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 experiments reveal increased hot temperature record breaking occurs in simulations that impose anthropogenic forcings but not in natural forcings-only experiments. This disproportionate hot to cold record breaking rates provides a useful indicator of nonstationarity in temperatures, which is related to the underlying mean observed Australian warming trend of 0.9°C since high-quality records began in 1910.

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Rapid warming in the Tibetan Plateau from observations and CMIP5 models in recent decades

Qinglong You, Jinzhong Min & Shichang Kang
International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
On the basis of mean temperature, maximum temperature and minimum temperature from the updated China Homogenized Historical Temperature Data Sets, the recent warming in the Tibetan Plateau (TP) during 1961–2005 and global warming hiatus period are examined. During 1961–2005, the mean temperature, maximum temperature and minimum temperature in the whole TP show a statistically increasing trend especially after the 1980s, with the annual rates of 0.27, 0.19 and 0.36 °C decade−1, respectively. The performance of 26 general circulation models (GCMs) available in the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) is evaluated in the TP by comparison with the observations during 1961–2005. Most CMIP5 GCMs can capture the decadal variations of the observed mean temperature, maximum temperature and minimum temperature, and have significant positive correlations with observations (R > 0.5), with root mean squared error <1 °C. This suggests that CMIP5 GCMs can reproduce the recent temperature evolution in the TP, but with cold biases. However, most CMIP5 GCMs underestimate the observed warming rates, especially the CNRM-CM5, GISS-E2-H and MRI-CGCM3 models. There are significant positive correlations between the trend magnitudes and the anomaly of the mean temperature, maximum temperature and minimum temperature, with correlations of 0.85, 0.86 and 0.87, respectively. The warming from the observations and CMIP5 mean in the TP is significant during the global hiatus period, consistent with decreasing snow cover and albedo in the region. This study suggests that positive snow/ice-albedo feedback processes may account for ongoing surface warming in the TP despite the pause in global mean surface warming.

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Competition between global warming and an abrupt collapse of the AMOC in Earth’s energy imbalance

Sybren Drijfhout
Scientific Reports, October 2015

Abstract:
A collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) leads to global cooling through fast feedbacks that selectively amplify the response in the Northern Hemisphere (NH). How such cooling competes with global warming has long been a topic for speculation, but was never addressed using a climate model. Here it is shown that global cooling due to a collapsing AMOC obliterates global warming for a period of 15–20 years. Thereafter, the global mean temperature trend is reversed and becomes similar to a simulation without an AMOC collapse. The resulting surface warming hiatus lasts for 40–50 years. Global warming and AMOC-induced NH cooling are governed by similar feedbacks, giving rise to a global net radiative imbalance of similar sign, although the former is associated with surface warming, the latter with cooling. Their footprints in outgoing longwave and absorbed shortwave radiation are very distinct, making attribution possible.

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Larger trees suffer most during drought in forests worldwide

Amy Bennett et al.
Nature Plants, September 2015

Abstract:
The frequency of severe droughts is increasing in many regions around the world as a result of climate change. Droughts alter the structure and function of forests. Site- and region-specific studies suggest that large trees, which play keystone roles in forests and can be disproportionately important to ecosystem carbon storage and hydrology, exhibit greater sensitivity to drought than small trees. Here, we synthesize data on tree growth and mortality collected during 40 drought events in forests worldwide to see whether this size-dependent sensitivity to drought holds more widely. We find that droughts consistently had a more detrimental impact on the growth and mortality rates of larger trees. Moreover, drought-related mortality increased with tree size in 65% of the droughts examined, especially when community-wide mortality was high or when bark beetles were present. The more pronounced drought sensitivity of larger trees could be underpinned by greater inherent vulnerability to hydraulic stress, the higher radiation and evaporative demand experienced by exposed crowns, and the tendency for bark beetles to preferentially attack larger trees. We suggest that future droughts will have a more detrimental impact on the growth and mortality of larger trees, potentially exacerbating feedbacks to climate change.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Plagued

Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century

Anne Case & Angus Deaton
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall. This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases. Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.

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Who Suffers During Recessions? Economic Downturns, Job Loss, and Cardiovascular Disease in Older Americans

Clemens Noelke & Mauricio Avendano
American Journal of Epidemiology, 15 November 2015, Pages 873-882

Abstract:
Job loss in the years before retirement has been found to increase risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but some studies suggest that CVD mortality among older workers declines during recessions. We hypothesized that recessionary labor market conditions were associated with reduced CVD risk among persons who did not experience job loss and increased CVD risk among persons who lost their jobs. In our analyses, we used longitudinal, nationally representative data from Americans 50 years of age or older who were enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study and surveyed every 2 years from 1992 to 2010 about their employment status and whether they had experienced a stroke or myocardial infarction. To measure local labor market conditions, Health and Retirement Study data were linked to county unemployment rates. Among workers who experienced job loss, recessionary labor market conditions at the time of job loss were associated with a significantly higher CVD risk (hazard ratio = 2.54, 95% confidence interval: 1.39, 4.65). In contrast, among workers who did not experience job loss, recessionary labor market conditions were associated with a lower CVD risk (hazard ratio = 0.50, 95% confidence interval: 0.31, 0.78). These results suggest that recessions might be protective in the absence of job loss but hazardous in the presence of job loss.

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Health Effects of Economic Crises

Christopher Ruhm
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
This analysis summarizes prior research and uses national, state and county level data from the United States from 1976-2013 to examine whether the mortality effects of economic crises differ in kind from those of the more typical fluctuations. The tentative conclusion is that economic crises affect mortality rates (and presumably other measures of health) in the same way as less severe downturns: namely, they lead to improvements in physical health. The effects of severe national recessions in the United States, appear to have a beneficial effect on mortality that is roughly twice as strong as that predicted due to the elevated unemployment rates alone while the higher predicted rate of suicides during typical periods of economic weakness is approximately offset during severe recessions. No consistent pattern is obtained for more localized economic crises occurring at the state level – some estimates suggest larger protective mortality effects while others indicate offsetting deleterious consequences.

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The Racial Gap in Childhood Blood Lead Levels Related to Socioeconomic Position of Residence in Metropolitan Detroit

Heather Moody, Joe Darden & Bruce Wm. Pigozzi
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood lead poisoning in the United States remains a persistent, prevalent environmental public health problem, especially for children living in central-city neighborhoods. These neighborhoods typically are racially segregated, are in proximity to current and/or legacy lead emission sources, consist of older housing, and contain disproportionately African American or black children of low-income families. This research had two aims: (1) to determine whether average blood lead levels (BLLs) in children in the Detroit metropolitan area are related to the socioeconomic characteristics of the neighborhoods where they live and (2) to determine the estimated effect residential differences in the socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods have on average BLLs in non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white children. Data on pediatric BLLs were obtained from the Michigan Department of Community Health, and racial and socioeconomic data were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2006–2010). The modified Darden-Kamel Composite Socioeconomic Index, multiple regression, and difference-of-means tests were used to determine the effect residential socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods have on average BLLs. Black segregated neighborhoods with lower socioeconomic characteristics were predictors of higher average BLLs in the children who lived there. When black and white children resided in neighborhoods of similar socioeconomic characteristics, the black-white gap in BLLs lessened. Significantly, after stratifying black and white children by age, living in the same neighborhoods of the lowest socioeconomic characteristics negated the black-white racial gap in BLLs entirely, but increasing levels of socioeconomic characteristics exacerbated the divide.

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Ironing Out Deficiencies: Evidence from the United States on the Economic Effects of Iron Deficiency

Gregory Niemesh
Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2015, Pages 910-958

Abstract:
Iron deficiency reduces productive capacity in adults and impairs cognitive development in children. In 1943, the United States government required the fortification of bread with iron to reduce iron deficiency in the working-age population during World War II. This nationwide fortification of grain products increased per capita consumption of iron by 16 percent. I find that areas with lower levels of iron consumption prior to the mandate experienced greater increases in income and school enrollment in the 1940s. A long-term followup suggests that adults in 1970 with more exposure to fortification during childhood earned higher wages.

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Forecasting the Economic Burden of Autism in 2015 and 2025 in the United States

Paul Leigh & Juan Du
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, forthcoming

Abstract:
Few US estimates of the economic burden of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are available and none provide estimates for 2015 and 2025. We forecast annual direct medical, direct non-medical, and productivity costs combined will be $268 billion (range $162–$367 billion; 0.884–2.009 % of GDP) for 2015 and $461 billion (range $276–$1011 billion; 0.982–3.600 % of GDP) for 2025. These 2015 figures are on a par with recent estimates for diabetes and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and exceed the costs of stroke and hypertension. If the prevalence of ASD continues to grow as it has in recent years, ASD costs will likely far exceed those of diabetes and ADHD by 2025.

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An empirical analysis of the demand for sleep: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey

Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir & Sigurður Páll Ólafsson
Economics & Human Biology, December 2015, Pages 265–274

Abstract:
Using data from the American Time Use Survey, this paper empirically examined the demand for sleep, with special attention to its opportunity cost represented by wages. Variation in the unemployment rate by state was also used to investigate the cyclical nature of sleep duration. We conducted separate estimations for males and females, as well as for those who received a fixed salary and hourly wages. The findings predominantly revealed no relationship between sleep duration and the business cycle. However, an inverse relationship between sleep duration and wages was detected. This is in accordance with sleep duration being an economic choice variable, rather than a predetermined subtraction of the 24-h day. Although the inverse relationship was not significant in all the estimations for salaried subjects, it was consistent and strong for subjects who received hourly wages. For instance, elasticity measures were −.03 for those who received hourly wages and −.003 for those who received a fixed salary.

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Disparities in Bulimia Nervosa: Who is left behind?

John Ham, Daniela Iorio & Michelle Sovinsky
Economics Letters, November 2015, Pages 147–150

Abstract:
Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder affecting a large number of female teenagers. We find substantial income and racial disparities in the treatment of Bulimia. Specifically, Blacks and girls from low income families are more likely to exhibit bulimic behavior than Whites and girls from high income families, but Whites and girls from high income families are much more likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder.

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Associations of sitting behaviours with all-cause mortality over a 16-year follow-up: The Whitehall II study

Richard Pulsford et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Sitting behaviours have been linked with increased risk of all-cause mortality independent of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Previous studies have tended to examine single indicators of sitting or all sitting behaviours combined. This study aims to enhance the evidence base by examining the type-specific prospective associations of four different sitting behaviours as well as total sitting with the risk of all-cause mortality.

Methods: Participants (3720 men and 1412 women) from the Whitehall II cohort study who were free from cardiovascular disease provided information on weekly sitting time (at work, during leisure time, while watching TV, during leisure time excluding TV, and at work and during leisure time combined) and covariates in 1997–99. Cox proportional hazards models were used to investigate prospective associations between sitting time (h/week) and mortality risk. Follow-up was from date of measurement until (the earliest of) death, date of censor or July 31 2014.

Results: Over 81 373 person-years of follow-up (mean follow-up time 15.7 ± 2.2 years) a total of 450 deaths were recorded. No associations were observed between any of the five sitting indicators and mortality risk, either in unadjusted models or models adjusted for covariates including MVPA.

Conclusions: Sitting time was not associated with all-cause mortality risk. The results of this study suggest that policy makers and clinicians should be cautious about placing emphasis on sitting behaviour as a risk factor for mortality that is distinct from the effect of physical activity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, November 9, 2015

Halls of power

Strategic behavior by federal agencies in the allocation of public resources

Stuart Kasdin & Luona Lin
Public Choice, September 2015, Pages 309-329

Abstract:
How do government agencies allocate program resources? Some authors presume that agencies seek to maximize program objectives; others suggest agencies favor the districts important to the president’s election. In addition, agencies may distribute larger program resources to those districts whose congressional representatives are best positioned to help the agency. We examined how federal government agencies responded both to the 2006 election, when control of Congress shifted from the Republican to the Democratic Party, and to the 2010 election, when the House switched from Democratic to Republican control. We used a difference-in-difference analysis to evaluate the impact of each election on the agencies’ allocations of contracts. Agencies generally responded to the elections by allocating more contract resources to districts represented by the winning party. However, federal agencies reacted differently to changing political environments, depending on the characteristics of the agency. For example, after the 2006 election, those agencies with programs favored by Republican members of Congress allocated more resources to Democratic districts. These “Republican agencies” presumably are the most vulnerable to the risk of losing future appropriations. “Democratic agencies” (and “neutral agencies”), facing no significant threats to their appropriations, did not respond to the election as strongly. Finally, more vulnerable districts received the most support, especially by the “Republican agencies.” We reaffirmed these results by using the 2010 congressional elections, in which the political orientations of the districts favored with more contract distributions was reversed.

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Gender and vote revelation strategy in the United States Congress

Lindsey Cormack
Journal of Gender Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Legislators approach each election as if they might lose. Electoral insecurity coupled with gender stereotypes held by voters and lawmakers alike may lead female legislators to communicate more voting decisions to voters as a signal of their policy-driven efforts. Using an original data-set of over 40,000 official e-newsletters and Real Simple Syndication feeds sent by members of Congress, I show that women reveal more roll call votes to constituents than their male counterparts. Significant differences exist between male and female incumbents in the frequency of vote revelation despite the fact that male and female legislators use these communication techniques to reach constituents at the same rates and call attention to similar bills. These differences persist after accounting for the effects of party, seniority, district fit, and other potential confounds. Women highlight their ability to fulfill the roles expected of lawmakers by explicitly signaling involvement in lawmaking activities more frequently than men. In a second test, I analyze the types of bills legislators reveal votes on and find no differences between men and women.

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Moving on Up? The Gendered Ambitions of State-Level Appointed Officials

Kaitlin Sidorsky
Political Research Quarterly, December 2015, Pages 802-815

Abstract:
Many scholars have offered explanations as to why women are underrepresented at all levels of government. Conventional wisdom states that fewer women are in public office due to lower ambition, and that the presence of gendered perceptions among women considering elected office contributes to women’s disinterest in the political arena. Using original survey data, this article expands the theory of gendered perceptions to current state-level appointed officeholders to explain their levels of interest in pursuing higher public office. The results indicate that gendered perceptions affect the progressive ambitions of appointees; like studies of ambition in elected officials, this study of appointed officials finds that women are generally less ambitious, and unlike studies of ambition in elected officials, this study of appointed officials finds that women with higher self-assessments are less ambitious rather than more.

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Representing Their Former District: Do Members Do It and Do They Admit It?

Krista Loose
MIT Working Paper, August 2015

Abstract:
Scholars have long thought members prioritize the goal of re-election by accommodating district preferences. But other goals-such as achieving congressional power and seniority or crafting good public policy-may also drive members. Few have investigated how the tension between these goals plays out in actual legislative behavior. I capitalize on exogenous changes in the composition of districts to empirically evaluate how members respond when their district changes. Specifically, do members' engagement with military issues change when their district gains or loses a base? Using a wealth of data on legislative behavior as well as on military base location and staffing, I show members generally do not change their behavior, even in the wake of relatively sizable changes. Moreover, using emails sent by members to their constituents before and after the 2012 redistricting period, I demonstrate that members who gain a base in their district substantively increase the amount they discuss military issues despite the fact that they do not change their behavior in Congress. This camouflaging of actual activities in Congress may help explain the high rates of re-election for incumbents even as the quality of representation falls.

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The Declining Dominance of Lawyers in U.S. Federal Politics

Nick Robinson
Harvard Working Paper, November 2015

Abstract:
While the ubiquity of lawyers in U.S. electoral politics has frequently been noted, there has been almost no research on how their prevalence has changed over time, why these changes might have occurred, or the consequences of any such shift. This working paper helps fill this gap by using a unique data set that extends over two hundred years to chart the occupational background of members of the U.S. Congress. It finds that lawyers’ dominance in Congress is in slow, but steady, retreat. In the mid-19th century almost 80% of members of Congress were lawyers. By the 1960s this had dropped to a bit under 60%, and by 2015 it was slightly under 40%. The working paper also details variation of the prevalence of lawyers in Congress on the basis of geographic region, gender, race, and political party. It puts forward a set of arguments about why lawyers have traditionally had such success in U.S. federal electoral politics, including the politicization of the US justice system and the comparative advantage lawyers have over other occupations in terms of access to resources and career flexibility. It then claims that lawyers’ electoral decline may be the result of changes within the legal profession, as well as the emergence of a competing full-time professionalized political class, comprised of political aides and members of civil society, who have made politics a career. It ends by briefly exploring some of the potential ramifications of this decline on the legal profession.

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Experiential Learning and Presidential Management of the U.S. Federal Bureaucracy: Logic and Evidence from Agency Leadership Appointments

George Krause & Anne Joseph O'Connell
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Presidents become increasingly effective at managing the bureaucracy because of the information and expertise that they acquire from on-the-job experience. In their appointment choices, this theory predicts that presidents become better at reducing information asymmetries incurred from the bureaucracy (Agent Selection Learning), improve the vertical balance of leadership agent traits between top supervisory positions and subordinates directly beneath them (Agent Monitoring Learning), and place a greater relative premium on loyalty in response to horizontal policy conflict between the White House and the Senate (Common Agency Learning). This logic obtains empirical support from the analysis of bureaucratic agent traits for Senate-confirmed presidential appointees serving in leadership positions covering 39 U.S. federal government agencies from 1977 to 2009. Presidents’ appointment strategies reflect their increasing effectiveness at managing the bureaucracy, thus complementing their increasing reliance on administrative mechanisms to achieve policy objectives as their tenure in office rises.

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Political budget cycles in U.S. municipalities

Adam Bee & Shawn Moulton
Economics of Governance, November 2015, Pages 379-403

Abstract:
This paper tests for political budget cycles among U.S. municipalities. According to the political budget cycle hypothesis, in election years government officials engage in opportunistic fiscal policy manipulation for electoral gains. We test that hypothesis using data on taxes, spending, and employment for a panel of 268 U.S. cities over the period 1970–2004. While our estimates provide no evidence of altered total expenditures or taxes in election years, we do find a 0.7 % increase in total municipal employment, including increases in police, education, and sanitation employment.

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Political Centralization and Government Accountability

Federico Boffa, Amedeo Piolatto & Giacomo Ponzetto
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explains why decentralization can undermine accountability and answers three questions: what determines if power should be centralized or decentralized when regions are heterogeneous? How many levels of government should there be? How should state borders be drawn? We develop a model of political agency in which voters differ in their ability to monitor rent-seeking politicians. We find that rent extraction is a decreasing and convex function of the share of informed voters, because voter information improves monitoring but also reduces the appeal of holding office. As a result, information heterogeneity pushes toward centralization to reduce rent extraction. Taste heterogeneity pulls instead toward decentralization to match local preferences. Our model thus implies that optimal borders should cluster by tastes but ensure diversity of information. We also find economies of scope in accountability that explain why multiplying government tiers harms efficiency. A single government in charge of many policies has better incentives than many special-purpose governments splitting its budget and responsibilities. Hence, a federal system is desirable only if information varies enough across regions.

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Veto Rhetoric and Legislative Riders

Hans Hassell & Samuel Kernell
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Riders to appropriations bills have long been a favorite congressional instrument for forcing presidents to accept unwanted policies. To resist unwanted riders, presidents have increasingly resorted to veto threats. Are such threats credible, and do they influence legislation? To answer these questions, we analyze the legislative histories of hundreds of threatened and unthreatened riders from 1985 through 2008. We find that threats are effective in bringing the final legislation closer to the president's preferences. Threats achieve their success, in large part, by interrupting the textbook legislative process in the Senate — spawning filibusters, prompting leaders to punt bills to conference, and encouraging the use of other “unorthodox” procedures. Unlike conventional models that regard veto threats as minimally effective, the findings presented here depict veto rhetoric as integral to identifying critical riders separating the legislative parties that must be resolved in order to avoid gridlock and pass annual appropriations legislation.

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Separation of powers and the tax level in the U.S. states

Leandro De Magalhães & Lucas Ferrero
Southern Economic Journal, October 2015, Pages 598–619

Abstract:
We estimate a nonlinear and discontinuous relationship between the tax level and the degree of alignment between the legislature and the governor, measured as the number of seats in the legislature that belong to the governor's party. In the states with the line-item veto, the tax level jumps at the point where the government switches from divided to unified. With a regression discontinuity design, we show that this jump can be interpreted as a causal effect. We propose a simple model to account for this nonlinear relationship. The sequential nature of the budget bargaining game, that is, the legislature proposes and the governor cuts with the line-item veto, implies that the tax level is determined by the overlap between the supporters of the governor and the supporters of the legislative majority. Changes in the size of the overlap determine the tax level.

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Do Better Committee Assignments Meaningfully Benefit Legislators? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in the Arkansas State Legislature

David Broockman & Daniel Butler
Journal of Experimental Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large literature argues that the committee assignment process plays an important role in shaping legislative politics because some committees provide legislators with substantial benefits. However, evaluating the degree to which legislators benefit from winning their preferred assignments has been challenging with existing data. This paper sheds light on the benefits legislators accrue from winning their preferred committee assignments by exploiting rules in Arkansas’ state legislature, where legislators select their own committee assignments in a randomized order. The natural experiment indicates that legislators reap at most limited rewards from winning their preferred assignments. These results potentially raise questions about the robustness of widely held assumptions in literatures on party discipline and legislative organization.

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Group Threat and Policy Change: The Spatial Dynamics of Prohibition Politics, 1890–1919

Kenneth Andrews & Charles Seguin
American Journal of Sociology, September 2015, Pages 475-510

Abstract:
The authors argue that group threat is a key driver of the adoption of new and controversial policies. Conceptualizing threat in spatial terms, they argue that group threat is activated through the joint occurrence of (1) proximity to threatening groups and (2) the population density of threatened groups. By analyzing the adoption of county and state “dry laws” banning alcohol from 1890 to 1919, they first show that prohibition victories were driven by the relative strength of supportive constituencies such as native whites and rural residents, vis-à-vis opponents such as Irish, Italian, or German immigrants or Catholics. Second, they show that threat contributed to prohibition victories: counties bordering large immigrant or urban populations, which did not themselves contain similar populations, were more likely to adopt dry laws. Threat arises primarily from interactions between spatially proximate units at the local level, and therefore higher-level policy change is not reducible to the variables driving local policy.

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Term Limits and Collaboration Across the Aisle: An Analysis of Bipartisan Cosponsorship in Term Limited and Non-Term Limited State Legislatures

Clint Swift & Kathryn VanderMolen
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
As members of democratic institutions, state legislators must frequently collaborate with each other to achieve their varied goals. Given the increased attention to questions of polarization and gridlock, scholars should be particularly interested in understanding legislator decisions to collaborate across party lines. This article is primarily concerned with how institutional arrangements — specifically term limits — structure legislators’ decisions to cosponsor bills with partisan opponents. Using data on bill cosponsorship from 41 states (82 chambers), we demonstrate that term limits reduce bipartisan cosponsorship even when controlling for average legislative tenure. We argue that term limits accomplish this by altering the incentives that legislators face. In addition, we demonstrate that the effect of term limits depends on the level of legislative professionalization. When professionalization is high, the negative effect of term limits on bipartisan cosponsorship is particularly pronounced.

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Organizational Capacity, Regulatory Review, and the Limits of Political Control

Alexander Bolton, Rachel Augustine Potter & Sharece Thrower
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Studies of administrative politics focus primarily on political control and ignore organizational capacity. We argue that political and organizational factors, as well as the interaction between the two, are necessary for explaining executive policymaking. To test this theory, we consider the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), an agency often perceived to be the president’s political instrument. Using a new dataset of over 22,000 regulations reviewed by OIRA, we demonstrate that political factors influence review lengths, but organizational factors also exhibit a significant role. We find that reviews are longer when OIRA is understaffed and over-worked. Significantly, we demonstrate that low organizational capacity inhibits the president’s ability to expedite priority rules. Overall, this study highlights the organizational limits of political control.

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On the importance of inequality in politics: Duplicate bills and bill co-sponsorship in the US House of Representatives

David Laband, Richard Seals & Eric Wilbrandt
Economics of Governance, November 2015, Pages 353-378

Abstract:
In this paper, we attempt to provide an economic explanation for the adoption of bill co-sponsorship by the US House of Representatives in 1967. We demonstrate empirically that key features of legislative production prior to 1967 (when House members’ support for a bill was indicated by introduction of duplicate bills) and post-1967 (when political support for a bill is indicated by co-sponsorship) are strikingly similar. Specifically, the raw number of supporters of a bill, whether indicated by duplicate bills or by co-sponsorship, is not nearly as critical to advancement of that bill through the House of Representatives as is the political power of the individual who introduces it and those who support it. The relative sizes of these effects are highly consistent over time. In effect, this finding means that the underlying factors of importance in the House’s legislative production function did not change significantly when bill co-sponsorship was adopted. This suggests that the change in operating procedure may have been driven by an intra-chamber struggle to control the legislative outcomes. We present empirical evidence that is highly consistent with this hypothesis — adoption of bill co-sponsorship in 1967 coincides exactly with the post-World War II peak in a concentration ratio of legislation passed in the US House of Representatives. Prior to the 90th Congress, there was a more-or-less steady increase in concentration of legislation passed by the five busiest committees that peaked at over 0.4 in the 90th Congress and then declined precipitously to under 0.15 by the 93rd Congress.

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Banks, Politics, and Political Parties: From Partisan Banking to Open Access in Early Massachusetts

Qian Lu & John Wallis
NBER Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
The United States was the first nation to allow open access to the corporate form to its citizens. The state of Massachusetts was not only one of the first states to provide its members with legally sanctioned tools to create organizations and enable open access but, on a per capita basis, had many more banks and other corporations than other states as early as the 1820s. Nonetheless, Massachusetts did not open access easily. This paper documents that until 1812, bank charters were only available to members of the Federalist Party in Massachusetts. When the Democratic-Republicans gained control of the state legislature and governor’s mansion in 1811-12, they chartered two new Democratic-Republican banks and threatened to eliminate most of the Federalist bank. The paper documents the close association of politicians and bankers. Before 1811, close to three-quarters of all the bankers we can identify had been or would eventually become a state legislator. The evolving relationships between politics and banking, the eventual opening of banking, and the wealth of bankers are tracked into the 1850s.

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Top-Down Federalism: State Policy Responses to National Government Discussions

Pamela Clouser McCann, Charles Shipan & Craig Volden
Publius, Fall 2015, Pages 495-525

Abstract:
The national government can influence state-level policymaking by adopting laws that specifically direct the states to take certain actions or by providing financial incentives. But can national institutions also influence state-level policy change by drawing attention to an issue and by providing information about it, even when these activities do not produce new national laws? In other words, do policy ideas diffuse from the national government to the states? In this article, we examine whether hearings and the introduction of bills in Congress about antismoking restrictions influenced state-level adoptions between 1975 and 2000. Our findings reveal that national policy activities stimulated state policy adoptions, but only for states with professionalized legislatures and strong policy advocates.

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Intergovernmental transfers and re-election concerned politicians

Ross Hickey
Economics of Governance, November 2015, Pages 331-351

Abstract:
This paper provides a non-partisan rationale for intergovernmental transfers: transfers are generated by electoral dynamics and term limits. We formally study re-election concerned politicians in a federal setting with term limits. The theory presented highlights an important aspect of federalism, that voters participate in elections for office holders at multiple levels of government. We augment a standard model of political career concerns to allow for multilevel governance, and to provide a central office holder with the ability to make transfers to a local politician. We find that when elections are staggered, an equilibrium exists with positive transfers. These transfers are made to sabotage political challengers. These transfers are non-partisan and are an artifact of the electoral dynamics as generated by the electoral calendar and politicians’ career concerns. We test the implications of the theory using data on transfer receipts of U.S. governors, confirming the importance of election timing and term limits as determinants of transfers.

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Interacting Is Believing: Interactivity, Social Cue, and Perceptions of Journalistic Credibility on Twitter

Mi Rosie Jahng & Jeremy Littau
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the effect of social cues and interactivity in social media on journalists’ credibility based on literature of journalists’ credibility, social information processing theory (SIPT), and social presence theory. Results from a mixed-design experiment showed participants rated highly interactive journalists to be more credible than those who are less interactive in social media. Findings are discussed in terms of theoretical implications for journalists’ credibility in social media and practical applications for journalists seeking to utilize social media to engage with their audiences.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Starting out

The earliest unequivocally modern humans in southern China

Wu Liu et al.
Nature, 29 October 2015, Pages 696–699

Abstract:
The hominin record from southern Asia for the early Late Pleistocene epoch is scarce. Well-dated and well-preserved fossils older than ~45,000 years that can be unequivocally attributed to Homo sapiens are lacking. Here we present evidence from the newly excavated Fuyan Cave in Daoxian (southern China). This site has provided 47 human teeth dated to more than 80,000 years old, and with an inferred maximum age of 120,000 years. The morphological and metric assessment of this sample supports its unequivocal assignment to H. sapiens. The Daoxian sample is more derived than any other anatomically modern humans, resembling middle-to-late Late Pleistocene specimens and even contemporary humans. Our study shows that fully modern morphologies were present in southern China 30,000–70,000 years earlier than in the Levant and Europe. Our data fill a chronological and geographical gap that is relevant for understanding when H. sapiens first appeared in southern Asia. The Daoxian teeth also support the hypothesis that during the same period, southern China was inhabited by more derived populations than central and northern China. This evidence is important for the study of dispersal routes of modern humans. Finally, our results are relevant to exploring the reasons for the relatively late entry of H. sapiens into Europe. Some studies have investigated how the competition with H. sapiens may have caused Neanderthals’ extinction. Notably, although fully modern humans were already present in southern China at least as early as ~80,000 years ago, there is no evidence that they entered Europe before ~45,000 years ago. This could indicate that H. neanderthalensis was indeed an additional ecological barrier for modern humans, who could only enter Europe when the demise of Neanderthals had already started.

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Future Discounting in Congo Basin Hunter-Gatherers Declines with Socio-Economic Transitions

Gul Deniz Salali & Andrea Bamberg Migliano
PLoS ONE, September 2015

Abstract:
Humans have a tendency to discount the future; that is we value small, short-term rewards over larger, long-term rewards. The degree of future discounting, however, changes in response to socio-ecological factors. Here, we study Mbendjele BaYaka hunter-gatherers of northern Congo and their farmer neighbours to investigate adaptations in inter-temporal preferences in humans. We argue that in immediate-return systems, where food storage is absent and egalitarianism is enforced through levelling mechanisms, future discounting is an adaptive strategy to prevent wealth accumulation and the emergence of hierarchies. This ensures food sharing and allows for survival in unpredictable environments where there is risk of an energy shortfall. On the other hand, when food storage is made possible by the emergence of agriculture or as seen in some delayed-return hunter-gatherer populations, wealth accumulation, hierarchies and lower discount rates become the adaptive strategy. Therefore, individuals in immediate-return, egalitarian societies will discount the future more than those in non-egalitarian, delayed-return societies. Consistent with the predictions we found that market integration and socio-economic transitions decrease the future discounting in Mbendjele hunter-gatherers. Our measures of socio-economic differences marked this transition in hunter-gatherers living in a logging town. The degree of future-discounting was the same between more market-integrated hunter-gatherers and their farmer neighbours.

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Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas

Pontus Skoglund et al.
Nature, 3 September 2015, Pages 104–108

Abstract:
Genetic studies have consistently indicated a single common origin of Native American groups from Central and South America. However, some morphological studies have suggested a more complex picture, whereby the northeast Asian affinities of present-day Native Americans contrast with a distinctive morphology seen in some of the earliest American skeletons, which share traits with present-day Australasians (indigenous groups in Australia, Melanesia, and island Southeast Asia). Here we analyse genome-wide data to show that some Amazonian Native Americans descend partly from a Native American founding population that carried ancestry more closely related to indigenous Australians, New Guineans and Andaman Islanders than to any present-day Eurasians or Native Americans. This signature is not present to the same extent, or at all, in present-day Northern and Central Americans or in a ~12,600-year-old Clovis-associated genome, suggesting a more diverse set of founding populations of the Americas than previously accepted.

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On anachronism: The curious presence of Spheroids and Polyhedrons at Acheulo–Yabrudian Qesem Cave, Israel

Ran Barkai & Avi Gopher
Quaternary International, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Middle Pleistocene site of Qesem Cave is mostly characterized by a plethora of cultural innovations and “Ahead of its time” phenomena (e.g., habitual use of fire; systematic blade production; Quina scrapers; lithic and bone recycling; systematic cooperative hunting; meat roasting, and more). Within such a context of major cultural innovations, a small but significant assemblage of shaped stone balls, mostly described as Spheroids/Polyhedrons, is of note. In this paper we present, for the first time, the stone balls of Qesem Cave and discuss their contextual and spatial patterning. This adds what we perceive as some sort of anachronism to the Acheulo–Yabrudian cultural complex (AYCC) array of human behavior in an important stage of human cultural and biological evolution in the southern Levant.

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A holistic picture of Austronesian migrations revealed by phylogeography of Pacific paper mulberry

Chi-Shan Chang et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 November 2015, Pages 13537-13542

Abstract:
The peopling of Remote Oceanic islands by Austronesian speakers is a fascinating and yet contentious part of human prehistory. Linguistic, archaeological, and genetic studies have shown the complex nature of the process in which different components that helped to shape Lapita culture in Near Oceania each have their own unique history. Important evidence points to Taiwan as an Austronesian ancestral homeland with a more distant origin in South China, whereas alternative models favor South China to North Vietnam or a Southeast Asian origin. We test these propositions by studying phylogeography of paper mulberry, a common East Asian tree species introduced and clonally propagated since prehistoric times across the Pacific for making barkcloth, a practical and symbolic component of Austronesian cultures. Using the hypervariable chloroplast ndhF-rpl32 sequences of 604 samples collected from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceanic islands (including 19 historical herbarium specimens from Near and Remote Oceania), 48 haplotypes are detected and haplotype cp-17 is predominant in both Near and Remote Oceania. Because cp-17 has an unambiguous Taiwanese origin and cp-17–carrying Oceanic paper mulberries are clonally propagated, our data concur with expectations of Taiwan as the Austronesian homeland, providing circumstantial support for the “out of Taiwan” hypothesis. Our data also provide insights into the dispersal of paper mulberry from South China “into North Taiwan,” the “out of South China–Indochina” expansion to New Guinea, and the geographic origins of post-European introductions of paper mulberry into Oceania.

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Primate archaeology reveals cultural transmission in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus)

Lydia Luncz, Roman Wittig & Christophe Boesch
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 November 2015

Abstract:
Recovering evidence of past human activities enables us to recreate behaviour where direct observations are missing. Here, we apply archaeological methods to further investigate cultural transmission processes in percussive tool use among neighbouring chimpanzee communities in the Taï National Park, Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa. Differences in the selection of nut-cracking tools between neighbouring groups are maintained over time, despite frequent female transfer, which leads to persistent cultural diversity between chimpanzee groups. Through the recovery of used tools in the suggested natal territory of immigrants, we have been able to reconstruct the tool material selection of females prior to migration. In combination with direct observations of tool selection of local residents and immigrants after migration, we uncovered temporal changes in tool selection for immigrating females. After controlling for ecological differences between territories of immigrants and residents our data suggest that immigrants abandoned their previous tool preference and adopted the pattern of their new community, despite previous personal proficiency of the same foraging task. Our study adds to the growing body of knowledge on the importance of conformist tendencies in animals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Good catch

War and Marriage: Assortative Mating and the World War II GI Bill

Matthew Larsen et al.
Demography, October 2015, Pages 1431-1461

Abstract:
World War II and its subsequent GI Bill have been widely credited with playing a transformative role in American society, but there have been few quantitative analyses of these historical events’ broad social effects. We exploit between-cohort variation in the probability of military service to investigate how WWII and the GI Bill altered the structure of marriage, and find that it had important spillover effects beyond its direct effect on men’s educational attainment. Our results suggest that the additional education received by returning veterans caused them to “sort” into wives with significantly higher levels of education. This suggests an important mechanism by which socioeconomic status may be passed on to the next generation.

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Women’s Preference for Attractive Makeup Tracks Changes in Their Salivary Testosterone

Claire Fisher et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that women’s motivation to appear attractive is increased around the time of ovulation. However, the specific hormonal correlates of within-woman changes in motivation to appear attractive have not been investigated. To address this issue, we used a longitudinal design and a data-driven visual preference task. We found that women’s preference for attractive makeup increases when their salivary testosterone levels are high. The relationship between testosterone level and preference for attractive makeup was independent of estradiol level, progesterone level, and estradiol-to-progesterone ratio. These results suggest that testosterone may contribute to changes in women’s motivation to wear attractive makeup and, potentially, their motivation to appear attractive in general. Our results are also consistent with recent models of the role of testosterone in social behavior, according to which testosterone increases the probability of behaviors that could function to support the acquisition of mates and competition for resources.

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The Pupils are the Windows to Sexuality: Pupil Dilation as a Visual Cue to Others’ Sexual Interest

David Lick, Clarissa Cortland & Kerri Johnson
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In order to ensure successful mating opportunities, it is critical that human perceivers accurately infer others’ sexual interests. But how do perceivers achieve these inferences? For over 50 years, scientists have documented that the pupils dilate in response to sexual arousal. Despite the potential importance of this cue for mate selection, however, extant data have focused almost exclusively on the perspective of the individual experiencing arousal. Here, we demonstrate that outside observers exploit pupil dilation as a visible cue to others’ sexual interests. We used reverse-correlation methods to derive facial images based on perceivers’ mental representations of both state-based (sexually aroused, sexually unaroused) and trait-based (sexually promiscuous, sexually non-promiscuous) markers of sexual interest. Next, we explored the phenotypic features that differentiated these faces, specifically the dilation of the pupils contained within each reverse-correlation image. Consistent with the notion that pupil dilation is a reliable cue to sexual arousal, sexually interested faces contained objectively larger and darker pupils than did sexually disinterested faces. Moreover, these differences were perceptually obvious to naïve observers. Collectively, our results suggest that perceivers attend to an external cue – pupil dilation – when forming decisions about others’ state-based and trait-based sexual interests.

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Individual Aesthetic Preferences for Faces Are Shaped Mostly by Environments, Not Genes

Laura Germine et al.
Current Biology, 19 October 2015, Pages 2684–2689

Abstract:
Although certain characteristics of human faces are broadly considered more attractive (e.g., symmetry, averageness), people also routinely disagree with each other on the relative attractiveness of faces. That is, to some significant degree, beauty is in the “eye of the beholder.” Here, we investigate the origins of these individual differences in face preferences using a twin design, allowing us to estimate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental variation to individual face attractiveness judgments or face preferences. We first show that individual face preferences (IP) can be reliably measured and are readily dissociable from other types of attractiveness judgments (e.g., judgments of scenes, objects). Next, we show that individual face preferences result primarily from environments that are unique to each individual. This is in striking contrast to individual differences in face identity recognition, which result primarily from variations in genes [1]. We thus complete an etiological double dissociation between two core domains of social perception (judgments of identity versus attractiveness) within the same visual stimulus (the face). At the same time, we provide an example, rare in behavioral genetics, of a reliably and objectively measured behavioral characteristic where variations are shaped mostly by the environment. The large impact of experience on individual face preferences provides a novel window into the evolution and architecture of the social brain, while lending new empirical support to the long-standing claim that environments shape individual notions of what is attractive.

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Biased Sex Ratios Influence Fundamental Aspects of Human Mating

Justin Moss & Jon Maner
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
The operational sex ratio — the ratio of men to women in a given population — affects a range of social processes. The current research demonstrates that biased sex ratios (greater numbers of one sex than the other) influence fundamental aspects of people’s mating strategy. When the sex ratio was favorable (one’s own sex was in the minority), both sexes adopted strong sex-typical sociosexual orientations (relatively restricted for women; relatively unrestricted for men). When the sex ratio was unfavorable (one’s own sex was in the majority), both sexes shifted toward the orientation typically favored by the other sex: Women became more unrestricted and men became more restricted (Experiment 1). When the sex ratio was unfavorable (relative to favorable), participants also displayed greater aggression toward a romantically desirable (but not undesirable) same-sex partner (Experiment 2). Exploratory analyses suggested that the sex ratio effect was present for unprovoked aggression but not provoked aggression (given the exploratory nature of that analysis, the aggression effect should be considered with some caution). Findings suggest that people’s mating strategies are adaptively calibrated to contingencies within the local mating ecology.

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Height and Body Mass on the Mating Market: Associations With Number of Sex Partners and Extra-Pair Sex Among Heterosexual Men and Women Aged 18–65

David Frederick & Brooke Jenkins
Evolutionary Psychology, September 2015

Abstract:
People with traits that are attractive on the mating market are better able to pursue their preferred mating strategy. Men who are relatively tall may be preferred by women because taller height is a cue to dominance, social status, access to resources, and heritable fitness, leading them to have more mating opportunities and sex partners. We examined height, education, age, ethnicity, and body mass index (BMI) as predictors of sexual history among heterosexual men and women (N = 60,058). The linear and curvilinear associations between self-reported height and sex partner number were small for men when controlling for education, BMI, and ethnicity (linear β = .05; curvilinear β = −.03). The mean and median number of sex partners for men of different heights were: very short (9.4; 5), short (11.0; 7), average (11.7; 7), tall (12.0; 7), very tall (12.1; 7), and extremely tall (12.3; 7). Men who were “overweight” reported a higher mean and median number of sex partners than men with other body masses. The results for men suggested limited variation in reported sex partner number across most of the height continuum, but that very short men report fewer partners than other men.

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Genetic and socioeconomic study of mate choice in Latinos reveals novel assortment patterns

James Zou et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 November 2015, Pages 13621–13626

Abstract:
Nonrandom mating in human populations has important implications for genetics and medicine as well as for economics and sociology. In this study, we performed an integrative analysis of a large cohort of Mexican and Puerto Rican couples using detailed socioeconomic attributes and genotypes. We found that in ethnically homogeneous Latino communities, partners are significantly more similar in their genomic ancestries than expected by chance. Consistent with this, we also found that partners are more closely related — equivalent to between third and fourth cousins in Mexicans and Puerto Ricans — than matched random male–female pairs. Our analysis showed that this genomic ancestry similarity cannot be explained by the standard socioeconomic measurables alone. Strikingly, the assortment of genomic ancestry in couples was consistently stronger than even the assortment of education. We found enriched correlation of partners’ genotypes at genes known to be involved in facial development. We replicated our results across multiple geographic locations. We discuss the implications of assortment and assortment-specific loci on disease dynamics and disease mapping methods in Latinos.

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Sisterly Love: Within-Generation Differences in Ideal Partner for Sister and Self

Robert Biegler & Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Conflicts among relatives may be explained by reference to patterns of genetic relatedness. We suggest that the same conflicts over partner choice that have previously been found between female parents and offspring may also occur between sisters. This provides a test of whether the previous intergenerational effects were mainly due to cohort/intergenerational differences or whether the genetic conflict theory is the better explanation of the findings. Two hundred seventy-nine women who had sisters rated the relevance of 133 traits for their own and their sister’s ideal male long-term partner. Although sisters agree on the importance of the majority of traits, there are also systematic and predictable differences. Women consider traits indicating genetic fitness to be more important for their own ideal partners than for their sister’s ideal partner. Similarly traits that might provide benefits to other, extended family members are prioritized for their sister’s ideal partner. This replicates the findings from an earlier mother–daughter comparison.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, November 6, 2015

Divvied up

Would a significant increase in the top income tax rate substantially alter income inequality?

William Gale, Melissa Kearney & Peter Orszag
Brookings Institution Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
The high level of income inequality in the United States is at the forefront of policy attention. This paper focuses on one potential policy response: an increase in the top personal income tax rate. We conduct a simulation analysis using the Tax Policy Center (TPC) microsimulation model to determine how much of a reduction in income inequality would be achieved from increasing the top individual tax rate to as much as 50 percent. We calculate the resulting change in income inequality assuming an explicit redistribution of all new revenue to households in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution. The resulting effects on overall income inequality are exceedingly modest. That such a sizable increase in top income tax rates leads to such a limited reduction in income inequality speaks to the limitations of this particular approach to addressing the broader challenge. To be sure, our results do not speak to the general desirability of a more progressive tax-and-transfer schedule, just to the fact that even a significant tax increase on high-income households and corresponding transfer to low-income households has a small effect on overall inequality.

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How Does Declining Unionism Affect the American Middle Class and Intergenerational Mobility?

Richard Freeman et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
This paper examines unionism's relationship to the size of the middle class and its relationship to intergenerational mobility. We use the PSID 1985 and 2011 files to examine the change in the share of workers in a middle-income group (defined by persons having incomes within 50% of the median) and use a shift-share decomposition to explore how the decline of unionism contributes to the shrinking middle class. We also use the files to investigate the correlation between parents' union status and the incomes of their children. Additionally, we use federal income tax data to examine the geographical correlation between union density and intergenerational mobility. We find: 1) union workers are disproportionately in the middle-income group or above, and some reach middle-income status due to the union wage premium; 2) the offspring of union parents have higher incomes than the offspring of otherwise comparable non-union parents, especially when the parents are low-skilled; 3) offspring from communities with higher union density have higher average incomes relative to their parents compared to offspring from communities with lower union density. These findings show a strong, though not necessarily causal, link between unions, the middle class, and intergenerational mobility.

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The Wealth Elasticity of Political Contributions by the Forbes 400

Adam Bonica & Howard Rosenthal
Stanford Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
Inequality in campaign contributions in the American plutocracy has grown hand in hand with the growth in economic inequality. We report on the campaign contributions of the Forbes 400 wealthiest individuals from 1983 to 2012. We find that the wealth elasticity of individual contributions is around 1.0 without statistical controls but remains around 0.6 even with fixed effects for individuals and election cycles. The results suggest that the inequality in campaign contributions is largely driven by the increase in economic inequality. The sensitivity of contributions to individual wealth mainly benefits Republicans. In contrast, turnover in membership in the 400 has favored the Democrats.

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Are CEOs Born Leaders? Lessons from Traits of a Million Individuals

Renee Adams, Matti Keloharju & Samuli Knüpfer
Harvard Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
What makes a CEO? We merge data on the traits of more than one million Swedish males, measured at age 18 in a mandatory military enlistment test, with data on their service as a CEO of any Swedish company decades later. CEOs have higher cognitive and non-cognitive ability scores and are taller than typical members of the population. The difference in traits is larger when CEOs run bigger companies; it is smaller when they run family firms, in particular in the capacity of an heir or in a less competitive industry. Although the traits of CEOs compare favorably with the population, they are hardly exceptional: for example, the median large-company CEO belongs to the top-17% of the population in cognitive ability, and to the top-5% in the combination of cognitive, non-cognitive ability, and height. There are more than one hundred times as many men in managerial roles in the corporate sector who have better trait combinations than the median large-company CEO and who do not become a large-company CEO during our 7-year sample period. Being born with a favorable mix of traits may be necessary but is far from a sufficient condition for making it to the executive suite.

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The Willingness to State an Opinion: Inequality, Don't Know Responses, and Political Participation

Daniel Laurison
Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most explanations of inequality in political participation focus on costs or other barriers for those with fewer economic, educational, and "cognitive" resources. I argue, drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's work on "political competence," that social position in the form of income also structures political participation through differences in the sense that one is a legitimate producer of political opinions. I test whether income differences in participation persist net of costs by examining nonparticipation in a setting in which barriers to participation are low: answering political survey questions. Lower-income people are more likely than others to withhold political opinions by saying "don't know" net of differences in education, "cognitive ability," or engagement with the survey exercise. Further, political "don't know" rates predict voting rates, net of other predictors. Efforts to democratize participation in American politics must attend not only to the costs of involvement but also to class-based differences in individuals' relationship to political expression itself.

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Income Inequality and Education

Richard Breen & Inkwan Chung
Sociological Science, August 2015

Abstract:
Many commentators have seen the growing gap in earnings and income between those with a college education and those without as a major cause of increasing inequality in the United States and elsewhere. In this article we investigate the extent to which increasing the educational attainment of the US population might ameliorate inequality. We use data from NLSY79 and carry out a three-level decomposition of total inequality into within-person, between-person and between-education parts. We find that the between-education contribution to inequality is small, even when we consider only adjusted inequality that omits the within-person component. We carry out a number of simulations to gauge the likely impact on inequality of changes in the distribution of education and of a narrowing of the differences in average incomes between those with different levels of education. We find that any feasible educational policy is likely to have only a minor impact on income inequality.

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Does Expansion of Higher Education Lead to Trickle-Down Growth?

Sebastian Böhm, Volker Grossmann & Thomas Steger
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The paper revisits the debate on trickle-down growth in view of the widely discussed changes in the distribution of earnings and income that followed a massive expansion of higher education. We propose a dynamic general equilibrium model to dynamically evaluate whether economic growth triggered by an increase in public education expenditure on behalf of those with high learning ability eventually trickles down to low-ability workers and serves them better than redistribution through labor income taxation or education policies targeted to the low-skilled. Our results suggest that promoting higher education implies that low-skilled workers first lose in terms of consumption and income but eventually gain. Policies that aim at expanding the skills of low-ability workers make them better off only moderately because of adverse general equilibrium effects. Low-ability workers typically benefit most from redistribution.

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Does Compulsory Voting Increase Support for Leftist Policy?

Michael Bechtel, Dominik Hangartner & Lukas Schmid
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Citizens unequally participate in referendums, and this may systematically bias policy in favor of those who vote. Some view compulsory voting as an important tool to alleviate this problem, whereas others worry about its detrimental effects on the legitimacy and quality of democratic decision making. So far, however, we lack systematic knowledge about the causal effect of compulsory voting on public policy. We argue that sanctioned compulsory voting mobilizes citizens at the bottom of the income distribution and that this translates into an increase in support for leftist policies. We empirically explore the effects of a sanctioned compulsory voting law on direct-democratic decision making in Switzerland. We find that compulsory voting significantly increases electoral support for leftist policy positions in referendums by up to 20 percentage points. We discuss the implications of these results for our understanding of the policy consequences of electoral institutions.

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Why does Income Relate to Depressive Symptoms? Testing the Income Rank Hypothesis Longitudinally

Hilda Osafo Hounkpatin et al.
Social Indicators Research, November 2015, Pages 637-655

Abstract:
This paper reports a test of the relative income rank hypothesis of depression, according to which it is the rank position of an individual's income amongst a comparison group, rather than the individual's absolute income, that will be associated with depressive symptoms. A new methodology is developed to test between psychosocial and material explanations of why income relates to well-being. This method was used to test the income rank hypothesis as applied to depressive symptoms. We used data from a cohort of 10,317 individuals living in Wisconsin who completed surveys in 1992 and 2003. The utility assumed to arise from income was represented with a constant relative risk aversion function to overcome limitations of previous work in which inadequate specification of the relationship between absolute income and well-being may have inappropriately favoured relative income specifications. We compared models in which current and future depressive symptoms were predicted from: (a) income utility alone, (b) income rank alone, (c) the transformed difference between the individual's income and the mean income of a comparison group and (d) income utility, income rank and distance from the mean jointly. Model comparison overcomes problems involving multi-collinearity amongst the predictors. A rank-only model was consistently supported. Similar results were obtained for the association between depressive symptoms and wealth and rank of wealth in a cohort of 32,900 British individuals who completed surveys in 2002 and 2008. We conclude that it is the rank of a person's income or wealth within a social comparison group, rather than income or wealth themselves or their deviations from the mean within a reference group, that is more strongly associated with depressive symptoms.

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Cognitive, non-cognitive and family background contributions to college attainment: A behavioral genetic perspective

Matt McGue, Aldo Rustichini & William Iacono
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: There is considerable evidence that college attainment is associated with family background and cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Behavioral genetic methods are used to determine whether the family background effect is mediated through cognitive and non-cognitive skill development.

Method: We analyze data from two longitudinal behavioral genetic studies, the Minnesota Twin Family Study, consisting of 1382 pairs of like-sex twins and their parents, and the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study, consisting of 409 adoptive and 208 non-adoptive families with two offspring and their rearing parents.

Results: Cognitive ability, non-cognitive skills, and family background are all associated with offspring college attainment. Biometric analysis show that the intergenerational transmission of college attainment owes to both genetic and shared environmental factors. The shared environmental influence was not due to highly educated parents fostering non-cognitive skill development in their children and there was limited evidence that they foster cognitive skill development.

Conclusions: The environmental transmission of educational attainment does not appear to be a consequence of highly-educated parents fostering cognitive and non-cognitive skill development. Alternative mechanisms are needed to explain the strong shared environmental influence on college attainment. Possibilities include academic expectations, social network effects, and the economic benefits of having wealthy parents.

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Native Amazonian children forego egalitarianism in merit-based tasks when they learn to count

Julian Jara-Ettinger et al.
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cooperation often results in a final material resource that must be shared, but deciding how to distribute that resource is not straightforward. A distribution could count as fair if all members receive an equal reward (egalitarian distributions), or if each member's reward is proportional to their merit (merit-based distributions). Here, we propose that the acquisition of numerical concepts influences how we reason about fairness. We explore this possibility in the Tsimane', a farming-foraging group who live in the Bolivian rainforest. The Tsimane' learn to count in the same way children from industrialized countries do, but at a delayed and more variable timeline, allowing us to de-confound number knowledge from age and years in school. We find that Tsimane' children who can count produce merit-based distributions, while children who cannot count produce both merit-based and egalitarian distributions. Our findings establish that the ability to count - a non-universal, language-dependent, cultural invention - can influence social cognition.

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The evolution of wealth inequality over half a century: The role of taxes, transfers and technology

Barış Kaymak & Markus Poschke
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the last 50 years the US tax system went through a striking transformation that reduced the effective tax rates for top income groups and raised transfers to seniors. This paper investigates the macroeconomic repercussions of this change in policy, particularly for the distributions of income, wealth and consumption. Changes in taxes and transfers account for nearly half of the rise in wealth concentration. Nonetheless, their impact on the distributions of income and consumption has been minor due to changes in equilibrium prices and the offsetting effects of tax cuts and transfers on the dispersion of consumption. Results highlight the role of increasing wage dispersion during this period as the main driver of trends in inequality.

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Top Incomes, Rising Inequality, and Welfare

Kevin Lansing & Agnieszka Markiewicz
Federal Reserve Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
We introduce permanently-shifting income shares into a standard growth model with two types of agents. Capital owners represent the top quintile of U.S. households while workers represent the remainder. Our tractable model allows us to exactly replicate the observed U.S. time paths of the top quintile income share, capital's share of income, and key macroeconomic variables over the period 1970 to 2013. For the baseline simulation, the welfare gain for capital owners is 3.7% of per-period consumption while workers suffer a welfare loss of 1.4%. Using counterfactual simulations, we find that both groups could have achieved gains if redistributive government transfers had increased to around 18% of total output by the year 2013 - somewhat higher than the actual value of around 15% observed in the data.

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Chess players' fame versus their merit

M.V. Simkin & V.P. Roychowdhury
Applied Economics Letters, Fall 2015, Pages 1499-1504

Abstract:
We investigate a pool of international chess title holders born between 1901 and 1943. Using Elo ratings, we compute for every player his expected score in a game with a randomly selected player from the pool. We use this figure as the player's merit. We measure players' fame as the number of Google hits. The correlation between fame and merit is 0.38. At the same time, the correlation between the logarithm of fame and merit is 0.61. This suggests that fame grows exponentially with merit.

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Subjective relative deprivation is associated with poorer physical and mental health

Sandeep Mishra & Nicholas Carleton
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Substantial epidemiological evidence has shown that income inequality and objective measures of relative deprivation are associated with poorer health outcomes. However, surprisingly little research has examined whether subjective feelings of relative deprivation are similarly linked with poorer health outcomes. The relative deprivation hypothesis suggests that inequality affects health at the individual level through negative consequences of social comparison. We directly examined the relationship between subjective feelings of personal relative deprivation and physical and mental health in a diverse community sample (n = 328). Results demonstrated that subjective feelings of personal relative deprivation are associated with significantly poorer physical and mental health. These relationships held even when accounting for covariates that have been previously associated with both relative deprivation and health. These results further support the link between relative deprivation and health outcomes and suggest that addressing root causes of relative deprivation may lead to greater individual health.

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Fearing the worst: The importance of uncertainty for inequality

Keith Blackburn & David Chivers
Economic Theory, October 2015, Pages 345-370

Abstract:
We present an overlapping generations model in which aspirational agents face uncertainty about the returns to human capital investment. This uncertainty implies the prospect that aspirations will not be fulfilled, the probability of which is greater the lower is the human capital endowment of an agent. We show that agents with sufficiently low human capital endowments may experience such a strong influence of loss aversion that they abstain from human capital investment. We further show how this behaviour may be transmitted through successive generations to cause initial inequalities to persist. These results do not rely on any credit market imperfections, though they may appear as if they do.

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Job Authority and Support for Income Redistributive Policy

George Wilson & David Maume
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Abstract:
Building on substantive yet neglected foundations provided by classical sociological theorists - theorists who emphasized the experiential conditions of work in structuring ideology - we examine in this article the impact of job authority tasks on levels of support for policy to redistribute income. Such a focus contributes to a broader sociological understanding of the links between status, ideology, and political action. With data drawn from the 2010 and 2012 National Election Studies, we find that workplace experiences and tasks involving sanctioning/organizational responsibility as well as the hierarchical patterning of interactions on one's job help structure generalized views regarding inequality and policy orientations ultimately enacted outside of the workplace. In this regard, the number of authority tasks is inversely related to support for redistributive policy. Subsequent analyses, however, reveal this general pattern does not hold on the basis of race: less variation in policy support as well as greater levels of policy support is expressed by African Americans than Whites across all authority task levels. We conclude by discussing how our findings inform broader conceptions regarding the link between work, ideology, and politics, as well a deeper sociological sense of the attitudinal consequences of work and the underpinnings of tenets of American stratification ideology.

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Neighborhood Dynamics and the Distribution of Opportunity

Dionissi Aliprantis & Daniel Carroll
Federal Reserve Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
Wilson (1987) argued that policies ending racial discrimination would not equalize opportunity without addressing residential sorting and neighborhood externalities. This paper studies related counterfactual policies using an overlapping-generations dynamic general equilibrium model of residential sorting and intergenerational human capital accumulation. In the model, households choose where to live and how much to invest toward the production of their child's human capital. The return on parents' investment is determined in part by the child's ability and in part by an externality determined by the human capital in their neighborhood. We calibrate the model with two neighborhoods and neighborhood-specific production technologies to data from Chicago when mobility was restricted by race. We then conduct three numerical experiments by eliminating the restriction on neighborhood choice, equalizing production technologies, or both. We find that allowing residential mobility generates persistent income inequality, even when technologies are equalized across neighborhoods. Equalizing technologies only equalizes opportunity for residents in the originally segregated neighborhood when high-income households reside there. Our findings suggest that policies aimed at improving outcomes in impoverished areas should feature incentives for high-income households to stay or migrate into the neighborhood.

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Income Inequality and Asset Prices under Redistributive Taxation

Lubos Pastor & Pietro Veronesi
University of Chicago Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
We develop a simple general equilibrium model with heterogeneous agents, incomplete financial markets, and redistributive taxation. Agents differ in both skill and risk aversion. In equilibrium, agents become entrepreneurs if their skill is sufficiently high or risk aversion sufficiently low. Under heavier taxation, entrepreneurs are more skilled and less risk-averse, on average. Through these selection effects, the tax rate is positively related to aggregate productivity and negatively related to the expected stock market return. Both income inequality and the level of stock prices initially increase but eventually decrease with the tax rate. Investment risk, stock market participation, and skill heterogeneity all contribute to inequality. Cross-country empirical evidence largely supports the model's predictions.

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Do Conspicuous Consumers Pay Higher Housing Premiums? Spatial and Temporal Variation in the United States

Kwan Ok Lee & Masaki Mori
Real Estate Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study is the first to examine the relationship between conspicuous demand and housing price dynamics. We hypothesize that conspicuous consumers would want high-end homes to signal their wealth and this housing consumption behavior would induce greater deviations from fundamental house prices. We test this by using a unique dataset that matches the consumers' appetite for nonhousing luxury goods from Google Insights for Search to housing premiums that they pay for high-end houses in U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) during 2004-2011. The estimation results demonstrate that controlling for a wide range of MSA demographic and economic characteristics, conspicuous demand has a significant, positive relationship with housing premiums. This relationship varies spatially and temporally. Conspicuous demand has a stronger relationship with a price increase in high-end homes in MSAs with a steady, higher housing premium than in MSAs with a volatile, lower premium during the boom period. In MSAs with a steady, higher housing premium, the relationship remains significant even during the bust period, potentially contributing to maintaining higher housing premiums.

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Changes in Inequality and Generalized Trust in Europe

Javier Olivera
Social Indicators Research, October 2015, Pages 21-41

Abstract:
This paper analyses the determinants of trust in a pool of 34 European countries over the period 2002-2012. We find that income inequality is negatively related with generalized trust when we analyze the pooled data of individuals with multilevel models, confirming a well-established result in the analysis of cross-country differences in trust. However, we are unable to find the same significant relationship when we estimate fixed effects models with a panel dataset composed by countries. It is plausible that unobserved effects may account for the significant and negative relationship between economic inequality and trust at the cross-sectional level. In contrast, in the fixed effects models, we find negative and significant effects of ethnic and linguistic fractionalization, discrimination (general or based on migrant status) and crime rates on trust.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Checking privilege

Race and Quarterback Survival in the National Football League

Brian Volz
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines data from the 2001 to 2009 National Football League (NFL) seasons to determine whether Black quarterbacks face discrimination. When controlling for injury, age, experience, performance, team investment, backup quality, and bye weeks, Black quarterbacks are found to be 1.98–2.46 times more likely to be benched. Marginal evidence is also found that Black quarterbacks face less discrimination in areas with a larger percentage of Black residents. Additionally, it has been observed that when White quarterbacks are benched, the team improves by more than when Black quarterbacks are benched. This provides evidence that there is a cost to this discrimination.

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Is It Harder for Older Workers to Find Jobs? New and Improved Evidence from a Field Experiment

David Neumark, Ian Burn & Patrick Button
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
We design and implement a large-scale field experiment – a resume correspondence study – to address a number of potential limitations of existing field experiments testing for age discrimination, which may bias their results. One limitation that may bias these studies towards finding discrimination is the practice of giving older and younger applicants similar experience in the job to which they are applying, to make them “otherwise comparable.” The second limitation arises because greater unobserved differences in human capital investment of older applicants may bias existing field experiments against finding age discrimination. We also study ages closer to retirement than in past studies, and use a richer set of job profiles for older workers to test for differences associated with transitions to less demanding jobs (“bridge jobs”) at older ages. Based on evidence from over 40,000 job applications, we find robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women. But we find that there is considerably less evidence of age discrimination against men after correcting for the potential biases this study addresses.

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Gender Gaps in Performance: Evidence from Young Lawyers

Ghazala Azmat & Rosa Ferrer
London School of Economics Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
This paper documents and studies the gender gap in performance among associate lawyers in the United States. Unlike other high-skilled professions, the legal profession assesses performance using transparent measures that are widely used and comparable across firms: the number of hours billed to clients and the amount of new client revenue generated. We find clear evidence of a gender gap in annual performance with respect to both measures. Male lawyers bill ten percent more hours and bring in more than twice the new client revenue than do female lawyers. We demonstrate that the differential impact across genders in the presence of young children and differences in aspirations to become a law firm partner account for a large share of the difference in performance. We also show that accounting for performance has important consequences for gender gaps in lawyers' earnings and subsequent promotion. Whereas individual and firm characteristics explain up to 50 percent of the earnings gap, the inclusion of performance measures explains a substantial share of the remainder. Performance measures also explain a sizeable share of the gender gap in promotion.

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Measuring the effect of the timing of first birth on wages

Jane Leber Herr
Journal of Population Economics, January 2016, Pages 39-72

Abstract:
I study the effect of first-birth timing on women’s wages, defining timing in terms of labor force entry, rather than age. Considering the mechanisms by which timing may affect wages, each is a function of experience rather than age. This transformation also highlights the distinction between a first birth after labor market entry versus before. I show that estimates based on age understate the return to delay for women who remain childless at labor market entry and have obscured the negative return to delay — to a first birth after labor market entry rather than before — for all but college graduates. My results suggest, however, that these returns to first-birth timing may hold only for non-Hispanic white women.

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Quality of evidence revealing subtle gender biases in science is in the eye of the beholder

Ian Handley et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 October 2015, Pages 13201–13206

Abstract:
Scientists are trained to evaluate and interpret evidence without bias or subjectivity. Thus, growing evidence revealing a gender bias against women — or favoring men — within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) settings is provocative and raises questions about the extent to which gender bias may contribute to women’s underrepresentation within STEM fields. To the extent that research illustrating gender bias in STEM is viewed as convincing, the culture of science can begin to address the bias. However, are men and women equally receptive to this type of experimental evidence? This question was tested with three randomized, double-blind experiments — two involving samples from the general public (n = 205 and 303, respectively) and one involving a sample of university STEM and non-STEM faculty (n = 205). In all experiments, participants read an actual journal abstract reporting gender bias in a STEM context (or an altered abstract reporting no gender bias in experiment 3) and evaluated the overall quality of the research. Results across experiments showed that men evaluate the gender-bias research less favorably than women, and, of concern, this gender difference was especially prominent among STEM faculty (experiment 2). These results suggest a relative reluctance among men, especially faculty men within STEM, to accept evidence of gender biases in STEM. This finding is problematic because broadening the participation of underrepresented people in STEM, including women, necessarily requires a widespread willingness (particularly by those in the
majority) to acknowledge that bias exists before transformation is possible.

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Task Segregation as a Mechanism for Within-job Inequality: Women and Men of the Transportation Security Administration

Curtis Chan & Michel Anteby
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we examine a case of task segregation — when a group of workers is disproportionately allocated, relative to other groups, to spend more time on specific tasks in a given job — and argue that such segregation is a potential mechanism for generating within-job inequality in the quality of a job. When performing those tasks is undesirable, this allocation has unfavorable implications for that group’s experienced job quality. We articulate the processes by which task segregation can lead to workplace inequality in job quality through an inductive, interview-based case study of airport security-screening workers in a unit of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at a large urban airport. Female workers were disproportionately allocated to the pat-down task, the manual screening of travelers for prohibited items. Our findings suggest that this segregation led to overall poorer job quality outcomes for women. Task segregation overexposed female workers to processes of physical exertion, emotional labor, and relational strain, giving rise to work intensity, emotional exhaustion, and lack of coping resources. Task segregation also seemed to disproportionately expose female workers to managerial sanctions for taking recuperative time off and a narrowing of their skill set that may have contributed to worse promotion chances, pay, satisfaction, and turnover rates for women. We conclude with a theoretical model of how task segregation can act as a mechanism for generating within-job inequality in job quality.

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Leading at the top: Understanding women's challenges above the glass ceiling

Christy Glass & Alison Cook
Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Women leaders contribute positively to organizations yet remain significantly underrepresented in corporate leadership positions. While the challenges women face are well-documented, less understood are the factors that shape the experience and success of women who, against significant odds, rise above the glass ceiling. This paper advances scholarship on women and leadership by analyzing the conditions under which women are promoted to top leadership positions and exploring the opportunities and challenges they face post-promotion. We draw on two data sources: comparison of the career trajectories of all women who have ever served as CEO in the Fortune 500 with a matched sample of men CEOs as well as in-depth interviews with women executives across a variety of sectors. Our analysis reveals that women are more likely than men to be promoted to high risk leadership positions and often lack the support or authority to accomplish their strategic goals. As a result, women leaders often experience shorter tenures compared to male peers. We consider the implication of our findings for theory, research and practice.

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The gender difference in the value of winning

Zhuoqiong (Charlie) Chen, David Ong & Roman Sheremeta
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We design an all-pay auction experiment in which we reveal the gender of the opponent. Using this design, we find that women bid higher than men, but only when bidding against other women. These findings, interpreted through a theoretical model incorporating differences in risk attitude and the value of winning, suggest that women have a higher value of winning than men.

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Racism and discrimination versus advantage and favoritism: Bias for versus bias against

Nancy DiTomaso
Research in Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Almost all academic literature across disciplines and most of the news media explain racial inequality as the result of the discrimination and racism of whites toward nonwhites. In contrast, I argue that it is the favoritism or advantages that whites provide to other whites that is the primary mechanism by which racial inequality is reproduced in the post-civil rights period in the U.S. I provide evidence for my argument with data at the individual, organizational, and societal levels. I also discuss how my argument accords with management theory about diversity and inequality, considering the literature on anti-racism, implicit or unconscious bias, micro-inequities (or micro-aggressions), the need for mentors, and white privilege. I end with a discussion of objections that might be raised with regard to my framing of racial inequality as the result of whites providing advantages to other whites, including concerns about egregious negative acts toward nonwhites. Overall, I argue that my argument that favoritism takes precedence over racism and discrimination is consistent with the research evidence in the field.

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The Effect of Same-Gender and Same-Race Role Models on Occupation Choice: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Mentors at West Point

Michael Kofoed & Elizabeth McGovney
U.S. Military Academy Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
We use random assignment of role models to cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point to investigate the effect of same gender or race mentors on occupation choice in the United States Army. Women and racial minorities have traditionally been underrepresented in certain branches in the Army and these disparities seem to persist over time. We find that when a female cadet is assigned a female tactical officer, the cadet is 5.9 and 18.1 percentage points more likely to pick her officer's branch as her first or among her top three branch preferences respectively. These results are robust to controlling for a limited choice set for females and the timing of the mentorship. We find that black cadets paired with black officers are 6.1 percentage points more likely to pick their role model's branch. However, we find no results for Hispanic cadets.

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A Paper Ceiling: Explaining the Persistent Underrepresentation of Women in Printed News

Eran Shor et al.
American Sociological Review, October 2015, Pages 960-984

Abstract:
In the early twenty-first century, women continue to receive substantially less media coverage than men, despite women’s much increased participation in public life. Media scholars argue that actors in news organizations skew news coverage in favor of men and male-related topics. However, no previous study has systematically examined whether such media bias exists beyond gender ratio imbalances in coverage that merely mirror societal-level structural and occupational gender inequalities. Using novel longitudinal data, we empirically isolate media-level factors and examine their effects on women’s coverage rates in hundreds of newspapers. We find that societal-level inequalities are the dominant determinants of continued gender differences in coverage. The media focuses nearly exclusively on the highest strata of occupational and social hierarchies, in which women’s representation has remained poor. We also find that women receive greater exposure in newspaper sections led by female editors, as well as in newspapers whose editorial boards have higher female representation. However, these differences appear to be mostly correlational, as women’s coverage rates do not noticeably improve when male editors are replaced by female editors in a given newspaper.

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Sex, Race, and Job Satisfaction Among Highly Educated Workers

Joni Hersch & Jean Xiao
Vanderbilt University Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
There has been a considerable amount of work focusing on job satisfaction and sex, generally finding that women are more satisfied than men despite having objectively worse job conditions. But there is little evidence on whether job satisfaction differs by race or ethnicity. We use data from the 2010 National Survey of College Graduates to examine the relation between job satisfaction and race and ethnicity among Asian, black, Hispanic/Latino, and white workers. Overall job satisfaction does not differ by sex among college graduates. Relative to white workers of the same sex, Asian and black workers are far less satisfied. The lower satisfaction of Asian and black workers relative to white workers is not explained by immigrant status, job match, or other individual or job characteristics.

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The Impact of “Soft” Affirmative Action Policies on Minority Hiring in Executive Leadership: The Case of the NFL's Rooney Rule

Cynthia DuBois
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is a dearth of affirmative action policies designed to impact executive level hiring. The National Football League's (NFL) “Rooney Rule” is the exception. The Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for any head coaching vacancy. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I present evidence that the Rooney Rule had a significant, positive impact on the likelihood that a minority candidate would fill an NFL head coaching vacancy. The Rooney Rule could serve as a case study for other types of firms wishing to enact “soft” affirmative action policies to impact executive hiring.

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Virtues of a Hardworking Role Model to Improve Girls’ Mathematics Performance

Céline Bagès, Catherine Verniers & Delphine Martinot
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that female role models can improve women’s math performance, whereas male role models can lower it. In this field experiment, we examined the following research questions: (a) Does the explanation a role model gives for the role model’s success in math help girls perform as well as boys in math, regardless of the role model’s gender? And (b) what are the underlying mechanisms of the role models’ influence? Sixth graders were exposed to the description of a female or male role model before a difficult math test; they were informed about the reason for the role model’s math success (exerted effort vs. being gifted vs. no explanation). The results indicated that girls scored as well as boys on a difficult math test after exposure to a hardworking role model. They performed less well than boys after exposure to a role model whose success was not explained or was explained by the role model’s gift. Moreover, serial mediation analyses showed that both boys and girls identified more with the hardworking role model than with the other two role models, which increased the boys’ and girls’ perceived self-efficacy in math and in turn increased math performance. We discuss the contributions of this study to identifying relevant role models for girls in math.

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When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint vs. Separate Evaluation

Iris Bohnet, Alexandra van Geen & Max Bazerman
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Gender bias in the evaluation of job candidates has been demonstrated in business, government, and academia, yet little is known about how to overcome it. Blind evaluation procedures have been proven to significantly increase the likelihood that women musicians are chosen for orchestras, and they are employed by a few companies. We examine a new intervention to overcome gender bias in hiring, promotion, and job assignments: an “evaluation nudge” in which people are evaluated jointly rather than separately regarding their future performance. Evaluators are more likely to base their decisions on individual performance in joint than in separate evaluation and on group stereotypes in separate than in joint evaluation, making joint evaluation the profit-maximizing evaluation procedure. Our work is inspired by findings in behavioral decision research suggesting that people make more reasoned choices when examining options jointly rather than separately and is compatible with a behavioral model of information processing.

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Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Evidence from Educational Admission Reforms

Arnt Hopland & Ole Henning Nyhus
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies whether increased competition has adverse consequences for students’ intrinsic motivation by studying an upper secondary admission reform in Norway. While earlier students were enrolled into their neighboring school, the new system introduces school choice, where admission is based on performance in lower secondary school. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that whereas the motivation for boys seems to be unaffected by the increased competition, there are adverse consequences on the motivation for girls.

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Discrimination and Worker Evaluation

Costas Cavounidis & Kevin Lang
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
We develop a model of self-sustaining discrimination in wages, coupled with higher unemployment and shorter employment duration among blacks. While white workers are hired and retained indefinitely without monitoring, black workers are monitored and fired if a negative signal is received. The fired workers, who return to the pool of job-seekers, lower the average productivity of black job-seekers, perpetuating the cycle of lower wages and discriminatory monitoring. Under suitable parameter values the model has two steady states, one corresponding to each population group. Discrimination can persist even if the productivity of blacks exceeds that of whites.

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The Effect of Differential Weighting of Academics, Experiences, and Competencies Measured by Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) on Race and Ethnicity of Cohorts Accepted to One Medical School

Carol Terregino, Meghan McConnell & Harold Reiter
Academic Medicine, forthcoming

Purpose: To examine whether academic scores, experience scores, and Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) core personal competencies scores vary across applicants' self-reported ethnicities, and whether changes in weighting of scores would alter the proportion of ethnicities underrepresented in medicine (URIM) in the entering class composition.

Method: This study analyzed retrospective data from 1,339 applicants to the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School interviewed for entering classes 2011-2013. Data analyzed included two academic scores-grade point average (GPA) and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)-service/clinical/research (SCR) scores, and MMI scores. Independent-samples t tests evaluated whether URIM ethnicities differed from non-URIM across GPA, MCAT, SCR, and MMI scores. A series of "what-if" analyses were conducted to determine whether alternative weighting methods would have changed final admissions decisions and entering class composition.

Results: URIM applicants had significantly lower GPAs (P < .001), MCATs (P < .001), and SCR scores (P < .001). However, this pattern was not found with MMI score (non-URIM 10.4 [1.6], URIM 10.4 [1.3], P = .55). Alternative weighting analyses show that including academic/experiential scores impacts the percentage of URIM acceptances. URIM acceptance rate declined from 57% (100% MMI) to 43% (10% GPA/10% MCAT/10% SCR/70% MMI), 39% (30% GPA/70% MMI), to as low as 22% (50% MCAT/50% MMI).

Conclusions: Sole reliance on the MMI for final admissions decisions, after threshold academic/experiential preparation are met, promotes diversity with the accepted applicant pool; weighting of "the numbers" or what is written about the application may decrease the acceptance of URIM applicants.

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Employer Characteristics Associated With Discrimination Charges Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Sarah von Schrader & Zafar Nazarov
Journal of Disability Policy Studies, December 2015, Pages 153-163

Abstract:
Using two administrative data sets from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), this study examines the relationship between employer and environmental characteristics and Americans With Disability Act (ADA) discrimination charge rate. Results of a multiple regression analysis using a sample of mid- to large-sized private employers indicate that establishment size is negatively correlated with ADA charge rate, whereas several other employer characteristics are positively associated with charge rate, including parent organization size, federal contractor status, transportation or services industries, and relatively high minority representation. One of the main concerns of contemporary disability policy is reducing discrimination in employment, and our findings can inform employers, policymakers, and organizations working with employers to reduce perceived discrimination by identifying those employers most likely to receive charges. Further research is needed to better understand what specific behaviors, practices, and policies within these different types of establishments explain their differential charge rates.

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Are women less career centric than men? Structure, culture, and identity investments

Stephen Sweet et al.
Community, Work & Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some work/family scholars assume that gender differences in career centrality (i.e. the importance of career to one's identity) are a result of differential job characteristics and family demands; others trace these differences to pre-existing cultural orientations. Using the 2010 Generations of Talent data from 9210 employees working in 11 countries for 7 multinational companies, this study verifies the existence of gender differences in career centrality and explores structural and cultural explanations. Gender disparities in career centrality are modest, indicating that women's and men's identification with careers is more similar than is commonly asserted; the most pronounced (but still relatively small) disparities are observed in Japan and China. A large portion of the gender gap is explained by job characteristics, supporting structural explanations. Family demands contribute to explaining the gap as well, but the findings are unexpected: having minor children is associated with higher career centrality for both women and men. In support of cultural explanations, however, traditional gender beliefs are associated with lower career centrality, especially for women, while two job characteristics (job variety and peer relations) have distinct links to career centrality for women and men. Findings challenge the common assumption that family identities compete against work identities.

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Women on board: Does boardroom gender diversity affect firm risk?

Vathunyoo Sila, Angelica Gonzalez & Jens Hagendorff
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the relationship between boardroom gender diversity and firm risk. To identify a causal effect of gender on risk, we use a dynamic model that controls for reverse causality and for gender and risk being influenced by unobservable firm factors. We find no evidence that female boardroom representation influences equity risk. We also show that findings of a negative relationship between the two variables are spurious and driven by unobserved between-firm heterogeneous factors.

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On efforts in teams with stereotypes

Shiva Sikdar
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Diversity in the workplace implies a balance in positions held by different social groups in organizations. We analyze the effect of negative stereotypes about the abilities of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds on efforts and outcomes in teams. A project’s success depends on the abilities and efforts of agents from different backgrounds. Under simultaneous effort contribution, the stereotype lowers efforts of all agents and the project’s success chance. When the principal assigns the disadvantaged/stereotyped agent as leader in effort contribution, the effect of the stereotype is mitigated and the project’s success chance is the highest; this also maximizes the principal’s expected payoff. Although the principal offers symmetric incentives, the stereotyped agent often exerts higher effort.

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Taking Race Off the Table: Agenda Setting and Support for Color-Blind Public Policy

Rosalind Chow & Eric Knowles
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whites are theorized to support color-blind policies as an act of racial agenda setting — an attempt to defend the existing hierarchy by excluding race from public and institutional discourse. The present analysis leverages work distinguishing between two forms of social dominance orientation (SDO): passive opposition to equality (SDO-E) and active desire for dominance (SDO-D). We hypothesized that agenda setting, as a subtle hierarchy-maintenance strategy, would be uniquely tied to high levels of SDO-E. When made to believe that the hierarchy was under threat, Whites high in SDO-E increased their endorsement of color-blind policy (Study 1), particularly when the racial hierarchy was framed as ingroup advantage (Study 2), and became less willing to include race as a topic in a hypothetical presidential debate (Study 3). Across studies, Whites high in SDO-D showed no affinity for agenda setting as a hierarchy-maintenance strategy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

On staff

Magnification and Correction of the Acolyte Effect: Initial Benefits and Ex Post Settling up in NFL Coaching Careers

Martin Kilduff et al.
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
What are the long-term consequences of initially beneficial high-reputation workplace ties? Under uncertainty, acolytes (i.e., subordinates with work connections to high-reputation industry leaders) are likely to benefit in terms of signaling fitness for promotion in the external job market. Analysis of promotion outcomes of coaches in the NFL over 31 years showed that the acolyte effect was reduced for individuals for whom uncertainty was the least (acolytes with considerable industry experience or high centrality in the co-worker industry network). There was no support for either a knowledge-transfer or an intrinsic quality explanation for why acolytes initially gained advantage. Rather, the evidence supported the idea that ties to high-reputation leaders were somewhat randomly distributed so that acolytes faced ex post settling up consequences after their promotions: fewer further promotions or lateral moves, more demotions. Thus, acolytes initially benefited from a loose-linkage between their unobservable quality and signals offered by their industry-leader ties, but they also suffered as the unreliability of social network signals became evident. The results suggest that a competitive job market may exhibit self-correction over time. We offer countervailing theory and evidence to the prevailing view that high-reputation third-party endorsements perpetuate a rich-get-richer social structure resistant to performance outcomes.

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Privileging Naturals Over Strivers: The Costs of the Naturalness Bias

Chia-Jung Tsay
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
A preference for “naturals” over “strivers” in performance judgments was investigated to test whether the effect is generalizable across domains, as well as to ascertain any costs imposed on decision quality by favoring naturals. Despite being presented with entrepreneurs equal in achievement, participants judged the natural and his business proposal to be superior to the striver and his proposal on multiple dimensions of performance and success (Study 1a and Study 1b). These findings were extended in Study 2, which quantified the costs of the naturalness bias using conjoint analysis to measure specific decision tradeoffs. Together, these three studies show that people tend to pass over better-qualified individuals in favor of apparent naturals.

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Moneyball After 10 Years: How Have Major League Baseball Salaries Adjusted?

Daniel Brown, Charles Link & Seth Rubin
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Michael Lewis’ Moneyball describes how the Oakland Athletics exploited an imperfection in the way player productivity was being evaluated pre-2003. On-base percentage appeared to be more important in determining team success compared to more popular statistics. We test the hypothesis that in a competitive market, other teams will increase the weight given on-base percentage in the reward structure for their players. Our results show that in the post-Moneyball (MB) era, the return to on-base percentage has indeed increased for free agents, the group whose salaries we expect to be most affected by the MB philosophy.

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Toxic Workers

Michael Housman & Dylan Minor
Harvard Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
While there has been a lot of research on finding and developing top performers in the workplace, less attention has been paid to the question of how to manage those workers who are harmful to organizational performance. In extreme cases, in addition to hurting performance, such workers can generate enormous regulatory and legal liabilities for the firm. We explore a large novel dataset of over 50,000 workers across 11 different firms to document a variety of aspects of workers’ characteristics and circumstances that lead them to engage in "toxic" behavior. We also find that avoiding a toxic worker (or converting him to an average worker) enhances performance to a much greater extent than replacing an average worker with a superstar worker.

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Hierarchical Organization and Performance Inequality: Evidence from Professional Cycling

Bertrand Candelon & Arnaud Dupuy
International Economic Review, November 2015, Pages 1207–1236

Abstract:
This article proposes an equilibrium theory of the organization of work in an economy with an implicit market for productive time. In this market, agents buy or sell productive time. This implicit market gives rise to the formation of teams, organized in hierarchies with one leader (buyer) at the top and helpers (sellers) below. Relative to autarky, hierarchical organization leads to higher within and between team payoffs/productivity inequality. This prediction is tested empirically in the context of professional road cycling. We show that 46% of performance inequality in the Tour de France is due to hierarchical organization within team whereas team composition only accounts for 6%.

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Fairness and Frictions: The Impact of Unequal Raises on Quit Behavior

Arindrajit Dube, Laura Giuliano & Jonathan Leonard
University of California Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
We analyze how quits responded to arbitrary differences in own and peer wages using an unusual feature of a pay raise at a large U.S. retailer. The firm's use of discrete pay steps created discontinuities in raises, where workers earning within 1 cent of each other received new wages that differed by 10 cents. First, we estimate a regression discontinuity (RD) model based on own wages; we find large causal effects of wages on quits, with quit elasticities less than -10. Next, we address whether the overall quit response reflects the impact of comparisons to market wages or to the wages of in-store peers. Here we use a multi-dimensional RD design that includes both a sharp RD in the own wage and a fuzzy RD in the average peer wage.We find that the large quit response mostly reflects relative-pay concerns and not market comparisons. After accounting for peer effects, quits do not appear to be very sensitive to wages – consistent with the presence of significant search frictions. Finally, we find that the relative-pay effect is nonlinear and driven mainly by workers who are paid less than their peers – suggesting concerns about fairness or disadvantageous inequity.

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Shaped by Their Daughters: Executives, Female Socialization, and Corporate Social Responsibility

Henrik Cronqvist & Frank Yu
University of Miami Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
We show that large U.S. companies' policies regarding society at large and stakeholders other than their shareholders are systematically impacted by the firm's top decision-maker parenting a daughter. A CEO who has a female child increases a firm's corporate social responsibility (CSR) rating by about 11.9% compared to a median firm, the effect being about one third of the effect of an executive herself being female. The impact is strongest for diversity ratings, but also significant for broader pro-social policies related to the environment and employee relations. The evidence is consistent with a social preferences model in which male executives partially internalize their daughters' experiences and values. The results are robust to considering several sources of endogeneity, e.g., examining only first-born CEO daughters, Trivers-Willard effects, and child gender preferences. The study contributes to several research areas, including female socialization studies, the origins of firms' CSR policies, and exogenous determinants of executives' styles.

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Are there too few trades during the NFL draft?

Philip Hersch & Jodi Pelkowski
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
College football players are initially assigned to teams in the National Football League (NFL) through the league’s draft selection process. At each team’s turn to pick, the team has the option of exercising the pick itself or trading it to another team. If gains from trade are exhausted, draft picks should be exercised by the team with the highest expected value. That is, the expected player contribution garnered from a given pick should not be dependent on whether the pick was traded or retained. Regression results, however, indicate that controlling for a player’s draft position, when a team trades up to acquire a player, that player is more likely to have greater on-field success. This suggests that there are too few draft day trades. Plausible reasons are high transaction costs or the fear of media scrutiny that draft trades can engender.

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Corporate Social Initiatives and Employee Retention

Christiane Bode, Jasjit Singh & Michelle Rogan
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Firms are increasingly launching initiatives with explicit social mandates. The business case for these often relies on one critical aspect of human capital management: employee retention. Although prior empirical studies have demonstrated a link between corporate social initiatives and intermediate employee-related outcomes such as motivation and identification with the firm, their relationship with final retention outcomes has not been investigated. Our study fills this gap. Using individual-level data for approximately 10,000 employees in a global management consulting firm, we present empirical evidence of a positive retention effect associated with employee participation in a corporate initiative with explicit social impact goals. In addition, we offer arguments for moderating conditions that weaken this relationship and present evidence consistent with our arguments. Further econometric analysis based on a stringent matching approach as well as additional analyses based on survey and interview data suggest that the retention effect can at least partly be attributed to treatment and is not all just a manifestation of sorting of certain types of employees into the social initiative. Overall, by demonstrating a positive association between social initiative participation and employee retention, this study highlights the need for further research into how corporate social engagement can serve as a tool for strategic human capital management.

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Distributed Attention and Shared Emotions in the Innovation Process: How Nokia Lost the Smartphone Battle

Timo Vuori & Quy Huy
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted a qualitative study of Nokia to understand its rapid downfall over the 2005–2010 period from its position as a world-dominant and innovative technology organization. We found that top and middle managers’ shared emotions during the smartphone innovation process caused cycles of behaviors that harmed both the process and its outcome. Together, organizational attention structures and historical factors generated various types of shared fear among top and middle managers. Top managers were afraid of external competitors and shareholders, while middle managers were mainly afraid of internal groups, including superiors and peers. Top managers’ externally focused fear led them to exert pressure on middle managers without fully revealing the severity of the external threats and to interpret middle managers’ communications in biased ways. Middle managers’ internally focused fear reduced their tendency to share negative information with top managers, leading top managers to develop an overly optimistic perception of their organization’s technological capabilities and neglect long-term investments in developing innovation. Our study contributes to the attention-based view of the firm by describing how distributed attention structures influence shared emotions and how such shared emotions can hinder the subsequent integration of attention, influencing innovation processes and outcomes and resulting in temporal myopia — a focus on short-term product innovation at the expense of long-term innovation development.

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The Advocacy Trap: When Leaders’ Legitimacy Building Inhibits Organizational Learning

Tiona Zuzul & Amy Edmondson
Harvard Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
This paper theorizes a relationship between legitimacy building and learning for new firms in nascent industries. We conducted a longitudinal study of a new firm in the nascent smart cities industry, and discovered that the firm’s legitimacy-building activities provided benefits (leading diverse stakeholders to value the new firm and the new industry), but also created risks. Specifically, legitimacy building relied on and reinforced individual-level behaviors (an external focus and an advocacy orientation) that inhibited the firm’s ability to learn. We propose that legitimacy building can comprise an advocacy trap that blocks meaningful learning vital to the success of a new firm. By suggesting a downside to legitimacy building and identifying a new barrier to learning, rooted in cognition and especially salient in new firms and nascent industries, our discovery opens new avenues for research on entrepreneurship and organizational learning.

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Do Agents Game Their Agents’ Behavior? Evidence from Sales Managers

Alan Benson
Journal of Labor Economics, October 2015, Pages 863-890

Abstract:
This paper examines how sales managers, acting as agents of the firm, game the staffing and incentives of their subordinates. Sales managers on a quota’s cusp have a unique personal incentive to retain and lower quotas for poor-performing subordinates, allowing one to isolate a manager’s interest from the firm’s. Using microdata from 244 firms that subscribe to a cloud-based service for processing sales compensation, I estimate that 13%–15% of both quota adjustments and retentions among poor performers are explained by managers’ incentives around quotas. Although a minority of poor performers are subsequently terminated or transferred, most are retained indefinitely.

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Think Twice before Going for Incentives: Social Norms and the Principal's Decision on Compensation Contracts

Eddy Cardinaels & Huaxiang Yin
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Principals make decisions on various issues, ranging from contract design to control system implementation. Few studies examine the principal's active role in these decisions. We experimentally investigate this role by studying how a principal's choice for a truth-telling incentive contract, compared to a fixed-salary contract without truth-telling incentives, affects the honesty of their agents’ cost reporting. Results show that besides an incentive effect and a principal trust effect (Christ et al. [2012]), the active choice for incentives produces a negative “information leakage” effect. When principals use incentives, their choices not only incentivize truthful reporting and signal distrust, but they also leak important information about the social norm; namely, that other agents are likely to report dishonestly. Agents conform to this social norm by misrepresenting cost information more. Our results have important practical implications. Managers must recognize that their decisions can leak information to their agents, which may produce unanticipated consequences for the social norms of the organization.

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Does Diversification Create Value in the Presence of External Financing Constraints? Evidence from the 2007–2009 Financial Crisis

Venkat Kuppuswamy & Belén Villalonga
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that the value of corporate diversification increased during the 2007–2009 financial crisis. Diversification gave firms both financing and investment advantages. First, conglomerates became significantly more leveraged relative to comparable focused firms. Second, conglomerates’ access to internal capital markets became more valuable, not just because external capital markets became more costly but also because the efficiency of internal capital allocation increased significantly during the crisis. Our analysis provides new evidence on how and why the value of diversification varies with financial constraints and economic conditions, and it suggests that corporate diversification can serve an important insurance function for investors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mother and father figures

The Effect of Unpredictable Early Childhood Environments on Parenting in Adulthood

Ohad Szepsenwol et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Life history theory suggests that individual differences in parenting are partially rooted in environmental conditions experienced early in life. Whereas certain conditions should promote increased investment in parenting, unpredictable and/or harsh environments should promote decreased investment in parenting, especially in men. We tested this hypothesis in 3 studies. In Study 1a, we conducted analyses on 112 parents taking part in the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (MLSRA), all of whom have been continuously studied starting before they were born. Parenting orientations were assessed at age 32 via an interview. Findings showed that experiencing more unpredictability at ages 0-4 (i.e., frequent changes in parental employment status, cohabitation status, and residence) prospectively forecasted more negative parenting orientations among men, but not women. This effect was serially mediated by lower early maternal supportive presence measured at ages 0-4 and insecure attachment assessed at ages 19 and 26. In Study 1b, we replicated these findings on 96 parents from the MLSRA using behavioral observations of their parental supportive presence. In Study 2, we replicated the effect of early-life unpredictability on men's parenting orientations with a sample of 435 parents. This effect was mediated by adult attachment anxiety and avoidance. Across all studies, greater early-life harshness (low socioeconomic status [SES]) did not predict adult parenting outcomes. These findings suggest that greater early-life unpredictability may be conveyed to children through less supportive parenting, which results in insecure attachment representations in adulthood. Among men, this process culminates in less positive adult parenting orientations and less supportive parenting.

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Is There an Advantage to Working? The Relationship between Maternal Employment and Intergenerational Mobility

Martha Harrison Stinson & Peter Gottschalk
U.S. Census Bureau Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
We investigate the question of whether investing in a child's development by having a parent stay at home when the child is young is correlated with the child's adult outcomes. Specifically, do children with stay-at-home mothers have higher adult earnings than children raised in households with a working mother? The major contribution of our study is that, unlike previous studies, we have access to rich longitudinal data that allows us to measure both the parental earnings when the child is very young and the adult earnings of the child. Our findings are consistent with previous studies that show insignificant differences between children raised by stay-at-home mothers during their early years and children with mothers working in the market. We find no impact of maternal employment during the first 5 years of a child's life on earnings, employment, or mobility measures of either sons or daughters. We do find, however, that maternal employment during children's high school years is correlated with a higher probability of employment as adults for daughters and a higher correlation between parent and daughter earnings ranks.

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The great recession and behavior problems in 9-year old children

William Schneider, Jane Waldfogel & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Developmental Psychology, November 2015, Pages 1615-1629

Abstract:
This article examines associations between the Great Recession and 4 aspects of 9-year olds' behavior - aggression (externalizing), anxiety/depression (internalizing), alcohol and drug use, and vandalism - using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort drawn from 20 U.S. cities (21%, White, 50% Black, 26% Hispanic, and 3% other race/ethnicity). The study was in the field for the 9-year follow-up right before and during the Great Recession (2007-2010; N = 3,311). Interview dates (month) were linked to the national Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI), calculated from a national probability sample drawn monthly to assess consumer confidence and uncertainty about the economy, as well as to data on local unemployment rates. Controlling for city-fixed effects and extensive controls (including prior child behavior at age 5), we find that greater uncertainty as measured by the CSI was associated with higher rates of all 4 behavior problems for boys (in both maternal and child reports). Such associations were not found for girls (all gender differences were significant). Links between the CSI and boys' behavior problems were concentrated in single-parent families and were partially explained by parenting behaviors. Local unemployment rates, in contrast, had fewer associations with children's behavior, suggesting that in the Great Recession, what was most meaningful for child behavior problems was the uncertainty about the national economy, rather than local labor markets.

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Examining the effects of birth order on personality

Julia Rohrer, Boris Egloff & Stefan Schmukle
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the long-standing question of whether a person's position among siblings has a lasting impact on that person's life course. Empirical research on the relation between birth order and intelligence has convincingly documented that performances on psychometric intelligence tests decline slightly from firstborns to later-borns. By contrast, the search for birth-order effects on personality has not yet resulted in conclusive findings. We used data from three large national panels from the United States (n = 5,240), Great Britain (n = 4,489), and Germany (n = 10,457) to resolve this open research question. This database allowed us to identify even very small effects of birth order on personality with sufficiently high statistical power and to investigate whether effects emerge across different samples. We furthermore used two different analytical strategies by comparing siblings with different birth-order positions (i) within the same family (within-family design) and (ii) between different families (between-family design). In our analyses, we confirmed the expected birth-order effect on intelligence. We also observed a significant decline of a 10th of a SD in self-reported intellect with increasing birth-order position, and this effect persisted after controlling for objectively measured intelligence. Most important, however, we consistently found no birth-order effects on extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, or imagination. On the basis of the high statistical power and the consistent results across samples and analytical designs, we must conclude that birth order does not have a lasting effect on broad personality traits outside of the intellectual domain.

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Individual variation in fathers' testosterone reactivity to infant distress predicts parenting behaviors with their 1-year-old infants

Patty Kuo et al.
Developmental Psychobiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Positive father involvement is associated with positive child outcomes. There is great variation in fathers' involvement and fathering behaviors, and men's testosterone (T) has been proposed as a potential biological contributor to paternal involvement. Previous studies investigating testosterone changes in response to father-infant interactions or exposure to infant cues were unclear as to whether individual variation in T is predictive of fathering behavior. We show that individual variation in fathers' T reactivity to their infants during a challenging laboratory paradigm (Strange Situation) uniquely predicted fathers' positive parenting behaviors during a subsequent father-infant interaction, in addition to other psychosocial determinants of paternal involvement, such as dispositional empathy and marital quality. The findings have implications for understanding fathering behaviors and how fathers can contribute to their children's socioemotional development.

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Non-Cognitive Deficits and Young Adult Outcomes: The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program

Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan
NBER Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
Past research has demonstrated that positive increments to the non-cognitive development of children can have long-run benefits. We test the symmetry of this contention by studying the effects of a sizeable negative shock to non-cognitive skills due to the introduction of universal child care in Quebec. We first confirm earlier findings showing reduced contemporaneous non-cognitive development following the program introduction in Quebec, with little impact on cognitive test scores. We then show these non-cognitive deficits persisted to school ages, and also that cohorts with increased child care access subsequently had worse health, lower life satisfaction, and higher crime rates later in life. The impacts on criminal activity are concentrated in boys. Our results reinforce previous evidence on the central role of non-cognitive skills for long-run success.

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The Making of a Good Woman: Extended Parental Leave Entitlements and Mothers' Work Commitment in Germany

Markus Gangl & Andrea Ziefle
American Journal of Sociology, September 2015, Pages 511-563

Abstract:
The authors investigate the relationship between family policy and women's attachment to the labor market, focusing specifically on policy feedback on women's subjective work commitment. They utilize a quasi-experimental design to identify normative policy effects from changes in mothers' work commitment in conjunction with two policy changes that significantly extended the length of statutory parental leave entitlements in Germany. Using unique survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and difference-in-differences, triple-differenced, and instrumental variables estimators for panel data, they obtain consistent empirical evidence that increasing generosity of leave entitlements led to a decline in mothers' work commitment in both East and West Germany. They also probe potential mediating mechanisms and find strong evidence for role exposure and norm setting effects. Finally, they demonstrate that policy-induced shifts in mothers' preferences have contributed to retarding women's labor force participation after childbirth in Germany, especially as far as mothers' return to full-time employment is concerned.

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Revisiting the Data from the New Family Structure Study: Taking Family Instability into Account

Michael Rosenfeld
Sociological Science, September 2015

Abstract:
This analysis revisits recent controversial findings about children of gay and lesbian parents, and shows that family instability explains most of the negative outcomes that had been attributed to gay and lesbian parents. Family transitions associated with parental loss of custody were more common than breakups of same-sex couples among family transitions experienced by subjects who ever lived with same-sex couples. The analyses also show that most associations between growing up with a single mother and later negative outcomes are mediated by childhood family transitions. I show that many different types of childhood family transitions (including parental breakup and the arrival of a parent's new partner) are similarly associated with later negative outcomes.

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Family Shocks and Academic Achievement

Marie Hull
University of North Carolina Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
Disruptions in family life can take many forms, but all have the potential to impact student learning. With school administrative data matched to birth records, I estimate the effect of unexpected changes in the home environment, or family shocks, on achievement. Identification comes from siblings observed in the same year. I find that family shocks are at least as important as teacher assignment for student learning. Furthermore, they have a relatively larger impact on students from affluent families; time use evidence indicates that this is likely because affluent parents are more involved in their children's learning.

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Parental Leave Legislation and Women's Work: A Story of Unequal Opportunities

Sari Pekkala Kerr
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. federal and state family leave legislation requires employers to provide job-protected parental leave for new mothers covered under the legislation. In most cases the leave is unpaid, and rarely longer than 12 weeks in duration. This study evaluates disparities in parental leave eligibility, access, and usage across the family income distribution in the United States. It also describes the links between leave-taking and women's labor market careers. The focus is especially on low-income families, as their leave coverage and ability to afford taking unpaid leave is particularly poor. This study shows that the introduction of both state and federal legislation increased overall leave coverage, leave provision, and leave-taking. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leads to an increased probability of leave-taking by nearly 20 percentage points and increased average leave length by almost five weeks across all states. The new policies did not, however, reduce gaps between low- and high-income families' eligibility, leave-taking, or leave length. In addition, the FMLA effects on leave-taking were very similar across states with and without prior leave legislation, and the FMLA did not disproportionately increase leave-taking for women who worked in firms and jobs covered by the new legislation, as these women were already relatively well covered by other parental leave arrangements.

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The Widening Education Gap in Developmental Child Care Activities in the United States, 1965-2013

Evrİm Altintaş
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research shows that time spent in developmental care activities has been increasing in the United States over recent decades, yet little is known about how this increase is distributed across parents with different levels of education. Have children born into different socioeconomic groups been receiving increasingly equal developmental care from their parents, or is the distribution of parental time investment becoming more unequal? To answer this question, the author analyzed the American Heritage Time Use Study (1965-2013) and showed that the gap between high- and low-educated parents' time investment in developmental child care activities has widened. An increasing absence of fathers in households with low-educated mothers has exacerbated the trend. This study documents growing inequality in parental time inputs in developmentally salient child care activities in the United States.

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Early Influences on Saving Behaviour: Analysis of British Panel Data

Sarah Brown & Karl Taylor
Journal of Banking & Finance, January 2016, Pages 1-14

Abstract:
Using data from the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society, we examine the saving behaviour of individuals over time. Initially, we explore the determinants of the saving behaviour of children aged 11-15. Our findings suggest that parental allowances/pocket money (earnings from part-time work) lower (increase) the probability that a child saves. There is also evidence that the financial expectations of the head of household have an influence on their offspring's saving behaviour, where children of optimistic parents have a lower probability of saving by approximately 2 percentage points. However, there is no evidence of an intergenerational correlation in savings behaviour: the saving behaviour of parents appears to have no bearing on the saving decisions of their offspring. We then go on to explore the implications of the saving behaviour of children for their savings decisions in later life, specifically when observed in early adulthood. We find that having saved as a child has a large positive influence both on the probability of saving on a monthly basis and on the amount saved as an adult. This finding is robust to alternative empirical strategies including IV analysis where the most conservative estimates show that having saved as a child increases the probability of saving during adulthood by 12 percentage points.

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Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The Parents and Children Together (PACT) Intervention

Susan Mayer et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
Parent engagement with their children plays an important role in children's eventual economic success and numerous studies have documented large gaps in parent engagement between low- and higher-income families. While we know remarkably little about what motivates parents to engage in their children's development, recent research suggests that ignoring or discounting the future may inhibit parental investment, while certain behavioral tools may help offset this tendency. This paper reports results from a randomized field experiment designed to increase the time that parents of children in subsidized preschool programs spend reading to their children using an electronic reading application that audio and video records parents as they read. The treatment included three behavioral tools (text reminders, goal-setting, and social rewards) as well as information about the importance of reading to children. The treatment increased usage of the reading application by one standard deviation after the six-week intervention. Our evidence suggests that the large effect size is not accounted for by the information component of the intervention and that the treatment impact was much greater for parents who are more present-oriented than for parents who are less present-oriented.

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Work-family life courses and markers of stress and inflammation in mid-life: Evidence from the National Child Development Study

Rebecca Lacey et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: This study investigated associations between work-family life courses and biomarkers of inflammation and stress in mid-life among British men and women. Gender differences in these associations were also explored.

Methods: A novel statistical method - multi-channel sequence analysis - defined work-family life courses between the ages of 16 and 42 years, combining annual information on work, partnership and parenthood. Associations between work-family life courses and inflammation [C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen and von Willebrand factor] and cortisol at age 44/45 years were tested using multivariate linear regression using multiply-imputed data on almost 6500 participants from the National Child Development Study 1958 British birth cohort.

Results: Compared with those who combined strong ties to paid work with later transitions to stable family lives ('Work, later family' group), 'Teen parents' had higher CRP [40.6% higher, 95% confidence interval (CI): 5.6, 87.0] and fibrinogen (7.8% higher, 95% CI: 2.3, 13.5) levels, and homemakers ('No paid work, early family') had raised fibrinogen levels (4.7% higher, 95% CI: 0.7, 9.0), independent of childhood health and socioeconomic position, adult socioeconomic position, health behaviours and body mass index (BMI). Those who combined later transitions to stable family ties with a career break for childrearing had higher post-waking cortisol than the 'Work, later family' group; however, no associations were seen for other work-family types, therefore suggesting a null finding with cortisol. No statistically significant gender interactions in associations between work-family types and inflammatory or cortisol outcomes were found.

Conclusions: Work-family life courses characterised by early parenthood or weak work ties were associated with a raised risk profile in relation to chronic inflammation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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